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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Sep 25 2017 12:00pm
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Common Cause

 

Iconic Masters has been fully spoiled! It’s Christmas again for Pauper!

 

With so many beautiful reprints in the set, not only do we have more copies of expense low-supply common, but we also have so many new toys! Wonderful cards have been newly downshifted to common giving us access to cards of a power level we rarely see in standard release sets. Just look at all of our new toys!

 

Team White

 

Angel of Mercy Emerge Unscathed Seeker of the Way Survival Cache Sustainer of the Realm

 

We just had Angel of Mercy in Hour of Devastation as Aven of Enduring Hope. Nothing to see here.

 

As for Emerge Unscathed, there’s one deck that loves spell triggers, and that is Kiln Fiend. The problem is that its U/R. Where is the right home for a protection spell with Rebound? Hard to say. 

The white card I am most excited about? Seeker of the Way. 3/3 lifelink off the trigger is legit, and the homes for this card are there: White Weenie, White Soldier, maybe even Boros. The downside? Pauper is a format where a two-mana critter actually trades down with removal much of the time. So unless you’re a stone cold killer like Kiln Fiend, or a value machine like Kor Skyfisher, you had better be doing something at least as powerful as say a Sinew Sliver.
 

Survival Cache makes an interesting value card. While I’m not sure if Boros wants a Divination plus four life on a delayed trigger, and that is the best case scenario, I could see it slotting in since it is a natural two-for-one.
 

The last white card, Sustainer of the Realm falls short because of its 4 CMC casting cost. *yawn*
 

Overall Grade: C.  We should get at least one playable out of Iconic Masters for white, but it might not be a staple.
 

Team Blue

 

Dissolve Jace's Phantasm Jhessian Thief Riverwheel Aerialists

 

Even though Blue only got four new cards in Iconic Masters, the quality spread over these cards is high.
 

Dissolve was a standard staple. Does is have a home in an environment where Counterspell is legal? Dubious, but some blue decks play value counters like Soul Manipulation and Exclude. Maybe Scry 1 is good enough, but I doubt it.
 

Jace's Phantasm wins on the efficiency scale. 1/1 flier for U is the fail case on Faerie Miscreant. And under the right circumstances, it becomes a 5/5 flier for U. In a format where Thought Scour sees play, I could see this eventually finding a home.
 

While it’s a mana inefficient threat, I also like the potential I see in Jhessian Thief. Strictly better Scroll Thief looks like it could be great to me in a Thermo-Lookout deck.
 

Finally, Riverwheel Aerialists, while being the punchline of one of the best 10 minute long groaners told by Rich Hagon, sadly fails on the efficiency test. Dies to Doom Blade.
 

Overall Grade: B-  The quality is there. While I don’t know if we have a slam dunk playable in the bunch, all of these are welcome downshifts and 3 out of 4 could see a nice home in Pauper.
 

Team Black

 

 Thrill-Kill Assassin Virulent Swipe Wight of Precinct Six

 

Black has a nice mix among its four additions. The least impressive is likely the newest member of the Diabolic Edict club, (Foul-Tongue Invocation). The 4 life dragon rider isn’t going to trigger often if at all, so this might be a strictly worse edict, practically speaking.
 

Though currently Black is almost exclusively a midrange / control color in Pauper, historically we have occasionally seen black aggro be a thing. The next two cards, Thrill-Kill Assassin and Virulent Swipe are both intriguing aggro cards that could revive the mostly dead Suicide Black deck. Massacre Girl herself saw standard play and Virulent Swipe looks like a great way to pile damage and deal with blockers either in black aggro or an infect build.
 

Finally, there’s the Wight. The obvious problem with Wight of Precinct Six is that you don’t have that much control over the number of creatures in an opponent’s graveyard. Unless you know you’re going to be mowing down their team or milling them out, you can’t rely on the wight getting very big. Still, a two-mana vanilla that can get Tarmogoyf big has potential. We’ll see…
 

Overall grade: C- 

Team Red

 

 Dragonlord's Servant Earth Elemental Furnace Whelp Mark of Mutiny
 

Could Dragons be a thing in Pauper? I doubt it, sadly relegating Draconic Roar to the realm of strictly worse Lightning Strike, unless somewhere there's a way to interact with Changeling shenanigans. Same sadly goes for Dragonlord's Servant. What am I saving 2 mana on? A Furnace Whelp?
 

Much as it is a cool Alpha reprint, vanilla 4/5a don't excite me much either. At least Earth Elemental can now rejoin Fire Elemental at common rarity.
 

Maybe the best of the bunch is Mark of Mutiny. While Threaten effects don't see a bunch of play in Pauper, this is either the best or the 2nd best at what it does with Wrangle also in contention. Maybe RDW wants this?
 

Overall grade: D   I'm doubtful any of these see play, but maybe Mark of Mutiny will surprise us.

 

Team Green

 

Duskdale Wurm Ivy Elemental Jaddi Offshoot Lead the Stampede Prey's Vengeance

 

Green got some tools. Nothing obvious on the power scale we saw in Modern Masters 2017, but there's potential here.

 
Duskdale Wurm is a giant trampling beater. I don't think it seems play when Ulamog's Crusher is around, but it joins the ranks of Crash of Rhinos for giant trampling green commons.

The award for "Downshifted from Rare" goes to Ivy Elemental. Though inefficient everywhere on curve, X spells always have potential, even vanilla ones since big mana is a thing in Pauper Tron.
 

We see a nice stopgap in Jaddi Offshoot. While Wall of Wood alone is wildly unplayable, in a world of Overgrown Battlements, Axebane Guardians and Vent Sentinels, the building blocks for janky defender / ramp is there, and this is a nice one drop to complement the zero drop Shield Sphere.
 

Lead the Stampede is a cool draw spell for a deck that is 50% or more creatures like Elves. Currently they run Distant Melody since the splash isn't hard and they can often draw 4+ cards off the blue sorcery. The upside on Lead the Stampede isn't quite as high, but drawing 2.5 creatures for 2G is a very efficient rate in the right build.
 

Finally we get to Prey's Vengeance, which I think actually is the most ready to play green spell in Iconic Masters. Both Stompy and Infect could make great use out of the rebounding pump spell. While it can't save  X/1 from a Lightning Bolt, it can win a combat on their turn and then boost an attacker on yours. And best of all, the price is right.
 

Overall Grade: C+.  No format defining staple, but I bet at least one card here will see regular play.
 

Team Colorless
 

Darksteel Axe Guardian Idol Star Compass

 

So we get a vanilla, colorless 4/4 flier in Scion of Ugin, an overcosted, indestructible Bonesplitter, a mana rock that requires to run sufficient basic lands, and a weird Mind Stone / Jade Statue hybrid that can both ramp and trade with a creature, kind of like a mana rock Quicksand. I'm not thrilled about any of these, but I guess the two mana rocks are the most interesting. Currently, only a couple signets since marginal play in Pauper, and overall I prefer the power of signets to what these two offer, but there's some utility there.
 

Overall grade: D.   While we got some new effects to try, I doubt any are of a high enough power level to see play.

 

Conclusion

 

That’s 27 new toys for us to play with here in Pauper Land! While the set looks much weaker than (Modern Masters 2017) or (Eternal Masters) for its Pauper offerings, we do get some new toys, though I find it ironic that I don't think a single one will even see half the play of Firebrand Archer and that came out of a Standard legal set.

 

My overall Pauper Grade for Iconic Masters: C.

 

It's mediocre. We got a ton of new toys but nothing that will shake up the metagame or spawn a new deck.

 

My Top 5 Pauper Cards from Iconic Masters:

5. Virulent Swipe

4. Lead the Stampede

3. Jhessian Thief 

2. Seeker of the Way

1. Prey's Vengeance 


What new downshifted cards are you most excited about?

SteveJeltz