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War of the Spark Arena Pauper Primer

Over the next several weeks, Magic Arena is running a series of free weekly events featuring a variety of formats. The rewards for doing well in these events are pretty exciting: card styles featuring the stained-glass planeswalker art from the War of the Spark trailer! This week, the format is Pauper, which means you're playing a typical best-of-one Standard deck (so no sideboard is needed) but with a twist: only commons are legal in the format. This not only makes Pauper cheap for players who don't have a ton of wildcards but also means the metagame will be a lot different than normal Standard since none of the planeswalkers that are currently near the top of the format are legal in Pauper. The only other rule of Pauper is that Persistent Petitioners is banned in the format (although Rat Colony is still legal, if you want to cheat the "you can only play four copies of a card" rule). Here's a look at the rewards for this week's event.

If you're looking for a deck to jump into Pauper and earn some sweet planeswalker card styles, here are a few options to get you started!

While Persistent Petitioners is (thankfully) banned in Arena Pauper, Rat Colony is still around. Thanks to the fact that there aren't many good sweepers at common, Pauper is the perfect format for the "play a deck full of Rat Colony" strategy to thrive. The plan here is simple: on Turn 1, you Duress your opponent to take away whatever answer they might have to your Rat Colony plan; then, for the rest of the game, you play copies of Rat Colony until you eventually have an overwhelming Rat army to win the game. Here, it's also worth noting that on Magic Arena, as long as you have at four copies of Rat Colony in your collection, you are allowed to add any number to your deck.

There are a couple of reasons to play Mono-Red Aggro in Pauper on Magic Arena. First, the deck is fast, so Mono-Red Aggro is a great option if your main goal is to grind out 15 wins and earn your stained-glass planeswalker card styles as quickly as possible. Second, since many of the best burn spells and aggressive red creatures are commons, you get to play Standard staples like Ghitu Lavarunner, Viashino Pyromancer, and Fanatical Firebrand along with solid burn spells like Skewer the Critics and Heartfire to close out the game with direct damage.

If playing big creatures is more your style, Mono-Green Proliferate is a good option since green gets the biggest common-rarity creatures in Standard. The deck itself is pretty simple: it's overflowing with creatures that either add a +1/+1 counter to themselves (like Tishana's Wayfinder) or to another creature (like Iron Bully and Ironshell Beetle) plus ways to proliferate those counters to make your creatures into even more devastating threats (like Pollenbright Druid and Bloom Hulk). Then, if you ever run low on cards, you can spend your mana to activate Vivien's Grizzly, which is likely to hit since there are a massive 36 creatures in the deck!

While Mono-Red offers burn spells, Mono-Green offers big creatures, and Mono-Black offers infinite Rats, Mono-White has some major upsides in Arena Pauper as well, namely a bunch of cheap evasive creatures. Much like limited, in Pauper, being able to attack in the air while your opponents are ground-bound is a big advantage. Along with cheap fliers, white offers some tappers like Law-Rune Enforcer and Star-Crowned Stag to force through even more damage, along with pump spells like Charge to close out the game with one big attack.

While mono-colored decks are strong in Arena Pauper since there aren't a lot of good dual lands printed at common, two-color decks have a place too. For example, smashing together black and white can give you a powerful lifegain-based aggro deck that seems like a nightmare for decks like Mono-Red Aggro to keep up with.

Finally, for those of you who want to win slowly rather than quickly, blue-black is the most popular color combination when it comes to control in Arena Pauper. The plan here is to kill or counter basically everything your opponent plays and then either win the game very, very slowly with Vampire Neonate's drain ability or to forget about kill your opponent with damage altogether and just lock them out of the game by looping copies of Devious Cover-Up (to keep shuffling cards back into your deck) to counter everything relevant your opponent could play and eventually cause them to lose by drawing on an empty library.

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