RIW PAUPER COMMANDER $1K REPORT & TOP 4 DECKLISTS
Today, I wanted to write an article that highlights a special event I attended last weekend, the RIW Hobbies Pauper Commander $1K. For many reasons, it was an event unlike any other I’ve ever attended and it’s certainly an experience I enjoyed immensely as a lifetime MTG journeyman and look forward to sharing.
The reason the event was significant is two-fold. Firstly, it was a Pauper Commander event and secondly it was a multiplayer event held at competitive Rules Enforcement Level (REL) for a large cash prize payout ($1K!). I had a front row seat for the immense organization and planning that went into making this event a huge community success and a lot of fun for fans of Pauper Commander who gathered with us from all across the country!
It takes a team of dedicated individuals to put on a great event for players and this event was no exception. Thanks to everybody for their hard work of helping to organize and pull off such a novel event both with regard to format (PDH) and multiplayer. Specifically, I’d like to thank Pam for continuing to put together the best quality LGS events in the game and for trying out a novel new tournament format!
Let me start by saying, the event went great! 44 Pauper Commander fans (many from all across the country and as far as Miami, FL) joined us to play five rounds of multiplayer Swiss.
–Ryan Sparks, Legendary Showdown
It was really awesome to get a chance to meet and interact with so many leaders in the PDH Community from out of town that I met from the PDH Twitter Community: @derekdearreader, @notalkadron, & Brad @pauper_b did an excellent job on commentary and it was great to meet @thepdhpod, Liam @PauperCommand, Clay from the cpdh.guide @TheTryhards6, Paul @Scarecrow1779, @PuzzleboxDC, Scooby Drew @scoobydrew0, @PDHpals, Dallas Walker @Gilded Adonis, Chris @OnemoregameMTG, & @papa_pauper. These players showing up from out of town really made the event special and it was fun kicking it with them all!
I was not planning to play in the event at all because I wanted to help with coverage but when the final call for players went up at 43 (1 shy of forming 11 complete pods) I decided to at the last second jump into the game with my casual Unicorn deck.
My day began with me buying into a competitive REL Pauper Commander event (having no idea what to expect!) at the last possible second with my casual work(unicorn)horse deck and I’m pleased I joined because the format and event was an absolute BLAST to play and I’m glad I was able to participate. I only got one win (bye) on the day, but I went on a heater with Unicorn at the after party scoring 3 wins in a row. So, after playing five rounds of Swiss, I played three more! A ringing endorsement of the format being highly playable and fun from me!
I tapped out for Unicorn on 3 in my first pod and got promptly turn 4’d by Dallas’ Disciple of Deceit deck, which was sick because I’ve never seen a deck go off that fast in PDH before. It was a thing of beauty. I was kinda like, “What did I get myself into!?” Turn 4 kills are definitely fairly uncommon in the format, it was the only game all day where somebody went off so fast. So, there is a lot of powerful and interesting stuff going on.
The stream team did an incredible job of covering the multiplayer feature matches which is a unique challenge in and of itself. The stream got raided toward the end of the event by 100+ viewers which made it one of RIW’s most successful streams to date! RIW’s stream team was joined by PDH experts for coverage and commentary which was a cool twist. Nearly 600 viewers tuned in to watch the event on Saturday.
The new stream team has been absolutely crushing it lately and be sure to tune in for their weekly events: Thanks to Brenda for cobbling together a commentary booth out of thin air and putting on a great show! http://twitch.tv/riwhobbies.
HOW DID A COMPETITIVE MULTIPLAYER TOURNAMENT “WORK?”
I’m more of a casual player now. The emphasis of my play has been on kitchen table style multiplayer Commander and Battle Box. I’ve been a tournament grinder for a long time and while I’ve always enjoyed the competitive outlet Magic provides, in the here and now I’ve gravitated towards a more relaxed style of gaming in my personal life.
I was not sure what to expect at all from a Commander event being run at a Competitive REL. In fact, I was kind of worried doing so would create a weird or negative play experience, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth! It was a delight.
The Judge for the event, Benjamin Topping, did an INCREDIBLE job guiding us through the event and making sure it was clear what the expectations for competition were: “It’s a competitive REL event and players are responsible for their own triggers and abilities.” There was a mix of experienced and inexperienced players in the field and the vibe was definitely casual and fun even with high standards of personal play in effect. Benjamin is a long time friend and I was so impressed with how well he navigated a potentially tricky situation with top notch judging. We’ve got a great community here in Michigan: players, judges, organizers, and fans alike.
Not only did the judge do a great job at setting up reasonable expectations for a new kind of event (multiplayer competitive) but the players also did a fantastic job about being clear, helping maintain proper board states, and even reminding each other of triggers. I was so proud and impressed with how the players approached and participated in this event and that’s a big part of what made it so special. Even with $1K on the line and competitive REL rules in place it FELT like a casual event and people were there to have fun and enjoy the experience. The spirit of community Magic really came through.
We played five rounds (pods of 4) of Swiss and then cut to a TOP 4 pod at the end and there was no conflict between competitive and casual minded players all day! That is a ton of Magic being played over the course of 9 hours with everybody just being completely chill. I’ve never experienced an event quite like that. In fact, even when eliminated from prize eligibility most of the players didn’t drop and remained in the event just to play more games of the format because they were having so much fun.
I did learn quite a bit about the Competitive REL multiplayer events with Swiss Rounds that I found fascinating because it’s stuff I didn’t know! For instance, in each pod the winner earns 3 match points and everybody else receives 0, regardless of where they placed in the pod. In the event of a “drawn” pod (80-minute rounds), each player gets 1 match point (regardless of if they were eliminated in the game or not) In the event that the round goes to time, active player finishes their turn and then the game progresses additional turns equal to the number of players remaining in the pod.
4 players remaining when time is called = 4 additional turns. 3 players remaining = 3 additional turns, etc.
If a player is eliminated, their turn passes on to the next player. So, extra turns don’t evaporate as players leave the game. As a long time tournament player, I found this stuff pretty interesting.
In my opinion, and coming from the perspective of a tournament pedigree with a lot of questions and even skepticism about multiplayer tournaments, I thought this event went off perfectly without a hitch. The positivity and enthusiasm for playing the game in the room was palpable and people had a great time. In fact, many of the players in attendance gathered for an after party and even more PDH play. The event, format and experience was a big hit with the players who attended, myself included.
RIW Hobbies is also pleased to announce that the Pauper Commander $1K Series will return next year as an annual celebration of the PDH format.
The staff and players were so pleased with how the multiplayer event went that RIW has decided to host another multiplayer regular Commander $1K Series event taking place on October 29th.
The famous RIW HOBBIES FREE TACO BAR AND REFRESHMENTS was in full effect!
The store rented out another space next door which was previously occupied by a buffet, so there was no sushi but LOTS OF TACOS and a spacious environment for players to enjoy the event.
With entry to our $1K events players receive unlimited access to the Taco bar and refreshments. RIW Hobbies has always strived to put on the best events we possibly can for the players and complimentary lunch is just a part of it. Aside from being a nice touch that makes the event better, it’s also incredible how providing a lunch for these events puts players in a better mood especially during a long day of swiss matches because players don’t end up getting “h-angry” (hungry and angry) from not properly eating and hydrating themselves over a long day of mental exercise. Lorna does an incredible job at putting out a great spread of food every time and it definitely helps create a great environment for a long day of gaming to take place.
One of the coolest stories that happened at the event this weekend was that the player who received the door prize for “farthest traveling player,” Chris Jackson, received a Collector’s Booster of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth and cracked an Elvish foil Sol Ring from his prize pack!
It’s always sweet when somebody opens something cool from a prize pack and we appreciate him coming all the way from Florida to play with us.
I’m not typing out 400 cards worth of decklists because that would be crazy, but I did manage to sneak some pictures of the Top 4 decklists before they went home with the PDHGUIDE for data Analysis.
The Top 4 agreed to a friendly split since the event was quite long and it was around 9PM when the Swiss wrapped up.
The Top 4 was represented with four very different archetypes:
Travis actually borrowed this physical copy of Ryan Sparks’ Sprite Dragon deck the night before and played it to a Top 4. Congratulations to my Legendary Showdown Cohost on putting a list into Top 4 and Top 16. Great deckbuilding and cool to openly share his tech with friends. It’s always great to see teammates do so well, especially in their first competitive PDH event.
I think the most important question I had about PDH before the event was answered for me.
“Is PDH a viable tournament format? Heck, is it even a ‘format’ people would play?”
I think RIW PDH CON answered both of my questions with a resounding YES! It was really cool to see expert fans of the format travel from across the country to join our local field of players for some friendly, competitive games on Saturday. It reminded me of my Vintage days, when I used to travel 6+ hours to find a game! To be fair, the wonderful community of players supporting the format was like the icing and cherry on top of an already sweet dessert of a format.
I really enjoy playing this format. The game play reminds me a lot of a more old school style of Magic where the power level is a little bit more balanced and the games have a lot of back and forth because of it. It feels very old school kitchen table style to me and has become one of my preferred ways to enjoy playing Magic for fun these days.
I could actually see the format being one that gains some steam going forward. It has a ton of great things going for it and I hope other event organizers will follow RIW’s lead and try the format out elsewhere.
PDH was a lot of fun to play in a Swiss round event and had a lot of diversity and sweet decks. The store was so thrilled with the community interest and how incredible the event turned out that it’s going to be an annual event going forward every summer. I’m already looking forward to the next one!