When Wizards of the coast released the deck lists for the Kiora Vs Elspeth Duel Decks, I like you eagerly went down the names of cards looking for the card or cards that was worth a lot or something that might be particularly hard to get hold of. For many people, this time it was Mother of Runes, a decent card, but with new artwork. I’m sure there will be people who just have to have this card. Especially as it cost only 1 White mana, which means it will find its way into quite a few Tiny Leader decks.
However today’s article is not really about the Duel decks. If you want you can check out our unboxing video here.
In this article I’m going to write about another card that caught my eye, it was the first card in the creature list that raised my eyebrow.
Last year I spent a fair amount of time hunting down cards like this. Why would such an ordinary card raise my interest I hear you ask?
Because this is a pre-New World Order common and I was building a Pauper Cube.
A SAD STORY OF DOOM BLADE
New World Order is a name for the shift in design mentality that occurred at Wizards during the design of Lorwyn Block. It’s the rule by which newer sets are made that says complexity should not appear at common. It’s slightly more than that but for my purposes today I will leave it there and if you are interested in finding out about there are a few articles on the Daily MTG website from the time when it was introduced that you should probably check out.
The best example of this change is sad fate of Doom Blade in Standard. At first, it was a common and we could all go about our days happily destroying all nonblack creatures that we wanted. Then Wizards moved it to uncommon slot, saying crystal-clearly ‘Enough, you people need to be doing less of this such killings’. We were allowed to play with it there for a short while, until Wizards grew tired of our murderous ways. They said ‘Enough was enough’ and decided that a two-mana instant kill spell with just a minor restriction was not going to be in Standard at all. So we’ve got Hero’s Downfall at rare and Asphyxiate at common. Both 3 mana converted cost with two Black symbols in it.
Icatian Javelineers is another example of those cards that you will not see at common these days. It has an on board effect that can make combat maths tricky. Its text reads:
“Icatian Javelineers enters the battlefield with a javelin counter on it.
Tap, Remove a javelin counter from Icatian Javelineers: Icatian Javelineers deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”
This is special, because White doesn’t get to do direct damage all that often. Well, not whenever it feels like it, it doesn’t. Normally, there is a catch that says the creature must be attacking or blocking. Sometimes it might say that you can’t deal damage to something that dealt you damage but it hardly ever gets to deal damage willy nilly.
A Cube is one of the coolest thing you can do with your Magic cards. There are dozens of different ways you can make a Cube. Block Cubes are popular, because after the set has rotated out you’re left with lots of cards you can’t play with in Standard. They were once powerhouses, now they sit around in your boxes gathering dust. Building and playing a cube can be a great way to bring life to these old cards.
The other end of the spectrum is the Power Cube. Just a collection Magic’s all time superstars in a Cube. Black Lotus, Moxes of all colours, and the rest of the Power Nine. These sort of Cubes sometimes requires years of work to put together.
The Pauper Cube seems like it would be the cheapest option, because you are using commons. However, since you use commons from all of Magic history, it becomes a bit tricky. Many people hold rares because of sentiment, but commons usually are the first one to go to the bin. For this reason, I would say it’s probably a little more expensive than building a Block Cube. Not a ridiculous amount of money, and you can pick up cards here and there, when you’re trading for other things.
The rules I set myself for this Cube were simple: if it the card ever appeared at common in any set I was allowed to have it in the cube.
There is a surprising amount of powerful cards that can be found at the common rarity, like the aforementioned Javelineer. Another card from the Duel Deck that features not just in my Pauper Cube but also in most Cubes I’ve played with (outside of Block Cubes) is Man-O-War. Pauper Cubes get to take advantage of cards that Wizards have deemed too powerful.
GETTING READY FOR A JOURNEY
With my plan to build a Pauper Cube, I needed to work out how to go about it. How many cards do I need? What is a good balance for colours? What sort of Draft archetypes do I want to support in my Cube?
A lot of these questions were fairly easy to answer by doing a little research online. But finding a list that would be easy enough to build is somewhat harder. For some reason, a lot of the cube lists that I found were either for big Cubes with loads of rares and mythics, or Peasant Cubes that had both commons and uncommons – which is not what I wanted.
Don’t get me wrong. I love playing with planeswalkers in Limited and especially like it when there is a few planewalkers in a 1-v-1 match. They tend to test the skill of the players more than in a normal Limited match where one person was lucky enough to open a mythic rare and the other wasn’t.
But I was fairly certain that I just wanted to play with commons only.
Mark Rosewater, Magic’s lead designer, has said several time in his articles and podcasts that restrictions force creativity. That is what I was going for with my Cube build, but also in the Limited environment that it created.
Pauper Cubes are loads of fun, I can say that now I’ve had one built for a little over a year. In the next few articles I’ll take you through the colours and some of the card choices I made.
Because I built this Cube just prior to Theros Block being released, it has zero cards that are in Standard at the moment. Thus, my community question below.
Community Question: What common card(s) from Theros/Khans Blocks do you think should definitely be in a Pauper Cube?
Thanks for reading, I look forward to hearing your suggestions.