Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Changing Standard Pauper Legal Cards

For those who don't follow me on Twitter or regularly check on the Standard forums on pdcmagic.com, you may be unaware that we have recently been discussing changing the definition of Standard Pauper. Specifically, we are evaluating whether or not cards that were printed at Common in previous sets but have been reprinted at higher rarities should now be allowed into the format.

You see, with the removal of the Standard Pauper filter from Magic Online, there is a discrepancy with how both the official Gathering database and the online client display cards when you search for both "Standard" and "Common."In both cases, the database returns cards that were printed at Common in prior sets but existed in the current Standard at other rarities, thus giving the impression that they are Standard Pauper legal. Prior to the implementation of the filter, it was the responsibility of the players to watch out for these cards. Often times, this meant that new players would play a match with an Uncommon and be forced to concede and change their deck. 

In my opinion, the advantages of now allowing these cards into the format can be summarized like this:
  1. It erases all question of card legality. If a card is listed when you select "Standard" and "Common" on any official card database, the card is legal in Standard Pauper. 
  2.  It widens the format and helps combat the perceived "dumbing-down" of Commons since New World Order philosophy changed the design of Commons.
Of course, there are also two potential concerns as well:
  1. In going against Wizards' design decision to move certain Commons to higher rarities, it allows the potential for present or future cards to become unbalancing or unfair. 
  2. It risks having to later remove these cards from the format should Wizards later decide to reimplement the Standard Pauper filter.
If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to check out the discussion and make your opinion heard. As far as MPDC is concerned, I will be making a decision (in coordination with the hosts of SPDC) sometime this week, so don't wait!

And just for reference, here are the current cards that would now be Standard Pauper legal if this change was implemented:

Arc Lightning
Cruel Revival
Death Wind
Fiery Conclusion
Grasp of Darkness
Knightly Valor
Pilgrim's Eye
Rolling Thunder
Runed Servitor
Sigiled Starfish
Strider Harness
Totem-Guide Hartebeest

See you next time!


  1. It seems like this question exists only on paper; you've positioned yourself as a champion of the idea, and since you organize a lot of the PDCs with like-minded folks, well...I just cannot believe that this question is really open to debate. It seems like the changes ARE going to happen.

    Has anyone reached out to WotC for an update on the Standard Pauper filter, to suggest how their intended format would be warped? I feel like my intelligence is being dumbed down with this question: Should we also let a new player slide by playing Splinter Twin in Modern, just because they've been travelling and may have missed the ban update? Don't people already register their decks on PDCMagic.com, so why can't judges review the decks for legality (I'll volunteer, even if it means I don't get to play on the day I pre-see deck construction)? With the latest set, each color got 12 new commons. This NEW NEW World Order you suggest adds 13 cards. GREEN GETS NO NEW CARDS (and it was already considered the worst color). White gets two expensive cards. Red laughs when burn mages see their new toys. More scry for blue- SURE! If Valakut Invoker was attractive for its use of late-game mana, Rolling Thunder usurps that spot and kills faster with more consistency than the Invoker. Why can't I play with rare cards, too, and just say "I forgot' to consider the rarity- what will happen- do I get banned, or warned, or what really happens to rules-breakers? To date, I've already seen one player play with 2x Death Wind; what happened to 'em? Did they get a warning, or is all of this talk just to pacify future rule violation headaches, to include a warping of the format? I think this is a case where the baby is thrown out with the bath water.

    1. Lots of misunderstandings and/or bad assumptions:

      1. The question is a foregone conclusion. FALSE. In fact, the whole reason I posted this is so that as many people as possible get to make their voice heard.

      2. WotC cares about Standard Pauper. FALSE. WotC has made clear that they do not intend to support Standard Pauper in the foreseeable future, nor do they have any data that would be helpful in this matter.

      3. It's just a matter of checking decklists to ensure that illegal cards don't get played. FALSE. New players are the ones who don't understand the rules. They enter into a tournament and probably don't post their decklists. Then they get DQ'd during the event for playing an illegal card and take an automatic match-loss. That's bad for newcomers and used to happen frequently.

      4. If we make this change, it opens the door to anybody playing whatever they want. FALSE. It's easy for new and existing players to check whether the deck is Standard Pauper legal. Does it pass both the Standard and Pauper filter? Or, if you search for "Common" and "Standard," does the card appear in the client. If the answer is yes to those questions, the card is legal. This would make things more clear, not less.

      I'm glad you are passionate about this issue. Thanks for taking the time to write. I do you think you made an important point that I have not heard yet:

      The new cards added to the format aren't balanced against each other; specifically, that it seems to favor Red heavily and doesn't contribute much to Green.

      To me, here's the most important issue: does this change make the format a) more fun and/or b) more accessible to new players? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then it shouldn't happen. But personally, I think it does both.

      Granted, I still worry about Pyrotechnics and Rolling Thunder...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. After reading so much about so many in favor of allowing the cards, I've just accepted the inevitable and begun working on my Gr Rolling Thunder ramp deck...

  3. I will agree with gwyned 200%.
    Thanks for posting your feedback David.

  4. Although I’ve opposed including these proposed cards (see above), I playtested my assumptions. Last night, two friends and I made and played Standard Pauper decks at our local gaming store. Here’s what I think about two potentially-dangerous cards, ‘Pyrotechnics’ and ‘Rolling Thunder.’

    NOTE: I built a direct damage, mono-red deck. I broke from logic by including x4 copies of both spell, just to ensure I’d have opportunities to draw them reliably. You may ask me for a decklist, but it’d be what you’d expect, with notable inclusions of Boulder Salvo and Goblin Freerunner adding value due to their ‘surge’ mechanic.


      Expensive direct damage cannot maintain pace against incrementally-growing creatures. Protection from Red (‘Feat of Resistance’ and ‘Center Soul’) or Colorless (‘Lithomancer’s Focus’) disrupt my targeting strategy. Other white-pie spells either buff their creatures (‘Shoulder to Shoulder’) or gain life (‘Arashin Cleric’) to outpace my damage potential. Even with ‘Tormenting Voice,’ I couldn’t draw into enough burn spells by Turn 6+. I would have preferred to have Chandra’s Fury or Lightning Javelin over Pyrotechnics or Rolling Thunder. The former resolved once to kill one creature and deal one point of damage to my opponent; the latter would have destroyed a creature with ‘renown,’ (Stalwart Aven) until Enshrouding Mist was cast to save it. Having cheaper burn spells would have helped stop a threat before it grew or became protected.

      I saw similar returns-on-investment against this deck. Thankfully, I had early burn spells available to kill Snapping Gnarlids and an Elemental Uprising. Lacking ‘protection from red/colorless,’ I had fewer headaches and saw greater value from Bathe in Dragonfire + Boulder Salvo against bigger creatures (even with minor boosts). Again, cheaper spells did more heavy lifting than either variable card. I resolved Pyrotechnics and targeted the “Eldrazi Groundspawner” tag-team, and my opponent. He played Lead by Example and took a mere ONE point of damage while having a 2/2 and 3/3, now. When I killed his early threats, it was because he was mana flooded and without support spells. His maindeck included Pulse of Marasa. My opponent won the game where he resolved Feed the Clan off his Kozilek’s Pathfinder. Against lifegain, burn decks can falter. Likewise, a cheaper burn deck can kill easier when opponents struggle with mana/creatures/buffs/lifegain balances. Even with his slower-than-expected start, it was smaller direct damage spells – NOT pyrotechnics or Rolling Thunder – that paved my way to victory. Additionally, I had to second guess the potential value in targeting; you have NO idea how annoying a Stalking Drone is for a burn mage, but showed great deck construction to use colorless activations well!!


    2. METAGAME IMPACT: We have no analysis of black, blue, or red decks (or any combination of those colors, or colorless). However, we can anticipate how black manipulates graveyards and resources, so killing creatures isn’t a best option (cue: Touch of the Void). Sacrificial strategies make targeting direct damage more difficult, and based on opponents’ available mana or regeneration tricks. Against blue mages we should expect counterspells and smaller creature threats, making Boiling Earth/Chandra’s Fury better and efficient options. I think this deck has enough threats to challenge Red Prowess, who likes to use all of their mana quickly and refills their hands slowly. However, this almost places a burn deck into a defensive game, which is skewed and certainly no place for high-cost spells that have cheaper (and arguably better) alternatives. A mirror match should just be about land drops and cards drawn, like a spaghetti Western shootout at high noon.

      CONCLUSION: Both gwyened and I shuddered to consider these two spells’ impact on our metagame. After a small sampling size of matches, I boldly proclaim how neither will warp the format because several more important, cheaper spells do those jobs better than either one playtested. Am I wrong?


    3. (sorry- just found error in spelling your name, gwyned.)

  5. ...and Izzet Prowess continues its dominance, not even needing any of the newer un/commons. To be fair, it did add needed cards from Oath of the Gatewatch which makes it decidedly better (5-0) due to increased efficiency/card drawing to refill its hands for more prowess tricks.

  6. It didnt win on sunday at spdc.
    MBC did. Just saying

    1. Izzet Prowess won 5-0 on MPDC. Jus' sayin' backatcha, Joseph Dillard.

  7. Yes I know, but if you look at the deck list, it ran none of the Un/ common cards that were added. It was with purely all commons that were legal before the rule change.