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By: jcf, Jose Freitas
May 25 2020 12:00pm

Welcome to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. A world filled with ginormous ferocious beasts that... well... aren't really at common rarity.

But don't feel disappointed, fellow Pauper brewer! That doesn't mean our beloved format doesn't get a few treats and threats. There are new tools for both aggro and control and even a whole new combo deck emerging from the depths of Ikoria. Not to mention a few nice pieces for casual decks that... who knows ? Someday might even step up to competitive status.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at...

Top Ten Coolest Cards for Pauper Brewing from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths:

1) Ram Through:

If there is something green decks always dreamed of, is to have a card like Fling printed on color.

As every Pauper player knows, the format has it's share of grindy control decks that will combine blinking effects with Stonehorn Dignitary or recur spells like Moment's Peace to hold your team back all at once.

As long as your opponent has at least one creature in play and you have somebody with trample on your side, Ram Through can act as direct damage to the dome. Not a small deal. In some cases it can be even better than Fling, since it can act as just good old removal if necessary.

The card is already showing results in Aura Hexproof.

I believe it could also be an interesting addition in Monogreen Aggro and even Monogreen Infect might benefit.

I love green so for me, this is the coolest card from Ikoria! 

2) Drannith Stinger & Drannith Healer:

Those are the perfect combo pieces for a cycling deck. Not only they cycle for just one colorless mana, they are also creatures that can be targeted with Reaping the Graves.

MTGO streamer Dr. Caleb Gannon was probably the first to publicly try this strategy in Pauper and it already been showing some results in events.

It is interesting to note that Caleb's mana base was mainly black and for some reason the deck shifted to a more red manabase in this version.

Red probably offers better sideboard options, also a couple Faithless Looting fit really well, getting rid of useless lands in hand when you are going for the combo.

While vulnerable to graveyard hate, it is an awesome list and the "Drannith Brothers" already conquered their spot on the competitive scene.

3) Durable Coilbug:

A while ago I wrote an article on a semi-competitive deck I like to call Dark Monarch.

The concept is to run as much creature removal as possible, having a few win conditions and a sideboard full of land destruction, so we can swap the strategy against Urza decks.

One cards I considered back them, but ended up not using, was Sanitarium Skeleton. While it offered the inevitability I needed in a deck with just a few win conditions, it was just to small.

A 1/2 doesn't block very well in a format full of 2/2s, also the clock it provides is way to slow.

Durable Coilbug looks like an interesting option to try in this slot. It blocks well, so it is useful early game as defense. Later it is a reasonable clock and hard to deal with. Reaching five mana to recur isn't much of a problem for this deck, since the plan is to go long games anyway.

Solid card in this context, I will try it.

4) Solid Footing:

There is a lot I like about this card, at least for casual play. Maybe it is actually good enough for competitive.

First: +1/+1 at instant speed isn't that bad at all to begin with. It can work as a combat trick that stays or a flash speed enabler for Karametra's Blessing full mode.

Also, white offers some nice vigilant candidates, specially Priests of Norn. Suddenly your not-so-scary 1/4 infector becomes a two turn to kill clock that attack and blocks as a 5/5. Not so bad.

Did I mention Priests of Norn is also a cleric ? That means it's toughness can get boosted by Daru Spiritualist's static ability, good to know at least.

Consider also that are some pretty good ways to grant vigilance to your soldier, especially Sentinel's Eyes a card already present in many Monowhite Heroic lists.

Suddenly your Lagonna-Band Trailblazer could be attacking for eight as early as turn two. Add one Ethereal Armor next turn and the total damage is twelve. So its (not easy but) possible to hit for a total of twenty damage by turn three with Monowhite Heroic now: interesting to say the least.

5) Of One Mind:

Every time a card gives us the possibility of drawing two or more cards for just one mana, we must at least try to abuse it. Right now I can think of three different decks that might work with this card and I will probably at least casually test some in the next week.

The first deck is Izzet tokens. It works like this: we put a lot of goblin tokens in play and them we take advantage of big mana cards like Brightstone Ritual or Battle Hymn and massive card draw like Keep Watch and Distant Melody. It is mainly a casual deck, since it is absurdly vulnerable to mass removal. But it is a blast to see it going off when it does. 

Cheap card draw really makes the deck way more consistent, helping to put the pieces together. While most tokens are Goblin type, I do believe we can sneak some Humans in that kind of deck.

First we have Forbidden Friendship: a perfect fit if you are going more for a Battle Hymn and Keep Watch version of the deck. Another example would be Omenspeaker, a low mana cost human that helps digging for those combo pieces.

There are a couple other cards capable of adding a Human and a non-Human type creature into play for three mana. My favorite is Trinket Mage searching for Flayer Husk but Ghirapur Gearcrafter doesn't look so bad either.

The second deck I would try to fit this card is an Azorius version of my Monowhite Metalcraft with Dinosaurs deck. Both Thoughtcast and Of One Mind might be awesome there. The list pretty much runs a couple of Humans and a lot of non Humans already, maybe it could be tuned to fit a bit more Humans and draw a couple cards really efficiently. 

Finally, there is this almost monoblue combo deck based around a lot of zero cost artifact creatures, like Ornithopter and Phyrexian Walker, a lot of card draw including Shared Discovery and a tiny bit of red to aid with our kill condition with cards like Rites of Initiation or Atog plus Fling. It is a really strange deck that is insanely unbeatable once in a while and fizzles a lot but I think it is awesome. I promise to make an article about this one sooner or later. I would love to try Of One Mind on that one!

6) Suffocating Fumes:

Hurray fellow Pauper control freaks! Those good old Dimir Control toolbox style decks just got a new treat. This card is just perfect as a one of to be fetched with Mystical Teachings when desirable. And then it can be cycled when needed. Quite an upgrade from both Wail of the Nim and Cower in Fear.

Fear, Elves and tokens, fear much!

7) Migratory Greathorn:

While I don't think mutate is extremely competitive in Pauper: a format full of removal. I do believe Migratory Greathorn deserves its spot on the cool casual cards.

First, let's remember green has some great candidates for  mutation, like a Khalni Garden plant token, hexproof creatures like Slippery Bogle or value dudes like Elvish Visionary and Sylvan Ranger

Also, mana ramping plus fixing is not something to underestimate in Pauper. Not so long ago Domain Decks were showing some results. It is a strategy that could rise again given a few powerful tools.

While I don't think Migratory Greathorn is enough to take Domain all the way to the top, it surely is a nice fit. All it takes is one or two payoff cards and Domain might gloriously come back from the kitchen table.

8) Serrated Scorpion:

If there is one thing Tortured Existence decks love it is cheap creatures with come-in-play effects or even effects when they die.

Serrated Scorpion isn't very powerful on it's own, but it provides a cost efficient effect if sacrificed and recurred, filling a gap on a monoblack T.E. decks: gaining life while working as an alternate kill condition for a low cost.

Wipe the dust of those Carrion Feeders, Mortician Beetles and Tortured Existences: Gray Merchant's small brother arrived to town.

9) Perimeter Sergeant:

There are a lot of cool Humans in Pauper, including the Soul Sisters in the Pauper version of the deck and Gather the Townsfolk. I actually wonder if there is a profitable way to lower our lives to five, triggering Gather the Townsfolk's Fateful Hour producing five tokens for only two mana and then gaining that life back with Soul Warden plus Soul's Attendant  in play while doing that. That would be awesome.

While I don't think that is viable or at least I didn't find a way yet, one thing is for sure: Humans are an awesome tribe in Magic the Gathering and finally they got at least a little bit of love in Pauper.

If you can find a couple solid Human Soldiers, things get even more interesting since we now have access to eight power boosting lords with the inclusion of Veteran Swordsmith and eight toughness boosting lords provided by Veteran Armorer and Veteran Armorsmith.

Check some interesting Human Soldiers available in Pauper: Thraben Inspector, Deftblade Elite, Elite Vanguard, Fencing Ace, Battalion Foot Soldier, Loyal Cathar to name a few: there are plenty options.

Monowhite Soldiers is not the most competitive deck in Pauper, but it actually showed some results here and there.

It is a cool card, we should at least keep an eye on future Humans tribe support.

10) Garrison Cat:

There is this cool casual deck I would call Orzhov Aristocrats. Basically we mix together a couple sacrifice outlets (like Carrion Feeder) and Bloodthrone Vampire, creatures that give you something back when sacced and some payoff cards, like: Mortician Beetle and Unruly Mob.

With the addition of Garrison Cat it is possible to have a total of twelve one mana creatures that give you a token when they die. This helps the list get a bit more speed and consistency. Extra coolness points if you add Squadron Hawks to fill the graveyard and Pit Keeper as low cost graveyard recursion.

(pic=Unruly Mob)

While the deck is pretty much casual, it is relatively strong and very fun to pilot. Maybe with more tools it can rise to a more competitive status.

Honourable Mentions: Unexpected Fangs.

This a top ten list, but I couldn't finish this article without mentioning Unexpected Fangs. What an amazing little trick!

Now we get Gift of Orzhova at instant speed and for one less mana. We all know by now how fulfilling Crypt Rats can be with a little boost and lifelink, dealing damage and gaining tons of life every turn!

The drawback is losing both flying and two points of devotion. It can matter more or less depending on what the rest of your deck looks like. Overall it is an interesting card to keep in mind.


That's it my friends, we can conclude Ikoria is a set that already did in fact impact Pauper at a reasonable level.

What is your favorite Pauper legal card from Ikoria? Did I forget to mention something ? Let me know in the comments! 

See you next article. Battle well and have fun!!!