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Card draw and filtering is a funny thing at common. Over the years it’s moved through several levels of power. Brainstorm and Impulse were utterly amazing. Opt and Think Twice found their way into competitive decks. Even slowing things down to sorcery speed with Ponder and Preordain have not impacted the fact that these effects are very powerful.

And that breakdown of cards is just a fraction of what is available and has been played in some form or another.

One of the card filtering spells that’s currently in my pauper cube is Probe.

Probe, Common from Invasion

Probe is a different kind of blue card filtering spell. Like Brainstorm you get three new cards into your hand and move two of your total new hand to somewhere else. Unlike Brainstorm this somewhere else is the graveyard instead of on top of your library. Ultimately however digging through three cards is a very solid play.

What makes Probe so different is that it has kicker. For just a black and colorless mana you tack on a Mind Rot. Two mana for two cards is very cheap for a discard effect, even if it isn’t random like Hymn to Tourach.

Casting Probe kicked is a massive swing in card selection. While you end up with the same number of cards in hand as when you started, your opponent now has two less. Nice card.

The downside to Probe is that you’re spending five mana on your turn to do this. It’s this “drawback” that led me to propose changing Probe out for Sky-Eel School: five mana for a modest card filtering and a 3/3 flying body. I want to spend five mana on board position, not jockeying for hard size.

Part of my reasoning is that I still apply an aggressive lens to examining cards: hitting hard and more often is viewed as “better” than some selection and opportunity.  Part of my reasoning is also that three mana for a slower Brainstorm doesn’t trip my “Awesome!” sensor. Granted, I’m spoiled coming from the time of Brainstorm and Impulse but these cards are also in the cube, side by side.

I know that those fantastic early pioneers of common card draw play much nicer in any blue deck than Probe.

The question of whether Probe should come out is actually two related questions:

  1. Is three mana worth a slower Brainstorm?
  2. Is there anything else that should come out of blue-black first?

To be honest I’m not sure. Dimir Infiltrator is a great defensive two drop but, admittedly not much else. Architects of Will can seal an opponent off of something, or help you get yours faster, and is a very nice 3/3 body for just four mana in colors not known for size.

Are these the drop options I should be looking for?

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