Insider: Taking a Closer Look at Pauper

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

A little over a month ago, I wrote a piece highlighting some good Pauper pickups in light of the launch of leagues. The decks I highlighted were those seeing success in Daily Events and ones that I would expect to play against when I battled. With a healthy number of league decklists published now, we have even more to go off of.

For 2016, it has been announced that Magic Online will be offering a flashback draft or Cube at any given point of the year. Flashback drafts significantly impact the price of even rares on MTGO, so you can imagine this will change our Pauper investment strategy. Basically, it means long-term specs have to be at their floor or only available in sets that won't get flashed back. Think Masters Edition or anything pre-Eighth Edition.

Alternatively, investing in a position while its respective flashback draft is occurring will allow you to turn a profit when the flashback format changes and supply decreases.

Let's Talk Decks!

Mono-White Tokens

This deck has been around for a long time on and off. It's extremely linear, and has lopsided matchups in one way or the other. It tends to be very good against blue decks, especially with the common printing of Battle Screech in Vintage Masters, which is why a resurgence makes sense.

You'll see some variation from list to list, with some featuring Masques block rebels, and others focusing on tokens like this one.

The reason that I chose to highlight this particular list is the inclusion of Ramosian Rally. The card doesn't show up super often, but the very limited release of Mercadian Masques on MTGO makes it worth about 2 tix. It's not a terribly safe bet given low demand, but if you find yourself in a Masques draft or able to get some cheap copies it's worth paying attention to.

Squadron Hawk is a dirt-cheap card that will always be a four-of in this deck and also shows up in fringe Modern decks. It's unclear how far they'll get through the Modern sets this year, but if things progress similar to the first six months, we'll hit M11 around the end of the year.

The sideboard contains some cards worth paying attention to in Standard Bearer, Prismatic Strands and Obsidian Acolyte. All of these cards are worth a couple tix or more, and are well above average for Pauper sideboard options.

These cards are safe from flashback reprints this year, as they predate the Modern card pool. If I wanted to outright speculate on any of them, it would be Prismatic Strands, although all three are worth considering.

Dimir Decks

Dimir decks have been taking quite a lot of 5-0 slots in Pauper leagues. The deck divides into two major camps, with the first version relying largely on creatures:

And then there's a deck that firmly commits to the control role in every matchup:

To be frank, there's really not much in the way of exciting targets from these decks. The standout is going to be Accumulated Knowledge.

AK is a card with very low supply given it only appeared in Nemesis, and as such it's worth over 4 tix. Players only play zero or four copies, though I'm not in love with it as a spec. It just isn't featured with the consistency necessary to be worth the risk of investment.

Esper Combo

They may have banned Temporal Fissure, but a very boring combo deck managed to survive in its wake. For as much as I dislike this deck, I can't argue that it puts up a lot of 5-0 finishes.

Nightscape Familiar took a huge hit with the Vintage Masters printing, but Sunscape Familiar is sitting solidly at 4 tix. If you bought these in November, you'd have already doubled up.

The presence of Snap, Hydroblast, and Sunscape Familiar make this among the most expensive Pauper decks, though if you look over league results it's arguably the best deck in the format. All of these cards are great positions given that this is the deck most competitive players will be drawn to, and they fall outside of the scheduled flashback drafts for 2016.

More on Delver

I covered Delver last time, though now there are a bunch of league lists to look at. A significant number of Dazes have been showing up lately, which is interesting. The card is great in matchups where mana efficiency is important, but it falls short against grindy decks.

Daze is stupid expensive on Magic Online, and I can only hope that something is done soon to combat this. In the meantime, the card will absolutely only increase in value, though I don't recommend it as a pickup unless you're trying to play it.

For a more budget-friendly, mirror-breaking version that's also advantaged against the grindy decks that are supposed to beat Delver, here's the list I recently used to 5-0 a league:

I've been against playing Cloud of Faeries for a very long time. It's by far the worst card in most lists, and serves only as an enabler in a deck that isn't trying to crutch on synergy.

Faerie Miscreant was something I tried initially out of curiosity, and I've been very impressed. With Ponder and Preordain it's really easy to chain Miscreants, and I've drawn way more Miscreant cards than I ever expected to. You can also use them to turn Echoing Truth into a draw spell in a pinch.

Serrated Arrows isn't nearly as popular in Pauper as it once was, but it's currently worth around five tickets. It's great against Delver decks and most of the odd creature decks in the format. It has been steadily increasing in price lately, so it's worth considering, but I wouldn't put it on my short list.

At the time of this writing there are over 800 people in the Pauper league. That's around 80% of the Standard and Modern leagues. If nothing else, it's a really fun format with a low barrier to entry that's more accessible than ever. Invest properly and you can definitely make some money from the format as well.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.