Magic: the Gathering


Pauper: Modern Horizons 3 Review!

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There's no denying Modern Horizons 3 will change Pauper! In today's article, we'll analyze the best cards from this set for Pauper and see how they will change this format.

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переведено Joey Sticks

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рассмотрено Tabata Marques

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Current State of the Format

Pauper is going through a transition now that we can no longer play All That Glitters or the Stickers mechanic. Grixis Affinity returned at full force, and other decks started to pop up a bit more in the metagame, like Walls Cascade, Caw-Gates, Mono Blue Terror, and Cycling Storm.

You may say Pauper, before Modern Horizons 3link outside website, is diverse and somewhat balanced, but this probably won't last much longer because this set, just like MH2, will change this format significantly. We'll also get some new stuff and other not-so-new stuff.


MH3 Highlights for Pauper

A New Combo!

Basking Broodscale stood out quite a lot during spoiler season because it originated a new combo deck in this format. You can see more details about this new strategy herelink outside website.

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This combo focuses on enchanting Basking Broodscale with Sadistic Glee and activating its Adapt ability, which will trigger its second ability. This will create a loop that lets you create infinite mana, counters, and Eldrazi tokens. You can use this interaction in many ways, but the main one is winning the game with Thoughtpicker Witch.

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This sorcery may be incredible for this combo, considering it lets you dig through your deck for any pieces you need. It also creates an Eldrazi Spawn token and plays well with Commune with the Gods. Furthermore, it is excellent in any deck that wants to fill your graveyard, like TortEx and Dredge.

Artifact Affinity

Just like MH2, Modern Horizons 3 once again brought, as is tradition, new tools for decks with Affinity for and mechanics that focus on either artifacts or sacrifice. It is curious that, in the last few years, these mechanics have become so tied together that it is tough to see them as separate things in this format nowadays.

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In their latest ban announcement, the Pauper Format Panel (PFP) informed us that there was a card in MH3 that could harm the format and likely needed to be banned. It could even warrant a preemptive ban before MH3 was released because this card was just too similar to another card that has already been banned.

This card is Cranial Ram - you only need to take one look at it to notice the similarities with Cranial Plating, and, consequently, All That Glitters. The most significant difference between them is that Cranial Ram costs, exclusively, Magic Symbol BMagic Symbol R, and has the Living Weapon ability. You also can't equip it at instant speed.

Even with these differences (which may make Cranial Ram worse than its predecessors), it is clear that this card may, yes, put the entire format at risk. Curiously, this seems to happen often since we got indestructible dual lands.

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Cranial Ram might have stolen the spotlight, but there's no denying the card above is simply absurd. This is a 2/1 Flying body that you'll easily cast for one mana. It also might force your opponent to give up one resource; otherwise, you'll draw a card.

This is another powerful artifact that may make it into Affinity's "A-Team". Many other decks may also explore its potential.

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This piece can also play with Deadly Dispute and Reckoner's Bargain, which makes it even more likely that we'll see a Rakdos Affinity soon. This new card draw tool will easily go into any Midrange Bx list because flashback makes it fascinating as a card.


New Removals

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MH3 will also bring us some interesting removals, like the Zombie above, which is really similar to Fleshbag Marauder. The difference (or advantage) is that it costs one mana less and forces your opponent to sacrifice a nontoken. It is a great way to interact with Tolarian Terror or a board dominated by Murmuring Mystics.

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This is the Swords to Plowshares Pauper wanted so much, but it isn't exactly like we asked for. This card is clearly inferior and has many downsides. However, it is a white removal that exiles creatures, so it deserved a mention.

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This is another sorcery that, at first glance, seems bad. It does get better, however, when you remember that red needs better ways to deal with protection and Guardian of the Guildpact. It is an excellent inclusion for decks like Skred and Mono-Red.

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Siege Smash is simply the first card with Split Second in Pauper. With it, you can destroy artifacts at instant speed and prevent your opponent from answering it, or simply use it to stop anyone from doing anything and create infinite mana with the Goblins combo (if your setup is ready).

This is incredibly strong and should create some fascinating situations in Pauper.

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This is another white card that will probably see some play. It is quite versatile and gives decks like Familiars and Jeskai Wildfire a way to interact directly with their opponent's graveyard without a Relic of Progenitus (which doesn't have a lot of synergy with these decks). The fact it is so versatile is what makes it incredibly useful and interesting.

Cycling Fetches

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This set will also bring a new land cycle for Pauper. Each of these lands gets you one out of three basic lands, enters play untapped, gives you Magic Symbol c, and you can even recycle them later. I see a few of these lands in one or two decks as a sort of upgraded Ash Barrens.


Another mechanic that looked very promising to players during spoiler season was the Energy mechanic. Many Energy cards are intriguing on their own, but it is difficult to say whether a deck that focuses on Energy is a viable option in Pauper competitively.

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This Goblin is almost a Goblin Bushwhacker that is a bit more restrictive mana-wise, and you need Energy counters to use its effect the best you can. However, it is still interesting for Pauper and may find some space in an aggro list.

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Galvanic Discharge is an Energy Lightning Bolt that doesn't target players, but in certain situations may give you extra energy in the form of counters you can use later on. Nonetheless, the fact it doesn't target an opponent makes this card a lot worse than it should be, regardless of its possibilities.

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This spell is really similar to Unearth in a way, but it is white. It is an Energy reanimator that, on its own, may create some interesting payoff to a Reanimator deck that abuses Energy to reanimate something relevant, depending on the build. However, this archetype has better tools, and it isn't very popular in the meta anyway.


This card will probably pop up in one or two lists with white and bring back an Ichor Wellspring or Kor Skyfisher, but it is difficult to say for sure without testing it.

Last, But Not Least

Modern Horizons 3 will bring a lot to Pauper, and there's a lot we can still talk about, particularly regarding Affinity. There are still many cards that deserve a mention, like Molten Gatekeeper, which has interesting abilities that open up numerous possibilities interaction-wise, or Skoa Embermage, which is the first common legendary in a long time (it can also work as a Fireblast but with a body). Personally, I expect a lot from the new combo, Affinity, and what I consider to be the most awaited-for card in the entire set:

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This new Faerie will go well with Spellstutter Sprite! However, its ability stood out to me because it enables another type of strategy.

Terror decks are well-known in Pauper and are always in the top 8's of Challenges or on the podiums of the Pauper League. Currently, there are multiple ways to build this strategy, but it's standard to see Delver of Secrets in these lists. However, one of the greatest challenges this incredibly iconic creature faces is the fact that you need to flip it to put pressure on the board, and, nowadays, this is a bit difficult. You end up not flipping it fast enough, or it dies before you can flip it.

However, Sneaky Snacker does this differently - it might be better because of its interaction with Brainstorm.

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The heart of Terror decks is, today, these three cantrips. So, if we replace Delver for Snacker, their interaction with her is just much better.

You can put the Sneakers into your graveyard with a Thought Scour or Mental Note and return them to the battlefield at any turn with Brainstorm. Then, just put your Faeries on the board and open up some space to play your Serpent. Imagine doing all that on turn 2 or 3, and then coming back on the following turn and playing one or two Serpents and dealing an absurd amount of damage.

Not to mention the other possibilities this card will have in this format. The fact it also doesn't seem extremely unfair is a bit incredible, considering one Relic of Progenitus and the right removal will deal with it.

Final Words

I'm very excited about MH3 and I hope to see positive changes in this format. Nonetheless, there's still a non-zero chance Pauper will be quite similar to what it was after MH2.

Tell us in our comment section below what you expect from this new set!

Thank you for reading, and see you next time!