Some context

I’m a big fan of Magic The Gathering (or MTG) since the first time I played it in 2004. Even before 2004, I remember seeing some cards a friend had and being totally amazed, even without understanding how the game worked.

I couldn’t play much when I was a kid because these cards were (and some still are) very expensive. In 2007 I found some people to play and I bought some new cards (cheap ones). It happened again ~2010 and ~2013. When I really started playing “for real” was in 2018, when I found the Pauper format.

The Pauper format

Magic The Gathering is a card game released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast and currently, there are more than 20.000 unique cards. To make things organized, Wizards of the Coast has some official formats, regulated by the company, and there are also some unofficial formats people create to play for fun as well.

Pauper is one of these official formats (since 2019) regulated by Wizards of the Cost. The format only allows common cards to be played, which makes the format much less expensive than other official ones. It’s probably the cheapest official format to play MTG nowadays.

Pauper is an eternal format, which means you can play any common card (excluding the banned list, of course) released since 1993.

The Pauper format in Magic Arena

I always played MTG in paper and always refused to play online. MTG was a way for me to socialize and spend some time away from the screen. The 2020 pandemic changed this and I decided to give Magic Arena (or MTGA) a try now that they release their mobile app.

They have a “Pauper format”, but they call it Historic Pauper. The historic formats in MTGA are formats where you can play any card since Kaladesh (KLD) released in 2016.

As you can see, 2016 is much newer than 1993, so it’s not the same Pauper but still a fun format.

I’m currently playing MTGA just to build a historic Pauper there to play with friends. :)

How I see Pauper

This is the best format we have in MTG IMO. If you are an old player like me and never had the money to buy those expensive decks at the time, you will probably enjoy it now.

Building a meta-game deck (a competitive deck you could use and maybe win championships) for Pauper costs around 5 times less than building one for Modern. The values certainly vary, but this is what I could get by experience.

There’s also the fact that I don’t like some mechanics added to MTG throughout the years (hello planeswalkers!), and they are usually not available in Pauper because the cards are not common 🎉.

The Pauper community is amazing. Before the pandemic, I was playing Pauper in a Local Game Store (LGS) and it was a great experience. I always see people talking about bad experiences playing MTG, even if it was just friendly championships, but it was certainly not my experience playing Pauper there.

There’s also the online community. Great youtube channels, great content, people brewing new decks for fun (Strong and junk decks), etc.

My current status in Pauper

I’m currently an owner of the following Pauper decks:

  • Mono-White Heroic
  • Temur Affinity
  • Selesnya (and sometimes Naya 😉) Slivers
  • Azban Soul Sisters

I’m a big fan of White decks and everything I do is centered in the white color, even if I have to corrupt it a little bit with other colors to make it a stronger deck.

I decided to build the Temur Affinity and Selesnya Slivers because these were two decks I really wanted to have in 2007 but couldn’t afford them. When I decided to get back to MTG, I realized now I had enough money to build them for the Pauper format.

I’m currently brewing some other white weenies decks for fun, but I prefer to not add them to the list before they are not finished and tested.

How I test Pauper deck brews

I do everything on my cellphone. I’m usually doing important stuff when I’m at the computer and I can’t rely on this time for MTG, otherwise, it will never happen.

I’m an Android user since Android 2 (running on a Motorola Milestone!) and I still use it. I’m going to describe my process here based on Android.

I use the ManaBox app to search cards and brew the deck. It’s usually:

  • Have an idea (e.g. “Maybe using Solid Footing and a bunch of cards with vigilance may be a good idea!")
  • Open ManaBox
  • Create a new deck
  • Search cards by keyword (using the same example, I would search for the keyword vigilance)
  • Add interesting cards to that deck
  • Name the deck accordingly (for solid footing, I named it “Solid Vigilance”)

Now that I have the deck there, I export it and import on Forge. Forge is an open source implementation of MTG written in Java. It’s in alpha stage on Android, but it works most of the time 😅.

I usually play against Forge’s AI to have a glimpse of how my idea would play in the “real world”. The AI only plays some decks well, mostly aggro decks, but it’s quite decent in this scenario.

If I like what I see after playing against meta-game aggro decks, then I move forward to build it on paper or other media I’m using.