Digital Deckbuilding - EDHREC Themes and Tags

(Kenrith, the Returned King| Art by Kieran Yanner)

Princes And Paupers

Friendly greetings and welcome to Digital Deckbuilding, the series about improving the deckbuilding process with online tools. I'm John Sherwood, and this week I'm mingling with commons to build a Pauper Commander Deck. For the uninitiated, Pauper formats use only cards with at least one printing at common rarity. Pauper Commander, or PDH, allows any uncommon creature for the commander, and the other 99 cards in the deck must meet the common rarity restriction. Pauper formats are incredibly fun and budget friendly. For more information, check out r/PauperEDH on Reddit.

Because not all Pauper commanders are legendary, EDHREC data is not automatically curated to support the Pauper variant. EDHREC primarily caters to the mainstream Commander format. However, the site still helps explore format variants if the user is willing to dig a little deeper. I'll lay out the tools for themes on EDHREC and tags on Archidekt, then put those tools to use building a Pauper Commander deck. Even though this article features a PDH deck, themes and tags are useful tools for building any deck. In the end, this demonstration will benefit royalty and paupers alike.

Principles Of Theme

Some commanders rule over a diverse kingdom of decks, as seen by a broad distribution of themes across their entire data set. Kenrith, the Returned King is a royally popular commander because he enables a wide range of possible strategies. Between a five-color identity, and a full spread color-centric of activated abilities, Kenrith's data is distributed over many different themes.

Screenshot of Kenrith, Returned King themes on EDHRECThe most popular themes forKenrith, the Returned King include Pod, Politics, Lands, Group Hug and Humans.

Other commanders swear fealty to a single type or mechanic, and their EDHREC data leans heavily into a single theme. Kenrith might be the king of variety, but his son, Will, Scion of Peace, is a poster boy for singular focus. Will commands over 2400 decks on EDHREC, and at least 2000 of those are Lifegain decks. The next most popular theme for Will, Scion of Peace is X Spells, with a scant 51 decks.

Lifegain is the most popular theme for Will, Scion of Peace because gaining life enables his ability.

The themes on EDHREC are useful for finding cards that don't appear on the commander's main page. Themes help players focus on a strategy by trimming out unrelated deck data. Themes also come in handy when looking at the pages of different commanders, as a way to discover cards that might not make it to the top results of the commander you're building.

Tagging For The Masses

Archidekt creates tags for users to assign to their decks. You can tag your own decks in the Extra Settings by clicking the pen-shaped edit button next to the Tags icon at the top of the deck page. Archidekt tags are searchable to help other members of the community looking for inspiration, and tags help EDHREC publish more accurate data. Archidekt also publishes internal site data about tags in Community Stuff.

A screen shot of tag data on Archidekt's Community Stuff page.You can see deck building trends for tags in Archidekt's Community Stuff.

King For A Day

Before building a Pauper EDH deck, I need to choose a commander. Keeping with the Prince and Pauper analogy, I'm looking for an uncommon creature that could be dressed up like Kenrith, the Returned King. After a couple syntax searches, I discovered the perfect Pauper Commander to swap with Kenrith. My second search used this syntax: (rarity:uncommon)(type:creature)(oracle:{w}{u}{b}{r}{g}) and found Composite Golem, Dragonsoul Knight, Fleshformer, Paragon of the Amesha and Worldheart Phoenix.

Paragon of the Amesha is a white card with the human creature type and all five color pips in the card ability. This Pauper Paragon has so much in common with Kenrith, none of the other options are really worth considering. Which, ironically enough, is how some players feel about Kenrith as a commander because of his universal utility. Archidekt supports Pauper EDH as a selectable deck format, so I was able to add Paragon of the Amesha as my commander during deck creation.

The Pauper In The Palace - Exploring Themes On EDHREC

Looking at the next screenshot, there's a big blank void where the Theme information would be on a commander page. I had to look elsewhere, starting with the top commanders for Paragon of the Amesha.

Screenshot of the EDHREC card page for Paragon of the Amesha.Card pages do not have the same theme information as Commander Pages

There are only eighty-one decks on EDHREC with Paragon of the Amesha in the 99, so looking at the themes for this card's commanders did not take long. The most popular commander for Paragon the Amesha is Jegantha, the Wellspring with 22 inclusions. This makes sense, because Jegantha can tap to pay whole cost of activating Paragon of the Amesha's activated ability. Unfortunately, Jegantha's most popular theme is Mutate, a mechanic that doesn't work on humans.

Because I want Paragon of the Amesha to impersonate Kenrith, I invested more time looking at Kenrith deck data. I viewed the data for each of Kenrith's most popular themes and used Additional Filters for common cards. For more information about EDHREC filters, check out Digital Deckbuilding - How to use Archidekt and EDHREC Filters.

Looking at the data and available cards, I decided to make this a humans kindred deck. Some of Kenrith's other themes didn't seem feasible without uncommon and rare cards. On the other hand, humans and creature type support cards frequently appear at common. Two great examples appeared in the filtered results for Kenrith's humans theme.

In addition to providing essential mechanical support for a humans theme, these cards are a flavor win for this build. Rally at the Hornburg and Distant Melody each mirror different effects from among Kenrith's activated abilities.

Another approach to finding theme cards is to start on the EDHREC theme pages, accessible through the menu bar at the top of the page. Humans appear in the dropdown as one of the most popular typal themes. Each theme or typal page includes a menu of color identities and Additional Filters. By the time I finished browsing human typal on EDHREC, I had twenty cards in the clipboard to export to the deck.

King Among The Commons - Searching Tags On Archidekt

Earlier I mentioned deck tags are a searchable parameter on Archidekt. This is the part where I put that feature to work. I selected Search all decks from the main menu, then expanded the Advanced search options to add Pauper EDH under format and humans from the Deck tags. noticed there's only four results...did I mention Pauper EDH is a variant?

None of the results were Paragon of the Amesah decks, and none of them were five-color. No worries. The search results were each different commanders with different color identities, and the variety turned out to be exactly what I needed.

While viewing another user's deck, I discovered Palace Sentinels, a Pauper-legal human that makes you become The Monarch. Apart from being an outstanding mechanic, The Monarch is another flavorful addition to a deck with a pauper posing as a king.

A quick syntax search with terms for rarity and oracle text uncovered more common humans that either give the Monarch designation or provide a payoff for being the Monarch.

True Colors - Tagging The Deck

Princes and paupers can't keep up the ruse of living each others' lives forever. Tagging your decks helps other players to see their true identity. Eventually I arrived at a virtual pile of 100 cards I felt satisfied with, which meant it was time to tag the deck.

A screenshot of tags for the Paragon of the Amesha deck.I added tags related to each activated ability on Kenrith, the Returned King.

I added tags for humans, Monarch and mechanics related to each of Kenrith's activated abilities. If any other Archidekt users do a deck search with those tags, they'll be able to find this deck, and then judge for themselves which cards match the associated themes.

Happily Ever After

Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper ends happily for both Prince Edward and the pauper Tom Canty. Our deckbuilding analogue to Mark Twain's story naturally sees Kenrith return to his throne at the pinnacle of the Commander format, but what about Paragon of the Amesha? Is this Pauper commander doomed to return to the virtual bulk bin I found it in? Or is there a happy ending for Paragon of the Amesha in a real life deck box? Check out the Paragon of the Amesha decklist below, then you can decide how this story ends.

Whether you're a Pauper enthusiast, or just Pauper curious, check out this Commander's Herald article by Alejandro Fuentes featuring a pauper deck led by Paragon of the Amesha's nemesis, Dragonsoul Knight. Tell us about your favorite Pauper commanders in the comments.

Digital Deckbuilding - Themes and Tags

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View this decklist on Archidekt

Read more:

Too-Specific Top 10 - Mono-White Pauper Control

John Sherwood loves interaction, turning creatures sideways and interacting with sideways creatures. His deck building mantra is, "Run more lands." He has been a devoted Commander player since Zendikar Rising.

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