Shadows Over Innistrad Update
Angelic Purge: Finding a way to get value out of the sacrifice may be the hardest part of this card, but not insurmountable. In white, the best creature it sac is Doomed Traveler or some token. Red and Black has creatures with death triggers and all colors have ways to benefit from things in the graveyard. It does not suffer from the same vulnerabilities that Oblivion Ring et all suffers from. What puts this card into consideration for me is the flexibility. Having a main deck answer to Pestilence, Flood, opposing O-Rings, etc is a big boon. I am always a fan of cutting a more narrow card from the cube (like Dismantling Blow) for a more versatile and interesting card. In this case, I will remove Dismantling Blow, move Momentary blink to the Azorius section of the cube, and add Angelic Purge.
Dauntless Cathar: I originally panned Dauntless Cathar, but after reading some other opinions on the card and reflecting on it further, I do think Dauntless Cathar is at least worth testing. The body is decent and the value in the graveyard makes it close to a two for one. White is the color with the least graveyard synergies, but Dauntless Cathar does not require extra work to be good. Dauntless Cathar will replace Ballynock Cohort for now. The Cohort is a strong card, there is no doubt about that. But it does not synergize well with anything besides more white creatures.
Inspiring Captain: The double white cost in Ampryn Tactician was keeping it back from making the cube. Since Inspiring Captain doesn’t have that problem, the likelihood of making the cube goes up immensely. There are already too many Trumpet Blast effects in the cube. I think that the Captain will replace one of them nicely. Of the three white trumpet blast effects (Fortify, Sanctified Charge, and Kytheon’s Tactics), I value the instant speed options over Kytheon’s Tactics. Inspiring Captain will replace Kytheon’s Tactics.
Just the Wind: I love Madness. Just the Wind is a flavor win, the madness cost is cheap enough and easy enough to take advantage of in blue that I should have no problem finding room for Just the Wind. I might even try and find some room for Circular Logic too. Reap the Seagraf has failed to impress. I will move Mystical Teachings to Dimir, remove Reap the Seagraf, and bring in Just the Wind.
Pieces of the Puzzle: Black and Green have always been better at getting cards into your graveyard with selection sorceries (like Commune with the Gods, Corpse Churn, etc). The cards like this usually put them at the bottom of the library. I have been looking for Blue cards to fuel the graveyard for some time and I think that Pieces of the Puzzle fits the bill. It drops five cards in the graveyard and grabs you two relevant spells. Pieces works better in the Blue/Red decks that can play 8-10 instants and soceries and that can put flashback cards into the graveyard. Whispers of the Muse has not impressed and blue control decks already have plenty of ways to get card advantage late in the game. I will cut Whispers of the Muse for Pieces of the Puzzle.
Stitched Mangler: This card compares favorable with Frost Lynx. The downside of coming into play tapped is worth the extra toughness and the relevant creature type. The real question is whether I replace Frost Lynx with this card or just boot something else. Spellstutter Sprite is a relic of older lists that more closely emulated constructed pauper decks. Spellstutter Sprite is out for Stitched Mangler.
Niblis of Dusk: This will be one of the easiest replacements. The cube does not need two Jeskai Windscouts. I like the card, but it is not a good enough rate to warrant two copies of it in the cube. The Niblis has a much more relevant creature type, granting it protection from Soul Rend. Niblis of Dusk replaces Jeskai Windscout.
Stormrider Spirit: Cutting Spellstutter Sprite makes Faeries an irrelevant creature type. Stormrider Spirit is also immune to Rend Flesh. The Invaders had stayed in the cube as a finisher that the Mystical Teachings decks could tutor for. Faerie Invaders will be removed for Stormrider Spirit.
Nephalia Seakite: I prefer the art of Nephalia Seakite over Sentinels of Glen Elendra. The Seakite will replace the Sentinels.
Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice: A bear with upside in black, graveyard/self-mill synergy, sacrifice value, and a relevant tribe? Sounds like a great deal. Most of Black’s 2 drops 1 power, so another more aggressive creature at 2 will help the black decks that want to turn their creatures sideways. Syndicate Enforcer is a bit expensive, which makes its Extort much worse.
Crow of Dark Tidings: This is another easy replacement. Necromancer’s Assistant was more a necessary evil than a card I liked running. The crow gives you a better body and mills you more cards across its life cycle. Necromancer’s Assistant will be removed for Crow of Dark Tidings.
Twins of Maurer Estate: A 3 mana 3/5 would make the cube easily. A 5 mana 3/5 is pretty much a joke. So the value of this card comes down to how often it can come into play for its madness value. Putrid Imp, Vampire Hounds, Looter il-Kor, and Merfolk Looter are some of the enablers already in the cube. Black 5 drops has gotten pretty crowded recently. If I bring in more enablers, the Twins will be a nice fit. Until then they will remain on deck.
Murderous Compulsion: A cheaper Assassinate that can be at instant speed with some work? This seems like the best common black madness card in the set. To really take advantage of this card, I would need to incorporate more discard outlets than are in the cube right now. Two of the discard outlets in black are creature card only (Tortured Existence and Vampire Hounds) so until I bring in more cards like Undertaker or Thought Courier, I will leave Murderous Compulsion as a maybe.
Sanitarium Skeleton: The skeleton has a lot of potential and this is a unique effect at pauper. It really shines when working with Tortured Existence. Like Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice it works well with self-mill and sacrifice strategies. It is even a decent rate for a 1 drop. I will try the Skeleton. Strangling Soot will be moved to Rakdos, Augur Spree will be cute for Sanitarium Skeleton.
Bloodmad Vampire: Even without the option for casting it without a discount, Bloodmad Vampire would be a decent inclusion for the cube. It works well with Temur Battle Rage. To really make the card shine, the cube would need a critical mass of discard outlets. Red has Mad Prophet, Faithless Looting, and Gathan Raiders. The Bloodmad Vampire is in the same place that the Twins of Maurer estate are. There are not enough discard outlets in the cube as it stands, but if I brought in cards like Tormenting Voice, we would reach a critical mass of outlets.
Voldaren Duelist: The ETB falter creatures are ones that I have underrated in the past. Fervent Cathar should be in the cube as it is. Voldaren Duelist is similar to Goblin Heelcutter. Many times the Heelcutter is enough to close out the game the first time it attacks, so the Duelist might be enough. Gorehorn Minotaurs has been a big guy with no evasion. Plus the harder casting cost makes it a less appealing choice. Voldaren Duelist will replace Gorehorn Minotaurs.
Pyre Hound: Before Pyre Hound gets any counters, it is not a very impressive creature. But in the U/R spells deck, the Pyre Hound can be a more reliable finisher than the Kiln Fiends when you have to play a longer game. Finding creatures that are relevant in this deck has been hard, so I will surely be able to find room for Pyre Hound. Spikeshot Goblin has not been very impressive. Red does not have any enchantments to make it larger and red also does not have much incentive to pick equipment cards.
Kessig Dire Swine: In most decks, the Swine will be worse than Vulpine Goliath. In the B/G decks where turning on Delirium is much easier, the Swine becomes a better Vulpine Goliath. The Fox did not fit into any particular archetype very well, so replacing it with the Swine is a no-brainer. Kessig Dire Swine is in for Vulpine Goliath.
Moldgraft Scavenger: The comparison of the Scavenger to Werebear is interesting. Both provide value in the early game, the Werebear for mana while the Scavenger is a better blocker. With threshold, the Werebear is a bigger creature, but delirum may be easier to achieve than threshold in a deck built for it. Green could use more creatures to play into the graveyard matters theme and the Scavenger will fit nicely. Priest of Titania did not impress as I hoped it did. Same can be said for Timberwatch Elf. If more elves make the cube (beyond just mana elves) I would be more inclined to support a elf tribal subtheme. Moldgraf Scavenger is in for Priest of Titania.
Stoic Builder: Stoic Builder is just a better Cartographer (with the exception of the art). I would like to find a card to replace with Stoic Builder, but this effect is a bit narrow. In the Red/Green lands deck, Sakura Tribe Scout is not statted aggressively enough to be a good inclusion in that deck. Stoic Build fits into the same archtype and has better synergies with other archetypes than Sakura Tribe Scout. Stoic Builder is replacing Sakura Tribe Scout.
Solitary Hunter: Flip cards are inherently cool. The art of this one is sweet too. Those things aside, the stats are pretty good. A 5/6 can attack through anything in the other colors than Noble Templar and Hexplate Golem. Werewolves at the higher end of the curve seem better, since you’re more likely to have a turn without casting a spell later in the game. Green 4 drops are pretty stacked, but finding room should be possible. Solitary Hunter replaces Timberwatch Elf.
Rabid Bite: This is one of the best pieces of green removal in pauper. Fall of the Hammer and Tail Slash have rarely made people’s cubes since they were printed, but they have to compete with red’s excellent burn spells at common. Green does not have the same embarrassment of riches that red does, so Rabid Bite can find a home. Crushing Vines is included in the cube for its versatility, but there are not many artifacts that are so strong or oppressive that the destroy artifact mode is not relevant. Rabid Bite will replace Crushing Vines.
Vessel of Nascency: At first glance, I disregarded this card. After further investigation, I am sure that it will replace Commune with the Gods. It has a couple down sides, it dumps one less card in the graveyard for delving purposes and it costs a total of one green more. But the upsides are more plentiful. You can activate it at instant speed instead of being limited to sorcery. In the aura deck, it can sit around and count towards your enchantment count for Ancestral Mask or Ethereal Armor. Its easy to get in the bin for Auramancer and Griffin Dreamfinder. It can grab you a land if you need it (and even an artifact, though I imagine that will easily be the least used mode). The benefits greatly outweigh the downsides here and I will be making this change as soon as I can get my hands on this Vessel. Vessel of Nascency replaces Commune with the Gods.
Warped Landscape: I was hoping for a renamed Evolving Wilds reprint, but Warped Landscape is another spin on the same thing. Coming into play untapped is nice and there are times that I have fantasized about a fetch land that could tap for mana until I wanted to crack it. Including Warped Landscape would be easier than finding room for the Panorama cycle and each fetch that gets added to the deck makes the landfall deck better, makes fixing better, and makes playing Brainstorm more feasible. I still don’t think that Warped Landscape will make it in, but I will keep it in mind in case I make any major changes to the lands section.
Ancient Grudge: In an effort to tidy up the multicolored section, Hull Breach will be removed and Ancient Grudge will move to the Gruul slot. Fervent Cathar comes in for the slot that Ancient Grudge vacated.
Hand of Emrakul: Hexplate Golem was included as a pay off for Etherium Sculptor and Vedalken Engineer. The UW artifact deck is more aggressive and does not want to play Hexplate Golem or the Engineer. Hand of Emrakul can be played in any deck and is another creature worth reanimating. Hexplate Golem is removed for Hand of Emrakul.
Benthic Giant: Benthic Giant is the biggest Hexproof creature you can get in pauper. Its big, it blocks well, and it wears auras well. Blue does not have a lot of been at the end of the curve and I hope Benthic Giant can help give blue a better late game creature. I have seen the giant in many other lists, but this will be my first time giving it a try. Benthic Giant replaces Vedalken Engineer.
Khalni Garden: Khalni Garden fit in the Green utility land slot while there wasn’t a better alternative. Turntimber Grove fits in with the landfall deck much better. For that reason, Khalni Garden is out for Turntimber Grove.