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Auramaster Light-Paws


Scottish Landscape by Robert S. Duncanson (1871). Ajani, Wise Counselor by Eric Deschamps.

Today's column is going to feature a lot of White Auras. There may be other cards, some lands, probably an Esper Sentinel, but if I'm not leaning heavily on Auras I'll be doing something wrong. That's because today's subject is going to let you tutor for an aura every time you cast an aura. Yes, you read that correctly - this lovable, adorable Fox is giving White its biggest voltron threat since Sram, Senior Edificer.

Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice

Are we really building mono-White enchantress voltron with a Fox in the command zone? Heck yeah we are - let's get brewing!

A Word About Stax

The first thing I'd like to mention is that Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice is being talked about in cEDH circles as a potential stax commander with the potential to finish games with voltron commander damage.

Casting Auras with Light-Paws on the battlefield will let you tutor up an aura to put onto Light-Paws. The first Aura you cast does not have to attach to Light-Paws - just the Aura that gets tutored up by your crafty Fox's triggered ability. That means you can run with a mix of lockdown Auras designed to make your opponents have to struggle to get anything done alongside several highly effective Auras designed to make Light-Paws a real threat.

I'm not an expert on stax, but I can tell you that it's a lockdown strategy where you do everything you can to slow down the game and make your opponents have to work harder to progress their game plan and board state. The term is from Smokestack. If you're interested in a fully tuned cEDH or fringe cEDH viable Light-Paws stax deck, I guarantee you will be able to find lists and tutorials on the internet.

I don't mind playing removal and interaction; it's essential to playing against high-powered decks, but I am not into locking down my opponents and really hampering their ability to play the game. I famously loathe Elesh Norn and to a lesser extent most of the rest of the Praetors. I would rather lose a fun game where everyone had a chance to do stuff than win a game where I was the only one who really had a good time.

Today's deck might edge up towards a more oppressive style of play, with cards that can be very frustrating for your opponents. Including oppressive cards in a deck isn't the same as using those cards wisely and well, so if you do end up building and playing a staxy Light-Paws list I would urge you to think about how you are assessing threats and who you are playing this deck against.

Don't pubstomp a new player on a precon or casual deck with a game where every meaningful play gets hit with a Darksteel Mutation or Pacifism. New players might enjoy such a challenge, but many will be turned off from the format if their first few games are just incredibly frustrating.

Do use these powerful enchantments on cards that are true threats and problems. Nail that Tergrid, God of Fright to the wall. Lock down that Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. Make those patently unfair cards and overpowered commanders really have to work for their wins rather than just steamroll the table.

Lockdown Auras

The first category of auras I'll dig into are what I'm calling "lockdown" auras. I don't mean you're going to lock down the whole board, but you might look at these as ways to shut down a single problematic creature or permanent. Exactly which of these auras you run isn't as important as running some and having a good idea of what you're going to tutor up when they enter the battlefield.

Revoke Privileges
Darksteel Mutation

Auras that shut down creatures aren't all the same. Revoke Privileges might keep a creature from attacking, blocking or crewing vehicles, but that latter effect isn't going to matter very often. I threw it in because I think it's hilarious - "You attacked me last turn - I'm going to revoke your privileges!!!" There are better cards to be sure, but they all have their own weird quirks.

Darksteel Mutation is great because it removes the creature's abilities, types and subtypes, but you're also giving them a fantastic blocker for attackers on the ground that don't have trample, flying or some other form of evasion. I do recommend leaning towards lockdown auras that remove abilities because some cards and commanders really get hosed when they can't use their abilities. Arrest is a pretty good example - it doesn't mess around with making a bug or stopping the creature from crewing a vehicle. It just does what it does, and it does it well.

Faith's Fetters
Curse of Exhaustion
Overwhelming Splendor

You want to be able to deal with more than just creatures so a card like Faith's Fetters is worth a look. It will shut down a permanent from activating abilities, which might not seem like a big deal but if the ability does not produce mana - it's fair game. Door to Nothingness becomes a paperweight when hit with Faith's Fetters, and that's not nothing.

Auras that attach to players are also fair game as ways to trigger Light-Paws. Curse of Exhaustion will prevent enchanted player from casting more than one spell per turn. Overwhelming Splendor is a huge lockdown for a single player, but also costs a whopping 8 mana. This will seriously hamper almost anyone until they get rid of it.

The key to playing this deck is to know what you're going to fetch up when you cast an aura. This build isn't expecting to start killing people the turn Light-Paws comes out, but if left for a turn or two you should be able to present a real threat.

Voltron Auras

I learned from writing about a very powerful Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck how important it is to be efficient. You don't want to run a dozen cool voltron auras in this deck and it's possible I'm already running too many, but I also like some variety in how a deck plays out. That means maybe running a few extra voltron auras that could have been replaced with lockdown auras.

These don't all have to be tutor targets. You can tutor some of these up, but if you find one in your hand you can always cast it and tutor up yet another aura to attach to Light-Paws. The key is knowing what you want to get.

Mask of Law and Grace
Shield of Duty and Reason
Spirit Mantle

The first two cards shown above give protection from two colors. That means the enchanted creature can't be blocked, damaged or targeted by anything of that color. At a lot of tables, just one of those auras will give you free shots at someone, and if you have either in your hand you can cast it and tutor up the other one. Spectra Ward is also in the list and gives protection from all colors without removing Auras that are already attached. Spirit Mantle and Unquestioned Authority give protection from creatures, which means you can again swing freely at anyone you want.

So we've managed to make our adorable Fox unblockable. Now what?

Ethereal Armor
All that Glitters
Armored Ascension

Now we do what we can to make sure we can hit like a Mack truck. Any of these enchantments above could easily put Light-Paws at or over 7 power, and if we have two of them attached I expect to be able to put an opponent on a 2 turn clock.

Battle Mastery

Did I say a 2-turn clock? Well, with Battle Mastery attached, Light-Paws will have double-strike, so we'll be ready to just go around the table knocking people out. Those early protection auras are going to come in handy once it has become clear how deadly this commander can get.

I'm also going to run ways to make Light-Paws indestructible so that I can play a few boardwipes and still keep my commander on the field. My biggest concern will probably be the lack of ways to give a creature hexproof in White. I'll be running Swiftfoot Boots, and I could throw in a few instants if it proves to be a problem, but I wasn't able to dig up any White auras that grant hexproof.

Proper Sequencing

I don't yet know exactly how a winning game will play out with Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice, and I suspect it will change from table to table. I do know that the proper sequencing of auras will go a long way towards getting a win. You'll want to plan out your turns so that you don't look like a big threat until you're ready to swing for the fences. Hopefully by then it'll be too late.

If you're sitting with Overwhelming Splendor in hand, you could play it as soon as you have enough mana, which might not be soon. When you play it, you could pretty much tutor up any aura and attach it to Light-Paws. In the turns before your big play, if you cast something less scary, like Arrest, and tutor up Shield of Duty and Reason, you'll be protected against getting hit with a Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, Beast Within, or any other Green or Blue removal spell. If you can manage to cast something else and drop a Battle Mastery onto Light-Paws, you'll be ready for your next turn. Cast Overwhelming Splendor, tutor up Eldrazi Conscription and knock some poor tablemate out.

Idyllic Tutor
Enlightened Tutor
Three Dreams

This deck is running a handful of enchantment tutors, and the most interesting might be Three Visits. You might be able to cast it, but the key question is whether you can start killing opponents on your next turn if Light-Paws survives.

Casting three auras will put SIX auras onto Light-Paws, assuming none of them get countered or removed. If those auras are Mask of Law and Grace, Ethereal Armor and Armored Ascension, and you tutor up All That Glitters, Shield of Duty and Reason, and Battle Mastery, you'll be swinging with a Light-Paws that is probably at least a flying 20/20 with double-strike and protection from every color but White. If you played other auras earlier in the game, it'll only be scarier. Every game is different, but if Light-Paws sticks around for more than a turn or two and you've got any luck with your opening hand and your card draw, I think you should be able to really push out lethal commander damage.

The bottom line is that you don't have to be swinging for crazy amounts of damage. Just make sure you know what your options are when you cast an enchantment, and remember that there isn't always a single "best" option.

Daybreak Coronet
Battle Mastery

Let's imagine you have Light-Paws on the field, ready to attack and you draw Sunbond to start off your turn. Sunbond will put a +1/+1 counter on your commander for each life you gain, which is just fantastic in a voltron deck that cares about gaining life. Do you tutor up Daybreak Coronet, which gives +3/+3, first strike, vigilance and lifelink? That would let you hit for 5, gain 5 life and put 5 counters on Light-Paws! Sunbond has a mana value of 4, so you could also tutor up Battle Mastery, which gives double strike. With no lifelink, your opponents might look at Sunbond and figure it's not an issue. If you can then cast another low mana aura (at least 2 mana value) you can then grab Daybreak Coronet and swing for some real damage. Your first strike damage will gain you life, put counters on Light-Paws, and let your regular combat damage be much, much bigger. If you survive to the next turn you'll be knocking people out for sure.

The key with your sequencing is that you don't want to appear to be too scary until it's too late. That means you don't play Light-Paws, cast some scary aura, tutor up another scary aura, and then hope you can make it to your next turn. You're unlikely to get haste or hexproof outside of Swiftfoot Boots, so unless you've loaded your list up with flash speed auras like Triclopean Sight and Benevolent Offering, it's best to try to fly under the radar.

You're just a White deck with a fox in the command zone. How dangerous could you really be?

Adorable Fox

The working title for this deck was initially "Adorable Fox is Adorable" and I'm still a bit torn about changing to a more sensible title. Foxes are adorable, but once you've opened up a few cans of whoop-ass in commander games, Light-Paws might seem a little less adorable and a little more terrifying - at least to your tablemates.

I didn't dig into ramp, draw and removal, but this first draft has all the staples you've grown to know and love (or loathe). I'm running White enchantress staples like Mesa Enchantress, Kor Spiritdancer and Sram. I've got some backup threats like Sunscorch Regent and ways to play the old protect-and-wrath game that White plays so well. This deck's goal isn't really to turbo out a fast victory, but to play a little defense and set up for a turn where it becomes crystal clear that you can kill someone at the table.

If you wanted to tune this deck up, you'd want to throw in some fast mana and you might go grab Serra's Sanctum. It's got a hefty price tag, but it'll pull its weight in a list like this. I would absolutely play this first draft and I expect it would be fun, but I can already see some other directions to go with it. A more oppressive build with just a few key voltron auras and a ton of lockdown auras might be fun for me, but not much fun for my tablemates. I suspect I'd be more likely to look at running as many flash auras as possible to turn my auras and my aura tutoring into an instant-speed combat trick. I bet that would be a lot of fun. I could also see running auras that can be bounced back to your hand so you can cast them again as well, though with enough auras in the list they might not be worth running.

Final Thoughts

If you've read my writing about Commander at all, you know that I don't believe EDH decks are ever "done" or "perfect" and that a huge part of the fun of this hobby is tweaking and tinkering with decks I've already been playing. That evolution is often towards making them more powerful, but I also find that there's a sweet spot to be found where a deck is good enough to be competitive but not so good that I feel guilty playing it because it's just too powerful.

Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice looks to be that rare mono-White commander that can be built to be oppressive and built to be powerful, but can also be tuned down to be playable at nearly any power level. Does your playgroup love janky weird builds and 3-hour games? I'm sure you can find all manner of weird old auras to throw into your Light-Paws list so you can have fun, long, low powered games. Does your group skew towards higher powered play? You'll never get tired of casting Overwhelming Splendor and tutoring up Eldrazi Conscription.

I don't think this deck has quite the ceiling that a deck like Bruna, Light of Alabaster or some of the other Enchantress heavyweights have, but the drawback of being in mono-White might not be so bad if you're able to tutor up a new aura with every aura you cast.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert with building Enchantress decks, so if you see anything glaring that I've missed please feel free to comment. I'm sure there are niche auras-matter cards that just weren't on my radar when I threw this list together.

Would you run more protection, more wraths, and just make your opponents beg for the game to be over? Would you run Sunbond and Battle Mastery alongside Spirit Link and Spirit Loop to just gain all the life and lean on Aetherflux Reservoir as a backup wincon? Tell me how you'd put your own spin on Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice!

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

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