In Pauper, players are restricted to only using common rarity cards from throughout Magic’s history. This makes the format incredibly inexpensive since common cards are usually worthless to many players. Given that the MTG format is literally called Pauper it being cheaper than other formats probably shouldn’t come as the biggest surprise.
Despite how cheap common cards can be in Magic: the Gathering, not all Pauper decks are entirely inexpensive. Admittedly, Pauper decks are considerably more affordable than those in Standard, especially Legacy. However, not all commons are $0.04. This list will go through the most significant exceptions to the rule of commons being cheap draft chaff.
Before diving into the list, we must clarify a few things. Firstly, all of the prices in this article are based on TCG Player’s Market Price rather than a card’s absolute maximum or minimum. Additionally, we’ll primarily focus on cards used in the Pauper format rather than simply curating a list of the most expensive common cards. This is because, as you’ll see, some common cards are phenomenally expensive.
Without any further ado, let’s get into the most expensive cards in Pauper!
Honorable Mention | Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited
As the first three Magic: the Gathering sets ever released, it should be no surprise that these cards are expensive. This isn’t, however, because these cards are all as broken as a Black Lotus. Instead, the price of these cards is unfathomably high due to just how rare they are. Llanowar Elves, for instance, can be as cheap as $0.23 on TCG Player. An Alpha Edition Llanowar Elves, however, retails for a staggering $374.99.
As a result of how expensive these cards are for their rarity, not their power, we won’t be including Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Arabian Knights, Archenemy, or other commons that are expensive purely due to their rarity and not their power in the rest of this list.
Even More Honorable Mentions | Commander Staples
While many Pauper cards are only expensive because of their impact on other formats, these Commander staples are a different beast. At $30.70, Rhystic Study is more expensive than most of the cards on this list put together. In Commander, Rhystic Study is an incredibly powerful card that can keep you miles ahead of your table of opponents. In Pauper, however, it’s far less effective since you’re only playing against one opponent. Mystic Remora, at $8.32 features the same issue.Lotus Petal at $16.12 and Ashnod’s Altar at $9.88 also fall into this category. On their own, they’re powerful, expensive cards ideal for ramping to bigger and better things. In Pauper, however, generating mana is rarely the problem, as green has all kinds of mana dorks they could use. Instead, in Pauper, players are typically looking for things to play with all that mana, making cards such as Lotus Petal more suited to Commander and Legacy.
12 | Chain Lightning- $2.37
With the ability to damage your opponent’s face, what’s not to love about Chain Lightning? You don’t love it because it’s strictly worse than Lightning Bolt? Shh. This may be true, but thanks to Chain Lightning, it can be like you have eight Lightning Bolts in your deck! So long as you ignore the downside of getting Chain Lightning-ed back, that is.
11 | Vault of Whispers – $2.61
Being both an artifact and a land, Vault of Whispers occasionally sees play in Affinity decks. Despite being a reasonably basic land, this is dramatically driven up the price beyond that of a regular Swamp. Other lands from this Mirrodin cycle, such as Seat of the Synod, also fetches a non-insignificant cost. However, it isn’t quite as expensive.
10 | Manamorphose – $3.00
By offering a card in the graveyard, an extra tick on the Storm counter, a Prowess trigger for free, and essentially four fewer cards in your deck, Manamorphose can be found in a variety of decks. Whether they’re Modern decks or Pauper decks, Manamorphose is a worthy inclusion that replaces itself without any cost to the user.
9 | Spellstutter Sprite – $3.23
As an effective counterspell, Spellstutter Sprite is a potent card in Pauper. Utilized primarily in Faerie decks, Spellstutter Sprite is often able to counter a lot more than just a Lightning Bolt or Lava Spike when played on its own. This has made Spellstuter Sprite one of the most powerful cards in Pauper and undoubtedly deserving of its price.
8 | Lava Spike – $3.56Lava Spike may be no Lightning Bolt, but it’s undoubtedly better than Chain Lightning. If Chain Lightning already deserves four spots in a burn deck, Lava Spike deserves the same attention. As an Arcane spell, Lava Spike also facilitates Splice onto Arcane spells.
7 | Pyroblast – $3.57
As a habitual green player, Pyroblast is everything I want to see in a card; I hate against blue. By countering or destroying a blue spell or permanent, there is no end of uses for Pyroblast, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most expensive cards in Pauper. Especially since most tier 1 Pauper decks feature blue in some way.
6 | Snap – $4.20Snap returns a creature to its owner’s hand for essentially nothing. Snap is one of the many reasons that I hate blue. Whether used on your own or an opponent’s creatures, Snap can provide some handy utility. Did we mention that Snap is also essentially free thanks to it also untapping two lands?
5 | Chainers Edict – $4.89
On its own, Chainers Edict’s primary effect isn’t all too special. Diabolic Edict, for instance, does the exact same thing at a fraction of the cost, only $0.08. Thankfully, to justify its price and its place in black Pauper decks, Chainers Edict has an additional effect; Flashback. This effect allows Chainers Edict to continue to be helpful in the late stages of Pauper games, precisely where some black decks go in for the kill.
4 | Dust to Dust – $5.09
While only playable at Sorcery speed, Dust to Dust is a Pauper playable Return to Dust. By providing decks with some well-needed artifact removal, Dust to Dust can be ruthlessly effective in the right deck. In the worst case, it’s a practical addition to any white deck’s sideboard.
3 | Utopia Sprawl – $5.17
As a mainstay in green Pauper midrange decks, Utopia Sprawl offers some highly synergistic ramp. Alongside Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl becomes twice as effective for even more ramp! Since more ramp is typically precisely what green decks tend to want, it’s no wonder that Utopia Sprawl commands such a high price for a Common. Utopia Sprawl also sees a lot of play in Modern in Commander due to its utility and low mana cost.
2 | Snuff Out – $6.03
Snuff Out is an incredibly powerful card with the ability to destroy a nonblack creature for only one mana and some of your life. Primarily seen in Commander, Snuff Out still has a home in Pauper, as there are few cards more effective for its price… For its mana cost at least. At $6.03, Snuff Out doesn’t come cheap.
1 | Relic of Progenitus – $6.59
Unfortunately for Pauper players after some helpful sideboard tech, Relic of Progenitus is also commonly used in Modern. The price of this graveyard denial tool is pretty high, especially for a Pauper playable card. With the ability to exile cards from all graveyards and replace itself, Relic of Progenitus is definitely worth the cost, however.