Theros: A Sentinel For Pauper's Underdog

Many expected Theros: Beyond Death to have an instant impact on the Pauper meta, myself included. What we didn't count on, however, was how this new set would power the format's most popular underdog archetype - Mono White. Don't get me wrong, there are a fair share of instant-speed Omens or the random fun-of Mire's Grasp running around, but few if any of these have had as successful an imprint on the meta-game than the unassuming duo of Daybreak Chimera and Sentinel's Eyes.

Following the meta results closely, you'll notice that it's been many months since Mono White showed up in an Top 8. Not since the banning of Arcum's Astrolabe, and the subsequent - albeit abbreviated - chaos of decks, all vying for a spot in the promise-land, have we seen an impressive showing by Mono White Anything, let alone two different versions in the same Top 8, Pauper Challenge, on 2/12/20.

I'll fully admit when I'm wrong and I'm wrong a lot. I mean... have you read any of my other articles?

A fortnight anterior to the release of Theros: Beyond Death, I would have put good money on Pauper's newest best toy being Karametra's Blessing. Turns out, Emerge Unscathed is just that good. Now, there is much to be said about targeting a Heroic creature with a 1-mana +2/+2 spell, and even the benefit of granting said creature Hexproof and Indestructible, if enchanted; however, Emerge reigns a step beyond this by being able to protect your creature(s) from the color of your choice, twice, for a single mana. That makes a nearly perfect card for any deck running Magic's lowliest color.

Although it was on my radar, just not nearly as high as Karametra's Blessing, Sentinel's Eyes proved to be a major player in both White Weenie and Mono White Heroic this week. A 1-mana Aura that grants +1/+1 probably wouldn't find its way into any competitive Pauper list. A 1-mana Aura that grants +1/+1 and Vigilance is getting closer to something that you want to play. However, a 1-mana Aura that grants +1/+1, Vigilance, and can be repeatedly Escaped for a sideways Plains, plus two other cards from your graveyard, is a card that demands to be played.

White Weenie - by SrPato, 3rd place

This fairly stock WW shell received a severe upgrade with the pairing of Daybreak Chimera and Sentinel's Eyes. Granted, you have an entire thirty-one creatures to choose from when it comes to potential targets for the latter; the former is, to me, the best spot for it to land. Given enough devotion to white - which is obviously no problem - your opponent will be staring down the 4/4 flyer that you just slammed onto the battlefield for three total mana, as early as turn three.

mono white heroic - by Oscar_Franco, 8th Place

With Oscar's beautiful list, would I have liked to see Karametra's Blessing in the slot where Mana Tithe is? Sure. There are twenty enchantments to enable KB's secondary effect, but you can't really argue with the results here. Personally, though, I have never had luck drawing Mana Tithe early enough in the game for it to make a difference. Luck or not, this deck proved to be a winner, and that's what counts.

What I do love, however, is the combination of Ethereal Armor and Sentinel's Eyes. For two measly, white mana, your choice of creatures gains +3/+3, Vigilance, First Strike, and a +1 buff every time a new enchantment enters the battlefield under your control. Pants up your Lagonna-Band Trailblazer with these two cost-effective enchantments and you can feel confident with a 4/8 beater on turn two. Turn two! Yeah. Oh, and for one more Plains, you can have a 5/9 Lifelinker on turn 3. I think I did my math there correctly.

Looking at these lists for the tenth time, there really isn't any of the 45 total creatures that doesn't benefit from Sentinel's Eyes. It's a streamlined enchantment that is consistently effective, relentless, and powerful.

We are but only a few weeks from getting that sweet Theros paper in our hands, and I can't wait to see how the Pauper meta shakes out given a dozen or more events like this one. What cards have you been able to utilize from this set? Let us know!

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