What's Poppin? Pauper.
On this week's episode of Tin Street News, the boys and I discussed Double Masters. What were our favorite box toppers? What cards stood out to us the most? What reprints were we most happy to see?
I was beyond proud when Shinogi spoke up about the little elephant in the room before I got a chance to, the downshift in rarities in this set were pretty substantial for the format! A complete list of downshifts, new and returning, can be found below. First however, I want to cover a few cards that were downshifted for the first time into Pauper and the decks they will benefit.
We saw three HUGE downshifts for the mono black players in pauper. Starting first we have cast down, a card that has nearly limitless targets in a format with only commons. Out of the 12 pauper legal legends, two of them have abilities. So if your thing is to play a vanilla 5/5 for 4WWU, then Cast Down shouldn't bother you (Or for all you psychos running Chandler or Joven). Executioners Capsule is not only a time delayed Doomblade, but also an artifact permanent that counts towards numerous strategies either with Gray Merchant or even Affinity. Last but definitely not least is Gurmag Angler's pet bird, Bone Picker. One black mana for a 3/2 flyer was strong in limited during it's original rotation through Ahmonket. Seeing the bird make its way into pauper Is a huge power boost for the already aggressive mono black strategies.
Let's face it, affinity is pretty much our Brooklyn sidewalk hot dog vendor in Magic. They all look the same, but have that spice that makes them unique. Pauper is no exception, with this lawless wasteland of a format cards that typically have nowhere to go find refuge in a players 75 count. Argivian Restoration is not only a first in Pauper, but a first in FOIL as well! Hailing all the way back from Weatherlight, this sorcery lets us buy back an artifact straight from our graveyard to the battlefield. At 2UU the card might be a little taxing, but for immediate recursion it's your go-to card. Myr Retreiver on the other hand is Affinity's premium recycling for cards like Myr Enforcer and Frogmite. Buying cards back from your graveyard that have affinity while placing an artifact into play allows for more consistent execution of the decks game plan. Lastly, Skinwing falls into the category of cards that when I first got into magic I looked at and said "Oh wow, neat!'. Living weapons have and will always be a favorite of mine. An immediate 2/2 flyer for 4 that hangs around afterwards as an equipment is nice. The artifact itself has a tad steep equip cost, but no price is too great to give Myr Enforcer flying.
Red Deck Wins
For consideration, I'm going to be pitching Balduvian Rage into the Gruul decks. While there are a few synergies in the elf deck with Defiant Elf having trample, this could better be utilized in the aggressive Gruul decks with cards like Frenzied Arynx, Almighty Brushwagg, Charging Badger, and Dwarven Berserker. Taking advantage of these creatures already having the "Trample" text built in. Orcish Vandal sticks to its flavor text. Every useless Ichor Wellspring or a Tumble Magnet without charge counters can (and will) be thrown hard enough to kill something. Many decks fill the gaps in power with value artifacts such as Relic of Progenitus, Bonder's Ornament, or even the artifact lands. While those cards help you go the distance, what happens when your faced with needing to kill your opponent? None of these cut the mustard, and that's where Orcish Vandal comes in. Acting as our pauper legal Grim Lavamancer, He can easily clean up a board state, or harass your opponent for 2 life every turn. Lastly, the lightning strike replacement we all know and love. Abrade saw play throughout it's entire standard rotation. Besides the mono red decks, it was also found in Jeskai control, Temur energy, and UR aggro during its time. Lacking the ability to crack into an opponent was more than made up for by taking an artifact off the table. While not the complete package, it gave Lightning Strike a run for its money. I think its credibility is exceeding low due to the format simply having better cards in the form of Lightning Bolt, Rift Bolt, and Gorilla Shaman. That doesn't stop us from welcoming it into the pauper posse!
I wanted to keep this focused on cards that were both new to pauper and made an impact to the format. While I know white as a full new roster of 5 brand new cards, I will mention that Crib Swap and Crusader of Odric are both phenomenal cards, I didn't find they made too big of an impact but are still very welcomed downshifts.The same going for green, that only saw two downshifts in rarity.
Thank you all for making it this far! As promised, aside from the nine cards I featured in this article, here is a complete list of the newly downshifted rarity's in Double Masters!
"*" - New to the Pauper format.
"**" - First in foil.
*Alabaster Mage - From Uncommon (M12)
*Ancestral Blade - From Uncommon (M20)
*Crib Swap - From Uncommon (LOR)
*Crusader of Odric - From Uncommon (M13)
*Sanctum Spirit - From Uncommon (DOM)
**Argivian Restoration - From Uncommon (WTH)
*Frogify - From Uncommon (ELD)
*Vedalken Infuser - From Uncommon (MBS)
*Bone Picker - From Uncommon (AKH)
*Cast Down - From Uncommon (DOM)
Executioner's Capsule - From Uncommon (MMA)
*Heartless Pillage - From Uncommon (XLN)
*Abrade - From Uncommon (HOU)
*Balduvian Rage - From Uncommon (CSP)
Battle-Rattle Shaman - From Uncommon (M21)
Lightning Axe - From Uncommon (SOM)
*Orcish Vandal - From Uncommon (DOM)
*Rapacious Dragon - From Uncommon (M20)
Ancient Stirrings - From Uncommon (A25)
*Clear Shot - From Uncommon (EMN)
*Conclave Naturalists - From Uncommon (ORI)
Fierce Empath - From Uncommon (M21)
Chromatic Star - From Uncommon (10E)
*Everflowing Chalice - From Uncommon (MM2)
*Golem-Skin Gauntlets - From Uncommon (MRD)
*Iron League Steed - From Uncommon (KLD)
*Magnifying Glass - From Uncommon (SOI)
*Myr Retriever - From Uncommon (MMA)
*Skinwing - From Uncommon (MRB)
*Surge Node - From Uncommon (NPH)
Tumble Magnet - From Uncommon (MM2)
Urza's Mine - From Uncommon (10E)
Urza's Power Plan] - From Uncommon (10E)
Urza's Tower - From Uncommon (10E)
As an added bonus, here's a list of cards not legal to pauper that see their first ever FOIL printings. Along with two that will be seeing their first NON FOIL printings!
First foil prints
Magus of the Will
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Hammer of Nazhan
Masterwork of Ingenuity
First non foil prints
Atraxa, Praetor's Voice
Breya, Etherium Shaper