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Playing Pauper: Life (Pauper, Magic Online)

Playing Pauper is back! A while ago, a viewer submitted a crazy infinite-life combo deck for Pauper, but with the release of Guilds of Ravnica and the focus on Standard, I sort of forgot about it for a while. Well, today, we're finally going to give it a shot! Pauper Life is a combo deck that needs three pieces to gain infinite life (which should be enough to beat most Pauper decks, since they tend to win with damage). Thankfully, each of our three combo pieces has multiple cards that do the same thing, so rather than just having a playset of each combo piece, we actually have seven or eight copies of each in our deck, which allows us to combo off consistently despite needing three different pieces. How does the combo work, and can it compete in the Pauper format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Playing Pauper: Life


  • First off, the record: we played a Pauper league on Magic Online and finished with a 3-2, which isn't bad for a very under-the-radar deck, and it's likely we should have had an even better record. One of our losses came against Mono-U Delver, where we timed out from a position where we could have gained infinite life and put away the game. Our second loss came to Rebels, which should be one of our very best matchups in all of Pauper, but we got mana screwed in game one, and then in game three, we simply couldn't find a Severed Strands or Devour Flesh to gain infinite life, even though the rest of the combo was assembled.
  • In case you're unclear on the combo, here's the plan: to gain infinite life, we need either a Nomads en-Kor or a Spirit en-Kor, a Daru Spiritualist or a Task Force, and a Severed Strands or Devour Flesh. The en-Kor creature can target the Daru Spiritualist or Task Force an infinite number of times for free, which gives us a creature with infinite toughness. Then, we simply kill our infinitely tough creature with Severed Strands or Devour Flesh to convert that toughness into lifegain. 
  • One of the challenges of playing the deck on Magic Online is the clicks. The combo itself takes a lot of clicks, but in a normal game, we have more than enough time to gain somewhere around 1,000 life, which should be enough that even if we can't kill our opponent, they'll mill out before they can kill us. The one time we ran into clock problems was against Mono-U Delver, and that was because we had to combo three times in game one (since our opponent kept countering our Severed Strands / Devour Flesh), which ate up a lot of our clock. 
  • To minimize the clock issue, make sure to take advantage of the new auto-target option on Magic Online. If you set things up right, you can simply spam-click the Nomads en-Kor or Spirit en-Kor a bunch of times, and it will automatically target the right creature. Also, the fastest way to do it is to maintain priority by holding control, put a couple of hundred triggers on the stack, and then auto-yield to let them all resolve. If the toughness isn't high enough after one round of spam clicks, you can reset the auto-target and do it again. 
  • Another important consideration is just how much life you need to win the game. In paper, you can demonstrate the loop and say that you're going to grow the toughness to 10,000 or some other absurdly high number, but on Magic Online, you have to do it manually. My assumption was that in the worst-case scenario, the opponent might be able to deal something like 20 damage a turn four 40 turns, amounting to 800 damage, which seems like a reasonable target for "infinite" life on Magic Online.
  • Pestilence is our primary finisher (apart from our opponent scooping to our infinite life gain). Since most of our creatures can either prevent damage to themselves or have their toughness increased, Pestilence is basically a repeatable one-sided board wipe in our deck. Plus, after we gain 1,000 life, it's a great way to throw direct damage at our opponent's face to close out the game.
  • One thing to keep in mind with the deck is that the combination of an en-Kor creature and one of our toughness-growing creatures gives us some great defense. With one of each creature, we can basically block any two ground attackers for free by preventing the damage to the en-Kor creature and growing the toughness on the other creature. We can also attack into what seems like an unfavorable situation using the same trick.
  • Stinkweed Imp is basically a removal spell, and it's especially good against Delver decks, where it blocks pretty much all of the important threats. Meanwhile, Grim Harvest allows us to return combo pieces from our graveyard to hand, which is especially helpful if we end up dredging Stinkweed Imp a couple of times across the course of the game.
  • Otherwise, the deck is pretty self-explanatory. In theory, we can go infinite as early as Turn 3, but more often than not, we slow the game down over the early turns and try to win in the mid- to late game with the combo.
  • So, should you play Life in Pauper? I think the answer is mostly yes. The deck is a lot more competitive than I thought it would be heading into our matches. With a bit more time and luck, we easily could have finished our league with a perfect 5-0 record. It's also super unique and fun to play, outside of the infinite clicks it takes to combo off on Magic Online. If you're looking for something fresh and cheap for Pauper, give Life a shot!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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