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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jul 14 2014 12:00pm
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I. Introduction

A new Core Set has been released into the world with Magic 2015.  This set has already been hailed as one of the better ones for Standard Pauper. Core Sets are always an interesting mashup; a wedding, if you will, of reprints from former sets and brand new cards. And like any wedding, you need four things to make it a good one - something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Thus, for this review of Magic 2015 for Standard Pauper, I will be analyzing this set from these four perspectives and discussing how this will affect the current metagame. This time, in Part One, I will be looking at the six best reprinted Commons from the set as well as what I believe will be the best new Commons for each color.

If you're familiar with my previous set reviews, this one will be a bit different. Rather than analyzing the entire set, I merely want to highlight the cards which will make the biggest impact in the format. Thanks to the design constraints of New World Order, we should expect that only around 20% of the Commons will be powerful enough to see widespread play in Standard Pauper. Rather than wasting space discussing the other 80%, I want to focus only on those cards that are worthy of consideration in the upcoming metagame.  With that explanation out of the way, let's get started!

II. Something Old - The Best Six Reprints

While every set in Magic includes reprints, Core sets feature the greatest number of reprints. Gone are the days, however, when each Core set consisted only of reprints. For Magic 2015, I believe these are the six best Commons that will continue to be in the card pool after Standard rotates.

1. Oppressive Rays is the Pacifism variant for the set, and marks the first time that said card will be absent from the format once Standard rotates in October. While cheaper and more useful, Oppressive Rays is generally not as good since it gives your opponent the choice as to whether or not to pay the  to retain the ability to attack or block. However, in an aggressive archetype, most of the time your opponent won't have the mana available to both pay this cost and continue to develop his or her board. Additionally, the added utility of being able to slow down or stop certain activated abilities (like the mana ability of Elvish Mystic), is nice value. Overall though, this will probably weaken the White Weenie strategy somewhat, which given its historical strength is probably healthy for the metagame.

2. Peel from Reality didn't see much play while Avacyn Restored was part of Standard, but in that set it was certainly overshadowed by the much-maligned Ghostly Flicker. Peel from Reality is the perfect tempo play, allowing you to reset one of your own creatures while also getting an opponent's creature out of your way for the turn. Unsummon and its variants have been popular in the format from time to time, and this gives you double value with a single card. While neither half is truly card advantage by itself, there is certainly enough here to get at least a card worth of value, and potentially more. Particularly with this set, Blue is shaping up to have strong tempo options, and in such a strategy this card should be an easy inclusion.


3. Sign in Blood returns to Standard after a brief absence. In the current metagame, Read the Bones is an obvious upgrade, since the ability to Scry 2 is well worth the additional mana, not to mention the fact that Read the Bones is less mana-intensive to cast. Of course, Sign in Blood can also be used to deal the last 2 points of damage to an opponent, although I imagine this option is utilized pretty infrequently. So the pertinent question is this: is there room in Mono-Black Control for both effects? Since Read the Bones is from Theros block, both of these spells will be in the format following the rotation of Standard. While running all eight copies could be quite strong for a Control deck, at some point the loss of life becomes quite painful. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the upcoming metagame.

4. Forge Devil is back, coming back into a metagame where the presence of 1 Toughness creatures has increased dramatically. Forge Devil should be a great tool both for and against the popular Boros and RDW archetypes. Generally, a 1/1 for 1 isn't even playable in Limited, much less in Standard Pauper. However, in a metagame where you can expect to face a good number of 1 Toughness creatures, the ability to destroy a creature when Forge Devil enters the battlefield is quite good. However, when running this card, don't forget that you can't play it into an empty board. The one damage when it is summoned is mandatory, and if there aren't any other creatures around, it will destroy itself. You've been warned.


5. Probably the strongest reprint in terms of raw power is Siege Wurm, returning from the original Ravnica block. At Common, Green doesn't regularly get access to large creatures with Trample, so the ability to summon a 5/5 with Trample, even for is already a decent value. However, with Convoke in the mix, it is quite reasonable to expect to drop this into play even as early as Turn 5. One of the perennial problems with Green in Standard Pauper is the inability to ramp into really strong fatties. As such, Siege Wurm is arguably one of the strongest options to come along in some time. I suspect that Mono-Green will finally emerge into real contention in the metagame with the release of Magic 2015, and this card certainly will play a major role in that achievement.


6. Although getting pseudo dual lands at Common in the form of the Gates from Return to Ravnica block has been a boon for multicolor decks, even these lack the ultimate value of Evolving Wilds. Not only does Evolving Wilds give you access to any Basic land in your deck, but it also reduces the chances that you'll draw additional lands in the future, which is usually to your advantage. Until Standard rotates in October, mana fixing in the format will probably be at its zenith, allowing deckbuilders to mix colors to their heart's content. And even post-rotation, Evolving Wilds alone is probably good enough to reliably allow for two and three colors decks to see success in the metagame. This card is thus a very welcome return.


III. Something New - The Best Card In Each Color

While I selected 12 of the new cards as having the greatest potential impact for Standard Pauper going forward, this article will only focus on five of them - one for each color. The remainder will be covered in Part Two of this article.

1. Triplicate Spirits is a Sorcery speed White Common that summons three 1/1 flying Spirit tokens onto the battlefield for 4WW. While this is fairly expensive (compare Captain's Call for Magic 2013), the fact that you can reduce the casting cost through Convoke is quite significant. Additionally, the fact that the tokens have Flying is a major improvement over the typical White 1/1 Soldier tokens. In fact, Triplicate Spirits is surprisingly similar to Spectral Procession, an Uncommon from Shadowmoor, which speaks highly of its power level. Finally, given that both Return to Ravnica block and Magic 2015 have a token subtheme, Triplicate Spirits should make an impressive impact on the metagame, both immediately and going forward post-rotation.


2. Frost Lynx is actually a color-shifting reprint of Kor Hookmaster from Zendikar, and that card was quite strong in that particular metagame. A 2/2 for in Blue is acceptable if not good, and its enters the battlefield ability is quite strong. In fact, several people have made comparisons to Man-o'-War, which returned a target creature to its owner's hand. While not quite as good, the fact that the Lynx locks down an opponent's creature for an entire turn is great value. There has been a subtle shift of granting this ability to Blue rather than White, which has the advantage of slightly weakening White and increasing the synergy between White and Blue. Pair this with Azorius Arrester, and you have the start of a very potent tempo-based archetype.


3. I would argue that Black is the weakest color at Common for Magic 2015, and the fact that Festergloom is arguably the strongest new Black Common is a strong argument towards that conclusion. Sweepers that deal 1 damage to all creatures are actually fairly strong in the format, particularly at Instant speed like Electrickery. However, paying for a Sorcery speed sweeper at Black is pretty poor. However, the fact that this only effects nonblack creatures is what potentially elevates this to playable. The current MonoBlack build relies on a lot of low Power / high Toughness creatures, and this card seems the perfect way to capitalize on them when played post-combat. Other than that particular application, Shrivel is better in almost any situation.


4. Generator Servant subscribes to a strong "good now, good later" philosophy. A 2/1 for is a typical but unexciting Red creature at Common. Such creatures generally only see play in hyper-aggressive decks. However, the ability to sacrifice it and, in effect, gain back the mana you used earlier to cast it is quite relevant, effectively ramping you into casting a powerful creature earlier than normal. Even better, this has the secondary ability of granting Haste to any creature summoned with that mana. Play this turn 2, and on turn 3 you could cast a 5 mana creature with Haste. While the typical RDW build doesn't play expensive enough creatures to take advantage of this line of play, a more midrange strategy could utilize this quite effectively.


5. Invasive Species harkens back to Kor Skyfisher, which is one of the most powerful Commons printed in recent memory. However, despite sharing the same powerful ability of the Skyfisher, Invasive Species isn't going to be quite that strong. First of all, it's otherwise a 3/3 vanilla for 2G, which is fairly average for Green. Second, we are seeing fewer good enters-the-battlefield type effects at Common, especially in Green, which limits the potential for broken card combinations. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of these effects to go around, and this card will certainly see play in a variety of different decks. In fact, I would argue this has the potential to be the best Common for Standard Pauper in the set.


IV. Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed Part One of my Standard Pauper review of Magic 2015. As I close, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at PureMTGO.com over on YouTube.com. Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 6:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room.

I am already hard at work at Part Two, and I hope to have it up here soon. Thanks for reading.

2 Comments

Great new format for the Core by Copperfield at Tue, 07/15/2014 - 17:50
Copperfield's picture
5

Great new format for the Core Set review. And it's always awesome for our niche format to have a review from its own perspective. Magic 2015 seems to have something for every Standard Pauper deck. Invasive Species should fit perfectly into the Junk Gatekeepers builds that have been winning. I plan on altering my MBC decks to run a combination of Sign in Blood and Read the Bones. White Weenie will probably love Triplicate Spirits, which works perfectly with another reprint not mentioned in this article: Raise the Alarm. That would have been my choice for biggest white reprint over Oppressive Rays - although it's a very interesting fact that post-rotation will be the first Standard Pauper environment without Pacifism. I guess Grakk just isn't feeling so warm and fuzzy anymore :-) Looking forward to the rest of the set review!

That Festergloom sure made by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/15/2014 - 23:53
Paul Leicht's picture

That Festergloom sure made you argumentative. :p