"What cards do I need?"
This is a common question when talking to any Magician about a new format. They want to understand formatsâ€”to know what decks are good and where they should spend their hard-earned money. When people hear about Pauper, they are intrigued; an entire competitive format based mostly on draft castoffs? The investment in Pauper is low, especially if someone has amassed a collection over the years. In the world of Magic Online, where prices drop dramatically a set hits heavy draft rotation (cards are sold off in bulk to help fuel the cycle of drafts), the format costs even less (following an initial investment in out of print staples). When a new set arrives online, the cards for Pauper can usually be picked up for under five bucks.
Five dollars. For all the cards you will need from a new set.
Even if a common is a staple of larger formats (like Delver of Secrets), it will rarely break the bank to continuously invest in Pauper. If you are a regular drafter, there is no additional cost: draft the set, keep a playset of commons, and sell the rest.
But what about the real world? You know the one I’m talking about: the one where if you’re playing Magic, you’re probably (say 85% likely) wearing pants. If you wanted to play Pauper with real cards and not digital objects, what steps would you need to take?
First, you and your group would need to understand that Pauper does not mean all commons (at least in the eyes of Wizards of the Coast), but rather cards that were printed at common on Magic Online. This includes the four Masters Editions which "correct" some rarities (such as Strategic Planning being available at common). Other cards, like Sinkhole, are shifted away from common, making them illegal for Pauper. If you want to emulate online Pauper in paper, commons from the following sets (and all others from here on out) are legal:
- All core sets from 7th Edition on.
- All expansions from Mirage forward.
- Gorilla Shaman, which was released as a common in a Duel Deck (uncommon in Master’s Edition).
- For all pre-Mirage and Portal cards, check the card against the Masters Editions using this list.
This only affects a few cards, such as the aforementioned Strategic Planning. Other cards affected include Death Spark and Hunting Cheetah. Out of these cards, only Death Spark sees serious play. Cards like Hymn to Tourach, Strip Mine, and Sinkhole are not common online and are therefore not allowed. Additionally, Pauper maintains a banned list of Cranial Plating and Frantic Search.
Looking over the lists from various Pauper Daily Events, I have compiled a complete list of cards that have seen serious play in the format and the number of each card you would need to purchase to have a playset of every potential card. The total investment in this set of cards from StarCityGames.com comes out to $942.50 through Avacyn Restored. This would allow you the leeway to build five decks independently of each other (Goblins, White Weenie, Stompy, Delver Blue, and Black Rats) and still have most of the cards left for a deck like Affinity or Blue-Red Cloudpost. Much like Vintage, Legacy, and Modern, once you invest initially in Pauper, it becomes easy to keep up, as there are only a few cards from each set that make their way into decklists on a regular basis. If you like to draft, chances are you can get those cards easily.
If maintaining a sometimes-convoluted list of allowable cards is more trouble than it is worth, both Standard and Modern Pauper have a following at www.pdcmagic.com. Standard is perhaps the easier format to get into; similar in size to three-set Block, all one needs is a healthy supply of draft cast-offs.
For now, here is the complete list of cards to pick up for Pauper Classic, divided by color.
Download the full spreadsheet here.
Artifacts, Lands, Colorless
Keep slingin’ commons-