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Brewer's Minute: Pauper Primer

Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute! Right now, Pauper is a hot topic in the community, with side events starting at a Grand Prix this week, which is pushing Pauper toward becoming a real paper format for the first time! As such, today we are going to take some time to go over the basics of the Pauper format. While I play Pauper on occasion, I don't play as much as many hardcore Pauper players, so we're going to stay away from going too deep on individual card choices and instead focus on the basics of the format. If you've been thinking about taking the plunge on the new(ish)-to-paper budget format, hopefully our Pauper primer will be helpful!

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Normally, I try to write a text version of the video, but it's hard to replicate cards and deck lists flashing up on screen in text form, so instead of doing a proper article, I just wanted to mention a couple of things and then leave you with some of the resources we talked about in the video.

  • What Is Pauper? Pauper is an all-common format, which means decks are super cheap (typically somewhere between $30 and $50, with $100 being expensive for the format). Pauper is also a competitive format. Many people hear cheap and figure that Pauper is casual, but it's actually very similar to Legacy in terms of gameplay, and when you consider that Pauper contains any card that has been printed at common over Magic's entire history, there are a lot of powerful options like Brainstorm, Lightning Bolt, Tron lands, Daze, and Delver of Secrets. Because of this, the audience for Pauper is mostly competitive players who can't (or don't want to) spend thousands of dollars to buy Legacy decks but still enjoy the powerful eternal style of gameplay. 
  • The Card Pool: While this could change in the future, right now the big paper events for Pauper are going to play by Magic Online rules, which has an interesting effect on the card pool because a handful of cards are legal in the format that have never been printed at common in paper (like Battle Screech and Chainer's Edict). So, if you are planning on playing paper Pauper, make sure to familiarize yourself with cards that have been printed at common on Magic Online because that determines each card's legality in the format. 
  • The Banned List: Pauper currently has a 10-card banned list, with nearly half of the list being related to Storm in one way or another (which has been targeted by multiple bannings in Pauper, much like in Modern, although at this point, Pauper Storm has been banned to the point that it is dead).
  • The Metagame: While the Pauper metagame is diverse, it's also not quite as diverse as it looks on the metagame page because pretty much all Pauper results come from Magic Online, which means they are restricted by the "we only publish exactly five different deck lists each day" Magic Online rule. If you look at tournaments where all top decks are published, Delver is very likely the best deck in the format and likely makes up closer to 20% of the Pauper metagame, rather than the less than 10% that we see on the metagame page thanks to Magic Online's weird deck-list posting rules.
  • The Megagame: One of the exciting aspects of Pauper is that it has all styles of decks. If you like control, there are Five-Color Tron and UB Teachings. If you like tribal, there are Slivers and Elves. If you like non-tribal aggro, Affinity and Kuldotha Red are great options. If you're a fan of comboing off, you can play Inside Out Combo or rogue options like the Freed from the Real deck we played on Much Abrew a while ago. If you like Tempo, Delver is near the top of the format, and if you like midrange, there are WB Pestilence and Mono-Black Control / Devotion. Make sure you check out the Pauper Metagame Page to see all the decks in the format, but the bottom line is that no matter what style of deck you enjoy playing in Standard, Modern, or Legacy, you can find a Pauper deck that will be perfect for your play style!


Anyway, that's all for today. Do you currently play Pauper? If so, what's your favorite deck? If not, has the announcement of paper Pauper events increased your interest in the format? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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