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Aurelia's Angelic Army


I was recently playing Commander and was having a bit of a rough go, as each of us do at various times. While everyone who plays knows they can't win every game, there are those stretches when it just feels like you can't win any game. Not surprisingly, I did what most of us do, I went to one of my stronger decks. I still didn't get the win, but I felt more engaged in the game as I forced the play, and came close to winning at two different points in the game. So, how is this unusual or noteworthy?

I was running my Boros deck.

Tajic, Blade of the Legion is a beast, and the deck runs well. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I think the major ones are: Tajic can get big out of nowhere, and rw decks are treated like a second-class citizen in Commander games. Everyone knows Boros is not the strongest color pair. I'm not here to try and argue otherwise. It can struggle to draw cards and ramp its mana, so you know it will have problems. This leads players to undervalue any Boros deck and just assume that a mass board removal later in the game will put the Boros player on the back foot, and leave them vulnerable for the rest of the game.

Another problem Boros decks tend to have is that it gives you fewer opportunities to look smart and every player likes to look smart. They want everyone at the table to look admiringly at a play that you made and be impressed with how you built and played the deck to get to that point. I completely get that, but getting to turn creatures sideways and run all kinds of cool and bizarre combat-related combos works for me. And besides, all of this leads me to get easy opportunities and a decent win percentage with a Boros deck!

This time around, I want to try someone different at the helm, so I looked to Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. Aurelia's new iteration continues the tradition of hammering at your opponents with creatures, but this time around, I'm focusing a little more on going wide than on trying to sneak commander damage in with Tajic.

Aurelia's Angelic Army | Commander | Bruce Richard

In the Web of War
I wanted to talk about a few of the lynchpin cards, and a few cards you don't see all that often, that should probably be in more decks.

In the Web of War shows up in plenty of decks, but it should probably be a lot more. Giving all your creatures haste demands that your opponents always be ready for the unknown to drop from your hand. It allows a newly cast commander to swing in immediately and with +2/+0 so the threat of commander damage can be real for many Red-aligned commanders. The potential to hit a creature combo out of nowhere also goes up with In the Web of War. When you think about all the sorcery speed spells that can drop ten or twelve creatures, In the Web of War can be downright terrifying when 30 damage for a bunch of 1/1 goblins or soldier tokens that weren't there at the start of the turn can happen any time!

For this deck, In the Web of War makes Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice a commander that can threaten commander damage. It also means that Aurelia can often get +1/+1 counters on even your big creatures, since it can suddenly have 6 power. I particularly like it because it means there are times when you can swing and mentor one creature while giving Aurelia's bump and vigilance to a different creature. In the Web of War gives the deck a layer of variety that it doesn't get otherwise, and weaving a tangled web is not only good for Dimir!

Crash Through is another card I like. While it's no Overrun, it does offer trample to all your creatures for only one Red mana. This will surprise most opponents, particularly when they are looking to chump in the later stages of the game. That ability by itself just isn't enough to justify an entire card though. In the early turns, you likely only have very low power creatures and not that many of them. Trample just isn't all that interesting in the early game. In those game situations, you are spending one Red mana to cycle the card away to dig a little deeper. Remember just a few sets ago when we were all happy to spend two mana to cycle a card? The worst case scenario for this card is that it allows you to cycle it away for only one mana.

In this deck, Crash Through is not something anyone will be expecting, particularly if the deck appears to do little more than produce a bunch of 1/1 tokens. The deck has several ways to see even these small creatures grow, beyond the mentor ability on Aurelia. When Mirror Entity buffs your little guys and one red mana gives them all trample and draws you a card, you can expect big things!

Tilonalli's Summoner
Tilonalli's Summoner is another newer card that I really like. If you are swinging on turn four with the Summoner, you have 4 lands, Tilonalli's Summoner and probably a mana rock. Tapping out on the attack will give you four 1/1 Elemental creature tokens, giving you the City's Blessing. Yes, you'll likely lose Tilonalli's Summoner playing it that early, but getting the City's Blessing can open up options for other cards, and just give you those four 1/1 creatures. If you wait just a little longer, perhaps Rogue's Passage or another card can protect Tilonalli's Summoner while you pile on plenty of new creatures.

All these 1/1 tokens will maximize Aurelia's mentor option, and work well with In the Web of War. I hope to give the Summoner a little evasion to reuse the X ability. I want my opponents to really feel the pressure from the Elemental tokens!

Divine Visitation should be in virtually every white deck that can make smaller token creatures. The 4/4 flying vigilant angels are simply crushing to opponents. A big part of the card that many are ignoring is the vigilance that it offers. Multiplayer games often mired down since no one is willing to tap their creatures to swing, knowing that three other players are waiting to pile into the breach in your defenses. This means that it often doesn't make sense to attack. With vigilant angels, you can swing and still have defenders. That is a lot of cake to have and eat!

In this deck, Divine Visitation gets stupid. Tilonalli's Summoner tokens become insane! Martial Coup offers a board wipe that gives you five or more 4/4 angels. Kjeldoran Outpost offers a lot more than a single 1/1 soldier! Cloudgoat Ranger might not have Kithkin to tap to help it fly, but you'll live with three 4/4 angels. This all ignores Assemble the Legion, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and other cards that all get glorious with Divine Visitation out there. I also included Mirror Entity in the deck to do a weak imitation of Divine Visitation, but it shows just how powerful the Visitation can be when Mirror Entity suddenly doesn't look all that impressive!

Mentor of the Meek
Mentor of the Meek is a card draw engine that everyone knows about, but few do anything about. This is a 2/2 creature that draws you cards when you play small creatures, something most White decks are already doing. This card is powerful and everyone knows it, and almost no one is willing to use a removal spell to get rid of it. There is practically no fear of White decks because everyone believes they are worthless. If the deck is lousy, why waste a card killing the Mentor? He probably isn't going to find anything particularly good anyway.

The Mentor thrives in this under-the-radar mentality. It doesn't have hexproof or any other innate protection, other than being part of a harmless White deck. Take advantage of this attitude and fill your hand as much as you can. When they realize that the reason White is weak is because of the card draw issues, it'll be too late and you can run them down!

Azor's Gateway is completely unappreciated for Commander. The real key to the Gateway is to play it without having any intention of trying to flip it. You want to treat it as a two-mana artifact that that allows you to loot a card every turn. In decks without access to a lot of card draw, Azor's Gateway offers an extra card every turn. Sure, the card you discard isn't going to your graveyard, but you aren't making too much use of your graveyard with this deck anyway. You can use this to find lands you need or to discard lands to find action cards. This is great!

And if you insist on going for the extra value, it just isn't that hard. Over the five turns you are looking at, your position will change dramatically, so you'll likely be want to discard different cards. I've flipped Azor's Gateway a few times now, and generally only the final flip is costing me a card I'd rather not lose. In return I'm getting enough mana to practically dump my hand!

I hope you take Aurelia for a spin in your next Commander game; or you can just take out the non-Standard legal cards and go for a Brawl game! Aurelia has all sorts of surprises!

Bruce Richard


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