Battlebond is spicy—but this update is even bigger. Let’s roll into it.
Opt is a nicer card than Oona's Grace for many decks, and giving blue decks another “one-drop” is only fair with all of the other colors getting recent benefits. For now, Mental Note and friends can stay too.
Welcome to “the sacrifice” deck in black! Plagued Rusalka can turn extra creatures—tokens—into a combat nightmare for opponents. While black-red decks like haste, Corrupted Zendikon isn’t needed to support that theme and, instead, black can lean into providing sacrifice effects to pair with white tokens, or red tokens, or green tokens.
It’s a nice theme and identity with all of the other options to pair up to black.
A three-drop that causes combat math to get messy? Phyrexian Ghoul is not only new-to-foil in Masters 25 it’s also an iconic creature for sacrifice decks. Dead Reveler was always fine, and shouldn’t be missed given the new options.
Bloodflow Connoisseur was a gem from Avacyn Restored, providing another Carrion Feeder kind of card—but this one can block. I’m concerned bounce spells are a straight up way to cold the sacrifice decks, but Bloodflow Connoisseur can bring a lot to other matchups.
Driver of the Dead can buy back plenty of things you’d want to sacrifice. Sultai Scavenger was excellent when there was more graveyard/self-mill themes. It’s still a good card, but Gurmag Angler is just better.
First it was Common Iguana, and the people laughed. Then it was Keldon Raider and people perked up. Now it’s Azra Bladeseeker and red filtering is real—and it’s good. We even get a respectable body to fight with! Scourge Devil hasn’t pulled weight where it would be best, so it’s time to change it up.
Everyone suggested this as a solid car given Butcher Ghoul hanging around and they’re right: This is an excellent one-drop do it’s back. Emperor Crocodile has been fun, but it’s not necessary or the focus for any of the decks now. Leaning into existing archetypes is correct.
Blastoderm has gotten a pass for a long time. Shroud is fine against blue and black decks, but with the amount of tokens hanging around the cube actually hitting home with the 5/5 is rare. Going for a solid value creature that buys times (blue-green ramp) or feedback a sacrifice theme (black-green) should see more effective play.
Ulvenwald Captive // Ulvenwald Abomination was supposed to be a payoff for ramp decks. It wasn’t. Jungle Wayfinder might help fix your opponent, but a 3/3 is big enough to matter and helps anyone looking to go beyond two colors in the cube—as well as ramp decks on-curve.
It’s a ramp spell! It’s two mana! It only gets a Forest! Welcome to the new and improved ramp theme, now leaning into searching up more Forests. Less multicolor, more ramp should help speed that deck up a step to compete with the faster aggro decks. Werebear was great with self-mill, which is long gone by now.
Maze of Ith has been contentious. It’s expensive. It’s barely Pauper by the stretchiest of rules stretches. It’s still just okay, and definitely more beatable at common than in true prison decks in more powerful cubes. Peace Strider gains life upfront—though Guardian Automaton is still around too—and isn’t too shabby of a body along for the ride.
Pierce Strider is excellent for aggressive decks, providing an easy-to-cast Hill Giant with a Lava Spike attached. Mishra's Factory isn’t nearly as expensive as Maze of Ith, but as a nod to budget builder and Pauper purists it’s an easy-to-cut card to make way for a true common.
I’ll have purchasing help decklists available soon, as well as spreadsheet updates, next week once I’m back from Pro Tour Dominaria. For now, let me know what you think about these big changes!