Standard Pauper is back on MTG Arena this week as part of Week 2 of the War of the Spark Chronicles event series. You’ll be able to win stained glass card styles for Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor, Angrath, Captain of Chaos, Vivien, Champion of the Wilds by getting three, nine, and 15 wins, respectively.

New to the format? Don’t worry—I’m here to guide you through the basics so you can get all three of those sweet card styles.

Standard Pauper on MTG Arena

Pauper is a Constructed format where you can only play commons. While I’m a little more used to dealing with Delver of Secrets and Lightning Bolts in traditional Pauper, I can’t say no to slinging some commons regardless what the set restrictions are. Pauper on MTG Arena is limited to the commons that are legal in Standard, so from Ixalan through War of the Spark.

Since we last wrote about Pauper on MTG Arena, a certain common named Persistent Petitioners was printed in Ravnica Allegiance. Persistent Petitioners breaks one of the core rules of Magic by allowing players to include more than four copies of the card in their deck. The Mono-Blue Petitioners’s mill strategy was so successful that it made up a large percentage of the MTG Arena Pauper metagame, resulting in a lot of mirrors and forcing players to play 250 card decks (the maximum allowed on MTG Arena) to win mirror matches. Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast announced that they were banning Persistent Petitioners from Pauper just in time for this event.

Brew, Brew, Brew!

As a format, Standard Pauper is only available during special events. One of the perks of a format that is rarely available means that most people won’t have perfectly tuned lists and are more likely to try and have fun. So don’t worry about your deck being perfect! Just build something that looks interesting and get out there and have fun.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when brewing, though. First, mana is good but slow in Standard Pauper. We currently have access to Evolving Wilds, the 10 Guildgates, as well as 10 dual taplands. I’ve generally found that two color decks don’t want more than five to seven pieces of fixing, maximum. Second, don’t get overly greedy. The aggressive decks in Standard Pauper are playing one color and will struggle less vs variance than a deck that’s stretching its mana base, and nothing is worse than losing to your own deck.

So, with the sea of 250 card mirror matches finally gone, what deck should you play to reach 15 wins and get all three stained glass planeswalker card styles? Let’s explore some of the most popular options. The decks I’ve highlighted here are far from a comprehensive picture of the metagame—Grixis Amass looks fun, for example—but try to craft your game plan with these archetypes in mind.

U/B Control

Standard Pauper U/B Control

Creatures (7)
Deathbloom Thallid
Salvager of Secrets
Cold-Water Snapper

Spells (23)
Fungal Infection
Callous Dismissal
Soul Salvage
Notion Rain
Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty

Enchantments (6)
Arcane Flight
Dead Weight
Lands (24)
10 Island
10 Swamp
Dimir Guildgate

I’ve always been a strong proponent of U/B control as an archetype in almost any format it’s viable in, and Standard Pauper is no exception.

While other decks try to go fast, this deck gets to utilize some of the grindiest elements available and packs some of the format’s best removal and draw spells. U/B Control’s removal suite was bolstered in War of the Spark by the printing of powerhouse removal spell Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty, which is able to remove all but the hardiest of threats, and suppressing triggers when creatures die is just icing on the cake.

Salvager of Secrets forms another two of the deck’s core engines in combination with either Callous Dismissal or Soul Salvage.

Callous Dismissal from War of the Spark, a Limited all star in its own right, allows for your grindier loops to involve the most meager of win conditions: a slowly growing zombie army built from returning Callous Dismissal to your hand with Salvager of Secrets, bouncing Salvager with Dismissal, then repeating ad infinitum. I mean, why should Nexus of Fate decks have all the fun in Standard? Soul Salvage, on the other hand, can return Salvager of Secrets to your hand, then casting Salvager to return Soul Salvage to your hand provides is a secondary loop that can buy you enough time to find a Callous Dismissal.

Tamiyo’s Epiphany is expensive but allows the deck to dig deep for answers and probably merits inclusion as a one- or two-of in the list. Thunder Drake has been a reasonable Limited threat and might have a home in this deck, as well. Being able to cast this Turn 5 and leave up a mana allows Opt to save this flying threat from opposing Red removal.

I’m unsure what my exact 60 will look like, but the deck has a solid history in this niche format and will surely show up this weekend.


Standard Pauper Mono-Red

Creatures (16)
Fanatical Firebrand
Ghitu Lavarunner
Spear Spewer
Viashino Pyromancer

Spells (24)
Goblin Gathering
Precision Bolt
Skewer the Critics
Radiating Lightning
Lands (20)
20 Mountain

People will play Mono-Red in every format and the same goes for Standard Pauper. It’s success can largely depend on how many 1/3s your opponents play, though, since those will stonewall every single one of your creatures.

One of the more notable upgrades from War of the Spark for Mono-Read is Heartfire. This two mana, instant-speed spell not only functions as a four damage burn spell but also doubles as removal for larger threats in the format. Previously, killing a Watcher in the Mist (or any other four toughness creature) required two cards, leaving Mono-Red down a card in the exchange.

War of the Spark also gave Mono-Red a lot of less obvious options. One interesting direction for the deck would be running some quantity of Spellgorger Weirds in the deck, similar to Frank Karsten’s list. While a 2/2 for three mana isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, the fact that it grows bigger as you remove your opponent’s creatures makes this a solid inclusion that can get out of hand quickly. There is also Grim Initiate as an option for an early game attacker that other low to the ground decks usually won’t want to tangle with. Jaya’s Greeting has been great in Limited and has the added upside of a tiny amount of card filtering, but is hurt by not being able to hit players.

The only thing this deck is really missing is some type of equipment to allow the smaller Red creatures to scale up later in the game, but I can’t imagine we’re seeing Bonesplitter at common in Standard these days.

Mono-Green Ramp

Standard Pauper Mono-Green Ramp

Creatures (31)
Llanowar Elves
Druid of the Cowl
Daggerback Basilisk
Elvish Rejuvenator
Generous Stray
Vivien's Grizzly
Baloth Gorger
Rhox Oracle
Colossal Dreadmaw
Vigorspore Wurm
Siege Wurm

Spells (7)
Adventurous Impulse
Prey Upon
Rabid Bite
Lands (22)
22 Forest

Let’s say you like turning creatures sideways, but Mono-Red isn’t exactly your cup of tea. Well for the first time in years, actual Llanowar Elves is in Standard, so why not take advantage of that fact? Ramp decks are a cornerstone of many formats and has found its place Standard Pauper thanks to the aforementioned Llanowar Elves, with which you’ll be ramping your way into Wrecking Beasts and Colossal Dreadmaws in no time.

While this archetype didn’t get any stellar options from War of the Spark for top of its curve, it certainly got some effects it appreciates. Kronch Wrangler may just look like an innocuous two-drop with a meager 2/1 body, but its triggered ability lets this little thing get larger for each medium-to-large creature you play. It also highlights one of the interesting options when building Mono-Green Ramp. War of the Spark’s brought the Proliferate mechanic into Standard, including on a few commons. Building in a more counter-centric direction means you get access to Bloom Hulk and Pollenbright Druid as ways to grow your creatures and dominate the game.

While it’s not easy to tell which of the two builds, either ramping into the chunkier threats or building around counter synergies, I love Vivien’s Grizzly as a mana sink in the mid to late game. This deck’s gameplan is simple enough that after a certain point you just want to keep drawing creature and it lets you do just that.

G/B Tokens

Standard Pauper G/B Saprolings

Creatures (14)
Deathbloom Thallid
Yavimaya Sapherd
Thallid Omnivore
Spark Reaper
Overgrown Armasaur

Spells (12)
Fungal Infection
Vicious Offering
Saproling Migration

Enchantments (10)
Dead Weight
Gruesome Fate
Mind Rot
Spark Harvest
Lands (24)
14 Swamp
Golgari Guildgate

G/B Tokens decks with sacrifice synergies have shown up at most of the Standard Pauper events and it continues to be a viable choice.

The deck’s options for sacrifice outlets have broadened a bit since the last time the format was available with the printing of Spark Reaper in War of the Spark. While three mana might seem like a lot, the fact that its activated ability helps invalidate removal spells while helping you churn through your deck and stabilizes your life total is a big game. Thallid Omnivore serves a very similar role but beats down much more effectively, so playing a combination of the two probably makes a lot of sense. War of the Spark also adds Lazotep Reaver as a two mana option to create two bodies, but it likely still loses out to Saproling Migration because of its synergy with Thallid Omnivore and the fact that Migration has a Kicker cost for later in the game.

Another interesting version of the deck is built around Rhizome Lurcher, building up its sacrifice theme and adding self-mill. Rhizome Lurcher can easily clock in at double digits of power and toughness, making it larger than most cards in the format and only struggling against black removal. Kaya’s Ghostform allows this version of the deck to recur your big threats or just have more fodder for your sacrifice engines.

It truly hurts to write this, but it’s very possible that Saprolings are simply worse than the new Amass cards. While the Saprolings version of the deck can definitely go wider, the fact that your early game Amass tokens can serve as sacrifice fodder and then start growing into a sizeable threat in the mid to late game provides valuable flexibility.

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