A Pauper Primer (featuring Gavin Verhey)

Pauper, a 60-card Magic: The Gathering format that first began years ago on Magic Online, has been gaining traction amongst tabletop gamers.

"Almost everything is legal," says MTG Senior Designer Gavin Verhey.  "It goes all the way back through Magic's history, so kind of Legacy deckbuilding rules."

There's a catch, though.  Every card in a Pauper deck has to be a common.  Or, at least, printed at common at some point in the collectible card game's history.

"Now, you might be thinking it's probably like Grizzly Bears attacking into 3/3s or something," Verhey comments.  "No.  This has got all kinds of powerful stuff."

And that's powerful cards at common such as Brainstorm, Preordain, Lightning Bolt, Fireblast, the tron and artifact lands, and so on.

That stated, not every common can be used, though, as the format -- like most all Magic formats -- does have a ban list that features the likes of Treasure Cruise, Sinkhole, Disciple of the Vault, High Tide, and Hymn to Tourach.


"There are, occasionally, a few cards that you're like 'that's a funny card to see on a ban list,' like there's a couple of the initiative cards from Baldur's Gate that were just really too strong, but a lot of the cards you'll see on that ban list are, like, classically powerful in Magic," explains Verhey.

Despite the format having its roots in a sort of fan-made atmosphere, Pauper can often be found being played in a competitive setting.  As such, some decks and deck types tend to stand out amongst the others.

For Example:

Of course, Verhey has his own favorite deck that he enjoys playing.  It's called Boros Synthesizer.

"It uses this card called Experimental Synthesizer," he explains.  "It's a one mana card, you flip your top card [and] when it enters or leaves, you can play it that turn and you use cards like Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher to reuse it over and over and over again.  So, in a single game Synthesizer can draw you ten-plus cards, which is quite powerful."

No doubt, many of those decks were seen during the recent MagicCon Chicago convention where there was a 125-person Pauper event.

It's a size of event that, in Verhey's eyes, only shows the format's potential for growth.

"The scene is growing and it's pretty cool to see it just grow and more people just get into this scene," Verhey comments.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.