For as long as Pauper Commander has existed, people have been playing their PDH decks against each other in 1v1 games. This is somewhat because PDH is still a small format, and getting together 4 people with decks at the same table can be difficult. However, it’s also because many people enjoy the fact that 1v1 is more consistently competitive, bypassing the ambiguity of multiplayer politics. Even as PDH continues to grow, 1v1 games won’t ever stop being played, as is shown both by Duel Commander’s continued existence alongside regular Commander, and by the many people that still play their Commander decks in 1v1 games against their friends.
However, there is a bit of a problem, since the existing Pauper Commander rules are completely aimed at regulating a 4-person free-for-all game, not a 2-player game. Changing the number of players in a game greatly impacts which cards are good, bad, or broken. For example, some commanders like Psychatog have the potential to be threatening in 1v1, but burn through too many resources too quickly to be viable at all in 4-player games. On the other hand, cards that care about having multiple opponents can be very powerful in 4-player games, but are usually not useful in 1v1 (like Rhystic Study, which is banned in 4-player PDH).
As a result of the large difference between the needs of 4-person and 1v1 games, a group of passionate players have come together to form the Pauper Duel Commander (or PDC) Rules Committee. The PDC RC is independent of the existing PDH RC. However, because the existence of this new group benefits the Pauper Commander community as a whole, PDH Home Base is excited to help by hosting rules and articles for Pauper Duel Commander, in addition to our usual PDH content aimed at 4-player games.
Meet the PDC RC
Much like the original PDH Home Base team was formed by bringing together individuals from multiple online communities, the PDC RC is made up of members from across the globe, representing their own local or online communities. Below are brief introductions for each of the PDC RC members.
I am Ambrosio, from Brazil. I started playing MTG 15 years ago, and Pauper Commander about 5 years ago. To my play group, Pauper Duel Commander was just a way to make PDH tournaments possible for our local game store, since 1v1 games and rewards are easier to organize. My personal goal is to expand the format (both 4-player and 1v1) for the whole Brazilian MTG community. This is because the core values of PDH are extremely compatible with our Brazilian reality, where budget, casual, and older players are fleeing expensive and inaccessible formats.
Danny (the Dinosaur)
I’m Danny from the UK. I started playing PDC with OG common Legends like Stangg and Tobias Andrion, so I was pretty excited when Dominaria was released. Later on I discovered the international standard where non-Legendary creatures could be Commander, and I’ve been in love ever since. What most drew me to the format was the even playing field that all the cheap cardboard creates. I value skill and ingenuity in the game, not money, which is why I love no decks better than my own janky homebrews!
I’m Martin from Germany. Magic has been a part of my life for around 6 years. I’ve spent most of those playing draft and French Duel Commander. I’ve been playing PDC on and off for about 3 years, with it first starting out as a way for our local DC community to get some variety in our meetups. Control is my favourite archetype (especially Sedraxis Specter), but I also enjoy throwing together lists for new or otherwise interesting commanders that might not be that competitive.
My name is Valerio Giagnoli, from Rome, Italy. I have been playing Magic since 2000 and started playing Pauper in 2016 with cards like Treasure Cruise and Cloud of Faeries. After playing many other formats, including Standard, Modern, and Duel Commander, I started playing Pauper Duel Commander in Jan 2021. Part of the reason I love PDC is getting to use cards that are played in Legacy, but banned in Pauper.
Naptown Hustle (Taylor)
I’m Naptown Hustle (Taylor) from the United States. I have been playing MTG since Zendikar (2009) and a lot of my favorite cards are from Zendikar and Scars blocks. I played standard and then EDH for a while before selling my cards and taking a break from Magic. Eventually, I wanted to get back into it and play with my friend, Nathan. So, we built PDC decks in 2018. We liked the variety of singleton and the price of commons! I even wrote a few articles for PDH Home Base back then, too. Now, I have a fledgling YouTube channel where Nathan and I share our PDC games.
I’m Pan Patek, from the Czech Republic. I’ve been playing magic for almost 10 years. I started with Standard, played for a few years, then got tired of rotation. I have been playing Duel Commander ever since. When my friends and I wanted to try something with a lower power level, we got into PDC and started a few tournaments at our LGS. We’ve had 20 to 30 people at many of our PDC events, with a diverse and colorful meta!
I’m TheEDH (Alex). I’m just a humble player from England, but I’ve played a lot online since Covid began. I’ve been playing PDH for over 10 years, and am super excited to see 1v1 get the recognition it deserves! I’m currently interested in the mid- to low-tier archetypes, such as combo, midrange, or anything in green or white. I’m looking for a way to break the dominance that control and aggro have in top 8’s, so if you think you have something spicy, hit me up with that tech!
Greetings fellow Planeswalkers! I am Jonel, from the Philippines. I own the Ordo Estore online hobby shop and am one of the many people running PDC tournaments in our physical store. I started playing MTG all the way back during the Shards of Alara block. I’m excited to introduce more people to PDC, where play experience and deck building skill matter more than budget!
I’m Yaloron. I started playing Pauper Duel Commander almost 10 years ago, back in 2013, and have been a fan of various common-based formats ever since. After focusing more on the multiplayer side of Pauper Commander for the last couple of years, I’m now back to enjoying the 1v1 version of the format too. I love brewing decks and finding new interactions, which is why I’ve always felt at home in Pauper Commander as a singleton and relatively unexplored format.
The PDC RC had quite the challenge, merging the rule sets of several different communities and play groups. Topics of conversation included:
Whether to follow the same definition of rarity as Pauper and Pauper Commander.
Starting life and commander damage totals.
Whether to allow common commanders.
Whether to allow planeswalkers or vehicles as commanders.
A variety of other house rules and whether making them official would benefit the format.
After much consideration and debate, the PDC RC set their rules as follows:
- The commander and rarity rules are the same as PDH (only creatures with an uncommon printing).
- Players start with 25 life and 21 commander damage is lethal.
- There will be no initial bans other than cards that are already banned in all formats, with a plan to revisit the ban list discussion at the end of the summer. This means Rhystic Study and Mystic Remora are legal in PDC.
The RC chose to keep most of the rules the same as EDH or PDH in order to make it easier to introduce players to the format. This also makes it easier for the same deck to be played in both PDH and PDC with fewer modifications. As a result, the life and commander damage totals are the biggest changes. 25 life and 21 commander damage were chosen based on trends from all the metagames represented by different PDC RC members. Many of these groups started with the same 30 life and 16 commander damage that PDH uses, but this caused many problems. Starting with 30 life discouraged most token aggro and burn strategies, while 16 commander damage made aggressive voltron strategies like Slippery Bogle too powerful. Meanwhile, some groups tried out starting with 20 life, but that made a few aggressive commanders like Loyal Apprentice too dominant. As a result, 25 life and 21 commander damage were chosen to keep the ban list as small as possible. The current plan is for the RC to observe how the metagame settles after formalizing the rules, then re-evaluate the need for bans at the end of the summer.
Ultimately, this isn’t the creation of a new sub-format. Instead, this is standardizing he rules for an existing sub-format that has already been played for more than a decade, with the goal of continuing to make it easier for the community to play together. Pauper Duel Commander has always needed to be acknowledged as a completely different metagame from PDH, and now it is finally getting the attention it needs and deserves.