Thursday, April 25, 2013

Standard Pauper in the Maze

It's that time again, as a new set enters into Standard and players eagerly discuss how the new cards will impact their favorite format. This time it's Dragon's Maze, and as is often the case, it seems to be a mixed bag for Pauper. On the one hand, it's great to see that at least some of these cards will see play in the coming months. On the other hand, it is also somewhat disappointing, as yet another set lacks much in the way of truly format-defining cards to be added to the Classic or Standard Pauper formats.While I hope to have a more detailed review of the cards forthcoming, today I wanted to use this post to discuss the highs and lows for this new set.

I. The Lows

In many ways this is an unusual set, and the design constraints I believe played a big role in producing what is a somewhat disappointing set. Dragon's Maze has to support all ten guilds, which means that only a single multi-colored Common is available for each of the guilds, as well as only a single Common be assigned to each guild's signature abilities. While the multi-colored cards themselves are decent to good, the cards representing these signature abilities are fairly lackluster, with the possible exception of Hidden Strings.

Furthermore, the decision to include ten mana-fixing Artifacts at Common further reduced the number of interesting Commons for the set, and while certainly playable in Limited, these Artifacts probably aren't good enough for Standard Pauper, much less Classic. Overall, I would argue that the space that was left for Commons after these design constraints were fulfilled is the biggest culprit in what I would call a lackluster set for Pauper.

II. The Highs

That said, there certainly are a few cards that stand out from the rest. Here's my list, sorted by color order:
  1. Sunspire Gatekeepers
  2. Hidden Strings
  3. Opal Lake Gatekeepers
  4. Crypt Incursion
  5. Rakdos Drake
  6. Ubul Sar Gatekeepers
  7. Deputy of Acquittals
  8. Tithe Drinker
  9. Nivix Cyclops
  10. Zhur-Taa Druid
  11. Viashino Firstblade
  12. Beetleform Mage
Of these, I still believe that the best Common in the set is probably Deputy of Acquittals, which I wrote about last week. Of the rest, several will be good to excellent in particular decks, and a few might even see play in Classic Pauper.

So what do you think of the set? Did I miss any particular card that you think will make a major impact? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Thanks for reading.


  1. Hidden Strings has the potential to be deeply absurd in the wrong deck (one with lands that give multiple mana, for instance). I'm trying to get it to work with hexproof/shroud creatures so I can preserve the cypher.

  2. Zhur-taa druis and hidden springs seem kinda meh for standard pauper, but, they will likely make it into other pauper formats

  3. Part One of my full review of Dragon's Maze for Standard Pauper is available now at PureMTGO. Check it out here: