I think it was Magic Origins when I finally stopped making an effort to keep my Pauper cube updated. Theros block was what did me in, since I had done some structural damage to the cube in the attempt to fit the heroic mechanic into it, but Khans block didn’t give me a reason to fix that damage. It compounded itself, and by Origins it was more effort to fix than it was worth putting into a cube I hadn’t drafted in over two years.


I had thought that would be the end of it, my foiled-out precious rotting away in its shell. But then Shadows over Innistrad had some tempting cards in it. Not enough to make me recommit to the practice, but they were interesting nonetheless. And then Eternal Masters was spoiled, and I saw the 27 different downshifted cards and thought: “now is the time.”


Here are the ten cards I found most interesting, five from Shadows over Innistrad and then five from Eternal Masters:




Militant Inquisitor

Pauper Cube has no access to Stoneforge Mystic, Nahiri, the Lithomancer, or Batterskull. These are strikes against an equipment subtheme. But with more and more decent equipment being printed at common, including such Pauper Cube mainstays as Bonesplitter and Adventuring Gear. Militant Inquisitor has reasonable base stats, but gets better when you have equipment, whether or not you equip it directly. That seemed worth trying out.


Pyre Hound

I’ve had this one in foil since Shadows over Innistrad came out. My favorite Izzet draft archetype is Kiln Fiend, and I’ve been sure to support it well over the years. So another type of Kiln Fiend seemed like a solid addition. I like the permanence and trample of this version… it moves the archetype away from its combo finish, giving it the ability to grind as well.


Sanitarium Skeleton

Perhaps it’s because I started drafting in Zendikar, or maybe it was my time playing monoblack Vampires in Standard, but my favorite card in the history of the game is Bloodghast. It’s not the best card, and these days it’s only seeing play in Commander, but it has a permanent spot in my heart. Sanitarium Skeleton is the closest thing Pauper has to a Bloodghast, allowing recursion whenever you need it, and not just the one-shot trigger present on cards like Relentless Dead.


Thraben Inspector

  1. I am betting that the Shadow over Innistrad is Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Her thing is conversion, and she makes stuff that looks somewhat like the organic latticework we’ve seen in the cards that tease. She is encircled in the Drownyard Temple, and she may even survive past Shadows block in order to end up in a battle royale with the other big evil in the multiverse: New Phyrexia. I mean, okay, I’m not betting on the last part, but the point is this card shows what appears to be the evidence of Emrakul, with the stone and wood of the buildings being eaten away by some pinkish fleshy corrosion. “If you’ve been at this as long as I have, nothing can surprise you. That’s the hope, at least.”
  2. I was surprised to see this card show up in Standard, but when it did I knew that it would eventually find its way into my revitalized Pauper cube.


Watcher in the Web

The “can block multiple creatures” cards are often super flavorful, and this is no exception. Not only is this a Vorthos home run, but it’s a good card too! It completely interferes with combat, and a 2/5 spider for five mana is a playable rate. But mostly, it’s a spider that can block eight things, one for each leg. Good stuff.





Nimble Mongoose

This is apparently going to change the game in Pauper. I can see how, plenty of Legacy RUG Delver players have incorporated the card into that archetype since they printed Delver of Secrets. Delver decks like other one-drops with which it is difficult to interact. In Pauper Cube, my issue has been those other one-drops. I was trying out Cloudfin Raptor, but it just wasn’t high impact in a spell-heavy deck. Nimble Mongoose promises to be a more interesting addition.


Rally the Peasants

Flashback cards are valuetown, and I was removing Orim’s Thunder from the cube as part of a wider removal of the kicker mechanic (and its younger sibling, multikicker). Since my supported Boros archetype is Tokens, this is a perfect card to slip in its slot.

(If you’re wondering, I am trying to simplify my cube as part of this overhaul. I am taking out kicker, heroic, evolve, and -1/-1 counters, and by the time this is all over I may have found other mechanics that I wouldn’t care to keep.)


Desperate Ravings

Desperate Ravings is for the Kiln Fiend deck (and also had a convenient spot open up when I took out Jilt for the aforementioned kicker reasons). It does a couple of things. One, it’s card advantage. It gets really good if I add in madness, but even without further synergies a five mana “draw four, discard two” card would be worthy of consideration. But it’s its speed where the card truly shines. The first cast represents a surprise pump, letting a Wee Dragonauts kill something that they thought would bounce, or something of the sort. But then Desperate Ravings sits in your graveyard and threatens to be flashed back. As such, your opponents have to respect it. It gets you value without having to cast it, and that is a good thing in a card.

Plus it’s not too shabby as a vanilla draw spell.


Elite Vanguard

When I started playing this card was a rare, Savannah Lions. Now that it’s a common I can get in foil and put it in my cube. Of course it’s coming in. But with it I think it’s going to be bringing in several of the other white one drops, like War Falcon or Loyal Pegasus. Monowhite is recommitting to a White Weenie strategy, which had been supplanted by a more grind-based game plan. But that’s gone now! And the rebirth of an archetype is at hand.


Peregrine Drake

Flickermancer is a combo in this cube. Flickermancer refers to a combo in which Archaeomancer is targeted repeatedly by the same copy of Ghostly Flicker. When Ghostly Flicker resolves it goes to the graveyard, and then the Archaeomancer puts its new enter the battlefield trigger on the stack, which targets Ghostly Flicker, returning it to your hand. Every time you do this, though, you get to flicker another artifact, land, or creature you control, because Ghostly Flicker targets two things. This is not inherently an infinite combo, because it costs three mana every iteration of this effect. Peregrine Drake, however, nets you mana every time you do it. This lets you gain infinite mana, which you can use to pay full price for the Ghostly Flicker infinite times, letting you infinitely blink artifacts, lands, and creatures under your control.

There are plenty of ways to turn that into a win.




Eternal Masters aggressively downshifted the rarity of cards, moreso than any of the predecessors of this set. In doing that, they have revitalized my interest in a format that had lost me. I think it was a good move, and I hope they continue to do things like this going forwards in these supplementary sets.


Jess Stirba is a dragon, complete with shiny.

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