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Insider: Profiting from Pauper

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From 2018 onward into the foreseeable future, Channel Fireball controls all Grand Prix. The company made a statement last week that they would include Pauper side events at the four events they will be holding in January, and they publicly said that they are testing the waters for a potential Pauper Grand Prix. It’s very likely these Pauper side events will be successful and will become mainstays at all of the CFB events going forward.

Remember when Star City Games seemed to have a stranglehold on the market, and Legacy in particular seemed to live and die on the whims of their Open circuit? Channel Fireball has been vested with incredible power over the market – and on a global scale compared to SCG’s regional focus – so them pushing a format like Pauper could have huge implications. Supporting Pauper with juicy side events, exposure on their website, and ultimately a Grand Prix, would elevate demand for the format tremendously.

Imagine what would happen to the market if CFB announced a Frontier Grand Prix. Many Pauper cards are in much lower supply than Frontier cards, and the impact of it becoming widely played are likely to be significant. It’s certainly speculation at this point to assume Pauper is on the precipice of blowing up as a format, but it would also be foolish to ignore the fact that the format has moved from the casual realm to being taken seriously by the company that now has a monopoly on all Grand Prix and their side events.

Assuming Pauper becoming significantly more played impacts the popularity of all decks and demand for all cards equally, the impact on the prices of cards won’t be equal, given the massive differences in print runs across the sets the format contains. I imagine that every and all staple cards will rise in price, so it seems like almost any commonly played card is a safe bet, but identifying the cards with the most potential to spike will be the path to the most profit. My eyes is on the oldest cards with the least supply, including cards that see casual or competitive demand that already have a strong price. The cards tournament-legal for these Pauper events will correspond with the Magic Online cardpool and banned list, so I’m also paying attention to cards that haven’t seen a common printing in paper and thus are in less supply than commons from the same era.


Oubliette isn’t the most efficient removal spell in Pauper, but the fact that it leaves two black devotion behind means it’s amazing with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, so it’s included in the very competitive Mono-Black Devotion deck. Oubliette is the most expensive card in Pauper, over $20, and its price nudged up about $0.75 last week to make it the biggest gainer since the announcement. With the very oldest cards in Magic seeing great price increases lately, I imagine that it would see a legitimate spike if a Pauper Grand Prix is ever announced.



Gush isn’t Legal in any competitive format besides Vintage, but it still demands over $2 for its casual appeal, and as one of the very best cards in Pauper, I expect it would see significant gains if the format catches on.



Quirion Ranger is a staple of Elf and Stompy decks, and it’s already in demand from the Legacy and casual crowd, so $2 for this relatively old card in short supply seems like a bargain if Pauper takes off.



Another cards in Elf and Stompy decks is Nettle Sentinel, which commands a price of almost $3 as a Modern staple, and Pauper seeing more paper play would bring it higher.



Utopia Sprawl is almost $5 on the back of fringe Modern and casual play, and as a Pauper staple in the White-Green Auras deck as well as any combo decks looking to abuse untapping lands, it will rise along with Pauper.



Chain Lightning was one of the very most expensive Pauper cards before being reprinted in Eternal Masters, but it’s still over $3, and it’s a staple in Burn and other red Pauper decks.



Spidersilk Armor is an important sideboard cards in Pauper decks, where it plays well against fliers and also damage-based removal spells like Electrickery, and at almost $1.50 based on casual play, it’s a good candidate for a price increase.


Gorilla Shaman is one of the best sideboard cards in Pauper, where it wrecks the artifact lands played by Affinity and Kuldotha Boros. It’s extremely cheap at under a quarter, so it could offer significant gains.



Chainer's Edict is a staple removal spell, and is used in a wide variety of black decks, often as a four-of.



Battle Screech is a staple of the Kuldotha Boros deck, which is currently one of the very best decks in the metagame, has seen plenty of play in other white decks in the past, and will continue to be heavily played in the future.



Circular Logic is used in the Inside Out Combo deck, arguably the most broken and powerful deck in the format, and it’s an efficient counterspell for any deck with discard outlets.



Blue-Green Madness isn’t a popular deck, but Arrogant Wurm is used alongside Tortured Existence, and it has has plenty of future potential.



Moment's Peace is the preferred Fog effect in Pauper, but Tangle sees play in the sideboards of Stompy and Elf decks because it’s better for winning races against other aggressive decks, and there are Turbo-Fog decks that include it as a four-of.



Thermokarst is a key land destruction spell for green decks, where it can destroy Tron lands and bouncelands.

Pauper becoming a tournament format would, somewhat ironically, also have an impact on the foil market, because everyone likes bling, and I imagine some players will revel in piloting their foiled out deck in a format that is supposed to be budget by design.

What do you make of ChannelFireball’s announcement to support Pauper?

2 thoughts on “Insider: Profiting from Pauper

  1. Love the article, we actually touched on some of the cards on the trihards podcast. I think though there is one key card that is missing, ash barrens is heavily played from what I have seen and it is currently only a commander printing. It’s an easy reprint though. Pauper finance might dominate q1/q2 of 2018.

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