It's just a couple weeks before the Prerelease and Gatecrash Week right here on StarCityGames.com, where several of us Commander writers will be presenting some sweet decks built around the new legends we're getting in the new set.
But you know what? I hate waiting. You know who also hates waiting?
Aurelia, the Warleader! She really hates waiting, and who am I to keep a lady waiting? So with great haste and vigilance, my fingers are flying over the keyboard.
Let's take a look at our aggressive legend and get a sense of what she might like in her 99.
She really is a sweet bundle of abilities that make for a near-perfect focal point in an aggressive Commander deck. She has evasion, but she also has vigilance so she can attack without leaving you open to other attacks… And haste means she attacks right away, and not just once but twice. She's so inspiring that she lets your whole team attack twice!
I did a search for other cards that could assist with the attacking theme. Signal Pest and Hero of Bladehold's battle cry ability fit right in, and Anger in the graveyard makes sure that any creature you cast can get into the attacking game right away (even though Aurelia has haste all by her bad self). My old favorite, Galepowder Mage, popped back up on my radar, a card that has yet to find a home in any of my Commander decks. If you're going to be attacking a few times a turn, Blinking out troublesome blockers seems to be a perfect choice—plus, you can even take advantage of some of your creatures with comes into play abilities if you want fire them off again.
Lastly, of course, is Master Warcraft, a tragically underused gold card that is perfect for making sure your team is only blocked by things you want blocking…
Since I'm playing white and red and already know I want to play Sword of Feast and Famine, it's hard to justify not going hard on the equipment theme. There are so many good equipment support cards: Puresteel Paladin, Stoneforge Mystic, Brass Squire, Steelshaper Apprentice, and Godo, Bandit Warlord.
Of course, the hard part is figuring out which pieces of equipment to play since we have an embarrassment of riches available to us to choose from. I settled on Basilisk Collar, Skullclamp, Nim Deathmantle, Trailblazer's Boots, Helm of Kaldra, Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Argentum Armor. The Kaldra pieces are fun and flavorful, and if assembled make a truly terrifying board presence on their own. Argentum Armor is certainly clunky, but I'm hoping that with the ways in the deck to cheat equipment into play and even reduce equipment cost, it'll be a little less clunky, and having equipment that can destroy a troublesome permanent each time you attack seems perfect in this deck.
Once I started filling my deck out with a bunch of equipment—which are also artifacts—it got my brain thinking about another super-cool new card from Gatecrash that I want to try out: Hellkite Tyrant!
Hellkite Tyrant likes you to play with a bunch of artifacts, and he also likes to attack, so being a minion of Aurelia seems like a perfect role. I mean, who doesn't play any artifacts in their Commander decks? You're bound to be able to scoop up a couple artifacts for your artifact horde each time he attacks.
But then I thought—dragons are greedy! Why play fair? Liquimetal Coating can make sure I steal whatever permanent I want to steal! And then I saw Mycosynth Lattice… The heavens opened, angels sang—the perfect treasure for my big, bad Dragon!
Once I decided I was not just going hard on equipment but artifacts too, I knew I needed to dig deep into artifact support. Welding Jar, Leonin Abunas, and Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer let me protect vital artifacts from pesky spot removal, while Open the Vaults and Roar of Reclamation allow me to recover from devastating mass removal. Enlightened Tutor and Kuldotha Forgemaster help search up specific cards depending on my needs. Scourglass jumped out as a near-perfect mass removal spell for what I had going on in my deck.
This is where I've ended up with my first pass on Aurelia, the Warleader and her pet Dragon:
- 1 Brass Squire
- 1 Darksteel Juggernaut
- 1 Etched Champion
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Signal Pest
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Anger
- 1 Dragon Mage
- 1 Galepowder Mage
- 1 Hellkite Charger
- 1 Hellkite Igniter
- 1 Hellkite Tyrant
- 1 Hero of Bladehold
- 1 Leonin Abunas
- 1 Puresteel Paladin
- 1 Steelshaper Apprentice
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Stonehewer Giant
- 1 Viashino Heretic
- 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
- 1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
- 1 Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Zirilan of the Claw
- 10 Mountain
- 11 Plains
- 1 Blinkmoth Nexus
- 1 Boros Garrison
- 1 Boros Guildgate
- 1 Buried Ruin
- 1 Clifftop Retreat
- 1 Diamond Valley
- 1 Dread Statuary
- 1 Forgotten Cave
- 1 Inkmoth Nexus
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Mishra's Factory
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Rugged Prairie
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Secluded Steppe
- 1 Slayers' Stronghold
- 1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
- 1 Thespian's Stage
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Argentum Armor
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Boros Keyrune
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Distorting Lens
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Ichor Wellspring
- 1 Liquimetal Coating
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Memory Jar
- 1 Mycosynth Lattice
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Otherworld Atlas
- 1 Scourglass
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Sword of Light and Shadow
- 1 Temple Bell
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Trailblazer's Boots
- 1 Welding Jar
- 1 Aggravated Assault
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Master Warcraft
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Helm Of Kaldra
- 1 Shield of Kaldra
- 1 Sword of Kaldra
- 1 Open the Vaults
- 1 Roar Of Reclamation
Some additional notes:
Maze of Ith lets you bring the noise with Aurelia and protect her from any unfortunate blocking situation.
Boros Charm making all your permanents indestructible makes it an insane Commander card!
Distorting Lens combines quite nicely with the Swords that provide protection.
Trading Post! I had way too much fun with this card in the old Standard—not to mention M13 Draft—and this deck seems like the perfect home for it in Commander, don't you think?
Zirilan of the Claw is a fun, old-school card that can help you find your pet Hellkite Tyrant, at least for one shot—though if you've got a way to Blink him (Galepowder Mage) or kill him and bring him back (Diamond Valley / Nim Deathmantle) then you can keep him around. I figured why not go ahead and add a couple other Dragons to search—Hellkite Igniter actually seems insane in a deck this heavy on the artifact theme!
Now, with Hellkite Tyrant on the board, your opponents are understandably going to be very nervous about your artifact count. Lands like Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus, Dread Statuary, and Mishra's Factory can let you sneak an extra artifact under the radar with a simple activation.
I have to say I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on Aurelia, the Warleader so I can see this deck in action! I've made a couple R/W Commander decks in the past, but this is the first one that has me super-excited! There are so many cool combinations that lead to big splashy plays and haymakers, and that's what Commander is all about.
Speaking of which… Richmond Comix has set up an EDH tournament on Saturday, March 2 at 1 PM. They're going to be offering their own prizes, but I thought it might be fun to offer up some prizes of my own. So I will also be presenting at least one "Bennie Smith Spirit of EDH Haymaker Award" to the person or persons who takes out one or more players in such a way as to put a smile on their face.
A couple years ago, I wrote a column called EDH Miscellany that stirred up quite a bit of controversy because one of the things I talked about was trying not to be an EDH jerk. But I think the ultimate point I was making got lost in the heated discussions that followed… Though it put a big smile on my face when I saw Aaron Forsythe retweet a quote from me that was lifted from this column, which said something like "a great EDH card is one I would have nearly as much fun losing to as I would winning with."
Sheldon Menery always points out that Commander as a format is super-easy to break—coming up with a combo that instantly beats the entire table is easy, as is filling your deck with so many Tutors that the combo kill is fast and consistent. But that's not really what Commander is supposed to be all about. Winning the particular game of Magic isn't really the point of a good game of Commander; it's about getting together with friends and having a good time. To try to encourage that, I'm hoping that giving out these prizes will help. I'm still working out the details, but I believe in order to qualify for the prize, you'll need to be nominated by a player you took out of the game and then confirmed by a majority vote of people still at the table when the kill occurred.
So how do you kill people and put a smile on their face? Good question…want to talk about it in the comments below?
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!
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New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave (how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Yeva, Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius (new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda, Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)