La Campina Romana by Claude Lorrain (1639).
Maximize Velocity by Svetlin Velinov.
When picking my next subject from among the Commander Legends cards that our team here at CoolStuffInc.com hadn't yet covered, my interest in today's commander was piqued by the fact that it has three very special words in its text box.
Draw a card.
I recently built an Aegar, the Freezing Flame. I wasn't that interested in Aegar until I realized that it's got "draw a card" on it. I planned a deck built to draw cards by removing my opponents' creatures, added a few infinite mana combos and some ways to win with that mana, and ended up with a pretty sweet deck.
What I didn't realize immediately about today's commander is that it was actually from a precon deck. With the shift away from a single set of commander decks each year, I've fallen out of the habit of picking up one or two each year. Rather than rehash the precon or plan out some upgrades, I'm going to try to explore a higher-powered take on Wyleth. When I'm done, I'll do a quick check against the original precon list to see how much overlap there was.
While Aegar had a pretty easy path to drawing lots of cards, Wyleth might be a tougher nut to crack. I'll want to equip lots of Auras and Equipment and I'll obviously want to attack. It's particularly worth looking at what cards not in the precon would help push this deck over the top. I'm going to start by looking through recent sets to find cards the precon couldn't have included because they hadn't even been printed yet.
We haven't seen enough of Strixhaven spoiled to really dig into that set so I'm going to start with Kaldheim. Strixhaven's focus on instants and sorceries makes me think it might not have that much to give a deck like Wyleth.
It didn't take long to find a card that looks like it was designed with Wyleth, Soul of Steel in mind. Halvar, God of Battle is the very first card on Kaldheim's mythicspoiler.com page and boy does it fit. Halvar will give Wyleth or any other creature I control double-strike if it's enchanted or equipped. At the beginning of each combat, I'll also get to attach target Aura or Equipment attached to a creature I control to another target creature I control. Saving on equip costs is important for a deck like Wyleth, so that's every bit as important as getting double-strike.
Spectral Steel is a two-mana enchantment that not only gives the enchanted creature +2/+2, it can also be exiled out of the graveyard for another to return another Aura or Equipment from the graveyard to my hand. That might not matter much for equipment. Those fall off and stay on the battlefield when an equipped creature is killed, exiled or bounced. I'll be really happy to be able to have another way to get back a card like All that Glitters, which will go to the graveyard if its creature leave play..
Starnheim Courser is a cost reducer, but it can also serve as a mid-air speedbump. A flying blocker can sometimes be the difference between life and death, so having a support creature with wings is the kind of thing I'll gladly throw into this list.
This Dwarf Warrior might seem a little out of place, as this isn't a tokens deck, but Koll, the Forgemaster will bounce nontoken creatures to my hand when they die if they're enchanted or equipped. Kaldheim hasn't provided much in the way of equipment yet, but Goldvein Pick is well worth including. I expect to have ways to make Wyleth unblockable and when a creature equipped with Goldvein Pick does combat damage to a player, I'll get a Treasure token. That might not seem like a big deal, but at two mana and only one mana to equip, this is the kind of card that makes a lot of sense for Wyleth.
The best Kaldheim card for this deck might not be a creature, an aura or an equipment card. Axgard Armory will let me tutor for not one but two cards, provided one is an Aura and the other is an Equipment card. Hammer of Nazahn and All That Glitters? How about Sunforger and Spirit Mantle? There's no point in the game where I probably won't be able to think of two cards I'd be happy to tutor for.
If you're wondering why I didn't include the Red or White Rune enchantment, it's because while they replace themselves, they don't really do enough. Wyleth, Soul of Steel wants things attached to him, but the real advantage of runes is that you can use them to enchant equipment. Enchanting a piece of equipment means that if the equipped creature leaves the battlefield, the aura won't go to the graveyard. That's fine, but Wyleth won't draw an extra card for an aura that's not actually attached to him. The runes are good, but not great in Wyleth.
Wyleth was from a Commander Legends precon, but that precon deck didn't have any cards from Commander Legends in it other than Wyleth, Soul of Steel. That means there are lots of cards worth looking at for this rebuild.
If Armored Skyhunter sticks around for very long, there's a pretty good chance I'm going to get a bunch of auras and/or equipment from it. This Cat Knight's attack trigger lets me dig six cards into my library, put an aura or equipment from those cards onto the battlefield attached to a creature I control. Since I control my triggers, I'm pretty sure I can put this one before Wyleth's trigger, meaning that when Wyleth goes to check how many cards I get to draw it will see the equipment put onto the field with Skyhunter.
Partners came back in a big way in Commander Legends, and Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist is a perfect fit for Wyleth. At the beginning of combat on my turn Ardenn lets me attach any number of Auras and Equipment to target creature. If Wyleth found his way back to the command zone and gets recast, equip costs will be an issue. Ardenn solves that issue quite nicely.
Reyav, Master Smith is a Dwarf Artificer that will give my enchanted and my equipped creatures double-strike when they attack. At two mana () with no need to pay any equip cost, this Dwarf Artificer might not make Wyeth draw me more cards but it's too good a fit to not include.
While I've been hyper-focused on cards that care about auras and equipment, there are cards in Commander Legends that fit in nicely with what Wyleth is trying to do. Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar will let any damage I do with Wyleth also get dealt to my other opponents. That damage won't be commander damage, but if Wyleth is getting through that extra damage could matter. Jeska, Thrice Reborn is a brutally effective way to take a 7 power unblockable Wyleth, presumably from an assortment of auras and equipment, and turn it into a lethal threat. With double-strike, Wyleth would only need to be at 4 power to be a lethal threat with help from Jeska.
Akroma's Will might not seem like an obvious include for this deck, but when you think about the problems a voltron deck has to deal with, it makes a lot of sense. Opponents are going to want to hit Wyleth with removal before you go to combat just to stop you from drawing cards. They might ask who you're going to attack or they might just decide it's safer to deal with Wyleth regardless of who you're going to be swinging at. For four mana, Wyleth will get flying, vigilance, double strike, lifelink, indestructible AND protection from all colors until end of turn. Not only will that protect your commander, you'll probably be able to swing without worrying about blockers, you'll be gaining a bunch of life and you won't have to tap Wyleth to attack so you'll have another blocker available to defend with. Four mana is a lot, but you'll be getting a lot in return.
There are lots of other cards we can include to round out this list. I'm going to call out cards that weren't in the precon as it doesn't seem to make sense to just trot out cards that were in that list.
Making Wyleth survive combat is incredibly important for this deck. In Commander there will nearly always be a player with at least one nonbasic land so Trailblazer's Boots ought to let Wyleth get through my opponents' defenses. Prowler's Helm will let Wyleth only be blocked by Walls, which again should give us at least one opponent we can swing freely at. Hammer of Nazahn will make Wyleth indestructible, but just as importantly it will let us attach our equipment for free.
Hyena Umbra might not make Wyleth unblockable or indestructible, but if Wyleth is going to die, this card's totem armor ability will result in Hyena Umbra falling off and Wyleth surviving. Given how many auras we might lose and how inconvenient it would be to have to re-equip all of my equipment, leaning on Totem Armor to protect Wyleth makes a certain amount of sense.
If I'm sure Wyleth won't survive combat, both Reconnaissance and Maze of Ith can remove him from combat before damage. If I don't need to worry about Wyleth surviving, I can actually wait until damage has been dealt and then untap and remove him from combat during the end of combat step. It's a weird way to give Wyleth vigilance, but it works.
I'm going to run a mix of creatures, enchantments and auras. Eidolon of Countless Battles might only care about two of those three, but it should still be able to give Wyleth a decent power boost. Daybreak Coronet gives three highly relevant abilities along with +3/+3. The drawback is that it can only enchant a creature that already has another aura attached to it. If those seem underwhelming, Eldrazi Conscription should make up for it. A late game topdeck of this hefty enchantment could easily push Wyleth to the point of being a real problem for whoever he's swinging at.
What About Red
I've listed a ton of White and White/Red cards, but not a lot of Red. I'm wanting this deck to have a decent spread of cards between its two colors, so I'm going to run some Red cards that should help my gameplan. I want to go to combat with an enchanted and/or equipped Wyleth so that I can draw cards. Wyleth's trigger isn't a combat damage trigger, so double-strike is good but it won't let me draw more cards. What will let me draw more cards is getting extra combat steps.
Waves of Aggression is a uniquely good fit for Wyleth. If all goes well, I should be drawing cards every combat. Waves of Aggression can be cast out of the graveyard at the cost of discarding a land card and paying its mana cost. I'm not building any infinite mana combos into this list, but infinite mana could just win you the game with repeated attacks and castings of Waves of Aggression. You just attack until your opponents are all dead. We'll be playing fair, but should still have plenty of turns where we can pay this card's casting cost and discard a land to get another combat phase.
Another potential source of repeated combat phases is Aggravated Assault. This enchantment costs three mana, and will probably draw more attention than Waves of Aggression. For five mana, you can get an extra combat step. These two cards are excellent excuses to run Sword of Feast and Famine, which will untap my lands when the equipped creature does combat damage. It may not be an infinite mana combo, but it should give me as many attacks as I need if nobody has any interaction to stop me.
Before you start wondering how I forgot to add in Stoneforge Mystic and Stonehewer Giant, you can rest assured those amazing creatures are both in this list. I threw in Dockside Extortionist, Smothering Tithe, and a few other obvious includes for what turned out to be an equipment heavy Voltron list.
Why Not Wyleth | Commander | Stephen Johnson
- Commander (1)
- 1 Wyleth, Soul of Steel
- Creatures (20)
- 1 Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
- 1 Armored Skyhunter
- 1 Brass Squire
- 1 Danitha Capashen, Paragon
- 1 Dockside Extortionist
- 1 Halvar, God of Battle
- 1 Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar
- 1 Keeper of the Accord
- 1 Kemba, Kha Regent
- 1 Koll, the Forgemaster
- 1 Kor Cartographer
- 1 Moraug, Fury of Akoum
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Reyav, Master Smith
- 1 Sram, Senior Edificer
- 1 Starnheim Courser
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Stonehewer Giant
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Tiana, Ship's Caretaker
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Jeska, Thrice Reborn
- Instants (9)
- 1 Akroma's Will
- 1 Chaos Warp
- 1 Deflecting Palm
- 1 Deflecting Swat
- 1 Master Warcraft
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Teferi's Protection
- Enchantments (8)
- 1 Aggravated Assault
- 1 Eldrazi Conscription
- 1 Hyena Umbra
- 1 Reconnaissance
- 1 Sigarda's Aid
- 1 Smothering Tithe
- 1 Spectral Steel
- 1 Spirit Mantle
- Artifacts (18)
- 1 Arcane Signet
- 1 Blackblade Reforged
- 1 Bloodforged Battle-Axe
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Captain's Claws
- 1 Explorer's Scope
- 1 Goldvein Pick
- 1 Hammer of Nazahn
- 1 Hero's Blade
- 1 Prowler's Helm
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Sword of the Animist
- 1 Thought Vessel
- 1 Trailblazer's Boots
- 1 Umezawa's Jitte
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the stock precon list for Wyleth had a lot of great cards in it already. Wizards of the Coast has taken Commander a lot more seriously in recent years and it shows in their precon products. I was not expecting to see Sram, Senior Edificer, Master Warcraft, Blackblade Reforged, Slayer's Stronghold, and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion in this list. The precon is far from a perfect deck, but it's clearly well thought out with lots of good choices.
I'm fond of decks that have ways to really push the power envelope, so I really like the combat steps wincon I've put together with Sword of Feast and Famine and either Aggravated Assault or Waves of Aggression. I particularly like the latter because you'll have to keep drawing into lands with Wyleth's attack trigger if you want to keep the combat steps coming. I like when something isn't a guarantee because when it works it feels all the more special.
I have to admit that I find it a little unsettling how easy Wizards is making it to draw cards. Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait is ridiculous at drawing cards. Aegar, the Freezing Flame can turn a damage-based board wipe into more cards than you'll know what to do with. Now Wyleth, Soul of Steel has made it so a Boros deck just needs to load up Wyleth with equipment and then attack to draw back to at least a full hand. It's amazing, but it also means that older legendary cards won't be able to keep up and we'll all have to keep buying new product just to keep up with our tablemates and their fantastic new decks.
A while back I wrote a column about Aesi and how I finally broke down and bought that precon in order to "keep up with the Joneses". I'm pretty happy with this list I came up with, and if you enjoy playing Boros and you enjoy voltron decks with a lot of equipment, I think you can do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Wyleth and building around him. I've never seen a better Boros general for drawing cards, and drawing cards with a well-built deck can absolutely help you win games.
That's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading and I'll see you back here soon!