Wilds of Eldraine takes us right back to one of Magic: The Gathering’s most popular recent Planes, letting us frolick once more in its Faerie-ridden forests and myth-soaked meadows. While a lot of the set is dedicated to establishing the new world order post-Phyrexian invasion, many of the resonant themes from our first trip to Eldraine make a welcome return as well.
This includes the theme of classic fairytale heroism, embodied perfectly in the set’s Virtue and Valor Commander deck. This precon revolves around Auras, and using them to help your creatures reach their full, glorious potential. It also includes some hugely impactful new cards, which you can bet will become staples of the format before long.
10 Timber Paladin
While this card’s creature type is given as ‘Knight’, ‘Battleship’ would’ve been far more accurate. Timber Paladin is the very definition of a Voltron creature, rewarding you for stacking up Auras on it with huge stat boosts and extra keywords. Starting out as a 1/1 for two mana, the Paladin will quickly become a 10/10 with vigilance and trample once you get him suited and booted with three Auras.
And that’s not even factoring in the buffs from the Auras themselves, which will likely take things much higher, and make your wooden warrior much harder to kill. For a mere two mana investment, Timber Paladin is one of the scariest early-game threats in the format.
9 Gylwain, Casting Director
The new Role mechanic introduced in Wilds of Eldraine is a nice way of exploring the Aura card type without the usual two-for-one risks associated with it, and Gylwain is the card that makes the best use of it by far. Whenever he or another of your non-token creatures comes into play, you can assign it one of three Roles: Royal, Sorcerer, or Monster.
This lets you choose between protection, card selection, and evasion, meaning you can tweak your new creatures to suit your immediate needs and the current play situation. It also gives you a huge number of Auras over time, which plays well with cards like Ancestral Mask.
8 Knickknack Ouphe
X spells are better in Commander than in any other format, since games tend to go long, and having outlets for the huge reserves of mana you build up is vital to swing things in your favour towards the end. Knickknack Ouphe is a stellar example of such an outlet, serving as a big vanilla creature and a means of putting a batch of useful Auras into play in one compact package.
Since Ouphe puts the Auras it reveals directly into play, it can stack them all on itself, creating a huge one-card threat. Alternatively, it can place them on a creature you already have in play, essentially giving those Auras haste, since the creature that receives them will be able to attack immediately.
7 Liberated Livestock
Flavour doesn’t always match up with mechanics in Magic, but thankfully Liberated Livestock’s incredible art and creature type are supported with an equally incredible ability. When the Livestock dies, it splits into its three constituent parts: a Cat, a Bird, and an Ox.
This gives you an animal army in a can, but most importantly it also lets you cheat out an Aura from your hand or graveyard onto each of your new tokens when they enter play. The potential for shenanigans here is huge, with the likes of Eldrazi Conscription serving as high-profile targets that can turn your humble tokens into brutal engines of destruction.
6 Ellivere Of The Wild Court
As the cover card of Virtue and Valor, Ellivere is naturally one of the standout inclusions in the deck as a whole. Not only is she a very solid 4/4 for four mana, but she’s also the sole purveyor of the Virtuous Role token, an incredibly powerful Role that grants +1/+1 for each enchantment you control.
Ellivere generates these Roles when she enters and attacks, so it won’t be long before your opponents are staring down a board full of colossal beaters. And, as if this cake needed more icing, she also provides card draw whenever your enchanted creatures get in for damage, which can mitigate some of the card disadvantage innate to Auras as an archetype.
5 Unfinished Business
Five mana has been the going rate for an unrestricted reanimation spell for a while now, but Unfinished Business isn’t interested in the going rate. Not only do you get any creature card from your graveyard for five mana here, you also get two Auras or Equipment cards as well, to complement your recently-exhumed ally.
In a deck built around either or both of these card types, Unfinished Business is a huge three-for-one value card. You can essentially treat it as a five mana build-a-bomb card, letting you rescue creatures and Auras you’ve lost to removal or board wipes in new, more dangerous combinations.
4 Giant Inheritance
At face value, Giant Inheritance doesn’t look very exciting. +5/+5 is an acceptable buff for five mana, and the extra Monster Roles you can generate on attacking with it are a decent bonus, but the card is a bit too fair to be viable in the surprisingly cutthroat world of Commander. Or at least it would be, were it not for its final line of text.
Like Rancor before it, Giant Inheritance returns to your hand after being put into your graveyard from the battlefield, ready for your next creature in line to inherit its abilities. This takes it from middling to a powerful value card, capable of keeping your Aura engine running even in the face of countless removal spells.
3 Songbirds’ Blessing
Virtue and Valor is full to the brim with Aura support, and Songbirds’ Blessing may just be the best example of that. Not only is it an Aura itself, enabling the many synergies that the deck offers to the card type, but it also generates more Auras for you each time the creature enchanted with it swings in.
Four mana is steep for an Aura that offers no stat bonuses or keyword abilities by itself, but assuming you can play it on a creature that can attack right away Blessing will quickly correct that issue. There are no mana value restrictions on the Auras you can cheat out with it either, meaning it can pay for itself in a single turn in many scenarios.
2 Loamcrafter Faun
There was a time in Magic when it would’ve been unthinkable to discard your precious land cards. With the advent of cards like Crucible of Worlds and Ramunap Excavator, there’s now a good selection of ways to get them back if you decide to do so. It’s still a risky play, of course, though in the case of Loamcrafter Faun that risk is mitigated by the powerful effect you get in return.
For each land card you discard to the Faun’s effect, you get one nonland permanent back from your graveyard. This can grab anything from Auras to instants, acting as a kind of spectral toolbox effect provided you have lands in hand you don’t mind parting with. Despite its low mana cost, this is one you’ll want to hold on to until later in the game.
1 Ox Drover
One of the very few cards in Virtue and Valor that doesn’t interact with Auras at all, Ox Drover is instead a kind of political value engine, selling Oxen to your opponents in exchange for cards with every attack he makes. This is an easy way to make friends, particularly in a game with aggressive early players where the 2/4 body of an Ox can really make a difference.
Since the Drover himself can’t be blocked by the Oxen he creates, he can attack freely into opponents he helps out, but you’re better off using him in a Group Hug strategy to curry favour while filling your own hand at the same time. As long as your opponents don’t look a gift Ox in the mouth, you’ll get a great deal of value out of this card.
NEXT: Magic: The Gathering – The Best Commanders In Wilds Of Eldraine