Three whole sets since the last update, and we’re back! After several months of silence and literally doubling the size of the Pauper Cube Committee, your patience is being rewarded.
Warded Battlements has failed its trial period at this point. Having a defender with a passive battle cry didn’t work out as well as we’d like. In its stead, we’re jamming a card that rewards attacking and keeps the cards flowing. While this is probably just a white Phyrexian Rager, that’s pretty solid.
Commando is a downright incredible magic card, and we talked quite a bit about the cut for it. In the end, we settled on martyr as the perfect medium of “effect we already have a few versions of at a rate we weren’t excited by.”
We’ve considered whether Noble Templar fit into the cube before, but concluded that a 3/6 for 6 wasn’t what White was looking for even if there was a two-mana alternative mode. Sunblade Samurai is close to being a straight upgrade to that. Daybreak Chimera has been a card that many decks are willing to play but none especially want when often it can underperform by just being a 3/3 flyer for 5.
You Find the Villains' Lair was a flop, there’s no other way to put it. In its place, we’re getting an Opt variant that should serve to keep cards flowing while not having a somewhat junky counter spell attached. Removing a probationary include for a cantrip that powered cubes have been thrilled to pick up seems pretty great.
The crab was one of the best received cards from these past 3 sets and rightfully so. Having the ability to deal with pesky spells and even the occasional ability is really nice utility while also having a large body that taxes removal that targets it is just gravy. In contrast, Gryff has never been an all star, so it’s exiting the cube.
Mutate is a tricky ability outside of its native Ikoria. Upgrading middling bodies to something better later in the game is a plus, yes, but changing the mutate triggers to mostly just a complicated ETB reduces how interesting the ability can be, while keeping all the strangeness. Hacker on the other hand is very simple and just solid all around, an easy upgrade to make.
The looter is free! The swap away from merfolk looter was in place prior to the PCC’s creation, and we’re glad to say that with all voices confirming it, the looter is back. While Visionary and many other riffs on it provided defensive bodies at the cost of requiring mana (or other, more difficult conditions), we feel that the improvement in the ability is more than offset by the generally fragile body. We’ll keep an eye on Looter, though.
This one is mostly thanks to the community. We put up a poll asking about the many 4 drop draw 2 spells we already had available and illumination was the one folks felt the best about cutting. Internally we debated this versus Mnemonic Sphere and, at the end of the day, this one won out.
Cruel Witness does a strange “the Dragon's Rage Channeler we have at home” impression, but that’s actually not a bad thing. The body is pretty reasonably priced and keeps your card quality up as you continue to cast spells into the late game. Plus, this helps signal a bit of Izzet spellslinger synergy. Siren was fine but the “draw-go” game plan it implies wasn’t incredibly viable.
Yes, we’ve finally got it in there, the human sack full of squirrels is coming to the cube. Another one with strong support from committee members, we’re removing the frustrating defensive one drop for an option that can either block twice in slower decks as a road bump, or wear a bonesplitter and be a very real threat in the more aggressive decks.
Necromancer has never been well loved, and thankfully Wizards deemed it time to give us a version of it that doesn’t have a nasty restriction both in Mana cost as well as needing something in the bin to be more than terrible. Horde provides incidental graveyard hate as well as very disposable bodies and that crucial 4th point of toughness that made this an easy swap.
While Crawl from the Cellar could have been in this spot as a strictly better morgue theft, we’ve opted for the more interesting way to get 2 things out of the graveyard. While we don’t have ways to leverage 2 artifacts for a single mana like constructed pauper does, the blood token allows for some card filtering and the eventual ability will let you get back things that died or even what you filtered away. All in all, a very interesting card for the cube.
Championed by new committee member Solset, Awakener works out to be 4 mana 4/4 that draws a card and Tithebearer Giant is 6 mana for a 4/5 that draws a card. While the Awakener does require an extra body, that’s not the largest ask.
Skull Raid went in as an experiment and recent polling reveals it failed said experiment. On the other hand, Specimen has an interesting variety of play patterns, it can be an infinite blocker, feed aristocrats and generally provides interesting utility.
A new Archaeomancer is a fun and welcome sight, especially in a new color that supports spells matter. This is a proven good effect and Merchant of the Vale wasn’t a huge favorite include, so in comes the Elementalist over it.
Foragers is not just a strict upgrade here, but it’s very very close. The requirement to get the mana out of this is very minimal and the upside of either rummaging or getting a 1 mana 4/3 is just too huge to ignore. We can’t wait to hear about the first person to jam this into Skophos Reaver on turn 4.
Thrill and its entire lineage preceding it were card neutral, or if you go back far enough, even sometimes card negative. 2020s Magic though is a different beast entirely. This is not just a 2 mana draw 2. It is very close though and that’s enough for us to run it.
Another Pauper Cube stalwart is falling in the form of Trumpet Blast. Blast was in the cube for a long time as a “teaching aid” that helped explain how it went in aggressive decks. We’ve concluded that the fact it gives +2/+0 is enough to indicate where its home is and now we have a version that’s clearly better. It’s time to make the switch.
Another older one, this inclusion was prompted by the printing of Kessig Flamebreather, which is a similar card with a 1/3 body attached. We opted to go for the option that was the one that would fit in a more aggressive leaning deck as a way to eke out that extra few points of damage.
Honorary pig and very good dog Greater Tanuki is a great pick up for pauper cubes everywhere. It’s a ramp spell early and a big old dummy late game. Rampaging hippo was serving a similar role but was never a fan favorite, so it’s getting cut for a similar card we hope will work out better for green decks.
Finally, Rabid Bite is here at instant speed. We already have Ram Through providing a slightly better version, moving to more one sided fight effects, especially at instant speed means that green is starting to get closer to having real removal. Confrontation isn’t a bad card, it was just the option the committee agreed would be missed the least.
Massive Might was a big get as far too many pump spells at common trade things in the wrong spot. Might is cheap, instant speed and provides trample, the three things you generally want in a green combat trick. It also happens to replicate most of Wildsize, so we’re applying the old trick of “more cheaper, more better”
This is a probationary include for the sake of varying effects and also allowing green decks to protect other key permanents if needed. Guile isn’t a bad card by any means, we’re just trying to vary up what it has access to and allow for some more interesting play patterns.
This was an easy cut that the committee was entirely in favor of. It’s not a strictly better scenario, but the cases where it isn’t, require enough magical thinking they’re barely worth considering.
There was a talk as to what Uncharted Haven would be replacing and we settled on cutting the virtually identical Vale to clear things up regarding snow mattering. This really isn’t much of an update but one we wanted to get in there to clear things up regarding its inclusion.
Other Cards of Note
Not every card can make it in, but we want to take a moment to highlight some that were discussed but not included in this update.
Coiling Stalker – This was deemed not impactful enough in its archetype, but remains an interesting option
Fierce Retribution – We’ve gone back and forth on this one and were unable to figure out a cut a majority of the committee were happy with, but we’re going to be looking for a place to fit it into a future update.
Ironhoof Boar – Another that some committee members were very keen on but again, we couldn’t agree on a cut here, so it will continue to be one we hunt for a place for, but missed the cut this time around.
Intercessor's Arrest – A functional reprint of Bound in Gold, we chose not to include this for diversity and members believing we didn’t need a duplicate of this exact effect at the moment
Okiba Reckoner Raid // Nezumi Road Captain – Great card, but with lack of support for black aggro decks, this one didn’t get included.
Organ Hoarder – Well liked by the community, we ultimately felt that while the ETB trigger was solid, the body doesn’t align with a lot of what we feel blue decks are trying to accomplish.
The Modern Age // Vector Glider – Another that was generally well liked in the community, The Modern Age failed to make the cut due to a generally lackluster response from committee members and the feeling that it’s just a bit too slow. If Merfolk Looter is a welcome return to the cube and folks want more looting effects, this is definitely one that we can revisit in the future.
Sagas as a whole were a super interesting thing to see at common and while none made it in this update, they’re a fairly unique effect that we may revisit in future updates.
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 it’s a privilege to be host to it.