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Pauper’s Pit – An Intro and Decklist

Welcome to Pauper’s Pit!  This column is going to dedicated to my continuing search for what can be the most accessible format for new and returning players.  Just getting started and want something (relatively) inexpensive to build that’s fun for casual?  Pauper. Have boxes and boxes of old commons laying around?  Pauper.  Have friends that have more cards than they know what do do with?  Pauper.

This column will be focusing first on the five decks, each based on the stages of the metagame clock for deck designs, then stretching out from there.  What’s that?  Not everyone knows about the metagame clock?  In short, it was proposed that there are, functionally, five types of deck, with one being better than the one before it and worse against the one immediately following it.  It’s like one big rock-paper-scissors game.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on Beatdown, Midrange, Combo, Control, and Agro-control. What each of those does is really best summed up by an article at SCG by Will Rieffer and Mike Mason from back in 2008: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/694_The_Metagame_Clock_Revisited.html

I’m not going to focus too much on it as I just wanted to use it as a context for what decks I’ll be showing.  Who am I?

A short bit about me as a magic player.

I am not a competitive player.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like to win.  But I am, as they say, a Johnny.  Magic, to me, is a creative experience and, if I can win in an unexpected way or with something I built myself, all the better.  Not all of decks are going to be tier 1.  I doubt many of them would be tier 3, if such things existed.  But I like to think they’re fun, functional, and improvable to other people’s style of play.


And now about pauper:

For those of you not familiar with Pauper as a format, this is per the mothership’s website at https://www.wizards.com/magic/tcg/resources.aspx?x=magic/rules/pauper.

Pauper is a Magic Online format in which all cards used must have been printed at the common rarity in a Magic Online set or product. Common promo cards are only legal if the card has been printed at the common rarity in a set or product. Other than that, the usual rules for Constructed decks apply (a minimum deck size of 60 cards in the main deck, an optional 15-card sideboard, and so on). If a common version of a particular card was ever released on Magic Online, any versions of that card printed at other rarities are also legal in this format.

Example: Counterspell was a common card in the Seventh Edition core set, which was released on Magic Online. Counterspell was reprinted in Masters Edition II with an uncommon expansion symbol. Both versions of the card can be used in the Pauper format.

Example: Hymn to Tourach, another uncommon from Masters Edition II, is not legal for use in the Magic Online Pauper format. Even though Hymn to Tourach was printed as a common in The Fallen Empires set, that set was never released on Magic Online

The Pauper banned list is:


So let’s get started, shall we?


Today, we’re going to start with my favorite deck and current MtGO pauper deck of choice.

The Millions (and Millions) of the Gaurd’s Fans

3x Avacyn’s Pilgrim
2x Essence Warden
4x Llanowar Elves
4x Midnight Guard
2x Soul Warden
2x Timberwatch Elf

Other Spells
4x Fog
2x Holy Day
2x Oblivion Ring
4x Presence of Gond
4x Ranger’s Guile
2x Sundering Growth

9x Forest
7x Plains
4x Selesnya Guildgate
3x Selesnya Sanctuary

3x Apostle’s Blessing
4x Coalition Honor Guard
4x Evolution Charm
4x Vines of Vastwood

How the deck works.

Millions, surprisingly, is a Green/White combo deck.  Most every card in the deck is designed to support, enable, or prevent your opponent from stopping your combo from going off.  Let’s start with the combo itself.

Midnight Guard + Presence of Gond

This unassuming pair of three drops is one of the few infinite combos in pauper.  How it works is thus:

Enchant Midnight Guard with Presence of Gond.  Tap Midnight Guard.  Create a 1/1 Elf Warrior Token.  This triggers Midnight Guard, causing it to untap.  Repeat ad absurdum.  This leaves you with an arbitrarily large number of Elf Tokens that must have an answer by next turn.

How does the rest of the deck fit in?

Aside from the obvious mana ramp cards, you have 2 Essence Warden and 2 Soul Warden.  While you could play one color over the other, I find having two in each makes it less likely you’re not going to be able to drop one if needed.  Also, when at least one of them is in play and you combo off, congratulations.  You just gained an exceedingly large amount of life.

2 Oblivion Ring and 2 Sundering Growth are for those pesky mill / turbofog decks, along with any other enchantment heavy deck (such as next week’s Aura Gnarlid beatdown deck).

4 Ranger’s Guile are there to protect your Midnight Guard.  If you think your opponent will burn out the guard before you combo off, have this is hand first.

4 Fog and  2 Holy Day…  Good against any agro deck, these will buy you the turns you need.

Lastly, you have 2 Timberwatch Elf.  These are a good plan B.  If you find yourself with multiple Presence of Gond, tacking one onto an Essence Warden while Timberwatch Elf is in play gives (at least), a 3/3 chump blocker every turn while netting you one life.

As I usually just one and done casual games with this, I hadn’t focused too heavily on sideboards.  From my own experience, storm decks (another combo deck) may give you issues. Beatdown decks are usually stopped by the combo, and Midrange is hampered by Ranger’s Guile.  Mostly more protection for your Midnight Guard.  The Evolution Charm operates as both land search and an extra Midnight Guard, should your opponent kill one.


Well, that wraps up our first article.  As always, I look forward to your feedback.  Join us next time in EDH for my Ten Guild Challenge.  If you’re still here, thanks for reading.



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  1. If I may, I would suggest playing Vines of Vastwood over Ranger’s Guile. When used on your own creature, the effect is the same, but you can also use Vines as a makeshift counterspell if your opponent tries to target their own creatures with something. The ability to kick it for +4/+4 also allows you a little leeway if you can’t find your combo and need to start turning other guys sideways.

    Great article!

    1. Awkward double post: meant to say Vines in the main with Guile in the board. Point is the same though.

    2. Both are plausible. The thing is, with it being a combo deck, the kicker didn’t see as vital as the hexproof. In pauper, a +1/+1 bump is usually enough to put Midnight Guard outside of the range of what I’ve seen Beat Down decks. It could just be a personal preference.

    • Ryan on July 29, 2013 at 2:17 pm
    • Reply

    Great article, but umm why is there only 58 cards?

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