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Pauper Spellbook: Prophetic Prism


Hey there fellow Magic enthusiasts, welcome to another edition of Pauper Spellbook! Today we’ll be discussing a powerful artifact that bestows upon us a vast spectrum of colors:
 
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While pondering on end to try and figure out what Pauper staple would be the subject of this week’s Pauper Spellbook entry, I found myself continually going back to Prophetic Prism. But I also kept thinking to myself; nah, people don’t want to hear about some boring artifact card. It’s not a sweet overpowered creature or a high impact instant or sorcery spell. Heck, there’s even a lot of land cards in the realm of Pauper that are more interesting than Prophetic Prism. But two things eventually dawned on me: a) Prophetic Prism is in fact one of the most played cards in Pauper and b) Prophetic Prism is currently in the Standard card pool, meaning supply of the card has exploaded and it's likely that a large majority of Magic players probably have a stack of Prisms just laying around collecting dust or being used as coasters! So hey, instead of water-logging that Kaladesh or Masters 25 Prophetic Prism with your favorite cold beverage, why not use it as a basis to build a sweet Pauper deck!?
 
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On the surface, it’s pretty clear what Prophetic Prism brings to the table: It’s a permanent card of the artifact variety. It replaces itself by drawing a card when it enters the battlefield. And, it’s a mana-fixer capable of producing any color of mana. Seems… ok, right? Actually, it’s insane! Well, at least in the world of Pauper.
 
If you take a look at the current Pauper metagame (linked at end of article), you’ll notice that most Pauper decks are built around one or two colors. This is because in Pauper, there isn't a large selection of dual lands to help build greedy three, four, or even five color decks. Therefore, us Pauper players are forced to seek out alternative means of "fixing" our mana. There are options in the land category such as Unknown Shores and even Evolving Wilds to name a couple. However, until better options enter the Pauper card pool, the most powerful way for us to break away from mono and two color decks is with a select group of artifact cards. And although multiple options exist, based on the data, the players preference to fulfill this need rests with Prophetic Prism. As a matter of fact, right now Prophetic Prism is listed in the top ten played cards in the entire format!
 
Prophetic Prism shows up in several different archetypes, and it’s interesting to see such a wide variety of decks lean on Prophetic Prism for their own unique reasons. To amplify this statement, I think we should mash the gas pedal and start looking at some decks that benefit from the mystical powers of Prophetic Prism. Let’s go!
 
 
It seems like people have been trying forever to build competitive Modern decks around the card Kuldotha Rebirth. But time and again, these sparsely dabbled upon brews always seem to end up in the “too janky for the Modern tournament scene” category. Well, in Pauper, there's actually a deck that's named after Kuldotha Rebirth! That being said, you may have noticed that the decklist above (and most current lists) have cut Kuldotha Rebirth altogether and have opted to slant the deck towards these two powerful white bounce creatures:
 
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Focusing the deck around Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk is simply steering the archetype in a different direction. For example, now that we are no longer sacrificing our artifacts to Kuldotha Rebirth, we can comfortably slot four copies of Galvanic Blast into the deck and overload on our "bolt" effects!
 
Kuldotha Boros is a semi-aggressive synergy based deck. We’re essentially trying to squeeze as much value as possible out of our permanents while applying a moderate amount of pressure with our creatures. To start, we play a pair of artifacts that combo nicely with Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk:
 
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Simply put, Prophetic Prism and Alchemist's Vial are in the deck to draw us cards. We are a two colored deck that rarely struggles to produce the colors of mana we need, so Prism's activated ability has little relevance. Alchemist's Vial also has a semi-relevant ability that does come in handy from time to time. But again, we're primarily looking to recycle the ETB effect of these two cards.
 
The creature package is filled out with cards that further push the bounce theme of the deck and also help us achieve the conditions required to cast both Battle Screech and Prismatic Strands for their flashback costs:
 
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Sure, we'll take a steady stream of Clue tokens from Thraben Inspector if we can get 'em! Palace Sentinels is an interesting inclusion in the deck. If for some reason our opponent "becomes the Monarch", we can simply bounce and recast Palace Sentinels and snatch it right back! Seeker of the Way is new to the deck thanks to it's recent downshift in rarity from Uncommon to Common in Iconic Masters. The deck not only packs a good amount of noncreature spells to trigger prowess for Seeker of the Way, but remember, those artifacts we're bouncing are noncreature spells too! Trust me, Burn players do not want our Seeker of the Ways sticking on the battlefield!
 
Getting back to Prophetic Prism... as I alluded to earlier, the funny thing about Prophetic Prism’s involvement in the Kuldotha Boros game plan is that we don’t necessarily even need the mana-fixing element it offers us. So, let’s move on to a deck that does fully utilize all aspects of Prophetic Prism:
 
 
Affinity has been my “go-to” Pauper deck of choice over the years. It’s not only a powerful and fun deck to play, but I mean, c’mon:
 
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Taking down an opponent in one shot with Fling-Atog is always a thrill, especially if they don’t see it coming! Another neat thing about Pauper Affinity is that we have access to a notoriously powerful cycle of lands from Mirrodin:
 
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As you may have noticed by now, Affinity is a four (and sometimes five) color deck. But look at our mana base… zero dual lands! These artifact lands are not nearly good enough on their own to provide consistency. Which leads us to...
 
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All three of these cards cater to the intense mana requirements of the deck by offering some form of mana-fixing. And, we can use them to feed our hungry Atogs! Springleaf Drum provides some useful mana ramp. Prophetic Prism doesn’t ramp us, but it does replace itself by drawing a card. Chromatic Star offers a similar function in the deck, however you’ll notice that it draws a card upon being placed into our graveyard. In this sense, it operates in a different manner and combos nicely with Atog and / or Perilous Research when we don't need to use it's mana-fixing ability.
 
To round up the rest of Affinity, we're an all-in artifact deck that aims to pressure the opponent by quickly building a board of solid threats:
 
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We're able to frequently cast our affinity creatures, Frogmite and Myr Enforcer for little-to-no mana thanks to our density of artifacts. And Carapace Forger almost always hits the board as a 4/4 creature for two mana! When the deck gets rolling, it snowballs out of control. What usually ends up happening is that we either steamroll our opponent with the above creatures, or the game stalls out at which point we can go over the top with an all-in Fling-Atog attempt!
 
A couple weeks ago in the first Pauper Spellbook article, we got to see a glimpse of the importance of Prophetic Prism in the Dinrova (5 Color) Tron deck. Well, it just so happens that there's a few variations of Tron that float on the fringe of Pauper playability, and guess what they all have in common... you got it, Prophetic Prism. Let's try and pull this whole thing together with a trio of Tron variants that use the multifaceted artifact.
 
 
 
 
What we have here are three variations of Tron, two of which are modestly based around only two colors. But still, each deck packs a full playset of Prophetic Prism. And, there’s no apparent synergies or extraordinary ways these decks try to squeeze value out of Prism. Simply put, the mana-fixing capability of Prophetic Prism alone is crucial to the success of a deck that mainly relies on 12 land cards that produce colorless mana. And when compared to the alternatives, cards like Unknown shores and Evolving wilds do not provide the added value of drawing us a card the way Prism does.

Conclusion

Those of you who are seasoned Pauper players surely know how important Prophetic Prism is to the format. But for everyone just gaining interest in Pauper, I'd be willing to bet you would have never guessed that Prophetic Prism was an essential card in the format. Prism is utilized by so many different decks and for a variety of reasons, making the card a very interesting case study in relation to what Pauper is all about. That being said, Prophetic Prism is certainly one of the top cards in my Pauper Spellbook
 
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think! What other decks in Pauper make use of Prophetic Prism? Are there similar or better options I've overlooked? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!
 
If you enjoy this content, please help support me with a quick follow on Twitter - @WallofOmens
 
-John
 
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