Pauper Comes to Paper


The 27th of June was a historic day for the Pauper format. WotC finally unified Pauper and they made it official! That means sanctioned paper events all over the world. WileCoyote is here to discuss the impact of these changes and the whole slew of new cards that came with them.

The Announcement

Just to start, you can find the actual article here if you want to read it.

This is all momentous news for the format and the impact is widespread throughout the format too. I will now go through the key points of the article and talk about how they might affect the format!

Hymn to Tourach

Pauper Comes to Organized Play

The first thing to consider is that Pauper is now a legitimate rated format and is no longer a casual format with events. Now when you play Pauper you will get Planeswalker points with all the benefits that come with them, being able to enter special events e.g. restricted Mythic Championship Qualifier's and byes at Grand Prix. This should also help grow the format as one of the regular excuses for people not to take part was that it didn't help competitive players achieve their Planeswalker points goals.

How the Format Aligns

The second major change is that the format is officially unified. There is now one catch-all definition that ensures that all commons, both online and off, are legal at every pauper event. This used to differ between paper and online, as some paper cards were only available at uncommon online. Since this meant a whole bunch of new commons were added to the format, they elected to ban Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole, and High Tide. Fortunately, both Goblin Grenade and Merchant Scroll dodged the hammer and are in the format. Find the full list of new legal cards in Pauper here.

Sinkhole High Tide

The Future of Pauper

Pauper has been growing in popularity for a while now, so it's no surprise that Wizards has decided to make it official. We recently had the first Pauper Mythic Championship Qualifier (MCQ) in Los Angeles and it was well-attended. We should see other MCQ's going forward so the next logical step would be an actual Pauper Grand Prix which would give the pro players something new to concentrate on.

Your local magic community is also a great place to play Pauper. Decks are very inexpensive compared to most other constructed formats, including Standard, so lots of people can get involved. We're also seeing more support for Pauper with Modern Horizons both offering key reprints like Battle Screech as well as great new cards. Now we also have access to Core 2020 which offers new versions of cards like Faerie Miscreant and Raise the Alarm. Clearly Pauper is going to be even more of a consideration for future card design.

Battle Screech Dismal Backwater Faerie Miscreant

Additionally, now that the format is unified, Gatherer can show based on Pauper legality, making it easy to find the cards your looking for when brewing.

My Favorite Cards

With over four hundred cards to choose from, finding a select few that might make an impact is quite the task. Some will be good in main decks, some in sideboards, and of course some just won't cut mustard in Pauper. These are my personal favorites, so far, that I believe could make an impact though these are by no means the only cards that might have that impact.

Goblin Grenade

Goblin Grenade

Kellnoz suggested this deck list earlier in 2019 and it is a fun list that my wife Rachel has played on more than one occasion as she has a long-standing love for Goblins. It was also the first ever deck she played when introduced to Magic. Goblins were at best a tier two deck before the recent bannings of Gush, Daze and Gitaxian Probe, seeing little play.

You cannot overstate Goblin Grenade's impact on the deck's strength. The deck has tons of throwaway creatures and the Grenade gives valuable reach to the deck, while also clearing the path for the remaining goblins. One mana five damage lightning bolt is a strong Magic card, even if you have to sacrifice a goblin to play it.

Burn decks already perform well in the format but I am positive that Goblin Grenade will allow Goblins to become a force in the meta once again.

Merchant Scroll

Merchant Scroll

Merchant Scroll is an interesting card to allow into the format. I was personally very surprised that it made it pass the Ban authorities.

Cyruscg, UB Teachings, Pauper Challenge Top 32

Finding a deck where Merchant Scroll can excel was harder than I imagined, though. In the end, it seemed obvious that it would fit into a Teachings build. Even though it only finds blue instants, it can be cast sooner than Mystical Teachings and gives the deck better access to its silver bullets.

I don't believe Merchant Scroll will make the blue decks format warping as several of your key blue cards are sorceries like Ponder and Preordain but it should help their consistency going forward slightly.


Blue Elemental Blast and Red Elemental Blast

The format already has both Pyroblast and Hydroblast, which are two of the top ten most played cards in the format, though they appear almost exclusively in sideboards.

U/R Delver by Chugan. MTGO Pauper League 5-0

I'm not convinced that people will be using five copies or more of either card but this may be a consideration if the format moves towards heavily red or blue decks. However, if players want to use their cool Alpha versions of cards, they may see some play.

Ashnod's Altar

Ashnod's Altar

Ashnod's Altar is the card that a lot of people are trying to break. It's an inherently unfair card, allowing players to cheat on mana a theoretically infinite number of times, depending on how many creatures they have / can produce. I thought I'd take a shot at it and offer my own take on the altar in Pauper. The deck I made will be a two-way threat utilizing a go wide token strategy and pump effects, while also having the option of sacrificing those tokens to ramp out an Eldrazi end game. Oh, you can feed Bogardan Dragonheart too.

Plague Rats

Plague Rats

My final deck is definitely not meant for serious competitive play but seems like a fun deck for more casual playgroups, especially if you're a fan of Arena Pauper from back in the day when Rat Colony was decent.

I'm using the new removal spell from Modern Horizons - Defile - as we have a good synergy from our Swamps as well as Mob, which is my pet removal spell from Modern Horizons. I'm also adding in Chainer's Edict for some premium removal.

The key offensive rats will be the fragile Rat Colony and Plague Rats which both get significantly bigger as more are played. Burglar Rat and Chittering Rats will offer a disruption package but critically will also increase the power of our colonies.

Pauper started as a fun casual format, so hopefully this shows how you can build a fun creature deck leveraging one of the cooler (in my opinion) creature payoffs at common.


There have been plenty of recent changes to the Pauper format with the first ever Mythic Championship Qualifier at Magicfest Los Angeles, Modern Horizons gave us dozens of new cards that can not only become format staples but create new archetypes and now we have an official Pauper format.

This year has been great for Pauper players and things look like they'll only get better.

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

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