The Price of Pauper

As with the original Modern Masters, Modern Masters: 2015 Edition was a double edged sword. Some of the cards that were reprinted went down in price, but enough other cards spiked hard to counteract it. The sad reality is that Modern will be an expensive format without dramatic reprints on a level not seen before. To many players, Modern is a format that is just too much of a jump to get into with price levels rising. But there is another format that is competitive, eternal, and fun with a bunch of additional benefits: Pauper.

The mostly online, commons-only format is fantastic and diverse. It allows players to jump between decks as they see fit with minimal cost while still providing a non-rotating competitive format. Although Modern Masters: 2015 Edition may have raised the price of Modern, it brought many Pauper staples to all-time lows, making it the perfect time to buy into the format. The real question now becomes what is the real cost of Pauper?


If we look at recent event results, almost every heavily played deck is somewhere from 5-50 tickets, with the current top list clocking in under 10 tickets. Almost any of these lists can be made cheaply and are significantly less expensive than corresponding decks in other formats. In addition, there is an interesting mix of decks in this top tier from Aggro (Burn, Stompy) to Control (Mono-Black, Delver) to Combo (Familiars). Yet many players don’t get into Pauper just to get one deck, they like to bounce around and play many different styles of decks. There are multiple decks in Pauper that have similar cores to other decks, but play out very differently.

Two of the most popular decks in the format are Delver and UR Fiend. Delver is an Aggro-Control list based around getting down an early [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and protecting it with counters, bounce, and draw spells. UR Fiend is a combo list centered around going off with [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] and [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. Both have the same core of 4-of [c]Ponder[/c], [c]Preordain[/c], and [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]. They both run about 17 lands and are a blue based deck.

After that, there starts to grow a divergence in the lists. UR Fiend adds red to get the combo creatures, Delver adds counters to protect its creatures, and so on. By growing a collection, it can become quite easy to jump from one list to another such as with Delver and UR Fiend.

But how to price a collection is not a simple task. The simplest way to tabulate the cost is to look at the price of the most played cards in the format, such as the 50 most played cards from MTGGoldfish. I took this list early June 14th and added in the prices was selling them for. The vast majority of the cards were 5 cents or less a piece with only 7 over a dollar. If you bought a playset of each of the top 50 most played cards, the price is only $99.20.

$99.20 for all of the most played cards in the format!

Unlike any other competitive format, you can buy into Pauper for about $100. While I doubt anyone is going to just buy the top cards and not a deck, it demonstrates how cheap the format is and how having multiple decks is not very expensive at all. Relative to Modern where all of the top lists are over $200, Pauper is a dream for your wallet. Also, the majority of the expensive cards are sideboard cards which are not vital in making the decks run. If you just remove [c]Pyroblast[/c] and [c]Hydroblast[/c], 2 strong and common sideboard cards that you do not need to be competitive, the price falls to $55.56. Yet, that list does not look at the most expensive lands in the format. Thankfully, lands are not expensive at all in Pauper, as the only ones worth money are the Artifact lands and Urza lands. The format is very cheap, so let’s go over some of the best places to start.


One of the most consistently successful decks in the format is Stompy, a mono-green beat down deck with lots of pump to back up the punch. The deck relies on getting down a few cheap threats and using one of the many pump spells to deal damage fast. In addition, this version of the deck is a steal at only $19.72.

[d title=”Stompy by DromarX – June 12, 2015″]
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
4 Young Wolf
3 Safehold Elite
3 Wild Mongrel
2 Basking Rootwalla
2 Garruk’s Companion
2 River Boa

4 Groundswell
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Rancor
2 Gather Courage
1 Bonesplitter

17 Forest

4 Scattershot Archer
3 Gleeful Sabotage
3 Gut Shot
3 Nourish
1 Bonesplitter
1 Viridian Longbow [/d]

Another classic, and a deck relatively unique to Pauper, is Mono-Black Control (or MBC). The deck utilizes a disruption package including [c]Chittering Rats[/c] and removal to control the opponent while it uses its many creatures to control the board. The heavy hitter finishers include [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] and [c]Gurmag Angler[/c]. This deck has proven to be extremely popular and is a blast to play, making it one of the most common decks out there. In addition, the deck is only an Andrew Jackson away at $19.99.

[d title=”Mono-Black Control by Claudiocruz – June 13, 2015″]
4 Chittering Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Phyrexian Rager
2 Gurmag Angler

4 Sign in Blood
3 Geth’s Verdict
3 Victim of Night
2 Chainer’s Edict
2 Unearth
2 Disfigure
2 Oubliette
1 Corrupt

19 Swamp
4 Barren Moor

4 Duress
3 Choking Sands
3 Shrivel
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Wrench Mind
1 Tendrils of Corruption [/d]

If you just want to test out the format with basically no monetary investment, Pauper has its share of dirt cheap decks, such as this 4-0 Burn list that costs a total of 2.99 tix. There are other decks that can come this cheap as well, such as W Tokens, but Burn is the most successful of these recently. This list is not too complicated, just throw fire at their face!

[d title=”Burn by Gommasd – June 9, 2015″]

4 Keldon Marauders

4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Needle Drop
4 Searing Blaze
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
2 Searing Spear

16 Mountain
2 Forgotten Cave

4 Electrickery
4 Smash to Smithereens
4 Stone Rain
3 Lightning Strike [/d]

This is not all the decks. Pauper is an open format and new brews pop up all the time. The nice thing is once you have a collection, almost any brew that pops up is almost no investment at all. You can play what you want to play and don’t have to be bothered by continual spikes.

One of the best ways to get into the format is to play the free, prize-supported, Pauper Classic Tuesdays Tournament on Gatherling. They start at 8 pm Eastern and tend to run for a few hours. If those are below your pay grade you can always play in the Pauper Daily Events that run once a day on weekdays and twice everyday on weekends. Also, visit the hub of the Pauper community at /r/Pauper on Reddit.

Thanks for reading!