Uncommanders - All that Glitters

Alejandro Fuentes • December 29, 2023

My Precious!

Like anyone, I'm quite fond of shiny things. Those pennies buried in the dirt, they call to me, I swear. Those metallic puzzles that are so nice and hefty, I collect those. The ornaments on a Christmas tree? The reflected light enchants me. And what's the Magic: The Gathering equivalent of shining treasure? Foils, alternate arts, Masterpiece cards, extended borders, etc. But they all look their best when framed by multicolor gold cards. The gold on the Amonkhet Invocations make them the Holy Grail of shiny cards. Look how they shine. *cackles Gollum-style*

All That Glitters is Gold, at least to me. 

The thing is, gold is quite simply the best color(s). There's nothing more satisfying to me than looking through a deck full of colors. When Rienne, Angel of Rebirth came out, I was so excited to build a multicolor tribal deck. Unfortunately, Rienne didn't really inspire much else in deckbuilding, and the deck ended up quite dull, despite its luster. That's why I'm here today, to build the shiniest Pauper deck imaginable, with Gloryscale Viashino. Look at those five colors streaming around him, silhouetted so majestically against the golden heavens. Play all the multicolored spells we can, and he'll reward us by growing to colossal heights. +3/+3 for every spell is no small boon. Also, the concept of eventually blinging out a Pauper deck is hilarious, so let's get started. 

Ooh, Shiny

Multicolored is the first part of our criteria as we're looking for cards, but there's a few more. First, we want them to be cheap, so that we can chain together multiple of them in a turn. Keep in mind, pEDH commander damage is only 17, so it doesn't take long for the Viashino to be lethal. One-mana spells are a bit lacking, as the only way for those to be multicolored is with hybrid mana, an underexplored mechanic. Still, Elvish Hexhunter, Safewright Quest, and Wild Cantor are all perfectly good cards that say "pay one, give Gloryscale Viashino +3/+3". 

This Guy is Getting Buff

Our two-drop range is where the game really starts to develop. Seeds of Strength and Martial Glory don't give a +3/+3 boost, they give +6/+6. There's four other variations of this card, and they can make our commander much scarier than our opponents expect. Even stronger than a stat boost, however, is Double Cleave, which, all on its own, will make our commander hit for twelve. Double strike is just too good. Also in the two-drop range are a few cards that end up being free, to help us with our storm goal. Burning-Tree Emissary is a free creature, and Manamorphose can both fix our mana and draw us a card. Horned Kavu is an especially sick piece of tech. It solves all your card advantage issues by letting you replay it as many times as you have mana for. +3/+3, +3/+3, +3/+3...

He Must Be Going to the Gym

One- and two-drops are where most of our storm potential lies, but further up, there's a lot of strong cards that can lead us to a slower victory. Armadillo Cloak, Shield of the Oversoul, and Runes of the Deus can be played one turn, and each spells death the next. The evasion those cards provide is really what we're looking for here, though. In fact, evasion is our second biggest priority, after playing multicolored cards. Goblin War Drums, Haunted Cloak, and Rancor aren't gold, unfortunately, but the evasion they provide makes them worth it. If we can't get through, burning through our hand isn't gonna mean anything. 

Getting Strong Means Eating Your Veggies 

Alpha-striking someone, unfortunately, is a bit mana-intensive. Our commander only comes down when we have four mana, and then we have to put around six mana into making him big enough to kill. And of course, we need interaction to deal with the other things people are putting down. They're not just going to sit idly while we try and assemble our kill combo. Normally, I would just throw in some Commander staples and give a rant about how half of all Commander staples are Pauper-legal, but here we have a theme to comply with, and we get to find some interesting cards. How about Trace of Abundance? It's basically a Rampant Growth, and it solves the problem of other land enchantments, which is that you can get two for one'd by land destruction. Admittedly, Sundering Growth doesn't really do anything special in this deck, but for any commander who likes tokens, it's a much better Return to Nature. Ooh, how about Zhur-Taa Druid? It's a two-drop mana dork, but you get to ping people as well? That goes great with cards like Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might


The deck does its thing well enough. It gets the commander out, it gets the evasion, and it gets the cards needed to grow said commander by turn four or five. More often than not, someone is dead. Problem is, we've got two more opponents after that, and an empty hand. The deck needs way more card draw, and probably someone better than me at convincing your opponents not to take you out after that. Annoyingly, there's just three multicolored Naya cards that draw a card in Pauper. We'll have to go with the looting/impulse draw gameplan with cards like Thrill of Possibility. Unfortunately, those cards don't give you actual card advantage, as the number of cards in your hand afterwards remains the same, but they do let you filter away the lands you don't need late game and keep the pump spells. The deck is going to need a little luck to last through two justifiably terrified opponents after kill #1, but it has the tools to do so, and can go for the win once it's a 1v1. 

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Jolly Old St. Nicol Bolas is on his way! 

Of course, the most important thing here is that we have the shiniest pauper deck there is. All these multicolored cards have such a lovely gleam to them. This deck is doing a good job of reminding me that the holidays are all about hoarding and physical possessions. Wait, what? It's about the spirit of giving? In that case, I should probably give something shiny to someone. Do y'all have anyone you're gifting MTG-related gifts this year? Give me some advice in the comments!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

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.