Pauper Set Review: Double Masters 2022

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Pauper Set Review: Double Masters 2022

06/25/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Double Masters 2022 will definitely bring changes to Pauper — and changes always bring the most varied feelings to the public, but we must be ready to accept things as they present themselves.

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By Romeu

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translated by Romeu

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revised by Tabata Marques

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They downshifted Monastery Swiftspear!

Yes, that's the big surprise

Double Masters 2022

brought to Pauper, and you can expect at least five paragraphs on how this card will affect the Metagame starting next week — but it's not just from Monastery Swiftspear that the new set lives, and it brought some good downshifts, other cards that will definitely impact and carry the possibility of becoming staples, and other attractive deckbuilding alternatives! So, welcome to my Double Masters 2022 Pauper set review!

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White

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Militia Bugler has been on my Pauper wishlist for quite some time, and it's gratifying to see it downshifted because there's a plethora of options it can fetch: Kor Skyfisher, Mulldrifter, and basically any creature from Familiars or Jeskai Ephemerate. Its 2/3 body with Vigilance makes it a very decent option in the current Metagame — as well as adding more consistency and redundancy to an archetype that has been growing in the competitive landscape lately:

White Weenie

. This will be one of the most impactful pieces for the format, and will be present in the most varied Midrange decks for digging extremely deep searching for the right creature.
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Relief Captain might come at a high cost, but with current versions of White Weenie having a greater focus on ETB effects and playing a slower value-oriented game, I can imagine the potential to permanently increase the power of three creatures, being reusable with Ephemerate and Kor Skyfisher, as well as improving your board state makes it an option to consider.

Blue

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Honorable mention since Advanced Stitchwing has an unprecedented ability in the format, and I can imagine some archetypes that can take advantage of discard to return it to the battlefield (either with Dredge, or some Control getting rid of useless lands), and a recurring 3/4 with Flying might be worth a try.
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Another creature that has always been on my wishlist, Jeskai Elder is a great two-drop for Spellslinger archetypes and allows, if connected, to filter the hand to find more action I can imagine Izzet Prowess, Azorius Tribe or even Dimir Delver looking to run it as a complementary threat — the question is whether these archetypes really have the wherewithal to play equally against the current Top Tiers, especially Affinity and Boros. That said, the inclusion of Prowess threats at a low cost to the format is extremely exciting, as it rewards a Tempo deck style geared towards few creatures and numerous spells.

Black

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Having more creatures for Aristocrats in black is always good to add more consistency to the Mono Black and Rakdos versions of the archetype, and Carrier Thrall is relatively decent as a creature to deal some damage on an empty board.
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First, I confused Liliana's Elite's ability with Wight of Precinct Six's and discarded it right away, but I was reminded that it counts creatures in

your graveyard

, and that makes it a relatively useful option for Zombies, or as a one-of on Tortured Existence. Shouldn't see much play in the competitive scene, but it's a fun addition.
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I doubt Seekers' Squire will be better than Dusk Legion Zealot in Black-Based archetypes, but as it had a relevant impact during its Standard days (very related to its interaction with Wildgrowth Walker), I'm giving it an honorable mention.

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On the day of writing this article, I had an interesting debate about how much Siege Rhino would really impact Pauper and whether it would break the format these days when it was mentioned as the perfect threat against Affinity. If you want to know my opinion on this matter, even with the Abzan colors not having its version of Ardent Elementalist, I believe a 4/5 body with Trample that generates a Lightning Helix for four mana and reusable with Ephemerate and Kor Skyfisher, in a format where players can pilot Five-Color Cascade without much mana issues thanks to Thriving Lands and Gates, doesn't seem like the healthiest thing in the world — especially if we consider what Affinity does today as an anomaly. Vampire Sovereign is the Siege Rhino we have at home: it has evasion, costs an extra mana, and has a smaller body that doesn't survive Galvanic Blast, but interacts just as well with Ephemerate as the old Standard and Modern staple would, which leads me to believe that it is an incredibly decent option for several Black-Based Midrange categories and even an option for Cascade strategies, and will likely see play if the format slows down in the future.

Red

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Dark-Dweller Oracle, the rare to common downshift of the new set, is perfect for Moggwarts, where after enabling infinite mana with Skirk Prospector, we can now resort to infinite “draw” with this creature, amplifying viable winconditions without relying exclusively on Goblin Matron and Flamewave Invoker, making more room for Makeshift Munitions and Pyromatics. Outside the combo, the new Goblin is also another excellent way to give the archetype even more consistency to find its pieces or maintain attrition - a function that will also be done with excellence in Rakdos Aristocrats and the like. As a whole, I suppose Dark-Dweller Oracle is a great addition to Pauper and will partially increase the power level of some archetypes.
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Although I like Lava Coil's downshift to deal with Mnemonic Wall in case, at some point, the Flicker Tron or archetypes with Ghostly Flicker and Pulse of Murasa return to the top, I think this spell is less efficient than Flame Slash in the current Metagame.
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The staple of pretty much every eternal format has arrived at Pauper — and it will definitely be Double Masters 2022's most impactful addition to the format. I always mentioned that Pauper needed better threats, and Monastery Swiftspear is above any power level expectations I had: for comparison purposes, in an imaginary world, I would consider a Goblin Guide downshift to be more logical and reasonable than Monastery Swiftspear. It wildly alters the nature of most red spell-based archetypes because

absolutely everything you play will be rewarded with it

, and it's important to note that Prowess triggers with

any non-creature spell

, including

artifacts

and

enchantments

.

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This means that Monastery Swiftspear fits into

so many possibilities

that it's impossible not to consider it an instant staple for several decks: Burn, Kiln Fiend, Boros Synthesizer, Tribe Combo, Izzet Tempo, Gruul, Heroic, among many others — I can even imagine Affinity testing a few copies of it, although I'm not certain if that's a good idea. Now, out of these options, which should be the most successful and take full advantage of the format's new best one-drop? Besides obviously Burn, I think the Izzet archetypes with Delver of Secrets and Izzet Charm can have a good return with this addition, but my main bet goes to the same strategies that resort to Seeker of the Way, allowing for explosive openings with both creatures while accumulating card advantage with other low-cost spells. However, the question remains whether this will be enough to knock Affinity out of its distant place as the format's best deck, and a one-drop that grows exponentially and punishes lists that spend the first few turns on setup might just be what Pauper needs to handle it. And as expected, its downshift has already created a dozen topics about bans on

Burn

— about that,

keep calm before hitting the panic button

, and unlike the current Affinity due to Bridges, there are numerous answers that make a bad match against Burn much more tolerable, such as Weather the Storm, Lone Missionary, Circle of Protection: Red, Hydroblast, among others that can easily mitigate the potential turn 3 kills it offers. In the end, Monastery Swiftspear will serve as a thermometer: if its addition doesn't break the format and even collaborates to balance the Metagame to a healthier state, it means we can consider other powerful creatures to get a downshift in the future, but if it eventually polarizes tournaments and proves to be too efficient, we'll get a sense of how far the "better creatures" line can go. I intend to do an article next week focused on decklists and ideas on how we can get the most out of the new staple, so stay tuned!

Green

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Speaking of better creatures, Experiment One is another good downshift, but one I can't see having a home currently, as it's significantly worse than Nettle Sentinel or Skarrgan Pit-Skulk in Stompy and will hardly go beyond 3 power. Maybe it shows up in Naya Zoo decks and the like, where it can grow quickly and complement the aggressive drops, Wild Nacatl and Matca Rioters, but it doesn't seem relevant enough to me in 2022's Pauper.
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Although I don't consider it as playable in Stompy, as this deck always tries to play around removals, Might of Old Krosa gives more consistency to Infect, which now has up to two one-mana spells that give +4/+4 (considering Groundswell's landfall), increasing the odds of a turn 2 or turn 3 kill. However, Infect remains very inconsistent in finding the right mix of creatures and pumps, and Pauper is still an extremely interactive format where removals like Galvanic Blast, Lightning Bolt and Snuff Out are common, limiting the possibility of over-extending an All-In strategy without backup or protection.

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Another place I can imagine Might of Old Krosa is in Gruul lists with Kiln Fiend and Monastery Swiftspear, where we can deliver a 3-card combo with Temur Battle Rage, and we have good protection spells like Snakeskin Veil and Apostle's Blessing, but tests will be needed to see how far the format's manabase allows us to go with that idea today.

Multicolor

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Bloodwater Entity is an interesting option for slower, spell-oriented archetypes like the Izzet Serpentine, where it can grow quickly while returning whatever you might need at the moment — not to mention it survives your Fiery Cannonade and the like. Possibly, it also has space as a one-of in Jeskai Ephemerate, where its ETB is similar to Archaeomancer and its body might make a difference.
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I can't say I'm excited about Call to the Feast where we already have Battle Screech, but Lifelink can do things, and I like Nightsky Mimic decks enough to give it an honorable mention
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Another honorable mention as I can't imagine where exactly Cartel Aristocrat fits in today, and I would much prefer if the downshift was Cruel Celebrant, as it would give a reason to actually attempt an Orzhov Sacrifice, but cheap sac outlets are always handy, and the fact that she protects herself from basically any removal and even blockers makes her a decent option if we find the right home. A curious fact is that, due to its built-in protection, Cartel Aristocrat screams "voltron" in many ways, but I can't imagine an Auras and Equipment theme interacting well with "sacrificing creatures", despite Cartouche of Solidarity, Ancestral Blade, and Nurturing Presence
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Dreg Mangler doesn't currently have a home, but that doesn't take away its qualities as a reasonable-cost hasty threat.
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Another interesting addition to the Sacrifice theme, Fireblade Artist has an immediate impact and punishes the opponent for every turn it remains on the battlefield, as well as interacting well with Body Dropper and other Payoffs. However, I feel that the slot for it is very limited these days, as I would normally prefer Makeshift Munitions on the battlefield rather than it.
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Honorable mention as another interesting addition to Tortured Existence, which complements Satyr Wayfinder while offering a relevant clock for an empty board.
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I'm disappointed that we only had one charm from the Return to Ravnica cycle, after all some of them like Azorius Charm and Golgari Charm would be very interesting, but Izzet Charm is definitely the best among them (Boros Charm came out in Gatecrash) and I don't think there's a time when this card isn't useful in Pauper. The format still has an important share of creatures that a Shock would kill or help to kill after combat, Spell Pierce is a great early-game answer for decks like Affinity and is never dead against Burn, and Faithless Looting has the constant utility of filtering your hand — having it all in one slot is adding massive flexibility to your deck.

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I believe that Izzet archetypes will run about two copies in the Maindeck, as there are situations where it is not more important than other cards that occupy these slots, but the number of games where all its modes are relevant is far from small, since Faeries, Boros Bully, Burn, Familiars and even Elves are archetypes where a removal coupled with a soft counter is extremely powerful. Like Monastery Swiftspear, I believe that Izzet Charm will also be extremely impactful for the format and will change the dynamics of games against archetypes that have access to its colors.
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Lyev Skyknight creates a recurring blink soft-lock on Familiars, making it impossible for the opponent to attack or block, and is also another aggressive body that interacts well with blinks and other means of reusing its ETB — so it deserves an honorable mention as a potential threat for a good cost in a color combination that doesn't always have the means to go to the race.
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I had a fixed opinion about Tenth District Legionnaire, that the red splash probably wasn't worth just to add it, but Monastery Swiftspear changes the circumstances. Now, I can imagine Boros Heroic as a real possibility. But what exactly does adding red to Heroic give us, besides these two creatures? The ability to cast spells like Ancestral Anger and better interactions on the Sideboard like Pyroblast and Electrickery, plus the new Double Masters additions offer a high quality and play together in the Pioneer version of that archetype. The concern with this splash, obviously, is how much a deck that tries to win fast and “under” the others will be delayed due to the format's manabase that doesn't reward aggressive two-color strategies, and I can't imagine a situation where Heroic can play better and accumulate as much value as archetypes that have the luxury of playing one or two tapped lands in the first few turns. That said, Tenth District Legionnaire is essential for Heroic in other formats, and definitely deserves every test possible in Pauper to assess its importance to the format.

Land

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By having to decide when you're building your list, rather than when it enters the battlefield — which would make it infinitely better and perhaps not even worthy of the common slot — Cryptic Spires doesn't have any practical difference compared to Return to Ravnica's Guildgates. This leads me to question whether the

Tri-Lands

from

Shards of Alara

and

Khans of Tarkir

would be too strong now that we have access to the Thriving Lands and Gates to allow building four or five-color decks without the same difficulty we used to have a few years ago.

Conclusion

We have reached the end of my Double Masters 2022 review for Pauper, and I can say with certainty that the new Masters set will be one of the most impactful releases for the format this year. Monastery Swiftspear will definitely change the Metagame, rewarding faster archetypes while punishing decks that require a specific setup to function properly, perhaps bringing the much-needed balance to the dominance that Affinity has today — and preferably will highlight other strategies that respond appropriately to the faster decks, establishing the famous rock-paper-scissors present in most healthy formats.

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In addition to it, there was no lack of relevant additions for the most varied tastes, such as Militia Bugler, Izzet Charm, Dark-Dweller Oracle, Might of Old Krosa and Tenth District Legionnaire. So, we can expect some significant changes in the coming weeks. And referencing a famous quote from one of my favorite game franchises: changes

“may bring joy, may bring fear, but let us embrace whatever it brings”

. Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm and journalism student. Plays virtually every Magic: The Gathering competitive format.

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