Normally when I sit down to write a Pauper set review, I have to scramble to find enough to say. That’s not the case with Modern Horizons. The commons here are clearly pushed to keep up with the set’s power level. Let’s quit wasting time and start talking about the cards.
Modern Horizons in Pauper
Changeling Outcast and Irregular Cohort stand out as the best of this bunch. Outcast enables aggressive tribal strategies and manages to plink in for damage. Cohort helps with tribes that want to go wide and struggle to produce enough bodies. Ever since Amonkhet, people have been trying to make Orzhov Zombies work thanks to In Oketra’s Name. Irregular Cohort in conjunction with Binding Mummy makes that less of a pipe dream.
Slivers in Pauper is a white and green deck. Some versions splash red, but the allure of Muscle Sliver, Sinew Sliver, and Predatory Sliver is strong. Cleaving Sliver is a reskin of Bonesplitter Sliver, so it does not bring anything new to the party. Lancer Sliver could replace Talon Sliver since it is less vulnerable thanks to an extra point of toughness. Enduring Sliver is cute with Sentinel Sliver and could provide a way to utilize mana in the late game.
Bladeback Sliver is the real spice. Gemhide Sliver turns every sliver into a Bird of Paradise and can enable a red splash easily. Being able to empty your hand is important when you want to get (hell)bent and then turn all your little wormy friends into harbingers of death. Giving Slivers another angle of attack, and one that can avoid attacking entirely, is welcome in a world of Moment’s Peace.
A substantially better Glint-Hawk Idol. Soul Sisters decks–tokens with Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant–are fringe-playable and this is a sister that is immune to Electrickery. These decks excel at generating tokens and Answered Prayers-into-Battle Screech will mean four life and a full air force. Cenn’s Enlistment can keep the Angel coming back in the late game while also bolstering your health. Taking off turn three to commit this to the board may be worth it if you can be sure you will survive an incoming attack. The biggest downside it has is in the amount of work needed to block a Kor Skyfisher.
The card that benefits most from Ephemerate is Tethmos High Priest. The hero already sees play in Seeker of the Way decks to increase threat density. Ephemerate does not help this plan, but it could help turn High Priest into a true value engine. This combo lets you recur Kor Skyfisher at instant speed and rescue another creature, eke out value from Dusk Legion Zealot, or maybe even counter something with Spellstutter Sprite.
The best thing to pair Ephemerate and Tethmos with might be Augur of Skulls. You can bring it back at the end of your opponent’s turn and then sacrifice it with Ephemerate’s rebound on the stack and then get it back with High Priest resulting in a build-your-own Mind Twist.
A 3/2 on turn three is unexciting but fine. Thraben Inspector into Raise the Alarm into a 5/4 is much better. Despite its vulnerability to removal, Martyr’s Soul is a large enough threat to warrant the risk. It dodges Lightning Bolt and Rend Flesh. It also is a mini-combo with Ephemerate, although targeting it with a rebounded copy means you cannot attack with it that turn.
People love Sprout Swarm. The ability to run a single card that can produce multiple threats quickly is attractive, especially in decks that want to run a high density of non-creature spells like Mystical Teachings. Recruit the Worthy lacks the all-important convoke ability but does comes with a one-mana discount. The result is a card that can produce an army rather quickly and synergizes rather well with all of white’s mass pump effects.
Small flyers are absolutely a thing in Pauper. The fact that this has vigilance means it can pester Faeries all day long. It also teams up rather nicely with another flying anti-flyer in Battle Screech. Like so many other cards in Modern Horizons, Segovian Angel is not a game-changer but it is a solid tool for certain situations.
Go-wide decks do not want to wait until turn six for their lethal swing. However, Stirring Address has additional utility that might make it worth a slot. The fact that it can help you win a combat early or be a reasonable facsimile of Overrun late means that Battle Screech decks should be exploring this in their future.
Squadron Hawk sees plenty of play. Legion Conquistador is a similar card that sees far less for a few reasons. First, three-drops clog up the hand far more than two-drops and 1/1 flyers are better than Gray Ogres. Trustworthy Scout helps to solve the issue of clogging up your hand by only fetching one friend and being able to do so from the graveyard. Combine that with the fact that you can tutor at the end of your opponent’s turn lets you better use your mana.
It’s a 1/1 flying Faerie that helps filter away dead cards. It enables Spellstutter Sprite and Ninja of the Deep Hours. Faerie Seer is a fantastic card that is going to compete with Faerie Miscreant for slots. The first Seer is better than the first Miscreant, but the second Miscreant is better than the second Seer. My best guess is that Seer becomes a one or two-of in Spellstutter Sprite decks. When Electrickery is at the height of its powers, I could see replacing every copy of Faerie Miscreant with the Seer, which also makes Augur of Bolas better.
Turbo Fog strategies exist on the fringes of the metagame. These decks seek to win through drawing extra cards and using Jace’s Erasure to slowly eat an opponent’s life total. Iceberg Cancrix can help speed up the clock while also playing solid defense. Shifting to a Snow manabase is trivial and with Arcum’s Astrolabe could be a benefit.
It’s no Ninja of the Deep Hours, but making 1/1 flying creatures is incredibly powerful. The Illusions also play into one of Pauper’s tribes that is perpetually on the outside looking in. Krovikan Mist is a payoff in an Illusion deck, capable of growing to Dragon-sized proportions with the help of a few friends. Phantasmal Bear and Fathom Seer are decent options as well, both of which play nicely with the Shinobi. If this deck takes off it’s possible that Smoke Shroud could be a reasonable inclusion.
Two new draw spells and both are interesting. Scour All Possibilities is a twice-as-expensive Preordain with the ability to flash it back for five mana. So for seven mana you have the potential to see six cards. Compare this to Foresee or Tamiyo’s Epiphany, which gives you the option to see six cards for four mana. Splitting Scour across two turns and two different points in the game gives it some utility, but probably not enough to run more than one copy in deck.
Rain of Revelation is quite the card. Sift was already very close to seeing play and making it into an instant significantly reduces the opportunity cost. Casting this at the end of your opponent’s turn is quite powerful and I could see this replacing Compulsive Research in Tron decks that do not need the sorcery as a win condition.
How good is the text “draw a card?” Spell Snuff is an expensive counterspell, but the ability to replace itself in the late game is important. While this won’t replace Exclude, I could see it as a one of in heavy blue Tron decks as well as Mystical Teachings lists.
Freed from the Real combo works like this: animate a land that can produce more than one mana (at least one of which must be blue) and then enchant it with Freed from the Real and generate an unbound amount of mana. Stream of Thought is perfect for these decks. Not only can it be found by Dizzy Spell, but can also shuffle key cards back into your library in defense of your combo. Stream also gets around Prismatic Strands and the replicate copies can get around countermagic.
The snow rider here is minimal as any deck can run a requisite amount of Snow-Covered basics. A two-mana answer in blue is hard to come by and this one has the advantage of tapping down the creature immediately.
Join me in Part 2 where I go over black, red, green, artifacts, and lands!