If you like to browse around the various sites where Magic: The Gathering content is published, then by now you’ve read approximately 78 Top 10 lists for Khans of Tarkir. A couple of those were here. I’ve been submitting brews as spoilers were released, though, so in keeping with that, I promise this is the last you will hear from me on the subject. Here is what I have for Pauper:
Khans in Pauper
The general consensus with Khans of Tarkir and Pauper is that the new lands are the only good cards. If you break this down, there are two statements here:
1) The new lands are good.
2) There is nothing else that is good.
I disagree with both of them.
As to the first, that the new “refuges” are good, I ask: where? I mean, sure, in place of Guildgates, but are those even used? The Karoo lands are used in Esper combo because of their synergy with Snap and Cloud of Faeries. Basics and Terramorphic Expanse are commonly used in Kiln Fiend decks because of their synergy with Daze and Gush. The only deck that seems to provide one of these new lands a home doesn’t even use guildgates, and that is Wind-Scarred Crag in Red White Cogs, perhaps in place of Kabira Crossroads.
Pauper is stunted by its inability to produce multi-colored aggro. Decks are either multi-colored control or combo or mono-colored aggro. The exception is Affinity because it has access to 20 Ancient Tomb lands due to its mechanic. Guildgates did nothing to solve Pauper’s problem, and neither will these lands.
Besides pre-existing lists that can make way for the refuges, I could see Thornwood Falls smoothing out the Madness mana-base. Its essential plays are Wild Mongrel and Aquamoeba anyway, so a tapped land on turn one isn’t so bad. Is this enough to make Madness playable, though? I doubt it. It was hyped when Vintage Masters was released, but since the beginning of the Weekendies, we haven’t seen it produce results.
Another card given to us in Vintage Masters was Tyrant’s Choice. What Flame Rift does for burn, Choice does better. It causes loss of life unaffected by Circle of Protection: Red at no expense to the caster. Together with Bump in the Night, a pitch could be made for Rakdos burn in Pauper. As soon as you talk about playing Bloodfell Caves, though, we’re losing our consistent access to Fireblast at its alternative cost. Still, I’ll probably try this out:
Rakdos Burn (Pauper)
4 Bloodfell Caves
4 Rakdos Guildgate
3 Goblin Fireslinger
4 Spark Elemental
Other Spells (33)
4 Bump in the Night
4 Chain Lightning
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
2 Shard Volley
4 Tyrant’s Choice
I know I talk about Burn a lot, so I’ll just end it there.
As to the second statement made, that there are no other good Pauper commons, I think that the morph guys are worth experimenting with. The Pauper-legal creatures with Morph worth talking about include Glacial Stalker, Woolly Loxodon, Abomination of Gudul, Snowhorn Rider and Abzan Guide. These pass the Lightning Bolt test, and many pass the Flame Slash test as well. Any deck utilizing the effects to make these creatures worthwhile would also do well to consider Ponyback Brigade.
A Blue White Red snow control deck utilized Titanic Bulvox and Cloudshift to close games before the end of Pauper Dailies. It’s the format’s equivalent to Phyrexian Dreadnought and Stifle. With its Jeskai mana-base, the deck never intended to cast Bulvox, and neither will any deck utilizing the Khans morph options. I think a number of them serve the purpose better.
It is worth noting that any attempt to cheat in fatties using morph and Otherworldly Journey or Undying Evil will struggle against the two dominant decks: Delver and MBC. Against Delver, your face-down creature awkwardly sits while Spellstutter Sprite counters your blink effects, and once you finally plow through the counter wall, a Snap awaits you at the finish. Against MBC, discard effects leave your creatures helplessly at 2/2, Edict effects are unaffected by most blink ones, and Chittering Rats slows your digging progress. Still, if you manage to have a Snowhorn Rider or Abzan Guide face-up against Goblins, Affinity, White Weenie, Stompy, or Burn, you’ll be doing well. With the redundancy of blink effects available in the format, we can dodge targeted spot removal.
Here are a few directions we can take the idea:
1) A Selesnya approach that can attempt to cast some of its creatures complete with mana dorks for turn 1. Combine Avacyn Pilgrim, Titanic Bulvox, Otherworldly Journey, Cloudshift, and some combination of Abzan Guide and the rest.
4) A mono-white deck for mana-consistency and plenty of access to blink effects, enter-the-battlefield creatures, and morph creatures.
I think I prefer option #1 for the time being, so here’s something to toss out to you all:
Pac Man Red Ghost (Pauper)
4 Avacyn Pilgrim
4 Aven Riftwatcher
4 Abzan Guide
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Llanowar Elves
1 Snowhorn Rider
3 Titanic Bulvox
4 Woolly Loxodon
Other Spells (12)
4 Otherworldly Journey
4 Turn to Mist
This is the simplest of the ideas really. The Tron deck might prove powerful as well, but the turn 1 mana-dork, turn 2 face-down creature, and turn 3 blink (even on only 2 lands) is very appealing to me. Otherworldly Journey and Turn to Mist dodge targeted removal spells and edict effects, and with 12 morph creatures and 12 blink spells, you’re sure to hit your combo reliably.