With the imminent release of the new D&D: Forgotten Realms set, we’re meeting in a grimy tavern for some ale and to review the set’s new cards. In this article we’ll examine one of the companion Commander decks released with the set, talk about the unique new cards in it, and recommend some ways it can be upgraded and improved. Let’s take a look at the charming paladin at the helm of Aura of Courage, the White, Blue, and Green Commander Preconstructed deck from the set.
I like this deck, I think equipment is neat and I’m always trying to find ways to make it work. It tends to be too clunky, except for a few key pieces, but Galea’s twin abilities make it a lot more viable. The mana base in this deck is okay, but a bit disappointing. There are far too many enters the battlefield tapped lands, see below for some suggestions on easy improvements. There’s also a disappointing lack of interaction. Bant has access to powerful counterspells as well as strong creature removal and bounce spells, this deck comes with none of that. It’s very much in the mold of many commander decks, that are relying on sorcery speed interaction at best.
I really like this commander a lot even if it’s most likely not competitively viable. The most competitive version of the deck would do something very strange, almost entirely ignore equipment, and be an enchantress deck. Playing auras off the top means you could cast your Wild Growth or Wolfwillow Haven from library not hand, and generate value by using cards like Kenrith’s Transformation or Darksteel Mutation as control cards, hopefully getting some enchantress triggers at the same time. I think Galea can make decks that are fun and interesting across the spectrum, and gets out of the almost boringly repetitive “this is a legendary creature, it either makes equipping cheaper, casting equipment cheaper, or gives a bonus for equipping, and it’s red and white” do you get it, do you get it, do you get it, cycle. But Galea still gets access to white’s powerful equipment bonused cards.
The New Cards
Belt of Giant Strength is a fun card, fits really nicely in with the deck, and has some interesting implications since it’s increasing base power and toughness. Where you really want to see this is on top of a hydra or something like that, and thankfully it is made cheaper by the power of the creature it’s equipping so, you know, put it on a hydra. Also slap it on a commander and give the commander double strike and kill someone.
So she’s from those Drizzit [sic] books right, she hooks up with the barbarian right – you can tell I was long checked out once Drizzit [sic] had left the Underdark. In any case, functional card in this precon, and functional for the archetype, I like the flexibility, and to have some Selesnya equipment-based commanders is a good thing.
This card kind of makes me angry. Why is this not how Guenwhyvar works? This is exactly what sort of magical item Guenwhyvar is. Anyway, this is a nice mana rock, ETB tapped is a downside but some decent upsides, 4 to activate is a lot but you get to give something flying, which is potentially quite strong.
I really like this, and I like that it does something in addition to giving flash, but you can use this to flash out a Teferi, Time Raveler (if playing Bant, obviously) to end the game. It’s also a source of +1/+1 tokens which is nice, and fits internally within the deck. Can also be used for surprising things, like dropping a piece of equipment with Galea, Kindler of Hope and insta-equipping it, perhaps giving a creature hexproof to effectively counter a spell.
A neat piece of equipment that fits the theme, lets you dodge spells, gives a lot of toughness for cheap, which normally isn’t very valuable but there are cards and decks like Doran, the Siege Tower that could leverage it. I guess phasing is back for real.
I love this card. Like custom-made to put on Sage of Hours, and dangerous in that context, in a commander doing commander damage context, or for needing +1/+1 counters to do things, like Tayam, Luminous Enigma. Great card, affordable mana value, utilitarian, but mostly going to go into very specific decks.
This is a nicely toned down version of the staples Swiftfoot Boots,Lightning Greaves, and the nice red equivalent that still gives haste. This version gives ward 4, which is going to protect your commander from most spells, and gives flying, so really valuable for commanders that don’t have flying but you need to deal combat damage with. Nice card.
Neat as an instant, UUU + X is a lot of mana, but you’ve got a 30% chance to get scry X on top of draw X, which is the real payoff, and it’s a predator end-step card, so I think it’s definitely playable in decks able to pay the mana cost. I like the mechanic of rolling with your thumb sort of on the scale as well. If you have 5 cards in hand suddenly it goes from a 30% chance to a 55% chance which isn’t too bad when you really need to dig for something, or you are aware that Hullbreacher was banned but Opposition Agent and Aven Mindcensor weren’t, and you want to just try drawing your way into cards rather than tutoring.
I love this card, I’m not sure how on point the flavor is but giving double strike and dropping auras for free is the bees knees in my opinion. Pricy for 6 mana, but can easily pay for itself in free auras, two a round potentially.
4 for a 4/4, then 6 to turn it into an 8.5/8.5 on average and blow up a permanent is pricy, but for durdley decks, or decks that can leverage tons of colorless mana or want to tutor out golems, or decks that can reset monstrous and generate tons of mana like Brago, King Eternal, this is a playable piece. In Aura of Courage, I think this card won’t do much, but it has potential if Meteor Golem does.
I think this is an extremely solid protective piece, though in general you’d hope it would have an evasion ability or something like that. At least in a commander setting you can attack a player with no blockers to give something invulnerable while attacking someone else. 2WW is a bit pricy for a 3/3 but if you’re playing stax or expect creature removal coming your way I could definitely see a place for this.
Alone not probably playable, but in a deck where you plan to roll a lot of dice of course this can quite pop off. 4 mana to draw a card every 4 turns is something to sneeze at, but if you’re rolling dice all the time, that’s a different story.
In my opinion this is an extremely dangerous card. It can easily be used to just kill someone at the table, generate a lot of value…. there’s a ton of cards that reduce equipment and artifact costs. It costs too much however, it would really need to be 4 or 3 mana. If this card is generating meaningful value for you you’re in a weird pod, but if it’s like battlecruiser time I could see this recurring equipment getting blown up with mass removal or auras, and is worth considering if that’s your meta.
Too expensive for what it does. The 30% chance of life gain is meaningless.
This is a neat Wrath of God effect, 6 is a lot but to clear the board then give yourself a bunch of 2/2 is potentially a decent trade-off, especially if you’re rolling a lot of equipment so you can beef those little knights up to something more respectable.
So 7 for this is a stretch, obviously, it’s meant as a secondary commander for the deck, or if you wanted to do a neato Giant deck but in Bant instead of Izzet, there are some white giants that are quite strong, especially the one that destroys all non-giants. Ward 3 on every creature you control is really nice, but generally it’s more concerning that you’ll lose all your creatures to mass board removal. Granted white is the color of mass protection for your own creatures with cards like Teferi’s Protection and Green has this secondarily with cards like Heroic intervention. Generally, if you want to improve this precon though this is one of the cards you’d immediately cut.
Improving the deck
First of all the mana base needs a lot of work. In general you do not want enters the battlefield tapped lands. I think Azorious Chancery and Simic Growth Chamber are neat cards, and there is a way to get some value out of their ability, but this deck plays none of the Tithe type “fetch land if you control less land than an opponent” effects and instead it’s just slowing you down. Add some rainbow lands – City of Brass and Mana Confluence. Add the shocklands. Add Prismatic Vista. You need to mana fix, so you strongly want to consider greens really good suite of 2 cost land tutors. There’s a bunch of good ones (no no no, do not add Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach, those are too slow). Secondly, you’re adding in mana dorks. Why? It’s an equip, aura-based deck. You want to ramp, and then have creatures to put equipment on.
Clean up the equipment, focus on good equipment that really leverages Galea’s abilities. Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Hearth and Home, cut some of the bad equipment, like Explorer’s Scope, Moonsilver Spear, Behemoth Sledge.
The enchantment situation is odd. Most of these need to go. Curse of Verbosity vs Coastal Piracy, even though the curse is an aura, you probably want to cut it in favor of something that will trigger off each creature that hits, rather than only once per turn, and also when your opponents attack, though you’ll then also draw when your opponents attack, but this also becomes a question of what your pod is like, and how bad you want to make someone feel.
That wraps up our look at the new Aura of Courage deck. Next time we’ll take a look at the Planar Portal deck, another Forgotten Realms precon. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.