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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Jan 24 2018 1:00pm
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 Paper Comes To Pauper


Shared Discovery

Pauper is in an exciting time as an MTG format. Thanks to the advocacy of high-profile Pauper enthusiasts like Tolarian Community College's own "The Professor", two of the largest tournament organizers in the country, ChannelFireball and StarCityGames have begun adding Pauper flights to their sanctioned side events at major tournaments such as Grand Prix.

Feroz's Ban

An additional boon to the paper Pauper world came in the form of a rather logical compromise: adopt a universal legality list based on the MTGO Pauper legality list. While this means that some cards originally printed at common will never see the light of day in an presumably all-common format, (I’m looking at you, Sinkhole and Hymn To Tourach), it also solves the vexing question of what to do with reconciling MTGO commons with Paper commons, some of whom have the dubious status of C1s, if you go deep enough into older sets. So by adopting the online legality and porting it to Pauper, we have offered Paper Pauper players their Battle Screeches and Circular Logics in exchange for Maze of Ith. I think that’s fair. But more importantly, it’s clear. And having a singularly agreed upon legality list is the backbone of any MTG format, whether it is officially sanctioned like Legacy, or even something as regionally specific as Canadian Highlander.

Back To Basics

Now so far, the transition into Paper and the added spotlight on the format from major retailers >hasn’t broken the format in terms of competitive balance. The same decks that are popular on MTGO are also the ones Paper players seem to be sleeving up. Especially notable are the Pauper variants of deck archetypes that exist in other formats like Modern and Legacy.

Like Tron? Pauper has Tron. Just realize that in absence of Karn Liberated and Wurmcoil Engine the deck slows down to a control engine built around cards like Mnemonic Wall, Mulldrifter and Ghostly Flicker.

Like Delver? Pauper is the only format where you can run 4-ofs of Ponder, Preordain, Gush and Brainstorm in the same deck should your heart desire.

A 75 card list for Pauper Burn will overlap about 60% with its Legacy cousin. 

Paupers' Cage

But the most notable change I’ve observed since the new attention on Paper Pauper has been financial. All of a sudden, whether from actual players wanting to build decks or from speculators looking to ride the market,we’re seeing massive spikes in Pauper singles over on the Paper side. Major retailers are sold out of staple cards. And these are cards that based on print run alone should have a near limitless supply compared to the relatively small demand market of Pauper. Take a look at some of these jumps:

Standard Bearer: Current price - $8.90. 52-Week Low - $0.19
Moment's Peace: Current price - $2.00 52-Week Low - $0.80
Circular Logic: Current price - $5.68 52-Week Low - $1.00
Prismatic Strands Current price - $2.41 52-Week Low - $0.30
Tortured Existence Current price - $1.00 52-Week Low - $0.30
Ash Barrens Current price - $8.00 52-Week Low - $1.00
Battle Screech Current price - $6.45 52-Week Low - $3.20
Gush Current price - $6.37 52-Week Low - $1.50

Note that for all these jumps, the 52-Week low is always from January 2017. These aren't cards that have spiked and settled back down to a reasonable price point.

What do these cards have in common? 

  • Singular or limited print runs
  • Predate the modern era
  • Paper uncommons that are MTGO legal (thanks to online Masters sets)


Five cards to buy if you’re considering Pauper 1. Pyroblast and Hydroblast: These are the absolute staple sideboard cards of our format. Red and Blue are the best,most played colors and these two color hosers are way over power level by today's standard. Plus, thanks to an Eternal Masters reprint, both are available in paper for about a $1.00 to $1.50. 

2. Gorilla Shaman: The most important and hateful sideboard card against the deck with the highest raw power level in Pauper, this is the single card that keeps Affinity from running away with the format. Best of all, the speculators haven't bought out the market on this one yet and it's still available for a quarter, even with limited printings. 

3. Ponder and Preordain: Legacy and Pauper staples, these two are at the power level that it would take a Masters set to put more copies into circulation. Both are available for about $2, fit in a ton of decks, and can be very necessary to get your game off the ground if you're considering any deck that runs Islands. 

4. Quirion Ranger and Nettle Sentinel: The two essential green creatures in Pauper, they go side-by-side in both of Pauper's premier green based decks: Stompy and Elves. Both are around $2 and have plenty of value outside of Pauper since they are staples in both Pauper and Legacy Elves. 

5. Chainer's Edict: Never printed as a paper common, this is the most heavily played black card in Pauper. A control card by nature, its one of the best ways to hit creatures" like Kiln Fiend, Slippery Bogle or Tireless Tribe.  

The price these days is steep: $4-$8 depending on the version, condition and seller. But this isn't a buyout; this is supply and demand. The price has been steadily climbing on this one for a year and a half.



Five Cards to Avoid Buying Right Now:

1. Oubliette: The scarcest of all paper pauper commons, Arabian Nights Oubliettes command a $30 paper price. The problem with paying this much is that the demand isn't real. Even though Oubliette is a nice devotion removal spell that costs 1BB, provides two black pips for Gray Merchant of Asphodel and can take auras with it, part of the reason the card online play was that it was a well-known bugged card. If you removed the Oubliette from play, MTGO would soft-lock, making players treat it like permanent removal. Trust me, in a cheat-free world, there are better removal spells in black, and certainly not worth $30.

2. Standard Bearer: This one is an obvious buyout. $9 for a common?!? A look at the price history shows a dramatic spike from about a dollar a card to its current absurdity over the last month. Let this one cool down. Copies are out there.

3. Prismatic Strands / Moment's Peace / Gleeful Sabotage: More Pauper-only cards that have shot up in price since the announcement of the Paper Pauper supported format. All of these cards see play in multiple decks, but again, you're paying $2-$3 a card for cards that were actually printed at common. The supply is out there. The demand is not that huge.

4. Ash Barrens: Because it only has one printing each both online and in paper, and both in limited print run supplemental sets,Ash Barrens is able to command a steep price tag. It's now $8 in paper and more than 5 tickets online. Here's the problem: this card doesn't break New World Order and could easily see a reprint in the future. One large set printing and it's back to a $.25 card. Unless you need it now, wait.

5. Gush: Again, we're looking at copies north of $5 for a common printed in a large set, albeit the unpopular Mercadian Masques. If Wizards is going to support Pauper with more reprints, like they obviously did in Eternal Masters, this looks to me like the target for an obvious future reprint. Anything north of $5 on a common isn't sustainable.

Black Market

A last word about investing in Pauper:  

There is no reserved list when it comes to protecting the price of commons. Wizards can and will reprint cards when they reach a level of demand to sell packs, especially Masters sets, and especially commons and uncommons. Do not be surprised if as Pauper increases in popularity that Wizards begins to seed future sets with Pauper staples, like we saw in Eternal Masters with cards like Daze, Firebolt, Ancestral Mask and the two Blasts.

Buy into Pauper because you want to play Pauper. Its wonderful that we have supported tournaments now both in Paper and MTGO, but because of the newness and energy of the format, you're bound to hit speculators. When I tried to buy into my favorite Pauper deck, many major retailers were sold out, even of recently printed standard legal commons that were in-demand. Other, older commons also had widely ranging prices, sometimes 10x, between sellers. Shop around. Don't let the speculators fool you into thinking the supply is gone. It's not, but the recent wave of interest has temporarily dried up some stock. If demand continues and prices rise, more copies will hit the market, either from retailer stock, or fresh WOTC printing. Don't hoard commons.


The prices will drop once the by MichelleWong at Thu, 01/25/2018 - 09:05
MichelleWong's picture

The prices will drop once the hype ends and the ever-flowing supply of Masters sets choose to reprint these chase Pauper cards.

There will be some though like Standard Bearer which will slip through the cracks and which will not be reprinted. Focus on collecting those, not cards like Ash Barrens.