Well, it's that time again! With each new set release, I like to delve into the lowest rarity and find the cards that have, in my opinion, the best chance at entering Pauper format. For those who are unaware of the format in general, Pauper only allows cards that were ever printed as commons. It doesn't matter what product it was printed in, so long as at least 1 printing of it was printed at common, it is legal (excluding a short ban list). So, with each new supplemental and standard sets, I like to break down some of my top favorite few cards to enter Pauper.
So, I've got a couple honorable mentions for this list, specifically focusing around the Amass mechanic. The first is Grim Initiate. This innocuous 1/1 First Striker for a single Red is a decent rate on a creature on its own. Put in the right deck, it could be a great card for some sort of a R/W heroic build or a boggle's style of deck. What makes this card even more interesting is the Amass 1 ability on its death. This puts it as a perfect inclusion in an aristocrats style of deck or even a R/B zombies list running Carrion Feeder. I think its worth checking out. The second honorable mention is Aven Eternal. This card reminds me very much of Eldrazi Skyspawner, another 2U, 2 power flyer that produces a 1/1 token. The Aven Eternal is arguably the better card, as it comes in with an extra point of toughness and can have an easier time with tribal synergies. But with Eldrazi Skyspawner seeing some play in the format, it isn't out of the question to play Aven Eternal as another card to fit a similar spot in the deck, allowing us to run up to 8 flyers that also produce tokens. Could be quite reasonable.
10. Gideon's Sacrifice
The first card will likely be a sideboard card if anything, but Gideon's Sacrifice has such a unique effect, that it is important to take note. By choosing a creature we control, we can save ourselves from a lethal attack or lethal damage. It can also be a great combo card as well. Pairing this with a late game Pestilence or something like Flame Rift can be a way for us to do a ton of damage to our opponents without risking our own life total. It probably doesn't have much instead of fringe use case at the moment, but as more common cards are created, it could become more relevant as time progresses.
9. Burning Prophet
The first card on the list is Burning Prophet. For 1R we get a 1/3 with a faux Prowess ability that gives us a +1/+0 until end of turn for ever noncreature spell, and then we also get a Scry 1 trigger. Prowess decks have always been a really fun archetype in the format, what with Kiln Fiend and similar cards being legal. But one of the main problems with that style of deck is that if we ran into a land pocket, we could easily fizzle. So, running Burning Prophet gives us the ability to push lands to the bottom of our library whenever we cast our other action spells. It is also important to note that Burning Prophet also triggers on just noncreature spells in general. So any artifacts or enchantments (maybe eventually planeswalkers?) will also trigger her ability. So, perhaps it could be an interesting piece for an artifacts eggs list or something like that. Great stuff.
8. Kasmina's Transmutation
It's not that often that Blue gets some quality removal at common. And honestly, Kasmina's Transmutation can be a decent option. It can be a way to shut off creatures with activated abilities like Crypt Rats, or it can also be an additional answer to the current bane of the format, Gurmag Angler. We do need to be weary of spells that can bounce or flicker creatures in order to reset them, but this still gives us a good way to deal with powerful, troublesome creatures and perhaps remove them permanently with something like Pestilence.
7. Arboreal Grazer
Arboreal Grazer is really interesting. It is a great body for a single mana, and not only that it can even block flyers. A lot of the flyers in the format are 2/x, so having 3 toughness means that most of the attacks will be futile. On top of that though, we get to have some really fun shenanigans with Arboreal Grazer when it comes to bounce lands. Turn 1 we play Grazer, then with its trigger we play a bounce land that picks up our basic forest and ramps us a mana, effectively giving us 3 mana on turn 2 with only 2 lands. (It would still be 3 mana on turn two if it was basic lands we are playing, but being able to abuse bounce lands can lead to some really explosive turns). Unlike a card like Llanowar Elves, Arboreal Grazer will feel like a much better top deck with its more resilient staying power. I like this card a lot!
6. Return to Nature
Return to Nature is the next iteration of a long line of artifact and enchantment hate spells. A strict upgrade to Naturalize, this spell also gives us a third option to remove a card from a graveyard. While it isn't a super prevalent archetype, there are several different ways of reanimating creatures or flashing back important spells from the graveyard. Return to Nature gives green decks an even easier sideboard piece in order to have the flexibility hating on multiple different scenarios.
5. Lazotep Reaver
With the printing of Lazotep Reaver, we actually have a really important piece for Zombie Tribal, at least a potential one. We get basically the Goblin Instigator of zombies, creating a 1/1 Zombie Army (or buffing an old one) along with its beefy 1/2 body for only 2 mana. Lazotep Reaver can make the zombie deck a little lower to the ground, while also providing it with some necessary synergy with spells like Carrion Feeder and other spells that care about the number of zombies you control, like Gempalm Polluter or Shepherd of Rot.
4. Kronch Wrangler
Most people have been looking over Kronch Wrangler, but I think it has the potential to create a brand new deck in Pauper. Not only would it fit as a good 2 mana creature in a mono green stompy list, but if built right, we could have a really unique deck that could do a lot of damage out of nowhere, with some fun combos to boot. I've been thinking about this a lot, but we could run Kronch Wrangler in a deck with Gurmag Angler and Hooting Mandrills. Or for some spice, we can pair it with Lava Zombie a 4/3 for 1BR that forces us to return a black or red creature we control to its owners hand, in this case, Lava Zombie. This basically allows us to continually cast Lava Zombie over and over again to grow our Wrangler. In addition, we could run Giantbaiting in this deck, a 2(R/G) sorcery that allows us to create a 4/4 giant with haste until end of turn, and if we tap 2 creatures that share a color with Giantbaiting, we'd get 2 (Both Wrangler and Lava Zombie share a color with it). This could make for some huge explosive turns that can grow our Kronch Wrangler out of reach, quickly.
3. Band Together
Band Together is the next version of green's removal spells. For the longest time, green had the fight mechanic, where the target creatures would deal damage to each other, often times at sorcery speed. Well, with Band Together, not only do we get to add the power of up to another target creature we control, but we also get the added benefit of no damaging being dealt by our opponent's creature. And with this spell at instant speed, it is a beautiful addition to any green stompy deck as a great way to instantly remove combo creatures or problematic creatures that need to be answered immediately.
2. Ob Nixilis's Cruelty
Gurmag Angler is one of the most powerful cards in Pauper for a reason. being a 5/5 body for effectively 1 mana means that most of the removal in the format won't kill it. Well, with Ob Nixilis's Cruelty, we actually get a really effective removal spell that not only will kill an Angler, but will exile it instead, all at instant speed for only a 3 mana investment. This card was a needed piece in the format, and I think it will immediately have a place in Bx decks.
1. Vivien's Grizzly
The final card on my list is my take for the most powerful. Vivien's Grizzly is extremely powerful. For 3 mana, we get a 2/3 body, already a pretty decent rate. But for 3G, we effectively get to look at the top of our library and reveal a creature, if we do, we put it into our hand, if we don't it goes to the bottom of the library. We have basically pay 4, forced scry and draw 1. In green. Mono green suffers from not having enough card draw, it would often times have to run multiple colors in order to run card draw. Vivien's Grizzly becomes an immediate slot in for any mono green stompy or Gx monsters list, and it will provide much needed consistency for those decks.
So, those are my picks for the top 10 (or so) cards that have a shot in the Pauper format. How did I do with my evaluation? What did I miss? Do you agree with my power rankings? Let us know in the comments down below, or join the conversation over at The Sideboard today!