A lot of people are psyched about Modern Masters. For the most part I am not one of those people. I mean, I was excited when they started dribbling out the spoilers, but now that we know the complete set my ardor has dulled. I have these cards! I mean, sure, I am missing some of the rares, but with top-heavy rare distribution and the limited print runs it doesn’t seem likely that any random pack is going to have one of the three or four rare cards I am really hoping to open. Plus, they’re all reprints, so it’s not like the set will have any significant impact on the Commander scene.

It does, however, present an interesting question for Pauper cube. When designing my cube I made sure to exclude cards whose only common printings were in the online-only Masters Editions. This made sense to me, since my cube was a paper thing, and Masters Edition always seemed a little on the ridiculous side of things.

But Modern Masters is paper! It really erodes my main objection, and the buzz around the net is that people are considering it perfectly reasonable to add some of these cards into their Pauper environments. And while most of the commonality changes seemed to be geared to bump up the rarity of the printed cards (like Manamorphose or Aether Vial), there have been a couple of interesting options that opened up at common.Now, it’s worth mentioning that my list might miss one or two of these cards. Modern Masters is spoiled but not yet in Gatherer, and even in the best of times I think I would be hard pressed to work my Boolean to get cards that are common for the first time to show up in a search result. But I’ve got a fairly good sense of card rarity, and the one or two cards I don’t recognize in the set (literally) are all at uncommon. So, without further ado, let me go through these new possibilities and whether or not I want to add them to my cube.

Otherworldly Journey

This is an interesting blink effect. It bears some similarity to Krasis Incubation in Dragon’s Maze, where you can use it to slow down your opponent but with a potential downside…or you can use it on your own creature as a buff or in this case a way to dodge removal. It seems like it could have some promise in my cube, but I am going to have to consider it. It’s not a slam-dunk addition, that’s for sure.

Perilous Research

While the card is at its best when you can do something like sacrifice Hatching Plans to it, this is still a very strong draw spell. It’s like Altar’s Reap, but you can use it to gain value out of any permanent your opponent has decided to remove. Plus, in a pinch you can just use it as a draw two with a drawback, which is still not too bad. I am leaning towards its inclusion, but it has some stiff competition in that slot.

Petals of Insight

Petals combos with Omniscience; it was reprinted for this reason and as such it’s not all that relevant to the Pauper format. Five mana is a lot to maybe draw three cards, and there is little chance of casting this baby more than once a turn. Maybe I’d consider it if I had an Arcane subtheme, but that mechanic is pretty awful and I never really felt my cube had a place for it. This one is a pass.

Street Wraith

While I am bummed that they didn’t keep the Future Sight frame for these cards, this is a pretty awesome card to enter into the world of Pauper. While I imagine it will have more relevance in certain combo decks in the broader format, I still want to find space for it in my cube (although I might end up looking for the uncommon foil instead). I mean, it’s a relevant body with a decent evasion ability that you can cycle for free. It sets up a turn two Exhume fairly well, and four toughness is a lot to beat. I think this is going to be a strong inclusion in Pauper cubes going forward, and I am really psyched to play with it myself.

Syphon Life

This card isn’t super flashy, but I suspect it’ll find its way into my cube all the same. Retrace is a powerful limited mechanic, given that it allows you to draw nothing but action off the top of your deck. While white used to have the only real retrace victory condition at common in Cenn’s Enlistment (Flame Jab was way too slow), black now gets into the game. I plan to add and play this one as soon as I find a slot for it.

Warren Weirding

My cube goes back and forth on whether or not it wants to support a tribal goblins theme. I usually am on the no side of the fence, since there aren’t any lords at common, but cards like this make me reconsider. Warren Weirding is strong because of its versatility, and while I am not sure it will make my cube in the first wave, it’ll definitely come in now should I ever want to go all in on Goblins.

Hana Kami

Terrible. Arcane may have been one of the most parasitic mechanics they ever put into a block, and then they never supported it again. While there’s the mild temptation to include it on the basis of its combo with Death Denied, a two card combo that might not even make it into each draft (since my cube has an extra 60 cards in it to provide some variety) is hardly a reason to include such an otherwise-useless card.


But this is what I am talking about! Imperiosaur is big game, and exactly the type of card I was happy to see down-shifted in rarity. It’s a Blastoderm that doesn’t self-terminate and that you can enchant; it gives green another beefy body at a low CMC, and that’s really all green ever needs to be happy. It is a definite inclusion, although again, I will probably go for the original Future Sight frame.

Walker of the Grove

And then there’s the beef that’s too big even for green. It’s a little tempting, I will admit; the card synergizes very well with the flicker effects I keep in my cube (like a less awesome version of Thragtusk), and it gives decks something tangible to ramp towards. But there’s something about an eight drop that seems a little counter to the spirit of my cube, even if you can pop it for five mana if you’re really in a bind. I am tentatively going to say no to the Walker, but I certainly appreciate the option it provides.

By my count those nine cards are all the reprints newly at common, and of them I am giving serious consideration to six. That’s a pretty strong hit rate, and even the cards I don’t see adding to my own cube do seem potentially good for the format as a whole. As much as I hate to admit it, this set that seemed so gimmicky and useless for Commander has actually given me some new key cards for my cube, and that’s not without its own value.

So even though I haven’t joined the Modern Masters feeding frenzy (and as you saw yesterday, it’s a frenzy backed by some interesting data), I still have to respect the set for what it is. In downshifting the rarity of a few cards, Wizards offered some new life to several formats, and gave some cards that were too rare for their own good a new chance to see play in different formats.

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