SteveJeltz's picture
By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Nov 06 2017 11:00am
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Dear Santa,

I know we only get new Pauper cards either from Standard sets or Masters reprints or the occasional Treasure chest insert.

But there's only one Masters release a year. Two if we're lucky. Summer is the one time we get supplemental products. And not all of them even make it onto MTGO. Or they get there indirectly from the trickle down flow of Legendary Cube Prize Packs and Treasure Chests.

But our beloved format, while relatively healthy, feels kind of stale. We could use some new technology. 

You gave us a motivation to innovation through Pauper Leagues and now also the Sunday Pauper Challenge.

Call me greedy, WOTC Santa, but I want more.

I want the missing paper commons. I want the missing staple effects. Like sweepers.

And balance. Right now, we have a bit of serious color imbalance problem. 

Here's what I want:


Three Mana Sweepers

Rolling Temblor Infest

Aggro decks in pauper have the distinct advantage of being able to play all their threats without impunity. It is not uncommon whatsoever to be starring down 6 little Green men, a veritable clique of blue faeries, or an army of white tokens. 

Could you toss us a bone? I'm not asking for Wrath of God. I'm not even asking for Pyroclasm, which would probably be the more relevant card. But right now the three best sweepers we have in Pauper are Electrickery, which admittedly is an all-star sideboard card, Evincar's Justice, which is a build-around semi-sweeper / win condition in a bleeder deck, and finally Swirling Sandstorm, which while powerful, is extremely narrow because of its extraordinarily high set up cost. 

What I'm asking for is basic three mana sorcery speed sweepers. Drawbacks are perfectly acceptable. I'm not asking to reliably unconditionally be able to hit everything. Just to have some relevant play to kill the 2/2s which seem to be the format's norm.

I think since you gave red and green aggro decks alike Burning-Tree Emissary, which lets them skip a whole turn in playing an extra threat, that asking for a three mana sweeper is a fair tempo trade.

An Anti-Burn Sideboard Card

Dragon's Claw

I'll admit it. I'm a little biased against losing to burn decks since I love to play black based midrange decks. But how many matches does it take of losing to goldfishing Lava Spikes and Fireblasts until enough is enough. I've tried Syphon Soul. I've tried Child of Night. I've prayed to survive until I draw my fifth swamp to hit Gray Merchant of Asphodel and usually even that's not enough. The best I can do is that I never leave home without all 4 Duress

Could we please have a colorless sideboard anti-burn card? I feel great about playing against burn if I'm in white, okay in green or blue, and red... we'll that's just going to a goldfish race. But black's matchup against burn right now is abysmal. 

A Green Finisher


I shouldn't have too much sympathy for the little green men. They've had a hell of a run. Green Stompy is the default fastest, most resilient aggro deck of the format. They can go tall with cards like Hunger of the Howlpack. They can wide with Nest Invader, Young Wolf, and Burning-Tree Emissary. They have about the most mana-efficient aggro toolbox in the format. And yet they have a really hard time coming back if the opponent stabilizes. They can hope to buff a semi-unblockable Silhana Ledgewalker. But if you're stuck, what can the green deck do for reach? We don't get Lightning Bolts. I guess we can hope to channel a Shinen of Life's Roar. But I think a tiny buff that more importantly grants evasion via trample could be a great way to give green reach. Like a green version of Rally the Peasants. What do you think?

Make Mono White Relevant Again

Brave the Elements

My co-writer Marcus Brunsetter is a Craig Wescoe at heart. He love him some white weenie. Whatever format he jumps into: standard, modern legacy or pauper, his first look is to see if there is a viable white weenie strategy. Tokens? Check. Death and Taxes? Bonus! 

The good news is that Pauper has a couple different white weenie strategies. You can opt for the the two drop heavy "Death From Above" style deck featuring cards like Leonin Skyhunter. Or you can play white weenie tokens with cards like Gather the Townsfolk and Raise the Alarm. Or you can go white cyborg with cards like Ardent Recruit and Auriok Sunchaser. The good news is that regardless of the strategy you pick, you still get to play Kor Skyfisher, the best white creature in the format. The bad news? None of these mono white decks are winning very much. Which is part of the reason they're budget decks, though a lot of the cards are also recently printed too.

Let's give white another go-wide win card. We got Guardians' Pledge, which is as close as we're going to get to Crusade. We got Rally the Peasants and Borrowed Grace for token strategies. We got Ramosian Rally as the token free spell. How about a Falter-effect that can double as a mass protection style cover, ala Prismatic Strands. Let's make White relevant again.

Should This Really Cost Two Mana?

Twisted Image

I'm a little torn on this one. Honestly, I lose to the Tireless Tribe combo deck a little more often than I should. Granted, that deck can be a little bit of a glass cannon, though having the protection of blue counterspells sure helps. And the deck has A LOT of card filtering: Ponder, Preordain, Brainstorm... once again, I make my point that Pauper feels a lot like Legacy Lite. It even runs Gush. Actually, its probably the best Gush deck I've ever seen since not only does it allow the pilot to draw two free cards while floating two blue mana, but if the pilot can find all its combo pieces and certify that the coast is clear, it can pitch 4 extra cards to buff the Tireless Tribe - the two draws plus the two bounced lands. 

The other half of Tribe combo, besides Tireless Tribe, is Inside Out. It's a little dorky. The Eventide common is a hybrid R/U1 version of the Scars of Mirrodin uncommon Twisted Image. Or maybe its the other way around. 

So if I'm playing vs. Tribe, yes I can counter the Inside Out with either a Hydroblast or a Pyroblast since its a blue and red spell. And its two mana instead of one. But I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that if Pauper is good enough for Lightning Bolts instead of Shocks, we can handle Twisted Image instead of Inside Out.

The Missing Monarch Cards

Since Monarch is now the king of midrange strategies, obsoleting long standouts like Mono Black Control, it seems only fair to me that we give the Monarch mechanic to at least as many colors as has been printed in paper common rarity. While neither Entourage of Trest or Crown-Hunter Hireling is as cost efficient as Thorn of the Black Rose and Palace Sentinels, they importantly give both Green and Red access to the Monarch mechanic, if not to build a deck around them, then at least to steal the crown back from the other colors.

I don't feel quite so bad about blue being missing the Monarch. Not only is blue already the most powerful color in Pauper, but it naturally plays compliment as the ultimate complement color in nearly every midrange or control deck already, from Dimir Flicker, to Izzet Midrange to many varieties of Tron. Blue gets enough toys that its okay to need to lean on another color to have the Monarch.

Two More Conspiracy Standouts

These two exist in the Paper world of commons but never got the port over to MTGO.

I already made my case for Custodi Squire last week. At five mana, its not too busted to have a card that effectively reads: "When [CARDNAME] enters the battlefield, return a creature, artifact, or enchantment to your hand." Yes, it has the "Will of the Council" mechanic, which is pretty nonsense in two-player matches, but it wouldn't be the only Will of the Council card to make it onto MTGO. In fact, Pauper already has Tyrant's Choice, which really only comes with one choice: Opponent loses 4 life. I think Custodi Squire would make a great addition to Pauper. No worse than Mulldrifter.

Sinuous Vermin is really neat because its a two-drop with a built-in late game effect. I think Monstrous as a mechanic is great, and its a shame that we're stuck only seeing it on commons like Nessian Asp which are too overcosted to ever see play. Yes, Sinuous Vermin is no better than a Walking Corpse when it hits play, but the flexible ability to grow into a 5/5 menace later in the game makes it a real card, on par with something like the conditional triggers of the ten-life-or-less clause on Guul Draz Vampire or the metalcraft on Carapace Forger.  

What cards would you like to see printed into Pauper?

Keep having fun out there,