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Random Commander: Lady's Choice


Hello folks! Ever find yourself lacking ideas to push your deck-building to another level? Are you finding yourself lost in the Forest of the Many Trees of Cards that have been printed throughout the history of this card game?

I get it.

It's just a lot. It's hard to make everything work together. To make sense. To find cards that work.

That's why I love my Random Commander challenge so much!

It's simple. I head to Gatherer, and then I hit random card. I keep hitting it until we get a legal Commander option. I have two personal rules - I have the right to refuse a Commander I've already built around as well as a very well-known Commander that everyone already knows and loves/loathes.

By being forced to build around a legendary dork that I get, it inspires me to use cards and create vectors of attack that are new. That are different.

I have no idea how this article will go!

Ready? Let's do it!

Random fun times...



This is my first card! Nope, it's not a legendary Commander option, so let's keep digging!

This is taking a while. My 30th card is Rain of Thorns. My 40th is Helm of the Host. My 50th is Verduran Enchantress.

Then at #59 I have my first legal option, but I've already built around it, and recently:

Muldrotha, the Gravetide

Let's keep on keeping on.

About another 30 cards ooze by. Here's a Coiled Tinviper and there a Firebreathing. Rumbling Baloth. Army Ants. Loam Larva. Lose Hope. And then, around 125 or so, I found her.

The Lady of the Mountain

And I have to take her!

The Lady of the Mountain....

A vanilla legendary leader.

What do you do? What direction would you head with her?

Maybe vanilla creatures with Muraganda Petroglyphs?

Muraganda Petroglyphs

In fact, this is a Commander with very few decks out there. For example there are only a handful registered over at EDHREC.

Got it!

The Lady of the Mountain was printed at common in Masters Edition III, which means she is one of a few legal options for leading a Pauper Commander deck.

Commons only? Let's do it folks!

The Lady or the Tiger | Commander | Abe Sargent

Deck completed!

For purposes of this list, I am considering any card that was printed in a common slot in a set. Because cards like Maze of Ith and Strip Mine and others were in fact, printed as commons, they are legal in my list.

Maze of Ith

Wizards of the Coast has tried to shoehorn in older cards into modern commonalities when that was not their printing. For example, in some sets every card was either uncommon or common with no rare sheets or rare slots in the packs at all. Some uncommons were printed two times on the sheet (and were called U2s) whereas some were just printed once (and were called U1s). But they were uncommon, and were found in the uncommon spaces in the booster pack, and you could get two U2s, a U2 and U1, or even occasionally two U1s.

Witch Hunter
Apprentice Wizard

I can still remember getting a copy of Witch Hunter and Apprentice Wizard in my first pack of The Dark. Both of those were U1s! Of course the latter of those wasn't very good. But the Hunter? It was amazing. You would not get two "rares" in a pack today unless you had a misprint or had an odd circumstance like a rare Conspiracy or flip cards (or foil rare) in sets with cards that had an additional card spot in them for other mechanics or cards.

Anyways, instead of explaining this and giving the context for older printings that don't fit the modern Commons/Uncommon/Rare/Mythic convention where everything is printed the same number of times, they just change the rarities in places like Gatherer and pretend that this never happened. You must have dreamed it!(Just like they retconned away who Nissa was and changed her completely).

They are also inconsistent on this as well. For example, in Homelands, some commons are C1s and appear once per sheet, and some commons are C2 and appear twice per sheet. While Maze of Ith was a C1 that was upgraded to Uncommon on Gatherer, cards like Ambush or Serrated Arrows are listed as Commons in Gatherer. Why are some C1s common and others uncommon? And yet, in the same set, U1s are listed as Rare and U3s as uncommons. It can't be both in the same set Wizards! (You can check rarities on the "Checklist" of a given set for more information on these).

By the way, another inconsistency is in Fallen Empires. Like The Dark's Maze of Ith that came before it, it has just one card that was printed as a C1, but it is listed as common on Gatherer (Delif's Cone).

If it was printed on a common or uncommon sheet, and found in a common/uncommon spot in a pack, and called that at the time by everyone, then that's what it is. Period. Because Gatherer erroneously lists these cards as uncommon on their list, they are controversial. But they were commons. You weren't getting Maze of Ith in your uncommon spot, you got it in your common one.

So there is a debate in the Pauper community because of these cards being erroneously listed by Wizards. (Similarly cards that were printed as U1s and were legal in Peasant as one of your five uncommons are now listed as Rare and are thus banned in the format altogether). Wizard's retconning away the context and changing these rarities has hurt casual players for whom rarity matters. It also changes Rare-B-Gone, but that's another conversation altogether...


(All you would have to do is change the Gatherer for something like Uncommon * for Apprentice Wizard's printing in The Dark with a link to the bottom explaining it was a U1 and what that meant).

Similarly, Marhault Elsdragon was also printed as a common but is listed as uncommon on Gatherer, but I don't think anyone would even notice, let alone care! It's not as if he's this powerful threat that you have to end, right?

Marhault Elsdragon

There is another controversy for the real-life form. Some cards were moved to common for their online printings but were never printed as such in real life. Does that count? Are cards like Phantom Monster common and legal for offline Pauper?

Take, as a good example, Exile:

I love Exile. I've used it heavily during the years. If it were legal, and I was running White, I'd almost assuredly add it to my deck. But in real life it was a rare in Alliances and Sixth Edition. However, it's common in two sets printed exclusively for online play, including Vintage Masters.

Can I run these cards? I don't think so. I want the card to have been printed a common in real life to count. Llanowar Elves was printed as a common. Mishra's Factory was printed as a common. Exile was not printed as a common. That means that I am disallowing a lot more cards that I allow with this rule, but to my mind, it's clear.

By the by, here are the full list of all nine cards that show as Uncommon in Gatherer but were actually common, listed by set:


The Dark:


(In addition to these five, the Urzatron lands are printed as C1s from this set, and are listed as Uncommon in Gatherer. But as they were common in other sets, they are still legal in Pauper).

Note that the actual Pauper Commander rules let you use any nonlegendary leaders for your deck, but that's not Commander to me. Grizzly Bears isn't leading a Commander deck. A legendary creature is! That's how this thing works!

All right, now enough about Pauper and commonalties. Let's look at the deck proper!

What did I decide to do?

I decided to do a light Fire Elves concept with some mana-making sources as well as some X Effects to benefit the deck.

The original Fire Elves decks ran 1-drops with Priest of Titania and other fast mana stuff to make a nasty amount of mana quickly. However, in Commander, creature-based mana making is more fragile. So I am running a few cards like Llanowar Elves, Quirion Elves, and Gemhide Sliver, but only a few. Instead I am leaning into effects like grabbing multiple lands with cards like Cultivate and Kodama's Reach. I also have a large amount of cards that get lands as part of their thing, like Pilgrim's Eye or cycling Krosan Tusker.

I was a big fan of the Magic Online format Pauper/Prismatic/Singleton where you had to have 250+ card decks with nothing but singleton commons, so Pauper Commander plays into a space that I am conformable with. These longer games want a lot of card advantage and creatures that arrive to the battlefield with effects that can destroy something are very valuable.

Ghitu Slinger
Mold Shambler

Enter cards like Ghitu Slinger and Mold Shambler. These are great at adding to your destruction options when they arrive to the battlefield ready to rock and roll. These can take things out and thus provide a level of card advantage to your deck and situation.

Oran-Rief Recluse
Satyr Wayfinder
Citanul Woodreaders

And they aren't the only ones here that can destroy stuff on arrival. In fact, we have even have cards that will make us more cards on arrival. They have strong ways of increasing our card flow.

Reap and Sow
Frenzied Tilling

I am pushing card advantage in other places as well. I have cards that can entwine for two options, such as Reap and Sow, or will destroy something and fetch something from my library, like Frenzied Tilling.

I also have some ways of getting lands into my graveyard and then bringing them back with various effects.

Such as Faithless Looting!

Faithless Looting

I am running all seven common lands that cycle in my colors (Ash Barrens and the 6 in Green/Red). I also have fetch lands like Terramorphic Expanse as well as Strip Mine that can self sacrifice. It's possible that my Mishra's Factory may have died as well while it was a creature.

Tilling Treefolk
Stoic Builder

And then I added in some cards that will arrive and put a land back into my hand (which is my preference in this build, not onto the battlefield).

It's awesome to cycle a land from your hand for a card, drop Cartographer and bring that land back, and then cycle it for another card and you go two cards from it and Cartographer was a Mulldrifter. Card advantage matters, particularly in this format where mass card drawing effects aren't running around, so you need to seek it everywhere.

I am also running a few self-bounce effects, so I can net another removal or Cartographer or Elvish Visionary to trigger.

Horned Kavu
Invasive Species
Ancestral Statue
Ambush Krotiq

These are good examples of ways that my deck will reload a dork. Note that the various kicker trigger will work again with self-bounce where as they would not with traditional flicker or reanimation effects.

And that's my deck!

The cards here work to build a Fire Elves-eque slate of card advantage that uses multiple tools and angles to ensure that we are ready to go.

And that's my Random Commander Challenge for this article!!!

I hope that you enjoyed this little trek through all things common. I hope you unearthed a few cards. Did I miss anything obvious? Anything in here really resonate with you? Let me know!

Appendix of Random Builds

Did you enjoy today's 4th Iteration of my Randomly Selected Commander Deck? Awesome! Why not check out the others in this list? Come on now, what else are you doing with your life?

  1. Random Commander #1 - I randomly get Gwendyn di Corci! That sounds like a discarding fun-time with engines like Megrim making an appearance.
  2. Random Commander #2 - Apparently my random Gatherer wants to stay in Legends, so I randomly get Elder Dragon Arcades Sabboth. I build a fun and flavorful intellectual Dragon theme with cards like Think Tank included.
  3. Random Commander #3 - Do you enjoy a fun Instant-matters Mono Black built around Toshiro Umezawa? He's the founder of the Umezawa Clan and the leader of my Commander build. Check it out!