Commander Legends and its impact on Pauper

Commander Legends could be the most impactful set for Pauper in 2020.

By Humberto, 11/13/20

We're reaching the end of 2020 and this has been a relatively productive year for Pauper. During the year the format had changes, such as the banning of

Mystic Sanctuary

and

Expedition Map

, and the inclusion of

One of Mind

that gave a pump to decks like Brute Squad and Jeskai Affinity, in addition of playing in Delver decks. We were also blessed with cards like

Unexpected Fangs

and

Suffocating Fumes

and we had the addition of big staples like

Bonder's Ornament

and Thriving Lands in addition to

Cast Down

and

Abrade

.

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Despite so many additions, they were scattered among some specific sets or products that were released throughout the year, and we were gradually receiving and adapting to them. And this is not the case with Commander Legends: The new set has many cards that will play well at the format and can even redefine it's behavior, while others present themselves as potential cards. Therefore, we can say that Commander Legends is the most impactful set for the format in 2020, and can define much of what could happen to it in 2021. Here is a list of cards that will or may have an impact on Pauper, as well as cards that are interesting additions to the format:
The better version of

Cho-Manno's Blessing

will replace the enchantment on Mono White Heroic, and even make the deck even more affordable than it already is. Its less restrictive cost also allows you to try splashes, and can also be used in decks like Bogles, and enables a move that allows you to lock the opponent's

Standard Bearer

by enchanting it with the Aura, giving protection to the color that you want to enchant your creature.

benevolent Blessing

also does not remove the other enchantments already attached to the creature, so it is a great protection for Heroic against

Journey to Nowhere

.
I am a little disappointed that the Slith cycle is not present in the edition, since

Slith Firewalker

and

Slith Predator

would be good additions to the Aggro decks, while

Slith Bloodletter

could serve as an aggressive drop that grows fast with Mono Black removals. Unfortunately,

Slith Ascendant

is the worst of the cycle and will have no impact on the format. It's just here so I can say, "Shame on you, Gavin!" for not giving us the full cycle.

Azure Fleet Admiral

joins Pauper as probably the best Monarch creature the format will have to offer. Its cost is comparable to the other Monarchs already exist, its body is relevant in combat (even being a more aggressive move than the current Monarchs), but at the cost of dying to

Lightning Bolt

. The card also allows you to have an advantage in the "minigame" of keeping the Monarch because, in case you lose the crown,

Azure Fleet Admiral

guarantees you to have the crown back on the next turn until it is resolved by the opponent. Overall, the card seems to be underestimated and undervalued at the expense of another card included on the set, but i can easily see it replacing

Thorn of the Black Rose

on lists like Faeries and Delver, while having space on decks like Jeskai. Finally,

Azure Fleet Admiral

also collaborates with the game plan proposed with the next card:
If the card above does not have the expected recognition, it is because

Fall From Favor

exists in the same set and has taken all the attention for itself. I even considered that the idea of making an enchantment that would enable Monarch a turn before usual was a conscious decision on the part of Wizards and that in reality it would be an enchantment cycle with abilities commonly used in sealed formats, but with a Monarch effect, since

Fall From Favor

is just a variation of

Claustrophobia

that we commonly see in several cards of different sets. But this is not what happened, and only Blue got an enchantment. In reality, the enchantment will exist in the format by a decision to prioritize the draft, as described by the Gavin Verhey, who admitted to recognizing the card's risk for the format.

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Fall From Favor

presents itself as a dangerous card to Pauper because it is blue, and the lowest cost Monarch card ever made. And the most interesting part is that the other cards in the set interact very well in terms of further favoring this enchantment: Like all other Monarch cards,

Fall From Favor

is great when you're ahead in the game, but terrible when you're behind. It becomes insignificant when you are facing a deck that can make many creatures in the first turns of the game or when the battlefield is bigger on your opponent's side than on your side. This problem can be mitigated with

Fiery Cannonade

. On the other hand, the card on its own helps to keep the Monarch when the opponent has few threats. So, if your opponent needs to play more conservatively or if you've already cleared his battlefield, the card fits very well and gives you advantage in the game. The fact that the card enters a turn earlier than the other Monarchs means that, if you really tap out to play the enchantment in turn 3, your opponent can make multiple threats in the next turn for you to respond to, or his own Monarch to take your crown. And it is in this possibility that

Azure Fleet Admiral

stands out, because in addition to recovering the Monarch for itself, the creature ensures that you can safely recover the crown if the opponent takes it again and has a good body for both attack and block. Considering the interactions of the set itself joins the interactions with

Kor Skyfisher

and

Ghostly Flicker

and disgusting moves involving

Faerie Seer

on turn 1,

Ninja of the Deep Hours

on turn 2 and

Fall From Favor

at turn 3, which potentially would already be 3 more cards for the player and still creates a snowball effect, the enchantment is sure to have an impact on the format and can see the game on several decks like Faeries, Delver, Tron, Jeskai, maybe Familiar, etc. Finally,

Fall From Favor

carries the risk of polarizing Pauper's games around Monarch due to its low cost and high interaction, and therefore it may get banned in the future.
It is speculated that

Eyeblight Massacre

was actually

Infest

and was removed from the edition due to the Elf tribal synergy present in the draft. Unfortunately, not killing some of Stompy's main creatures and not clearing the Elves' battlefield, the card will probably not see value in place of

Crypt Rats

,

Evincar's Justice

and

Pestilence

.

Fleshbag Marauder

is an edict effect attached to a body and can have some space in Pauper at times when you need to increase your clock, being able to sacrifice another creature of yours and leave a 3/1 body on the battlefield. It can fit on some Black-based Midrange decks and it will certainly be used with

Tortured Existence

, both as an edict effect and as a good threat at an empty battlefield.

Boarding Party

is an immediate threat because it is a "two for one" effect with a good body in applying pressure and surviving combat. It can fit on midrange decks that try to use spells like

Lightning Bolt

or apply pressure to the opponent as a late-game threat, especially if the format become slower, as expected.

Champion of the Flame

is one of those cards made to build around it, but whose potential is great, because it needs very little to start being good: A

Bonesplitter

already makes it a 5 / 3 with Trample, a

Ethereal Armor

or

Hyena Umbra

makes it a 4/4 with First Strike, among other interactions.

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The card has potential and can fit in some variant of Heroic or in a Metalcraft with an equipment focus, but I don't know if it has enough potential to be impactful in the format.
The new red Monarch was also overshadowed by

Fall From Favor

but has the potential to fit as a creature that swaps defense for aggression. A 5/2 body, despite being bad in combat swaps, is a considerable clock in a deck more focused on removals such as Rakdos Monarch and may replace

Thorn of the Black Rose

. I don't think the card will replace

Palace Sentinels

in Boros Monarch or Boros Bully because interactions with

Prismatic Strands

are very relevant for these decks. And did I mention that a Red-Based Monarch with

Skred

,

Fiery Cannonade

,

Lightning Bolt

among others is a possibility now?
I wrote a very extensive article explaining the impact of this card on the format and on each deck, and I recommend reading it if you haven't already done. And then I commented a little more about it on this Martinez's live. And then I also talked about the card with the three-time brazilian national champion, Alexandre Weber:
Youtube video image
And then a little more in this Reddit topic. Therefore, I will use this mention in this article only to rectify some points where my opinion has changed regarding the card: First, I changed the position regarding some decks, and at the same time I analyzed how some decks could benefit. First of all, Boros Monarch went from decks that benefit to decks that can be harmed. The main reason is that the deck configuration does not allow the player to benefits on the effect of the card to the point that it is advantageous for his game plan, since the loss of

Glint Hawk

and

Thraben Inspector

can be significant on many occasions, and there are no good substitutes for this at the moment. I don't think it's necessarily a good card

against

Boros Monarch, but it's also not a good card to use in the deck. On the other hand, one of the decks that benefits most on the Cannonade Effect may be Tron, which is Boros' worst matchup. So I started to see Boros Monarch as a deck that can be hindered by the inclusion of

Fiery Cannonade

in the format, depending on how another deck will behave: Faeries. Speaking of Faeries, I no longer consider that the deck needs to adapt so much to deal with a sweeper as the nature of the deck and its game plan that constantly changes between proactive and reactive, allows it to get around situations much more easily than Aggro decks. Cannonade's biggest impact is especially on decks that use

Burning-Tree Emissary

, and I would like to make a few points about how these decks can behave against

Fiery Cannonade

: Stompy has a good potential for adapting to the card because it already has moves that can naturally be effective against the card like

Elephant Guide

, while it has good maindeck responses in the form of

Wild Mongrel

or

Young Wolf

, who collaborate on the proactive plan of the deck while they already have a protection to the Sweeper. The deck can also adopt a more agile game plan with cards like

Groundswell

and

Mutagenic Growth

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Goblins can invest in more toughness 2 creatures like

Mudbrawler Cohort

and start using a total of 8 creatures that "protect" the others in case of a sweeper between

Goblin Cohort

and

Mogg Raider

, in addition to including

Hissing Iguanar

as a punitive effect. RDW is the most complicated to adapt, but you can invest in more cards with immediate impact, like

Viashino Pyromancer

and

Keldon Marauders

, in addition to creatures with haste. For Elves, Alexandre Weber mentioned in the video that he believes that Elves will not be so harmed because not only has a good recovery potential but has gained a new addition that helps to go around the sweepers and fog effects in the format. It is possible, and in addition, the deck already uses blue on the side for

Hydroblast

. Boros Bully is in a very complicated position regarding the Sweeper, in case of no

Prismatic Strands

in the cemetery, which i don't know if there is an efficient way to get around without compromising the deck's game plan too much.

Impulsive Pilferer

has a good combination with

Skirk Prospector

to speed up mana, and works as a possible, but unlikely response, alongside

Fanatical Firebrand

for Goblins, to try to deal with

Fiery Cannonade

.
Alexandre Weber mentioned in our video that

Makeshift Munitions

can fit on a deck like Elves, as it is potentially superior to

Viridian Longbow

as a way to cause damage outside of combat or to control the opponent's battlefield sacrificing your creatures, which are usually many on the deck. It's likely that it will fit into some of the deck's 75 slots. Outside of Elves, the enchantment is an enabler for Aristocrats or even the Retriever Combo (as long as you already have infinite mana) which tends to be more difficult to interact with than commonly used cards.

Annoyed Altisaur

looks like a great payoff for ramp decks or big mana. However, the current big mana of the format has too reactive cards to care about using a card like this.

Filigree Familiar

is a good addition to the format as it serves as a "three for one" effect. It doesn't seem to have a home in the format today, as it doesn't offer a good card advantage with

Kor Skyfisher

or

Ephemerate

. But it can appear on decks like Tortured Existence or Aristocrats.
Along with

Etherium Sculptor

,

Foundry Inspector

adds four more cost-saving effects for artifact decks like Eggs or Retriever Combo, and can collaborate in terms of redundancy for said decks.
Despite the high cost,

Haunted Cloak

does a lot and has a low equip cost. It is one more of these cards that is more interesting to know that it is present in the format than to necessarily think that the card will fit into something.
Although I don't believe they have a home now, the Diamond cycle is a very good addition to the format as a colorless mana acceleration for any deck on turn 2. Today,

Bonder's Ornament

looks superior at all times as it is a great mid or late-game draw engine.
When this card was revealed, many players speculated on the possibility of this card fitting into Tron or Elves. Unfortunately,

Ulamog's Crusher

is superior to this card on most occasions, so Elves is not interested in using it.

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For Tron, the current deck configuration does not benefit from the card because it uses more reactive than proactive cards. In addition, for 8 manas, you can make more impactful moves.
The colorless Monarch has a good body to protect the crown while he can try to be aggressive thanks to Vigilance. Tron is likely to add some numbers to some lists, as the deck has to make very little allowance to use the card, and the Monarch effect on Tron is another super efficient way to accumulate Card Advantage. Outside of Tron, the card looks inferior to Monarchs that exist in any other color if we include the other cards that were added in this edition. And so i end my review of Commander Legends, with the conclusion that this is the potentially most relevant set for the format since Modern Horizons, and can have a similar or equal effect, or be a healthy addition that gives the metagame a, perhaps necessary, changing wind. There is great concern about the effects of the increase in Monarchs and the inclusion of

Fiery Cannonade

to the format, and I fear that the inclusion of so many cards with game potential will scare players or quickly convince them that the format is "broken" . Therefore, outside of my personal opinions regarding each topic and each card, I believe and I emphasize that we can only observe and see how the format behaves and adapts through the next months, before making any conclusions, and that unlike most formats, Pauper has a slower progression between adding new cards, adapting the metagame and, in more extreme cases, banning. Therefore, I recommend that you wait before pressing the panic button. My next review for the format will probably be from Kaldheim, Angrath's birthplace known for being an Arctic, inspired by Norse mythology. Therefore, there is the possibility of seeing the return of Snow's mechanics, which influences and may continue to influence the format with new additions, soon. Or so we hope.

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