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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Nov 20 2008 11:29pm
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online. It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards. Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards. For more information please visit paupermagic.com


A little over a month ago the announcement was made that MTGO would be officially sanctioning the Pauper Format in some form or another. I was lucky enough to be able to submit some questions to the man in charge of informing us about the changes in Magic Online Organized Play.

Alex Ullman: Thank you for your time Mike. First, can you tell the pauper community and the PureMTGO audience a little more about who you are and what you do?

Mike Gills: I’m Mike Gills and I am currently the Community Outreach Manager for Magic the Gathering and Magic Online as well as some of our other brands. In addition I am also the Tournament Manager for Magic Online.

This means that I get to help develop much of the organized play programs for Magic Online in my second job and then help communicate about them and answer community questions with my first one.

This is my second time working here at Wizards of the Coast. I started here in Game Support back in 1998 and moved up through several positions in Game Support and Organized Play.

I was also previously known as Master Trainer Mike back in the Pokemon days.

AU: If you could be any one kitchen appliance, which would you be, and why?

MG:While I would like to think I would pick something esoteric like a hot dog bun warmer or some such little used device I would probably end up as a deep fryer because everything is just better when deep fried.

AU: Can you talk to us a little bit about the thought process behind the move towards the new style/new direction of Organized Play on MTGO?

MG: It’s actually based on the most of the work that was previously being discussed but needed to be on hold while V3 stability issues were dealt with.

There just wasn’t enough time or resources previously available to work on implementing new ideas.

Many of the folks who previously worked on MTGO Org[anized] Play are still a part of the ongoing discussions but now it falls on me to help get them done.

Basically, we know that every decision and choice whether old or new needs to be periodically tested in order to make sure our ideas are correct or not. In addition, we are always glad to hear what suggestions the community can offer and aren’t afraid to try them out, like Swiss queues or Pauper.

AU: Why is Pauper one of the formats of choice? What was so attractive about our corner of the internet?

MG: Our casual formats had unfortunately not received all of the attention they needed with our focus needing to be on stability first. Now that we have the time to review them we wanted to start out with updating and supporting the formats that the community plays the most and also what help support the overall business.

Pauper is obviously a popular format and has seen a lot of casual play on MTGO. Thanks to what you and the community have done to support this format, we just wanted to our part with you.

AU: Were you familiar with Pauper and PDC before this project? Is Wizards as a whole aware of the format and community, and if so, how aware? Is there a secret room full of foil, alternate art textless common promos with which you all gunsling? On thrones made of cookie dough ice cream, of course...or has anyone on the team tried Pauper? We'd love to see you at a few events...

MG: I personally learned about Pauper from our forums as I hadn’t been involved with Magic the last few years before coming back to Wizards (I was working on Guild Wars), but Worth and Scott and pretty much anyone involved with Magic here at Wizards knew about it.

And if such a room exists, they haven’t told ME about it………

AU: How much of the decision to pursue Pauper and PDC was based on the existing community and the work that had been put into the format?

MG: Most of it was to be honest.

As I said, our goal with our casual formats is to offer interesting and fun ways to play that will be well received by the community and help support our business goals.

Most of our final design for this format is based upon the extensive playing and analysis that the PDC community has already done. While we may make some slight changes to better align with the business it ultimately is the community’s format. We are just supporting it for you.

AU: How closely are you going to follow what has been laid out by the community? Will they have your/Organized Play's ear for the regular Banned and Restricted cycle?

MG: It is always our goal to hear what the community has to say about any format, official or unofficial, and investigate it. In some cases, we find that the community’s fears aren’t quite founded but in others, you have been spot on.

You will always have out ear about suggested rules changes or cards being banned so let us know when you think something needs investigating!

AU: Any hints as to the initial Banned and Restricted list?

MG: We posted our initial version of the Pauper rules based on what we thought the community had developed with some initial changes. As you know, the community got back to us and let us know their thoughts and updates and we took their feedback into account when we revised these rules to where they are now.

AU: Will Pauper be a filter or a format? In other words, will there be a Pauper Classic, Standard, and Extended option or just plain old Pauper, one size fits all?

MG: In order to prevent the player fragmentation we have seen with other casual formats, we are initially only going to offer one version of Pauper.

AU:How do the MTGO staff feel about Player Run Event's, in general?

MG: They are great! Sanctioned events are what have kept Magic the Gathering strong and growing on the paper side and it is an eventual goal to set up more official systems to allow sanctioned events to be run on Magic Online as well. Current Player Run events are just in the vanguard.

AU: How often will there be Pauper Events? What will the payout be like for these events? What will the entrance fee be like? Is there some sort of participation threshold?

MG: We see casual events as good for smaller communities of players while official formats have a wider player base and are more aligned with our business goals so you will see casual formats receive official support in small scale events (like the current 4-player queues) with an occasional large event (like our Weekend PEs) to give some larger skill tests to play for.

AU: Will other “niche” formats be getting the same attention? I know a few Prismatic players who need the proverbial hug...

MG: At this time we will be updating Prismatic, 100-Card Singleton, and creating our version of Pauper as our main casual format focus. These are clearly the 3 most popular formats based on the number of Magic Online players who play them and in the size of their communities.

It is our goal to maintain quality support for 3-4 casual formats to go along with our official formats. Every so often we will reevaluate them and if a format starts to lose popularity we may close it down and see what other interesting formats we or the community can come up with.

AU:What does OP want to see come out of Pauper?

MG: There are several benefits the Pauper format offers to the community. One, it is a relatively quick and easy format to get started in. This will hopefully encourage more players to try out and learn about the fun of trading and deck construction.

Once they have become more comfortable with it, we then hope that they will take the next step and try and get involved with tournament play.

Finally, all of the casual formats help the overall MTGO economy by making players reevaluate cards that might not be as desirable in the official formats but are may end up valuable in other formats.

AU: The PDC and Pauper community members are very protective of the format; how does OP plan to work to make sure that these staunch supporters don't feel brushed aside?

MG: Punch and pie.

And if that doesn’t work then open dialogue is our second line of defense.

Seriously though, whether someone works here at Wizards or plays casually with their friends we all love this game and want to our part to help it thrive.

This format came from the community and will definitely have a voice at the table as to its future and survival.

AU: What role do you see Pauper filling in the MTGO dynamic?

MG: An entry level format that has a thriving community that will welcome in new players with open arms.

Now let’s all hold hands and start singing “Kumbaya”. ;)

AU:What is your favorite common?

MG:Like Robert Heinlein, I fully support the strength of the common man and the importance of self-reliance and liberty.

AU:How familiar are you with the copious amount of articles and forum posts about Pauper?

MG:I know that they are bigger than a virtual breadbox though smaller than a digital universe. Does that count?

AU: Do you have a favorite Pauper deck? If you don't, what deck would you want to build?

MG: I would want to make a deck of cards showing things that would all taste better when deep fried.

AU: Which Ravnica Guild do you most identify with? Which Alara Shard?

MG:I think I’d fit in best with the Izzet League. Mad Scientists unite!

Paradoxically I think I would fit best in the Bant shard though only if I pulled up my legs really tight.

AU: Where do you see MTGO, both as a program and through the lens of OP, in a years time?

MG: I see illegal Pyramid schemes and mind control software! MUHAHAHAHAAHA! Izzet time to take over yet? IZZET?!?!?!

Seriously though, as the Beatles once sang “I've got to admit it's getting better
A little better all the time (can't get no worse).”

AU: Any last words for all us eager Paupers?

MG: As I mentioned before, we are going to give our support where it is wanted and needed, so if you want to see Pauper stay in the exclusive “casual format club” then make sure to have fun and play it.

After all, this format’s for you!

AU: Mike, thank you so much. All of us in PDC and those who have left for other pastures are very grateful. Thank you and the entire team.

MG: No, thank you! Really! THANK YOU!!!! ;)

I want to thank Mike and Tolena from Wizards Public Relations for helping out with this interview.

Mike put his words into practice recently. The official announcement was made about what WotC Pauper would look like and many PDC players felt slighted. Due to some miscommunication, the Artifact Lands were banned alongside Cranial Plating and paper commons, like Hymn to Tourach, would have been legal.

Needless to say, there was much public outcry. Opinions were compiled and posted.

Then something happened.

Mike Gills and Wizards listened and moved quickly. And there was rejoicing. The current Pauper format, sanctioned by Wizards, will be Online Classic featuring only online Commons and will have a ban list of Cranial Plating.

This bodes very well for the future of the format. Another outcome of this minor event is that I have positioned myself to be a Pauper Community Liaison, collecting opinions from the masses and funneling them to Mike. Thank you to all the Paupers who came out in support.

Keep slingin' commons-



P.S. Add these sites to your Magic reading list. They are full of great information and are a fresh breath in the world of Magic literature:




by Anonymous(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/21/2008 - 14:30
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The only banned card is Cranial Plating, but in time I wonder if others will be banned like Brainstorm.

by SpikeBoyM at Fri, 11/21/2008 - 16:49
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Brainstorm has been around in PDC since Coldsnap came online almost two years ago.  It is barely played in top flight decks including the reigning top combo deck.

In other words, I do not feel as if it will be banned any time soon, if at all.

by ParadasmUK(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/21/2008 - 01:31
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Good Interview, his answers were reassuring, hope that the support they seem to want to give actually stays.

Great to see Pauper actually recognised though 


by LulThyme(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/21/2008 - 06:39
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The second "link" at the bottom i.s just text, not a link

Good interview by Ivo(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/21/2008 - 06:59
Ivo(Unregistered)'s picture

Two things that may go unnoticed:

1. If I read it correctly, there is a subtle indication that in the mid to long-term they want to support PREs with TO tools

AU:How do the MTGO staff feel about Player Run Event's, in general?

MG: They are great! Sanctioned events are what have kept Magic the Gathering strong and growing on the paper side and it is an eventual goal to set up more official systems to allow sanctioned events to be run on Magic Online as well. Current Player Run events are just in the vanguard.

UNQUOTE. Of course Mike may just talk about WotC sanctioned events, but I read that as them intending non-WotC to set up tournaments.

The other thing is just that they keep insisting that 100-singleton is most played. I still think they are basing that upon EDH, and sanctioning 100-singleton instead of 60+15 in the queues still irritates me as I personally would play 60+15 but won't play 100.