Guilds of Ravnica is just a few days away, and here’s everything changing in the Pauper Cube with the next update.
Hunted Witness is close enough to Doomed Traveler that it’s impossible to ignore. Lifelink is less powerful than flying, but token decks and the sacrifice payoffs in black both appreciate any creature that replaces itself. Mardu Hordechief was among the weakest links in the white token decks.
While it’s possible to cast Academy Journeymage for , the reality is it’s a five-drop for our purposes in the cube. Watcher in the Mist is a huge chunk of card selection attached to a reasonable evasive body, and unlike Cloudreader Sphinx (or, really, Mulldrifter) our Watcher will stick to blue-heavy decks rather than be splashed.
After moving away from “graveyard matters” themes in blue, we get handed a Guilds of Ravnica packed with blue card selection via milling ourselves into the graveyard. Neat. What’s important is that Mental Note and Thought Scour are one-mana ways to cantrip at instant speed, so replacing them requires similar cards.
Hieroglyphic Illumination should have made the cut a long time ago, as it’s cycling for option is always great early and it’s Divination impression works late. Repeal is a bit different as you need a target, but “killing” a token and drawing a card for is definitely helpful for blue decks. Scaling up for late in the game works too.
During the live patron Q&A for Guilds of Ravnica, we discussed Severed Strands and it’s progenitor Bone Splinters as sacrificing a creature for value was something black could do with tokens. Sorcery speed and limited life gain quickly wrote Strands off, but Vicious Offering was raised as a solution:
- It’s an instant!
- It scales up to kill almost everything by sacrificing a creature!
- It’s cheap and effective early in the game too!
Winner winner chicken dinner. Making way for it was the sorcery speed Crippling Fatigue, a black-heavy conditional two-for-one that asked a lot and didn’t solve big problems.
The multicolor updates are both the start of the Guilds of Ravnica update, and the most challenging to lead off with. Some colors, such as blue-black, were packed with powerful options. Others, such as blue-red, could have used more powerful choices than were given.
At one point, I looked at adding another multicolor card across the board for Guilds of Ravnica color pairs, knowing that Ravnica Allegiance would give up catch-up options to balance it in 2019. Ultimately, keeping in mind that multicolor cards are inherently less exciting for most drafters and lead players towards “value piles” instead of archetypes with interplay between them, I was forced to make a few hard decisions.
Which should be a good thing.
(Amended 10/14/2018!) Whisper Agent is Hired Blade with card selection tacked on. Flash and 3 power is enough to function like removal, and extra card selection always adds up for blue and black decks. Recoil is the kind of trick that blue and black already gets in buckets. With Repeal arriving to bolster tricky bouncing and draw a card down, Recoil’s utility is already well-trodden and overlapped. (Plus the community really liked keeping Dinrova Horror around instead.)
I’m not happy to see it go however.
Rosemane Centaur is a pile of keywords for colors that can power it out early. Travel Preparations is powerful too, but is another difficult-to-use card for most players. Swapping a conditional buff for a surefire threat seems solid to reward green-white players.
This should clarify things. Just know that's is a reflexive trigger and those are a type of delayed trigger ability and still use the stack.
— Joshua Collier (@agent_of_blight) October 5, 2018
While it’s not quite as good as I first thought reading the Guilds of Ravnica Release Notes, the power to kill a larger creature while digging down two cards all at instant speed makes Hypothesizzle far better than other options in blue-red. Goodbye, Cunning Strike.
Rhizome Lurcher is a great body for black-green decks. Green has one of the highest creature counts by color in the cube, and black will glady trade a few creatures for greater value. Playing a 5/5 or 6/6 for four mana isn’t unreasonable, and the later to draw this the better it will become.
Grisly Salvage is just a graveyard dump without a real payoff in quite some time.
Undercity Uprising is another powerful card, one worth splashing for in green-based token decks. Fighting with a deathtouch creature and attacking with miserable blocks for your opponent is a one-two combo that should lead this card to breaking a stalemate wide open. What I don’t like it losing an instant speed removal spell in Grim Contest. It was a nice payoff for going “Golgari Midrange” and planning to fight with something big later on.
But killing your darlings and an admittedly conditional removal spell is a fine trade-off here.
The Feedback Loop
Be sure to swing by the Pauper Cube Discord community, or at least Twitter, to let me know what you think of the latest changes and point out anything I missed! Or consider becoming a patron of the Pauper Cube to get in on the update discussion live when Ravnica Allegiance hits this January, as well as the latest patron-exclusive discussions on Discord.