27, Jun, 24

Modern Horizons 3 Common Takes Over 600+ Player Event!

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Many Magic players were surprised to hear that a Modern Horizons 3 card would be banned before the set even hit shelves. To make things even more unexpected, the banned card was a common! Pre-bans do have a history in Magic, but they happen very rarely. This time around, it was definitely warranted.

The guilty perpetrator was Cranial Ram, a Living Weapon in Rakdos colors that had too many similarities with banned cards in the Pauper format. All That Glitters was banned relatively recently, and Cranial Plating is a long-term resident of the Pauper ban list.

While this card was taken care of swiftly, many of the new common cards in Modern Horizons 3 ended up having a major effect on the Pauper format. Perhaps none of those was more extreme than the Dimir Draft powerhouse Sneaky Snacker. It’s not hard to imagine why this card is problematic.

Sneaky Snacker

Sneaky Snacker is a two-mana Flying Faerie Rogue with one very powerful ability, especially for a common. Should you manage to draw your third card in a turn, Sneaky Snacker returns from the graveyard to your battlefield tapped.

This Arclight Phoenix-esque card is best when used alongside a common that was also very busted alongside Faithless Looting. Not only does this card allow you to dump your Sneaky Snackers to recur, but you get it will also activate them since it draws your third card in a turn. For one mana, if you happen to start with the nuts, you can draw two cards and get two Sneaky Snackers into play!

This crucial synergy is at the heart of the new Rakdos, or Grixis Madness burn strategy that won the 600+ player Paupergeddon event. The deck utilizes a mix of Madness threats and discard outlets in order to gain a ton of advantage while burning your opponent out. Sneaky Snacker may be the feature card here, but there’s a lot more going on.

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Discard Outlets

In order to make your Madness payoffs work, you need to discard cards. In order to make Sneaky Snacker work, you need to draw cards. While Faithless Looting is definitely the premier card that makes all of this happen, there are some other discard outlets worth mentioning as well.

Demand Answers is a newer common from Murders at Karlov Manor that allows you to discard a card or sacrifice an artifact to draw cards. This triggers Sneaky Snacker, discards a Madness card, and can be used for its other mode when necessary. It may not look like there are any artifacts in this deck, but Pezza’s winning decklist actually runs two playsets of black and red artifact lands. Otherwise, there are some cards in the list that create Blood Tokens.

Vampire’s Kiss both assists with the burn plan and can serve as a discard outlet. Blood Tokens allow you to loot, and Vampire’s Kiss creates two of them. The amount of synergy here is outstanding. You can Demand Answers to just draw two cards, discard and draw cards to trigger Madness outlets or Sneaky Snacker and collect Metalcraft for Galvanic Blast. Voldaren Epicure, a popular Pauper creature, also creates a Blood Token on entry.

Highway Robbery certainly has the least amount of synergy here, but can still recur Sneaky Snackers and trigger Madness on various cards. You can plot it for use in a future turn if you don’t have enough mana to both cast it and pay Madness costs.

Madness Payoffs

Fiery Temper is a good reminder that this decklist, at the end of the day, employs a burn strategy. This is likely the strongest of your Madness payoffs, essentially turning into a Lightning Bolt when discarded. This also helps to shrug off the downsides of your draw effects, turning them into pure card advantage.

Another core Madness payoff is Kitchen Imp which becomes a one-mana 2/2 with Flying and Haste when discarded. This is absurdly above-rate for the Pauper format and can wrack up damage rather quickly when not dealt with in a timely manner.

The last Madness payoff this deck has to offer outside of Sneaky Snacker is Alms of the Vein. Draining the opponent for three life is incredibly swingy, as was demonstrated by Siege Rhino in its glory days. The downside is that this card cannot be pointed at creatures, but when you’re trying to burn the opponent out, this isn’t a huge issue.

A quick reminder that the sorcery speed of Alms of the Vein may be a bit misleading. Madness gets cast whenever you discard the card, which does let you use Alms of the Vein at instant speed. That said, if you need to cast this without Madness, you will need to do so as a Sorcery.

Finally, this deck is filled out with a playset of Galvanic Blast and Lightning Bolt. As premier options in any format, they’re legal in these cards complete the burn plan.

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Sideboard Plan

It’s clear that Filippo Pezza came prepared to fight a multitude of the breakout strategies at this massive 600+ player Paupergeddon event. Trespasser’s Curse shows that.

Thanks to another Modern Horizons 3 common, Pauper got a sort of Splinter Twin combo added to the format. Basking Broodscale and Sadistic Glee create an infinitely large Eldrazi Lizard, but it does so by creating an infinite amount of Eldrazi Spawn. Trespasser’s Curse stops that combo in its tracks by draining the opponent for one life each time a creature enters the battlefield. Considering that you’re a burn deck, they should not have enough life to amass a lethal Lizard.

Trespasser’s Curse also happens to be lights out against Goblin Combo, another deck that top-eighted the Paupergeddon event. This deck wants to use First Day of Class to take advantage of the Persist effect found on Putrid Goblin. Since that deck also wins by sacrificing the goblin and having it enter the battlefield repetitively, Trespasser’s Curse can throw a wrench in that plan as well.

Otherwise, Affinity is always a major threat in the Pauper format, especially with the addition of Refurbished Familar from Modern Horizons 3. For that reason, Pezza came prepared with four copies of Smash to Smithereens and two copies of Gorilla Shaman.

Nihil Spellbomb is there to stop any graveyard strategies from getting out of hand, which also puts a wrench in Goblin Combo, and can stop Sneaky Snacker from coming back for seconds.

Finally, Contaminated Ground combats Utopia Sprawl decks in a unique way. Causing it to fall off Forests and screwing up Arbor Elf similarly, this is a decent tool against Ponza. Considering that deck placed second at the Paupergeddon event, powered up by the Mythic draft Common Writhing Chrysalis, packing three of these was a good choice.

Sneakily Snacking on the Competition

With two copies of Madness Burn in the top eight, Sneaky Snacker appears to be eating well in the Pauper format. Burn strategies have always been incredibly prevalent in the format, and Sneaky Snacker gives the deck a lot of grind potential, as well as some inevitability. If you’re unable to close the game decisively, these pesky Faeries will eventually catch up to you.

Is this going to become a problem in the Pauper format? Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, however. Following these events, many agree that banning Cranial Ram preemptively was the right call. Even without it, Grixis Affinity had a decent turnout.

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