I'm Adam, and I still love commons.
If you're wondering what the Pauper Cube is all about, I gave a quick overview in my Oath of the Gatewatch update. As a reminder, these are the archetypes supported in broad strokes:
This time we're keeping it tight to the tune and covering more cards from Shadows over Innistrad. There's a lot going on in the set, and while many of the cards ended up on my radar didn't make the update they're worth keeping an eye on for the future.
If you need the list you can find it on Google Docs.
Now, let's do this.
Dauntless Cathar (replacing Shadow Glider)
Shadow Glider was just a Wind Drake. When I took the shadow creatures out of the cube with the Battle for Zendikar update I wasn't sure where I wanted to push the extra room in white. Dauntless Cathar is where I fell in love, providing a creature with great rate upfront and value again once it hits the graveyard.
I want to like a tricky Hound like Cathar's Companion. It's perfect for creating two-for-one situations by setting up on block and casting a spell to kill something else. I'm not sure it's time just yet, but tricky blue decks love tricky creatures that play into their strengths.
There's plenty of equipment at common, and the idea of giving aggressive white-based decks a subtle artifact/equipment theme means creatures like Militant Inquisitor are interesting.
Emissary of the Sleepless
Emissary of the Sleepless is amazing when it's turned on. Getting a 3/5 in total body split across two flying creatures isn't hard to understand the value of. With the five slot a little crowded in my cube I didn't want to force it in just yet. It's high on my radar for the fair value—and proactive use of removal—it can provide.
Strength of Arms
Good combat tricks are things I want to keep finding room for in my cube. Strength of Arms is an excellent one mana trick that, if Equipment was a bigger piece of the overall picture, can turn into an incredible deal. This is one of the big reasons I'm revisiting all the efficient equipment at common.
If Angelic Purge was an instant it would be in Constructed decks. I really like the power of the card but I'm hesitant to put it up against efficient, faster options for creatures. The range to hit artifacts and enchantments matter, so I'll be looking closer to see if I can shoehorn this into the list.
No replacements for blue. There's a few cards to talk about, but the overall power of blue cards was either in redundant effects or just too low to excite me.
Skulk cards like Furtive Homunculus are interesting in blue. Getting by bigger creatures and ensuring only trades happen can nudge blue into a more aggressive role. However, that's not blue's strength and this isn't the kind of creature I want to add to my cube—at least not yet.
Stitched Mangler almost made the cut. The riff on Frost Lynx trades getting extra toughness for entering the battlefield tapped. It's a fine effect, but with the entire family of common Man-o'-War represented already it falls far short of exciting. If the bounce theme needs adjusted for blue this is one way to keep the feeling and have a fine body attached to it.
Stormrider Spirit is functionally Faerie Invaders or Spire Monitor, both cards that I've considered well or had a trip in my cube. Having options for larger cubes to replicate the body or choose a slightly more synergistic creature type is great.
Just the Wind
Just the Wind matters if (and only if) madness is meaningful for a cube. I'm not supporting the theme but depending on Eldritch Moon there might be enough to nudge it for you.
Rancid Rats (replacing Hand of Silumgar)
Rancid Rats is Typhoid Rats that picked up skulk for an extra generic mana in cost. Sitting as a two-drop like Hand of Silumgar made the swap a personal preference and texture change. Skulk won't matter too much, but the Rats are meant to help slower decks rather than feel like an aggressive on-rate body. This pushes that point harder, but they're virtually equivalent to each other in feeling.
Ghoulcaller's Accomplice (replacing Sultai Emissary)
Ghoulcaller's Accomplice is in the same boat as Rancid Rats: As a replacement for Sultai Emissary, Ghoulcaller's Accomplice is a nudge in texture and feeling. Both cards effectively provide two bodies, but the Accomplice can work even if it's milled away—something I'm pushing on black-green to do. It also trades better as a two-drop and fits a little better into aggressive decks using black. Overall I felt it was a better fit for the themes I have and certainly stands out here, unlike it's relatively "filler at best" role in Shadows over Innistrad Limited.
Crow of Dark Tidings (replacing Foul Spirit)
One of the biggest downsides of building my cube is finding some of the more esoteric options I've dug through to include. Foul Spirit is a fine creature and the evasive body is a welcome addition to any aggressive deck in black. Crow of Dark Tidings is slightly smaller but feeds the self-mill theme and it's imminently more acquirable than the old Portal 2 card. It was a swap that keeps pushing a theme forward and makes the cube more accessible. It's a win for me.
I want to like Farbog Revenant. Lifelink on a great blocker is relevant. Skulk to slip through a tougher defense is fine. I just couldn't visualize the deck excited to pick one up. Maybe that will change someday.
I tried Perilous Research before. It didn't stick. Merciless Resolve costs most and is more restrictive about what to sacrifice. While larger cubes will want card draw like this to help fill out that count, my cube doesn't need it.
Insolent Neonate (replacing Mardu Scout)
I love Mardu Scout: it's a Goblin surfing on a dragonscale in the desert! What it wasn't was the surprise and value I expected it to be. Insolent Neonate gives red a relevant one-drop and a way to filter a card later in the game. Menace means it'll tie up two blockers to be stopped, or give you an unblocked creature to pump. It's an intersection of early value and late game utility that love: Digging for a burn spell is one of red's most dangerous tricks.
Voldaren Duelist (replacing Tail Slash)
Tail Slash hasn't been a tool for many decks since it showed up. Voldaren Duelist is a blowout effect tacked onto a reasonable body with haste. It's a swap that also puts another four-drop into red, something red sorely needed.
Rush of Adrenaline (replacing Brute Strength)
Brute Strength is fun, and Rush of Adrenaline is similar but slightly more cost effective. It's a texture change, again, but giving red a cheaper trick feels good: Pumping past a blocker and having mana to play another threat after combat is an amazing plan for the color.
Sanguinary Mage is Jeskai Student. Some cubes like this type of creature, and in red where there's more burn spells and cheap tricks it can shine bright. I might give this a try if I can settle on how to adjust blue-red from its loose "flying and burn" theme into spells matter.
Byway Courier (replacing Crocanura)
Green's anti-flying suite is already capable enough. Byway Courier is a value creature that encourages trades. It's a nice intersection to give green-based creature decks a little card drawing grease. While I think the Crocodile Frog is great it's okay to give it a break and feel out if it still belongs—it's quite good.
Aim High (replacing Evolution Charm)
Aim High is a fine trick and keeps green firmly the king of combat pump spells. Evolution Charm was cute but ultimately didn't provide enough to make decks. A pump spell that can surprise opponents should fit into more decks.
Fork in the Road
I have an unhealthy love for effects like Fork in the Road. Ripping two lands out of the deck, fixing whatever the green-based deck needs, is fine. Fueling delve is relevant for black-green. It's a totally fair card with surprising synergy. I want to find room for it someday, but it's not time yet.
Warped Landscape (an addition to the cube)
I cut some room last update and was promptly rewarded with another common fetch land. Warped Landscape even layers support if colorless ever made a strong appearance in the cube. It's a pure utility land that every common cube should slam into its list as soon as possible.
The pauper cube update cheat sheet:
|Dauntless Cathar||Shadow Glider|
|Rancid Rats||Hand of Silumgar|
|Ghoulcaller's Accomplice||Sultai Emissary|
|Crow of Dark Tidings||Foul Spirit|
|Insolent Neonate||Mardu Scout|
|Voldaren Duelist||Tail Slash|
|Rush of Adrenaline||Brute Strength|
|Aim High||Evolution Charm|
With Eternal Masters' big reveal next week I can't wait to see what's downshifting to common this time. You can bet there will be something amazing for us to try out next!