Pauper Commander Is Worth a Try!
- Jelle-Thijs Zoetmulder
It's been a while since Jelle played Pauper Commander. But lately, Magic's expansions have provided some serious new blood to the Paupermander scene. It's a fun format with a lot of diversity. So, let's zoom in on Pauper Commander and some spicy new Commanders!
Pauper Commander Rules and Regulations
Time to sift through your bulk and shoeboxes to find your special uncommon Commander! Pauper Commander has a lot of similarities with normal Commander, but the additional restrictions make it feel like a completely different playground. Obviously, as an unsanctioned format, rules vary by region, but here are the rules that my local playgroups play with:
- Your deck has a total of 100 cards.
- Choose a common or uncommon Creature to be your Commander. It doesn't have to be legendary.
- The other 99 cards must consist only of common cards! (online-only commons count as well).
- Like in regular Commander, cards must fit your Commander's color identity.
- This is a singleton format, so, with the exception of Basic Lands, you can only have one copy of each card, unless the card states otherwise.
- You have a life total of 30.
- Commander damage is lowered to 16 or 18, depending on what your playgroup decides. It works the same as normal Commander damage though, so you have to track it per Commander.
- Like in regular Commander, you can cast and recast your Commander from the Command Zone, with the cost increasing by (2) mana for each time you've already cast your Commander from the Command Zone.
- It's best played with three or four players.
A Frog With Hair
I've had a few different decks since I first started playing Pauper Commander. I ended up sick and tired of the insane decks in my playgroup (yes, even commons can be crazy). After a few sessions, I realized that I really wish I could remove annoying creatures that can't be touched. Instead, I decided to make my playgroup reap what they sowed! I already had Blaze Commando, but I'm not a huge fan of Boros…
Then I came across the prince on a lily leaf. A funky-haired little green friend. Yes, the one and only:
Here's an example of a decklist I'd use. The combination of Hexproof and Shroud together with Auras. It's a Bogle player's dream!
U/G Plaxcaster Frogling, Pauper Commander, by Jelle-Thijs Zoetmulder
I could spend the rest of the article explaining my choices in this deck, but that's not what I want to do with this article. There are hundreds of options and choices in this format, so instead of just talking about this deck, I'll highlight some interesting uncommon creatures that were recently released and caught my eye. Maybe they'll become your own personal favorite!
Potential Pauper Pioneers
Soulherder: Besides the amazing artwork, this card can be nuts! Adding cards like Momentary Blink, Cloudshift, Displace, Acrobatic Maneuver and Ephemerate together with the sheer amount of ETB-effects in white and blue, and your deck will be a tough nut to crack. Also don't forget leave play triggers.
Soulherder cares about any exiled creature, so removal like Scour from Existence, Journey to Nowhere and even Oblivion Ring targeting a creature helps grow your leader. Can you just imagine the Card Advantage?! The card reminds me of conjurer's closet, and that's a rare!
Interested in Soulherder? Definitely consider the following ETB creatures: Mulldrifter, Lone Missionary, Man-o'-War, Aven Riftwatcher, Eldrazi Skyspawner, Irregular Cohort, Pondering Mage, Aven Eternal, Chillbringer and Stonehorn Dignitary.
Rotwidow Pack: "When I found you... I saw raw, untapped power. And beyond that, something truly special." Bonus points if you know whose quote this is, but it fits perfectly with this badass spider. It might not be the best tribal orientation in Pauper Commander, but it is truly special indeed. Getting stuff in your graveyard shouldn't be any problem in the Golgari and the black side of the Dimir colors (Grisly Salvage, Deadly Visit, Satyr Wayfinder). Its ability eventually becomes untamed power in the form of spiders and life loss. It's fun to point out the ability hits both your opponents as well!
There are 28 legal common spider creatures at this point, where Twin-Silk Spider and Penumbra Spider are an auto-include I think. But don't forget the extra number of Changelings like Ghostly Changeling and Venomous Changeling as well. If you want to be more on-theme, you could even play Gloomwidow's Feast, Renowned Weaver and Hidden Spider.
I mean, how many times can you say you've played against a common spider deck? Exactly. Rotwidow Pack is a cool eight-legged freak, that stimulates your creativity in deckbuilding.
Rona, Disciple of Gix: I think I almost included Rona in my deck at every Dominaria Draft event I attended. I love this card! There aren't many Legendaries and Saga's that you can use, but artifacts should be enough to make this card work. Of course, you have more cards accessible due to her second ability as well. Think blue / black control. The Dimir can provide for enough nasty tricks and strong commons. Rona serves a more supportive role of card advantage, getting answers from your deck.
Moonglove Extract, Universal Solvent, Mind Stone, Ichor Wellspring, Perilous Myr, and Bloodtallow Candle? Yes please! Add some sacrifice outlets for artifacts and you'll be fully maximizing her first ability. Freed from the Real could be a late game option and cavern harpy can bounce Rona or other creatures. Dinrova Horror has been downgraded to common and could be a solid addition and Jhessian Zombies can fix your mana. This deck can be played a lot of different ways, with both control and creature options abound. You choose!
Sphinx of the Guildpact: For a real challenge, you could even try using all five colors! There aren't many 5-color Commanders in Pauper Commander and The Sphinx is a nice choice, giving monocolored decks a hard time. The Domain ability suits the WUBRG way of playing and you can always focus on a specific theme to give your deck direction. I had a friend who used Transguild Courier with only attractive female artwork (your mileage may vary as to what counts as "attractive"). Cards like Auriok Transfixer helped him create a sort of Gorgeous Ladies deck. Was it in good taste? Perhaps not. Was it Fun? Yes, Absolutely!
Here's a question for the comments: How would you use a five-color theme? Let me know in the comments below!
Risen Reef: This new little guy made some impact on Standard, but it's also a great Pauper Commander. Elementals are everywhere and with this color combination, the sky is the limit. The only problem that this card has is that it doesn't really pack a punch. You really do need other cards capable of beating your opponents down. But it's a great engine, ramping you or just drawing you cards.
Bloom Hulk is helpful if you're using counters. Enchantment focused decks can use elementals like Bramble Elemental. Aethersnipe is a great all-rounder and Orchard Elemental is a sweet deal as well since multiplayer is the best way of playing Pauper Commander. Wave-Wing Elemental can grow to new proportions with your own land drops and a Reef trigger. There are a lot of Elementals to choose from, but keep in mind: it does need some work to become powerful! Sporemound and nonbasic lands like Thornwood Falls help make those land drops useful.
Crackling Drake: I like all the cards in this cycle with this specific mana cost. However, I think a big flying Drake can be an extra powerful finisher due to Commander Damage. I think this card can be a solid Commander for almost every blue-red deck. The extra card draw, 4 toughness, and evasion creates a perfect killer drake! The longer you play, the better it becomes.
Luckily, it's easy to enable with Izzet being primarily known for its powerful instant/sorcery theme. Hypothesizzle works great as does the recently downgraded Fire // Ice and other cards like Cloud of the Dominus. Flashback is a fitting ability here, so you can look at Deep Analysis and the new Scour All Possibilities. Firebolt and Lightning Bolt make up some of the basics, but they are certainly effective.
I'm sure there are a lot of Izzet players already thinking about countering threats, drawing cards and blasting creatures away!
Search and Build
It would be too much text if I'd go over every potential uncommon from the latest sets and I didn't even include monocolored cards. Still, I want to highlight a few honorable mentions and other tough leaders:
- Tomebound Lich
- Thundering Djinn
- Deadeye Plunderers
- Evolution Sage
- Nightveil Predator
- Ironroot Warlord
- Slimefoot, the Stowaway
- Hallar, the Firefletcher
- Ledev Champion
- Bloodwater Entity
I'm hoping to inspire some funky decks, new themes and a fresh way of using your commons. Prepare the kitchen table, because you'll want to experience the sheer power of commons first-hand of course! If you have a unique Pauper Deck already, tell me and other readers about it below, I'm quite curious which amazing Commanders I've skipped. Until the next article, where I'll be putting your knowledge to the test.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.