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Introducing others to PDH

Imperial Recruiter, by Zack Stella, Owned by Wizards of the Coast © All Rights Reserved.

Before I dig into this, did you guys know that “Imperial Recruiter” is a PDH legal commander? Pretty cool, eh? (Yes, I am Canadian). Over the past 11 months of doing research for this website, I managed to come across all kinds of fascinating bits of information, as well as unique characteristics that make this format even better. With that said, there are many cases where I am stuck in the same situation, where I can’t share this stuff with any of my mates.

PDH is still in its developing stages. It’s a niche format, with its bells and whistles, but still yet to be discovered by a mainstream. At some point in time, we hope to see some mainstream attention, as the pauper constructed scene is starting to attract. However, until then, this is a format that is going to grow by word of mouth.

As of now, I don’t see that as such a terrible thing. However, growing the format does require a lot more work on our part. It means we are jumping into forums, feeding online threads, and badgering players at our local game stores to try. Without the proper tools, or a steady approach, this task can be incredibly frustrating, and can place you in a position of feeling like a nuisance.

The internet can be a merciless place, so start in a safer zone. Start at your local game store, with the people that make up your community. In a personal setting, you can really lay down the pitch, and show what PDH has to offer. With that all in mind, I will present my 8 key points (in no particular order), for helping you introduce your friends to PDH.

1. The point of entry is incredibly affordable.

A number of months ago, when Brawl was introduced, I had felt less than entirely enthusiastic about the venture. However, it wasn’t about the card pool, or the game play (both actually seemed just fine to me). My issue came from the need to buy into a new format. It has stopped me before from entering Modern, and has stopped me from continuing with Standard. I can confidently say that I am not the only one.

Here is the beauty of a pauper format. You don’t have a price restriction that prevents you from entering the format with a deck that can actually compete. If the format is fun, and you want to try it, you can.

2. Home Brewing potential is massive, with the majority of these resources untapped.

Price point and accessibility are great characteristics, but they are only mechanisms to attract interest. If you want to keep interest, you are going to need a lot more to present. It is important to remember, these are commons. With a few special exceptions, they don’t have resale value, like other formats. If you purchase a pauper deck, selling it later isn’t always as simple, as it is for Standard, Modern, or EDH. There needs to be appeal to keep a player here.

For many people, playing the game is only a part of the experience. Creating the deck that you use is just as valuable. For many, it’s also equally enjoyable. Many players want to brew, and create unique decks. Although the card pool is smaller than that of legacy, it is still massive. With so many uncommon creatures at your disposal, unique deck design potential is great, and waiting to be discovered. With so many supported archetypes supported, how you want to play is your call.

3. Infinite combos exist in the format.

Many times in the past when I would try to introduce someone to the format, I would always receive the same responses. “I don’t want to use weak commons,” or, “I want to be able to combo off. Otherwise, games will be boring, and take forever.” My response now is, “Ever hear of Disciple of Deceit?”

Aside from a deck that races the clock to combo off and wipe out every opponent, you can see many different cases of infinite combos, used in different ways. If you check out Episode 2 of our Game Play Series, you can see one of these examples, where Thomas wipes the whole board out by blinking a land infinitely, dealing 1 damage to an opponent as it enters. This is just one example, and these cases will continue to be discovered over time.

4. PDH has their own Boogeymen.

I had mentioned above the combo deck of combo decks in our format. Even in a format that is so young, we still have these cards that make us uneasy as we hear their names. Once I see Disciple of Deceit hit the table, I know my target.

However, there are so many more. Observing many commanders, such as Viral Drake, Shriekmaw, Psychatog, and Spellheart Chimera, just their names mentioned can bring discomfort to the most seasoned PDH player. You build your decks with these things in mind.

However, it isn’t just the commanders that cause worry. Let us not forget powerhouses like Ulamog’s Crusher, Peregrine Drake, or Rhystic Study. These are cards that you remember while designing your deck. If you want to play competitive, you can play competitive. This format isn’t strictly casual. Some may argue that the above should be banned, but where is the fun in that?

5. EDH, Modern, and Legacy (ban worthy) staples exist in the format.

I want to return to this misconception of PDH having a dreadfully low power level, and immediately bring your attention back to Rhystic Study. Here is a card I have mentioned many times before, and any of your friends that play EDH are well aware of this nuisance. This card draw is pure value in EDH, and that value carries over to PDH.

It can be difficult to imagine, but there are a number of cards that are legal in PDH, but banned in leading competitive formats, such as Modern and Legacy. Only having access to one copy definitely takes a bit of the bite out of these cards, but they are still quite strong, including the legacy banned commanders for PDH, Goblin Recruiter and Hermit Druid.

6. Board states build up with so much activity, and turns move quickly.

Here is the thing about PDH, if you like to have a 15 minute solitaire turn, this format isn’t for you. For those that want to see action, and not wait for what feels like an endless period of time, this absolutely is for you.

Referring back to our Game Play Series, you can see that these board states can get quite out of control. This is a creature heavy format, with a lot of intensive combat phases. This format is especially fun for a Timmy, who wants to take a win with a heavy attack phase.

7. Play unique decks that can’t be seen in EDH.

I had mentioned this before in a previous issue of Tribal Guide, that there are decks that have been in demand in EDH, but yet to have the needed support. Tribal Werewolves is only one of many more decks that exists, where an EDH equivalent does not.

Interested in running a Relentless Rats deck with Relentless Rats as the commander? Want to hit each opponent with one point of infect and then proliferate each turn? Deck opportunities in this format exist that you will not find in EDH, and we intend to discover more over time.

8. Strong PDH decks can hold their own against casual EDH decks.

Do you know what it feels like to be playing an EDH Slivers, and to be removed in one hit by a PDH Vampire Nighthawk deck? It feels as you would expect, rather humbling. More so, it is an eye opener, as far as what a PDH deck can do against normal EDH decks. Is it going to hold up against a Tier 1 competitive deck that runs into the thousands of dollars? No. However, your deck will hold weight in a casual game.

Once again, I’m returning to money, but not for strict fiscal reasons. We all want to get the most bang for our buck, and what is better than using a deck for more than one format? The more intriguing feature, is the challenge that is presented for all deck builders. What strength can you display with only commons? Now that, can impress someone.


To wrap this up quickly, these are my 8 points for introducing your friends to PDH. Such tasks can require more energy than you would like at first, but in time, PDH will catch on, and grow further without such effort. Keep up the effort, and keep growing the game!




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