It’s release day, meaning Dominaria United will already have debuted on MTGO, and the best commons from the set will begin to trickle through the hands of Pauper card slingers across the world and new decks and adjusted archetypes will begin to form. Dominaria United does take a step back in power when compared to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and the Battle for Baldur’s Gate set, but some cards will still make their presence known in the Pauper format.
Join me in exploring my top 5 Pauper Picks from Dominaria United.
The Domain mechanic is back in Dominaria United and there’s a new cycle of dual lands. While they have no extra effects (like Bojuka Bog exiling a graveyard or Khalni Garden creating a token), these new lands have multiple basic land types, which may set them ahead of the pack in specific decks. A deck I feel will benefit directly is Domain Zoo, with cards like Kird Ape and Matca Rioters, this deck packs a mean punch.
Currently seeing comparisons to Gurmag Angler, Writhing Necromass is a solid choice for many creature focused black decks. While it’s supremely unlikely you’ll be casting it for one black mana, the opportunity to cast a second or third in succession for two or three mana is just too good to pass up, and in a creature deck it probably has a leg-up over Gurmag Angler. Tortured Existence decks could be where Writhing Necromass finds its home.
On to our Top 5:
Shore Up is by far the best card of its kind in blue, for only a single blue a creature gets +1/+1 and hexproof until end of turn, and if that’s not enough Shore Up also untaps your creature. The modality of this card put it a few steps ahead of its counterparts as Shore Up not only provides protection (Hexproof) but is a very cool little combat trick. If your opponent attacks while your powerful creatures are tapped, you can use Shore Up to untap it and block an attacking creature.
There are many strong creatures in Pauper with additional effects if they become the target of a spell, allowing for Shore Up to slot perfectly into decks that also run blue. This goes straight into my RU Hotdogs deck, Kiln Fiend and Festival Crasher are going to love it.
Dominaria United sees the best Raise Dead effect entering the fold in a very long time, Urborg Repossession is another card on our list here that I’m sure will slot into Tortured Existence decks in Pauper. Not only does it return a creature from your graveyard to your hand, but it can also serve as a Regrowth effect to grab a removed Tortured Existence back to your hand if kicked. In addition, gaining two life is a nice bonus when paired against any aggro or burn decks.
With its flexibility it has the potential to be utilised in a number of different ways across other strategies, the ability to return any permanent if kicked is definitely something to keep in mind.
While Journey To Nowhere is better as it costs one less mana, Citizen’s Arrest is still decent. In fact, it lets you run up to eight copies of essentially the same card. We’ve all heard of 8 Elf and 8 Opt, allow me to introduce 8 Journey to Nowhere… Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?
While there are scores of cards that provide the same effect, (eg. Oblivion Ring ) in decks that care about the White Pips on your cards, Mono White devotion made a small appearance in Pauper shortly after the release of Theros Beyond Death and has disappeared since, perhaps this could reawaken Daybreak Chimera’s shot at Pauper fame?
Citizen’s Arrest exiles a creature until the Enchantment leaves the battlefield. Outside of green and white, there are little to no good options to deal with enchantments. This acts as borderline permanent removal in certain matchups, allowing for Citizen’s Arrest to slot in perfectly to a xW control deck.
Shadow Prophecy is a pauper legal Memory Deluge, that requires a bit of elbow grease. It does require you to play multiple land types, and for each one you control, you can look at that many cards from the top of your deck. Up to two of those cards get added to your hand and the rest to the graveyard. With the new “dual lands” from this set we’re already off to a good start.
This is a really cool effect for multiple decks. For most decks it acts as a way to dig through your deck to get to your win conditions quicker. In Reanimator decks it lets you dump the cards you want in the graveyard, exactly where you need them, while putting reanimation enablers into your hand. It’s an instant as well, permitting you to use it during your opponent’s end step when you don’t need mana up to interact with threats anymore.
Probably the most talked about Pauper card from the Dominaria United set, I would label is as Pauper’s Murktide Regent.
In decks built around cheap instants and sorceries it’ll be easy to cast Tolarian Terror for one or two mana in most blue decks. Gurmag Angler became a staple in Pauper since the release of Fate Reforged, but with Tolarian Terror, there’s no Delve cost you need to meet to cast the spell. Tolarian Terror is also better in multiples, where you can combine cheap instant and sorceries to generate an impressive board state. Plus, the built-in ward ability is an excellent upgrade over Gurmag Angler.
I’m expecting to see Tolarian Terror in Blue-based Control strategies such as Izzet Skred and Serpentine Curve.
While Dominaria United isn’t as loaded with Pauper viable cards in comparison to Battle for Baldur’s Gate or Double Masters 2022, there are a couple diamonds in the rough that will undoubtedly see play in the Pauper format.
Which of the cards above make it into your decks?