Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Black Cards

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Pauper's Christmas Wishlist - Black Cards

12/24/20 Comment regular icon0 comments

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

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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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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. For this end of year, 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 black cards:

Black

It is possible to say that the color black is, without a doubt, the color most loved by the Pauper community (or, at least, in the Brazilian community). The color predominates in archetypes like Mono Black Control, Mono Black Devotion and as part of the base like decks like Orzhov Monarch and Rakdos Monarch, in addition to Mono Black Burn, which makes occasional results in smaller leagues or events. Black also plays an important role as a base color for archetypes based on graveyards like Aristocrats and Tortured Existence. At Pauper, the color still lacks some iconic aspects that it has in other formats: Better discard effects, more efficient threats and even punitive effects for certain strategies.
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Some players mentioned Blood Artist as a card they would like to see in the format, so it can have another payoff for Aristocrats strategies besides Falkenrath Noble and Hissing Iguanar. However, despite coming into play a turn earlier, Blood Artist suffers 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 Artist would have, it is still a point to be considered in the format. So, although it costs an extra mana, Bastion of Remembrance seems 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.
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Pauper does not have a CMC 1 discard effect that can hit almost any card in your opponent's hand, limiting players to options that are not always good maindeck interactions like Duress and Divest. However, including a card like Inquisition of Kozilek would 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 Blackmail and Cabal Therapy. Here, I emphasize Cabal Therapy for 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, Kor Skyfisher, Glint Hawk or 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 Therapy is a great enabler and payoff for the archetype.

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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.
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Cling to Dust is, 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 Dust would not only be a great addition to the format but would be a significant staple. The card would also help with a chronic problem of Black-Based decks by helping their almost-unwinnable matchup vs. Burn.
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With the addition of Fiery Cannonade to the format in Commander Legends, we can assume that it is safe to include a card like Cry of the Carnarium to the format. The black sweeper slot initially belonged to Infest. However, because it costs two black mana and is used in Sorcery-speed, Infest seems to be a mediocre option when compared to Fiery Cannonade, making me choose Cry of the Carnarium as a substitute, since it has the upside of exiling the destroyed creatures, which is revlevant in a Mono Black Devotion mirror, for example.
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I mentioned in a previous article that, despite Pauper having a good base for a Cycling deck, the archetype lacks good payoffs outside Drannith Stinger and Drannith Healer, and I even recommended Flourishing Fox as another payoff for the archetype. However, even if Flourishing Fox would enter the format, 12 Payoffs for the deck still seems little, and the deck still lacks reach and, therefore, I consider Faith of the Devoted as the most viable option to give reach to the Cycling deck. My experience at Penny Dreadful showed me that Lightning Rift is 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 Flare is, 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 Devoted doesn’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.
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Currently, the weakest threat curve in Mono Black Devotion is turn 2: It is the turn where, normally, the deck will use a Sign in Blood, or destroy a creature or make a more proactive play with Cuombajj Witches. Gifted Aetherborn may 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!

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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.
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Mesmeric Fiend already exists in the format and sees little play, even though it has an interaction with sac outlets to exile cards permanently. Kitesail Freebooter has 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.
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Zombies is a Tier 3 deck from Pauper that players would very much like to play competitively, and the archetype could only work with better support for your cards in the form of card advantage engines or a Lord. Lord of the Accursed could 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.
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Megrim was 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, Megrim would have the support of cards like Wrench Mind, Liliana's Specter, Ravenous Rats and, if you choose a splash for red, Blightning and even 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.
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Pawn of Ulamog is another card that would serve to collaborate with the Aristocrats decks, as it turns all of your creatures into potentials Discordant Piper to 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.
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I know, Shriekmaw interacts absurdly well with Ephemerate, but which ETB effect does not interact with Ephemerate? It's not those creatures' fault, it's Ephemerate's. In general, Shriekmaw serves 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 Mulldrifter as its main beatdown.

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Although very unlikely to ever happen, Soulflayer would be one of the most interesting additions Pauper could have. Unlike Pioneer or Modern, we don't have bombs like Zetalpa, Primal Dawn to transform Soulflayer into 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 Fleetwing to give the creature Hexproof and Flying, among others. A Soulflayer deck on Pauper could be a great innovation for the format.
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Pauper is a format that still lacks alternative winconditions, and Triskeidekaphobia is 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.
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Another in the series of graveyard hate cards that can see maindeck play, Withered Wretch is the closest I can imagine of a Scavenging Ooze for 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.
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Among all the reanimation spells options that Pauper could have, Zombify is the most direct and the most likely to ever happen because it is an effect that we already have available in the form of Resurrection or 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 Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal or 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 Crusher on 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 Exhume to reanimate its creatures, and uses Shred Memory to tutor. It may be that adding Zombify will 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.

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Christmas is almost there, I can dream a little ! There is no reason and it is not even likely to happen. The card wouldn't even be that good in the format since we don't have shocklands or Thoughtseize and our good loss-of-life payoffs are limited to Snuff Out, Mutagenic Growth , Apostle's Blessing and Night's Whisper .

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But Death's Shadow is 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!
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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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