Pauper Commander - Golden-Tail Trainer

Golden Tail-Trainer by Nino Vecia

Modern Horizons 3 is coming out in only a few days, and man, am I excited for it. It's got the coolest flavor, the most eye-catching art, and the most exciting cards. One of the most interesting uncommon creatures in the set is Golden-Tail Trainer, a card that cares about Auras, Equipment, and power in general. It's a classic theme, but in a new wording that has a ton of potential for a fun deck. 

The Fox Samurai Are Back!

So what is it that Golden-Tail Trainer does for Equipment and Auras? Firstly, it makes them cost less, reducing their price by its power. It comes in as a 1/3, so initially it's just a Transcendent Envoy, but if you should buff its power, it can reduce costs by an additional amount equal to that buff. Unfortunately, in Pauper, the limit isn't very high, as the biggest Equipment merely has four generic mana in its cost. Luckily, Golden-Tail Trainer has another ability, in the form of an Overrun for modified creatures, based once again on its power, so there really is no limit on how big we want Golden-Tail Trainer

Tools of the Trade

Clearly the thing to start with is the Auras and Equipment. For the most part, our selection is pretty self-explanatory, being the top played cards in a Scryfall search. Ancestral Mask, Whispersilk Cloak, Ethereal Armor, yes please, we want all of that. And we definitely want All That Glitters, which was just banned in Pauper for being way too good in affinity lists. Shield of the Oversoul is exactly what we want to protect our commander, and Armadillo Cloak is a personal favorite of mine that can swing games, thanks to trample and lifelink. 

Good cards are good here, but when it comes time to look a little deeper, we're going to be more specific. Golden-Tail Trainer only reduces the casting cost of the Equipment, not the equip cost, so firstly, we're going to want high mana values and low equips, the opposite of Colossus Hammer. Haunted Cloak and Goldvein Pick are great, especially since their costs can be reduced to zero. The second thing we'll look for is just big costs in general. The more Golden-Tail Trainer reduces, the more value we're getting, technically. In goes Colossal Dreadmask, which is the biggest Equipment in all of Pauper. Vastwood Zendikon can also be very strong, a 6/4 for a single mana, usually. 

Specialized Staples

Naturally, the Auras and Equipment we're looking for are going to be used to buff our commander in order to snowball and further reduce more Equipment costs, but we can use his reduction ability to streamline other parts of our deck too, such as removal and ramp. Some of my favorite cards are Dawn's Reflection and Market Festival, and while we're not doing untap shenanigans here, they are still being abused as mana-positive mini-rituals, adding two mana for one. Their smaller cousins, Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl, can't be reduced at all, but they are early ramp and can later boost the count of cards like All That Glitters

Some removal cards also takes the form of enchantments, specifically a group of cards known as Pacifisms. You've got Pacifism itself, and a ton of other variants, which all essentially do the same thing. Your opponents' creatures are now in time out. That's it, really. The flavor of it is really funny, turning bloodthirsty monsters, like Ulamog's Crusher, into peace-loving conscientious objectors. The blue version of this effect is better, as those cards usually remove abilities as well, but we'll take what we've got, and these cards with Golden-Tail's cost reduction are plenty good. 

Now it's time for us to move to the other part of our Trainer's abilities. We need a lot of little creatures to attach Auras and Equipment to so that our commander buffs them. Stuff like Kor Outfitter is perfect here, with a strong ETB ability and decent body to hold some Equipment. Heliod's Pilgrim can search for any Aura, making it an incredible toolbox card. Aura Gnarlid is also particularly strong, coming pre-equipped with an Ethereal Armor. One of my favorites, though, is Bramble Elemental, which makes an absolute load of tokens for Golden-Tail Trainer to buff. We'll continue to follow this token theme and attempt to flood the board with creatures in the hope of a massive Overrun

Finally, we'll throw in some nonenchantment removal and ramp for when our commander isn't on the field, and the deck should be ready to go!


Alright, there's a problem. The deck only runs about 26 total Auras and enchantments. After that, you start getting into some serious draft chaff, with cards like Sentinel's Eyes. I'm not willing to add much more than what we have, or I think the deck will start getting weaker, but the issue is that we can't enchant all of our creatures. With the number of tokens we're generating, we're never going to be able to modify them all, rendering our commander useless. In addition, every creature we have to enchant means one less addition to our commander, less cost reduction, and less board wide buffs. I tried some stuff with the role tokens from Wilds of Eldraine, but Ferocious Werefox doesn't quite cut it. 

Eventually, the answer became clear to me. The creatures need to enter the battlefield modified. If I was playing regular EDH, I'd do it with cards like Renata, Called to the Hunt, or Tribute to the World Tree, but cards like those don't exist in Pauper, so the creatures will have to do it themselves. The first thing I'll turn to is Star Pupil variants, which exist aplenty in green and white. Iron Work Apprentice, Servant of the Scale, and Enduring Bondwarden all form a strong web I've highlighted before, and can all get buffed immediately by Golden-Tail Trainer. But there's still one problem remaining, which they don't solve: +10/+10 means nothing without trample. So what do I need? Creatures that come in with a counter and trample? A Scryfall search reveals a few cards that fit that criteria, but Duskshell Crawler and Pridemalkin can't fill out a deck on their own. If only I could run 18 copies of one card...

Slimy Solution

Wait a second, didn't they just print a card that can be run as many times as you like? An Ooze that puts counters on itself? And has trample? Slime Against Humanity is the perfect card for us. It's exactly what we want, and can fill 18 slots of the deck with a strong creature, easily enabling Golden-Tail Trainer's buff. We'll have to toss out most of the other stuff, from the Servant of the Scale to the Bramble Elemental, but we have much stronger replacements now. 

The final cut of the deck is much stronger, with a strange gameplan. We start with a few Equipment and Auras, slowly amassing power on our commander. At a certain point, it's almost like a Voltron deck, just making one big Fox Samurai. That works pretty well at first, but it's important to not draw too much attention, because it's critical that Golden-Tail Trainer stays around for the next part of the gameplan. This is when we start creating Slimes. The deck has a bit of graveyard support, like Commune with the Gods, to put Slimes in the graveyard, but mostly, it just summons them one at a time. They create an alternate threat all on their own, with a horde of fairly large tramplers. Eventually, the deck attempts to put them both together and win with a stampede of colossal Slimes. 

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New Horizons

Welp, that's today's deck. It's relatively self-explanatory, yet somewhat complicated to play, requiring a intricate board state to really pop off. Just the kind of deck I like. Chances are, I'll be building many more commanders from Modern Horizons 3 as the set releases. It's really got me excited, seeing just how deep the unique designs go. Mostly, though, I love the strange art that appears even on commons, like Horrific Assault.

What commons are you most excited to play?

Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.