Pauper is a great format for any budget or new Magic player to get into, because the whole format revolves around the use of Common cards only. 99 percent of all Commons are 25 cents each (Rhystic Study breaking the pattern), and they’re all easy to obtain from local game stores.
However, there are very few, if any, Legendary Creatures that are in Common rarity, hence in Pauper EDH, you’re allowed to have Uncommon cards as your Commander. The latest set release – Dominaria United – introduces close to a dozen new Uncommons that are all legal in Pauper. We picked out 5 that have the strongest potential, thanks to their in-built abilities and access to the right cards in the format.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain
This card reminds us so much of Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, but Balmor, Battlemage Captain is so much better because now you’re not just restricted to Wizards, but the effect applies to all your Creatures. Not only do they get +1/+1 for every Instant or Sorcery cast, they also get Trample which will make 1/1 blockers effectively worthless.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain works great in Pauper EDH because there are so many 1-Mana cantrips and buff spells in both blue and red that are of Common rarity. You’ll particularly want to use those that can draw a card as part of the spell’s resolution, otherwise you’ll be running out of cards fast. Crash Through, Consider, and Expedite will start you off nicely, and there are hundreds more cards to pick from.
It’ll also be best if you round off your deck with Creatures that get bigger whenever you cast an Instant or Sorcery. Spellgorger Weird, Festival Crasher and Wee Dragonauts all get bigger with each Instant or Sorcery cast, either temporarily or permanently. With so many cards at its disposal, Balmor, Battlemage Captain really shapes up to be a strong Commander in Pauper EDH.
Tatyova, Steward of Tides
The new Tatyova might have a ways to go to match the original Tatyova, Benthic Druid, but Tatyova, Steward of Tides is no slouch too as a Pauper EDH Commander. She does take longer to set up since you’ll need at least 7 Lands on the board before she does anything, but one key strength that many players miss out is that when Lands turn into 3/3 Flying Creatures, that’s a permanent change and not until end of turn.
The other great thing going for Tatyova, Steward of Tides is that there are scores of Common green ramp spells that will easily help you reach the 7 Land threshold. Cultivate was a Common once, and others such as Nature’s Lore, Farseek, Farhaven Elf and Migratory Greathorn all easily put Lands onto the Battlefield or to your Hand.
Considering each Commander deck has around 30 Lands at least, drawing any of those from turn 7 or later means a free 3/3 Flyer for you. They may not be the biggest Creatures, but imagine having 15-20 3/3 flyers. Flying makes them evasive and can quickly take out any player once you have 5 or more of them in the game. In Green, you also have the biggest Creatures around, so you will have both offense and defense sorted out.
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld is an excellent aggro Commander, and in the right colours to boot. Red and black are filled with hundreds of small Common Creatures eligible for Pauper EDH. With Garna, you can easily draw cards to replenish your horde of Creatures, or you can take advantage of Sacrifice abilities to deal damage directly to the opponent.
In black, there are Creatures that can come back from the Graveyard, so you never have to worry about what to Sacrifice. Sanitarium Skeleton and Persistent Specimen definitely have to be included in any Garna, Bloodfist of Keld deck.
You have cards such as Bone Splinters and Bone Shards that can kill off any big threat for cheap, or you can use Deadly Dispute, Village Rites or Costly Plunder to draw even more cards. If you want to attack, cards such as Trumpet Blast can help you trade off with the opponent’s Creatures, and even if they die, you’ll get to draw more Creatures to replace them.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Alas, an Aristocrat style Commander has made it to Pauper EDH. Cruel Celebrant was another card in the same colours with similar abilities, but because it wasn’t a Legendary Creature, you couldn’t use her as a Commander. Now, Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim checks many boxes that includes gaining life while draining the opponent’s. Elas is so good that we previously recommended him as one of the cheapest cards with highest potential.
The gain life portion is significant, because there are Commons that benefit. Celestial Unicorn gets bigger with every instance of life gain, and then there’s Epicure of Blood and Marauding Blightpriest all help to slowly wither the enemies down. Add in Deathgreeter and you’ll get even more life gain that will trigger even more abilities.
Make sure you pack sufficient removal spells too, so that you can deal with any attackers that come your way. An Aristocrat deck like this often only has small Creatures and want to just sit back away from the action.
Queen Allenal of Ruadach
Despite being difficult to pronounce, Queen Allenal of Ruadach is surprisingly straightforward to pilot. The Queen wants to generate as many token Creatures as possible, and her ability adds 1 more each time for free.
The green white colour identity is perfect for a tokens deck, with cards like Hunted Witness, Attended Knight, and Ambassador Oak all creating a token one way or another. With Queen Allenal of Ruadach on the board, you’re adding 2 tokens instead. Doing the math, just having the 1 of the above Creatures and 2 generated tokens on the Battlefield, the Queen is already a 4/4 Creature.
Once you have an army of Creatures bigger than any of your opponents, you can then use buff spells to give them extra Power and Toughness. Steadfast Unicorn, Devoted Paladin[/c], and Inspiring Captain all do a good job and make your queen even stronger. It would be ideal for your Commander to have Trample as well. Rancor and Cartouche of Strength both give Trample, and some extra benefits.
Pauper EDH is a great Commander sub format to dive into, especially if you’re on a budget or just want simpler gameplay without infinite combos. However, expect longer games since all players will need time to set up their engines as well as cast their Commanders. Mana rocks like Commander Sphere and Arcane Signet are still a must, so don’t forget to add them in.
With the recent Commander Legends: Battle at Baldur’s Gate and Dominaria United providing players with so many new Uncommon Creatures with good Commander potential, Pauper EDH is a good place right now and should receive increased attention from new and old players alike.