By Diego Nunes
The Egyptian theme is pretty wide and is bringing many interesting stuff. In the plane of Amonkhet we’ll have Nicol Bolas, new gods and White zombies. White? Yes, now they exist, and all of them are commons.The cycling mechanics and -1/-1 counters are back, while Embalm, Exert and Aftermath had just showed up.
As in most of the times, this first set from the block has 101 common cards. Here we have 13 reprints and 88 new ones. 2 uncommons from the set were commons before: [mtg_card]Renewed Faith[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Gravedigger[/mtg_card].
Analyzing card by card
For analysis purposes, I sorted the cards from the edition as reprinted, terrible, bad, good and great.
Pauper is a mature format and only great cards end up seeing play, even the great ones that only show up when the right deck appears. It is hard, even for a card considered good, or below that, to have any impact on the format, unless the deck has enough synergy to take advantage of it.
They’re already there for a long time and their utility (or not) can be seen in practice.
There isn’t any high demand card between them. The most used ones are [mtg_card]Fling[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Evolving Wilds[/mtg_card], both of them appearing in several sets.
They’re really, really bad indeed. I won’t even bother talking individually about them. All of them are too heavy and/or have too many weaknesses.
They’re not good, but deep inside they may fit for something.
[mtg_card]Compulsory Rest[/mtg_card]: A [mtg_card]Pacifism[/mtg_card] that gives 2 life to the opponent;
[mtg_card]Seeker of Insight[/mtg_card]: A good defense, but a very heavy drawback;
[mtg_card]Illusory Wrappings[/mtg_card]: [mtg_card]Curse of Chains[/mtg_card]/[mtg_card]Narcolepsy[/mtg_card] are better;
[mtg_card]Hekma Sentinels[/mtg_card]: If is bad enough for prowess, much more for this skill;
[mtg_card]Scribe of the Mindful[/mtg_card]: Too slow;
[mtg_card]Hieroglyphic Illumination[/mtg_card]: An improved [mtg_card]Inspiration[/mtg_card], but the format already has many draw options. Pretty rare for them to print a card that surprises everyone (miss you, [mtg_card]Treasure Cruise[/mtg_card]);
[mtg_card]Scarab Feast[/mtg_card]: Removing only 3 cards from the graveyard will hardly win the game. I prefer [mtg_card]Bojuka Bog[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Relic of Progenitus[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Miasmic Mummy[/mtg_card]: May find its place together with [mtg_card]Rotting Rats[/mtg_card] inside some pretty obscure deck;
[mtg_card]Blighted Bat[/mtg_card]: Too costly;
[mtg_card]Wasteland Scorpion[/mtg_card]: The black drop 3 seat is already taken by [mtg_card]Chittering Rats[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Phyrexian Rager[/mtg_card], which offer card advantage almost every time. [mtg_card]Wasteland Scorpion[/mtg_card] isn’t as good as them;
[mtg_card]Cursed Minotaur[/mtg_card]: Same problem here. It’s easy to kill and doesn’t have much impact on the battlefield;
[mtg_card]Painful Lesson[/mtg_card]: A heavier [mtg_card]Sign in Blood[/mtg_card]. Letting you choose the player doesn’t make it much better than [mtg_card]Night Whispers[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Read the Bones[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Horror of the Broken Lands[/mtg_card]: The creature with most potential between the ones with cycling. Enven so, too heavy;
[mtg_card]Cartouche of Zeal[/mtg_card]: [mtg_card]Renegade Tactics[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Mugging[/mtg_card] are an example of better cards to remove blockers;
[mtg_card]Nef-Crop Entangler[/mtg_card]: Not only this, but all common cards with Exert are pretty weak;
[mtg_card]Thresher Lizard[/mtg_card]: Not consistent or strong enough;
[mtg_card]Pursue Glory[/mtg_card]: Too heavy;
[mtg_card]Oashra Cultivator[/mtg_card]: Too slow;
[mtg_card]Shed Weakness[/mtg_card]: Not good enough, even combined with creatures that have Persist;
[mtg_card]Bitterblade Warrior[/mtg_card]: Not a big deal at all;
[mtg_card]Initiate’s Companion[/mtg_card]: [mtg_card]Garruk’s Companion[/mtg_card] or even [mtg_card]Terrain Elemental[/mtg_card] are better;
[mtg_card]Haze of Pollen[/mtg_card]: Worse than [mtg_card]Lull[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Cartouche of Strength[/mtg_card]: Costs too much, I prefer [mtg_card]Epic Confrontation[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Hooded Brawler[/mtg_card]: Hits pretty good, but Exert is pretty bad;
[mtg_card]Ornery Kudu[/mtg_card]: Not bad as a whole, if it manages to take advantage of the counter may see play;
[mtg_card]Pouncing Cheetah[/mtg_card]: Though I like the element of surprise, it’s a vulnerable creature and is unlikely to be a good blocker beyond 1 for 1;
[mtg_card]Quarry Hauler[/mtg_card]: May do something good, but nothing surprising.
Attractive cards that miss only a few details.
[mtg_card]Djeru’s Resolve[/mtg_card]: Worse than protections or [mtg_card]Cloudshift[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]In Oketra’s Name[/mtg_card]: A good pump for 2 mana. Pity we don’t have decent white zombies;
[mtg_card]Binding Mummy[/mtg_card]: I wished it was black;
[mtg_card]Forsake the Worldly[/mtg_card]: It’s an improved [mtg_card]Fate Forgotten[/mtg_card]. We have to consider that exiling is not so good as destroying. Artifact decks or enchantments usually call for quick or efficient responses. [mtg_card]Forsake the Worldly[/mtg_card] isn’t any of those;
[mtg_card]Cartouche of Knowledge[/mtg_card]: Pays for itself and provides an interesting effect. Better if it were green or white. Not much use for it in blue;
[mtg_card]Supernatural Stamina[/mtg_card]: Not at the same level as undying;
[mtg_card]Trespasser’s Curse[/mtg_card]: I liked it. Destructive effect at the game’s beginning, but in the end it could be useless;
[mtg_card]Doomed Dissenter[/mtg_card]: Alternative to [mtg_card]Butcher Ghoul[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Sultai Emissary[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Cartouche of Ambition[/mtg_card]: Does many reasonable things. Better if it was only 1 good thing;
[mtg_card]Wander in Death[/mtg_card]: Gathered the best out of [mtg_card]Morbid Plunder[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Death’s Duet[/mtg_card]. Even so, not so good as them;
[mtg_card]Bloodlust Inciter[/mtg_card]: Not usable, just nice;
[mtg_card]Pathmaker Initiate[/mtg_card]: Leaves [mtg_card]Goblin Tunneler[/mtg_card] eating dirt, but it’s not a good mechanic;
[mtg_card]Nimble-Blade Khenra[/mtg_card]: Though it is a good card, it’s ridiculous compared to [mtg_card]Kiln Fiend[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Minotaur Sureshot[/mtg_card]: It’s use come from being able stop every creature from Monoblue Delver;
[mtg_card]Violent Impact[/mtg_card]: I have some love for land disruption. It cheers me up to see a card better than [mtg_card]Lay Waste[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Volcanic Submersion[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Dissenter’s Deliverance[/mtg_card]: When you put an artifact removal in the set, it is very likely to be used. The cycling is nice, but not so relevant;
[mtg_card]Gift of Paradise[/mtg_card]: It has some subtle differences regarding [mtg_card]Verdant Haven[/mtg_card], not better, not worse. The decks that could use it already have better alternatives: [mtg_card]Fertile Ground[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Utopia Sprawl[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Honed Khopesh[/mtg_card]: Functionally like [mtg_card]Leonin Scimitar[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Luxa River Shrine[/mtg_card]: Winning 2 life per turn is tempting. The problem is the time and mana required to develop it are too high. This makes him worse than [mtg_card]Pristine Talisman[/mtg_card], which costs a lot to be on the battlefield, but its mana dork effect balances this drawback;
[mtg_card]Painted Bluffs[/mtg_card]: Again? We already have [mtg_card]Unknown Shores[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Shimmering Grotto[/mtg_card], which does exactly the same thing. In this one only the desert subtype is different . Until then this is completely irrelevant, but may be used in the future;
[mtg_card]Sunscorched Desert[/mtg_card]: Aggressive decks won’t be comfortable using colorless lands. So, even being an interesting card, it won’t be used.
The best cards in the set. Do very well what they were designed to do.
[mtg_card]Cartouche of Solidarity[/mtg_card]: Protects a bogle from being chosen to sacrifice, get 1 damage or receive a -1/-1 counter. These are the main ways to remove a creature with shroud; Very interesting inside Bogles because of that. I imagine it has space for 1 or 2 in the sideboard or even Main Deck;
[mtg_card]Anointer Priest[/mtg_card]: It seems like [mtg_card]Soul Warden[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Soul’s Attendant[/mtg_card] had just won a third sister. One of the things Pauper needs is precisely cards that could generate some number of tokens. [mtg_card]Raise The Alarm[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Cenn’s Enlistment[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Battle Screech[/mtg_card] are some examples. I’ve seen some white token decks making some good results at MOL. Who knows if they won’t appear more frequently after this babe;
[mtg_card]Sacred Cat[/mtg_card]: Joined the [mtg_card]Thraben Inspector[/mtg_card] club of best drop 1. Suits pretty well with [mtg_card]Bonesplitter[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Rancor[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Slither Blade[/mtg_card]: It’s the best 1 mana unblockable creature ever printed. Had won [mtg_card]Triton Shorestalker[/mtg_card] took [mtg_card]Tormented Soul[/mtg_card] out of the ring. This doesn’t make it an outstanding card. Maybe won’t even be used, but it doesn’t stop it from being interesting;
[mtg_card]Festering Mummy[/mtg_card]: I was hoping a lot from the black zombies from the set. Unfortunately not much has come. This is the best one. [mtg_card]Festering Mummy[/mtg_card] covered the flaws of [mtg_card]Festering Goblin[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Shambling Goblin[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Blazing Volley[/mtg_card]: Good alternative to [mtg_card]Electrickery[/mtg_card];
[mtg_card]Benefaction of Rhonas[/mtg_card]: Give us everything a Bogles may need. Also some BG decks may use it, being with [mtg_card]Gurmag Angler[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Tortured Existence[/mtg_card]. The only problem is it’s salty cost;
[mtg_card]Cradle of the Accursed[/mtg_card]: This land surprises me in a positive way. What makes it competitive is the fact that it enters untapped. May vary the slot of [mtg_card]Radiant Fountain[/mtg_card] in decks without bounce lands.
I know I was harsh with the Cartouches cycle. Many consider it as the best cards from the set. Let’s consider one thing: Auras are the most vulnerable types of card in Magic. It depends on another permanent in play to be enchanted and opens many breaches for the opponent to get rid of two cards with only one, especially if the target is destroyed in response to the enchantment. Because of that, I only consider good an Aura that causes massive impact on the game.
The Cartouches cycle
Two good cards for Bogles: [mtg_card]Cartouche of Solidarity[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Benefaction of Rhonas[/mtg_card]. I don’t really believe [mtg_card]Benefaction of Rhonas[/mtg_card] will see play for being a little heavy, but I bet my chips on [mtg_card]Cartouche of Solidarity[/mtg_card].
I was hoping for great black zombies, but it hasn’t happened. The only one playable enough was [mtg_card]Festering Mummy[/mtg_card]. Some white zombies would’ve been interesting if they were black instead.
4 new black zombies
There wasn’t any common card with the Aftermath mechanic and between the other ones nothing very interesting.
The Pauper metagame is pretty colorful. Even so, if any color is less prominent, that color is white. And that’s when the best cards from the block came out. I hope Bogles get more space and we could see more monowhite decks or even GW inside the format.