We’ve returned to the plane of Theros! All these wonderful analogues to Greek myth and enchantment themes! This will mark the second of the Committee run updates to the cube, and we’re here to give you our quick first thoughts about cards from the set.
A returning mechanic, devotion rewards mono color or mono-splash-one color decks more than their 2 color brethren. While not taking up a huge amount of space in the set, this has proven to be a reasonable mechanic even for an environment not specifically meant for mono colored decks.
Enchantments mattered last time on Theros and they matter again here. The Pauper Cube doesn’t officially support an enchantment theme so unfortunately these cards that are good in the context of the set might not make it into the cube.
Escape is the new mechanic of the set, allowing spells to be cast over and over again. All of these spells can be cast so long as you can meet the mana requirement as well as the number of cards in your graveyard to be exiled. Recursive spells have always been great in the cube, and while Wizards has been very careful with the costs being non-zero for these, we’ve got pretty high hopes for some of them
Phizzled: I keep thinking of Martyr’s Soul, but really, as long as you get a 3/3 flier for 3 or less mana, it feels pretty great. I’m definitely intrigued.
Omniczech: This is a shoe-in in my mind, curving one drop into 2 drop into this and maybe even a 1 drop as well feels like a hard to recover from aggro start
O: We’ve definitely been pushing the flicker archetype over the past year, this one might merit inclusion strictly for density reasons.
P: I didn’t notice this on my first pass through the full set, but there are some great points I’ve seen brought up by #wotcStaff cube hero and progenitor, Stybs. This is Doom Blade in white for opponent’s tokens. This resets your Aven Riftwather during blocks for even more life. This, unless I misunderstand how auras work, lets you move your Pacifism from your opponent’s early 2/2 to their 4/4 trampler in the midgame. The absence of “you control” is impactful.
P: I like the heroic twist. Buffing your team is more appealing. Without Bestow and other incidental spells to target the creature, this becomes a mere grizzly bear with a slight upside. We can do better in The Pauper Cube.
O: I think heroic lite suffers from the same issue as actual heroic, the amount of space that you need to devote to the archetype for viability is higher than I want it to be. That said, folks who’ve made that decision will appreciate this.
P: This is a fine rate in standard for making two 1/1 tokens. The scry won’t save you, but might help enough late game. As a few folks in the Discord have noted, Kor Skyfisher doesn’t mind buddying up with the Omen cycle. I’m not sure it’s a slam dunk without testing.
O: Paying 3 for Raise The Alarm doesn’t excite me, but being able to cash it in later for a scry 2 certainly makes it more appealing. This is likely a miss for me, but only a narrow one.
O: I’m pretty sure this one doesn’t get included, but I think this type of effect is interesting, 1 mana pacifisms are generally a very exciting proposition.
P: Discounts on your enchantment based removal is certainly nice, but I have concerns that seeing this early might tell new players that there are more auras in the Cube than there are. I wish the bestow creatures were a little better, or that it was a 2/1 to obviate Mystal Charger.
P: A higher CMC than Kasmina’s Transmutation, and Fish are clearly less cool than Frogs, but the difference between 1 power and 0 power is significant. I’ll keep an eye on this.
O: Honestly this is just continuing a trend in this set of things being just a mana too much for me to get really excited about them. Very near miss.
P: 2/3 for 2U is right on rate. The mana cost reduction is nice. The thing that works most against this card is actually that the instant speed spells you want to cast most on your opponent’s turn can be brutal (see, e.g., Capsize) at an even lower mana cost.
O: The control nut in me want to have this just to durdle around and be the garbage man who plays nothing on his own turn and big brains his way into losing. Part of me also recognizes I’m overhyping this card. Very excited to have a discussion with the community at large about this one.
P: Two mana instant speed Preordain is likely good enough. The late game extra scry is icing. The Kor Skyfisher dream is, well, super fun to think about. I’m all in.
O: I’m fine with 2 mana cantrip with scry 2, I’m also pretty happy about the late game scry option. I don’t want to go all in on the hype of pie in the Skyfisher dreams, but it will be great to see happen.
O: I like the idea of a tempo-y freeze effect that can be reused as the game goes on. I almost prefer this over the Kasmina’s Transmutation style blue removal since while it continues to cost mana, this does let you make sure the largest blocker or threat is dealt with as the game goes on.
P: I’ve been a fan of Silent Departure in the list forever, so I’ve got nothing bad to say here. Control decks might buy enough time to stabilize and finish the game by escaping twice, or an odd blue-based aggro (I know, I hate it too) deck is going to use this for an alpha strike somehow. I’ll keep an eye on this at prerelease.
P: Wind Drake with flash isn’t spicy, but it’s serviceable. I don’t think I could swap this for Stitched Drake, but I’m going to think about it for a little bit too long. Maybe Calcite Snapper’s time is finally over?
O: I’m less sold on this one. I can’t really nail exactly why but this doesn’t even excite me from a technical level for curve balance purposes.
O: This is probably as close as we get to a Nekrataal effect in pauper and that kinda saddens me. The body is subpar even with what will often just be a murder attached. If this was even one mana cheaper I’d be on its side.
P: When I first built Styb’s list, I didn’t feel comfortable buying Predatory Nightstalker and substituted Scuttling Death, which can only shrink a creature -1/-1. Six mana is a lot and only promising -2/-2 (in the absence of instant speed removal targeting this) is a rough rate, but this will perform well in THB limited where indestructible creatures exist. Nightstalker remains the gold standard, but this is worth discussing with the community because targeting matters.
O: This one kicked up a lot of discussion on the Discord. I think the biggest issue this has is that the mill happens every turn regardless. Not being able to shut this off means it can easily leave you with a very small library. I wish this just milled 1 or even 2 cards I’d be a lot more on board
P: An excellent point. Quite a few people have been having (it sounds like) success with self mill lately, but this seems like too much. The fact that it says “each player” doesn’t seem like it mitigates that enough, as right now all colors have at least the chance to do something with the cards in their graveyard, not just the harpy’s controller.
P: As we continue to see toughness increase in standard set commons, permanently shrinking creatures gains appeal. I’m hesitant to offer up Last Gasp or Diabolic edict, but maybe other people are getting run over by green 4/4s.
O: I think the comparison to Last Gasp is what sold me on this as a potential inclusion. Last Gasp routinely over performs when I see it, and even with a reduction to sorcery speed this is still solid and the fact it can shrink what it doesn’t kill for a longer period helps ease the pain of sorcery speed further.
P: Instant speed Disentomb is probably not enough. Does the scry really feel enough like drawing another card? I think this is heading for On Deck purgatory.
O: HARD pass here. Honestly one of the least impressive of the cycle
P: Admittedly, the main reason I added it to the list is because there is a dumb infinite blocker loop you can do with Kor Skyfisher. It’s almost like Skyfisher is a strong enough engine card and the support cards you give it are incidental. I’ll also be interested to see how it looks in foil.
P: I didn’t even think about the second mode at first. A few people have mentioned in the Discord that, even at higher mana cost, this might obviate Diabolic Edict. But the kicker that warrants discussion and consideration is that you get to choose which mode is happening. Your opponent will never sacrifice an Eldrazi Scion or Army token when you want them to sacrifice their Pacifism, and will never sacrifice Rancor when you need to kill their Wrecking Beast.
O: I’m not sure that this has a place yet, but I want to test it. Giving black an option that helps it deal with enchantments is nice, but as time goes on and on I like edicts less and less in pauper cubes. I think the enchantment half is just the better half as it’s far more likely to hit your intended target.
P: I got to see this in action on Loading Ready Run’s Pre-Prerelease, and a 3/3 for three mana is still above rate. If it escapes once, it’s a house. Not being able to block is rough some times, but were you hoping to block in your Black-Red deck?
O: This is on rate for both halves, and 5/5 is kinda the magic number for “bigger than most removal and creatures”. I’m not sold yet but could be swayed.
P: Repeatable rummage is nothing to sneeze at, but I’m not as excited about this 1/3 as other red controllish 2 drops.
O: I’ve been enjoying Merchant of the Vale quite a bit, this is basically it, but 1 mana less and without the adventure. I honestly think this is pretty reasonable but want community input first.
P: This might be the two-drop 3/1 I was hoping Rimrock Knight would turn out to be. If you pitch this with Faithless Looting or Haggle on turn one or two and find some solid action, are you feeling pretty good? I hope to find out at the prerelease.
O: Most decks can answer a 3/1. A good number can answer a 3/1 that turns into a 4/2, the question is how many decks can keep answering 4/2s repeatedly? The fact that this will get hungry on the graveyard is probably the limiting factor, but this has my attention.
P: The question I can’t figure out the answer to is: how many times do you need this to escape before an opponent is losing? I’m guessing the answer is only two times before they are burning real answers to shut down your two-drop.
P: 4 damage for four mana isn’t a great rate, but there have been times when I’ve sent all four darts from Pyrotechnics at the same green fatty. I think this is almost certainly only going on-deck.
O: Oh? You’re approaching me? Jokes aside, 4 mana for 4 damage and a bit of upside isn’t where I want to be.
P: Modal spells are worth looking at twice. We have a bunch of 2 power haste creatures in Red threes right now, but we only have a few ways to destroy an opposing Bonesplitter. This might make the cut.
O: The number of “must answer” threats that are artifacts in the cube is pretty low, but having the utility here of either a manic vandal or another 2 points to throw at someone’s face is very nice.
P: I was pretty happy with Anh Crop Invader, and have been in love with Bogardan Dragonheart. Black having the only repeatable ways to play aristocrats has made the Black-X archetypes feel muddled. Maybe another sacrifice outlet will allow clarity.
O: While 5 mana is a lot, the fact this can chew up early game dorks and become an evasive 5/5 is pretty appealing. That said menace on this body means that when its blocked, it’ll also likely die, making it a pretty clean 2 for 2 most of the time.
P: Nothing fancy, just a 3/3 for three that untaps another creature. Incidental times where this will “free” something locked down by Claustrophobia or the like for a turn might be nice. Really, I think it’s just a fair but not thrilling body.
O: Even as this outdates Nessian Courser, I’m not sold on such a low end etb effect
O: Am I crazy for liking this? It seems like a great mana dork that gets to ramp more as you hit your ramped out big boys!
P: the biggest knock against the caryatid is the possibility of enabling five color nonsense, which gives me pause. I like the flexibility and the effect, as well as incentivizing building a meaningful board presence to maximize effectiveness. I’m not sure we will fit it in, especially if we could play Omen of the Hunt instead.
P: While the 5/3 body isn’t super exciting, giving everything trample could be the push that closes a few midrange board stalls. I wonder how often tokens chump block green 4 power creatures forever?
O: The text on this is something I frankly never expected to see on a common and gives me hope that one day we might see some kind of anthem proper on a creature at common. That said, this is probably not as good as Thundering Elk Herd in the long run.
O: I do like the idea of instant speed rampant growth with the ability to fix your draws later on. I’m not sure how this actually plays out, but it definitely caught my attention.
P: Flash isnt always flash, but this rate and effect are well regarded at instant speed. I can’t figure out an obvious swap, but am very open to it.
P: This remedies the problem I had with kicker creatures like Baloth Gorger. I’m not incentivized to hold this back, and it gets bigger when it comes back and I’ve got more mana. The escape cost might even work as an incentive to swing with a mana dork. Hestitant like.
O: This definitely helps vs the “I have 6 mana and just drew gorger, do I wait?” conundrum. I kinda like this but wish it had some type of evasion to help it punch through.
P: A two-drop sorcery speed fight spell isn’t exciting. Adding toughness to a 1-toughness deathtoucher might be worth having. This is Savage Punch but your creature has a better chance to survive on turn two or three. I’m skeptical, but I want to point out that this exists.
O: It’s gonna take a lot of convincing to get me there on this one. I see what it’s doing I just think that there are better options out there.
P: The rate for just adding flying is okay, but making your finisher unblockable to close the game out in any color should be considered. Am I overvaluing flying for red hasty threats or forgetting that UG is going to put this on Eldrazi?
O: I’m not seeing this one. It’s been a while since any equipment has truly excited me, and this one isn’t breaking the mold.