Thursday, October 29, 2015

An Open Letter to Wizards of the Coast

On Tuesday, social media exploded after the announcement was made that Wizards of the Coast was dropping support for many casual formats on Magic Online, including Standard Pauper. I responded with several ways that you as the community could lobby to keep the format. Today, I want to post an open letter to Wizards of the Coast about this issue. Feel free to use as a template for your own correspondence with them. In particular, contact,, and via E-mail and urge them not to remove the Standard Pauper format from Magic Online. 

Dear Wizards of the Coast,

I was saddened and disappointed by your recent decision to remove the Standard Pauper filter from Magic Online.  When the filter was added back in August of 2009, it was a major milestone for our community, and contributed to an immediate growth in the popularity and accessibility of the format. To see the format removed now would be a devastating blow to a community that has stuck by Magic Online through all of its growing pains during this ongoing transition to the new version of the client.

Standard Pauper contributes to both your company and the community in several meaningful ways:
  • It gives new players a lower complexity format to learn the intricacies of Magic in general and Magic Online specifically before moving on to more popular formats.
  • It provides an inexpensive way for players to experience the game without having to pay the expense of high-level formats such as Standard or Limited.
  • Since it uses the most popular format as its base, there is relatively little additional programming needed for its infrastructure. 
  • It is supported by a diverse community of players who participate from all over the globe in weekly Player Run Events.
  • It allows players to actually play in a competitive Constructed format with the majority of cards they receive through booster packs and Limited play.

On behalf of the 50+ players who regularly participate in Standard Pauper events and many others who play more casually, I urge you to reconsider your decision. Support the community who value the casual formats that you have pledged to uphold in the past. Don’t remove what has become my personal favorite way to play this great game.


George M Leonard

MTGO: gwyned

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Don't Let WotC Take the Standard Pauper Filter Away!

Wizards announced today that they are retiring the Standard Pauper filter from Magic Online along with several other formats. Don't let them do it!

If you're on Twitter, contact @mtg_lee @mtgworth @wizards_magic @MagicOnline and tell them not to.

You can also E-mail then by following these instructions: Make sure you select Magic Online as your product.

You can also directly E-mail Wizards Customer Service at 

And if you are willing to write a calm, rationale, polite, but heartfelt and passionate E-mail to people like Mike Turian Worth Wollpert, and Lee Sharpe, please contact me at gwyned at gmail dot com and I will be happy to share with you their addresses.  

Spread the word, make your voice heard. Do not let them do this!

Prizes Announced, Video Uploaded

The Standard Pauper Double League is shaping up to be one of the best events I have ever had the privilege of being a part of, and I'm not just saying that because it way my idea.

As I posted late last week, the biggest news for this event was Wizards of the Coast deciding to donate 24 booster packs of Battle for Zendikar. In fact, this was such a big deal that I wanted to post a video to my rarely updated YouTube channel in the hopes of catching people who don't otherwise connect with me or the Standard Pauper community. And on that video, I also posted the exact breakdown for the prizes. I linked the video below, and while it's perhaps not my best work, I would still encourage you to watch it and link it to anyone who might be interested in the event. But in case you don't want to watch the whole thing, here's how the prizes will be paid out:

I'm still in awe of such an amazing prize pool, and so grateful to everyone who donated or solicited donations of my behalf.

And so here's the video. I hope you find it helpful. We're already up to 44 players, but there's certainly room for many more. Let's show Wizards of the Coast just how much this community supports Standard Pauper. See you next time.

Friday, October 23, 2015

WotC Makes Major Donation for Double League

Yes, you read that right. Late yesterday afternoon, I received word that Wizards of the Coast will be donating 24 packs of Battle for Zendikar as prizes for the Standard Pauper Double League. That's almost $100 worth of value in prizes!

I have long been a proud advocate of the Standard Pauper format. I have written several articles about why I believe that this format is not only good for players but good for Wizards of the Coast as well. So this donation is a big deal. A very big deal. For the first time in our history, Wizards has taken an active step to financially support Standard Pauper.

So let's blow them out of the water with our response. If you've got a voice on social media or elsewhere on the Internet, spread the word about the format and about this event. Even better, drop a line to Lee Sharpe via Twitter and thank him for their generosity, as it was ultimately his decision whether or not to donate. You can also E-mail him at Lee dot Sharpe at wizards dot com. And while you're at it, extend a special thanks to the tireless efforts of Joe Dillard, better known as joekewwl, for his endless lobbying on behalf of the format. He was the one who made the big ask that made this donation possible.

Tomorrow I will be posting on my YouTube page a special video about the event and announcing the prize distribution for the tournament. Keep an eye here and on my Twitter account for when that goes live. And if you haven't already sign up for this event, check out all the details here, and send an E-mail to gwyned at gmail dot com with your MTGO username and time zone to register.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Starting Points for Analysis of the Format

Registration for the Standard Pauper Double League is well underway, with almost twenty players registered in just the first 48 hours of the announcement. The event has been advertised on Twitter, reddit, and a couple different websites, and there are already several names I didn't recognize. So if you haven't already registered, just send your MTGO name, and time zone to gwyned at gmail dot com with the subject line, "Standard Pauper Double League," and you'll be all set.

Today I want to make sure you know where to get some great information on what to play in the league. Even with the recent rotation of Standard, there's already quite a bit of data to help you navigate the new metagame. Here's some great starting points, in no particular order:
  1. Chris Baker wrote up a great blog post, covering not only his set review of Battle for Zendikar but also addressing how the rotation of Standard changed the Standard Pauper metagame. Check out the post and accompanying video here.
  2. One of the two weekly Standard Pauper Player Run Events (SPDC) has already resumed, and the other one (MPDC) will start this coming Monday. You can always see the breakdown of decks and how they performed off the start page on Going forward, this will give you a steady flow of new information, so it's well worth keeping tabs on. Better yet, come join us on either Sunday or Monday at 2pm EST and participate in the fun yourself!
  3. rremedio just wrote a great post on the Standard Pauper Players blog talking about the results from SPDC 31.01 and the different archetypes that were played. This is a great snapshot of where things stand at the moment, and is well worth a detailed look. Check it out right here.
  4. My full set review of Battle for Zendikar is also complete and available over at PureMTGO. It's broken up into three parts: Part One (White and Blue); Part Two (Black and Red), and Part Three (Green and Colorless). I hope you find it helpful!
I also anticipate having lots to say about the event here on my blog, which I will be updated twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So break out some sweet brews, get testing online, and come be a part of the Standard Pauper Double League!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Standard Pauper Double League Official Announcement

Here's the announcement you've been waiting for!

I am happy to officially announce the Standard Pauper Double League. In case you've missed my previous posts, the concept is pretty simple: this will be two back-to-back events, each consisting of 5 rounds of Swiss before cutting to a Double Elimination Top 8. Players who survive the first cut will be ineligible for the second phase of the tournament, which will otherwise be an identical 5 rounds of Swiss followed by another Double Elimination Top 8. Players will be responsible each week to contact their opponent and play their match for the week. Pairings will be handled through the Gatherling database at for the Swiss rounds, while the Double Elimination rounds will run off a tournament bracket hosted here on my blog.

So here are the official rules for the event:

1. Registration: Registration begins immediately and will be open until 11:59pm EST on Friday, October 30th. To register, send an email to gwyned at gmail dot com with "Standard Pauper Double League" in the subject line and include your MTGO username and your time zone. There is no entry fee to participate - in other words, it's absolutely free!

2. Important Dates: You must register by Friday, October 30th at 11:59pm EST to participate in this event. Round 1 then begins on Monday, Novemeber 2nd. Each round will run one week, beginning on Monday and ending at 11:59pm EST every Sunday.

3. Format: The format for this event is Standard Pauper Constructed, which means only cards printed at Common in Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged, Dragons of Tarkir, Magic Origijns, and Battle for Zendikar are legal. Older printings of legal cards are acceptable. Deck must be 60 cards minimum, with an optional Sideboard of no more than 15 cards.

You are welcome to change your decklist between rounds as long as the new deck is still Standard Pauper Constructed legal.

4. Structure: Both phases of the event will be in Swiss style, with a total of 5 rounds. After the Swiss rounds are complete, there will be a cut to Top 8, resulting in 5 rounds of Double Elimination play. The second phase of the event, also consisting of 5 rounds of Swiss play, will run concurrently with the Top 8 Double Elimination. Players who earn a spot in the initial Top 8 are thus NOT eligible to play in the second phase of the event. Once the second set of Swiss rounds are over, there will be another 5 rounds of Top 8 Double Elimination play, then a final best-of-five match between the two 1st place winners to determine the Grand Champion of the Double League.

I will be using Gatherling on to facilitate matches. This means that each participant needs to have a functional account at I will be adding players to the event manually once I have received your registration E-mail, so don't try to register on that site directly.

Each week, login to the Player CP on Gatherling and look for the entry under Standard Pauper Double League. There you will see your Pairing for the round. Once your match is over, both players will need to record the results in their Player CP as well. Failure to complete your match may be grounds for disqualification for the event. Be sure and contact your opponent early each week to make sure you can complete your match in a timely fashion.

5. Tables: Please set up each match as follows; before you join a match, make sure the match is setup correctly.

  • Type: Standard Pauper
  • Match Structure: Best 2 out of 3
  • Event Timer: 25 minutes
  • Allow Watchers
  • Comment: Standard Pauper Double League
6. Conduct: It is the responsibility of each player to be aware of all the rules for this event. Ignorance will NOT be an excuse.

This event, like any Player Run Event, relies on the honor system. Please be a good sport.

If you’ve contacted your opponent and have not received a response in 48 hours, please contact me. If only one person contacts me and no results are reported, I will award that player a match win and drop his or her opponent.

If you are having any other problem (such as your opponent not showing up, your opponent dropped connection in the middle of the match, harassment, or anything else), don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you suspect another player is cheating, let me know. But I trust that every player will be a good sport and act in good faith such that I never have to become involved.

7. Prizes: The exact prize structure has not yet been finalized but will be announced once registration closes. Currently the total value of the Prize Pool is $80.00. If you are interesting in donating to this prize pool, please contact me at gwyned at gmail dot com with the subject line "Standard Pauper Double League Prizes".

8. Questions: Leave any questions in the comments below, or feel free to contact me at gwyned at gmail dot com.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Back to Twice a Week

If you're reading this, you're probably aware that I missed my weekend deadline again. I was traveling with my family for a long weekend while my kiddos are off from school, but that's not a good excuse. However, it does reveal to me that I've got enough going on in my life right now that I need to make a change. Don't worry, it's nothing too drastic! But at least until I announce otherwise, I will only be posting new blog entries twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday.

Tomorrow I'll be back with all the details for the upcoming Standard Pauper Double League.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Details on the Standard Pauper Double League

A week ago, I wrote about the possibility of running another Standard Pauper "league-style" event, where players are responsible to play out one match each week against their assigned opponent in a five week Swiss style tournament that would cut to a Top 8, Single Elimination bracket to determine final ranking. Then, after the initial five weeks are over, for those who did not place in the Top 8 (along with anyone else who didn't participate the first time), would have the opportunity to compete in a second chance Swiss tournament that would also run five weeks before cutting to a Top 8 bracket. Finally, the two 1st place winners would battle for the ultimate prize in a best-of-5 match to determine the Grand Champion of the Double League.

We've had a lot of interest in the league, and even some donations already lined up (see below), so I'm happy to announce that the Standard Pauper Double League is official, with a tentative start date of Sunday, October 26th.

First, I'm pleased to announce that we've already gotten official support from CardHoarder, who agreed to fund 30 tickets worth of credit. Thanks so much to them, and to Chris Baker, who lobbied them for their support. They are also sponsoring the Sunday Standard Pauper weekly PRE (SPDC), so definitely show your support for them by sending them your business. I will plan on matching that donation, which means we're already up to $60 worth of prizes - not too shabby for a free event! I also know that joekewwl has pledged to support the event as well, so I expect that that number will continue to rise.

Second, I've had some people ask about why making Top 8 in the first go-around disqualifies you from taking part in the second five weeks of the event. For me, the rationale is simple: anyone who makes the Top 8 is walking away with some decent prize money (although I don't have the exact prize structure finalized yet). And I'd rather extend that opportunity to as many players as possible, even if it means that those few who earn that Top 8 spot the first time miss out on the opportunity to participate in the second half of the event.

Finally, the event will be using the Gatherling database on to manage pairings during the Swiss rounds. This has the advantage of letting players report their results, see standings, and view pairings all in one easy and convenient place, without having to wait for me to update anything. For the Top 8 Playoffs, I will be using a simple online bracket system that will have to be manually updated - but that's a much smaller number of players, and thus much easier on my end to track and manage.

If you have other questions or comments, feel free to ask below. I will continue to work out all the final details and make an announcement early next week with all the pertinent info. In the mean time, get on Magic Online and start testing out those Standard Pauper brews!

See you next time...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rute of Jeirast

Back in June, I wrote about a PhD candidate who had created a deep neural network designed to evaluate all the existing Magic the Gathering cards and from that data design new cards. It inspired a Twitter account called RoboRosewater that publishes one such card every day. I highly encourage you to check it out.

While its not unusual to see cards that look like something that might actually see print, the real fun ones are those that are totally wacky, such as the one from today.

I literally could not stop laughing after seeing this, especially as I scrolled through the comments:

DESTROY ALL PLAYERS. So, with the printing of this card, blue power creep reached critical mass and literally killed Magic.

So, this triggers in the edge case that you have an origins planeswalker and somehow flip it back to a creature when attacked

go home rute, you're drunk

This is interesting, it' a may ability to destroy all players so you only use it when you are behind, makes the players think

As I said last time, Mark Rosewater probably doesn't need to worry about this computer putting R&D out of existence. On the other hand, they should probably still offer this PhD candidate a job. Not that they could afford him...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Two Great Comments from the Founder of Pauper Deck Challenge

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post here entitled "Why Standard Pauper is Worth Saving," detailing six reasons why I believed that the format was worth saving. Keep in mind, this was at a time when the forced transition to version 4 of the MTGO client, coupled with all sorts of technical problems with said client, had chased off a lot of the casual scene online, which ended up drastically reducing attendance at our weekly Standard Pauper PREs.

Earlier this week, a user by the name of Tharionwind commented on this post. If the name sounds familiar to veterans of Pauper, that because this user is credited with being the founder of Pauper Deck Challenge. Here's what he had to say:

Thanks so much for your vote of encouragement and support Tharionwind!

PS - Thanks for all the comments and support I've gotten regarding the new Standard Pauper Double League I wrote about last time. Judging by your response, it looks like this is a go. Look for more information about this in the coming week.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Interest in a New Standard Pauper League

Ever since closing the survey I ran back in April about why people don't participate in our weekly Standard Pauper Player Run Events, I've wanted to start up a new Standard Pauper "league-style" event. For those of you unfamiliar with this format, participating players are assigned an opponent each week and must contact one another and setup a time to play out that match sometime during that week, whenever it is suitable for both players. After the match is played out, both players report the result, and that ends a round of play. It then operates like a typical Swiss event, where each round you're paired against an opponent with a similar record until you've played out the requisite number of rounds, and then you cut to a playoff or simply award prizes based on the rankings after Swiss.

With the release of Oath of the Gatewatch not scheduled until February 8th of 2016 on Magic Online, there are 16 weeks following the start of the new season for MPDC and SPDC. What I would like to propose for this new league would be the following structure:
  • The league would start on Sunday, October 26th and run for 5 weeks, corresponding to 5 rounds of Swiss. Then, at the end of 5 weeks, we would cut to a Top 8 Double Elimination format.
  • Then, at the same time, the second phase of the league would begin, starting an entirely new 5 rounds of Swiss. Those participating in the Top 8 Double Elimination would be ineligible for this second phase. This would run another 5 weeks, and then once again we would cut to a Top 8 Double Elimination. 
  • Finally, once the second Double Elimination bracket is complete, the two 1st place winners would battle for the ultimate prize in a best-of-5 match to determine the Grand Champion of the Double League.
So before beginning such an endeavor, I wanted to get some feedback from my readers. What do you think of this structure? What kind of prizes would be appropriate for this event? How could we get the word out about it most effectively? And would there be others willing to help sponsor the event by donating prizes? Let me know in the comments below. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Last Eldrazi

It's hard to believe, but today I'll look at the last of the Common Eldrazi from Battle for Zendikar. It's taken me almost two weeks, but I've managed to review each and every one of them. In that time, I've also gotten Part One and Part Two of my Standard Pauper review of the set published over at PureMTGO, and assuming all goes according to plan, I'll finish off the review with Part Three next Monday, just in time for the release events to start on Magic Online and hold our capstone MPDC event for Season 30. As so, here is the last of the Eldrazi at Common:

Ruin Processor is another of the so-called processor cards, which require you to have exiled one of your opponent's cards and then place it in their graveyard to activate a secondary effect. In this case, you're getting a 7/8 for 7 that optionally also gains you 5 Life when it enters the battlefield. This is only a single mana cheaper than Eldrazi Devastator, and lacks the Trample ability that makes that card so good. You're not really get much for your 7 mana investment, nor are you receiving a major payoff for jumping through the hoops to return an exiled card. This is not what I want to be doing for seven mana.

Overall, the Eldrazi are a mixed bag, which should come as no surprise. Those that are have Red or Blue mana in their casting cost seem to be the strongest, particularly Benthic Infiltrator, Eldrazi Skyspawner, and Nettle Drone. The aforementioned Eldrazi Devastator also seems quite strong, and is one of the best things you can do in Standard Pauper for eight mana. I am not optimistic that the whole processor mechanic will end up being consistent enough to be worth playing, but if it does, Oracle of Dust could also generate a ton of advantage in the right Control build. Finally, if a token build ends up seeing play, Eyeless Watcher will probably be a strong inclusion.

I'd love to hear what you think of our new Eldrazi overlords. Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Almost All the Eldrazi

It's been a long and tiring weekend, but I did manage to get the second part of my Standard Pauper review of Battle for Zendikar submitted over at PureMTGO, and it should be up as early as tomorrow. But for now, I want to post a quick preview of the Black Eldrazi from the set. As I've mentioned in previous posts, there are 20 of these at Common, and so far I've covered all of the colored ones except Black as well as most of the true colorless ones.

1. Culling Drone is our first Ingest creature in Black, and it gives us an otherwise decent vanilla creature as a 2/2 for 1B. If you need creatures to setup your processor cards, this at least won't force you to play a completely mediocre creature to do so. Of course, your deck has to be pretty aggressive even in Standard Pauper to want to play a 2/2 for 2 without any abilities that affect the board, which typically won't be of much use in a more Control oriented deck that is probably required to make use of the processor cards. As such, I certainly am not optimistic that this will see much play.
2. Grave Birthing immediately harkens back to Brood Birthing from Rise of the Eldrazi, in that it gives us three small effects rolled into one. It only generates a single token instead of three, but instead acts as graveyard-hate, sets up processor cards, and even replaces itself upon casting. It also costs one more mana than Brood Birthing, but happens at Instant speed, which means it also can be used as a virtual combat trick, albeit a meager one. So while most of the time you're still probably not getting a card worth of value, in the right circumstances I could see this being useful.
3. Mind Raker is the first processor card we've looked at this time, meaning that it requires you to have exiled one of your opponent's cards in order to activate its ability. Apart from that, you're getting a 3/3 for 3B vanilla creature, which once more is borderline playable but not generally good enough to make the cut. In this case, you place one exiled card back into your opponent's Graveyard, and then that opponent has to discard a card. Getting a creature and forcing a discard is almost a two-for-one most of the time. However, you have to jump through some significant hoops to get there.
4. Silent Skimmer is an odd one. As an 0/4 you would expect this to have Defender, and as such you wouldn't ever want to pay 3B for such a defensive creature, even if it could block other flyers. In this case though, it's a virtual 2/4 unblockable that dies if your opponent could have dealt lethal damage to it in combat, with the additional downside of never being able to kill another creature defensively. It's probably easier if you just think of it as a 2/4 for 3B with Flying, which is fine but not particularly exciting. So, I would let this one pass you by.
5. Sludge Crawler is an interesting variant of a Black Shade creature that starts small but can be pumped up by investing mana in it each turn. Generally have to pay 2 mana for each point of Power and Toughness is pretty bad, but at least in this case you can pay it with any color of mana. Additionally, it's very cheap for a Shade, allowing you to drop it into play early and make it difficult for your opponent to block it, since you always have the option of pumping it up to survive combat. So while this card has some serious drawbacks, the fact that it's so cheap saves it from being unplayable dross.

Next time, I'll finish off my evaluation of the last few Eldrazi, then offer some thoughts on how these creatures will shape the upcoming metagame. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Yup, Still More Eldrazi

Still working on my full set review, and still blogging about all of the endless Eldrazi at Common in Battle for Zendikar. There are 20 Eldrazi in the set altogether, represented not only as colorless creatures but also within each of the five colors except White (although, thanks to the Devoid mechanic, they are technically still colorless in all respects save for their casting cost). So far I've covered all of the Red and Blue, as well as most of the Colorless ones. Today, let's look at those that can be cast with Green mana.

1. Blisterpod is an interesting take on the typical ability to generate 1/1 Eldrazi Scions. As I've mentioned often, a 1/1 for 1 is almost never worth it in any format, Constructed or otherwise, as the impact is just too small to be worth a card slot in your deck. Blisterpod at least has the decency to replace itself when it dies, which makes it an excellent sacrifice target. But unless you're getting significant value out of that mechanic, this isn't a card you should be playing. Yes, you're getting two Power and Toughness for a single Green mana, but the fact that you only get one of them at a time makes that pretty insignificant.
2. Eyeless Watcher seems to be a "fixed" Kozilek's Predator in that it still gives you three Power worth of creatures for 3G and the two Eldrazi tokens that can be sacrificed for additional mana. But actually, this card plays much more like a Green Captain's Call, giving you three 1/1 creatures at Sorcery speed for four mana. While not amazing, the fact that two of those creatures can also be converted into additional mana later is a nice bonus. Whether you're trying to ramp up to bigger creatures or just play a dedicated tokens build, this seems like it would slot in pretty well. But outside of those specific strategies, I don't anticipate seeing much of this card.

By my count I've got five more Eldrazi to cover - four in Black plus one additional colorless - so I should finally finish them all soon - probably just in time for the release of my second installment of my set review. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.