The Power of Pauper: The Glue that Connects Pauper


Howdy folks! It’s time yet again for another edition of The Power of Pauper! I’m your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we’re going to diving into the concepts of “glue” cards within Pauper. These are cards that on their own don’t seem as strong, but they operate as glue for connecting various pieces of the format together. We’ve also got Paupergeddon to discuss as well as three Challenges from this past weekend!

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

The Glue of Pauper

Pauper as a format is full of wildly powerful commons across Magic‘s history. There are a ton of cards that do very powerful things, and then there are cards that look rather innocuous on the surface, but functionally act as glue for other pieces of the format. These cards are good because the synergy they provide. We’re taking a look at a few of these this week, focusing on one card of each color.

The first one to discuss is seen quite a bit in a lot of different builds, and that is of course… Kor Skyfisher.

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In a vacuum, Skyfisher is a card that seems like it has a downside. After all, you have to bounce a permanent when it enters the battlefield. But in Pauper, this downside is converted to a huge upside as the quality of other permanents you are bouncing is that much better. Skyfisher glues these effects together to create a value engine that allows decks to replay out value permanents. The array of permanents that Skyfisher is good with is pretty endless, and on the back end you’re left with a 2/3 flier that can attack your opponent. This is just a tiny list of what Skyfisher allows.

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Being able to bounce and replay cards like Tithing Blade or Experimental Synthesizer is a solid way to gain more value out of these cards. Skyfisher allows this functionality, but it doesn’t just work with artifacts! It can bounce any permanent, so cards like Thraben Inspector and Novice Inspector can be bounced as well to replay them out for more Clue tokens.

The blue card of the bunch here is Spellstutter Sprite.

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By itself, this card isn’t doing much, but it works well with other creatures of the Faerie creature type, enabling it to counter more. However, it’s real glue is the fact that this can be repeatedly used by bouncing the Sprite with effects like Ninjutsu. Since Sprite is a flier, it can often swing uncontested in the air, allowing you to Ninjutsu it back to your hand where you can then recast it to stop a key spell. Without creatures that have Ninjutsu that are playable, this becomes a fun one-shot effect, but with those effects in the format, the potential to repeatedly use it is much higher.

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The black card of this set of cards is Blood Fountain!

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At the surface level, Blood Fountain seems like a set mechanic card. It makes a Blood Token and it can be cashed in later for some effect. However, in Pauper, this is a glue to decks that utilize the mechanic Affinity for Artifacts in that it itself is an Artifact that makes another Artifact when it enters the battlefield. Immediately that is a two mana cost reduction to any Affinity spell, possibly three mana if the land used to cast Blood Fountain was an artifact land like Vault of Whispers. This works great in the Grixis Affinity decks, but also just any deck that wants to care about artifacts in play.

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Late game, the effect that Blood Fountain provides is a way to recur many of these powerful threats that have been sent to the graveyard in some fashion. This card providing an early to mid-to-late game effect makes it very powerful.

The red card we’re looking at here is quite interesting because its use case is not quite how Wizards intended and that’s Cleansing Wildfire.

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On the surface and in a vacuum, this card looks to be just like most targeted land destruction effects. You destroy a land and they get a basic out of the deal, as you are probably getting rid of a nonbasic land that you didn’t want to hang around. However, in Pauper a lot of nonbasic lands are mainly just duals, as there aren’t a ton of crazy nonbasics like there are in other formats. In the case of Cleansing Wildfire, the card is used as a ramp spell instead of its original intended functionality.

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The Bridge lands, introduced in Modern Horizons 2 provided an exciting function to Cleansing Wildfire by creating a situation where you want to target your own lands. In this case, you target a Bridge and you attempt to destroy it (but can’t since it’s indestructible) but then you get to go get a basic land and put it into play tapped while drawing a card. It’s a very unique use case, and it’s become the basis of decks like Jeskai Ephemerate where this is a thing you want to be doing. It makes the card exceptionally interesting and a weird fun ramp effect in red.

Green is a weird one here, because most of green’s cards are somewhat super awkward in most of Pauper. However, a card I think that makes the most sense is Lead the Stampede.

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Plenty of the green decks are very much creature-based, so Lead the Stampede acts as a glue card for those decks to allow them to refill their hands. Because many of these decks are predominantly playing creatures, the chance for hitting on every card with this is very high.

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Decks like Elves and Walls Combo hinge on this card because it allows them to dump their hands and keep going while playing very few lands overall in the deck so that the chances for hitting off Lead the Stampede are much higher than average decks. In addition, these decks are playing creatures that generate mana as well, making casting Lead the Stampede rather trivial.

We’ll do some more looking in the future at cards that are synergistic to the format overall, so be on the lookout for more of these articles soon!

Paupergeddon Winter Edition March 2024

Held in Italy, this past weekend was one of Pauper’s larger paper events in the form of Paupergeddon! This event took place in Palataurus (Lecco) and had a whopping 688 players coming out for 12 rounds of Swiss spread across two days and a cut to to Top 8! This an awesome turnout for what looked like an absolutely exceptional event. You can find all of the information about this event over on their Facebook! This event was also streamed over on the LegaPauperItalia Twitch channel!

My understanding of the overall Metagame of the event was that there was certainly a lot of Azorius/Jeskai Affinity, as well as a lot of Golgari Gardens. The Top 8 of the event was as follows:

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Azorius Familiars 1st Bragioto Pietro
Jeskai Ephemerate 2nd Tocchi Gabriele
Dimir Faeries Top 4 Campanino Fabrizio
Azorius Affinity Top 4 Nobili Raffaele
Boros Glitters Top 8 Bartoli Lapo
Azorius Affinity Top 8 Cardona Domenico
Dimir Faeries Top 8 Ciccone Andrea
Boros Glitters Top 8 Carini Gabriele

Definitely a lot of All That Glitters in this Top 8 between Azorius and a Boros version. However, the end of the event was decided between Azorius Familiars and Jeskai Ephemerate with the winner being Familiars.

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I really like this list. Meeting of Minds has always been compelling for me in this list, and I love the addition of Merchant Scroll because it helps find just about whatever you need to get through the game with. Going up to a full four of Lorien Revealed is very powerful too when you’re cost-reducing it. This may be a version I will have to put together!

The Second Place finalist was Jeskai Ephemerate.

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This is a super clean Jeskai list and I can dig it. I love Murmuring Mystic for this format in general. It’s a very on-power level card for the format it feels like, especially at four mana.

Pauper Challenge 32 3/23

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the Saturday event. This event had 50 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

The two most popular decks were Azorius Gates and Dimir Faeries, and both had really strong win rates. Burn seemed to suffer here despite one Top 8 finish, and Azorius Affinity very much seemed to suffer a lot at a very low 29.41% win rate. It will be interesting to see if this holds, but it looks like it did over the weekend at least.

Let’s take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Azorius Gates 1st ezocratto
Orzhov Midrange 2nd totemsilence
Boros Synthesizer 3rd TryHardMol
Burn 4th Mistr
Dimir Faeries 5th msskinbolic
Azorius Gates 6th BERNASTORRES
Cycle Storm 7th Tyerube1618
Goblins Combo 8th Hamuda

Pretty cool Top 8 here. At the end of the event the winner was Azorius Gates.

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This is a nice looking list. The Modern Age is a really cool Saga for the format and makes these decks super interesting.

In Second Place we had Orzhov Midrange.

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I really like that this deck exists. It does a lot of cool midrange-y stuff and has a lot of strong pieces of removal.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Cycle Storm.

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Blood Celebrant is a sick card in this pile. Being able to convert your black mana into other colors as needed at the cost of one life is really sweet. This deck is very cool indeed.

Pauper Challenge 32 3/24

The second event of the weekend was the Sunday 32 player minimum Challenge. This event had 45 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Burn was the most popular deck of the event, but it’s win rate was dragged down a bit despite a Top 8 finish. Azorius Affinity again suffered a lot in this event at 22.22% win rate. Wildly of the decks above the cutoff here, most of them didn’t actually do all that well.

Let’s take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bogles 1st AoFTW
Dimir Faeries 2nd Beicodegeia
Azorius Gates 3rd kasa
Azorius Familiars 4th Gn42
Grixis Affinity 5th O_danielakos
Naya Aggro 6th grinderA
Golgari Gardens 7th Jinjaa
Burn 8th Mistr

This is a cool Top 8 filled with decks that didn’t quite crack three or more decks. At the end of the event, it was the lone Bogles player that won.

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I like this list a lot. Bogles is a very neat deck that I feel doesn’t see as much play as it should. It’s a pretty cool deck and a lot of fun.

In Second Place we had Dimir Faeries.

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This is a solid and clean list overall here. It has a lot of tools to execute its very proactive game plan, and it does a lot of strong things.

Also in this Top 8 we had Grixis Affinity.

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With all the hubbub over Azorius, Grixis has taken a small backseat, but I still think this list is quite good. The effects like Deadly Dispute and friends are still exceptionally powerful cards to be casting in Pauper.

Pauper Challenge 64 3/24

The final Challenge event of the weekend was the 64 player Sunday event. This event had exactly 64 players in it thanks to the data provided by Daybreak Games.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Dimir Faeries was quite popular and had a really good overall win rate. Azorius Affinity did slightly better than the other events this weekend, but still not that great at a 46.51% win rate. Boros Synthesizer, Gates, and Gardens all did well here.

Let’s take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Goblins Combo 1st Kampo
Mono White Aggro 2nd jwaves
Dimir Faeries 3rd Mikthara1994
Boros Synthesizer 4th bolov0
Golgari Gardens 5th Liv_BR
Dimir Faeries 6th outZEROo
Goblins Combo 7th firstshot
Golgari Gardens 8th LordEgg

Really interesting Top 8 here. It’s important to note that both Goblins Combo players in the event made the Top 8, with one of them being the winner.

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Impulsive Pilferer is quite an interesting card for sure. It can make a Treasure token when it dies which is interesting since it’s a creature that can sacrifice to Skirk Prospector for a red mana and also make a Treasure.

In Second Place we had Mono White Aggro.

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Very clean and straightforward list here. Clean mana too. This deck has a game plan and it knows how it wants to execute it.

Also in this Top 8 we had Boros Synthesizer.

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This is more of a Boros Glitters build, since it’s playing All That Glitters in addition to the stuff like the Inspectors and Gingerbrute. Pretty neat evolution of this list.

Around the Web

  • StompyMTG has a video on the metagame at Paupergeddon. Check it out here.
  • Heartyshow has a video on Stompy vs Azorius Affinity. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Alex Ullman has an article on this past weekend’s events. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

As League results are now spread out across the week, let’s dig in and find something spicy!

This Naya Aggro deck is pretty sweet.

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Wrapping Up

That’s all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Pauper!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I’m always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGPauper Discord Server.

Until next time!

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