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BRO in MTG Pauper: Fallaji Archaeologist and Tocasia’s Dig Site

I’m not normally in the habit of pulling takes fresh from the oven during spoiler season, but you could say that The Brothers’ War has me hot. The set is hitting me right in the nostalgia – I read the Urza novels quite a bit when I was younger – and the way the cards look remind me of Rise of the Eldrazi. I have fond memories of Rise as I was in my first job and regularly had draft nights at my apartment. But all of this is besides the point, as on the day of writing, two different cards caught my eye for Pauper: Fallaji Archaeologist and Tocasia’s Dig Site.

Let’s start with Tocasia’s Dig Site. While Pauper has felt significantly faster as of late, it’s still a format where card quality can matter quite a bit in the late game. The Strixhaven Campuses see some play as a late game mana sink that can help curate the draw step. The advantage of these lands is that they tap for two different colors of mana. The four mana activation cost on the Campuses means they tend to find a home in decks that expect to make it to the late game, like slower Orzhov Pestilence decks or current builds of Mystical Teachings-based Tron decks. They’re fine, but nothing to get excited about.

 

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Tocasia’s Dig Site

Tocasia’s Dig Site trades scry for surveil and immediately adds the opportunity for card advantage. Pauper makes heavy use of the graveyard as a source of card advantage with cards like Chainer’s Edict, Deep Analysis, Prismatic Strands, Sacred Cat and others all seeing heavy play. Dumping one of these into the bin with surveil means that you have effectively drawn a card, since you’re getting both the surveiled card and the one underneath it. On top of all of this, Dig Site shaves a generic mana off of the Campuses’ scry cost, making it less onerous in the midgame. The downside here, of course, is that Dig Site does not tap for any color of mana.

Chainer's EdictDeep AnalysisPrismatic StrandsSacred Cat

So where does that leave Pauper? Tocasia’s Dig Site is a powerful card for decks with any amount of graveyard synergy and, as CawGate has shown us, there is space for powerful colorless lands in two-color decks. Chainer’s Edict decks might seem like a natural fit but those decks can often have a heavy black mana requirement in Pestilence, so running Dig Site in these decks might mean sacrificing the powerful enchantment. Dig Site might be a better partner with Firebolt if only for color requirements, as there are few cards that require red mana the way Pestilence demands black sources. 

One of my eternal projects in Pauper is a “Lands” style deck that uses Tilling Treefolk and the cycling lands from Onslaught as a way to generate card advantage. Mulch and Winding Way gives the deck access to plenty of “draw four” opportunities and cards like Flame Jab, Syphon Life and Raven’s Crime can make good use of extra lands. An issue with the deck as of late is its inability to easily fit a secondary engine into the build. A card like Tocasia’s Dig Site could go a long way towards improving card flow while also enabling the deck to “draw” extra cards each turn. The addition of Dig Site would likely push the deck to be a pure two-color build because even with 26 slots, running a land that cannot pay for the discrete cost on spells is a non-starter.

Fallaji Archaeologist

The other card that caught my eye is Fallaji Archaeologist. Any card that lets you look at the top three and pick one is already going to warrant a second look. Unlike Augur of Bolas, which puts those three cards on the bottom if an instant or sorcery cannot be found, the Archaeologist puts them directly into the graveyard. This is already a huge advantage over Augur of Bolas as it can more easily fuel Gurmag Angler while actually progressing your game plan – you’re likely not running Archaeologist if you don’t have some amount of graveyard synergy after all. The fact that it then puts itself out of Lightning Bolt range if you whiff is just icing on the cake. This card will very easily slot into the current Dimir Tolarian Terror decks and might encourage them to add some additional cards with flashback.

Tortured Existence

There is another pet deck that could immediately benefit from Fallaji Archaeologist: Tortured Existence. To this point, many Tortured Existence decks have relied on green for Commune with the Gods to dig for the eponymous engine. Fallaji Archaeologist doesn’t only care about instants and sorceries but rather any nonland, noncreature permanent. Hitting Tortured Existence off of the Archaeologist is less reliable but unlike Commune with the Gods it is a creature. Tortured Existence decks need a density of creatures to get their engine online in the late game and having a card that not only digs for the namesake but can also be pitched to it as the turns drag on for a more important tool is a huge advantage over sorceries that do no such thing. If Tortured Existence is able to make a comeback in the wake of The Brothers’ War, I fully expect it to do so on the laurels of Fallaji Archaeologist.

Wrapping Up

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Brothers’ War is chock full of other powerful cards that produce Powerstones and artifacts with Prototype that could give ramp decks new options. Even some of the utility cards – like Overwhelming Remorse and Raze to the Ground – look like they can have a meaningful impact. Which commons from the next set that are piquing your interest most for Pauper?

 

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