Bringing Fun Decks to Pauper


Modern Horizons shook up Modern, it shook up Commander, and Pauper was on the receiving end of some spicy new cards as well. The recent banning of Gush, Daze, and Gitaxian Probe helped the metagame diversify. Now we have the breathing space that will allow new members to shine in the house of commons.

Art of Gush and Daze
Gush and Daze are gone

Today, I'm going to go through a few new decks that allow us to play with those quirky cards that may not normally see play. The emphasis will be to have fun games and hopefully a winning record at local FNM-level events. I must stress I'm looking at making interesting builds, not looking to break the metagame or just rework staple decks with a few new additions.

I'm looking to use cards that are relatively easy to come by. Where possible, I prioritized cards from recent Standard-legal sets and Modern Horizons. This didn't just help my local playgroup to pick up the format but may be useful to the community as a whole. However, one caveat exists: When Pauper turned into a legitimate format a little while ago, we got an influx of cards that hadn't seen the opportunity to see play until recently. I have found some interesting cards entering the format, so I will be trying to bring new life to my personal collection with some significantly older cards.

This article is going to be very similar to my wife Rachel's wedding preparations, as we're going to do something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue …

Something Old – Mono-Black

My first memory of playing Magic is opening my Revised intro box which included a couple of tournament packs to start off my collection. I was immediately gripped by the combo of turn one Dark Ritual into Royal Assassin or Hypnotic Specter. Mono-Black Control remains one of my favorite Pauper decks, but it comes at a cost, namely Oubliette.

Art of Defile

I wondered whether there was a way to build a mono-black deck, but without the major expense, instead using some more recently printed cards. Disfigure has just been reprinted in Core Set 2020 and Modern Horizons gave us Defile, so we do have a sold removal base. Another card that has found its way into the occasional deck and sideboard is Ob Nixilis's Cruelty and rightly so, as it can exile various threats including Gurmag Angler.

So we have two interesting choices of Blade Juggler and Audacious Thief. Phyrexian Rager has been a staple of the format for years and Dusk Legion Zealot has become an option more recently. Audacious Thief has the chance to provide significant card advantage and Blade Juggler is slightly more aggressive. We also have Whisper Agent whose flash and surveil both come in useful. I was worried about overstocking on 3 drops, but other Mono-Black builds do fine with their Oubliette and Chittering Rats.

Initial testing showed mixed results, until I came across Silumgar Scavenger. It can hold off most flying threats in the format or race past them. Traditional Mono-Black Control in Pauper has Gray Merchant of Asphodel, both to recover some of the lost life and as a win condition. I've used Vampiric Link and Cartouche of Ambition from the sideboard with varied success.

Something New – Red-White Tokens

Art of Bogardan Dragonheart

Bogardan Dragonheart was a card that immediately caught my eye and Martyr's Soul wasn't far behind. My thoughts immediately went to tokens as a way to maximize the potential of both cards. My earlier attempts of utilizing Ashnod's Altar had proved ill-fated because of Electrickery and Shrivel. However, the exposure to board wipes is now much less and rebuilding has become much easier with the faster aggro base.

The deck still suffers from the occasional mass removal after opponent's sideboard. But it is capable of some bonkers fun stuff, especially with Goblin War Party. The ability to pump your creatures, make more of them, or even do both—depending on the situation—makes this card an all star.

The turning point for this deck came when I encountered a Cavalcade of Calamity deck on MTG Arena. I realized that that card would be so useful here. I went old school at that point and recruited Impact Tremors from Dragons of Tarkir to give the deck greater reach.

Something Borrowed – Demons

Sometimes ideas for decks come from the strangest places. People at my local game store had some interest in Pauper, but it was mainly a few hard core players until the recent legality changes. Now that there are Planeswalker Points on the line, we often get the requisite eight people for an event to be sanctioned. For weeks, one of our regulars, Callan Buckle, had been extoling the virtues of his Shadowborn Apostle Commander deck and its relentless searching up of Demons.

Art of Lady Orca and Shadowborn Apostle

Someone commented that it's a shame that there weren't any common Demons for Pauper. So we used Gatherer to check, and it was looking quite bleak until we saw Lady Orca, a 7/4 common Legendary Demon. Soulcage Fiend may be worth a closer look too. Then we realized we'd have all these Apostles in the graveyard and suddenly Gurmag Angler enters the picture as a back-up finisher thanks to the delve ability. Here's the list courtesy of Callan Buckle and myself:

This deck is still going through testing, but initial results are positive. With so many snow-covered lands we're able to run Skred as removal alongside Terminate, which are two of the best removal spells in the format. Night's Whisper got the nod for main-deck card draw to reach critical mass. The sideboard remains a work in progress …

Something Blue – Blue Black Ninjas

When I saw the Modern Horizons spoiler, I was delighted to see Ninjas back and the return of the ninjutsu mechanic. Being influenced in my teenage years by American Ninja and Karate Kid, I've always enjoyed a good martial arts film—well actually, a really poor cheesy one will do. So the first deck I wanted to work on was Pauper Ninjas. Dimir was until recently a strong archetype in Pauper, but I wanted to try something different without Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration and friends.

Art of Okiba-Gang Shinobi

We already have two Ninjas that see play in the format in Ninja of the Deep Hours and Okiba-Gang Shinobi. This gives us two very good format staples to build the deck around.

The early game consists of 1-mana blue fliers that attack with evasion and thus enable ninjutsu. They also allow you to draw a card or scry again later, when you replay them. Smoke Shroud is saucy card as it can be cheated into play from the graveyard when a Ninja enters via ninjutsu, inflicting greater damage immediately and offering flying evasion going forward.

Initial testing has been fun and results inconsistent. Mob feels a little slow and sometimes a Diabolic Edict left in the graveyard feels underpowered compared to having Chainer's Edict. That being said, I do feel this deck is a work in progress and has the potential to break through.


So there you have some of my thoughts on bringing new decks into the format—and also on bringing new players to the format with the help of some budget options. I'd love to see any suggestions and any decks of your own that you've brewed up.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

3 Kommentare

Um einen Kommentar zu verfassen, melde dich mit deinem Cardmarket-Konto an oder eröffne ein neues Konto.

biggie11(07.10.2019 23:49)

As if one of those had any chance in the format at the moment.

Wilecoyotegb(09.10.2019 15:11)

Biggie11 decks we were designed more with a less harsh local meta than online challenges etc.
It’s been an interesting experiment as I wanted to see how powerful newer cards actually are in the format and whether budget decks can allow access to the format with a minimal outlay.
I brought the decks for people to borrow at our Fnm’s and they proven to be okay. We found some opportunities fir improvement eg raid bombardment for tokens.

Adzila(07.10.2019 17:28)

Great article. Loos like ill be building blue-black ninjas soon...