For the second of our quarantine updates to the cube, we’ve got big things from Jumpstart and Core Set 2021. Neither of these sets introduce any new mechanics so we’re using this time to take care of a bit of house keeping for some under-performers. This update features not only one of the largest upgrades to the cube’s manabase but also tackles some long time comments about some gold cards.
Just as a slight spoiler, there’s been a lot of community discussion regarding the general lack of excitement and performance from green-white (Selesnya) as a color pair, and we are aware of this. We aren’t tackling that with this update but we will be looking at ways to improve this in the near future.
We talked about Swift Response incredibly briefly in the Quick Hits and Q&A. There’s a reason this didn’t get a lot of time: it’s just that good as removal. We’ve seen versions of this effect in the past and this is one of the best at common period. Reprobation is sorcery speed and only pseudo-removal, so we’ll take the quick and neat upgrade.
Skophos Warleader was a recent addition, but a 5-drop in a lot of decks needs to do things immediately to be relevant. Warleader suffered from not being an ETB (“enters the battlefield”) creature in a cube that is defined by such effects. Hobblefiend is an early game creature that allows for gradually more value over the course of the game, and is honestly just reasonable without ever feeding things to it. We believe the black-red sacrifice archetype benefits from having an earlier option in red.
Fervent Cathar is an aggressive card that suffers from the fact it lines up poorly against any token in the cube. While the Falter effect stapled onto it is a great one in non-token games, Storm Caller is just the bigger, meaner-looking sibling to Viashino Pyromancer which has been putting in work in aggro decks. We should also acknowledge/apologize to those that like shiny things: this is a planeswalker deck exclusive, and so sadly no foils are currently available .
Llanowar Visionary is a combination of the classic Llanowar Elves and Elvish Visionary. Both of these are solid effects on their own and they’re still solid stapled together. We’re swapping out Springbloom Druid, which is a similar level of power but mostly a multicolored nonsense enabler.
We’re finally doing it! We’ve heard that folks weren’t satisfied with the 3 color cards still in the cube. There was baggage attached to them, none of them were amazing, and with this update we’re taking care of them by swapping them for new monocolored cards. Warded Battlements is here as “the truth” as our Pauper Cube forefather Stybs put it on Twitter.
Warded Battlements is the truth.
— Stybs (@the_stybs) July 4, 2020
It’s a card that plays well in aggressive mirrors pumping your own attackers while providing a body that reduces the impact of your opponent’s creatures. While an 0/3 obviously offers a bit of protection, it’s ability encourages its controller to turn things sideways and close out the game as anyone who’s playing with (or against) it in Core Set 2021 drafts will attest.
Mistral Singer is a slight upgrade over past options such as Jeskai Windscout and Aven Wind Mage. If you can make this average out to a 2.5/2.5 with evasion you’re probably going to be content with this. It also allows us to fill the space left by the Stormscape Apprentice with something more focused on existing archetypes.
We considered Crypt Lurker here but in the end felt that the ability was just not as good as previous options. Vulturous Aven is still giving you an option, but provides a flying body and actual card advantage if you have a creature to sacrifice on the board. Nightscape Familiar is also “exiting” as part of our three-color clean up which will leave the obligatory “I draft Grixis Control in every cube.” drafter at your table sad. (#RIPDarlingDepartment)
Chandra's Magmutt is a solid card. Aggro decks are fine with a 2/2 for two but that body can be outclassed quickly. Magmutt seamlessly transitions into a body that keeps 1/1 tokens back and also chips in for one damage to the opponent every turn cycle. We hope that this continues to help folks out there building mono-red aggro.
Track Down isn’t Preordain, but it does a really great approximation of it for a color that could use more interesting things to set up with. Wild Nacatl is an inefficient option in a format without dual lands having basic land types. Track Down lets us simplify some decisions while still being a live card later in the game, helping you dig up to four cards deep for the answer (or threats) you most need.
In addition to being a general cleanup of cards, the tricolor cards were brought up time and time again as non-resonant. While these all have their own stories of times they were huge roleplayers within a deck, they also have stories of wheeling around the table and not making it. If there’s a future where 3 color cards exist in The Pauper Cube, we can reassess at that point, but for the time being, these will be exiting.
This is the biggest change in this update. The Thriving land cycle is a huge upgrade for the cube. At the bare minimum these are as good as the card they are replacing, but they also enable splashes and are nice-to-open picks during the drafting portion of a cube session. The literal only downside is a lack of availability in foil, but these should at some point see a reprint to help sooth those of us hopelessly addicted to shiny things.
In interest of maintaining the density of non-basic lands in the cube, we’re swapping the remaining generic tapped duals for the Onslaught cycling lands. Cycling is a perennial favorite as far as mechanics go and preventing flood in the late game feels great. The Onslaught cycle was chosen over either the Saga or Hour of Devestation cycling lands (Drifting Meadow, Desert of the True and friends) to both encourage them being played in decks of their colors and not just costing one extra generic mana as the deserts do.
The Next Steps
If you haven’t joined the Pauper Cube Discord you’re missing out: So many unique discussions around cards, themes, and archetypes happen daily. But better than that, it’s home to a wonderful community of supportive cube enthusiasts who offer great feedback for anyone’s ideas. The Pauper Cube wouldn’t be here without this community, and we’re thrilled you’re here with us.