IKORIA Pauper Review

Pauper Set Review – Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths

Hello everyone and welcome to my Pauper Set Review for Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths.  I am TheCheshireHat.  I have been involved in Magic since Unlimited, and I have been playing Paper Pauper for several years now.  I have really enjoyed playing Paper Pauper, and I have found success in both modd’ing top of the line net decks and outright brewing new decks.  I am extremely grateful to Pauper for giving me a reason to care about spoiler season beyond the 15 Standard / 2 Modern / Pioneer possibly playable cards.

One peculiarity of evaluating a new Standard Legal set in the context of an eternal format is that most cards aren’t going be outright playables.  How could they be when competing with 25+ years of cards with varying degrees of card development oversight and raw power?  No matter what new keyword you tag on, how can the staple five mana kill spell sorceries compete with Chainer’s Edict or Snuff Out? It’s just not happening for most of the cards in the set.  As such, I have endeavored in my evaluation to discuss the reasons the spell won’t see play rather than just saying HARD PASS!!!!

Additionally, a side effect of the development New World Order is Common Power Seep.  While rares, mythic rares, and select uncommons have seen their power creep up over the last decade, the focus on simplification and balanced Limited formats has caused the power level of commons to slowly seep away.  For the sake of balance, token generating creatures have gotten more expensive, kill spells have become more conditional, and mechanics have become less Eternally relevant.  This Common Power Seep often results in commons devolving into lesser versions of their progenitor cards rather than evolving to possibly succeed them or seeing their past functionality being bumped up to uncommon.

As such, here is the rating tier that I used to evaluate the commons from Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths:

RATING TEIR

TIER 1 – INCLUDE IMMEDIATELY (5)

TIER 2 – TRY OUT (11)

TIER 3 – KEEP AN EYE ON (18)

TIER 4 – PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE (45) – White (13), Blue (7), Black (7), Red (6), Green (8), Colorless (4)

REPEATS (32)

Also, fair warning I will be using the acronyms CMC for Converted mana cost, ETB for Enter the battlefield, and EOT for EOT if you need a refresher (I assume most do not).

INCLUDE IMMEDIATELY (5)

– Cloudpiercer – In a world where you want your creatures to survive Lightning Bolts / blocking flipped Delvers and equal / trade with Gurmag Anglers, a 5/4 Reacher is the correct size for a big creature.  More powerful than any common Bestow card, Cloudpiercer looks well suited to pump 1/1 flying faeries in UR Flyers into turn four attacking 5/4 flyers.  While the possibility of getting instantaneously 2-for-1’d with Mutate sounds unpleasant, the threat should be less in Pauper due to lesser instant speed removal options for 4 toughness creatures.  The Mutate rummage is nice, but the big body on this creature is the main selling point.

– Dreamtail Heron [U4 3/4 Elemental Bird Creature with Mutate U3 and Whenever this creature mutates, draw a card.] – This is big flying body with a cantrip ETB through its Mutate cost.  Turning one of your small faeries or your grounded Auger of Bolas into one of the biggest things in the sky is extremely powerful.  With the Mutate cantrip, Dreamtail Heron either replaces itself in your hand or the opponent kills the mutate target which still leaves you with the 3/4 flyer.  I think Mono Blue and Dimir decks will be willing to play a singleton copy of this cantrip flyer to add an additional angle of attack.

– Of One Mind [U2 Sorcery with Draw two cards & This costs 2 less to cast if you control a Human creature and a non-Human creature.]  While unfortunate as a Sorcery, many decks have enough Humans in their diverse creature pools to support this spell.  Blue has Delvers, Oracles, and Archaeomancers.   Black has Coumbajj Witches and Thorn(s) of the Black Rose. Red has Ghitu Lavarunners and Thermo-Alchemists. White has Thraben Inspectors and Palace Sentinels. Green has Burning-Tree Emissaries and Skarrgan Pit-Skulks.  Anyone with a large enough creature base and access to Blue could find a use for this easy card advantage.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see singleton copies of this draw spell in the coming months.

– Spelleater Wolverine [R2 3/2 Wolverine creature with Spelleater Wolverine has double strike as long as there are three or more instant and/or sorcery cards in your graveyard.] Double strike is a rare occurrence in Pauper.  Of the seven creatures with reliable double strike, only five drop Garrison Sergeant has 3 power.  Any red deck or deck splashing red should have enough spells to activate this 3 CMC 3 power double striker.  The is a powerful creature that could see some supporting play in tempo decks.

– Suffocating Fumes [B2 Instant with Cycling 2 & Creatures your opponents control get -1/-1 until EOT.] One side Instant speed Shrivel with Cycling for an additional mana is absolutely Sideboard playable and possibly mainboard playable.  This spell may have to share space with Echoing Decay, but it should still see play even in lower numbers.

WORTH TRYING OUT (11)

– Blood Curdle [B3 Instant for Destroy target creature. Put a menace counter on a creature you control.] – Blood Curdle is an easier to splash Murder that permanently grants evasion to one of your creatures for one additional mana.  While a 4 CMC kill spell won’t see a full playset included, I could see a singleton copy making decks with large attackers like Gurmag Angler or Ulamog’s Crusher.

– Drannith Stinger [R1 2/2 Human Wizard creature with Cycling 1 and Whenever you cycle another card, Drannith Stinger deals 1 damage to each opponent.] – Drannith Stinger is the most impactful new option for the very unlikely dedicated Cycling Matters deck, but its payoff is impressive. The ability to cycle through cards to drain your opponents is strong, and even decks with a lesser Cycling Package could make use of this pinger.  I know some TortEx builds already utilize a Tilling Treefolk Cycling Lands package, and a singleton Drannith Stinger could help spice things up.

– Fully Grown [G2 Instant for Target creature gets +3/+3 until EOT and a trample counter] – While not an auto-include, a pump spell that grants the creature Trample for the rest of the game is the kind of thing where Mono-ish Green Stompy could definitely make the most of it.  A singleton copy could help get through the extra damage to finish off an opponent or provide your River Boa with Trample when the opponent has fizzled all of your Rancors.  This spell will probably miss the final cut due to its 3 CMC, but it is always good to try out new options in Tier 2 decks.

– Glimmerbell [U1 1/3 Elemental Jellyfish creature with Flying & U1: Untap Glimmerbell.] – Flying Horseshoe Crab with one less CMC and one more activated cost sounds interesting.  The increased activated ability decreases the combo potential, but the 2 CMC with Flying increases the general usefulness.  I could see someone in Simic Longbow or Dimir Flyers giving this Elemental Jellyfish as shot.

– Gust of Wind [U3 Sorcery with This spell costs 2 less to cast if you control a creature with flying. Return target nonland permanent you don’t control to its owner’s hand. Draw a card.] Flash Faeries love tempo and card draw.  While this is oddly not an instant, 2 CMC bounce with cantrip sounds worth trying out even as a sorcery.

– Migratory Greathorn [G3 3/4 Beast Creature with Mutate 2G & Whenever this creature mutates, search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.] – If you view this spell as an aura that ramp’s on ETB, there is some serious value in a ramp spell that also turns your Arbor Elves into 3/4’s.  I feel Mono Green Land Destruction and any ramp deck that uses mana dorks could find room while testing for at least a singleton Migratory Greathorn.

– Pyroceratops [R3 2/3 Elemental Dinosaur with Trample & Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Pyroceratops.] Four mana is a lot for a 2/3 Trampling creature, but permanent Prowess sounds frightening with tempo or Boros Bully’s Flashback suite.  While not inexpensive enough to merit a full playset, I could see a few copies occupying the top of some Tier 2 deck’s curve.

– Spontaneous Flight [W2 Instant with Target creature gets +2/+2 until EOT. Put a flying counter on it.] – This is an expensive spell for its effect, but it is an impressive combat trick in a world of little flyers.  Being able to turn your 1/2 Thraben Inspector into a 3/4 Flyer in response to a swinging flipped Delver seems worthwhile, and that’s not even considering the possible shenanigans in Mono White Heroic.  The CMC here should most likely limit this card to a singleton copy, but it seems worth trying out.

– Thwart the Enemy [G2 Instant with Prevent all damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures you don’t control.] – A one sided Fog that can also prevent non-combat damage from creatures sounds amazing.  While it will have to compete with the flashback-able Moment’s Peace, this seems worth considering in things like Elves and Slivers that want an attacking anthem effect.

– Whisper Squad [B 1/1 Human Soldier creature with B1: Search your library for a card named Whisper Squad, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.]  Black gets a Squadron Hawk type effect!  While that statement is almost completely inaccurate, the sentiment is on point, and Whisper Squad can quickly provide a host of bodies for sacrifice or equipment bearing.  It also synergizes well with Lens of Clarity to reset your library top while searching for extra copies even after they no longer exist in your deck.

– Wilt [G1 Instant for Destroy target artifact or enchantment with Cycling 2] – Naturalize with Cycling seems extremely power.  Gleeful Sabotage is often lurking in Green Sideboards, and the versatility of Wilt and its ability to Cycle once you have destroyed their sole Pestilence, TortEx, or Vulshok Morningstar seems worth trying out.  While it may be held back by the fact that it doesn’t destroy multiple / all like Tranquility or Gorilla Shaman, the flexibility of this card should be explored.

KEEP AN EYE ON (18)

– Almighty Brushwagg [G 1/1 Brushwagg creature with Trample & G3: Almighty Brushwagg gets +3/+3 until EOT.] – This is an expensive but powerful activated ability on a 1/1 with Trample.  I don’t know that anyone outside TRON has the amount of mana to make the most of Almighty Brushwagg, but if they can I’m sure they will.

– Bushmeat Poacher [B3 2/4 Human Soldier creature with 1, T, Sacrifice another creature: You gain life equal to that creature’s toughness. Draw a card.]  This is an expensive creature for a Sacrifice Matters deck, but a repeatable effect like this one could have value.  The effect isn’t restricted by “activate at sorcery speed” restrictions like we see with many modern cards, doesn’t have a prohibitive mana cost like Soulreaper of Mogis, and gains you life rather than slowly draining you.  If you can find a good synergy with creatures like Sanitarium Skeleton or Mortus Strider or steal effects like Act of Treason, you could possibly add a nice little package to your deck.

– Crystacean [U3 1/6 Crab creature with Flash] – Fortress Crab with Flash isn’t in high demand, but a creature that can survive blocking Gurmag Angler for under five mana is interesting.  Flash and the 4 CMC kind of even themselves out, and if you can load this crab up with Rancors or Sentinel’s Eyes you just might get somewhere on the back of this turtle’s shell.

– Dark Bargain [B3 Instant with Look at the top three cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the other into your graveyard. Dark Bargain deals 2 damage to you.] 4 CMC is a lot of mana for a card advantage with life loss spell, but Dark Bargain does a lot of things right.  Instant speed mildly makes up for the upped CMC, and the pseudo-Surveil 1 makes this effectively a Draw 3 spell in any Black deck that relies on its graveyard. Hopefully the instant speed will allow this spell to make better inroads than the recently released Funeral Rites.

– Durable Coilbug [B1 2/2 Creature – Insect creature with B4: Return Durable Coilbug from your graveyard to your hand.] – Creature cards that endlessly recur themselves from your graveyard are a rare commodity (only Sanitarium Skeleton currently does this in Pauper) so it would be worth keeping an eye on this slightly bigger / more expensive recursive creature.

– Excavation Mole [G2 3/3 Mole creature with Trample & When Excavation Mole ETB, put the top three cards of your library into your graveyard.] This is a reasonably costed mid-tier body with the type of self mill that GB TortEx likes. While I doubt it will beat out the long list of other cards vying to make the TortEx lists, the aggro variants just might could consider this sizeable Mole for inclusion.

– Farfinder [3 1/1 Fox creature with Vigilance & When Farfinder ETB, you may search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.] – While this is a 3 CMC 1/1 that doesn’t actually ramp you, it is a colorless, non-artifact creature that replaces itself with a basic land of your choice.  It’s possible TRON could figure out something unpleasant to do with this colorless Fox, but it doesn’t currently care about Pilgrim’s Eye or Skittering Surveyor so I doubt the Fox will see play. Still worth keeping an eye on any creature that fills a previously unoccupied design area.

– Go for Blood [R1 Sorcery with Cycling 1 & Target creature you control fights another target creature you don’t control.] – Go for Blood appears to be powerful situational removal that can be cheaply Cycled if the situation isn’t right.  While I am not sure what build would want this over Skred, Lightning Bolt, or a second color’s removal, this is an efficient spell with the cheapest possible non-free Cycling cost.  Seems worth keeping an eye on it.

– Keep Safe [U1 Instant with Counter target spell that targets a permanent you control. Draw a card.] This counterspell has a lot to compete against, but tempo decks might like their protection with a side of cantrip.  Seems interesting in Izzit Blitz or two color Delver decks that don’t want to rely on UU counterspells.

– Lava Serpent [R5 5/5 Elemental Serpent creature with Haste & Cycling 2] – Similar to Striped Riverwinder’s ability to Cycle for reanimation or wait around for enough mana, Lava Serpent is massive and possibly problematic.  Rakdos Reanimator decks could use this threat to fill out the rest of their reanimation suite.

– Lurking Deadeye [B3 4/2 Human Assassin creature with Flash & When Lurking Deadeye ETB, destroy target creature that was dealt damage this turn.] – This appears to be the first “Kill the maimed on ETB” creature with Flash.  As such, it can be used defensively either for its effect or to trade in combat.  I can’t think of a deck that wants a Reach-less four drop with this ability, but new development space is worth keeping an eye on.

– Memory Leak [B2 Sorcery with Cycling 1 & Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from that player’s graveyard or hand and exile it.] – Similar to Unburden’s upgrade of Mind Rot, Coercion with Cycling 1 seems powerful. Discard with cycling has seen Pauper play, and the graveyard shenanigans can only help.

– Prickly Marmoset [R2 2/3 Monkey creature with First Strike &Whenever you cycle a card, Prickly Marmoset gets +2/+0 until EOT.] This monkey seems well poised for a starring role in the unlikely dedicated Cycling Matters deck.  If the unlikely happens, Prickly Marmoset could cause more damage than Plated Geopede back in the day.

– Raking Claws [R1 Instant with Cycling 2 & Target creature gains double strike until EOT.] – While I discounted this spell as neat but not Temur Battle Rage, one of my more seasoned playmates suggested that the cycling is reasonable compensation for losing Battle Rage’s “Sometimes Trample.”  They believe that It won’t necessarily play a role in Kiln Fiend Glass Cannon combo type decks, but it is still a reasonable low count inclusion in some aggro / midrange decks.

– Shredded Sails [R1 Instant for Cycling 2 and Choose one: – Destroy target artifact. – Shredded Sails deals 4 damage to target creature with flying.] – A modal spell that deals with both flyers and artifacts, this option is more versatile but less powerful than most Pauper Sideboard cards, so some decks may want the flexibility with cycling it provides.

– Tentative Connection [R3 Sorcery with This spell costs 3 less to cast if you control a creature with menace. AND

Gain control of target creature until EOT. Untap that creature. It gains haste until EOT.] A 1 CMC Act of Treason sounds interesting in tempo and aggro type decks that might already be splashing red and creatures with Menace.

– Thieving Otter [U2 for a 2/2 Otter Creature with Whenever Thieving Otter deals damage to an opponent, draw a card.] – Thieving Otter draws a card on any damage to a player, not just combat damage.  While I still don’t think a smaller, less expensive Saltwater Stalwart is going to make the cut, maybe 3 CMC for a Ping Draw creature is worth exploring in Simic Longbow.

– Vulpikeet [W3 2/3 Fox Bird Creature with Flying, Mutate W2, & Whenever this creature mutates, put a +1/+1 counter on it.]  While little more than enchantment, Vulpikeet’s three cost mutate is just low enough to seem viable.  I am not sure which deck will turn their 1/1 into a 3/4 with flying on turn three, but I feel that someone will give at least a singleton copy of this Fox Bird a shot.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – WHITE (13)

– Blade Banish [W3 Instant with Exile target creature with power 4 or greater.] Making Bring to Trial an instant by increasing its CMC by one still isn’t enough to improve this restrictive removal spell to even sideboard levels.  Almost feels like this is a leftover card from War of the Spark, particularly with the art & flavor text showcasing the extremely vague The Wanderer.

– Coordinated Charge [W4 Instant with Cycling 2 & Creatures you control get +2/+1 until EOT.]  Instant speed does not make up for the 5 CMC on this anthem, which would have stiff competition in any deck that wanted it from Marshaling Cry.

– Daysquad Marshal [W3 3/3 Human Soldier creature with When Daysquad Marshal ETB, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.] – This is an excellent example of the Common Power Seep that is caused by the focus on limited environments. Four mana for a combined four power, four toughness, and no abilities is lovely for blocking in limited but not horribly useful anywhere else.

– Drannith Healer [W1 2/2 Human Cleric with Cycling 1 & Whenever you cycle another card, you gain 1 life] – Seems like it could be a supporting player in the unlikely dedicated Cycling Matters deck, but life gain triggers matter far less than damage dealt triggers.

– Garrison Cat [W 1/1 Cat creature with When Garrison Cat dies, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.] – Downgraded Doomed Traveler / Hunted Witness. Cute but no thanks.

– Helica Glider [W2 2/2 Nightmare Squirrel creature with Helica Glider ETB with your choice of a flying counter or a first strike counter.] – While this is really cool artwork for an awesome creature type, three mana for a 2/2 with only one ability is just not enough.  I wish they could have just printed a two toughness Pegasus Charger, but I guess they wanted to highly the variability of mutating creatures.

– Imposing Vantasaur [W5 3/6 Dinosaur creature with Vigilance & Cycling 1] – This is a fine dinosaur but a lousy reanimation target.  It is too expensive for anything.

– Light of Hope [W Instant with Choose one: – You gain 4 life. – Destroy target enchantment. – Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.] This is a sleek modal spell, but enchantment hate really needs to hit multiple targets or cycle to make it in Pauper.

– Maned Serval [W1 1/4 Cat creature with Vigilance] – We have never seen Yotian Soldier at 2 CMC, but I don’t think many will test out French vanilla creatures without evasive abilities.

– Patagia Tiger [W4 3/4 Cat creature with Flying & When this creature ETB’s, target Human you control gets +2/+2 until EOT.] While a greatly more powerful Welkin Guide / Battleflight Eagle with a far more narrow, flying-less ETB pump, there doesn’t appear to be a home for this high CMC Flyer.

– Perimeter Sergeant [W2 3/2 Human Soldier creature with Whenever Perimeter Sergeant attacks, other Humans you control get +1/+0 until EOT.] This tribal Battle Cry creature should see even less play than the other creatures with Battle Cry.

– Snare Tactician [W2 2/3 Human Solider creature with Whenever you cycle a card, tap target creature an opponent controls.] – Similar to Drannith Healer, this would be a supporting player in the unlikely dedicated Cycling Matters deck, but ensnaring still isn’t as important as damage dealt triggers.

– Solid Footing [W Enchantment – Aura with Flash with Enchant creature & As long as enchanted creature has vigilance, it assigns combat damage equal to its toughness rather than its power.] Neat to see this effect show up more often in Pauper, but it loses out to Treefolk Umbra and pairs poorly with Rancor.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – BLUE (7)

– Aegis Turtle [U 0/5 Turtle creature] – Aegis Turtle is both benefited and harmed by being a 0/5 one drop without defender (or any other ability) since it’s a durable blocker that could be used to attack if loaded up with auras and equipment but cannot participate in the Wall Ball decks.  This a great one drop blocker, but sadly little more.

– Facet Reader [U1 1/2 Human Wizard creature with 1, T: Draw a card, then discard a card.] Since Merfolk Looter they have been trying to find the optimal Looter by tweaking the creature’s CMC, power, toughness, and Loot cost.  Facet Reader is halfway between Thought Courier and Erratic Visionary on both toughness and Loot cost, and it will probably see the same amount of Pauper play as either.

Frostveil Ambush [UU3 Instant with Cycling 1 & Tap up to two target creatures. Those creatures don’t untap during their controller’s next untap step.] This is a powerful but overcosted Frost effect that seems unlikely to see play at 5 CMC no matter how low the cycling cost is.

– Hampering Snare [U1 Instant with Cycling 2 & Creatures your opponents control get -2/-0 until EOT.] – A fine spell that has too much stellar competition in the realm of Pauper Fogs, Freezes, & Shrinking.

– Phase Dolphin [U2 1/4 Elemental Whale creature with Whenever Phase Dolphin attacks, another target attacking creature can’t be blocked this turn.] – While it’s nice that this creature is outside Bolt range, I don’t know of any deck that would want to run it.  Also mildly sad this is an Elemental Whale rather than a Dolphin.

– Startling Development [U1 Instant with Cycling 1 & Until EOT, target creature becomes a blue Serpent with base power and toughness 4/4.] – A rare “pump” spell in Blue, this seems unlikely to take the place of Blue’s staple removal, bounce, or denial.

– Wingfold Pteron [U5 3/6 Dinosaur Creature that ETB’s with your choice of a flying counter or a hexproof counter on it.] – This is an interesting and versatile card, but I think six mana is just too much mana to see play.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – BLACK (7)

– Blitz Leech [B5 5/2 Leech creature with When Blitz Leech ETB, target creature an opponent controls gets -2/-2 until EOT. Remove all counters from that creature.] – A good ETB situational kill trigger on a brittle but powerful body, Blitz Leech is too expensive at 6 CMC and will probably be as ignored as fellow six drop Blight-Breath Catoblepas.

– Boot Nipper [B1 2/1 Beast creature with Boot Nipper ETB with your choice of a deathtouch counter or a lifelink counter on it.] This creature has nice options, but neither really make a difference on a 2/1 body.

– Cavern Whisperer [B4 4/4 Nightmare Creature with Menace and Mutate B3] – While a menacingly big body on an interesting card, this card seems like it is far weaker in the role that Okiba-Gang Shinobi is already performing admirably in the format.

– Mutual Destruction [B Sorcery with This spell has flash as long as you control a permanent with flash. As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature. Destroy target creature.] While technically a strictly better Bone Splinters, the kind of decks that want an instant speed Bone Splinters don’t usually have the Flash creatures to support it.  Unless Spellstutter Sprite suddenly starts wanting to throw itself in under the bus, I don’t see Mutual Destruction seeing play.

– Nightsquad Commando [B2 2/3 Human Soldier creature with When Nightsquad Commando ETB, if you attacked this turn, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.] – Too expensive for tokens and too weak for anything else. More Limited Power Seep.

– Serrated Scorpion [B 1/2 Scorpion creature with When Serrated Scorpion dies, it deals 2 damage to each opponent and you gain 2 life.] A nice but not deathtouchy body on a good life drain effect for a one drop.  This could find a home in an Aristocrats type build, a Flicker package relying heavily on Black, or a dedicated equipment deck, but no recent contenders in those areas are coming to mind.

– Unexpected Fangs [B1 Instant with Put a +1/+1 counter and a lifelink counter on target creature.] Like Sudden Spinnerets, this is a cool effect highlighting the new ability counters but not worth the lost card advantage outside some fringe combat trick.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – RED (6)

– Blisterspit Gremlin [R 1/1 Gremlin creature with 1, T: Blisterspit Gremlin deals 1 damage to each opponent. & Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, untap Blisterspit Gremlin.] – A nice pinger to play second or third chair to Thermo-Alchemist, but unlikely to gain much more traction than Firebrand Archer.

– Ferocious Tigorilla [R3 4/3 Cat Ape creature with Ferocious Tigorilla ETB with your choice of a trample counter or a menace counter on it.]  A cool name for the latest attempt at a successor to Hill Giant, Ferocious Tigorilla will play a powerful role in limited like Havoc Devils and Shatterskull Recruit did before it, but it is too little for too much in Pauper where surviving Lightning Bolts and trading with Gurmag Anglers is important for your curve toppers.

– Fire Prophecy [R1 Instant with Fire Prophecy deals 3 damage to target creature. You may put a card from your hand on the bottom of your library. If you do, draw a card.]  – Not powerful enough in a world of Lighting Bolt and Faithless Looting.  I feel they played it safe with this card while exploring the new red tuck draw mechanic. I look forward to more aggressive variants sometime down the road.

– Forbidden Friendship [R1 Sorcery with Create a 1/1 red Dinosaur creature token with haste and a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.]  While one of the creature tokens having Haste makes this spell an upgrade over Dragon Fodder / Krenko’s Command outside tribal synergies, Forbidden Friendship doesn’t really have a home with its two creatures having different colors and creature types.  Goblin decks don’t want non-goblins, Distant Melody decks don’t want creatures of different types, and Battle Screech decks don’t want red creatures. It is an admirable card design which might have gotten over the hump if the human token had been given lifelink, but I don’t see any deck wanting this card.

– Heightened Reflexes [R Instant with Target creature gets +1/+0 until EOT. Put a first strike counter on it.] – A cool effect highlighting the new ability counters, but not worth the lost card advantage outside some fringe combat trick.

– Rumbling Rockslide [R3 Sorcery with Rumbling Rockslide deals damage to target creature equal to the number of lands you control.] – A slower, cheaper Stonefury isn’t going to make the cut.  Similar to Blade Banish, this feels like the standard change-the-speed and CMC for limited that we have continually endured over the past few years. I miss Spire Barrage.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – GREEN (8)

– Essence Symbiont [G1 2/2 Beast creature with Whenever a creature you control mutates, put a +1/+1 counter on it and you gain 2 life.] – Similar to Mysterious Egg, this seems extremely important in a dedicated Mutate deck, which seems extremely unlikely.

– Flycatcher Giraffid [G4 3/5 Antelope Lizard creature with Flycatcher Giraffid ETB with your choice of a vigilance counter or a reach counter on it.] This creature has nice options, but the flexibility won’t allow it to see any more play than Bitterbow Sharpshooters or Sentinel Spider which have both abilities and similar bodies.

– Honey Mammoth [GG4 6/6 Elephant creature with When Honey Mammoth ETB, you gain 4 life.] – Filler dinosaur barely good enough for limited.

– Humble Naturalist [G1 1/3 Human Druid creature with T: Add one mana of any color. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell.] – It’s hard to find a home as a mana dork when you’re not a “Wall”, Elf, or Sliver.

– Mosscoat Goriak [G2 2/4 Beast Creature with Vigilance] – A strictly better Colossodon Yearling is definitely an improvement but sadly does not seem up to snuff in a world of flyers and zombie fish.

– Ram Through [G1 Instant with Target creature you control deals damage equal to its power to target creature you don’t control. If the creature you control has trample, excess damage is dealt to that creature’s controller instead.] This is a powerful, well costed conditional removal spell that can damage opponents in the right situations.  I can’t think of the correct home for this spell, but I feel a future variant of it could see play sometime down the road.

– Sudden Spinnerets [G Instant with Target creature gets +1/+3 until EOT. Put a reach counter on it. Untap it.] – Like Heightened Reflexes, this is a cool effect highlighting the new ability counters but not worth the lost card advantage outside some fringe combat trick.

– Survivors’ Bond [G1 Sorcery with Choose one or both: – Return target Human creature card from your graveyard to your hand. – Return target non-Human creature card from your graveyard to your hand.] – This is a powerful spell in the right deck, but the only candidate close enough to right deck is GB TortEx which doesn’t have enough Humans to allow this card to reach its full potential.

PROBABLY NOT PLAYABLE – COLORLESS (4)

– Adaptive Shimmerer [5 0/0 Insect creature with Flash & Adaptive Shimmerer ETB with three +1/+1 counters.]  – A colorless pseudo 3/3 5 drop with only Flash is below par for the colors that really care about Flash.  Blue already has four different versions of the 3/3 creature for U4 with Flash & Flying.

– Mysterious Egg [1 0/2 Egg Creature with Whenever this creature mutates, put a +1/+1 counter on it.] – Similar to Essence Symbiont, this seems extremely important in a dedicated Mutate deck, which seems extremely unlikely.

– Sleeper Dart [2 Artiafct with When Sleeper Dart ETB, draw a card. & T, Sacrifice Sleeper Dart: Target creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.] Boros Monarch probably appreciates another Cantrip Rock option, but this loses out to Alchemist’s Vial and its superior sacrifice ability.

– Springjaw Trap [1 Artifact with Flash & 4, T, Sacrifice Springjaw Trap: It deals 3 damage to any target.] – The usual over costed artifact removal meant for Limited, this card shouldn’t see any more Pauper play than the very limited Moonglove Extract.

REPEATS – 32 Reprints, Functional Reprints, Color-Shifted Variants of Unplayables, & Strictly Worse Cards

– Adventurous Impulse – Reprint

– Anticipate – Reprint

– Blazing Volley – Reprint

– Bloodfell Caves

– Blossoming Sands – Reprint

– Bristling Boar – Reprint

– Capture Sphere – Reprint

– Cathartic Reunion – Reprint

– Checkpoint Officer – Strictly worse Benalish Trapper

– Convolute – Reprint

– Corpse Churn – Reprint

– Dead Weight – Reprint

– Dismal Backwater – Reprint

– Divine Arrow – Reprint

– Essence Scatter – Reprint

– Evolving Wilds – Reprint

– Fertilid – Reprint

– Frenzied Raptor – Reprint

– Frost Lynx – Reprint

– Gloom Pangolin – Color-shifted functional reprint Loxodon Wayfarer, color-shifted strictly worse Sporecap Spider

– Greater Sandwurm – Reprint

– Jungle Hollow – Reprint

– Pacifism – Reprint

– Plummet – Reprint

– Rugged Highlands – Reprint

– Savai Sabertooth – Functional reprint Prowling Caracal

– Scoured Barrens – Reprint

– Swiftwater Cliffs – Reprint

– Thornwood Falls – Reprint

– Tranquil Cove – Reprint

– Unlikely Aid- Reprint

– Wind-Scarred Crag – Reprint

So that is my analysis of Ikoria for Pauper!  Please let me know what I missed and where my logic needs to be optimized.

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