Thursday, April 28, 2016

Common Reprints with Upshifted Rarity in Shadows Over Innistrad

With very little fanfare, it was decided that what I have dubbed the Standard Pauper Experiment would continue into this new season of Standard Pauper tournaments brought about by the release of Shadows Over Innistrad. Our community is continuing to test whether cards previously printed at Common but reprinted at higher rarities in Standard sets should be allowed into the format. Primarily, this is driven by the fact that both online and on the MTGO client, using the official card filtering databases returns these cards as being both Standard and Pauper legal.

With the rotation of Standard, two such cards left the format, namely Arc Lightning and Pyrotechnics, and three new cards came in: Lightning Axe, Mad Prophet, and Reckless Scholar. So today I thought I would take a quick look at these new cards and offer my thoughts on them.

1. It seems appropriate that as two burn spells rotate out, we get another one to take their place. A 5R Instant that deals 5 damage to target creature is nothing to get excited about, being comparable to both Reduce to Ashes and Sarkhan's Rage. Of course, for this card it's all about actually getting to cast it for R instead by discarding a card. And while there are plenty of ways to mitigate that cost (pitching a Land or a Madness card, for example), the effect you're getting still isn't amazing given the setup cost. At best, this is an improved Flame Slash, but one that makes you work hard for that additional value.

Verdict: Grounder - It's a strong removal spell, but it axes a lot of you.

Mad Prophet was a Common back as recently as Avacyn Restored, where it saw only occasional play. At 3R, you're paying a lot for a mere 2/2, even with Haste, and unlike other "looters" you have to discard the card before you get to draw. Obviously now this ability is potentially much better, since if you can discard a Madness card you essentially are negating the downside. It's also worth remembering that since it does have Haste, you can activate its ability right away, even if your opponent immediately targets it with removal. Overall though, I don't expect this to see much play except in a dedicated Madness build.

Verdict: Bunt - You'd be mad to predict amazing things for this card.

I've always found Reckless Scholar to be a bit of an oddball card. The extra point of Power over Merfolk Looter is a nice bonus, but the ability to use its ability on other players always struck me as strange. Nonetheless, the ability to draw and then discard a card is a slow but effective way to gain card advantage, typically worth about half a card per activation, and obviously is even better when you can activate Madness some percentage of the time. That said, Madness seems to be at its best in a more tempo oriented deck rather than straight Control, which makes it hard for this card to earn a spot. So far the Izzet decks have not included it, but perhaps that will change.

Verdict: Bunt - I hate to be reckless, but I don't think this quite gets there.

So there you have it. While Lightning Axe will probably find a spot in a few different decks, I doubt either Mad Prophet or Reckless Scholar will make much of an impact.

1 comment:

  1. After failing to realize that Borderland Maurader is now Standard Legal again, I'd welcome a review of:
    1) ALL sets that are available in Standard Pauper. I guess Gatherer recognizes how the new Welcome decks are legal.
    2) Evaluations of those cards for the metagame, like usual.

    Thanks in advance! I dislike being blindsided...