If you haven’t seen Part 1 of the Modern Horizons Quick Hits, be sure to check it out for a look at the key white, blue, and black cards to consider for the Pauper Cube!
Bogardan Dragonheart feels thematically similar to Ahn-Crop Invader, but there’s a huge difference in play style. Invader lets you attack and force the opponent to choose to block before you activate its ability. Dragonheart can work the same way, but is better to attack with a 4/4 flying than wait to be blocked on the ground. Either way leaves you open to a removal spell after you choose to pump, which makes this potentially more attractive since there’s no mana cost for the Dragonheart to do its thing.
Fists of Flame is a combat trick, but it’s among the most interesting I’ve seen in awhile. On your turn it’s a +2/+0 (at least) with trample stapled on, making it great to punch through damage after the opponent blocks. With timing, or in a blue-red spells deck with things like Opt, it’s possible to pump it even higher. Ultimately, combat tricks are tough in the Pauper Cube but this one is more exciting to consider than most.
Goblin Champion is a one drop that isn’t totally invalidated later in the game. It’s also a one-drop that stands on its own and attacks as soon as it hits play. This Goblin is hard not to love.
Goblin War Party is another card the popped up on the Discord server, and it is another card I’m less-than-excited about than others. At a whopping seven mana, casting this entwined is unlikely. So on the surface, it’s four mana for either three 1/1 Goblins (that’s Eyeless Watcher rate, which isn’t excellent) or +1/+1 and haste until end of turn (which is useless without other setup, meaning more mana for something else anyway). I just don’t see this card working out the way we want it to.
Orcish Hellraiser is a bit like Viashino Pyromancer if you squint at it. The main difference is how you plan to play it. Pyromancer just drops on the second turn and hits for 2 to the dome, but you’re left working with a 2/1 body. Here, you get a 3/2 body that hits for 2 on the way out but you have an echo cost to content with. Curving out with this requires a focus on having two drops so you can ideally go with Hellraiser on the second turn, then untap and pay echo before playing another two-drop on your third turn. Getting a 3/2 body of out the deal, and spreading the mana cost out, works in its favor here.
What’s better than one Bear? How about three! Mother Bear gets to curve out as a 2/2 for two, block or otherwise die, then come back as two more Bears. For black-green decks looks for ways to grind out advantages or sacrifice effects, Mother Bear is quite profitable.
Springbloom Druid is Harrow on-a-stick. While I am not excited to particularly encourage or support three-color shenanigans, it’s indisputably a more powerful way to ramp than Elvish Rejuvenator. Harrow, as an instant, led to some shenanigans and timing cleverness. Going sorcery speed with a body attached should play out better.
Trumpeting Herd is similar to Elephant Ambush. Rebound makes the “flashback” cost free and immediate on the next turn, but as a sorcery it loses out as a combat trick. I think making six power for four mana is worth it, though.
Fountain of Ichor is a mana rock for any color, and feels similar to Guardian Idol. Paying three mana, instead of just two, is harder but getting a 3/3 as the upside is strong. The main problem with Fountain of Ichor is that Guardian Idol also works as a two-mana ramp spell. Evaluating the Fountain is tough.
Who said spell lands were dead? Cave of Temptation can filter mana, which isn’t particularly strong in the cube, or become two +1/+1 counters for a creature. I don’t think either mode individually is great in the cube, but flexible cards and a way to cash in an extra land like this one feels good.
Reprints for Foils
While many of these reprints are “at common” that’s not a bad thing: Older cards that needed a foil refreshing are great if you keep your copy of the cube shiny. Coming back an uncommon should be considered a nod of respect for how powerful some of the older commons really are. After all, just look at the new commons to see where the power level is today!
Be sure to swing by the Pauper Cube Discord server to join in the discussion evaluating all the options this incredible set brings us!