Return to Ravnica Pauper Cube Update

Ah ha! You weren’t expecting this so soon, right? Given the latency issues with both the Avacyn Restored Pauper Cube update and Magic 2013 Pauper Cube update, an update for Return to Ravnica wouldn’t be expected for another month.

I got ambitious. You get content. I think we’re both happier this way.

Since this update isn’t revamping the entire multicolored and land sections of the Cube—though there are some updates to each—it was straightforward to iterate through what I wanted to change. Here’s the summary:

In Out
Stealer of Secrets Scroll Thief
Dead Reveler Dross Golem
Gore-House Chainwalker Hinterland Hermit
Batterhorn Ingot Chewer
Tenement Crasher Flameborn Hellion
Traitorous Instinct Traitorous Blood
Splatter Thug Fault Riders
Rubbleback Rhino Sylvok Replica
Drudge Beetle Nest Invader
Centaur's Herald Jungle Lion
Frostburn Weird Izzet Chronarch
Goblin Electromancer Noggle Bandit
Centaur Healer Sigiled Behemoth
Rakdos Shred-Freak Henchfiend of Ukor
Transguild Promenade Executioner's Hood

The big winner is the unleash mechanic, particularly for red. If red is blocking, it’s probably losing. Presenting powerful creatures, attacking every turn, and using burn to keep the path clear is the original path to victory carved by Sligh decks. This is how I want it to happen in my Cube.

Other changes include adjustments for support U/R as a control deck, tuning the curve and potency of green decks, and replacement improvements across the board. Because I’m planning to retool every color pair’s deck with Gatecrash, I’m holding on and gathering several cards that may make the next update. Many are from Return to Ravnica, but more are from all across the multiverse. If you want to be ahead of the curve for Gatecrash, you can start today.

For all the Return to Ravnica details, keep reading.

Stealer of Secrets
Dead Reveler
Gore-House Chainwalker

White

No changes

You read that right. I didn’t make any changes to white. While there are a few Return to Ravnica cards on the Pick Up List, I didn’t feel that any were just the card needed now.

Blue

Stealer of Secrets replacing Scroll Thief

This was a very straightforward swap. While dropping from 3 to 2 toughness opens up vulnerability to a few more removal spells, the additional point of power is far more valuable on the offense.

Black

Dead Reveler replacing Dross Golem

Dross Golem is a fine card. Fear is an outdated ability, but it still does a lot of work. The low count of artifact creatures ensures that fear and intimidate work hard. However, Dross Golem effectively costs {1}{B}{B} or {3}{B}. Neither cost is bad for 3 power with evasion, but an easier-to-cast {2}{B} with 3 power and 4 toughness is stronger. Even “just” a 2/3 works fine in Pauper for a controlling deck.

Who knew a 2/3 could be so exciting?

Batterhorn
Tenement Crasher
Traitorous Instinct

Red

Gore-House Chainwalker replacing Hinterland Hermit

A guaranteed 3/2 attacking on turn three seems much sharper than an unlikely 3/2 attacking on turn three.

Batterhorn replacing Ingot Chewer

Evoke is a nice touch on Ingot Chewer, but 4 power is something Batterhorn has that red wants.

Tenement Crasher replacing Flameborn Hellion

I don’t have to attack if it’s somehow a bad idea? Deal.

Traitorous Instinct replacing Traitorous Blood

Traitorous Blood is easier to cast and adds a dangerous 2 power to the stolen attacker. The blowout potential of Traitorous Blood is higher, but more two-for-one blocks will happen with Traitorous Instinct.

Traitorous Instinct also happens to be freshly downgraded from an uncommon in Rise of the Eldrazi. Nice!

Splatter Thug replacing Fault Riders

A 3/3 with first strike for just 3 mana is another powerful way for red to rock. I love Fault Riders, but I’m confident the consistency of Splatter Thug will work better. Attacking for 3 with first strike on turn three is . . . appealing. This is the change I’m least confident about since Fault Riders could do some wonderful things holding back a 4-toughness fatty. We’ll see if a faster red makes that a moot point.

Splatter Thug
Rubbleback Rhino
Drudge Beetle

Green

Rubbleback Rhino replacing Sylvok Replica

Sylvok Replica was a boring and oft-ignored way to deal with artifacts and enchantments. Rubbleback Rhino will give players counting on targeted removal plenty of fits, just like its Magic 2013 cousin Primal Huntbeast.

Drudge Beetle replacing Nest Invader

“You don’t have to put a whole bunch of value on a 2/2 for it to matter.” – Aaron Forsythe on Drudge Beetle at Grand Prix: San Jose 2012

Centaur’s Herald replacing Jungle Lion

I haven’t been very happy with aggressive 1-mana creatures in green, Jungle Lion being the foremost available at common. Conversely, a 3/3 creature is massive. Centaur’s Herald is a great way to have “an aggressive green 1-drop” that becomes a valuable 3/3. I look at it as a one-time payment to permanently pump Basking Rootwalla. Different? Yes. Strong? I believe so.

Centaur's Herald
Frostburn Weird
Goblin Electromancer

Multicolored

Frostburn Weird replacing Izzet Chronarch

U/R needs defenders. While the recursive value of Izzet Chronarch is high, the second-turn blocker than can transform into a reasonable attacker (or trade for a much larger creature) works much harder for control decks.

Goblin Electromancer replacing Noggle Bandit

As an evasive creature for red, Noggle Bandit is fine. As an evasive creature for blue, Noggle Bandit is poor. As a useful creature for U/R decks, Noggle Bandit wasn’t even on the radar. Goblin Electromancer carries the same power and toughness, but it comes attached to a much more compelling ability and a slightly cheaper body.

Centaur Healer replacing Sigiled Behemoth

Sigiled Behemoth is a fantastic fatty, but attacking alone isn’t G/W’s style. Centaur Healer is on that magic 3/3-for-3 line, but it boosts life, ensuring racing against red decks is a possibility.

Rakdos Shred-Freak replacing Henchfiend of Ukor

Racing with red decks is fun! While the Henchfiend of Ukor would occasionally slam in mimicking a Fireball, it often fell prey to being inefficient. Rakdos Shred-Freak is fast and furious on turn two and supports B/R as an all-in aggro deck.

Artifact and Land

Transguild Promenade replacing Executioner’s Hood

Executioner’s Hood sucked. Transguild Promenade will make Marshall Sutcliffe (and color-greedy players) happy.

Centaur Healer
Rakdos Shred-Freak
Transguild Promenade

The Pick Up List

I’ve formatted this as a decklist so you can see each color section individually. Also, it makes a nice hover image appear. If you want to snag the likely suspects for the next update now, this is every card I already have in hand.

Enjoy shopping, playing, and speculating. We’ll see you after Gatecrash with a whole new wave of curves, cards, and discussion like I shared for Avacyn Restored.

It’s going to be a wild ride.

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