Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Yesterday the full spoiler for the newest Magic the Gathering set, Gatecrash, was released by Wizards of the Coast. For those like me who are primarily concerned with the Pauper format, the weeks of previews leading up to the full spoiler can be a frustrating experience. Despite the fact that Commons are the bread-and-butter of any Magic set, nearly all the early spoilers are Rares and Mythic Rares, since these cards are typically more exciting. So until the full spoiler is released, it is difficult to make any real assessment of how a particular set will shape up for Pauper in general.

Over the next week, I will be working on an article that will discuss what I believe will be the most relevant cards for Standard Pauper from Gatecrash. But for today's blog post, I thought I would take a less structured approach and simply discuss my initial thoughts about the set. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Of the new mechanics, Extort is by far the strongest.

The ability to drain your opponent for a single point of life at the cost of a single Black or White mana is quite strong, particularly in a deck that can cast multiple spells a turn or with multiple sources of Extort (since each permanent with the ability will create an additional trigger). Given the fact that there are at least 3 decent Common creatures with this ability, I suspect that
Extort will see plenty of play in Standard Pauper in the months ahead.

2. The other mechanics are fairly weak and not likely to see much play.

In case that wasn't clear, I was not impressed with the other guild mechanics. Here's why:
  • Cipher has some powerful effects, but the fact that it requires you to not only have a creature, but to deal damage to a player consistently with that creature, dramatically weakens the effect. Additionally, the Cipher spells themselves are quite expensive.
  • Bloodrush is decent, since it essentially allows Creature cards in hand to be used as a combat trick instead. While there is value to be had there, the fact that the Bloodrush ability can't be used defensively is a major drawback. Additionally, none of the Common Bloodrush abilities provide any form of evasion or psuedo-evasion (First Strike, Trample, Vigiliance, etc.).
  • Battalion simply asks too much to activate. In my experience in Standard Pauper, it is rare for a player to be attacking with three creatures at once, particularly since creature removal is so prevalent in the format. Even if there may be a specific deck archetype that can create these kinds of situations, the effects generated by Battalion are hardly worth the effort.
  • Evolve is probably the most interesting of the new mechanics. The ability to permanently grow your Creatures over time sounds promising. But again, in Standard Pauper, there simply is too much removal floating around for these creatures to ever get enough counters to become much of a threat. And personally, I am grateful none of the Evolve creatures have Hexproof.
I would love for someone to prove me wrong here, but at least initially, I don't see how these effects are going to make much a difference in Standard Pauper.

3. Considering that Gatecrash is not an Artifact-heavy set, the Common Artifacts are surprisingly good.

It has become increasingly rare to see much in the way of Artifacts at Common, at least outside of artifact-centric blocks like Shards of Alara or Scars of Mirrodin. Yet, Gatecrash includes four non-creature Artifacts, each of which is probably playable. Specifically, Riot Gear is cheap enough to be worth real consideration, while Skyblinder Staff when equipped to a creature with Flying renders that creature virtually unblockable (although it's probably too expensive for that effect). Razortip Whip is no Rod of Ruin, but it is arguable at least on the same level as Goblin Fireslinger. And, of course, the return of Prophetic Prism is quite a pleasant surprise!

4. The biggest effect on Pauper in general will be the release of the remainer of the Common Dual Lands.

While I am no expert in Classic Pauper by any means, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that the release of Common Dual Lands for all of the paired and enemy colors is quite the windfall for the Pauper format. For the minimal cost of entering the battlefield tapped, being able to tap a Land for two different colors is quite good - good enough, in fact, that these Gates are seeing play even in Standard.

For Standard Pauper, these enemy color Gates will probably prompt many players to explore the new possibilities of these color combinations, particularly in Orzhov.

5. Only a handful of cards will have a major impact on the Standard Pauper metagame. 

I am looking forward to publishing my first article on the Gatecrash Commons, and a full evaluation of the best cards will have to wait until then. But if I had to pick today, here are the eleven cards I would say will see the most play in the months ahead:
  1. Kingpin's Pet
  2. Psychic Strike
  3. Pit Fight
  4. Skynight Legionnaire
  5. Hydroform
  6. Court Street Denizen
  7. Keymaster Rogue
  8. Devour Flesh
  9. Act of Treason
  10. Ivy Lane Denizen
  11. Prophetic Prism
So what do you think of this new set? Are there other cards that should be on my list of the most relevant for Standard Pauper? Did I miss some awesome implication of one of the new mechanics that you think will make a big splash in the format? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to weigh in on the comments below. And thanks for reading!


  1. Gwnyed, I respectfully disagree with almost all your points :-p

  2. Great! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the set. Please, elaborate! :)

  3. My article for PureMTGO has been submitted. Once it's published, you can find it at: http://puremtgo.com/articles/writer-adept-gatecrash-11.

  4. I agree with most of your points. Extort is the most powerful but don't overlook Cipher. If you only get one use from it you've still done good work. It may also act as a flagbearer, forcing your opponent to target a creature they otherwise wouldn't. Good blog and good work at puremtgo.