Paupularity Contest

The basic premise of Pauper is simple—every card in your deck must have been printed as a common. Yet, as will become evident in just a moment, just because these decks comprise 100% commons doesn’t mean they are not powerful!

The format has undergone a significant surge in popularity over the past few months, and I decided it was time to investigate what all the hype was about. Last weekend, my LGS, RIW Hobbies, got 61 players for a Pauper 1k! Unreal!

Today’s article is a simple: What’s up with Pauper and why you should consider giving it a try?

Also, deck lists, deck lists, deck lists!

Pauper is Growing in Popularity

One way to think about trends in Magic is whether a format is expanding or declining. Sometimes formats turn out to be a lot of fun and the people come out in droves to play a format with a healthy metagame and fun decks. On the other hand, sometimes formats feel stale and boring and the general populous gravitate away from them in lieu of more exciting options.

Pauper’s current surge may have some correlation to Standard once again being an absolute snooze-fest. People obviously want to play Magic on a weekly basis but I understand why they simply don’t want to play Standard, because I also have no interest in Standard.

People look for other options. “Life finds a way.” Except it won’t be those Dinosaurs in this Standard.

Last year people dug up Frontier and played it when they were sick of Standard. Frontier has dropped off the face of the earth, but it was a nice time-killer while people waited for Standard to rotate.

So, is Pauper just a convenient time-killer until a new set comes out?

I’m going to go out on a ledge and say “no.” Pauper is for real.

  1. Pauper has been around and sustained itself forever already. It isn’t going anywhere.
  2. Wizards has been secretly (not so secretly) supporting the format via new printings.

Wait, what?!

You heard me. Wizards has been blatantly throwing some love Paupers’ way in a sort of under-the-radar maneuver.

The most obvious way that I can tell is that they have been moving the rarity of cards from uncommon and rare to common in some of the Masters sets.

Rarely do we see such uncommonly good commons!

I know the Drake is banned. Give me a second.

Secondly, Wizards has really tightened up the banned list for Pauper. They gave the Drake a try and it was obnoxious. They banned it. I got into Pauper a few years back and quit because the Storm decks were unbeatable. Wizards has since fixed the problem via the Ban-Ham. Pauper is now a format that I am once again interested in playing!

Lastly, new printings:

Wizards of the Coast appears to be including new commons that are designed to impact Pauper in new sets. These are cards that have had a big impact. Specifically, the “monarch” mechanic has had a huge effect.

People Are Actually Playing Paper Pauper

For a long time Pauper has been viewed as a niche online format that people play to waste time on MTGO. It was about as serious as Momir Basic.

Actually, I think Pauper has always been more “real” than that, but the the proof is in the pudding. People have become more vocal about their enthusiasm for Pauper on social media and have actually started to show up for real-life events.

RIW Hobbies, my LGS in Livonia Michigan, got 61 players for a Pauper 1K last weekend. 61 is absurdly large for a local event. As a point of reference, there was a 2.5K Modern event on the other side of town that drew fewer players! People were clearly excited to play Pauper. I would not have expected that to happen.

Another thing to keep in mind when considering whether or not to buy into Pauper (Spoiler alert: DO IT)—Wizards has made Pauper into a real casual format similar to Commander. Stores are able to run casual tournaments and Pauper side events are in the works for Grand Prix. (Nicely done, WotC.)

Clearly, people want to play the format and Wizards has taken notice and is giving players and TOs some options. I’d like to see Pauper transformed from a casual format into a real-life one. While there are certain types of Pauper tournaments that stores can run (which is great), Pauper can only be run as a casual event, which means way less Planeswalker Points than the “real” Constructed formats and no current possibility of a Pauper PPTQ or GP.

I know that we are a ways off from a Pauper Grand Prix but I love the idea of eventually having one. At the very least, it would be cool if stores with a large Pauper following (such as my LGS) were allowed to run Pauper PPTQs (which appeals to their respective player base).

If you are feeling the Pauper love after reading the article, be sure to let WotC know! Drop a comment below or get on social media and get those tweets rolling! #PAUPULAR

Ship List Plz! RIW Pauperfest Deck Lists

Before I get started with deck lists galore, I have to give some credit to an individual without whom the event wouldn’t have been possible: Tournament Organizer Jon Wilkerson.

Jono has put in a ton of effort to grow and support the local Paupers in Southeast Michigan and is a major factor for why the RIW events have been so successful over the past few months. Also, you can thank him in the comments for supplying me with a wealth of information about the format and the tournament, including a huge stack of deck lists!

Props, Jono!

Let’s start with the Top 4.

Teachings Tron

Logan Mir, 1st place at RIW Pauper 1k

I love the deck. I’m probably going to build this 75. It is a control deck a control player can love.

You had me at, hellodrifter.

So much value. Cannot compute.

Boros Aggro

James Harper, 2nd place at RIW Hobbies Pauper 1k

There were two copies of Boros Aggro in the Top 8. The deck looks like gas. It has a fast clock with evasive creatures and a ton of value and removal. It can go wide or jam the knife straight into the opponent’s heart.

I’m also loving the Pauper sideboard cards:

How does this not make somebody want to play Pauper?


Samuel Weiss, 3rd place at RIW Hobbies Pauper 1k

It has been a while since I’ve seen an “Affinity” deck with actual Affinity cards! Two Affinity in the Top 8.

Affinity for nostalgia.

I guess it helps when you have actual artifact lands…

Where’s my Gorilla Shaman at?

Affinity is a mainstay of the format. Fling + Atog = GG.

Red Deck Wins

Daniel Sitler, 5th place at RIW Hobbies Pauper 1k

You can burn people. Daniel Sitler did. He finished first after the Swiss but lost in the Top 8. Pauper is great. Red deck is great. Daniel is great. Max is great.

Kind of like planeswalkers. Little baby Chandras!


Andy Bayer, 6th place at RIW Hobbies Pauper 1k

The Elves deck looks like a Legacy deck!

It doesn’t have Cradle or Glimpse of Nature but it can still go arbitrarily huge and over the top of anything.

I guess there is a reason why every sideboard is packing Electrickery!

Mono-Blue Delver

Noam Zimet, 7th place at RIW Hobbies Pauper 1k

Mono-Blue Delver was one of the big decks I remember back from when I was playing Pauper a few years ago. Unsurprising, the deck is still hanging tough in the winner’s metagame.

No. It’s not a Legacy deck! It’s just a great Pauper staple.

Six different decks in Top 8. All wildly different archetypes. Feels like the kind of format people would really enjoy playing!

The takeaway?

  • Pauper is great.
  • There are a ton of sweet decks.
  • It is picking up steam IRL as a paper Magic format.
  • It has been getting love from WoC.
  • Would love to see it become more than a casual format because it is sweet.

The hardest question when it comes to Pauper is: Which deck am I going to build first? Probably several, because they are fairly cheap to build. They don’t call it Pauper for no reason!


Scroll to Top