I Love Commons! A Guide to Pauper MTG: Part 1 (A-G), by Chris Mander

I Love Commons! A Guide to Pauper MTG: Part 1 (A-G) by Chris Mander

I Love Commons! A Guide to Magic: The Gathering Pauper: Part 1 (A-G)

They are the unsung heroes who support their more expensive and popular friends and ensure successful decks. These reliable, ever-present staples can be format defining.

Where would standard be without Farseek? Legacy without Brainstorm?

I’m on a mission to encourage more people to take up this much neglected format in paper.

More recently on Magic the Gathering Online there has been a push to make Standard Pauper a recognised format. Building decks from such a limited card pool both in size and power provides the perfect challenge for the creative player.


So what is Pauper?

It is a format whereby decks are built from only commons. In Standard Pauper this includes the last two blocks (taken today that is Return to Ravnica and Innistrad) as well as current Standard legal core sets (At present M13 and M14).

Classic Pauper Ban List

Classic Pauper is more like Legacy; any card printed at common in the history of Magic is legal. There is however, a small ban list. These are:

Cranial Plating: This cards power is pretty overbearing in any format, but at common it is far and beyond fair.

Frantic Search: This cards power is pretty bonkers, and when included in any deck with cost reduction effects (eg: Sunscape Familiar) leads to an oppressive Storm deck which won through a massive Temporal Fissure.

Empty the WarrensGrapeshot: These two game-enders bit the bullet more recently as Wizards tried to kill off the other archetypes of Storm.

Invigorate: There is no drawback in this free spell for infect. It had to go to keep the poisonous decks in check.

The rest of the 5083 common cards printed are legal in Classic Pauper. There’s plenty to go at there, so get brewing!


And why play pauper?

  • It’s cheap: 75 commons isn’t going to put you back a lot. Hang around after a draft and you will more than likely be able to pick these cards up for free.
  • It’s the perfect place for new players to get to grips with tournament Magic play due to its accessibility and generally less complex nature (although there is plenty of scope for combo).
  • Ample of scope for creativity, without compromising on quality. All deck types can be played using the available card pool.


The A-Z of pauper

Part 1: A-G

I decided to do a brief overview of some of the cards at your disposal in this format, and thought going A through Z (with a bit of cheating at X) was a neat way to do it.

Armadillo Cloak 233Armadillo Cloak: “Don’t laugh. It works.” Pretty accurate assessment by the Yavimaya Ranger. This card is easily one of the top ten enchantments at common. A large power boost, evasion through trample and the power to make huge life swings with its third ability, you’d better hope you have removal or things get nasty real quickly. Also works on defence if the situation arises, making attacks by the enchanted enemy creature pointless.

Brainstorm: The prime hand sculpting tool in magic, acts as a mini mulligan and grows even more powerful with shuffle effects. Probably the card that defines blue more than any other printed. Obscene.

Counterspell: Speaking of cards that define colours, this one is probably just behind brainstorm for blue! Nothing will be printed, with this ability, for 2 mana, ever again. Stops pretty much anything before it hits the board, its power is undeniable!

Dark Ritual: Probably one of the most iconic cards in black, Dark Ritual can lead to some truly explosive starts. Sure you essentially start the game with 6 cards, and its boost is temporary, but usually more than enough to put you far enough ahead that it’s no real issue.

Exhume: The art may resemble a crane toy in the arcade but this vital piece of reanimator helps to define the archetype. An early spell to ditch a fatty, say Faithless Looting and turn 2 you can be dropping any number said fatty into play and beating face. Brutal.

Flame Slash: In pauper this will kill almost anything you may want to. The extra 1 damage can make a huge difference making it preferable at times to Lightning Bolt. This card is your best friend when staring down a Seraph of Dawn. Sure not being able to hit a player sucks, but in the context of pauper this card is efficient and effective.

Goblin Matron: Goblins have pretty much been around since the dawn of magic, and this one helps define the archetype. When built around, the matron allows for a wide range of plays, using it as a demonic tutor with a body for 2R. Targets include: Tarfire, Goblin Bushwacker, Tin Street Hooligan, Goblin Tinkerer, Nameless Inversion.


Crack A Pack!

Inspired by my favourite magic podcast (Limited Resources) each week I will open a pack of my Cube and provide the reader to comment on their picks! I currently own a 360 card common Cube, and in my next article I will break down a colour and the choices I’ve made in a little more detail. My cube is Modern only, but I have allowed cards such as Rancor and Fireball which were commons pre modern card frame.

This week’s pack:

Bonesplitter 233Bonesplitter – Extreme value here.
Quasali Pridemage – Versitile.
Train of Thought – Perfect to ramp into.
Keldon Halberdier – Good on defence and offence.
Forsee – Deck manipulation is always good.
Diving Offering – Useful card with upside.
Asha’s Favor – Build your own angel.
Nessian Courser – Vanilla goodness.
Winged Coatl – Versatile removal.
Dread Warlock – Evasive beats.
Grim Harvest – Card advantage.

I’ll reveal my pick and rationale next article!

Hopefully that has got you interested in playing this brilliant format. Next week I will continue my A-Z rundown of pauper, highlight a section of my Cube, crack a pack and try to address any comments made on the article.

If you are interested, or have any questions or topics you want me to write about feel free to leave a comment below.

May your top decks be awesome,


I Love Commons! A Guide to Pauper MTG: Part 1 (A-G), by Chris Mander
They are the unsung heroes who support their more expensive and popular friends and ensure successful decks. These reliable, ever-present staples can be format defining.

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