War of the Spark update

I have to put it out there: I've been really impressed as of late with all the great cards being added to the Pauper cardpool. I'm tempted to make some major shifts thanks to how much support for previously-ignored archetypes and strategies is being pushed. Spellkeeper Weird, although arguably worse than Scribe of the Mindful because of the increased activation cost, is a needed addition in higher-toughness creatures that Blue has been lacking in. The increased survivability makes it a better choice than another bear-sized recurrer. Teferi's Time Twist is one of those cards that I felt compelled to add. It has so much utility thanks to its ability to target any of its controller's permanents. From second ETB effects to swapping auras, and occasionally saving permanents from removal, there's so much to like about it. Lazotep Reaver is slightly worse than Butcher Ghoul as far as resilience, but the upsides seem to be worth it. Reaver works better with go-wide strategies. Butcher Ghoul wants to be an aggressive card but ends up as just another bear once it's been outclassed. Banehound is an attempt at pushing a few different strategies: Aggro, Ninjas, Life gain/Extort. Spark Reaper, while not as immediately impactful as Phyrexian Rager, brings with it a few great features. The extra toughness is extremely relevant in this format. Reaper's ability to gain its controller life is another. Its sac ability is another great late-game card advantage engine that rewards efficient resource management. Spark Harvest is functionally better than Bone Splinters, so that's an easy include. Ob Nixilis's Cruelty handles almost every creature in the cardpool. Its versatility compared to Oblivion Strike makes it an easy include. Grim Initiate does a couple of things that I really like for Red. The first thing of note is its baked-in first strike ability. From being a force to be reckoned with when adequately pumped, to adding even more Ninja synergy, Initiate has a lot to offer. In addition to that, its ability to replace itself with a 1/1 token upon death makes it a bit of a wunderkind in my opinion. I will miss Insolent Neonate's built-in evasion. Spellgorger Weird is a great push for 'spells' decks. The permanent boost makes it a threat that needs to be answered before it gets out of control. Sparkspitter's run was short lived. I don't see myself swapping this back in any time soon. Heartfire is easily the superior choice in this cardpool. Only a handful of creatures break through the 4-power threshold that would make Fling more effective. Sacrifices to Hearfire are almost a trade-up as far as the power-to-direct damage ratio. Band Together brings a lot more utility to a lot more decks compared to Unnatural Aggression. The only real downside to Band Together is its inability to exile the damaged creature, but I'd gladly accept that over the risk of losing a creature in a fight.
Scribe of the Mindful > Spellkeeper WeirdForbidden Alchemy > Teferi's Time TwistButcher Ghoul > Lazotep ReaverPutrid Imp > BanehoundPhyrexian Rager > Spark ReaperBone Splinters > Spark HarvestOblivion Strike > Ob Nixilis's CrueltyInsolent Neonate > Grim InitiateSparkspitter > Spellgorger WeirdFling > HeartfireUnnatural Aggression > Band Together

UMA update

Tethmos High Priest just seems almost overpowered considering how effective weenie strategies are within the cardpool. White is now officially the best reanimation color thanks to Resurrection being downshifted. Angelic Renewal is out because of its trigger's limitations. There's no saving a creature after Angelic Renewal enters the battlefield. Pauper now has a comparable Fleshbag Marauder-type effect (albeit on a 4-mana creature). It's something that Black needed because of the utility a sac ability like that has. Mortis Dogs was a fun experimental card. It didn't work out that well thanks to how much removal is available in the cardpool. Sparkspitter is kind of a 'trap' card. It has a strong ability that's quite aggressive but the card itself doesn't really belong in a typical aggro deck. Its better fit would be reanimation decks thanks to its discard cost. Catalyst Elemental simply lacks the oomph that Sparkspitter has. Red doesn't lose that much from losing the RR mana ability. Nightbird's Clutches seemed like an easier card to pass on but after giving it more thought, fits neatly into a bunch of different aggro builds. Red's 'panic' (can't block) ability gets a bit more representation. On top of that, 'spells' decks get an extra spell in the flashback ability. Pursue Glory has been a problematic include for a couple of reasons. One, it's just too expensive to be an enticing card to include in a deck. The cycling ability doesn't lend any flavor, really. That's been my gripe about Cycling since it came out. Arena Athlete is an exciting prospect. Its ability makes for bad blocks or no blocks during its controller's combat phase. Opponents are always going to be a little more on-edge when trying to hold back enough blockers during a damage race. Firebrand Archer was incredibly difficult to take out of its slot but I ultimately went with the reasoning that more fun and interactive play situations would arise from putting Arena Athlete in. Fire // Ice is simply one of those cards that outclasses any of the contenders for its spot. The split card's versatility simply cannot be overstated, especially in Pauper. Either a 2-for-1 or tempo cantrip. Just wow. Eldrazi Devastator and Ulamog's Crusher have returned thanks to the viability of reanimator decks. My old reasoning that I didn't want to include them in the Cube was because I didn't want Colorless to outclass Green in terms of creature size. My mind has changed since then. Green still has the best creatures for the cost across the curve. It doesn't matter much that Green doesn't have the biggest creatures in the card pool. In an attempt to offset just a little the overall loss of fast mana in Red and the exclusion of Skittering Surveyor, I've decided to re-include Lotus Petal. It's a good card to pick as opposed to de-drafting from a non-viable pack. Alchemist's Vial is a surprisingly good tempo card. For three mana total, it can provide an advantage in combat while increasing a deck's velocity. Mycosynth Wellspring will be missed. Foil is simply too good to pass up. This is the closest Pauper can ever get to a Force of Will. Memory Lapse is perhaps the 'worst' counterspell in the Cube but I treat it as more of a tempo card than a counterspell. Mana Leak on the other hand is a good counterspell early on but loses its potency the longer the game goes on, so it was the easier choice.
Auramancer > Tethmos High PriestAngelic Renewal > ResurrectionMortis Dogs > Slum ReaperCatalyst Elemental > SparkspitterPursue Glory > Nightbird's ClutchesFirebrand Archer > Arena AthleteLeap of Flame > Fire // IceSkittering Surveyor > Eldrazi DevastatorSkyscanner > Ulamog's CrusherChromatic Star > Lotus PetalMycosynth Wellspring > Alchemist's VialMana Leak > Foil

Guilds of Ravnica update

Healer's Hawk is too good to pass up. It can start swinging early to pad its owner's life total while more easily stay alive thanks to its built-in evasion. Savannah Lions suffers the 'last pick' effect a lot of the time. It's a good body for the cost but considering how easily the ground gets clogged up early in the game, Savannah Lions doesn't scale up as well as the Hawk later in the game. Burglar Rat is functionally similar to their Ravenous cousins but has the added benefit of being more relevant in a 2HG (or bigger) game. This will be extremely; however, I like to keep that option open. On an unrelated flavor note, I like the fact that Burglar Rat is a single rat as opposed to the plural Ravenous Rats. More rats should be bigger than 1/1, like Chittering Rats which is a 2/2. Torch Courier is taking the spot previously occupied by Emrakul's Hatcher because I want Red to be a little lower to the ground while reinforcing the 'Haste' sub-theme. I was really tempted to take out either Goblin Motivator or Insolent Neonate but decided against that because their early-game synergy with various strategies is quite relevant. Emrakul's Hatcher is the least 'Red' card currently in its color. While the Tokens strategy takes a bit, Morbid and Revolt are reasonably easier to trigger. Catalyst Elemental did come in during the previous update, so there's still 'fast mana' in Red.
Savannah Lions > Healer's HawkRavenous Rats > Burglar RatEmrakul's Hatcher > Torch Courier

M19 addendum

Goblin Motivator is in for Bloodlust Inciter because... Goblins.
Bloodlust Inciter > Goblin Motivator

M19 update

It took a while, but I finally got around to updating the Cube with some shiny new M19 cards. Goblin Instigator is an easy swap-in for Mogg War Marshal. Echo really hurts the versatility of the War Marshal, making it synergize poorly with most effects players would want to get out of it. Instigator gives the player more open-ended options. Catalyst Elemental is a slight push in the direction of fast mana for Red. It's an opposite include to Valakut Invoker's mana sink ability. Skyscanner is going in to provide some more variety on the Artifact front because of its ETB trigger and built-in evasion. Ingot is out partly because the recent addition of Skittering Surveyor seems like enough 'fixing'.
Mogg War Marshal > Goblin InstigatorValakut Invoker > Catalyst ElementalDarksteel Ingot > Skyscanner

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