When I wrote my first article on a Pauper deck last week, some of the comments took exception to my comparison of the power level of the format compared to Modern. As someone with a large amount of Modern experience and admittedly limited Pauper experience, I would say that Modern is far more powerful. There are decks with turn-2 kills and some of the most powerful cards of all time, whose rarity keeps them out of Pauper. There are, however, many cards that are banned in Modern but legal in Pauper, providing some very powerful decks in their own right.
The colored artifact lands are near the top of that list. They’re all banned in Modern due to their power in combination with a number of powerful cards in Affinity. They’re legal in Pauper, however, meaning you can build an entire mana base solely on artifacts. Having Ancient Den, Great Furnace, and Seat of the Synod to pair with your Darksteel Citadels means that every affinity and metalcraft card you have is going to be fully powered.
You also have access to Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere as early artifacts that can fix your colors or make sure you can cast your affinity or metalcraft cards (while powered) early in the game. Chromatic Star is just a better version of Sphere, especially in this deck where there are a number of ways to sacrifice artifacts for value, as you’ll still get to draw your card when it goes to the graveyard.
Prophetic Prism is another way to get a little deeper into your deck, have an artifact sit on the battlefield until you’re ready to sacrifice it, and fix your colors. Ichor Wellspring is unimpressive without a sacrifice outlet, but is completely busted when you can sacrifice it for value.
The actual affinity creatures don’t see any play in Modern anymore due to the absence of the artifact lands, but that’s not the case here. Frogmite is always 2 mana at most, as all of your lands reduce the cost. If you have any 1-mana artifact, your turn 2 has the possibility to be completely explosive. You can play a 2-mana artifact and every Frogmite is free, or you can play another 1-mana artifact and start to go off with potentially bigger affinity spells.
Myr Enforcer is looking to come down turn 3 and only requires 3 lands and a single other artifact for you to tap out for a 4/4. You can often do much better, and playing several Myr Enforcers on turn 3 or even turn 2 is possible here.
Atog is the real heavy hitter in this deck. In the early stages, Atog functions as a 1/2 unblockable creature—merely the threat of sacrificing an artifact makes it tough to block. A couple turns into the game, however, and Atog becomes a must-block creature. With 4 lands in play and a couple other artifacts, Atog threatens to attack for 13 or more damage. With artifacts like Ichor Wellspring and Chromatic Star that you can sacrifice for value, Atog becomes a massive threat quickly.
Auriok Sunchaser is going to be a 3/3 flying creature for 2 mana nearly every time you cast it. That’s a great rate.
Perilous Research is another way to dig deeper, and with Wellsprings, Stars, and Prisms to sacrifice, there’s rarely a downside to having more draw-2s.
Galvanic Blast is just a better Lightning Bolt in these decks. It’s not as powerful on turn 1 (although not too far behind), but can easily represent 4 damage consistently for 1 mana on turn 2 and later. Fling gives you even more reach, especially in conjunction with Atog. Sacrificing the creature is part of the cost, so creature removal won’t even save them!
The artifact lands proved too powerful for Modern, but they’re also extremely powerful in the format full of commons. Free 2/2s, 4/4s, and massive Atogs are all within reach thanks to this incredible mana base.