How to Play Pauper EDH

This page will not discuss how to play Magic: the Gathering.  Rather, it will lay out all of the specific rules for the Pauper EDH format.  If interested in learning how to play, click here for instructions regarding how to play.

Deck Structure
  • 100 card format, only one copy of each card, except for of basic lands.

  • 99 card deck, all cards must be common.

  • 1 commander, being any uncommon creature spell. Planeswalkers are not valid as commanders.

  • All cards in the 99 MUST belong within the commander's color identity.

  • Card rarity includes both online and paper rarities. A card only needs a single "printing" (online or paper) at a rarity to be valid.


Spectral Shepherd is a white card, but also has a blue symbol in its rules text.  Therefore, the color identity is white and blue.  Only white, blue, and colorless commons may be used in the 99 for this commander.

Gameplay Specifics
  • Multiplayer format, ideal for 3 - 4 players.

  • Games start at 30 life, with 16 commander damage.

  • The commander is placed in the command zone, and can be cast from there at any time, as if in hand.

  • When commander changes zones, it may be placed back into the command zone.  After the first cast, there is a 2 mana additional cost, for each time it was already cast from the command zone.

  • If a commander deals the full commander damage to one player over the course of the game, that player loses, despite remaining life total.


Zendikar Incarnate being cast from the command zone for the third time, will cost its initial cmc, and 2 mana for each time it was already cast, being an additional 4 total.

Format Specifics

Due to the fact that none of the card we use as commanders were ever designed as such we occasionally get confusing interactions with the command zone.​ This list is not complete but we will add new sections as soon as we stumble across weird interactions or notice that certain questions pop up a lot from players.

Some interaction are clearly covered by the rules already but that does not mean they don't lead to confusion and misunderstandings from time to time. 

Cycling for example. The comprehensive rules are quite clear that you can only use the activated ability if the card is in your hand:

702.28a Cycling is an activated ability that functions only while the card with cycling is in a player’s hand. “Cycling [cost]” means “[Cost], Discard this card: Draw a card.”

However its easy to see how someone might get confused. Hence this section is less about format rulings and more about clarification.

What can be a commander?

The commander must be a creature spell. Dryad Arbor for example is a creature but not a creature spell. It can not be a commander. So no need to worry about how commander tax interacts with cards that are not actually cast but only played as it would be the case with Dryad Arbor.

What about alternate casting costs?

If the commander has an alternate casting cost then you can cast him for the alternate cost. Note however that commander tax is applied to that cost.


For example you can play a Mulldrifter from the command zone using evoke. If you play the Mulldrifter for the second time the evoke cost would be 4 generic and one blue mana. It doesn't matter if you cast the Mulldrifter for its regular or evoke cost the first time you cast it. Commander tax only cares about how many time the commander has been cast. Evoking will also increase the tax for the regular cast. So if you evoke it for three mana and then want to cast it again without evoke it would cost seven mana not five.


The same applies to other forms of alternate casting costs such as affinity. 

What about alternate casting modes?

If the commander has an alternate casting mode then you can in general cast either mode from the command zone. For instance a commander with morph can be cast as a morph. Commander tax applies to the alternate casting mode and again regardless of what mode the commander is cast in the commander tax will go up for any future casts in any mode.

So you can cast Brine Elemental either face up for six mana or as a morph for three. Regardless of what mode you cast it for the first time, the second time you cast it it would cost eight to cast face up or five mana as a morph

How does adventure work with the command zone?

The alternate casting mode had not been a big point of confusion for a long time but the new adventure mechanic with its many and complex rulings had brought up a lot of questions and discussion regarding this. So to clear them up here is the official Rules Committee statement on how the adventure mechanic works from the command zone:

"The commander attribute is designated to all parts of a commander"

That means that both the adventure and the creature are effected by commander tax when cast from the command zone.

If the adventure would be put into a graveyard, in exile or any other zone the commander can be put into the command zone as a replacement effect the same way the creature part can.

If the creature is cast from exile via the adventure mechanic the commander tax does not apply to the creature.

Both the adventure and the creature share the commander tax, caring only about how many times combined they were cast from the command zone. You have cast the adventure twice and the creature once? To cast the adventure or the creature once more the cost is increased by six.

BanNED List

Click on the icon to the left to see the most up to date Pauper EDH Banned list.  As revisions are made to this list, we will make a public announcement, with all explanation behind the changes. 

If you feel that a card should be added or removed, feel free to contact us, and we shall examine the case thoroughly.  

The fastest way to contact us is via discord. You find the link on the HOME page.

House Rules

PDH is at its heart both a casual and a player made format. As such we fully endorse the use of any house rules you like and have fun with. The official rules are the common ground we stand on and we can use when meeting new PDH players. 

It is important for us as a format to have clear and official rules but that does not mean it is wrong to play in any variation you want.

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