Community League #8, Pauper Commander: Registration is Open

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The holidays are over and it is time to get our next league event going. I hope you guys enjoyed a merry Yule and are ready for some Magic mayhem.

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Now let’s talk about our next league!

Community League #8: Format and Rules

I thought it would be fun to try something different for this league, and I’m not sure what could be more different than Pauper Commander. Commander, also known as EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) is a singleton format with 100-card lists and a “Commander” card to lead your armies.

About the Format

Build decks using the “Commander” format in MTGO. Here are the official rules and banlist for Commander and a link with additional information on the format. Commander uses the Vintage card pool. We are playing 1v1 so Duel Commander bans apply as well.

These Commanders are banned: [c]Derevi, Empyrial Tactician[/c], [c]Edric, Spymaster of Trest[/c], [c]Erayo, Soratami Ascendant[/c], [c]Oloro, Ageless Ascetic[/c], [c]Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary[/c], [c]Zur the Enchanter[/c].

Pauper Commander, the way we will play it, differs from regular Commander in that while your Commander may be of any rarity all of the other cards in your deck must be commons. We will not be using the Pauper banned list for this event.

We will be enforcing the “printed as a common in an online set” restriction, however, which means no [c]Sinkhole[/c], no [c]Desert[/c], and no [c]Hymn to Tourach[/c]. Basically set your rarity filter in your MTGO collections page to “Common” and go from there.

This is a singleton format. The only cards you can have more than one copy of in your lists are basic lands and [c]Shadowborn Apostle[/c]s. We will be playing matches (best 2 games out of 3) and 1v1.

Registration is open now and closes in on Friday, January 22.

To sign up, provide your MTGO username, your real name (or preferred pseudonym), and your time zone down in the comments below.

I will post the first pairings on January 22 and will also send out an email with contact information. I try very hard NOT to send people lots of emails. It is up to you to keep track on the site and get in touch with your opponents promptly. After that, you will have to check the site for your next pairings, which will go up on Friday each week. It will be up to each participant to contact their opponent by email to set up their match for the week. Don’t wait for your opponents contact you; be proactive!

For this event I am going to be very strict concerning players that don’t communicate well. If your opponent says they are having a hard time getting in touch with you, and you don’t respond to my follow-up email in a timely fashion, your opponent will get the win for that week and you may be removed from the event. Check your email, respond to your email, email your opponents, email me. Short notes are fine, but KEEP IN TOUCH!

We will play 4-5 weeks of Swiss and then cut to top 8 with the goal to finish the league by the end of February.

League Rules

1. Pauper Commander uses the Vintage card pool and while your Commander may be any rarity all of the rest of the cards in your deck must be considered “common” in MTGO.

2. Duels will be 1v1 and fought in matches best 2 out of 3. You get 3 points for a match win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. A BYE counts as a win. Set your match timers for 40 minutes.

3. We will use Challonge to track this event since it worked well last time. It is the responsibility of the winner to report their win. Report by the end of Thursday each week.

4. Communicate early and often. I will only send out the one email with all your contact information. Don’t lose it! Get in touch by email (it is much more effective than waiting around on MTGO). If no one communicates with each other or with me, that week’s pairing will be considered a draw and one or both players may be removed from the league. If one person is attempting to communicate and the other person is not, they should let me know. I will attempt to solve issues when I can, but when that doesn’t work out, the person who is trying to communicate will always get the win. Don’t wait until the last minute.

5. After the initial email all official league announcements will happen here on the site. You can always stay up to date with the link on the home page or by keeping tabs on the Events page. You can also get updates by liking us on Facebook or following me on Twitter @bava_mtg.

6. We’ll play 4-5 weeks of Swiss and then cut to Top 8. The league will end by February 28.

7. You can drop at any time. Please let me know if you’d like to drop before the next week’s pairings go up. You will always be welcomed back into subsequent league events.

8. Chat about the league or share lists over in our forums.

9. Contact me if you have any questions.

League Prizes

MagicGatheringStrat is proud to list Cardhoarder as an official sponsor of all our events going forward. Cardhoarder has been serving the MTGO community since 2005, and with new ownership since 2014 has shown renewed vigor to improve the way they serve their customers and create innovation in the MTGO community.

I have personally switched all of my singles purchases for MTGO from MTGOTraders to Cardhoarder and have had a top-notch experience. I highly recommend them. Shop online or use their bots by searching for #cardhoarder in the Trade screen.

Thank you to Cardhoarder for sponsoring this event.
Buy MTGO singles at or through their bot network.

We are happy to welcome additional sponsors or donations to the prize pool. If you’re interested, please get in touch.

The winner of this event will receive 35 bot credits from Cardhoarder.

Second place will receive 15 bot credits from Cardhoarder.

In addition, the best-ranking patron in the league will receive 10 tickets from me personally. This will be in addition to any prizes already won by placing first or second in the event.

The winning patron will have to have been in good standing for at least one month, so go sign up now if you haven’t already!

I will double the prize payouts (with tickets) if we reach Patreon support of $300 by the end of January and maintain it through the end of the event.

Sign up below

To sign up, provide your MTGO username, your real name (or preferred pseudonym), and your time zone down in the comments below.


Commander Corner: Zurgo Bellstriker

Welcome back,

For this week, I decided to get away from the slow ramp decks and control decks for something lean and mean. [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] is about as lean as it gets. A 2/2 for one is pretty solid in other constructed formats, so why not in this one? We can definitely make this work in this wonderful format we call Commander.

Last time we saw Zurgo, he was the man in charge. He was the leader of the Mardu, charging them into battle. He was a master of war, dominating his foes on the battlefield. Things have changed since Sarkhan went back in time. Now, he rings bells and serves Kolaghan. He is Kolaghan’s personal attendant, and essentially a punching bag. When Kolaghan wishes to go to war, its Zurgo’s job to ring the bell and rally the troops together. Before this time shift, Sarkhan and Zurgo were enemies. Sarkhan wanted nothing more than to take vengeance on him, but now that he has saw how low his enemy has fallen, he decided against it. It seems that Zurgo’s fate was worse than what Sarkhan had planned for him.

[c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] lends himself to a super lean aggressive deck. In terms of constructed formats like Standard, he fits square into these hyper aggressive red decks that focus so much on curving out perfectly. This format is no different. The deck’s focus is about curving out and utilizing your mana effectively, while squeezing out every last point of damage you can from each spell you cast. Lets take a look at what troops [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c] can rally up for us.


He may have lost his power, but he sure makes up for it in speed and efficiency

[d title= “Zurgo Bellstriker (EDH)”]


1 Zurgo Bellstriker


1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Scrying Sheets

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

28 Snow-Covered Mountain

1 Strip Mine

1 Tectonic Edge

1 Wooded Foothills




1 Anger

1 Ash Zealot

1 Avalanche Riders

1 Chandra’s Phoenix

1 Diaochan, Artful Beauty

1 Dragon Whisperer

1 Eidolon of the Great Revel

1 Fanatic of Mogis

1 Firedrinker Satyr

1 Firefist Striker

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Foundry Street Denizen

1 Frenzied Goblin

1 Goblin Guide

1 Goblin Heelcutter

1 Goblin Rabblemaster

1 Goblin Wardriver

1 Grim Lavamancer

1 Hellrider



Creatures Cont.

1 Hero of Oxid Ridge

1 Ire Shaman

1 Kargan Dragonlord

1 Legion Loyalist

1 Lightning Berserker

1 Lightning Mauler

1 Magus of the Moon

1 Manic Vandal

1 Mardu Scout

1 Monastery Swiftspear

1 Ogre Battledriver

1 Purphoros, God of the Forge

1 Satyr Firedancer

1 Stormbreath Dragon

1 Thundermaw Hellkite

1 Urabrask the Hidden

1 Vexing Devil

1 War-Name Aspirant

1 Zealous Conscripts




1 Chain of Plasma

1 Falter

1 Fireblast

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Magma Jet

1 Price of Progress

1 Pyrokinesis

1 Searing Blaze

1 Searing Blood

1 Stoke the Flames


1 Arc Lightning

1 Blinding Flare

1 Chain Lightning

1 Goblin War Cry

1 Harness by Force

1 Hordeling Outburst

1 Magmatic Chasm

1 Mizzium Mortars

1 Wheel of Fate

1 Wheel of Fortune




1 Aggravated Assault

1 Goblin War Drums

1 Heat Stroke

1 Sulfuric Vortex


1 Hall of Triumph


Price: Paper = $201.42 | MTGO = 154.9 TIX

The MTGO price does not include [c]Goblin War Cry[/c]. I would recommend replacing it with another [c]Falter[/c] effect like [c]Ruthless Invasion[/c], but this slot is up to you.

This deck is pretty much hellbent on beating your opponent’s face into the pavement. This is the most aggressive deck I think I’ve ever seen or built. It’s creature dense, packed with burn and [c]Falter[/c] effects, and some card draw to keep the pain train coming. It does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well.

The biggest draw to this deck is its curve. I’ve done the best I can to make the curve as good as possible. This deck has been in the works for at least a month now, so I’ve had a lot of time with it. The deck tends to curve out supremely, and usually has some way to use all of its mana in the turn cycle. I skimped a little on the one drops, because our turn one play is usually just [c]Zurgo Bellstriker[/c]. We do curve up to five drops, or six drops if you include [c]Pyrokinesis[/c] and [c]Fireblast[/c] though you usually won’t be casting it for its mana cost, so that we can maximize the pressure on our opponent during the early game.

Most decks in the format take some time to set up, which is where we do the most of our damage. We curve out to some of the best aggressive five drops printed in recent memory with [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c], [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c], and [c]Urabrask the Hidden[/c]. These hasty threats will be able to close out the game in short order.

If we do end up going into the long game, our smaller creatures will probably get outclassed. So to mitigate this, we have a handfull of [c]Falter[/c] effects. They will allow us to blow out our opponent and shove tons of damage through. I hope your opponent doesn’t plan on blocking often, because that’s not going to happen.

On top of these effects, we also have some mana sinks to help us utilize our mana in the late game. Cards like [c]Aggravated Assault[/c] will give us extra combat steps, which lets us utilize [c]Falter[/c] even more. If one combat step where their creatures can’t block was bad, two seems like a death sentence. [c]Blinding Flare[/c] also acts like a mana sink when we get to pour mana into its strive cost. We can even refill our hand with [c]Wheel of Fortune[/c] and [c]Wheel of Fate[/c] so that we never run out of gas.

Our early game aggression, compounded with our late game mana sinks, lets us consistently keep the pressure on our opponent. This deck will never let up, and will punish any misstep or stumble from our opponent. Most of our creatures may be small, but it’s unwise to underestimate their potential. Who said red was the worst color in EDH? Zurgo would beg to differ.

Overall, this deck is tons of fun if you like turning cards sideways. It borrows its core concepts from the red decks of yore, focusing on curving out instead of shear power. In a format known for durdeling around in the early game, this deck doesn’t mess around. Its quick and unrelenting nature will turn any opponent to a pile of ash. Zurgo is ringing his bell. Will you answer the call to war?

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a future commander, or topic you wish for me to discuss, let me know in the comments below. Next week, we will take a visit to Ravnica once again to meet the head of the [c]Church of Deals[/c]. I’ll get to testing that deck, as soon as I stop watching Kung Fury. Seriously, go watch that movie. It’s radical.

-Steven Gulsby