Too-Specific Top 10 - Monocolor Pauper Commanders!

(Monomania | Art by James Ryman)

Simply Uncommon

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Stoneshaker Shaman is the only uncommon creature that can cause multiple opponents to sacrifice a land?)

Over the last couple weeks here on Too-Specific Top 10, we went over the most popular multicolored uncommon creatures in EDH, but from the perspective of Pauper EDH. This week, we're going to finish things off with the best monocolor uncommon creatures, again coming at them from the perspective of Pauper EDH, where any uncommon creature can be your commander and your deck must otherwise utilize only commons.

So without further ado, here's the rest of the story!

Top 10 Monocolor Uncommon Creatures

In my opinion, monocolor is really where Pauper EDH shines. Sure, the multicolor decks are inherently more powerful, but all too often the commanders themselves are there more for their colors than any inherent strategy. Not so for monocolor! Here we will find creature after creature that you can really build a strategy around in the same way you'd find yourself doing for Commander. Let's dig in, and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.

Criteria: Uncommon creatures with a monocolor color identity. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

If we're talking about morphing an entire deck around one card, you couldn't do much better than Eidolon of Rhetoric. Commander is usually based around drawing a lot of cards and casting a lot of spells, which Eidolon interrupts for not only your opponents but yourself as well. If you instead lean into one of white's under-utilized strengths in activated abilities, however, then you can find yourself still humming along while the rest of the table finds themselves stopped in their tracks. Given a lot of folk's feelings about Stax, though, you might be better off leaning into the more straightforward Goblin Warchief strategy. With all of your Goblins costing less and having haste, you'll easily stay ahead of the curve. If three mana feels like too much to pay for a commander, however, then how about free? Dryad Arbor technically meets that definition, although you might have to house-rule some things as technically you can only cast a commander, rather than playing it as you have to do with lands.

If you've ever wished to work really hard to exile some permanents forever when they would otherwise only be exiled for a little while, then Fiend Hunter is just the Pauper commander for you! If you're not aware, Fiend Hunter's early Oblivion Ring templating is done as two separate sentences, meaning that they're two separate abilities that you can stack. This allows you to have Fiend Hunter enter, put its triggered exile ability on the stack, and then remove Hunter from the battlefield before the aforementioned exile trigger resolves in order to have the "return" trigger enter andleave the stack before anything is actually exiled; once the exile ability resolves, the other ability has already come and gone, so the exiled card cannot return (unless it's a commander). Again, a lot of work, but if you're into that sort of thing...

Pitiless Plunderer is a bit more straightforward, giving you an immediate Aristocrats payoff in a format where there are almost none of them. While you may not be able to win outright with Revel in Riches, getting three or four Treasure tokens per turn ought to be enough to get you ahead and keep you there! Even more rare than Aristocrats payoffs, however, Fierce Empath gives you a three-mana tutor in the command zone. Sure, the things you can search for aren't exactly world-ending, but grabbing a Hand of Emrakul in a format full of 2/2s seems like it could do some real work, or you can go the value route and cycle a Krosan Tusker. Finally, in the rare category of workable colorless commanders, Shimmer Myr may be my personal favorite. Having a Vedalken Orrery in the command zone seems fun enough, but getting it at a one-mana discount is something else!

Mono-red may not seem like the best place to play a tokens deck, but there are lots of additional token-makers outside of Beetleback Chief itself, along with plentiful commons that can boost your whole team's power and toughness. Speaking of which, Fertilid allows you a mono-green +1/+1 counter build that comes with ramp stapled on, and when you build around Fertilid, specifically, the fact that its "remove a +1/+1 counter" ability doesn't tap gets really gross really fast. If you're looking for more of a challenge than finding a means to turn loads of mana into loads of +1/+1 counters to then make more mana, however, then maybe you should try Ornithopter Voltron? Sure, it's pretty much strictly worse now that Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh (and its hypothetical Partner) exists, but what is Commander about if not the challenge?

There are some (like myself) who would argue that the genesis of Commander was all about being able to play powerful cards that had been banned in more reasonable formats, along with being able to build jank out of a trade binder and actually have fun with it (as opposed to what would happen if you took it to an FNM). If you're looking to return to that kind of feel, then might I suggest brewing a Pauper EDH build of Felidar Guardian? Sure, you won't be able to include a copy of Saheeli Rai to go infinite, but that doesn't mean that there aren't all sorts of degenerate things that you could do with having an on-demand blink-on-a-stick in the command zone!

If you'd rather go straight spellslinger, however, then you'd be hard-pressed to find an easier way to turn all those Brainstorms into lethal combat damage than Murmuring Mystic. While not quite of the same quantity, Loyal Apprentice can also provide you with a steady stream of token fliers by turning on its own Lieutenant trigger at the beginning of each combat step. Combine that with the fact that they come in with haste and are also artifacts, and there's any number of ways to make this little Artificer lethal in quick fashion, from Reckless Fireweaver to Orcish Vandal to a good old-fashioned Trumpet Blast. The true star of our #7 slot, however, may be the combo machine that is Temur Sabertooth. Even if you can't manage to find a way to make three mana every time you cast a one-mana creature with only green commons, then it's still a very efficient 4/3 for four that can allow you to abuse enter-the-battlefield triggers while making itself indestructible, which is nothing to scoff at.

There are 96 different two-mana common artifacts within blue's color identity that Tribute Mage can fetch for you, including but not limited to the following:

If you can't make some sort of combo or value engine out of those kind of pieces, then I don't know what to tell you. If you'd rather have your entire win condition and combo on a single card, however, then you might take a look at Dragon Mage. At seven mana, it's a bit pricey, but for a 5/5 flier that wheels every turn, it absolutely should be! If you're looking for another opportunity to embrace weird (or normal) counter tribal, however, then War of the Spark's Evolution Sage might just be the best option for it in all of the format. Ramping into Proliferate triggers can get out of hand fast, even if you don't have the planeswalker option to stack stuff on that you normally would. 

Oh, I did the thing where I made a list that's going to lead to subsequent lists. Well, here we go for Trophy Mage, then:

Oh sorry, that wasn't much of a list, was it. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll figure it out anyhow. If you'd rather have even more options than artifacts with converted mana cost three, however, then Imperial Recruiter is here for you with 617 cards to choose from, now with a reduced price of only $20 instead of $120! If you'd rather play a combination breakfast special of Eggs and Cheerios, however, then might I suggest Jhoira's Familiar?

If you'd like to revisit kitchen table Magic as it existed in 1999, then it'd be hard to do so in more nostalgic fashion than plopping down a Soul Warden on every turn one. While there are 60-card constructed folks who would balk at all that nonsensical life-gain, there might just be something to be said for it when it comes to a format that is rather combat-centric and still has many of the best historical options for White Weenie builds from throughout Magic's history.

For those that do balk at combat, however, there's also the card that it's impossible not to make a combo out of, Peregrine Drake! You'll find that executing a combo with this Drake is significantly more challenging with only blue commons, no access to bounce lands, and only Warden of Evos Isle to reduce costs, but don't worry, there's also no repeatable bounce effects! Still, there has to be something to be said for building around a fair Peregrine Drake, right? If that's too complicated for you, then how about just finding a Goblin sac outlet with Goblin Matron and going off that way? As for me, I think I'd rather skip all this combo talk and head back to my Timmy roots by putting an Artisan of Kozilek in my command zone and a bunch of mana rocks in the 99.

Before Tuvasa the Sunlit, I don't think it was an exaggeration to say that one of the biggest community wishes was the desire for a new Enchantress legend. Well, now you can, with Pauper EDH and Mesa Enchantress! Just make sure to pack your Floating Shield, because getting that little Druid out of play is going to be everyone's #1 priority. If you'd rather play the most fair of the search mages, however, then that just might be Trinket Mage, with only 88 search targets to choose from, most of which immediately sacrifice themselves. What might feel a lot less fair is having Gray Merchant of Asphodel in your command zone in a format with almost no board wipes and no real downside to playing a whole lot of tiny black creatures. Finally, if Murmuring Mystic was a bit too pricey for you, then Young Pyromancer can give you the same feel without the blue or the flying for only two mana. Given that there are any number of ways to give your instant- and sorcery-based tokens haste and a power/toughness boost in red, however, it may be even more lethal even without the evasion.

Whether it be protecting a big threat while also having the option to make it pseudo-unblockable, or building around untap tribal to really make things ridiculous, Mother of Runes is a known quantity that has more than enough room to build around (even if much of those results might be best described as "good stuff"). If you'd rather keep things more tuned and specific, however, then welcome to a format where you can play Laboratory Maniac as a commander! No one will love you for it and you'll almost certainly be the archenemy in every game you play, but even with that knowledge it's more than likely that you'll be able to find a way to draw your whole library anyway. If you'd rather play a more typical and friendly kind of Commander deck instead, then another option at uncommon is Zulaport Cutthroat. Given that there are no Blood Artist effects at common, it's sure to make for an excellent Aristocrats commander. The only problem is that, as we went over last week, you can just as easily go two-color with the almost-identical Cruel Celebrant and have access to a whole other color to support your strategy.

Building around Mulldrifter might be a tad difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. Keeping in mind that the Evoke cost gets the additional two mana from commander tax, it's still a guaranteed Divination early in the game or a body that can be blinked or returned to your hand for maximum value if you cast it for the full five. If that's a bit more work than you're looking to do, then Blood Artist does let you do Aristocrats in a fashion that gives you credit for both your own and everyone else's creatures dying, as opposed to Zulaport Cutthroat and Cruel Celebrant's ability which affects each opponent, but only triggers on your own creatures. Probably the most exciting of the #1 cards, however, is Guttersnipe! Building spell-slinger in mono-red isn't the chore that it used to be, and with Guttersnipe at the helm you can easily do what you normally couldn't in regular Commander: build straight burn. You're still going to have to find ways to constantly refill your hand, but there seems to be a fair amount of fuel for that sort of thing these days, even at common.

Honorable Mentions

We've done a lot today, but I would be remiss if I didn't throw our resident uncommon commander specialist a nod by giving you guys a list of the best uncommon commanders as they currently stand:

Top 10 Monocolor Uncommonders

  1. Syr Konrad, the Grim
  2. Danitha Capashen, Paragon
  3. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
  4. Baird, Steward of Argive
  5. Whisper, Blood Liturgist
  6. Renata, Called to the Hunt
  7. Zada, Hedron Grinder
  8. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
  9. Anax, Hardened in the Forge
  10. Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep

And since we're on the subject, I might as well throw out my latest Pauper EDH build as well!

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Normally I'm not for splitting focus, but it turns out when the general deck idea is "ramp into your commander mana sink", Elves can do that.

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about introducing folks to the Pauper EDH format over the last couple of weeks, and I'm glad that I could show people that there is still at least one format that you can build cheaply or even straight out of a collection of bulk. That said, going into mono-color, there is a larger question that's been on my mind:

And finally, what do you think of these monocolor Pauper commanders? Is there a staple from this bunch of staples that you've always wanted to build around? Is there an uncommon creature not on this list that fits the unique format of Pauper EDH perfectly?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the last common white folding table. Thank goodness we're not having to play on the Warhammer terrain again.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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