Another Remastered set is on its way and that means some new cards for Pauper. While Dominaria Remastered does not give us any new cards, it does have a handful of downshifts, which means Pauper will have some new tools in the kit. All things being equal, these cards are not as powerful as some options recently added to the format but they do present some interesting wrinkles.
Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore is a mouthful and costs five mana. One of these is going to impact its ability to see play. These days, if a card costs three or more mana in Pauper, it better be doing something spectacular. Eye could thrive in black midrange mirrors if those ever return as a way to avoid Snuff Out while also sneaking by to steal the monarchy or potentially the initiative. An unlikely scenario to be sure, but still one that could come up.
On the other side of the wall we have the original Juggernaut – a card once banned in Extended. In a format where you can pay zero mana for a 4/4 that has no restrictions, Juggernaut is a tough sell. I would say that this card could be useful against WonderWalls as a way to push through damage, but so many of the creatures in that deck simply have defender and are not actually walls.
Continuing the trend of expensive cards, we have Kjeldoran Gargoyle. It’s not that a 3/3 flying first strike with proto-lifelink is bad, but rather that abilities are on a creature that is too expensive to matter. The life gain is more useful early as a way to blunt the assault of red decks but when it costs six mana, your best option is to try and get it into play with Exhume. That is a big ask. Maybe if a Tron deck wants this effect and Prismatic Strands, it could turn to the Coldsnap original, but that is a bit much.
I would love for Pauper to be a format where Nomad Decoy could see play. I’ve played plenty of tappers in Mono-White Heroic from Blinding Souleater to Territorial Hammerskull as ways to push through damage. Nomad Decoy has a neat twist in that it could make it significantly easier to both steal and keep the monarchy or initiative with its double tap capability.
Ovinize looks rather anemic on the surface. Humble exists and sees no play but Ovinize has a significant advantage in the fact that it’s blue. Blue has far more pingers than white and many of them have seen play at various points in Pauper’s history. Blue is also a worse defensive color than white and using Ovinize to let Spellstutter Sprite win in combat against Gurmag Angler is just entertaining. Ovinize and Humble might also get a second chance if they can be used to buy time against Krark-Clan Shaman.
Speaking of Krark-Clan Shaman, Phantom Nomad can easily wear an Armadillo Cloak and never be wiped thanks to the damage replacement ability. I would say the same thing about Phantom Flock but as a five mana 3/3 flyer it is almost certainly going to find itself continuing to ride the pine.
Primal Boost is the kind of flexible card I love. It can help a creature trade up against creatures significantly larger but also can help you tussle with smaller adversaries while also replacing itself. The biggest strike against the pump spell is that both sides are equally as expensive and there are just better ways to grant four points of power. If any deck wants this, it would be Infect, which tends to be hungry for card flow options.
Ridgetop Raptor dies to a stiff breeze. It also is from an era where double strike was a brand new ability and Wizards was still learning how to cost it effectively. Compare this card to Fencing Ace – a cheaper option that is just as fragile and sees no play. Creatures already have a tough time making their presence felt in Pauper and the Raptor won’t survive long enough to cut its very sharp teeth.
Vampiric Link saw play before black had access to Unexpected Fangs. One thing the Aura could do was “neutralize” an opposing threat, since the way the Link is worded, the owner of the enchantment gains the life after the trigger. Spirit Link could be used in a similar situation, but given how valuable gaining life is at the moment (thanks to the strength of red), it might be a while before Plains mages have the opportunity to pull that trick.
Paige Smith – a friend of mine and fellow member of the Pauper Format Panel – said that Symbiotic Beast is a quintessential “Alex” card. She’s not wrong. It’s a midrange green creature that can generate value and has some size to it. And as much as I want to like this card, there’s almost no chance it sees competitive play. If a mana value of five is excessive, six is positively outrageous. Unless a downshift of Nim Deathmantle is coming soon so I can pair this with Ashnod’s Altar, this one is a stretch.
I see no reason Terminal Moraine should see play since Warped Landscape exists and sees none.
Dominaria Remastered is a love letter to Magic’s long history and its original setting. While it looks like a blast for Limited, its prospects in Pauper are a paucity. Given how things have been as of late, I’m perfectly fine with that situation.