This week I have decided I can’t ignore the stupid Pauper craze. Will it stick around? I mean, let’s not compare Pauper to something like Tiny Leaders which was a dumb idea or Frontier which was a pretty good idea about 7 years too early. Pauper was already a thing, people played it online for years and the poors even played it once at my LGS a few years ago. How the poors are going to afford $8 Gush and $10 Chainer’s Edict in a few months, I’ll never figure out.
In order for me to care about a pauper card, I’m going to have to see a good chance of it getting some play and therefore being worth buying and in order for me to want to write about it in my EDH column, I’m going to have to see some EDH appeal. I decided that cards which cross over into both formats are perfect since both formats will push up prices, help soak up supply and probably a third thing, which is so psychologically-satisfying for people reading lists. (I had a third thing but my kid came downstairs, shrieking like a little demon and I picked her up and shrieked back at her and she gave me like one of those “respect” nods like she was testing me and I passed and then she ran back upstairs and left me alone but I forgot the third thing I was going to say that crossover cards do so you’re just going to have to trust me that I put thought into this).
I think we can find some cards that cross over between formats and are therefore about to experience a steeper incline than either format alone is capable of producing, which is great for us.
Temur Battle Rage
Pauper Deck – Izzet Blitz
2,483 decks is not too shabby on EDHREC for a card like this and it gets the nod over the cheaper (mana-wise) Assault Strobe due to the Ferocious ability. Giving a creature Double-Strike in Pauper means you only need to buff it up to 10 power which is pretty easy with Kiln Fiends and Mutagenic Growths. The trample is usually enough to seal the deal.
The EDH applications similarly won’t shock you.
Apparently it’s also in 81 Lord Tresserhorn decks, also known as “every Lord Tresserhorn deck.” Zada is a particularly great place to play this card since it’s basically an Overrun for 2 mana in Mono-Red which is saucy.
The foils are on their way up and I don’t think $10 is 100% unreasonable for them. I don’t know if 2,400 EDHREC decks is enough to couple with pauper demand to move a non-foil on a card this recent, but the foils probably have some upside. If I were going to play a poor format like Pauper I would for sure foil the deck, which would make it awkward since foil Gush is like a million dollars. I think if you find Battle Rage in bulk, it will probably buylist for 25 cents or more in a year, so avoid buying the non-foils at retail but avoid shipping them out in bulk, too. You can make a lot of money in MTG finance just knowing which nickels to sit on until they’re quarters.
Relic of Progenitus
In twice as many EDHREC decks (though the rationale for some of them doesn’t make a ton of sense to me) Relic is popping up in some sideboards.
In general, anything that’s powerful enough to be at uncommon but is pauper legal because of which set it’s in online (and Vintage Masters was great for making a card like Battle Screech look like a common next to cards like Mox Pearl) is worth a look. Relic has some obsolescence issues in EDH but there’s no card better in that slot for Pauper and that’s likely to drive prices.
Wizards has demonstrated a willingness to print Relic in sets like Modern Masters where they have foils, so the foil copies aren’t as safe as they are for other cards. I think we can wait for this to get reprinted again, pick these out of bulk or buy them for a buck or so and wait for the inevitable ascent back to $2 or $3. These were common in Shards of Alara which means they were common in Shards block foil packs which means foils aren’t that rare, anyway (not that that stopped them from flirting with $20).
Every green Voltron deck likes this for the trample and the fact that it’s not a 2-for-1 if they kill the creature. You won’t be surprised to see that the decks running it in EDH are Voltron builds.
The first four are, anyway. Rancor is spicy in Shattergang brothers, though – letting you destroy any enchantment on the field for 2GG.
Rancor is another one of those “good enough to be uncommon but still legal in Pauper” cards that are such good value for us. The fact that they’re mostly uncommon in the wild means there aren’t as many copies floating around as there would be for “true” commons and that helps the prices quite a bit.
Foils are pretty stable, at least for Urza’s Legacy.
M13 suffered from not being as cool as Modern Masters.
It’s way down but with a demonstrated ability to flirt with $8, the foils from older sets could see a resurgence. I don’t like buying into M13 at $2 as much as I like buying into that Legacy one on eBay from $14, but I think a rising tide will raise all boats and you could see $6 or $7 foil Rancors again. The prices would inevitably recovered after Modern Masters anyway and increase Pauper demand will be reflected in the prices.
Pauper decks – Affinity
Joining Gush in our “Banned in other formats but somehow still legal here” file, we have the artifact lands, which have various degrees of EDH adoption and various numbers of reprintings, hence the price swings. What’s clear is that they are pretty good in Pauper and people will continue to explore the flexibility given to them by these cards.
Breya wants all of these, Daretti wants the red one, Arcum wants the blue one – it’s complicated. What is clear is that I sometimes get these in bulk, they’re worth picking out and since their current price is predicated on EDH demand alone, Pauper demand could drive the prices of the ones used in Pauper up.
We’re seeing a trend where a Modern Masters printing will tank the price of the M set foil but mostly leave the original set foil intact. That’s worth noting because it could mean original set foils are insulated from reprinting in future sets while the Modern Masters and M set foils are not. That makes original set foils even more attractive, and it makes them more equal in growth potential since the number of reprints can vary between the different colors but shouldn’t affect the original set foils all growing together. Darksteel Citadel has the most utility since it’s indestructible. If Ensoul Artifact ever gets printed in an online set at common, watch out.
That does it for me this week. I am sure there are a few more cards I missed just because they didn’t do well in tournament decks recently but as the Pauper field continues to evolve, I’m sure we will find some Pauper gems with hidden growth potential. Identifying which cards might grow twice as fast as cards that are used by either format but not both can help us make better buying decisions. That does it for me this week; leave me something in the comments section. Until next time!