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The Power of Pauper: The Top 10 Pauper Cards of 2023

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of The Power of Pauper! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into the Top 10 Pauper cards of 2023! We had a pretty big year for the format for sure! In addition to that, we've got at least one Challenge to look at. There were some issues with Daybreak's rollout of their new decklist system this past weekend (see my Legacy article for more information) and so Sunday's events are currently not available. This also means League results might be spotty, but we'll definitely try to find something spicy!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Top 10 Pauper Cards of 2023

2023 was a pretty wild year for every format of Magic, but Pauper definitely had a year mainly due in part to big printings from sets like Lord of the Rings to downshifts from Commander Masters. It's been quite a year, so let's look at the Top 10 cards for Pauper from 2023.

10. Dread Return

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

One of the big downshifts from Commander Masters, Dread Return was definitely a very interesting card to see at common. While the card hasn't done a whole lot other than give Balustrade Spy decks a new way to win the game with other downshifts like Lotleth Giant, this is always a card for me in my mind to keep an eye on because of how generally unfair its usage is. It did give some Reanimator piles a new Reanimation spell which is cool.

9. Meeting of Minds

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I really liked this card quite a bit, and it's impact on archetypes like Familiars was pretty cool. Instant speed draw two for convoke is pretty great, really.

8. Lembas

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is incredibly unassuming in general, not looking like it does much, but it's a repeatable source of scry+card draw that can be bounced with cards like Kor Skyfisher or Glint Hawk, but then can also be cashed in for life gain and it gets shuffled back into the library. It's certainly earned its spot in the format for sure.

7. "Name Sticker" Goblin

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The custom implementation of the "Name Sticker" Goblin on MTGO certainly had an impact, albeit one that seemed to be rather short-lived based on the past few weeks of metagame shifting. For a while it was a strong 4-of in the Burn/Swiftspear decks but that's dropped off with the banning of Swiftspear. Still, this card is really good and can have an greater impact in the future.

6. Fanatical Offering

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A very recent addition to the format, Fanatical Offering adding yet another 1B Draw Two effect that comes with a permanent is pretty great. It's definitely driven up play in the Golgari Gardens archetype especially, giving that deck even more ways to churn through its deck. The Map token also has proven to be quite useful either as sacrifice fodder to other effects or also being used to explore with creatures.

5. Tithing Blade

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Yet another recent addition to the format thanks to Lost Caverns of Ixalan, this is another card that really pushed its way into specific archetypes, from Golgari Gardens to even enabling an Orzhov Midrange pile to exist that plays Kor Skyfisher and again Glint Hawk. Having a repeatable effect like this is quite good.

4. Cryptic Serpent

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Another cost-reduced big threat that was downshifted in Commander Masters, the Serpent is one of the big things (outside of our number three spot) that enabled Mono Blue Terror/Delver to exist. Having several cost-effective threats in a deck like that made the deck tick.

3. Lorien Revealed

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card had a huge impact on Pauper overall, enabling many decks to be able to really adjust their manabases and play fewer lands overall. This card also is very good with Brainstorm, and it's one of the big reasons Mono Blue Terror can exist as a deck. This is truly a card that will continue to see play for a very long time.

2. All That Glitters

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This was one of the biggest downshifts of Commander Masters overall. This card single-handedly created a brand new archetype in the format in the form of Azorius Affinity, while also seeing play in Bogles decks. This is most certainly one of the best cards of 2023, but wait... there is one more.

1. Monastery Swiftspear

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Even though this card was downshifted in Double Masters 2022 last year, I don't think any other card got as much hubbub and discussion as good old Swiftspear. So much discussion was had on this one card that eventually Swiftspear would be banned as of a few weeks back. The powerful combination of Swifty and just playing the game of Magic proved that this was one downshift that was probably a bit too much for Pauper to handle.

Pauper Challenge 12/16

The first Challenge event of the weekend and the one we have more information on was the Saturday event. This event had 48 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Castle of Commons Discord.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Pretty even spreads of decks across the board here, but Burn had one of the best win rates past the cutoff. All the other decks had a sub-50 % win rate, which is highly interesting.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Burn 1st _Marian_
Burn 2nd Foresterf
Azorius Affinity 3rd LasVegasChaos
Azorius Affinity 4th jvidarte
Mono Blue Terror 5th Oceansoul92
Jeskai Ephemerate 6th DenisevichAlexey
Orzhov Midrange 7th Add1ct3d
Dimir Faeries 8th outZEROo

Pretty interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event, it was a Burn vs Burn final with the winner being... Golgari! No wait, it was Burn.

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This variant is kind of what we've seen Burn shift to post Swiftspear ban, Seal of Fire has proven to be very good overall in these decks.

Let's look at the other Finalist.

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This version aims to be a little faster overall with the implementation of Lotus Petal to try to push cards like Goblin Tomb Raider and Goblin Bushwhacker. An opening of Great Furnace and Petal + two Tomb Raiders seems pretty brutal.

Further down the Top 8 we had Jeskai Ephemerate.

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I really like seeing this deck as it's fun and unique. Cleansing Wildfire as a ramp spell is kind of wildly interesting always (as you use it in conjunction with blowing up an indestructible bridge to ramp a land).

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Orzhov Midrange.

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This deck is super sweet and showcases how powerful Tithing Blade is in the current format.

Around the Web

  • ThrabenU has a video on Pauper! Check it out here.
  • Kalikaiz has a videon on Turbo Mono Red. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here and here.

Oh hey, Dread Return! I was just talking about you!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Pauper!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGPauper Discord Server.

Until next time!

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