Too-Specific Top 10 - Multicolor Pauper Commanders, Part I
(Common Bond | Art by Raymond Swanland)
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 Wood Sage is the only uncommon creature that lets you name a creature card? Pro-tip: Name Persistent Petitioners)
Pauper EDH is much like the more-solidified format of Pauper, in that it has a simple deck construction rule: your deck may only contain cards that have been printed at the common rarity at some point in the history of Magic. Where it differs is that it also tacks on some rules from Commander, namely the singleton, 100-card deck size, and the command zone rules.
Only, there's an issue. The list of common commanders is horrendously small, not even allowing for most color combinations. To get around this, the creators decided that you could use an uncommon creature as your commander instead, since they were already special anyhow. At the time, however, there were very few uncommon legendary creatures, and so they expanded it out to every single uncommon creature in the history of Magic. This slight variation in deck construction has led to a lot of excitement over the years, as people got to choose their favorite uncommons to build around.
With the printing of Commander Legends, however, Pauper EDH got a gift that has created a renaissance in the format: Partner commanders.
While a lot of folks have argued that the recent plethora of uncommon legends should have the format moving toward legendary creatures in the same fashion as Commander (a position that I vehemently disagree with), it's a bit of a moot point when it comes to the uncommon Partners, as they both are eligible commanders and physically say on the card that you can use them as your commander. Combine that with the inherent card advantage of Partner and the high power level of most of the new cards, and there has been a lot of brewing taking place around these new options.
With the limited data that we have on cards that were just released last month, however, there really isn't enough data yet to see which of the new uncommon Partners are the most popular, whether it be in regular or in Pauper Commander. Just for fun, though, here's the list as it currently sits:
Top 10 Uncommon Partners
- Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh
- Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
- Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator
- Breeches, Brazen Plunderer
- Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar
- Dargo, the Shipwrecker
- Tormod, the Desecrator
- Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith
- Miara, Thorn of the Glade
- Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer
Instead of rehashing an in-progress list, however, I figured it would be fun to highlight a format that not everyone is aware of, while also listing out what might be some of the best options for it in brute force fashion.
Top 10 Multicolor Uncommon Creatures
That's right, this is gonna be one of those lists made up of smaller lists! A favorite of list-lovers everywhere, or just a selfish indulgence? Only you know the answer!
Okay, the answer is that this is a huge indulgence for a little old list addict known as me, so much so that I'm gonna have to split it into two listicles, as we only have room for half of the multicolor options today, and the other half will come out next Friday. We'll look at mono-color options the week after that, right after my editors are done informing me that no one knows or cares about Pauper Commander. Still, framing it this way has to be more interesting than just listing off the best uncommon creatures available in Commander, right?
Criteria: Uncommon creatures within a given color identity that includes two or more colors. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
Azorius: Elite Guardmage
Orzhov: General's Enforcer
Boros: Renegade Wheelsmith
Selesnya: Kitchen Finks
Dimir: Deadeye Plunderers
Izzet: Maverick Thopterist
Simic: Maraleaf Pixie
Golgari: Skull Prophet
Gruul: Draconic Disciple
While Skull Prophet could be a lot of general Golgari-type fun, the real heavy hitters in our #10 slot are a lot more build-around. While Vizier of Remedies has yet to be printed at common, Kitchen Finks can still go infinite with Ivy Lane Denizen and a sac outlet, netting you infinite life with a side of whatever triggers that you stuff the deck with. Just keep in mind that tutors are hard to come by in a Pauper environment, so you'll probably be playing fair more often than not. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, then Deadeye Plunderers will synergize much more easily with an entire deck full of artifacts, and they can probably still go incidentally infinite with its non-tapping activated ability if you have a few large mana rocks and some untap shenanigans, or just be really large with a lot of access to mana for explosive turns. Finally, speaking of lots of artifact tokens, Maverick Thopterist brings a couple Thopter pals along while having Improvise to pay for all that pesky commander tax, allowing you to go in all sorts of go-wide or Aristocrats directions.
Naya: Mirrorwood Treefolk
Three-color commanders are harder to come by, with only a few sets that have gone deep enough into multiple colors for them to hit the uncommon slot. One of those that was a bit less popular was Planeshift, the middle set in Invasion block, which brought us Mirrorwood Treefolk. Despite its absolutely abysmal EDHREC score of only five inclusions, it's actually a great build-around card in the command zone, allowing you to build a "stop hitting yourself" deck in this often combat-centric environment, or even to go the route of Group Slug in Naya with your commander as a means to stay ahead of the waves of symmetrical damage.
Azorius: Aven Wind Guide
Orzhov: Necrotic Sliver
Boros: Veteran Motorist
Selesnya: Siona, Captain of the Pyleas
Dimir: Sphinx Summoner
Izzet: Wee Dragonauts
Simic: Plaxcaster Frogling
Rakdos: Dire Fleet Captain
Golgari: Glowspore Shaman
Gruul: Zendikar Incarnate
The obvious choice from among the cards in our #9 spot that leaps out from the page is an Aristocrats build of Slivers with Necrotic Sliver, which does sound like fun. Three mana for every sacrifice adds up quickly, however, and you're going to be playing a lot of sub-par "Slivers". Luckily, Azorius comes through with a rather interesting pick in the form of Aven Wind Guide! Giving every token flying and vigilance means both having evasion and never having to worry about having blockers, not to mention having a more resilient and lethal commander due to it having Embalm. Lastly, Sphinx Summoner is the rare tutor in Pauper Commander, right in your command zone. Whether you use that power to head to combo-land, build a deck like a toolbox, or just go out and grab a guaranteed Myr Retriever to get the value train rolling, it shouldn't be too hard to make a deck that will have you chuckling as you thumb through your $10 deck of commons.
Naya: Sacellum Archers
Jund: Orcish Healer
While our number of three-color commanders has increased to a total of three, neither Sacellum Archers or Orcish Healer are very compelling. Conditional and expensive pinging is kind of awful, and while conditional and expensive Regeneration is better, I'm not sure that it translates into anything other than value Jund. Still, I do like that artwork.
Azorius: Empyrean Eagle
Orzhov: Arvad the Cursed
Boros: Resolute Blademaster
Selesnya: Wayfaring Temple
Dimir: Tomebound Lich
Izzet: Bloodwater Entity
Simic: Merfolk Skydiver
Rakdos: Dire Fleet Neckbreaker
Golgari: Slimefoot, the Stowaway
Gruul: Creeping Trailblazer
While Resolute Blademaster does share some of the issues that tribal Slivers in Pauper does, there are 28 different Allies that you have access to at common in Boros, and giving every creature on your board double strike will most likely end games in a hurry. Similarly, Wayfaring Temple's access to plentiful Proliferate triggers is sure to make you both tall and wide enough at the same time to knock players right out of the game. Plus, unlike Slivers or Allies, Elementals are plentiful in the Pauper realm, meaning that Creeping Trailblazer will have more than enough friends and mana to get big enough to Fling at players for lethal.
Naya: Rith's Attendant
Jund: Viashino Slaughtermaster
Bant: Treva's Attendant
If you're wondering whether we were going to be leaving the "I play my commander for the color identity" realm of things with our Shard commanders, may I present the attendant cycle! One for each of the Invasion Elder Dragons, Rith's Attendant and Treva's Attendant tie for being the least-played of the unplayable bunch. Luckily, Jund saves us in a small way, as Viashino Slaughtermaster is an excellent Voltron commander that comes with double strike and an initial pump already stapled to him!
Azorius: Crystalline Sliver
Orzhov: Cliffhaven Vampire
Boros: Truefire Captain
Selesnya: Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Dimir: Hibernation Sliver
Izzet: Storm Fleet Sprinter
Simic: Gyre Engineer
Rakdos: Rushblade Commander
Golgari: Leyline Prowler
Gruul: Khenra Charioteer
If you are going to force Slivers in an environment in which you would only have access to 28 of them, then the reason to do it would be giving all of them Shroud with Crystalline Sliver, especially given that Pauper EDH is extraordinarily slim on board wipes. If you're really looking to get aggressive, however, then Truefire Captain can both make your other attacking creatures larger while also punishing players for blocking. Add in a couple of common red board wipes such as Martyr of Ashes and Swirling Sandstorm, and you could have some real punishment headed your opponents' way. Additionally, just to keep it all in white here in the #7 slot, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage is an absolutely amazing Populate engine in a color which still has access to most of the mana dorks printed in Magic's history despite the Pauper requirement.
Naya: Naya Battlemage
Jund: Bartel Runeaxe
Bant: Sunscape Battlemage
Esper: Scornful Aether-Lich
Grixis: Krovikan Elementalist
The Shard choices continue to be rather underwhelming, with Mirrorwood Treefolk still looking like by far the most interesting of the bunch despite its low inclusion rate. That said, the Battlemages could be at least workable, with Naya Battlemage being a decent aggro option and Sunscape Battlemage being made of options and card advantage despite the high cost associated with said options. Maybe the best of the bunch that shines past its initial impression is Scornful Aether Lich, however, as it allows you to craft a hybrid artifact-Equipment tribal build in some of the best colors for both. Sure it might end up being just Esper good stuff with an emphasis on artifacts, but that could go a long way toward being both viable and interesting in a format where three-color is hard to come by!
Azorius: Mistmeadow Witch
Orzhov: Drana's Emissary
Boros: Tenth District Legionnaire
Selesnya: Atzocan Seer
Dimir: Duskmantle Guildmage
Izzet: Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
Simic: Trygon Predator
Rakdos: Azra Oddsmaker
Golgari: Golgari Findbroker
Gruul: Raging Regisaur
If you've ever wished for what might be an even better Blink commander than Brago, King Eternal, then welcome to a format where Mistmeadow Witch can be your commander! Sure, most of your payoffs aren't legal, but there are still a lot more creatures with amazing enter-the-battlefield effects than you might think at common, headlined by Mulldrifter, Peregrine Drake, and Suture Priest. Don't forget that Mistmeadow Witch can protect itself in addition to racking you up value! For those that would rather play fair and hearken back to the days of Heroic ruling Standard, however, there's Tenth District Legionnaire, who will be able to operate as a sort of Feather, the Redeemed-lite by scrying anytime you target it while also getting huge in quick fashion. I think that my favorite of this bunch is easily Battlebond standout Azra Oddsmaker, though. Throwing in a few Madness and Flashback cards should make the discard more than manageable, while this Warrior's competitive body and being in the two colors with the majority of removal in the format should make things a lot easier when it comes to getting some damage in for the payoff.
Naya: Thornscape Battlemage
Jund: Darigaaz's Attendant
Esper: Dromar's Attendant
Ragnar is an actual option here, but, as you may have noticed I've been more or less avoiding the legendary creatures which people are probably already familiar with given their existence in Commander. If you do have an interest in going that route, however, just make sure you check his pricetag first! Back in the non-legendary camp, then, Thornscape Battlemage may be the most competitively priced of the entire Planeshift cycle, giving you a 2/2 body, a Shock, and a white Shatter, all for five mana. If that kind of one-time-use value on your commander isn't your idea of a good time, however, then there's still Dreadwing. While Grixis isn't the best of colors for ramping, having a mana sink on your commander that could let you easily swing in for lethal commander damage in the late game is nothing to sneeze at.
With the added space required to hit every version of multicolor (more on those shards, wedges, and five-color cards later), this Top Ten was too large to be contained! So check back next week for the top five multicolor uncommon creatures in EDH!
More important than the top ten uncommon Partners as they stand right now is who those Partners are pairing up with. With that in mind, here are the top uncommon Partner Pairs as they stand at this moment:
- Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist & Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh - 175 Decks
- Breeches, Brazen Plunderer & Malcolm, Keen-eyed Navigator - 154 Decks
- Keleth, Sunmane Familiar & Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh - 49 Decks
- Siani, Eye of the Storm & Eligeth, Crossroads Augur - 48 Decks
- Miara, Thorn of the Glade & Numa, Joraga Chieftain - 47 Decks
- Ghost of Ramirez DePietro & Tormod, the Desecrator - 33 Decks
- Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer & Rebbec, Architect of Ascension - 33 Decks
- Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar & Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh - 27 Decks
- Dargo, the Shipwrecker & Malcolm, Keen-eyed Navigator - 21 Decks
- Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer & Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith - 20 Decks
Currently, Voltron rules the day with Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist and Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh leading the pack by about 20 decks. That said, I think that Breeches, Brazen Plunderer and Malcolm, Keen-eyed Navigator will have the greater staying power with their odd mix of pirate tribal and pingers without pingers.
What Do You Think?
Hopefully I've done enough here to at least pique your interest in a new format that can also just be a way to build for lower-power levels, but it does occur to me that I might not actually be your introduction...
And finally, what are your initial thoughts on the format? Does the idea of being able to pick your favorite uncommon creature and use it as your commander appeal to you? Do you think you can build something competitive with only commons to work with?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the common white folding table. You know the one.