It is that time again: spoilers season! But, finally, the whole set has dropped and there are a lot of potentially playable cards that can slot into various archetypes and potentially become staples of that color.
Let's dive right in and take a look!
Pauper Review: Lost Caverns of Ixalan
Tinker's Tote seems like a great addition to most artifact-based decks, or even Kor Skyfisher decks. A three mana artifact that adds two other artifacts is nothing to turn your nose at. I see this as an artifact Omen of the Sun. It gives you more creatures to potentially play All that Glitters whilst building this wide threat base.
The value of Kor Skyfisher is something that Boros Synth could utilize instead of Barbed Batterfist, especially if they are going to run the Affinity package with Myr Enforcer or Frogmite. However, three mana is a lot and its final ability not providing any real game state will most likely be this card's downfall.
These honorable mentions are cards that may have some success, but, overall, I feel like there are better tools in Pauper already being used.
Family Reunion is a card that a lot of go wide decks could use, like White Weenie. Currently, they have access to Ramosian Rally and Guardian's Pledge, but if there was an Aggro deck with non-white creatures, like a red creature-based Boros, this card could be used more than the previously mentioned Anthem cards.
Overall, I don't think the mass Hexproof will be useful, which is why I haven't added it to the discussion. The only scenario I can think of is to protect yourself against cards that the Anthem cards already do, like Cast into the Fire.
Adaptive Gemguard is another potential tool for white-based artifacts decks. This allows you to have an artifact sink in the late game, transforming all your redundant Springleaf Drum into a way to make your threats lethal.
However, being a four mana threat, this is a lot to ask for a deck that really likes to curve off at two mana. Finally, this is a threat that asks for many resources and has no evasion, so can be chump-blocked easily. Overall, I don't think it makes the cut, but is another option to consider.
Augur of Bolas has some competition.
Augur of Bolas mainly sees play because of its body first and its ability second. This can be shown in two colored Fae decks, like Dimir or Izzet, in which Augur of Bolas is played with a high creature count.
River Herald Scout doesn't draw you action like Augur does. But drawing a land and having some agency over the top of your deck and what is put into the graveyard is useful on a 1/2 or a 2/3 body. I could see this replacing Fallaji Archaeologist in Dimir Terror. It is slower than Falaji in terms of filling the graveyard, but does give you an actual body to keep Goblins or early pressure in check.
There are many potential places this card could find a home, and Explore is a surprisingly strong ability, so I'm looking forward to seeing what players do with this card.
Out of Air is a fascinating card to me. Essence Scatter and Remove Soul have seen some intermittent play throughout the years of Pauper, but of late they have even seen play outside of Familiars. For those that aren't familiar (pun not intended) with the deck, it reduces the cost of your blue spells, so Remove Soul costs to counter a creature. Out of Air cannot replicate that, so I don't think it has a foot in that way.
However, some decks like Jeskai Ephemerate have been known to run Essence Scatter in the sideboard as a way to fight the Initiative Midrange decks. This is where I think Out of Air will shine, because it's effectively a Remove Soul when you need it to be, but a bad Cancel if you need to fight over something else. This card's versatility really makes me think it can replace this already niche sideboard option.
Here we go again!
This is another Deadly Dispute effect. Firstly, this is the closest to Deadly Dispute and will most likely replace Reckoner's Bargain in pretty much every deck. Life gain is important and, in some decks like the Campfire Gardens, Reckoner's Bargain will be important as the win con is generally Crypt Ratsting your opponent to death. But for most Deadly Dispute decks, it's a nice card to have but not key, so being able to chain all eight of your Deadly Dispute effects because they all provide an artifact for the next one is crucial. This really allows you to churn through your deck at an incredible rate.
Furthermore, the Map token isn't spectacular, but it does provide some utility for these Deadly Dispute decks, like Gardens and Affinity. Potentially putting a counter onto Crypt Rats or Krark-Clan Shaman to ensure it survives its own effect can be important.
Deadly Dispute decks got some upgrades.
Some of these decks have been running Lembas as additional Ichor Wellsprings. Now, there is no need; Mephitic Draught is Wellsprings 5-8. Losing 2 life isn't the end of the world to mimic Ancestral Recall. This card isn't breaking the metagame, but providing more utility for the Deadly Dispute decks.
Another small note: this might actually get Mono Black Devotion players to incorporate a Deadly Dispute package, as their Ichor Wellspring now adds to Devotion. It's a small thing, but options are open.
This card is my favorite card in the set. Black got numerous new options in this set, and a potential replacement for Chainer's Edict must be a powerful card. The reason I like this card is that it is basically the front half of Chainer’s Edict, but, as it is a permanent on the field, it will interact positively with other pieces of decks.
Firstly, it is an artifact, so it increases the count for Myr Enforcer, which matters, as Grixis Affinity is already running some number of Chainer’s Edicts. Secondly, you can sacrifice it to Deadly Dispute, so it gives you more fodder. Finally, it can be returned with Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk. This really opens up avenues for a Mardu Synth or a BW Glitters style of deck.
The other point which I haven’t even touched on is the flip side of this card when you Craft with a Plant token or a Crypt Rats in the graveyard. You get a win condition to slowly drain your opponent. This usually matters in something like Campfire Gardens.
Skullcap Snail is only the fifth or sixth version of Burglar Rat in recent printings. However, this version exiles the card from the hand, which is an improvement. This means that, if you were planning on running any of these sorts of effects, this would be my go to with the small upgrade.
They did it.
They looked at Red and realized that they needed new cards to make it playable. So, they decided to print Goblin Guide in Pauper.
This card is easily one of the best cards in the set.
Mono Red has run Ghitu Lavarunner previously, and most Red versions run an artifact package to support Kuldotha Rebirth. Great Furnace into Goblin Tomb Raider is the best place for this card, and attacking with a 2/2 with Haste with no downside is incredibly strong!
This card will make Sticker Red more explosive, and it will make Kuldotha Red more explosive. This card is just good. I'm really excited to see how strong this makes Red.
In all seriousness, having access to more than one type of sideboard card really lends itself to the Pauper play style of "if you would like to overboard for a matchup, you can “double up” on as many sideboard options as needed".
This is a small thing, but a Jewel Thief at home and another copy in Ponza deem it necessary. The main reason I mentioned it is that this is fighting for a similar slot as Jewel Thief and Llanowar Visionary in Ponza and I generally think it is worse than either option. However, being able to survive Fiery Cannonade in a situation Llanowar Visionary wouldn’t could be useful, depending on your local meta.
Nurturing Bristleback is a card that I think may surprise Reanimator players. This card has a large enough body and provides an additional body which is reasonably stated and puts itself into the graveyard. The main colors currently are Black and Green, due to Generous Ent and all the Reanimate spells.
Bristleback provides a third self-Cycling graveyard threat which can play around the opponent's options. For example, if the opponent is likely to use Snuff Out, then Troll of Khazad-dum is great. If the opponent is on Burn-based removal, Generous Ent is the best option. If the opponent is on Cast Down or other single point removal, Nurturing Bristleback providing the extra body can be game deciding.
This is another option for Stompy.
Having a reasonable threat you can cast off Burning-Tree Emissary is important for the deck. This allows you to have an extra version of Rancor and can provide your recently Hunger of the Howlpacked creature Trample. However, needing to have it on attack and it only being a 2/2 could be an issue. Overall, it could have the potential to see play in the struggling archetype.
I'm unsure if this will make the cut, but it seemed like a reasonable card for Tron. Flicker Tron can flash this in and flicker it. But I don’t think it will make it into a spell heavy deck like Flicker Tron.
Monster Tron is where I think it may shine. They struggle for removal as it is, so a colorless one is pretty good. Having Cycling tagged onto it is the main reason I am mentioning it as if this card is dead, and easily trading it in for another one is where these styles of cards shine. I'm hoping this finds a home as it has really cool art too!
This is another Cave of Temptation, but with the Cave type!
I'm unsure if having Cave matters or if it will make it playable, but it is another option if you need to make the manabase versatile.
Currently, I don’t think these lands are superb. It is an expensive way to draw a card, when the "All Will Be One" cycle generally does it better. Having access to cast the spell is great, but a cheaper activation and drawing a random card will most likely be better in most scenarios.
However, the main thing to mention is that these are very breakable! Having access to a land that can Cascade for you and is basically uninteractable seems very worrying to me, and needs to be on the radar of Wizards when implementing supplementary products into the format.
It is an interesting mechanic and an interesting land cycle overall, so I do hope they see some play, but I just can’t see it in the current state of the format.
So that wraps up the Pauper Card Review for Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Black definitely won out in this set, slowly followed by Red. Even if it only got one real card!
Until next time and Happy Brewing!