Peering Into Pauper: Presents for the Paupers

December is a generally a miserable month. Snow starts piling up and it gets bitterly cold in many places, students have to deal with finals, and the new Magic set hasn’t really started being spoiled yet. The holiday season does help people cheer up though, what with the gifts and overall friendly attitudes most people seem to adopt around this time of the year. Many of you reading this are probably still scrambling over getting gifts for loved ones and friends, and I’m here to help. Today, I’ll be giving you one of the best gift ideas for friends ever: Magic Online cards. (You can thank me later for the brilliant idea.)

What follows is a list of cards in each color that make excellent gifts for the fledgling Pauper mage. They are all generally good in several pauper decks each (thus giving more for your money), and since it’s pauper, they’re all pretty cheap! Best of all though is what happens when you decide to get a set of each card not only for a friend, but for yourself as well– double the fun! Also, playing Pauper online really is the gift that keeps on giving. Enough babbling, let’s look at some cards that are sure to please any Magic player you know.

For the White Mage

Aven Riftwatcher — If there’s one thing lots of white mages like, it’s gaining life. If there’s another thing they like, it’s efficient flying monsters, so why not combine two terrific things white has to offer into one terrific gift! If you really want to be the greatest Santa ever, combine with a set of Momentary Blink.

Kor Skyfisher — Speaking of efficient flying monsters, I bet you can think of at least one friend who would love a 2/3 for two mana. His drawback doesn’t even have to one if played correctly. For example, when combined with the already-mentioned Aven Riftwatcher, you can double your life gain and your 2/3 flying bodies!

Journey to Nowhere — Every Magic player loves cheap, efficient removal, right? Well look no further in white than Journey to Nowhere. A steal at only two mana, you’ll find it removing any creature regardless of size or color is simply insane. Very few pauper decks play any sort of dedicated enchantment removal, making the drawback of remaining on the battlefield almost entirely negligible.

Prismatic Strands — Not losing is kind of like winning, and in some cases actually essentially is winning. In all of Pauper, there isn’t a better way to not lose, especially when you consider that with Prismatic Strands you can live through the same scenario twice! Pick up a set this season for anyone you know who is fond of not dying (which should be about everyone you know).

For the Blue Mage

Counterspell — This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, but Counterspell should really be one of the first weapons in any blue mage’s arsenal. Most any base-blue deck will be packing some number of these bad boys somewhere in the 75, and most any blue mage would be crazy to turn down such an awesomely versatile gift!

Mulldrifter — The flying fish is another versatile card that does another thing blue decks and players love- he draws cards. Control and tempo decks alike benefit from the draw spell with a body that is Mulldrifter. Also, combining him the next card will get you a gold star for being awesome.

Ninja of the Deep Hours — Just like the fish above, Ninja can make sneak his way into either a controlling blue deck or a tempo deck that’s using blue to help the control the game. Coupled with some removal, Ninja of the Deep Hours will keep you ahead in a game. Ninjutsu a few into someone’s stocking (MTGO account) today!

Deep Analysis — Boy, those blue players sure do love drawing cards. Luckily for them, they have Deep Analysis to help them do so at a low cost. Then just when they think the gift couldn’t possibly give any more, they get to do it again! Giving a playset this holiday season is like giving someone sixteen additional cards drawn– how lucky for them!

For the Black Mage

Dark Ritual — If you read my first article here, you know how much I love this card. It doesn’t matter if you’re powering out two men on Turn 1 or ramping your mana and adding +1 to storm count, Dark Ritual is practically the Black Lotus of Pauper, and I’ve heard Black Lotus might be some good. While giving someone a Black Lotus this holiday might be a bit overboard, gifting Rituals will still spread seasonal cheer.

Dark Ritual
Yup, still really good.

Phyrexian Rager — Another body that draws cards? It’s not just blue’s thing, black mages like drawing cards too, and they also like attacking. Phyrexian Rager is another versatile card that lets you do both and fits into most any deck playing black.

Doom Blade — I would be remiss if I made any sort of list of black cards that are great in any format and didn’t include at least some sort of removal. With black being a generally underplayed color in Pauper, the Blade is going to get just about any creature off the battlefield for only two mana. Whether you’re an aggro deck clearing the way or a control deck trying to not die, Doom Blade will have your back.

Crypt Rats –Know someone who needs to clear a weenie rush in a hurry? What about someone who’s slightly ahead in life and needs a way to finish the game in one fell swoop? For one easy payment of 2B plus X shipping and handling, they can now solve all their problems with Crypt Rats! Order within the next ten minutes, and we’ll even throw in an extra to use as a chump blocker!

For the Red Mage

Just get them some burn spells, jeez, it’s not that hard to figure these guys out, honestly…

Lightning Bolt — Three damage, one mana, instant speed- what could be simpler or make a better gift? Whether you’re removing a pesky attacker, a pesky blocker, or your opponent’s pesky life total, Lightning Bolt is a super-efficient spell that’s sure to please the whole family!

Firebolt — Is that Lightning Bolt overkill for that pesky dork on the battlefield? Try Firebolt! Kill that guy now, and then kill another guy later! It’s a two-for-one! In red! What more could a red mage possibly ask for?

Staggershock — Here’s something more a red mage could ask for! It’s still a two-for-one, still kills everything that old Firebolt could, but now for only one low, easy payment of 2R. It’s a steal at that mana cost. Hurry and order now for all of the red mages in your life. Pick up a few for any control players willing to splash for removal while you’re ordering and pay no extra shipping!

Goblin Bushwhacker — So now you’ve amassed a small army of dorks, and burned a path for them, what comes next? Bushwhacking is what comes next. Whether pumping an army of tokens or an army of regular little men, Bushwhacker is the best way to help your favorite red mage put the nail in their opponent’s coffin.

For the Green Mage

Wild Mongrel — Once considered the best bear of all time, Wild Mongrel is still probably the best bear in Pauper. Aggressive decks love him, and so will anyone on your holiday lists playing green. Swinging for damage, dodging removal, and enabling madness are just some of his strengths. Besides, who do you know that doesn’t want a puppy for Christmas?

Wild Mongrel

Look at the cute little puppy.

Basking RootwallaWild Mongrel is good on his own, but aren’t puppies just much more fun when they have friends to play with too? Basking Rootwalla not only plays well with Mongrel, but plays well on his own as well. Beatdown decks love cheap threats, and they love cheap threats that have decent utility when drawn late even more. Pick up a set if you plan on giving anyone man’s best friend this year.

Rancor — Pump spells are a big part of green’s game plan in Pauper, and boy does Rancor help that game plan. The bonus alone isn’t too substantial in the abstract, but ensuring you always get through thanks to trample and coming back to angry-up another guy whenever one dies makes this the best pump spell in a pauper’s arsenal.

Llanowar Elves — Doesn’t someone you know deserve a real classic this holiday season? Llanowar Elves has been around since Alpha and has been playable all over the place the entire time! In Pauper, you can find him doing generic ramping or helping power out even more Elves. He’s even been known to swing for damage on occasion.

For the Artificer (or Anyone Really)

Lotus Petal — While not quite a full Lotus, the Petal still allows its controller to accelerate out cards, something that’s a rare effect outside of green in Pauper. Adding to storm and even the very act of being an artifact for Affinity both add to the case for Lotus Petal. Be aware though, as far as Pauper cards go, this one is a little pricey, but if you feel inclined to gift like a king, Lotus Petal will be appreciated by many a pauper.

Serrated Arrows — A staple of the Standard format when first printed, Serrated Arrows still gets quite a bit of love in Pauper to this day. Decimating an entire squad of small men with one card is always impressive. If anyone one your gift list has been losing to swarms of creatures, help them out and ship them a set of Serrated Arrows as a sweet gift!

Myr Enforcer — How much would you pay for a 4/4 in a format with nothing but commons? Four, maybe even five whole mana? Well, then boy do we have a deal for you today folks! For the low, one-time achievement of having a mere seven artifacts in play, you can get this gorgeous new 4/4 for absolutely free! That’s right, you heard me, absolutely no mana cost to you! Buy now for all your trinket collecting friends!

Expedition Map — Okay, so this one and the last one aren’t the most widely applicable cards, but they’re both integral cards to their respective archetypes and frankly, I had a short list of played artifacts that could be loved and cherished. The blue-red locus ramp deck is for real folks, and anyone who is looking to play it is going to need a set of maps. As a bonus, Noah Whinston even has an article about the deck on this very site. Check it out!

For the Master of Many Colors

Deft DuelistDeft Duelist does a lot of things well. She attacks and blocks better than most things in Pauper thanks to first strike, and she plays acrobat, dodging removal in a format full of it- awesome! As a bonus, if someone is playing blue-white, they’re very likely playing a tempo-based deck, and those are just where [/card]Deft Duelist[/card] belongs.

Coiling Oracle — A slightly better, if harder to cast Elvish Visionary. Coiling Oracle is a generic ‘good card’ that will probably make the cut in any deck that can cast him. He can accelerate control and at worst replaces himself. Returning him with a Ninja of the Deep Hours is pretty cool, and, to top it all off, it fits in with Elf synergies– insane.

Momentary Blink — I know, I know, I already mentioned this one way back in white, and it’s technically not a gold card. No one casts it in a mono-white deck though, since it’s a rather unimpressive card if you can only use it once. As it is though, Blink can, depending on the board state, bounce two creatures, gain you eight life, or draw you four extra cards. Those are just some of the common uses, and if you were give this entire list as gift, the recipient could do two of those three right away. Sprinkle in some Deft Duelist, and you’re halfway to a deck!

Mystical Teachings — Another single color card with an off-color flashback cost. An excellent splash in any control deck, Mystical Teachings powered a top-tier Standard deck for two years and now it’s one of the few quality tutors available to the paupers. If you know anyone who loves control, especially the kind with lots and lots of silver bullets, Mystical Teachings will be a sure-fire hit for them.

For the Mages Who Like Casting Their Spells

Terramorphic Expanse/Evolving Wilds — These two functionally identical cards make up a great bulk of the mana-fixing in Pauper. Being able to fix into any color of mana is awesome, and only the most aggressive of decks care about the land entering the battlefield tapped. Luckily, the most aggressive decks in Pauper are usually mono-colored, making the drawback negligible in many cases. If you know anyone who’s having problems fixing mana, light up their holiday with a set of the poor man’s fetch lands.

The Ravnica Karoos (Simic Growth Chamber, Izzet Boilerworks, etc.) — While technically ten different cards, they generally get lumped together for obvious reasons. Control and mid-range decks especially love these since they make two or three land hands into three or four mana hands. Find out what colors all your friends are playing, and get them a set of each Karoo they need.

Cloudpost — The best way to ramp with a land in Pauper, I’ll refer you once again to Noah’s recently posted article on a rundown of the awesomely fun blue-red ramp archetype. Needless to say, a set of these bad boys is key for anyone building the deck.

Quicksand — Removal spells come in all shapes and sizes and colors, including land colored! If you know anyone playing mono-blue and losing to aggro swarms in the early game, I’m sure they’d be very pleased with a set of Quicksands in their stocking.

Well, there’s a good start for anyone looking to help out Santa with any paupers on the ‘nice’ list. It isn’t an end-all, be-all list, but it’s a great jumping off point for anyone who’s looking to spread a little holiday cheer (even if it’s to themselves). Be sure to check out MTGOcardtradersbot when scrambling for your last MTGO gift needs for awesome prices on lots of awesome cards, including these.

Bonus section for Peasant Fans — Happy Holidays!

After my last article on Suicide Black opened with a brief note about Peasant, I got a few messages from some friends of mine for a current Sui list in that format too. Plus, there was another article recently posted by Nagarjuna that mentioned Peasant. Since I love that format too and want to see it grow, I thought I’d throw in a bonus decklist for Peasant. Enjoy!

The list is fairly similar to the pauper build, though slightly more aggressive. The only three-drops are your uncommon slots, and the entire team is full of efficient two-power creatures. There are a few slots that can be swapped around, especially for the uncommons. Vampire Nighthawk is the third card I would consider as an uncommon, since he’s just an absolute beating against aggro decks. As it is I know nothing about the MTGO Peasant metagame, so I can’t say the list is more than a starting point, but there it is for those of you who requested (and for those of you who didn’t).

Thanks for reading guys, and have a great holiday season! I’ll see everyone next year (unless you find me online in the meantime).

Find me online as Pitlord on MTGO or any forum I visit.

Also, follow me on twitter as Grant_champion.