Dime a Dozen #54: The Common Cruise Begins

Draw three cards.

Very few three-word sentences have been so revered within the realm of Magic: The Gathering rules text. While no one does it quite like (the obviously overpowered) Ancestral Recall, Khans of Tarkir recently introduced us to a card that can get ridiculously close.


History has shown that cards with this effect are typically broken. Recall itself is banned in Legacy and Commander, not to mention restricted in Vintage. Ancestral Vision, what some might call “Ancestral Recall Light,” is similarly banned in Modern. What (hopefully) keeps Cruise in check is its considerable mana cost, which in turn is mitigated by the returning delve mechanic.

It’s not hard to tell that the new sorcery looks very promising on paper. As Pauper aficionados and deck brewers, it is our pleasure (and perhaps our duty) to try our damnedest to break this card! This article intends to point out the fact that some already have, and that their results are quite promising.

Before we start, I want to emphasize that I think we’ll be seeing several more appearances from Khans of Tarkir in the Pauper Dailies very soon, namely by way of the Khans duals. Which duals will be appearing first? It could be any of them really, from Tranquil Cove to Rugged Highlands. I believe that the utilization of these duals is simply a matter of time (and card availability).

First Contact

The first significant appearances of Treasure Cruise in a Pauper event occurred on October 5th, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be the last! I for one am very interested in playing the card, and it’s already made some breakthroughs in Legacy (a format with high standards when it comes to power level). But let’s turn our attention to some of the very first Pauper lists to feature the new blue beauty.

While this archetype is far from my favorite, there are some things this list is doing that even I can appreciate. The first is 20 lands (20 lands! Oh thank heavens. No Poopy Mana here folks.) Also, the incorporation of six Pauper fetches is certainly a plus. These nonbasics help fuel Treasure Cruise, and allow us to shuffle away chaff thanks to Brainstorm.

I’m a fan of maindeck Flame Slash, as there is certainly no shortage of 4 toughness or less creatures in the format. These supplement the four Lightning Bolts as creature removal, though they lack the option of going to the face.

What’s really great is that all of the noncreature spells here cost 1 mana or less. This to me demonstrates a clear, focused strategy that involves “going off” with at least one Fiend, Cyclops, or Dragonauts in play.

The four Brainstorms, three Gushes and two Treasure Cruises may seem like a lot of draw for this deck, but they certainly serve a purpose. An added benefit they produce is the ability to dig for Assault Strobe and Shadow Rift, which consequently can be reduced to 2-ofs.

I have a feeling that this flavor of Izzet Fiend, with numerous ways to dig for answers and refill, will prove more robust than the others. Do you agree?

For contrast, here is another version of Izzet Fiend piloted this weekend that features Treasure Cruise. The pilot was none other than surucucu, one of Izzet Fiend’s most outspoken champions.

Admittedly I don’t love the mana base here, but I do think that this sideboard is arguably superior. Flaring Pain accounts for the Circle of Protections and Prismatic Strands of the world, and the blue and red blasts are simply superb.

There was one other established Pauper archetype that went on a Cruise last weekend, and I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it before…

This list feels well thought out for a few reasons. The first is two copies of Stormbound Geist main to account for the presence of removal-heavy Mono-Black Control decks (not to mention fliers decks like Delver and White Weenie). There’s also a pair of Bonesplitters to make any creature on the table a relevant beater.

Perhaps what I like most, however, are the various 1-ofs that add diversity and unpredictability to the deck. One-ofs really shine in Delver because the Ponder and Preordain effects can make it relatively easy to find them. The above list is bolstering a singleton Exclude and a singleton Mizzium Skin, two cards which the opponent might be goaded into playing around for the entirety of a match.

The sideboard here is nice and diverse, which I can appreciate considering the unpredictability of a format like Pauper. It’s debatable whether or not Steel Sabotage is preferable to Annul, but otherwise I have no real gripes with this selected 15.

Treasure Cruise is already making waves in the Pauper format, and I think it could see much more play in the future. Where are the Pauper Cruise Control decks? How about self-mill? The territory is as of yet uncharted, but hopefully won’t be for long.

Here is a list of Pauper-legal cards that might synergize well with Cruise (keep in mind that many more synergies exist!).

Careful Study
Commune With the Gods
Faithless Looting
Forbidden Alchemy
Merfolk Looter
Mental Note
Putrid Imp
Satyr Wayfinder
Strategic Planning
Street Wraith
Thought Scour
Wild Mongrel

Emerging Archetypes

Now that we’ve talked about the newest Pauper spell on the scene, I’d like to acknowledge some of the latest brews popping up in the Dailies.

Up first we have a value deck that features both Kor Skyfisher and Trinket Mage. The name of the game is attrition, and the synergies are seemingly endless.

That’s quite an extensive Trinket Mage package. In this deck Mage has access to creature removal, lands, life gain, graveyard hate, and a potential cycler in AEther Spellbomb. I can also appreciate the elusive Brainstorm and Squadron Hawk team-up, though I’d recommend playing a few more fetches if possible.

The only thing I could really say is missing here are utility lands for Azorius Chancery and Kor Skyfisher to bounce. An obvious choice is Kabira Crossroads, not to mention Lonely Isle and/or Secluded Steppe.

Is this list merely a worse version of Azorius Kitty? How should I know? It’s not like I piloted that deck in one of the most bizarre Pauper show matches of all time… In all seriousness I do like what this deck is doing, and while I think there is room for tweaking and improvement, I’m definitely rooting for it.

Next up we have an equally appealing brew that just so happens to also utilize Trinket Mage. Have a look.

This list is a mash-up of several preexisting strategies, which might make it a “Jack of all trades, master of none (who coined that phrase, anyway?).” I think there is definitely room for improvement, but a deck like this will naturally need to undergo some growing pains in order to be sufficiently tuned.

There are a lot of cool interactions going on, ranging from Trinket Mage shenanigans to Grim Harvest and Mystical Teachings tomfoolery. The sideboard is somewhat unique, as it boasts rarely-seen commons such as Essence Scatter, Leave No Trace and Snow-Covered Plains.

I’m not positive that this Grixis list will catch on, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it again with a 3-1 or 4-0 attached.

End Step

What will be the next lists to feature Treasure Cruise? Which (if any) other cards from Khans of Tarkir will be stepping onto the Pauper main stage? I hope you’ll chime in with your thoughts!

Until next time, my fellow commoners!

  1. Is the likelihood of a new set contributing usable cards to the Pauper format as likely as it is for Modern or even the larger, “older” ones? I would think the fact that Treasure Cruise is being picked along with the best commons of all time means it’s probably, as you said, able to be broken.

    And sideboarding a Plains in a Grixis deck seems like something an insane genius would do.

  2. ThankTheBear – I doubt that the likelihood is quite at the level of Modern, but commons are definitely getting a boost these days, notably in the first set of a new block.

    Electrickery from RTR completely eclipsed the previously utilized Seismic Shudder and Rain of Embers. Gray Merchant from Theros is explosive and often game-changing, probably the most high-impact black creature since Crypt Rats.

    Now with Khans we have dual lands that are strictly better than the (then unprecedented) Guildgates from two years ago, not to mention the fact that they were printed at uncommon in 2009 (the Zendikar Refuges).

    Thanks for the comment!

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