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Reasons to Play Gearseeker Serpent


Hello boys and girls!

It's time to get our butts in gear.

Or perhaps I should say it's time to get our Gearseekers in gear! You remember this guy, right? Gearseeker Serpent. It wasn't long ago at all that this 5/6 with affinity had a decent amount of hype surrounding it.

Gearseeker Serpent
Kaladesh (Foil)

And then Kaladesh was released.

And then nothing.

Unless I've missed something, Classic Pauper hasn't exactly seen an influx of Gearseeker decks. To be sure, the card is getting a bit of love in the obvious, pre-existing Affinity shells, but is that all it's good for?

In my last article I wanted you to get behind the idea of trying out vehicles in your Pauper decks. This time around I want to do something similar with Gearseeker Serpent. Essentially I'm saying that Pauper pilots should be looking to trade in one blue monstrosity (the now abolished Peregrine Drake) for another. Would you like to know why? Then keep reading!

1. Serpent Rewards Us for Playing Artifacts

Obviously. I wanted to start with the most obvious reason first.

But this fact should not be overlooked. Pauper deckbuilders are constantly seeking out ways to squeeze additional advantages out of their cards wherever possible. The constant search for value plays and interactions even extends to what's going on in Pauper manabases.

Don't believe me? Just look at the prevalence of things like cycle lands and lands with enters the battlefield effects (Mortuary Mire is the one that immediately comes to mind). Karoo lands are usually paired with these other nonbasics to act as veritable weapons in a war of attrition. In essence, lands that act likes spells are being milked for everything they're worth in order to bolster a deck's potency.

Gearseeker allows us to extend this manabase enhancement concept to the artifact lands. Essentially every artifact land we play now functions like a basic that reduces the cost of our best creatures by 1.

The desired result of course is that we end up with a 5/6 that has a relevant ability for UU. We know from the success of Carapace Forger, Gurmag Angler, etc. that this is a pretty sweet deal. But even that same 5/6 with a relevant ability costing 1UU is quite playable. The same could basically be said for 2UU, since we're nearly outperforming Blastoderm at that point.

The point I'm making can be applied to more than just the artifact lands. For instance, several decks these days play Prophetic Prism, while others still are running equipment like Bonesplitter. Gearseeker rewards these decks on a relevant albeit basic level.

2. Serpent Encourages the Affinity and Metalcraft Mechanics

Two powerhouse mechanics in their own right. Look no further than the devastating efficiency of Galvanic Blast or an unforgiving contingent of Myr Enforcers being deployed in a single turn.

When it comes down to it affinity and metalcraft win games, which is why the Affinity and Kuldotha Jeskai decks exist in the first place. Combining Serpent with some of these related cards simply has to provide us with more than one competitive benefit.

3. Serpent Is a Finisher That Works Fast

We've seen this kind of finisher before. We know what it looks like. We know that it's usually named Gurmag Angler. The cheap, hard to kill, 5 power threat is a contemporary weapon for an uncivilized age.

Like Angler before it, Serpent will grant many otherwise slow decks the ability to end games against Burn, Tron, etc. before anything can really be done to stop it. It will conquer battlefields that we typically would've had no business conquering. It will provide us with the elusive and coveted Pauper free win, and it will do so repeatedly, and it will ask for little in return.

Again, we know that 5 power for 2 mana is good. It's so good that when Gurmag Angler burst onto the scene it was not only conscripted into established decks, but also became the inspiration for entirely new ones! Why should Serpent be all that different?

4. Serpent Is Bigger Than Gurmag Angler

And Fangren Marauder. And just about everything else. 6 is bigger than 5.

5. Serpent Is Blue

'Nuff said!

6. Serpent Can Be Backed by Permission

This coincides nicely with that whole “Serpent is blue” thing.

It also coincides nicely with the (ideally) UU price tag. Paying two mana for a sizeable threat is optimized by our ability to use whatever remaining mana we have on other things. If we can resolve a 5/6 on top of stopping the opponent from interacting with it or resolving their own threat? We should be in great shape.

Keep in mind the fact that many decks will have a very hard time removing a 5/6 to begin with. Pauper removal has at various points in time been defined by the spells Lightning Bolt, Flame Slash, or both. There's no reason to assume that this trend will cease anytime soon. So a Flame Slash deck designed to burn away Nivix Cyclops and Spire Golem might end up in a world of hurt when Gearseeker Serpent rears its ugly head.

Now let's say that the Flame Slash deck actually has an answer to our 5/6. In some cases the answer will be something like two burn spells or a more expensive “catch all” contingency card. Our access to permission now means those sparse answers won't even get to resolve a significant portion of the time! Sounds like more free wins to me.

7. The Post-Ban Format Should Be Slower

In case you didn't hear, Peregrine Drake has received an emergency ban. This is likely going to slow the format down, since Drake's combo kills, mana cheating, etc. will no longer dictate what strategies are viable and what strategies are too fair.

A slower format is what we had before Peregrine Drake, and it's likely what we'll have after. Additionally, a slower format is a “bigger” format. Bigger creatures, bigger spells, you get the idea. In a world of big stuff a 5/6 is still bigger than most, and if we apply Reason 6 (the one just above this one) we'll even be able to counter a lot of the opponent's big stuff and win!

8. People Seem to Undervalue Kaladesh Cards

At least in my opinion. I'm fairly certain that much of this has been due to the oh-so-lovely Peregrine Drake dictatorship, but only time will tell.

Personally I've found the still relatively new Cogworker's Puzzleknot, Renegade Freighter and Sky Skiff to be a bit underrated. And my exploration of Kaladesh in Pauper has only scratched the surface! If those cards can find homes somewhere in my brewery, then Serpent absolutely can as well.

As a matter of fact, I think it already has!

Jason Moore Izzet Gearseeker (11/16/2016)

Very similar to my Kuldotha Control deck from last year. And honestly what's not to like? Mana efficiency, luscious amounts of draw, Lightning Bolts on steroids, Goblin tokens?!

But let's break things down a bit further than that. Note exactly 18 blue sources between the manabase and Prophetic Prisms, which I believe is a must for most Counterspell decks.

Trinket Mage functions as a Borderland Ranger, Steamcore Weird or Loaming Shaman depending on what we tutor with him (since our toolbox consists of artifact lands, Pyrite Spellbomb and Relic of Progenitus, respectively).

Pristine Talisman in essence reduces Gearseeker's cost by 2 while earning us incremental advantage and life gain, which we would typically not have access to in Izzet. Also while Mulldrifter on Turn 5 is lovely, on Turn 4 it is all the more.

In case you've never seen the two cards interact before, Ichor Wellspring and Kuldotha Rebirth are best friends. It's basically a 2R mana investment that draws two cards and makes three 1/1s. And have you tried to deal with three 1/1s lately?! It's annoying if nothing else.

This deck also has that “shift gears” potential (pun intended, I guess?) that I'm really a fan of. In other words, it has potential to go from defensive to offensive by upping its amount of pressure quickly. Gearseeker, Rebirth tokens and Galvanic Blast make this possible, so enemies end up getting dead a turn or two faster than they thought they would.

That's all I have to say about Izzet Gearseeker for now. I'll be taking this deck for a spin in the video section below!

Gearview Mirror

So how did I do? Did I forget to list any other relevant reasons? Am I overhyping the card?

I'd also like to know which other Kaladesh cards are in need of some added exposure. If you have any thoughts on the matter please let me know!

As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the videos!

Jason Moore
Jason Moore

About Jason Moore

Jason Moore is 25 years old, and a resident of Los Angeles California. He began playing Magic seriously in 2010, and has developed a strong interest in MTGO and the Pauper format. He is one of the hosts of the podcast Pauper's Cage, and has covered Pauper on other websites and his YouTube page. His other interests include acting, writing and playing guitar.

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