5 Underplayed Auras in PDH
28 Oct 2021 - 7 min read
Now that you’ve slipped on your Boots of Speed and packed up your Explorer’s Scope and Prying Blade , you’re probably wondering: “I’ve got the gear, but what about the magic?” You’re absolutely right! Contrived opening aside, Chev and Julian are back and this time - it’s to tell y’all what auras we haven’t been seeing enough of on the kitchen table.
Blessing of Leeches/Dark Privilege/Soul Channeling: Chev
The pool of abilities to protect your creatures at the pauper level is much smaller than other formats. So, you gotta get a little creative. There’s only one Whispersilk Cloak out there, so each color has their own way of trying to keep your team alive. Maybe some Ephemerate or Pentarch Ward if you’re in White, shroud or Counterspell in Blue, Red of course has…uhh…it has…well just try to win before that’s a problem. Anyway, Black has the best single-target regeneration on the market (fight me, green). Regenerate has been largely discontinued from active development due to its kinda weird nature but this is PDH baby, weird is kind of how we do things.
Blessing of Leeches might be the most well-known of these black regeneration auras due to its zero mana activation cost, but sometimes that consistent life loss can be a real…drain (badum tss). Luckily, we have two solid alternatives. I’ve had LOADS of success with Dark Privilege in my Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker deck - able to offload a Serrated Scorpion or some other fun reanimation target to keep Shirei alive and then just bring it back at the end of turn. Really, Dark Privilege probably outperforms Blessing in MOST go-wide or aristocrat-style decks considering it doubles as a sac outlet. Whisper, Blood Liturgist or Syr Konrad, the Grim are in my top picks for commanders outside of Shirei but Thalisse, Reverent Medium might be up there too…
Soul Channeling is much less “techy” than Dark Privilege, but depending on your meta, might be more efficient than Blessing since the life is only lost on activation. How often is your commander actually the target of removal spells? Most decks that run Blessing of Leeches are probably running Soul Channeling, but if you’ve only got one slot, do some thinking before making your decision. I’ve found homes for one or two of these in really all of my black decks. As a long time EDH player I just can’t run a deck with less than three solid protection pieces. It’s not my fault!
While things like Deep Freeze , Lignify , and Minimus Containment are great…sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and remember a creature is only a threat when you’re in their crosshairs. I honestly don’t care what Dargo, the Shipwrecker is up to if they’re not swinging for my face. So, why would I want to help my opponents by using a straight-up removal spell on the big brute? Enter: Vanishing. While creatures turned into trees or walls or treasures can potentially still chump or die - creatures phased out of existence are still “technically” on the battlefield and probably as close to Imprisoned in the Moon as we can get. Vanishing also lets you play politically. Maybe you can help a friend and save them from lethal damage or phase out a combo creature on upkeep and keep it from getting dangerous. From heavy beaters to combo-enablers, keeping your opponents’ creatures from the battlefield is generally a good thing. Play in decks wherever Blue is found.
Freed From the Real: Julian
This is a dumb card. Any cPDH player will tell you that this card is strictly used for evil, but cPDH is merely a part of the larger PDH meta so while Freed From the Real can certainly be abused, it shouldn’t be overlooked as a solid piece of creature control. At its “worst” you’re keeping an opponent’s nasty creature permanently tapped down or giving your creature pseudo vigilance. In any better case, Freed From the Real is a deadly tool for generating disgusting amounts of mana (potentially infinite, see Ley Weaver which I played recently and won handily), activating tasty abilities multiple times, or even straight out comboing and winning the game. My personal favorite here is Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator + Viridian Longbow + Freed From the Real . This aura is an absolute powerhouse and thus will draw all the hate, so handle it with care. But in the right hands, this can work wonders, so try it out in all of your blue decks today.
Armadillo Cloak: Julian
Wait, what? You don’t care about all this tricksy stuff, you just want to smash face? Oh, no worries, we’ve got you covered. If there’s something that green and more specifically Selesnya does in pauper, it’s play BIG creatures. But with all these people playing tricksy cards like those above, sometimes you need an extra oomph to punch through using your life total as collateral. Enter the Armadillo Cloak . On any sort of voltron creature or any deck that wants to break through a board stall (or army of chump blockers) but doesn’t have evasion, the Cloak has you covered. Just imagine this bad boy on a Trelasarra, Moon Dancer … absolutely filthy. Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy loves this too as you can go wide and tall at the same time, cover all your bases. It even works in Chev’s favorite Satyr Enchanter because it’s a frickin aura and you can get properly voltron-y while constantly refilling your hand. You know what they say, the best offense is a great defense, and the armadillo has stellar defense. Oh, and did we mention Armadillo’s ability stacks with lifelink?
Madcap Skills: Julian
While Armadillo Cloak may be a great midrange card, Madcap Skills is all about that aggro. Menace is a highly underrated mechanic (as I recently found out playing against Killian, Ink Duelist ), and a 3 point power buff adds up quickly, especially on a commander. Another dangerous deck in our pod recently was Azra Oddsmaker . Being able to get in easily for 6 damage and 2 cards is disgusting value. Really, this thing is the ultimate commander damage machine, synergising with Stormchaser Mage , Brushfire Elemental , and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame just to name a few. In addition, you can attach Madcap Skills to a litany of great creatures in the 99 that trigger on combat damage a la Bloodcrazed Neonate . If you like hitting hard, fast, and often, pick up a Madcap Skills .
I don’t think we’ve ever done one of these articles that so cleanly covers so many potential use cases. Whether you need a dose of protection, some combo trickery, or add a little more oomph to your one-two punch there is plenty of fun to be had in common. We hope you liked our breakdown, and would love to hear about what you’d want us to tackle next!
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- 31 Mar 2022: Submitting your cPDH Deck
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- 03 Mar 2022: Neon Dynasty Pauper Commander Precons