The gloom seems to settle on the party like a sheet thrown over a child. As hopelessness settles in, your companions are unsure if you can continue in the face of such evil. You know you must act fast. If any of you turn back now, the others will lose their resolve as well.
You look down to see your sword securely fastened to your belt. A faint light is leaking from its sheath. You draw it high above your head and see that the light is radiating from the blade itself. As it shines on each of your faces, you feel your courage return. Holding the weapon ahead of yourself, you lead the party onward: to their triumph or to their demise.
Are you ready to upgrade another Commander precon? Magic: the Gathering’s newest expansion is called Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Appropriately, it takes place in the universe of Dungeons and Dragons. Alongside the main set, Wizards of the Coast is also releasing four pre-constructed Commander decks. One of which is called Aura of Courage. It is themed around wielding powerful weapons and enchantments to overpower your opponents.
In this Aura of Courage upgrade guide, I will offer ideas for cards to add to your new precon, as well as cards to remove from it. Additionally, I will highlight new cards that are coming out with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
A Brief Note on Budget
In the interest of being thorough, I am not placing any kind of budget restriction on these decks. Some of the cards I recommend might be pretty expensive. Whenever possible, I will try to recommend less pricey alternatives.
In addition to that, I will not be providing complete deck lists for any of the upgrade paths. This article is mainly intended to be a Brainstorm. Hopefully you can glean some new ideas for however you want to upgrade your own deck. Feel free to use any, all, or none of my ideas.
Lastly, I want to know if there were any upgrade ideas that I missed out on. It is unlikely that I found every possible card or strategy to upgrade Aura of Courage deck with. Please let me know in the comments what cool ideas you come up with that I left out.
Regardless of your budget or play style, this article will have a ton of great suggestions for powering up your Aura of Courage deck. If you would like to purchase the deck, you can order it on Amazon.
Aura of Courage Decklist
New cards might not be in the database yet. In that case you can find all new Forgotten Realms Commander cards here.
Aura of Courage – General Upgrades
Before I go into specific deck strategies, there are a few generic parts of the precon that need to be improved. These are things that could go in any version of the Aura of Courage deck. There are only a few, but I think we should cover them here before moving on.
The Mana Base
One of the big things that these precons need to improve is their mana base. Typically, these decks will have too many lands, and I would recommend taking out a few. This deck has thirty-eight. Honestly, that is probably close to perfect. Depending on how many other ramp spells you include and how low your mana curve is, you could take out one or two more. I would be very careful doing this, though, because it is easy to take out too many lands.
In any case, you will need to improve the quality of the lands in the deck. This deck includes sixteen lands that can tap for more than one color. It also has five lands that can fetch for a land and put it into play. Of these, ten of them always come into play tapped, four sometimes come into play tapped, and three fetch a land into play tapped. While you will probably always have the right colors, you lose quite a bit of tempo with so many tapped lands.
Thanks to the deck being three colors, the mana can be upgraded as much or little as you want. You could add original dual lands, check lands, or anything in between.
Here are the different categories of lands in the colors that could go in the Aura of Courage deck:
This is not even an exhaustive list of dual lands you could include in this deck. There are dozens of useful lands you could run, but this is a good baseline. If you can reliably cast your spells on curve, you’ve got a good mana base.
In addition to these, consider Hall of Heliod’s Generosity and Academy Ruins if they make sense with your deck. Also, Urza’s Saga, Inventor’s Fair, Buried Ruin, and Sequestered Stash could be helpful in a version that runs a lot of enchantment or artifact synergies.
For this specific deck, I will go over ramp in the upgrade path sections. Each individual strategy has a special way they can ramp, so I’ll discuss them separately.
General Commander Synergies
Almost all the upgrade paths that I will talk about in this article include at least a few Auras or Equipment. This means that the following cards will at least be a little bit helpful for you in each version of the Aura of Courage deck:
Also, since you are in Bant colors and might even want to be swinging with one big creature, Noble Hierarch is a great card to include. It helps fix your mana as well as pumps your threat.
What to Take Out
Precons tend to come with a few cards that don’t really fit in with the rest of the deck. These cards seem to be filling in the holes after the most important themes are established. Aura of Courage is no exception. Cutting these cards out of the deck makes more room to include cards from the specific upgrade strategies.
First and foremost, this deck has a sub-theme that revolves around rolling dice. I understand that this mechanic is new in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, but it doesn’t really progress the commander’s abilities at all.
If you want to build a dice-rolling deck around Galea, Kindler of Hope, feel free. I won’t be going over it in this upgrade article, though. Therefore, you can cut Valiant Endeavor, Diviner’s Portent, Netherese Puzzle-Ward, Song of Inspiration, Clay Golem, Ebony Fly, and Sword of Hours.
Next, Riverwise Augur is a pretty low-power inclusion in this deck. Sure, it counts as card draw, but you could include all kinds of better card draw spells. The only exception is if you choose to follow the Miracles upgrade path, which likes to be able to manipulate the top card of your library.
Lastly, you might want any version of this deck to have a few equipment or auras, since they play so conveniently with your commander. However, you are going to want the quality of the ones you include to be pretty high. There are a few that come with this precon that are probably bad in any strategy. Specifically, I think you can cut Viridian Longbow, Eel Umbra, and Explorer’s Scope.
This means that you might need to find other cards to help you with removal and ramp. However, you will probably be happier with any other card you find to fill these roles.
4 Ways to Upgrade Aura of Courage Precon
These are my four ideas for the Aura of Courage deck:
These are not the only ways to upgrade this deck, just the ones I came up with. If you think of another cool idea, let me know in the comments below.
At the beginning of each of the next sections, I included a range of numbers. That range is what I expect this deck to be able to perform at on a 1-10 power scale (Based on the power scale established by the Command Zone Podcast). For more information on the Commander power scale, you can take a look at the table below.
|1-2||Jank||Very little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.|
|3-4||Casual||Some synergies, but lacking the strong ones. The deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.|
|4-6||Focused||Synergy exists, the deck has a focused gameplan, although it doesn't always win in the exact same way, usually after turn 13. Includes staples and a small amount of tutors. On the same power level as most Commander precons.|
|7-8||Optimized||Powerful and varied synergies between the cards. A decent number of good tutors. Good mana curve. Has an efficient and consistent way to win on turns 10-12 (level 7) or 7-9 (level 8). Some social rules — like no mass land destruction, no consistent combo wins — still exist.|
|9-10||Competitive||The most powerful decks, on competitive EDH level. Quick and explosive, can win on turns 4-6 (level 9) or 1-3 (level 10). No social rules, no jank cards. Only the most powerful commanders and strategies can reach this level.|
Actual power levels may vary, but let those numbers be a guide when considering upgrading this deck in those ways.
1. Voltron (4-8)
There are two main ways to build a Voltron deck: Auras or Equipment. I think it is important to choose one or other. Trying to balance a deck with both puts strain on how many support pieces you are able to include and overall lowers the power level of the Aura of Courage deck. Focusing on either Auras or Equipment will give you the best results.
Either way, there are a few cards that should go in any version of a Voltron deck. For example:
These are cards that benefit both subtypes. No matter which Voltron strategy you focus on, these should probably go in the deck.
Finally, there’s one card that works great in any Voltron deck. The name “Voltron”, describes a deck that tries to suit up one creature to make it as big as possible and pound your opponents to a pulp with it. This means that Finest Hour is perfect for it. You get to pump your Voltron two times, not to mention swing with it twice in one turn. I would highly recommend this card for your Aura of Courage deck.
The Aura of Courage precon comes fairly well-equipped (pun intended) for an Equipment Voltron deck. The only cards I would consider adding are Stoneforge Mystic, Balan, Wandering Knight, Nazahn, Revered Blacksmith, and a handful of your favorite Equipment spells. Obviously, Hammer of Nazahn is a must if you plan to run the creature it’s named after, but here are a few others that are powerful:
- Blade of Selves
- Bloodforged Battle-Axe
- Helm of the Host
- Sword of Body and Mind
- Sword of Feast and Famine
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Hearth and Home
- Sword of Light and Shadow
- Sword of Sinew and Steel
- Sword of Truth and Justice
- Sword of War and Peace
- Trailblazer’s Boots
These cards have the power to quickly take over the game, even if you can only swing at one player per turn. Watch out, though, because if you start putting too many swords on one Creature, your opponents might start to get suspicious. You might also consider playing cards to protect your Voltron, like these:
With these spells, you should be able to protect your one creature long enough to finish your opponents off.
This version of the Aura of Courage deck will likely look similar to the Commander precon that was released a few years ago, called Adaptive Enchantment. The main idea will likely be to use “enchantresses” to draw you cards when you cast Enchantments. Then, your removal, ramp, and threats should all be enchantments, so you draw as many cards as possible and overwhelm your opponent. Finally, swing out with your gigantic threat to win the game.
Here are a few cards from each of the categories I just mentioned:
- Argothian Enchantress
- Eidolon of Blossoms
- Enchantress’s Presence
- Kestia the Cultivator
- Kor Spiritdancer
- Mesa Enchantress
- Satyr Enchanter
- Setessan Champion
- Shoal Kraken
- Sythis, Harvest’s Hand
- Tuvasa the Sunlit
- Verduran Enchantress
- Darksteel Mutation
- Deep Freeze
- Heliod’s Punishment
- Kasmina’s Transmutation
- Mystic Subdual
- Song of the Dryads
*Notice how much green mana you need for this ramp. Be sure to consider that when crafting your mana base. You will need plenty of green sources, and these enchantments can usually help you make the other colors you need.
New Cards From Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
There are a few great new Voltron pieces in this new set. Here are a couple notable ones:
What to Take Out
For this strategy, the cuts you make depend on which specific style of Voltron you go with. Obviously, if you choose to play Equipment, you should cut all the Auras. If you choose Auras, you should probably get rid of the Equipment (except for Holy Avenger) and cards that synergize with Equipment. This should hopefully free up enough deck slots for you to include all the cards that you want to from the appropriate upgrade path.
Additionally, there’s one card in this deck that needs a specific upgrade. Realm Cloaked Giant has an adventure that wipes the board except for Giants. Since you are playing a Voltron deck and your important creature is likely not a Giant, I think you need to trade this card out for either Tragic Arrogance, Slash the Ranks, Single Combat, or a combination of the three. These board wipes protect your one big creature while simultaneously dealing with your opponents’ threats.
2. Tribal (4-7)
Between the two commanders available in this precon, there are a few different creature types. Galea, Kindler of Hope is an Elf and a Knight. Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl is a Giant. Neither of these commanders care specifically about their creature types, but there is a surprising amount of synergy found in these tribes for what this deck is trying to do.
Regardless of which tribe you pursue, there are a few cards that are generically good in tribal strategies. Here are a few:
- Cavern of Souls
- Coordinated Barage
- Distant Melody
- Door of Destinies
- Herald’s Horn
- Icon of Ancestry
- Kindred Discovery
- Kindred Summons
- Obelisk of Urd
- Reflections of Littjara
- Unclaimed Territory
- Urza’s Incubator
- Vanquisher’s Banner
Obviously, this is too many cards. But you choose a handful of them that you think will helpful for the kind of deck you want to build. They will be valuable to whatever tribal deck you build.
First up, we are looking at the Elf tribe. Galea, Kindler of Hope is an Elf, but other than that doesn’t offer much in the realm of Elf synergy. Elves usually want to create a ton of mana, then finish their opponent off with a huge Overrun ability.
Here are some good examples of Elf cards:
- Allosaurus Shepherd
- Craterhood Behemoth
- Elvish Archdruid
- Elvish Harbinger
- Elvish Mystic
- Elvish Visionary
- Elvish Warmaster
- Heritage Druid
- Incubation Druid
- Llanowar Elves
- Marwyn, the Nurturer
- Quirion Ranger
- Wirewood Channeler
- Wood Elves
There has never been a Legendary Elf in Bant colors before, so building this deck could be a fun and unique experience. Let’s look at the Legendary Elves in Selesnya and Simic colors to get an idea of where to start.
Rhys the Redeemed is one of the most popular Selesnya Elf commanders. He makes Elf tokens, and a lot of them. This version of Aura of Courage precon upgrade will want to run Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, Primal Vigor, and Anointed Procession in addition to whatever other Elf synergies there are.
Elf decks that include blue are sometimes less about the Elves themselves, and more about taking advantage of Elves being small creatures that make mana. For example, Ezuri, Claw of Progress has an ability that gives you experience counters when you play any small creature. Elves are the perfect candidates for an Ezuri deck, since you can often cast tons of them, which gives you a lot of options for creatures to put counters on.
More interesting than Ezuri, though, is Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. This commander wants you to run a lot of multicolored cards, so that each one you cast can put another on into your hand. Since most Elves are only green, you will often end up tutoring a card to the top of your library.
This is less of a downside, though, if you have cards like Realmwalker, Future Sight, Vivien, Monster’s Advocate, or (if you are willing to break the tribe) Vizier of the Menagerie, Magus of the Future, or Garruk’s Horde.
An Elf deck in green, blue, and white would probably marry each of these strategies together. Use a bunch of mana dorks to be able to generate tons of mana. Then, make as many tokens as you can with doubling effects. Use top-deck manipulation as card advantage, so you always have another Elf to cast. Then, once you have a sufficient army built up, finish things off with Ezuri, Renegade Leader or Craterhoof Behemoth.
Lastly, there are a couple of Auras and Equipment that synergize well with Elves. These can help tie together Galea’s abilities and the tribal theme for the deck:
You can find more of the best tribal Elf cards for Commander here.
In Throne of Eldraine, the Knight tribe got a lot of support. Before that set, they were mostly confined to mono white, and didn’t have enough support pieces or Legendary Creatures to build a Commander deck out of. In Throne of Eldraine, the Knights tribe expanded into black and red, with some blue and green cards as well. Not only that, but Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale became the best option for a tribal Knights commander.
Galea, Kindler of Hope does not have as much tribal synergy as Syr Gwyn, but there are some Knights, especially from Alara block, that can’t go in a Mardu deck. So let’s look at a Bant tribal Knights build.
When I was first researching this upgrade path, I was surprised to find out how many Knights have useful abilities. It is very important for a tribal deck to have tribe members that do things that you already want your deck to be doing.
For example, Knight of the White Orchid searches your deck for a land and puts it into play (as long as you have an opponent with more lands that you). This is better than something like a Rampant Growth in some situations, since being a Knight is relevant after the land comes into play.
Here are some other Knights with useful abilities:
- Acclaimed Contender
- Cavalier of Dawn
- Cavalier of Gales
- Cavalier of Thorns
- Dauntless Bodyguard
- Gryff Vanguard
- Pentarch Paladin
- Steward of Valeron
- Syr Elenora, the Discerning
- Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
- Thalia’s Lancers
These cards double as ramp, removal, tutors, card draw, or whatever else. Running more of these means that more of your cards synergize with the theme of the deck, which makes your deck more powerful.
Another important characteristic of tribal decks are “Lords”. Lords are creatures that give a universal buff to all of your other creatures of the appropriate card type. For example, Knight Exemplar makes gives your Knights +1/+1 and Indestructible. These abilities are more powerful for every creature they effect on the board. Bant colors happen to have a good handful of Knight Lords:
- Basri’s Lieutenant
- Chieftain en-Dal
- Juniper Order Ranger
- Kinsbaile Cavalier
- Thistledown Liege
- Valiant Knight
- Wilt-Leaf Liege
There are a couple other notable Knights that don’t really fit into any of the above categories. They are simply powerful cards that happen to be Knights. I feel like they would round out a tribal Knights build really well:
In keeping with the theme of Galea, there are a couple equipment spells that care about Knights. They aren’t amazing, but they can help pump up one of your Creatures if you need:
You can also read more about the best MTG Knights here.
For this Aura of Courage upgrade, we are using the backup commander from Aura of Courage. Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl is a Giant that makes one creature big and one creature small when it enters the battlefield or attacks. It doesn’t explicitly care about Giants, but it is the game’s only Legendary Giant in Bant colors.
Like Knights, Giants got some recent support in Standard. Kaldheim was a set with a tribal Giant subtheme. Most of these Giants were in blue-red, but that still gives us a little bit to work with.
Before Kaldheim, Giants were mostly in the red/white colors. So if we steal the blue Giants from Kaldheim, the white Giants from before Kaldheim, and a few green Giants scattered throughout Magic’s history, we can make a really cool tribal Giants deck.
The biggest problem I foresee with this deck is that Giants tend to have high mana values. This means you’re going to need a lot of lands. Fortunately, there are a few Giants that can help with this.
These four cards are hardly enough to make the deck consistent. Look at other green-based land ramp cards like Rampant Growth or Three Visits to fill out the rest of the ramp slots. You will need as much of it as you reasonably can get.
One thing that Giants in these colors are pretty good at is keeping you from taking damage. You can build up a pillow fort pretty easily, and then hide behind them as your commander slowly beats people down. Here are a couple creatures to illustrate what I mean:
You can also pair these cards with Auras/Equipment like Indestructibility, Favor of the Mighty, Darksteel Plate, Gaseous Form, Binding Powder, General’s Kabuto or other such cards. This makes you very hard to damage, and gives you more time to set up your board.
Even though it tends to be pretty expensive, Giants are also decent at dealing with problematic permanents that your opponents control. For example, Arbor Colossus can deal with a scary flier, even if it costs you 5GGGGG. Similarly, Kalemne’s Captain gets rid of pesky Artifacts and Enchantments for 8WWWW. Cheaper options include:
These options are synergistic, but they are not mana efficient. If you play with higher powered decks, consider cheaper removal spells in addition to some of these.
The Rest of the Giants
Lastly, a few notable Giants that don’t fit into any other categories:
- Crystalline Giant
- Earthshaker Giant
- Glimpse the Cosmos
- Sun Titan
- Stonehewer Giant
- Surtland Elementalist
- Towering Titan
New Cards From Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
There are a few cards from the new set that could contribute to each of these tribes. Very few of them are very good, though, and you would probably be fine if you left them out.
What to Take Out
Obviously, the cards you should take out of this deck depend on the type of tribal deck you are building. For tribal Elves, you could probably remove all creatures except the Elves. Same for Knights and Giants. Also, the tribal decks probably don’t need nearly as many Auras or Enchantments, so a lot of those can go as well.
3. Curses (4-6)
This version of the Aura of Courage deck will play very similarly to the Auras section of the Voltron upgrade guide. Basically, you run the same Enchantress effects to draw cards, removal, ramp, Ardenn, Intrepid Archeaologist, Armored Skyhunter, Danitha Capashen, Paragon, etc. However, instead of running the typical threats for an Auras deck, you run these cads instead:
- Curse of Bounty (ramp)
- Curse of Echoes
- Curse of Exhaustion
- Curse of Inertia (slow down the cursed player)
- Curse of Predation (the most aggressive of the Curses)
- Curse of Verbosity (card advantage)
- Overwhelming Splendor
Curses should both slow one opponent down and build your threats up so that you finish them off. Once you reduce their life total to zero, you move on to the next player until you are the last one standing.
Cards like Starfield of Nyx are more important in this deck than others, since all of your Curses will go to the graveyard if the opponent they are attached to dies. Other cards with effects like this are Replenish, Open the Vaults, Resurgent Belief, Second Sunrise, and Triumphant Reckoning
New Cards From Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
Unfortunately, AFR didn’t bring us any new Curses. I mentioned a couple of cards earlier that might fit in with the Auras theme, but other than those, there are no new cards for this upgrade path.
What to Take Out
Again, see the earlier section about Aura Voltron. That covers what to take out of the precon to make room for the Auras. You can make the same changes here, but replace the threats from that section with the Curses and Enchantment reanimation spells.
4. Miracles (4-6)
Galea, Kindler of Hope has a unique ability that lets you look at the top card of your library. Whenever I see a Legendary Creature with this ability, my mind goes to Miracles.
If a card has Miracle, that means you can cast it immediately when you draw it for a significantly discounted rate. It has to be the first card that you draw that turn, but that’s why Galea’s ability is so useful. If you know that the top card is a card with Miracle, you can plan to cast it in advance. You can even put cards that let you draw on other people’s turns (like Cycling lands) to utilize the cards at instant speed.
There are only a handful of Miracles in Magic. Here are the ones with the right color identity for this deck:
- Banishing Stroke
- Blessings of Nature
- Devastaion Tide
- Entreat the Angels
- Revenge of the Hunted
- Temporal Mastery
Influence the Top of Your Deck
If you decide you want to build a Miracles deck with this commander, you will need cards that help you influence the top card of your library. For example:
These are repeatable effects that let you choose what goes on top of your library, and thereby plan your Miracles accordingly.
Since there are only a few Miracles, this upgrade path might need some other ways to win. Maybe you play a small Voltron package to continue to utilize Galea’s ability. This way, your Miracles act as poignant punctuation marks rather than the main win condition for the deck.
New Cards From Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
It is with great regret that I announce the lack of Miracles in the new set. Hopefully one day we get to see more cards with this ability. Unfortunately, today is not that day.
What to Take Out
As I said before, to build a Miracles deck, you should pick your favorite win conditions for the deck. They can be either from the precon or from one of the upgrade paths I mentioned earlier. Toss in the Miracles and top deck packages. Then, cut out everything else. Obviously make sure you have enough ramp, removal, and card advantage, but you can be pretty liberal with your cuts for this strategy.
Farewell, Brave One
This was a long one, but It’s now over. Hopefully you were able to find a couple of ideas that will help you as you upgrade your new Auras of Courage Commander deck. Let me know what you did or didn’t like, as well as what direction you end up taking this deck.
If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them below or find me on Instagram or Twitter. You can also listen to me on my podcast, Gathering: My Thoughts. It is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
More Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
If you want to open some of the new Forgotten Realms cards, to upgrade your Aura of Courage deck with, you can purchase a Set booster box on Amazon.
If you want the shiniest and the rarest card, then you’ll probably like Collector boosters. You can check the Forgotten Realms Collector Booster contents here.
Check out the other Upgrade Guides for the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander decks:
However, if none of these precons suit you, you can find all Commander precons here.
Until next time, enjoy Magic and have fun with your upgraded Aura of Courage Commander deck!