Saturday, July 4, 2009

Top Common Cards in M10 for Pauper Magic

I play a bit of Standard Pauper Magic using Magic Online. Pauper is a format where only cards printed at common rarity are allowed. It is a fun format that is well balanced, competitive, fun and very inexpensive (a winning Standard Pauper deck costs $1-$2). MTGO costs $10 to start up (you get $10 worth of credit to buy cards with though when you start) and is free to play after that. The Pauper community is also very active on MTGO with tournaments almost every day in different formats. In fact, recently pauper has become an officially recognized format on MTGO. There are 2 weekly Standard Format tournaments with about 30-40 players in each.

With a new core set coming out soon, I thought I would do a review of some cards from the position of a Standard Pauper player and talk about my top 10 cards from M10. So, in order of collectors number, here are my top 10 picks for M10.

Soul Warden

Creature - Human Cleric Common
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.

Essence Warden was played with token decks. Getting 1 life with every creature (including your opponents) is a great ability. With Soul Warden moving from uncommon to common, this card may see play in a UW control deck.

Veteran Armorsmith

Creature - Human Soldier Common
Other Soldier creatures you control get +0/+1.
"Courage is a proud and gleaming shield. It does not bend or hide from sight. To fight with courage, we must forge in steel."
Illus. Michael Komarck 2/3

2/3 for 2 is very good good and it has a great ability to boot. Veteran Armorsmith works great with aggressive cards like Aven Squire. M10 is definitely pushing the soldier archetype for limited by printing tons of efficient soldier creatures which translate well into pauper.

Essence Scatter

Instant Common
Counter target creature spell.
Some wizards compete not to summon the most interesting creatures, but to create the most interesting aftereffects when a summons goes awry.
Illus. John Foster #51/249

Pauper is filled with creature based decks so this card will almost always be usable. Remove soul is highly useful and I am sure it will continue to be with this functional reprint.

Illusionary Servant

Creature - Illusion Common
When Illusionary Servant becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it.
"Illusion is a handy but fragile medium. Use it only in a pinch, or against the dim-witted." - Jace Beleren
Illus. Dave Kendall3/4

3 mana gets you a 2/2 flier which will die to almost any effect that would target Illusionary Servant. The worst situation is probably dying from the -3/0 half of Agony Warp, but Agony Warp 2 for 1’s during combat anyway.


Sorcery Common
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library.
Draw a card.

Not too many cards get restricted in vintage and ponder is one of them. While pauper and vintage are 2 very different formats, any card on the same list as Sol Ring, Black Lotus or Ancestral Recall is definitely good enough for pauper. Ponder is a great card and will continue to be in Pauper.

Doom Blade

Instant Common
Destroy target nonblack creature.

Artifacts are well represented in pauper and regeneration is almost nonexistent (though may be reintroduced soon) so Doom Blade appears to be an improvement over Terror in Pauper. The only reason I don’t like this card is because I will no longer be able to play with my text-less Terrors.

Sign in Blood

Sorcery Common
Target player draws two cards and loses 2 life.
“You know I accept only one currency here, and yet you have sought me out. Why now do you hesitate?” - Xathrid demon
Illus. Howard Lyon

Night’s Whisper would probably have been better than this card for pauper since double black can be hard to cast in a format with 90% basic lands. However a card with this power level at common should see play and may allow a mono black control deck to arise with Tendrils of Corruption.

Vampire Aristocrat

Creature - Vampire Rogue Common
Sacrifice a creature: Vampire Aristocrat gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Almost a functional reprint of Nantuko Husk (a card which while standard legal isn’t pauper legal because it is an uncommon), this card should open up some new archetypes for pauper though will be weaker with the M10 rules changes regarding stacked damage.

Lightning Bolt

Instant Common
Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
Illus. Christopher Moeller

Shock is heavily played and Lightning Bolt will be too. I don’t expect this card will be too format warping since 3 toughness creatures are already susceptible to agony warp or nameless inversion but it has the potential to create huge change.

Terramorphic Expanse

Land Common
{T}, Sacrifice Terramorphic Expanse: Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.

One of the best lands in the format. Terramorphic Expanse is played in almost every Pauper deck. This card will continue to be useful in future decks.

Honorable Mentions:

Veteran Swordsmith

Creature - Human Soldier Common
Other Soldier creatures you control get +1/+0.
"Truth is a straight, keen edge. There are no soft angles or rounded edges. To fight for truth, we must forge in steel."
Illus. Michael Komarck 3/2

Zephyr Sprite

Creature - Faerie Common
"I've never understood why so many beings lumber around on the ground. There are three dimensions, yet they use only two."
Illus. Kev Walker1/1


Sorcery Common
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.


Creature - Zombie Common
When Gravedigger enters the battlefield, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.


Jackal Familiar

Creature - Hound Common
Jackal Familiar can’t attack or block alone.
"Let the gray-hairs keep their ravens and drakes. My familiar will be a reflection of me: bloodthirsty, with a predator’s instinct." - Taivang, barbarian warlord
Illus. Alex Horley-Orlandelli2/2

Borderland Ranger

Creature - Human Scout Common
When Borderland Ranger enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.
"Only fools and bandits use roads."
Illus. Jesper Ejsing2/2


  1. grübeln Sie wird in der Weinlese nicht verboten, es wird eingeschränkt. Außerdem sagten Sie, dass nantuko Hüllblatt im Armen nicht erlaubt wurde, WEIL DAS ALLGEMEIN IST. Das ist der schlechteste Posten jemals.

  2. Ahh, you are right about Ponder. This post is aimed specifically at the Pauper Standard format where Nantuko Husk is not allowed even though it had a common printing in Onslaught.

    Also, it isn't fair to say this is the worst post ever until you have visited (he will thank me for the reference).