As I mentioned last week, overall I have been fairly impressed with the set so far, especially with the overall power level and complexity of the Commons, which seems higher than in more recent sets.
Today I want to look at the Renown mechanic from the set and talk about the design that went into these creatures at Common.
The first time a Renown creature deals damage to a player, it receives a number of +1 / +1 counters equal to its Renown (which is only 1 at Common save for a lone exception). Ideally, then, what we want to see on these creatures are decent base stats for its casting cost as well as some form of evasion that will allow you to easily trigger Renown for the extra counter. And when these elements are lacking, the creature probably won't be playable in Standard Pauper. Let's take a look at two contrasting examples.
Knight of the Pilgrim Road was spoiled early, and right away it didn't bode well for the mechanic. A 3/2 for 2W isn't all that great, and boosting it up to a 4/3 isn't
enough for it to survive against a lot of different threats, including
other 3 drops. This would have been much better as a 2/3, where the
Renown boost would be enough to protect it against most forms of removal
and also make it harder for your opponent to profitably block when it
first enters the battlefield. For an additional mana, this really isn't
much better than Oreskos Swiftclaw, and that isn't a card that you want to be playing in even a dedicated White Weenie build.
Akroan Sergeant is much better. A 2/2 with First Strike for 2R is already pretty good, and might by
itself be borderline playable. Even better, First Strike makes it more
difficult for your opponent to block and trade with it, increasing the
odds that you'll be able to deal damage to him and trigger Renown.
Connect with it just once, and you have a very respectable 3/3 First
Strike, which is quite strong on either offense or defense in a format
dominated by creatures with 2 Toughness or less. While this isn't fast
enough to probably suit a RDW style archetype, it might warrant a spot
in the recently popular RG Monsters deck or something similar.
Looking at the entire collection of Renown creatures at Common, I suspect that only Rhox Maulers will see widespread play. However, 4 others might find a home in the right deck, including the aforementioned Akroan Sergeant, especially after Standard rotates in the fall. I for one can't wait to see the impact Magic Origins has on Standard Pauper.
Thanks for reading.