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Pauper Spellbook: Chainer's Edict

Hey folks, welcome to another edition of Pauper Spellbook! This week’s entry involves one of the quintessential black removal spells in Pauper:
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But wait a second, John… isn’t Chainer's Edict an Uncommon? I thought you said last week that Pauper is a Commons only format!?
Before we get all down-and-dirty with Chainer's Edict, there’s one thing we need to clear up. As I stated in last week’s Pauper Spellbook article, a card is legal in Pauper as long as it has been printed at Common rarity at least once. Chainer's Edict is a good example of this precedent. As you see above, Chainer's Edict was in fact printed at Uncommon rarity in its original version from Torment. However, Chainer's Edict was subsequently “downshifted” to Common rarity with its inclusion in the Magic Online (exclusive) set Vintage Masters:
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So, even though Chainer's Edict was once an Uncommon, the fact that it appeared as a Common in Vintage Masters means it is legal in Pauper! And yes, it is actually ok to use the Uncommon version in your decks. One inverse example of this rules tedium would be the Pauper staple, Rancor:
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In the case of Rancor, it was originally printed as a Common in Urza's Legacy. However, if we move forward along the Magic time line you'll notice that Rancor was shifted up to Uncommon status for subsequent printings. One final thing to note while we’re on the subject of shifted rarities and how it relates to the subject of this article: The only paper versions of Chainer's Edict include a scarce FNM promo, a printing from the limited edition supplemental product From The Vault: Twenty, and it's initial Uncommon version from Torment. Because of this, you’ll find that Chainers' Edict carries a hefty price tag (by Pauper standards) in the paper world.
Fortunately for me, I was playing a good bit of Magic back during Odyssey block and happened to have a playset of Chainer's Edict stashed away in my collection. And even though copies of Chainer's Edict are out there, a reprint *cough… Wizards* would be phenomenal considering the modest rise in popularity of the Pauper format. Heck, how sweet would a "Pauper Masters" set be? It would present the perfect opportunity to clean up the format's card pool and make card legality clearer for new players.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about why Chainer's Edict is so good in Pauper. To kick off our discussion, here’s a look at a few Pauper legal spells that closely resemble Chainer's Edict:
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All solid removal spells; Diabolic Edict offers the exact same effect as Chainer's Edict but at instant speed. Geth's Verdict is also an instant speed spell but has the drawback of costing double black to cast. Innocent Blood is the most efficient being only 1 CMC to cast, but requires each player to sacrifice a creature. On the surface, all three of these spells appear to be just as good if not better than Chainer's Edict. But here’s the thing: they’re not, at least not in Pauper! Can you guess why? Flashback. As simple as it sounds, that is what makes Chainer's Edict a cut above the rest. As I’ve said before and will probably reiterate a billion times, Pauper is a grindy, claw your way to victory kind of format. As such, the flashback mechanic is a big deal. Once you get more involved with playing Pauper, you’ll quickly begin to pick up on these subtle details.
So, Chainer's Edict is a top-notch removal spell in Pauper, but what kind of decks can make good use of the card? I’d be willing to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re playing a black deck in Pauper and you’re not running Chainer's Edict, you’re probably doing it wrong! To solidify my point, let’s check out some black decks that feature Chainer's Edict, starting with the most notorious of them all:
Mono Black Control is strange little number, but definitely a potent strategy. This decklist is loaded with various removal spells like Victim of Night, Geth's Verdict, and of course, Chainer's Edict. As a game progresses, we begin to present some really problematic cards for our opponent to deal with:
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Crypt Rats and Cuombajj Witches team up to keep our opponent's board presence thin while we slowly pick apart their creatures. And then there’s Chittering Rats... this little guy will likely make your opponents cringe in agony! Unless they're able to work around or ignore the effect of Chittering Rats, it can single handedly stifle any tempo your opponent managed to establish up to that point. 
Mono Black Control is very good at dwindling the opponent's resources while gradually getting ahead on cards thanks to spells like Sign in Blood, Phyrexian Rager, and the occasional copy or two of Read the Bones or Night's Whisper. Eventually, the opponent will either die a slow death to creatures like Chittering Rats and Phyrexian Rager or get overrun by our nasty top-end Threats:
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Now, let's take a look at a decklist I've been developing which is similar to MBC, but with a different twist:
Mono Black Devotion features a lot of similar control elements as MBC, but plays more like a Midrange deck rather than straightforward Control. To compliment our tight removal package, we also have a suite of discard spells to further disrupt our opponent's plans:
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Another cool feature of the deck is a built in tutor package revolving around Shred Memory, which not only allows us to search up any of our 2 CMC spells, but has some fringe upside of being an efficient graveyard hate piece when we need it to be. We are more than capable of controlling the early stages of a game, but once we start resolving our secret tech devotion spells, it's time to turn the corner and finish things off. Our devotion scheme starts to present itself with an under-the-radar, and quite frankly underrated pair of Commons from Theros and Born of the Gods:
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Disciple of Phenax is a quiet all-star in the deck. In most cases when we resolve a Disciple of Phenax we will get to see our opponent's entire hand and without any restrictions get to choose any card we want them to discard! Marshmist Titan compliments our other big threats like Gurmag Angler and Gray Merchant of Asphodel. And Marshmist Titan is a surprisingly impactful creature in Pauper. It's 5 toughness stat allows us to dodge prominent removal spells like Flame Slash and gobbles up cornerstone attackers such as Carapace Forger and Myr Enforcer out of Affinity.
Rounding out the deck, I've also chosen to include Contaminated Ground as a way to deal with pesky Tron lands. I've opted for Contaminated Ground over spells like Choking Sands or Rain of Tears because we do get a boost to our devotion count since Contaminated Ground is a permanent that will stick around on the battlefield.
Moving on, our next deck is a popular Control strategy that relies on a mix of efficient and powerful card-filtering and interactive spells, including Chainer's Edict:
Dimir Control plays quite differently than MBC; the UB deck offers a deeper level of complexity by incorporating a powerful suite of Pauper friendly blue card filtering spells and reactive counterspells:
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Preordain is up there in terms of power level, and as it were, gets the nod over other similar card selection spells such as Brainstorm and Ponder! That’s saying a lot. Also included in the deck, we have a couple staple creatures that further play into our theme of card selection and card advantage:
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I mentioned Diabolic Edict as a close comparison to Chainer's Edict. Well, we see here that Dimir Control typically opts to run a mix of the two cards. Although Chainer's Edict is the de facto black removal spell, the instant speed capability of Diabolic Edict can be useful at times, and does offer flexibility to the game plan. While we’re on the black removal spells of the deck, there’s a couple more worth highlighting:
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Sometimes, a removal spell that forces a creature to be sacrificed is not always the optimal play. Here we have two fine examples of "targeted" removal spells in Doom Blade and Disfigure. Having a wide variety of removal spells like this simply opens up more options and decision trees while developing lines of attack on the fly. I would say that out of all the decks we've looked at so far, Dimir Control is the most versatile and resilient of these decks. However, before we wrap things up for this week, there's one more fringe archetype that utilizes Chainer's Edict that I want to breakdown:
WB Pestilence is another Midrange style deck that relies heavily on potent black removal spells. It's the kind of deck that aims to out value the opponent while keeping things on order with a bevy of "answer" spells. It's the kind of deck that mashes up MBC with a large arsenal of creatures boasting strong ETB effects which can be recycled with a little help from this unsuspecting little white flyer:
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With Kor Skyfisher in the mix, we have the flexibility of repurposing a wide range of utility creatures based on our needs. Here are a few examples of creatures that make for fine replayable value spells:
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With these few examples alone, you can see that we can build valuable card advantage via cards like Thraben Inspector and / or Dusk Legion Zealot. Also, we can make Burn players tremble at their knees by recycling the ETB effects of cards like Lone Missionary and Aven Riftwatcher. And again, these are just a few possible options; take a moment to review the rest of the decklist for WB Pestilence and you'll find more slick ways to max out our synergies with Kor Skyfisher. Once we've buried our opponent by out-valuing them, we can then slam down our namesake of the deck, Pestilence, and occasionally wrap things up with a blistering one shot kill!
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When it comes to wielding a powerful black deck in Pauper, it all starts with Chainer's Edict. Here we've uncovered just a few possible applications for the card, and all the decks we've highlighted offer a uniquely different play experience. But again, it all starts with Chainer's Edict as the backbone. If you're interested in the black arts and are looking to break into Pauper, buck up and get your Chainer's Edicts now. Once you have them, the world becomes your oyster and you can brew up whatever sinister deck your heart desires!
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think! Do you think a Pauper Masters set sounds like a good idea? If so, what would be some key cards you would want to see included? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!
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