Many of you do not play Standard Pauper. Many of you are doing it WRONG! As a format, it boasts an incredibly diverse metagame with decks ranging in tiers of competitiveness. During the MTGO downtime, the support for Daily Events, PTQs, and the MOCS has been eliminated. What a perfect opportunity to explore a new format! I’ve been wanting to articulate these thoughts for a while, so let’s see why you should be playing standard pauper if you aren’t already…
1) Consistent Games
If you are addicted to limited – this format will feel like draft in how the games play out. The swingyness of games pales in comparison to the consistency of them. This makes it feel like skill is rewarded, both for gameplay choices and, most importantly, for deck construction decisions.
2) You Would Have It All
Also, if you are a limited specialist, you likely own the entire relevant cardpool for the format. The current legal sets are Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon’s Maze, M14, and Theros. Only commons are allowed. Cards that were previously printed as common but are now uncommon (Doom Blade) are NOT allowed. Previous cards printed at uncommon but are now common (Savage Surge) ARE allowed.
3) Easy Access
If you do not own the entire cardpool – you can very easily. First, hit up your friends that like to draft. They will likely have 20+ of most of the commons. They should not mind if you take 4 of each. The great part about MTGO for deckbuilding is that you can own only 4 of a card but you can still put all 4 into multiple decks. If you have no friends, make friends with some Bots. They can hook you up with the cards you need for your deck in exchange for pennies.
4) Something For Everyone
No matter what deck style preference you have, it exists. Aggro has lightning fast Mono Red, Boros, Mono-White. Control has card advantage machines like Dimir, Azorius, Izzet, Esper, and other 3+ color variants with Gatekeepers. Aggro-Control has Mono-Black, and U/x variants of creatures + counterspells to protect them. Mid-range has Selesnya Populate, Orzhov Extort, and Gruul Ramp. Combo has – oops, I lied. Combo does not exist, unless you want to count Grey Merchant of Asphodel + black mana symbols. The point is that you have options to fit your play-style preferences. You can always create a brew that no one has seen yet, too!
5) Foot-In-The-Door to Other Constructed Formats
If you are interested in trying Constructed but you classically prefer Limited, then this is the best low-pressure format to join. You don’t get punished for exploring new archetypes because cards are cheap and their aren’t any substantial tournament entry fees. All the same skills for deck-building and reading metagames are present, it’s just simplified. Master Standard Pauper, then move on to other Constructed formats that interest you.
If you are already a Constructed specialist, then your skills will shine. I find that the game-play decisions are rather easy, so people win largely on how good their match-up is and partly how well they draw. That said, the actual cards drawn have to be in your deck. If you can build a deck with the best threats while prepared to answer the best threats in the format, you will crush. This will change over time, so your evaluations need to ebb and flow with what others are bringing to the table.
6) I Can Take You Anytime, Anywhere!
While it may be difficult to find a person at your LGS with a standard pauper deck on them, you can easily find one on Magic Online in the Casual Room (Just for Fun or Anything Goes) at almost any time of day or night. It doesn’t matter where you live, just get online to find a game!
7) Pure Gravy/Value Tournaments
Free tournaments exist that give prizes to Top 8 (store credit at MTGOTraders). MPDC events start at 11am in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. Check out PDCMagic.com for more info. Follow @Gwyned on Twitter for more info – he is the awesome host for the tournaments. Hopefully with added interest we can get them to host tournaments at other times, too (I would love to see a 7pm PST start time or a weekend tournament sometime).
8) Free Fun Without the Risk of Contracting an STD
Magic can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. You can incinerate money by competing for highest number of drafts completed in one day (rumored to be 18 from Tom Martell and co. from his Training Grounds in NYC), or you can play Standard Pauper – easily one of the least expensive formats to get into. Decks are practically free, and information about current decks that are performing well is also free. Visit the Standard Pauper Players MTGO Clan blog for the latest info on the format.
9) Friends Don’t Like Being Left-Out
Teaching someone how to play Magic is not easy. It’s such a complicated game in and of itself – learning the rules, actions that happen each turn, how cards interact, when the best time to play spells is, etc. that we often don’t even factor in that the new player has to read every single card and memorize those, too. It’s information overload, and one way to simplify it is to limit the cardpool to only recently printed commons. The interactions are clean and simple compared to the entire Standard cardpool. If you have someone in mind that you want to teach how to play, start with Standard Pauper. They will learn faster and ask pertinent questions sooner which will hasten their growth and development as a critical thinker for the game.
I’ve found that the biggest turn off from a new player’s perspective is that they are scared to play with their friends because we are “good/experienced” players, which makes them feel inferior, such that they don’t think they could ever win. It makes sense to feel that way at first, but the skill gap will close the quickest in Standard Pauper because it’s relatively easy to learn (compared to other Constructed formats). Show him or her a good deck, how it works, and help them with game-play and soon enough they will be beating you!
10) Unsolved Mysteries
The metagame is always changing because there’s a fantastic community always trying to break the format. Some decks perform better than others (Tier 1 right now is Dimir Mill, Mono-Black Devotion, and Mono-Red/Boros Aggro) but they usually have a Kryptonite match-up. It’s diverse enough that it is easy to switch between decks and never be bored. This means you will likely find fun – just gotta hunt for it.
If you feel like you have Standard Pauper mastered, then I suggest you take the leap to Standard, Modern, or Legacy and put your constructed talents to even more competitive use. If not, come join me and the countless others involved at Standard Pauper Players for a game or tournament sometime.