Magic: the Gathering
This article belongs to the series Pauper's Christmas reprint wishlist:
Blood Artistas a card they would like to see in the format, so it can have another payoff for Aristocrats strategies besides
Hissing Iguanar. However, despite coming into play a turn earlier,
Blood Artistsuffers from the same problem as the other payoffs that the format has today: It is a creature and Pauper is a format dictated by creatures and removals and, despite that not necessarily invalidating the potential that
Blood Artistwould have, it is still a point to be considered in the format. So, although it costs an extra mana,
Bastion of Remembranceseems a much more interesting option for the format since it is a more difficult engine to interact through maindeck, forcing the opponent to play around and deal with other engine parts like the sac outlet.
Divest. However, including a card like
Inquisition of Kozilekwould be an issue because it affects a significant number of cards that sees play in the format without any drawback, generates a lot of information and would be easily used on decks like Dimir Faeries or Dimir Delver, in addition to pulling other black-based Monarch decks to the top. However, there are some unconditional discardl options that could be reprinted in the future such as
Cabal Therapy. Here, I emphasize
Cabal Therapyfor a few reasons: The first is that the card rewards players for knowing the deck that the opponent is playingwell and the nature of these decks to have better chances of hitting the best card in the hand of the opponent on each occasion, while it also takes advantage of constant bounce interactions or revealing cards that exist in the format today through
Ninja of the Deep Hours,
Augur of Bolas. The other point is that there are a significant number of players who would like Aristocrats to be a viable and even competitive deck, and
Cabal Therapyis a great enabler and payoff for the archetype. In general, having an efficient CMC 1 discard spell would be beneficial to the format as a way to interact, mainly, with the opponent's card advantage engines, such as Monarch cards, for example.
Cling to Dustis, in my opinion, one of the best Magic cards to come out in 2020. The card does absolutely everything: It gives you extra life against Aggro, gives you resources against Midrange and Control and serves as a universal, reusable graveyard hate. This flexibility and the lack of good maindeck-worthy graveyard hate in the format makes me believe that
Cling to Dustwould not only be a great addition to the format but would be a significant staple.
Fiery Cannonadeto the format in Commander Legends, we can assume that it is safe to include a card like
Cry of the Carnariumto the format. The black sweeper slot initially belonged to
Infest. However, because it costs two black mana and is used in Sorcery-speed,
Infestseems to be a mediocre option when compared to
Fiery Cannonade, making me choose
Cry of the Carnariumas a substitute, since it has the upside of exiling the destroyed creatures, which is revlevant in a Mono Black Devotion mirror, for example.
Drannith Healer, and I even recommended
Flourishing Foxas another payoff for the archetype. However, even if
Flourishing Foxwould enter the format, 12 Payoffs for the deck still seems little, and the deck still lacks reach and, therefore, I consider
Faith of the Devotedas the most viable option to give reach to the Cycling deck. My experience at Penny Dreadful showed me that
Lightning Riftis an absurd card when the format is mostly focused on creatures, and gives the archetype an recurring removal that is very difficult to interact with. On the other hand,
Zenith Flareis, most of the time when it is played, a "free win" button, since it usually wins the game by itself or takes you out of an absurdly unfavorable situation.
Faith of the Devoteddoesn’t hit creatures and doesn’t have the potential to be an insta-win bomb in the game, even though it can still be a tricky card to deal with and still give a lot of turns by having a constant drain-life effect, but I believe it is a healthier addition than any other payoff Cycling could have.
Sign in Blood, or destroy a creature or make a more proactive play with
Gifted Aetherbornmay be too strong for the archetype, but it covers many of the absences that Mono Black has: It is a sturdy body that survives exchanges against most creatures that sees play in Pauper, it kills anything it blocks or is blocked into, it is a recurring life gain to deal with decks like Burn if not answered, is a flexible drop 2 that works so well either when you are ahead of the game or when you have to take the most defensive stance and, finally, add two to Devotion! In short, it is one of the cards that almost every Mono Black player wants for the format, as it fits many of the archetype's needs.
Mesmeric Fiendalready exists in the format and sees little play, even though it has an interaction with sac outlets to exile cards permanently.
Kitesail Freebooterhas two major advantages over
Mesmeric Fiend: A 1/2 body and being a flier. This means that the Pirate (which is relevant, since he does not suffer for
Fiery Cannonade) can efficiently block the vast majority of the Faeries and still survive, while removing a counterspell or removal from the opponent's hand, which would possibly be directed at another one of your threats.
Lord of the Accursedcould be a first step towards making the archetype more relevant in the format without necessarily breaking it, as it is not a tribe that is among the most played decks or that used to be most played in the format such as Elves or Goblins.
Megrimwas once an iconic card in Magic because of its combo with
Memory Jar, which made the artifact to be banned even before the Legacy of Urza set was allowed on the competitive scene. Since then, the enchantment has had little repercussion, appearing only as a fringe option in some formats, such as the M10 Standard, or on casual decks. On Pauper,
Megrimwould have the support of cards like
Ravenous Ratsand, if you choose a splash for red,
Burning Inquiry. It doesn't look like the type of card that would break the format, although it perhaps would be competitively strong enough to impact the format, but it's another fun wincondition and another great card to build a deck around.
Pawn of Ulamogis another card that would serve to collaborate with the Aristocrats decks, as it turns all of your creatures into potentials
Discordant Piperto feed your sac outlet and increase your payoff triggers. Outside of the archetype, I can't imagine the card seeing a lot of play or having a lot of impact as most CMC 3 black creatures of the format are better.
Shriekmawinteracts absurdly well with
Ephemerate, but which ETB effect does not interact with
Ephemerate? It's not those creatures' fault, it's
Shriekmawserves as an efficient early game removal and a difficult to block threat in mid or late game. A 3/2 body is still susceptible to most removals spells, making the Elemental not so overwhelming due to the difficulty of interaction in combat. The card would see play in several Monarch variants and could even emerge as another threat to decks like Dimir Control, which today uses
Mulldrifteras its main beatdown.
Soulflayerwould be one of the most interesting additions Pauper could have. Unlike Pioneer or Modern, we don't have bombs like
Zetalpa, Primal Dawnto transform
Soulflayerinto a Megazord using only a few cards, which means that the deck would need a very specific deckbuilding to function that would even make room for some cards never used in the format like
Aven Fleetwingto give the creature Hexproof and Flying, among others. A
Soulflayerdeck on Pauper could be a great innovation for the format.
Triskeidekaphobiais one of the most interesting ones I know. The enchantment establishes a clock and a sub-game between both players, where they try to avoid taking their lives close to 13, making them both need to be careful about how they attack, how they block and how they use their damage resources. The card could be used on decks like Mono Black Burn or even a BR Burn, but it could also emerge as an archetype of its own, since players would certainly try to build some deck around the enchantment.
Withered Wretchis the closest I can imagine of a
Scavenging Oozefor Pauper. There's not much to say about the card, as it fits like a glove in archetypes like Mono Black Devotion and Zombies, while it's a bad maindeck option if decks that use the graveyard are not that recurring in the metagame.
Zombifyis the most direct and the most likely to ever happen because it is an effect that we already have available in the form of
False Defeat. Of course, the fact that Zombify is a black card can significantly change its value when compared to the other effects that exist in Pauper, since it is possible to speed up its cast with
Culling the Weak, which means the spell can be cast as early as turn 2. Pauper's Reanimator deck today is an archetype that falls into an absolute "All-In": The deck is absurdly good when it works, it is very difficult to deal with
Ulamog's Crusheron turn 2 or 3 if you don't have the removal or the counter at the right time, and usually this absence of interaction means having the game won for the Reanimator. On the other hand, the times when this happens are not so frequent, since the deck has only 4
Exhumeto reanimate its creatures, and uses
Shred Memoryto tutor. It may be that adding
Zombifywill be a risk, as it adds more redundancy and consistency to the archetype, but it seems like a risk that Pauper could take and still get away with.
Thoughtseizeand our good loss-of-life payoffs are limited to
Death's Shadowis my favorite Magic card and Archetype, and I would definitely do anything to play with him, preferably alongside
Temur Battle Rage. Jokes aside, it won't happen. But I really want it to happen someday. And here we come to the end of Pauper's Christmas Wishlist of black cards If you have any ideas or card options that are not on the list, feel free to leave them in the comments! In the next article, we will cross the mountains of Valakut to talk about the red cards!