Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Blue Cards

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Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Blue Cards

Christmas is coming and we all have our own wishlist. Today, I list fifteen blue cards that could be reprinted as a common or that the community would like to play on Pauper.

By Romeu, 12/20/20, translated by Romeu

Versions:

This article belongs to the series Pauper's Christmas reprint wishlist:

1. Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - White cards

2. Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Blue Cards

3. Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Black Cards

See more

Pauper is a format that is ever-changing due to additions to the format through downshifts and prints of new cards, especially in special sets such as Masters sets or Commander Legends. In the last week, I started a series of articles with a list of cards that the Pauper community would like to be reprinted or cards that could be interesting to have access to the format, composed by the opinion of different communities and groups together with some cards that I find particularly interesting to the format and that could be reprinted as common at some point in the future.

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Some cards will be off the list as they are part of a cycle, and I will be talking about card cycles in a separate article. Today, we will be talking about blue cards.

Blue

Talking about Blue in Pauper is complicated, because it is by far the best color in the format, being mostly played in archetypes like Faeries, Delver and Familiar, while it is a secondary or tertiary color in decks like Tron and Jeskai Affinity. Its base of low cost cantrips along with the universal response in the form of

Counterspell

and efficient creatures has led blue-based decks to the top of the format for more than a decade and the recent addition of

Fall from Favor

caused other decks that use color to go up in the format and even some decks chose to make a splash to blue just to use the new Monarch card. For thar reason, it would be possible to simply end the article here by saying

"Blue is good enough and doesn't need anything"

. However, there are cards that could still be added to the format in the future to meet of the needs or flaws the color has or promote possible new archetypes, it is up to me to point out that perhaps, compared to other colors, the blue wish list is relatively inferor compared to too many colors because, again, we are talking about the best color of the format and I had to be careful not to add things that could be significantly broken to the best decks of the format. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean the cards I have chose aren't controversial in some manner.
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Pauper is a format where there are no cards that allow you to take control of other permanents. Historically, this type of effect was widely used in the early days of Magic and even in more recent times with cards such as

Entrancing Melody

or

Threads of Disloyalty

, which at some point used to be an Legacy all-star. In Pauper,

Control Magic

could be used to take control of a permanent that generates a lot of value like

Ninja of the Deep Hours

and

Seeker of the Way

or a big threat at the table like

Gurmag Angler

,

Myr Enforcer

or even dealing with problematic permanents like [card] Kor Skyfisher) or

River Boa

while also serving as a disruptive element when taking control a key creature from a combo such as a

Quirion Ranger

. However, four mana is a steep cost for blue-based decks to use this kind of effect, which means it wouldn't be an auto-include neither a staple to every blue deck since with four mana you can make more meaningful plays such as playing a Monarch card or having the mana up for both removal and counterspells.
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One of the most pointed out by players as to "cards that are still missing" for Blue is the addition of a creature that has a consistent clock in addition to

Delver of Secrets

, where Blue-Based decks today count on establishing a clock using 1/1 creatures like Faeries and Ninjas, or having a splashable threat like

Gurmag Angler

. However, to include such a creature for Blue, it is necessary to consider how the card would behave on most occasions and follow some prerequisites so that it does not just make a deck that is already very strong a busted deck. For example,

Pteramander

is not a viable creature as it can be used at any point in the game as an evasive threat to reach a

Ninja of the Deep Hours

, thus giving Faeries a creature that fits the deck's game plan while also featuring an evasive and pretty fast late-game clock.

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So, I end up opting for

Cryptic Serpent

because it is a punitive card of having multiples in hand during the early game, potentially being a dead card depending on your deck configuration, promoting a gameplay more based around spells and disruptions rather than a deck filled with 2-for-1 small threats. Furthermore,

Cryptic Serpent

interacts negatively with

Gurmag Angler

, making it almost impossible for both to be played synergistically on the same list, but possibly enabling a Mono Blue or UR versions without so much focus on Faeries.
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The biggest problem with including

Fact or Fiction

to Pauper today is that Tron is the deck that would best benefit from the card, allowing it to dig even deeper to find some lands or the answer the deck needs for that specific moment and being able to resort to what goes to the grave with

Mnemonic Wall

or

Pulse of Murasa

. On the other hand, were it not for this archetype, which has been declining in the last Challanges due to the rise of blue Tempo decks,

Fact or Fiction

would be a fascinating card to have in a format like Pauper. Not only does the card offer a significant amount of card advantage, it also brings a sub-game of decisions for players that makes the game more interesting to play or watch, as the stacks of

Fact or Fiction

are always a good puzzle for both players.
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Except for

Seeker of the Way

and

Jhessian Thief

, Pauper's Prowess creatures lack good reasons to be played, and

Jeskai Elder

looks like a good mix of both creatures that could impact the format in a positive way. Pauper's most important turn is often turn 2 as this is the turn in which players start presenting their engines that will dictate the pace of the game, making

Jeskai Elder

a possibly easier to play threat than

Jhessian Thief

, while the card is by no means a better option than

Seeker of the Way

.
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There are no alternative winconditions in Pauper to try to use or even try to break and, among the options that exist in Magic today,

Laboratory Maniac

seems the most viable to become a common card since, in the most of the time, the card is a 2/2 for 3 mana that does absolutely nothing. In Pauper,

Laboratory Maniac

would have a 4-card combo with

Cephalid Aristocrat

and

Nomads en-Kor

along with any effect to draw a card to have an instawin, which seems a weak combo as the three cards are pretty bad on their own and unreasonable in terms of mana cost, or it would be possible to consider a new version of No-Land Spy using

Laboratory Maniac

+ any draw effect , perhaps. Today, the format lacks good means to use or abuse Self-mill effects or even reasons to do so, it would be up to future sets to bring some card or cards that make

Laboratory Maniac

a viable strategy for Pauper, if one day the card was reprinted as a common.
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Marit Lage's Slumber

is a strange card. The enchantment is a powerful payoff for Snow strategies in Magic in the form of the legendary indestructible 20/20 token, Marit Lage. However, the card never had its opportunity to shine in any format even when

Arcum's Astrolabe

was still legal in Modern, leading me to consider how impactful this kind of payoff would be for Pauper. On the one hand, this card could be the "ultimate threat" kind of card and the inevitability necessary for a deck like Snow-Go, whose is the only deck I can imagine using the card efficiently since it is an archetype that naturally prolongs the game and would be able to set a difficult to answer clock after controlling the game.

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On the other hand, I'd hardly ever see decks like Izzet Faeries using the enchantment because ten snow permanents is a lot for a deck that usually operates with 4 to 6 lands on the table, and other late-game decks like Familiar would not use the card well as there is no point in exchanging Bounce Lands or Lifelands for snow lands in this archetype. Of course, other archetypes could emerge with the enchantment, such as a UB or UR Snow more focused on the late game with

Ghostly Flicker

engines, using the enchantment only as the largest threat that the format could have. Removing a Marit Lage could be problematic for some decks, but the format seems to have a good answer for the enchantment or the token in almost all colors: White has effects like

Journey to Nowhere

, blue has

Echoing Truth

and the like, black has

Chainer's Edict

among many other edict effects, red could use effects like

Act of Treason

for a huge blowout while green has better options for dealing with enchantments. However, the card, if one day became a common card, would be used on heavy Control decks and, most likely, if the Control player already has ten snow permanents, he has already stabilized and controlled the game for a while.
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Another card for Self-Mill strategies,

Narcoameba

also does not have a home with the cards we have today as there is no efficient version of Dredge or All Spells viable in the format to compensate for the use of this card , in addition to lacking other effects like

Dread Return

or

Prized Amalgam

to abuse it.

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So it looks like a "safe" downshift suggestion for the format as there are still no ways to break it and it would end up having little or no impact, unless Iโ€™m neglecting some interaction, being included therefore only to promote future new strategies to the format.
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One of the biggest issues with decks like Turbo Fog today is that the deck takes a long time to win the game because

Jace's Erasure

is a very slow wincondition.

Psychic Corrosion

fixes this problem by doubling the Turbo Fog clock, helping it significantly to end the game and creating yet another constant mill effect that the opponent needs to respond to or win the game before it is possible abuse interactions with

Brainstorm

,

Accumulated Knowledge

or even

Arcane Denial

. I have my doubts whether giving access to this type of card to the format would indeed be beneficial because one of the things that keeps Turbo Fog in check is precisely the absence of an efficient clock, which allows the opponent to have a lot of time to recover and try to win the game. Doubling that clock or even more with multiple copies could mean removing the greatest weakness from the deck and creating an archetype that is just as strong and just as boring to play against as Fog Tron.
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Another "need" that some players mentioned for blue is the need for a better form of interaction for problematic permanents outside the ability to counter or bounce those permanents, and

Reality Shift

meets this need for a reasonable way to exile a problematic creature (therefore, not allowing loops from

Omen of the Dead

or

Pulse of Murasa

.) while still leaving a body on the table that allows it to serve both as a blocker or an extra clock. I don't know to what extent there is a need for a blue removal on Pauper, since one of the color's weaknesses is precisely having inefficient ways to deal with threats already solved at the table and that is one of the primary reasons for a splash. And although

Reality Shift

offers a card or creature in exchange for removing a threat, dealing with a 2/2 is much easier than dealing with several other creatures of the format.
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Pioneer players know

Skilled Animator

for its ability to make

Darksteel Citadel

an indestructible 5/5 creature on the deck known as Ensoul. Since

Ensoul Artifact

is much more difficult to interact with and the

Animating Faerie

's ability makes the artifact permanently a creature,

Skilled Animator

seems the fairest and most feasible for Pauper since removals exist in abundance in the metagame, allowing larger windows of interaction. In Pauper,

Skilled Animator

has many targets to transform into creatures, like the other artifact lands,

Prophetic Prism

,

Navigator's Compass

,

Flayer Husk

or even make a

Frogmite

a better threat. It would be a very interesting addition to the format, being a significant threat since it could catch opponents off guard with a 5/5 on the other side of the table, but which is also easier to answer on Pauper than on Pioneer, since our main removals affect it unconditionally.
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It is possible to say that the most important cost of Pauper is 2. This is because many decks tend to start operating their engines from the second turn, where decks like Mardu Monarch or Affinity make their first artifacts like

Prophetic Prism

, it is in this turn where Stompy tends to start his explosive games with

Burning-Tree Emissary

, and it's on CMC 2 that cards like

Seeker of the Way

,

Spellstutter Sprite

,

Kor Skyfisher

, among others are found .

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In addition to being the main cost of most removals of the format:

Journey to Nowhere

,

Cast Down

,

Abrade

,

Agony Warp

and even

Counterspell

Spell Snare

would be a card that could have a great impact on the format and give the Blue-Based decks another low cost interaction for a large number of cards of the format, thus becoming a possible problematic card because it would only make these decks better than they already are. On the other hand, the relevance of the card could also be questionable as there is a wide range of cards in the format that are not found at cmc 2, and there would be occasions where

Spell Snare

could be worse than a

Force Spike

in your hand.
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A card that seems to be up to date with the format's current power level is

Thirst for Knowledge

, since we have had for some years even more efficient forms of card advantage like Monarch cards or interactions like

Mulldrifter

+

Ephemerate

. Aside from these engines, cards like

Impulse

,

Forbidden Alchemy

or

Compulsive Research

and even

Thirst for Meaning

already exist in the format, and

Thirst for Knowledge

basically works as a mix between them, so it seems a more than fair inclusion for the format.
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Currently, it is relatively common to see decks like Elves using

Negate

or

Syncopate

as a way to respond to threatening cards, whether a sweeper like [card (Fiery Cannonade) or a removal on some core creature like

Timberwatch Elf

.

Unified Will

works as a flexible and with a more reasonable cosr than

Syncopate

, as it does not oblige you to hold absurd amounts mana, and serves as a universal response to several other problematic cards against this archetype Outside of Elves, there are a few other archetypes, like Jeskai Affinity, that could make use of the card, whether in maindeck or sideboard, to deal with some threats from decks that run fewer creatures.
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Unsubstantiate

is a flexible card, as it offers a temporary response to either a problematic spell or a permanent in play, but without doing either with excellence since it is just a bounce effect. This means being able to temporarily deal with effects that would end up disrupting a deck's game plan, allowing you, in the early game, to put yourself ahead for another turn or, at least, delay your opponent's game plan. Despite being a card that would probably benefit Mono Blue more than the other decks, theaddition of a flexible response seems a healthy addition to the format and we have seen flexible cards being reprinted as common recently in the form of

Abrade

.
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A high-cost creature with a relevant effect that can be used in early-game as a form of cantrip,

Waker of Waves

seems like a good addition to be another threat to Reanimator after using its effect, just as you do with

Striped Riverwinder

. Its ability to discard itself is the highlight here, as it allows the deck to "dig" deeper in search of

Exhume

or another reanimation spell to bring the giant whale into play. The card would not replace

Striped Riverwinder

, but would become another addition to the archetype, allowing it to have more targets for its main strategy. At the same time, the absence of hexproof or shroudcould make

Waker of Waves

a significantly worse option, but the trade from built-in protection to a higher clock and an effect that potentially weakens some of the main decks of the format seems like a fair trade.

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Outside Reanimator ... Maybe a one-of-a-kind on Tron? It doesn't seem that Tron even needs a card like that. And here I end my Christmas Wishlist for Blue at Pauper As I explained at the beginning of the article, this is a complicated and sensitive topic becauseblue is already very present in the format and, compared to the rest of the list (which you will still see in the coming weeks), Blue ends up with some relatively options poorly optimized, due to the need for even greater care of not making tempo decks of the format oppressive as they were when

Foil

came out, or to not break other decks that also use blue, as was the case with Izzet Drake. Next week, we will dive into the Bojuka bogs to see the black cards wishlist !
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually Magic: The Gathering competitive formats. Pauper Masters' Organizer.

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