Deckbuilding – Pauper Commander Glissa

Some friends of mine have started riffing on their Commander meta, with deckbuilding challenges based on drafting Commanders and some based on commonality. The idea of doing of an all-commons Commander deck appealed to me immediately, and I ran with it. Is this the cheapest Commander deck I’ve ever built? Let’s find out!

Of course the elephant in the room is that my chosen Commander, Glissa, the Traitor, is not common. She’s Mythic. But trying to build around one of the very few ‘common’ legendary creatures is no fun. Sure Lady Orca or Chandler might get some laughs, but even if it is a real deck, it’s not because of the card in charge.

We could build with uncommon creatures, but Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Slimefoot, the Stowaway are among a few options that will crush the field as much as many mythics.

So the Commander slot is open. Glissa is not an expensive card, which should maybe be the criteria for the Commander rather than rarity. But as far as the rest of the deck is concerned, it’s all gotta be commons. And since this is a deckbuilding ‘challenge,’ I limited myself to the common printing of any cards I wanted to include.

Pauper as a format has some weird rules for what qualifies as a common. There’s a subset of cards that were only ever ‘printed’ as commons in a Magic Online exclusive. No paper common versions of those cards exist. I’m not allowing any of those for my deck, and if a card was only printed as common once among many non-common printings, I have to get the common. Luckily I already had a Chronicles Tormod’s Crypt for some reason. RIP, Mr. Rush.

Poor Glissa

Commander (1)
Glissa, the Traitor

Land (37)
Barren Moor
Command Tower
Darksteel Citadel
Desert of the Glorified
Desert of the Indomitable
Evolving Wilds
11 Forest
Foul Orchard
Gingerbread Cabin
Golgari Guildgate
Jungle Hollow
Mortuary Mire
Polluted Mire
Slippery Karst
Terramorphic Expanse
Tranquil Thicket
Tree of Tales
Turntimber Grove
Vault of Whispers

Artifacts (25)
Armillary Sphere
Barbed Sextant
Bloodtallow Candle
Chromatic Sphere
Commander’s Sphere
Cranial Plating
Executioner’s Capsule
Golden Egg
Golgari Cluestone
Golgari Locket
Guild Globe
Horizon Spellbomb
Horned Helm
Ichor Wellspring
Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot
Mind Stone
Moonglove Extract
Nihil Spellbomb
Orazca Relic
Tormod’s Crypt
Universal Solvent
Viridian Longbow
Wayfarer’s Bauble

Creatures (16)
Cabal Paladin
Defiant Salvager
Disciple of the Vault
Elf Replica
Fangren Marauder
Moriok Replica
Perilous Myr
Pilgrim’s Eye
Priest of Yawgmoth
Rushwood Herbalist
Sylvok Replica
Urborg Syphon-Mage
Workshop Assistant

Spells (21)
Aggressive Instinct
Band Together
Costly Plunder
Echoing Decay
Nature’s Claim
Rabid Bite
Ram Through
Read the Bones
Return to Nature
Return to the Earth
Scour from Existence
Supernatural Stamina
Terrifying Presence
Thwart the Enemy
Tragic Slip
Undying Evil

Archidekt is also where you can find my lists, and this one is here.

A quick look at the cost, and this is easily the cheapest Commander deck I’ve ever built. It’s about $41 without basics, and could be trimmed by $10 or more just by turning the Arabian Nights Desert into another basic, and the Wayfarer’s Bauble into a Travelers’ Amulet.

I tried the deck out this past weekend, and it performed exactly as I hoped. The deck is loaded with cheap artifacts that go to the graveyard easily. They fix my mana, draw me a ton of cards, and have serious functionality, like Executioner’s Capsule.

Recurring the artifacts is the main plan, and of course involves Glissa. I decided I would double up her use, and make her the source of my removal as well. Cards like Ambuscade, and sniper weapon Viridian Longbow, turn Glissa into a nasty killing machine.

But that’s not all. Glissa has two of the three sides of the Combat Triforce, with deathtouch and first strike. Giving her trample allows her to assign a single damage as lethal to any blocker, usually before that blocker can respond. Then any excess goes to my opponent’s life total. Commander Damage is absolutely one way this deck will try to win. Horned Helm, with its instant-speed equip, and overall cheapness is an emerging star in a few of my builds.

In the same cycle of equipment is Cranial Plating, which is a probable finisher once it goes on the Commander and trample gets involved.

I’ve packed some tricks to keep Glissa alive, like Undying Evil, and some clever Fog effects (including Fog itself) like Terrifying Presence and Thwart the Enemy, that allow me to still deal damage, ideally with Glissa.

I have a few specific answer cards, with flexibility. Return to Nature and Return to the Earth give me great options.

Old school gem Hush can be cycled if not needed.

Even older Cannibalize is the rare exile effect at common. I’ll happily buff your chump to take out your threat. It’s not ideal, but exile is exile. And it has some niche applications to buff my stuff too.

Speaking of that, most Pauper Commander decks should be playing a copy of Scour from Existence. Universal Solvent isn’t a terrible backup plan.

I’m playing the only mass removal spell I think is available in Echoing Decay. One game in, one cast already, 5 saprolings down. Totally worth the slot.

My creature base includes some really cool tech, and most of my non-Glissa finishers. Cabal Paladin is like my Purphoros, God of the Forge.

Pinger Disciple of the Vault works well in tandem with the Paladin, although is a lot slower.

Spellshaper Urborg Syphon-Mage is also slow, but can get there. I have a trio of spellshapers in the deck, which are wizardesque creatures that ‘cast a spell’ at the cost of a discarded card. The Syphon-Mage casts Syphon Soul. Since Glissa recurs artifacts to my hand, I can discard them for effects like the Syphon Mage and bring them back easily.

I want to highlight Fangren Marauder for obvious reasons…

And Scaretiller for a whole lot of strategic reasons. If you look at my mana base, you’ll see plenty of cycling lands and some artifact lands. This is all for the various synergies between Glissa, spellshapers, Scaretiller, etc.

The deck is strong, resilient, and doesn’t play like a deck full of commons at all. I think it’s totally reasonable to build a deck like this as a legit Commander deck.

If you are planning to build a deck like this, and want to expand beyond commons, the first place I would point you is at some Mass Removal spells. I think Sudden Spoiling would be a nice fit.

You’ll probably want to wedge a Sol Ring in there somewhere, and some other powerful non-common artifacts. That’s a huge group of possibilities. If it were me, I’d be looking at something like Ratchet Bomb, or even Engineered Explosives.

Black and Green together make for some snazzy removal, like Assassin’s Trophy, Maelstrom Pulse and Abrupt Decay. Beast Within is a must, especially in this build, because it gives your opponent a creature you can kill to recur an artifact.

Mana fixer Forbidden Orchard is another great way to keep your opponents in chumps to mow down, and this might even be the time for Pharika, God of Affliction to shine.

There are also a number of common cards that didn’t make it into my build for one reason or another. All my Bojuka Bogs are spoken for, My Cast Downs are uncommons from Dominaria, and some others I just didn’t have or didn’t want to dig out of other decks. Those cards are all in the Maybeboard, and offer some upgrade options without going to higher rarities. If I could find a copy of Vorrac Battlehorns, I’d be playing it.

Magic the Gathering is an expensive game, and while Commander is probably among the cheapest options, the decks can still run hundreds of dollars. It’s nice to see that a deck full of commons can not only compete, but can be a satisfying strategic experience too. I’m likely to build with restrictions like this in future, as building it was also fun. Tired of the same old power plays and bling? Give your poor self a break with some Pauper Commander. Thanks for reading!


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