Playing Magic: The Gathering on a budget can become a challenge, but Pauper Commander is one of the best ways to enjoy the game for pennies. As noted in my brief introduction to the format, I’ll be focusing on Commander-legal commanders, but the format allows for a number of unique, budget builds that players at all power levels can love. Here, we’ll take a look at one of the most powerful, synergistic commanders to come out of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate.
I have an unhealthy love for sacrificing things. Taking my resources and trading them out for value is something that I genuinely can’t get enough of, so Gut, True Soul Zealot immediately spoke to me. It took only a quick glance through the available backgrounds for me to realize that I needed an Inspiring Leader in my life, and the deck practically built itself from there. Filling the board with 6/3 Menace skeletons is one of the best times I’ve ever had on a budget.
While pauper decks, typically, are less mana hungry than typical commander decks, it’s still extremely important that you be able to make your plays when you want to. To that end, I’ve got a solid little package of ramp and fixing, much of which can be sacrificed to Gut once you no longer need them.
Similarly, making sure that you have the cards you want in hand is helpful. Hard card draw is a bit harder to come by at common, especially in Boros colors, but there are still plenty of cantrips and card filtering options. Once again, many of these cards represent some serious value in Gut since they draw you a card before transforming into a skeletal threat.
The meat of the deck is token production, so the majority of the slots here are consumed by cards that come in, spit out tokens that can be inspired for +2/+2, and then have one or more parts of the card that can be sacrificed to Gut. Sometimes you’re upgrading small tokens into bigger skeletons, but there is plenty of opportunity for the tokens to go wide and roll over the opposition without ever seeing the end of Gut’s knife. You’ll also note one of the deck’s primary win conditions: Impact Tremors. Pinging down the table with endless tokens is a good time.
Similar to the token creature producers, there are a ton of ways to construct artifact tokens of various sizes and shapes. Gut doesn’t discriminate and is happy to crack open a blood vial as readily as cash in some treasure to make a skeleton. We also have some “bonus” tokens attached to effects we already want, like Bloody Betrayal and Late to Dinner, as well as another pinging powerhouse in Makeshift Munitions.
The best offense is a good defense, so the deck includes a handful of solid ways to buff and protect key cards, especially Gut. Making sure that Gut can survive through combat steps, ensuring that the skeletal army can grow, is practically required for the deck to see any success.
Speaking of getting in through combat, the deck runs a not at all insubstantial pile of removal and interaction to help the combat step go your way. Menacing skeletons are that much stronger if there are fewer blockers to get in their way, and assorted burn spells can also help close out the game once the board starts to get too complicated.
Finally, the mana base is also designed to smooth out the gameplay experience. A package of cycling lands helps turn late game mana into actual plays, some “spell” lands throw some extra buffs on to relevant targets, and the various artifact lands serve as bonus sacrifice fodder if the game runs long or you get flooded.
Pauper Commander, or pEDH, is without question one of the best ways to play Magic on a budget. If you enjoy Commander and you have some commons sitting around from your drafts, you may find that you have a ready-to-play deck already waiting for your attention. Gut, True Soul Zealot x Inspiring Leader does everything I want out of a sacrifice-focused engine, but you can find inspiration from the pEDH community on Discord you can learn more about the format at PDH Home Base. Let me know in the comments what kind of pauper commander deck you want to see, or reach out to me @FenrirRex on twitter.