Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths physical release was delayed due to the impact of Covid-19, which limited physical gatherings and created difficulties for Wizards of the Coast manufacturing and distribution. On the upside, we’ve had longer to see how the cards played on MTG Arena but, unfortunately, getting our hands on the new toys has felt like it was never going to actually happen.
In the Q&A for Ikoria, we discussed further tweaking Green and Green-Blue, in view of some results we saw from the Stybs’s Cube appearing as a feature cube on Magic Online thanks to streamers who took it for a spin. There are some minor course corrections from our Theros Beyond Death update as well as a few very exciting additions from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
Let’s get to it.
|1||4/4 Elemental||Walker of the Grove||Cut|
|2||3/3 Golem||Maul Splicer||Cut|
Trapped in the Tower was just added, but is weak as a conditional Pacifism and, from our review of the Magic Online drafts we believe that mono-white might have a few too many copies. Loyal Cathar // Unhallowed Cathar was previously in the cube, but was cut for more token producers. We want to try restoring another resilient body while cutting a few pieces of removal. Hopefully we see a little bit more combat, and fewer board stalls.
Thirst for Meaning was the result of committee members being hopeful that seeing more cards at instant speed would be worth the drawback. We can admit that it hasn’t seemed as exciting as we hoped. In its place, we are adding our first mutate creature in Dreamtail Heron. The body is similar to a few other fliers, including Watcher in the Mist. The fail case is still uninspiring, but the cantrip trigger helps mitigate the opportunity for a two-for-one, while hopefully encouraging Blue decks to look to combat.
Phizzled is crying, but the time come to bid farewell to Diabolic Edict, another casualty of the need to lower the removal as-fan, Diabolic Edict was always flexible and reasonable removal that could hypothetically kill anything in the Cube, but more token producers in the last few years have made Edict effects weaker. Boot Nipper is flexible if unexciting, and potentially still kills a giant threat. It probably is a role player, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Welcome, sometimes-Child of Night. #RIPDarlings
Ashes to Ashes is a powerful piece of removal. The 5 life you pay is nothing to sneeze at, but also means it is one of the pieces of removal that can be cut without hurting Black-based control decks too much. We’ve been convinced: The 4/4 evasive body on Cavern Whisperer is worth considering. It’s unclear how great it will feel to cast it without mutate, but now is the chance to test it out. As we discussed in the Quick Hits, we know the hand disruption from Whisperer comes online later than is ideal. We’re not tagging this as probationary, but please let us know in the Discord how often this is being cast for its mutate cost.
Azra Bladeseeker is one of several rummagers Red has gained in the last few years, and the least flexible one for supporting spells-matters archetypes. Forbidden Friendship is, in a cube without significant Goblin tribal synergies, the best Dragon Fodder for aggressive and spells-matter decks. Not a like-for-like change, but we had to find room for our new Dinosaur token overlord.
Lash Out is a powerful piece of creature removal that carries trinket text that implies a scry. In the last two years, we have dramatically lowered the average casting cost of cards in Red such that winning the clash seems like a surprise when it happens. Fire Prophecy won’t deal damage to an opponent directly, but keeping cards flowing while cleaning up blockers is an excellent upside for our removal spell.
Pounce and Titanic Brawl were previously the pinnacle of what we could do in green creature removal, but always risked your own threat. Ikoria sees a slight diminishing of the biggest threats in green, and makes fighting a little less appealing. However, Ram Through gives us the same instant speed creature removal based on our creature, and potentially lets us get some splash damage to our opponent. This feels like a clean upgrade.
Played onto an empty board Rubbleback Rhino, Jade Guardian or Primal Huntbeast all produce a hexproof 3 power body. This is, we hope, big enough to encourage opponents to put themselves in a combat mindset to deal with your threat, but small enough to give them an opportunity to actually try to find their own creatures to make that combat interesting. We’re lowering Green’s top end by giving up expensive token generators, though the biggest tramplers (plus Eldrazi) are still available if the game goes that long.
Llanowar Elves seemed to go well, but redundancy would help. In combination with lowering the most expensive threats in Green, having another mana dork should help green get to the midgame a turn earlier a little bit more consistently. Elvish Mystic has a few more printings than our other one-drop options. Search for Tomorrow could fix colors and ramp, but we want extra creatures where we can fit them in.
One of the discussion points from Omnizech’s review of the Magic Online drafts was that Green-Blue and Green-Black seemed to struggle against many of the decks. Simic has been leaning on a generic ramp and vague-control identity, and that clearly hasn’t done enough. Shambleshark is a threat with flash that can grow to become a very respectable size in just a turn. Growth Spiral is a fine little ramp card but doesn’t fit with our vision for the cube moving forward.
Desecrator Hag is the most conditional Gravedigger Black has, but Green-Black can benefit from a little extra resilience. Until we see another multicolor set where we get multicolor commons, we can only tinker so much with Golgari. Even without self-mill, we think both colors individually will incidentally put enough creatures in the graveyard to make use of the extra recursion.
A Note on Cogwork Librarian
During the Q&A session, Discord User Ray Otus asked the committee members about the possibility of cutting Cogwork Librarian. While it’s not part of our immediate plan, we can acknowledge that when people are drafting the cube online, keeping track of draft-matters cards like the Librarian can be cumbersome or downright impossible, and the actual creature isn’t as exciting as some other colorless options. We absolutely encourage players to swap in alternatives until playing in paper is an option again. The Pauper Cube has long loved resilient threats like Clay Statue, and that is certainly a reasonable and playable card that shines in some cube decks where Librarian would be the 26th or later option.
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.