We return to standard legal sets with Magic: the Gathering’s summer 2021 Core Set equivalent and, simultaneously, heavily Dungeons and Dragons inspired setting. The next Pauper Cube update from the committee will roll Modern Horizons 2 together with the cards from this set.
Die Rolling – There’s a handful of cards at common in this set that use a 20-sided die to determine their effect. The Committee has chosen to not include any of these cards in the main cube list in a desire to not increase variance in a way that cannot be reliably mitigated through player action.
Venture Into The Dungeon – These cards use one of three specific tokens to represent a classic dungeon crawl. The Committee has chosen to not include cards that utilize this mechanic to avoid unnecessary complexity. The requirement to have copies of these dungeons on hand as well as introducing commons that have a triggered ability with one of 21 specific effects based on game state and prior venturing was deemed to not be worth it for the cards present at common.
For both die rolling and Venture cards, we will not be including them in the Quick Hits, some are completely reasonable magic cards, but talking about things we have no plans to even consider is really a waste of both our time and yours. As always, if these cards appeal to you, we strongly encourage you to include these in your personal version of the cube.
Modal “Storytelling” Cards – These are just modal cards with a funky little bit of flavour attached to them. Nothing huge or new, but the inclusion of more modal cards than usual is greatly appreciated.
Omniczech: Oh hey, it’s another modal white card. Sadly I don’t think that the modes on display here are tremendous and really wish that this was a 2/2 instead of the more defensive 1/3.
Phizzled: I actually generally like two of the modes. I would prefer a 2/1 or 2/2 as well, since I’m generally not excited about Lone Missionary-lite. I can’t tell how comfortable I feel with the enchantment hate right now, so I’m not confident on whether this is necessary.
Omniczech: This is an interesting one. I think it’s usually just worse than Oblivion Ring, giving the opponent a way to still get value from it, but also avoids retriggering ETB effects if your opponent can remove it.
Phizzled: I keep misreading this and thinking it’s cleaner than it is. (I keep thinking it exiles the permanent and gives them a treasure.) I don’t mind letting our opponent get a small benefit, though fixing colors can be an issue. We had Compulsory Rest in the past and, frankly, sometimes you just want to remove creatures and not have to worry about death triggers or persist or the like. The “loses all abilities” text does a lot of work that our other O-Ring variants don’t.
Omniczech: White card draw, it’s that thing commander players wanted! I don’t love this but if folks are super high on it I could entertain the idea, it’s certainly not just straight up bad.
Phizzled: Some of my peasant-cubing friends have compared this to Cloudkin Seer rather than one of the black card draw cards, and I think that’s interesting. Lacking evasion is aggressively fair, but I remember paying more for Alliances cantrip creatures, and I can’t stop thinking about how this is really a decent rate for a card that, sadly, lacks “wow” factor.
Omniczech: I really like this one! It’s either a very tiny team pump or it’s a way to remove a pretty sizable attacker. Neither mode is an A+ but together they feel pretty dang solid.
Phizzled: We recently added a modal (kicker) version of the creature pump, so I don’t think a modal version is outside the realm of possibility. Five damage certainly kills a lot, so I’m not too upset that, once again, White’s kill spells are conditional. I’m expecting a positive response from the community.
Phizzled: I’m not sure how many people have fond memories of Alley Evasion, but this is a combat trick I rather enjoy, in theory. Three additional toughness means even 1/1 tokens can hold off Green’s trampling monsters, and there are enough value ETB effects that returning creatures for value could be worth doing. We still signal self-bounce in Azorious. I’m not expecting enthusiastic agreement, however.
Omniczech: I will always prefer things that advance the board state over those that just delay things from happening. I hadn’t seen any talk on this but I’m willing to hear out the argument for or against it.
Phizzled: Untapping as a sorcery will trip a few people up, but holding off 2/Xs and occasionally resetting a blocker seems powerful. That says nothing of the ramping powers this offers Simic. Admittedly, I don’t think mono-blue needs that ability, but it’s a tool in our pocket if I am wrong.
Omniczech: I don’t think we need this? I’m not sure that blue getting “pseudo vigilance for one thing” is something I’m super hellbent on?
Omniczech: I think this is a miss as we don’t generally go for more aggressive leaning Blue Creatures, but this is a pretty reasonable body with a bit of filtering attached. This is one I’d defer to the community for.
Phizzled: It’s interesting how much more I like “scry 2” than “scry 1.” Compared to Faerie Seer this seems lacking, but it serves the same function: a potential tempo threat that sets up future turns. I don’t love the idea of adding a more vulnerable tempo threat when blue aggro isn’t really supported, but I can imagine others in the community wanting it more than I do.
Omniczech: Man, it really has been quite some time since Ophidian, hasn’t it? I kinda like this but don’t see a huge need for it. That said it is pretty much best in class for 3 mana card draw on getting in.
Phizzled: This is the third card on the list giving me high school cafeteria flashbacks. I think the 3/2 body that demands a blocker is interesting. I think I still want Jhessian Thief in my spells-matter deck, but in almost every other Blue-X archetype, this is just trading with a (non-green) blocker.
Omniczech: I kinda like this. The bounce mode is gonna be a majority of how this gets used, it’s almost always got a target, and when that’s less important than getting in with something there’s the unblockable mode.
Phizzled: Almost every card we’ve discussed so far makes me wonder if we’re supposed to be supporting Blue aggro/tempo more than we are. This saying “nonland” instead of “creature” even gives Blue a potential out for Pacifism and its ilk. I’m almost convinced I could build Blue stompy with this. Incidentally helping out Ninja of the Deep Hours or serving up an alpha strike is :chef’s kiss: peachy.
Omniczech: Geez, 2021 really is the year of just very interesting counterspells. Cancel and a lot of its variants are just kinda boring at common, but tacking on the ability to just dig another 2 cards deeper is a nice option to have on here. I’m not deadset on including this but I do really like it.
Phizzled: As a modal counter, this is a heck of a combo support card. I think my only knock is “draw two, discard two” doesn’t create card advantage.
Omniczech: So we passed on Village Rites and I’m wondering if it’s time to revisit that. I don’t know if “virtually 1 mana and can sac artifacts” is better than “actual factual 1 mana” but we now have two pretty close options
Phizzled: The mana rebate (with potential color fixing) is appealing. I’m unclear how much the single mana cost matters, the more I think about it, since you’re likely going to have hit two lands by the time you have an artifact or creature to sacrifice. I’d rather have Rites, I think, but Dispute offers some interesting and potentially complex lines of play.
Omniczech: I absolutely love Undying Evil and have for years. I think this is probably one of the best riffs on that style of 1 mana stop thing from dying effects we’ve had at common. I’m a big fan of this and would be very happy to find room for it.
Phizzled: I rather enjoy what I think of as the three main riffs on the ability, and I like that we don’t have to worry about an opponent somehow adding a +1/+1 counter to stifle our Undying Evil effect, with this. Incidentally supporting counters-matter, though in the wrong color, is certainly reasonable.
Omniczech: They keep printing these and they keep trying to make them more and more tempting. I don’t know if these “nekrataals that need work” are a class of card we should start looking into more, but this and Jarl of the Forsaken are ones that I’ve got my eye on.
Phizzled: In part because I haven’t been trying to use them, I’m not sure how easy it is to trigger these abilities outside of combat. Being able to potentially flash this in after something deals first strike damage is going to feel like a big-brain play in AFR limited, for sure, and is exactly the kind of play I want to make in the Pauper Cube. I will never be super excited to top deck this on an empty board, though.
Omniczech: So I think this is a good card, but has additive distraction. Casting this should result in you getting to slap 2 damage somewhere and then later in the game being able to pump something up for 4 mana. This is a combat trick that turns into a bad equipment and I think honestly that’s just fine.
Phizzled: I agree. This is an instant pump spell, that leaves behind an equipment. I really, really like this as a piece of equipment Red-X doesn’t have to take early in a pack, like Bonesplitter. As snap-on equipment goes, this is very appealing one.
Omniczech: I guess this is just the set that kills off all the random childhood darlings. Raging Goblin is now pretty much entirely pushed out for this funky “first striker”. I kinda dig this as it’s basically going to be unblockable for a while in the early game, then trade up a bit later on.
Phizzled: I completely skipped over this when I first read the spoiler. It certainly gives Red one drops a bit more of a push against other creatures. I feel gross thinking about this, but are we ready to move on from one drops with downside in Red aggro?
Omniczech: A reasonable aggro card that if you’ve gone wide OR tall suddenly becomes a huge pain to block. Seems decent all around!
Phizzled: It’s odd that pack tactics feels like battalion, at least for certain color pairs. The body is only fair, if you can’t trigger first strike, but you don’t have to be fancy to deal 3 damage. I also like that, unlike some Red aggressive themed two drops, the Captain is allowed to play defence.
Omniczech: I’ve seen folks discuss this but think it’s firmly in the “not for us” kind of card. It’s super rad that this is instant speed and going from 4 to 7 mana does do things, I’m just not sure where exactly this fits in the cube as it stands
Phizzled: We have a bit more leeway than other cubes, in that it’s less critical that a given 4 drop be capable of winning the game on its own. But this feels like treading water in several archetypes, and like it should be pushed out of even the ones that might want it.
Phizzled: I kept reading this as Aim High, and trample, instead of reach, means this isn’t that. Untapping and trample together create an opportunity for confusion and misplays through additive distraction, but adding more trampling should be examined, even though i think we’re ultimately going to pass on Bull’s Strength.
Omniczech: I think this is just not enough for me. Predator's Strike Already exists and I think is generally preferable in just killing the opponents dead, so I think this is a pass from me.
Omniczech: Intellectually I understand that this is probably a solid card as either a Grey Ogre that can pump itself or a 5 drop haster. I can’t help feel like this is just off a bit, but that might just be me misfiring, so community’s got a lot of sway here.
Phizzled: I think this card is likely more interesting in slower environments, but on rate, this seems disappointing at the three drop spot. Pumping it on turn four mitigates that somewhat, but the haste feels out of place unless you top deck this late. And, of course, as is the refrain of the Pauper Cube: I wish this had trample.
Omniczech: Ok, This is a bear with set’s keyword but I find myself oddly drawn to it? Maybe I just want this to be good but it seems reasonable? I’m sure the community will remind me this is marginal at best and we can ignore it.
Phizzled: This is going to grow too slowly to be truly good, especially since you already need to be attacking for 6 damage to speed up the clock. I think it’s an easy pass.
Omniczech: Card’s just good. It’ll go in, cut might be hard but card’s simply a solid card to play.
Phizzled: Trampling 4 power threats are reasonable at four or five mana. The ETB trigger prevents the classic Green monster problem from being an issue. I want to ramp into this and I won’t mind topdecking it late game. What more can I say?
Omniczech: I want to like this. This reminds me of Guardian Idol but I just can’t help but return to “this doesn’t tap for mana over and over” as my reason for not liking it. I think that this might have a home just as “better than one of the less appealing colorless cards” but I’ll have to double check a bit more.
Phizzled: I have the same issue. I was very excited when this was previewed, because it enters the battlefield untapped, but then i realized it was a treasure, not a mana rock. I think this would be more interesting if we had more vehicles. I don’t think we could find a like-for-like swap, but if there is enthusiasm for this, I’m sure there will be recommendations for possible cuts.
The Next Steps
Expect an announcement about a combined Q&A discussion for AFR and MH2 in the next few weeks. You’ll also have opportunities to reach the committee with comments and feedback on cards we highlighted (or missed mentioning) by email (check the “Contact Us” link) or on the community Discord. We’re excited to see how the cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms at the end of July play out.