This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series Peasant Rebellion

By MAX aka MAXWELLIAN2000
Format Notes: Pauper decks are 99 cards and a general.  Peasant decks are 94 commons, 5 uncommons and a general.  See http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Pauper_Magic and http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Peasant_Magic.  Additionally, the best Pauper reference site I have found by far is pdcmagic.com. That’s a significant community they’ve got going over there, and their FAQ page is golden.  Peasant, though, is a much less charted territory, with this thread on the EDH forums leading the charge: http://forums.dragonhighlander.net/EDH_Forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=915

For the final installment of our Pauper Vacation Guide, we will identify some cards in each color have reached Pauper “format staple” status.  Defining “Format Staple” is always a slippery slope, so for our purposes a staple is a card that has performed well enough and consistently enough in multiple decks to cause our group to strongly consider playing it in any on-color deck.  As for Peasant, it’s pretty easy to come up with the bomb uncommons that thrive in Commander (Sol Ring, Lightning Greaves, or Maze of Ith, anyone?), but for the most part, the uncommons that end up in Peasant decks are usually extremely specific to that deck in order to expand on some theme presented by the commons.  Translation: we’re only gonna discuss commons in the article.

Without further ado:

Black:
Evincar’s Justice
Ashes to Ashes
Rend Flesh
Disturbed Burial

Andy and the guys talked about buyback, and it meets the hype.  I mean, Disturbed Burial makes regular Commander decks on the reg, so no shock it’s awesome here.  Black is responsible for mass removal in this format thanks to the Justice and Ashes to Ashes.  And yes, Spirits still suck, even in Pauper, while Black is quite strong, making Rend Flesh the spot removal of choice over Doom Blade in our testing (pretty frustrating to be holding an ineffective removal spell while your opponent’s general is having a field day).  Crypt Rats and Pestilence are sitting in a stack that will become Mono B or B/X, but couldn’t make our three-color decks.

Blue:
Capsize
Counterspell
Trinket Mage
Mulldrifter
Foresee
Deep Analysis

Draw Cards, Counter Spells, Bounce Threats, and Search for your Trinkets.  These are pretty self-explanatory.

Green:
Citrunal Woodreaders
Sprout Swarm
Wickerbough Elder
Rancor
Oakgnarl Warrior

These are cool enough they deserve their own top five (and this is on top of the ramping/fixing quintet of Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate, Ondu Giant, Yavimaya Elder, and Krosan Tusker, all of which absolutely should be played):

5.  Sprout Swarm.  Best buyback spell in color makes for some of the best card advantage in color.  Gets real silly because of convoke.

4.  Oakgnarl Warrior.  5/7 vigilance trample is just what this format needs: won’t compromise your board position while simultaneously busting face.  Rootbreaker Wurm might be second in the big green pecking order.

3.  Cinatul Woodreaders.  Raise your hand if you remember this guy and didn’t play Time Spiral limited.  But he’s Mulldrifter lite, and in a format where pure card draw is rare, he provides both that and a butt.

2.  Rancor.  Recurrable trample is obscenely good in eternal formats already, so no shock it’s amazing here.  How about this on an Ulamog’s Crusher?  Riiiight.  But we couldn’t make such an obvious choice number one, could we?

1.  Wickerbough Elder.  Best artifact and enchantment removal in the format because he’s recurrable and bounceable (and there’s probably some sweet “add counters” synergy that I’m forgetting that he also plays nice with).  Add that to a 4/4 body for 4, and he’s got “auto-include” written all over him.

Red:
Rolling Thunder
Fissure
Shattering Pulse

Some awesome removal here.  The Pulse is especially relevant because of all the good equipment running around, from Bonsplitter and Volshok Morningstar to Skullclamp and Lightning Greaves.  As per usual, Red can take care of everything but enchantments.

White:
Oblivion Ring
Faith’s Fetters
Totem-Guide Hartebeest

This little three-card package seems to make it into everything.  The Hartebeest is insane in part because his butt is big enough to survive a lot of things.  Sometimes Faith’s Fetters is the best answer for a problematic general in a tuckless format.  And O-Ring is O-Ring.

Land (we‘ll take these one at a time):

Bojuka Bog. Probably the best graveyard hate in the format.  Though this is much less important than in regular Commander, do you really want them to have Disturbed Burial targets?

Halimar Depths.  In a world with no Sensei’s Divining Top (is that really going to be one of your FIVE uncommons?), Depths plus a bounce land is pretty good stuff.  Bog and Depths help U/B make it’s claim for best color combo in the format (as advanced on the podcast).

Ravnica bounce lands a la Dimir Aqueduct.  The best (and only) pure dual lands in the format.  Can potentially combo out for infinite mana with some help from things like Krosan Restorer and Freed From the Real.

Strip Mine.  Some questions as to whether they are legal or not in a 99 common format, but research (consisting mostly of looking through my non-basics and a couple Google searches) suggests that the frequency of the printing counts in determining what’s legal.  If that’s the case, there were a hell of a lot of Strip Mines printed at first, so I’m going to go with legal.  Plus, it blows up a dual land to prevent degenerate combos as outlined above, so it serves an important function.

Desert.  Yes, this was a common in Arabian Nights.  And this just in, aggro has a chance in Pauper, so keeping that early damage off you can come in handy.

Also worth playing: Cycling lands (Barren Moor, Drifting Meadow, etc.), artifact lands (if you have Trinket Mage to be a bad Civic Wayfinder, otherwise too vulnerable), Rupture Spire

Artifacts:

Most common artifacts are either mana fixers (read: Signets/Darksteel Ingot/Armillary Sphere/Wayfarer’s Bauble/Obelisks) or suck unless they are equipment printed during Mirrodin (when Wizards dreamed up Skullclamp, Disciple of the Vault, artifact lands, affinity for artifacts and…well, you know the rest).  But as creature beats are the most reliable win condition in Pauper, equipment gets extra points for helping out there.  Five worth playing:

5.  Viridian Longbow. Combines with any deathtouch creature for repeatable targeted removal.  Puts the x-nay on the many excellent creatures in Pauper with 1 toughness.  Can combo out for infinite damage with some combination of untapping effects.  Puts that extra 1 damage on in combat to kill that one extra creature.  Searchable with Trinket Mage.  Really good, but ranked lower because it might not suit every deck.

4. Neurok Stealthsuit.  Effectively making more than one creature untargetable with one card is the kind of two-for-one action cards need to make the cut in the format.

3. Kitesail.  Evasion is key, and the +1 to power sets it apart from its cousin Bladed Pinions (although the Pinions is probably superior with deathtouch).

2.  Strider Harness.  Efficient haste can make a difference in creature attrition wars, and the +1/+1 helps too.

1.  Whispersilk Cloak.  This format’s Lightning Greaves.

A final must-play in “color”: Ulamog’s Crusher (largest creature in the format didn’t make the artifacts list because it’s colorless and I had to put it somewhere because it’s awesome)

Gold:

As far as gold cards go, a good rule of thumb is to play the gold cards in color.  Wizards gives us quite a few options at common in Gold, from Apocalypse to Ravnica to Shadowmoor to Alara, thereby justifying a top 10.

10.  Tidehollow Strix.  Did I mention deathtouch was good?  Flying, too?

9. Perplex/Dimir Infiltrator. Infiltrator might be better because it’s more easily recurrable, but Perplex works as a counter a high percentage of the time if you need it, and 3cc is definitely the best transmute option (read: Capsize and all kinds of other removal, for starters).

8.  Armadillo Cloak.  The buff plus lifelink makes attacking way more enticing than it otherwise would be.   This plays nicely in a Naya deck getting searched up by the Totem-Guide Hartebeest.

7.  Assault Zeppelid.  The largest legal creature with both flying and trample.

6.  Soul Manipulation.  Counters the most powerful card type in the format and recurs a beater at the same time.  Perfect for this format.

5.  Shield of the Oversoul.  Indestructible is even better in a format with so few exile effects outside of white.

4.  Mystical Teachings.  Tutors for Capsize or any of the other good buyback spells.  Twice.

3.  Runes of the Deus.  Double strike, especially on your general, is always good.  Here, it can really put that one creature over the top to break an attrition war.

2.  Cavern Harpy.  Yeah, I forgot about it too; is this a possibility for regular Commander?  That’s probably going a little far, but it’s still the best “recur your own creatures” card advantage engine this side of…

1.  Momentary Blink.  This card is a common?  I think the Time Spiral design team got a hold of some of that Mirrodin stuff.  Countering targeted removal is just the tip of the iceberg.

Honorable Mention: Coiling Oracle (gotta love this guy)

So to sum up, I would say that as in standard Commander, blue is the best color in Pauper (take a look at those staples again and ask yourself which format this is), with black and green vying for the “second-best” tag.  Damage is way more relevant, which makes red better, putting white in fifth place in my mind.  Mining the Gold cards might be the key to an effective Pauper deck because its options are so diverse at common.  Please note that by the end of this diatribe my objectivity was really lacking so take the order of these alleged top 10 gold cards with a particularly large grain of salt.

Anyway, play Pauper.  Play Peasant.  They both rock.  These limited formats challenge your deck building and play skill, forcing you to build and play with an extremely high percentage of common cards.  It sure as hell is more affordable.  The play experience reminds me a lot more of my crazy-fun multiplayer games in the ‘90s than the arms race that is Commander.  And who wants to see Consecrated Sphinx every time you shuffle up your 99?  Besides, it’s not like you have to quit regular EDH; I play Peasant for a change of pace.  A vacation, if you will.  And it’s way easier to have Pauper decks lying around for friends than handing them Numot and saying, “as soon as you can, you want to get the Sunforger into play, equip it, attack, then unequip it to play Enlightened Tutor so you can fetch…”

~ Maxwellian2000

Series Navigation<< Peasant Rebellion 01 – Pauper EDH: Your Guide to a Vacation from CommanderPeasant Rebellion 03 – Do You Still Need Blue To Win? >>