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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff


Hello Folks!

Well, it’s Aether Revolt spoiler season. Know what that means? That’s right it’s time to look at new cards and consider ways to actually use them in decks! I saw this card and knew that I wanted to build a Commander deck around him:

There are a bunch of ways to use that Sram that pop to my mind! But what am I looking for? What is inspiring me today?

So is this an equipment deck that uses cards like Stonehewer Giant and Auriok Steelshaper? Is it an aura deck that runs auras for either removal (Faith's Fetters) or for pumpage like Angelic Destiny? Or is this a vehicle minded deck with some fun vees and Pilots? What are we doing?

Well it’s not vehicle themed. If I wanted a vehicle deck, I’d just run Depala, Pilot Exemplar, right? Sram could fit into a Depala build, but I don’t see him as a better leader for it. And if it’s just equipment, then an obvious question would be why would I run Sram, Senior Edificer over something like Nahiri, the Lithomancer, Raksha Golden Cub, or Kemba, Kha Regent? All of those seem like really useful equipment leaders that may offer more than Sram.

But what we don’t have are any Mono-White leaders that care about enchantments generally or auras specifically. So I see Sram as a very interesting aura-based leader.

Note that Sram is worded a little differently than you might imagine. He is a cast trigger, not an enters-the-battlefield one.

So how would I build a Sram Aura deck? Maybe like this!

Kor Spiritdancer
And there we have it!

The obvious place to start with Sram is rocking his aura loving. Now there are some great aura support cards out there in White. Some are obvious, like Kor Spiritdancer. But there are some others too. Consider Nomad Mythmaker. All it takes to bring back your best dead aura is a simple tap and an investment of a humble White mana. The aura comes right out onto the battlefield from the graveyard, and you can slap it on anything, even something that has shroud or hexproof. You can also recur an aura from an opponent’s graveyard as well. Put her Rancor on your Sram. You control the aura when it comes into play, no matter who actually owns it.

Making Myths Indeed

In fact, I could see Nomad Mythmaker as a card in Amonkhet if it has an aura theme. After all, the reprinting of Ornithopter in Aether Revolt as both a card and a Masterpiece suggests that they are willing to print on flavor and thematic cards that have lesser secondary market values, and not every Masterpieces is going to include the pure gold we saw in Kaladesh. So I could see cards like Greater Auramancy, Land Tax, Sylvan Library, Endless Horizons, and Celestial Mantle, all of which have high values in the enchantment and aura world, alongside some cheaper enablers like Nomad Mythmaker that hasn’t seen print in years and years.

Totem-Guide Hartebeest
Anyways, back on task. There are a bunch of other enablers you expect here as well, from Heliod's Pilgrim to Totem-Guide Hartebeest to Three Dreams to Retether. All here for your amusement.

And since I was front loading the auras anyways, I might as well hit up the normal enchantment chorus as well, aye? I mean, Replenish is just as good as Retether in an aura deck. But if I have some non-auras, then it’s improved considerably. In leapt enchantments such as Ghostly Prison, Sphere of Safety, and Sigil of the Empty Throne. The usual suspects.

After that I wanted to keep to the theme, so I included enchantment support cards everywhere I could. I ran the valuable trio of Seal of Cleansing, Aura of Silence, and Act of Authority to take out opposing enchantments and artifacts. We need to make sure we aren’t just fiddling around drawing cards, but also doing something proper and useful. Due to their enchantment status, you can fetch them with Idyllic Tutor, draw a card with Mesa Enchantress, recur them with Lotus-Eye Mystics, make a 2/2 token creature with Ajani's Chosen, make a 4/4 Angel token with Sigil of the Empty Throne and more. You get the idea. About to Replenish anyway? Might as well sacrifice a Seal or Aura to destroy something for free, as it’ll pop right back out. And you can see Soul Snare in here for similar reasons. Need lands? Then I’m running Land Tax and Endless Horizons.

Three Dreams
Now there is one other permanent type we are running too. Creatures! We need creatures, right? As a general rule I want any of my decks have treats, feats, and beats. Feats are the core of what your deck does. Here, the feats are the powerful interactions of Sram and auras/enchantments. So Nomad Mythmaker, Sram, Umbra Mystic, and Three Dreams are all feats. Then treats are those extras special powerful cards that support your key structures. Removal. Card drawing. Protection. They aren’t core to your deck’s identity like a feat, but they are an extra little treat on the side. And beats are the winning conditions. The creatures that bulk up your stuff.

And then problem with auras and enchantment enablers is that we often rely too much on the feats that we forget about the beats. Sure, you can absolutely win with Sigil of the Empty Throne and a bunch of 4/4 Angel tokens. But that’s not liable to be your typical path to victory. So what is?

The problem with this deck is that all of the feats and treats tend to be pretty small. Here’s another 1/2 Heliod's Pilgrim! Look at that powerful 0/2 Mesa Enchantress! You get it. So I am running some bigger beats as well, in order to give Sram some push in the red zone. Luckily, White has a lot of options. The first candidates I dug up were some bigger flyers like Emeria Shepherd and Eternal Dragon. The ED is great because it’s both a 5/5 flyer, and you can recur it if you have some mana during your upkeep. And don’t sleep on how plainscycling can help this deck. Speaking of Plains, Emeria Shepherd is a house in any Mono-White deck. With most of the lands in this deck Plains, it’s just broken. Did you play a Plains? Then return any creature from your graveyard to the battlefield straight away and collect $200. Did you drop a non-Plains instead? Ah well, you can just bring the creature card to your hand instead of the battlefield — still a major late-game swing. It’s a heavy win-con, and it’s a 5/5 flyer. Check out Emeria, the Sky Ruin as well for a similar threat.

Evangel of Heliod
Meanwhile I have the underappreciated Quarry Colossus running around. Not only are you getting a sizeable 5/6 beater, but you get to tuck away a nasty creature for a number of turns equal to your Plains count. In this deck, with its 30 Plains, that’s a lot of turns! Evangel of Heliod was put in here to help the deck go wide instead of up. Sometimes people have answers for one or two big creatures, like a Maze of Ith. So you can just play the Evangel, create a virtual nightmare of 1/1 token creatures for the swinging, and get in a kill by outflanking your foes rather than out smashing them. (Another win-con is Commander Eesha. Hold the fort until you get a powerful aura, slap that aura on Eesha, and then swing with the unblockable creature for serious damage.)

This deck feels like a bit of a mana guzzler — right? Yeah, I hear you. If you get a bunch of drawing machines going, then you are going to be needing a serious injection of mana to play your stuff. For this role, check out cards like Serra's Sanctum and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. If you want, you could certainly delve into Caged Sun or Extraplanar Lens territory (run Snow-Covered Plains if you head the Lens route so your foes won’t get benefits from their Plains).

You’ll also note that I’m running cycling lands as well as many land-fetchers like Oreskos Explorer. Anything for card drawing and land grabbing!

Note that we’ve laid the groundwork, what auras triggered my fancy?

Some are simple to see, like Angelic Destiny and Celestial Mantle. Pack that onto Commander Eesha! My first impression was to follow what Three Dreams tells you to do in the flavor text:

Choose one to heal, one to harm, and one to grant you the prudence to use them.

So my “heal” auras are the ones that will help my team like we just saw. But I have some “harm” auras as well. Ever since Serra Bestiary and Pacifism, White has owned this aura-based “You cannot use this creature,” effects. From simple ordinances against attacking all the way to a total exiling of the creature until the enchantment is destroyed, we have a number of these answers. I wanted to grab some of these, like Faith's Fetters and Prison Term. Note that Prison Term has always been a very compelling aura, since you can move it to bigger targets as the game continues, unlike most other removal-enchantments which cannot be reset. And Hobble is great because it replaces itself, and even if the enchanted creature is not Black, it still can’t attack you, so you can relax. And if it is Black, well, that’s so much the better! But it’s a free aura, so you have that going for it.

Harm it up!

Sage's Reverie
Check out — Sage's Reverie. It’s a cheap aura that gives you serious card advantage as long as you have a few other auras out there on creatures. And it pumps your dork as well. You could easily have +3/+3 and three cards drawn for the 4 mana investment, and that’s a normal scenario. Best case is 5 or 6 cards and bonus to your dork. That’s often-overlooked card just recently added to Magic’s shelf. It was Standard legal just a few months ago!

Oh, and playing into the “prudence” theme, we have Vow of Duty, which could be placed on either one of your own creatures to amp it up or on a foe’s to keep it from coming your way.

Only a few more support cards are needed and we are good to go!

When you see me running a Mono-White deck, and the only Elspeth I am rocking is Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and not the mega-powerful Elspeth, Sun's Champion one, then you know something’s up! And this is a good place to abuse the K-E edition of Elspeth, given it is smaller creature nature, and the indestructible ultimate would be a welcome addition to this deck. No other Mono-White ‘walker has a better ultimate for this deck than K-E. Given both of her support abilities tick her loyalty up, and this deck has a bit of a defensive theme, and she could be your best friend very quickly.

And that’s pretty much a deck folks! I’m not going to belabor every card choice, I’m sure you can figure out why I’m running Temple of the False God, Heliod, God of the Sun, Opalescence and similar cards, right?

Given that, what are some other cards I was thinking about? All of these cards were on my radar, but I ultimately left off for various reasons.

Now there’s another way to build with Sram. He likes equipment? Auras? You could build a Voltron style deck that seeks to equip heavy hitters on Sram, like Strata Scythe along with the great auras above. All with the goal of killing with Sram in as few hits as possible with Commander damage. I’m not normally a fan of a lot of Voltron builds, specifically those that are hard to interact with (I’m looking at you; Uril, the Miststalker. You are a bad Commander). But ones like Krond the Dawn-Clad or Bruna, Light of Alabaster, where I can kill someone who goes off the rail too quickly or too powerfully. Certainly building up a Grizzly Bears to the point where you can smash and kill reliably strikes me as pretty fun!

You could run the above deck, with a few changes — add in both enablers such as Ironclad Slayer and Sigarda's Aid and pull aura-only love and enchantment-only love, and keep going! Open the Vaults instead of Replenish. You get the idea. Smashing fun times commence! I think it would be a fun contest to see who could get the biggest Sram smash with just their Mono-White build.

So what are you looking at doing with your Sram? Anything in here you liked or inspired you? And as always, thanks ever so much for reading!

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