Feather, the Redeemed | Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
There’s an ongoing conversation about what the best and worst colors in Commander are. For the longest time many believed white was a clear loser when it came to ranking the colors with red not far behind. New printings and metagame shifts have changed that conversation, but there was no denying that the Boros () colors were trailing behind by a decent amount.
I believe we can thank Feather, the Redeemed for being one of the first Boros commanders to break the mold for this color pair. The Boros guild was almost exclusively designed around combat and attacking before its printing but failed to compete with the card advantage present in other colors. Feather offered a new spin on what Boros decks could do, focusing more on spellcasting and card draw.
Let’s take a look at a build commanded by this savior of the Boros guild!
Radiant Scrollwielder | Illustration by Campbell White
Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh
Dragon’s Rage Channeler
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Knight of the White Orchid
Tenth District Legionnaire
Vanguard of Brimaz
Tajic, Legion’s Edge
Captain Ripley Vance
Mavinda, Students’ Advocate
Anax and Cymede
Iroas, God of Victory
Zada, Hedron Grinder
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
Aurelia, the Warleader
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Fists of Flame
Fight as One
Show of Confidence
Temple of the False God
Den of the Bugbear
Temple of Triumph
Feather, the Redeemed cares exclusively about casting instants and sorceries that target your own creatures. As long as Feather’s around to see those spells resolve, you get them right back to your hand during your end step. The ability is a form of card advantage all on its own since it lets you get the effect of your targeting spells without actually exhausting the card from your hand.
This opens up deckbuilding opportunities that you don’t typically see in Boros colors. You want cheap targeted cantrips, pump spells, and protection spells, cards that aren’t high priority picks in most other EDH decks. As long as the card is cheap to cast, targets one of your creatures, and does something, no matter how small, you might want to consider it for your Feather deck.
You know that you’ll be casting a bunch of spells, ideally the same spells over and over again, so how do you take advantage of that? I’m going to refer to your creatures as the “heroes” of your deck, in line with the “heroic” ability that triggers when a creature becomes the target of a spell you control.
Your actual heroes include Phalanx Leader, Tenth District Legionnaire, Vanguard of Brimaz, Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh, Illuminator Virtuoso, and Akroan Crusader. These creatures serve as the foundation of your strategy and are some of your ideal targets for spells once Feather joins the fray.
Anax and Cymede and Zada, Hedron Grinder are other heroes that you’ll shift your focus to once you’ve built up your board. They can turn a board of tokens and dorky creatures into an onslaught of pumped-up tramplers. Zada is also good as a commander, spreading the effects of single-target spells across your entire battlefield.
Other creatures reap the benefits of spellcasting without actually needing to be the target of said spells. Balefire Liege pumps your board while dealing damage and gaining life from every spell.
There are also a few creatures that help you dig up more spells to combo with Feather. Velomachus Lorehold is expensive at seven mana but has haste and usually finds an extra free spell on every attack.
I’ve enjoyed Keldon Flamesage in this deck as a way to churn through your library for new spells.
I took more of an attrition-based approach to building this Feather, the Redeemed deck. I’ll talk about the more aggressive version later, but the deck I’ve enjoyed playing contains fewer pump spells and more protection and card advantage.
The cantrip spells include Defiant Strike, Accelerate, Expedite, Balduvian Rage, and Fists of Flame. Some of these have very marginal effects on the game, but all you care about is the text “draw a card.” These are your engine pieces, the ones that keep your hand full of action and continuously trigger your spell-casting payoffs.
Boros Charm and Teferi’s Protection provide sweeping protection to your board but don’t usually return to your hand from Feather’s ability. Eerie Interlude is my personal favorite as a targeted way to protect any number of creatures from a sweeper effect.
I’ve also been testing Lorehold Command, the clunkiest protection spell. You have to choose the “deal three gain three” mode targeting one of your own creatures (Feather’s 3/4 body making it a perfect target) to recycle this card with Feather, but you get to tack on whatever other mode you want.
You do have a few assertive spells in this build of the deck. Launch the Fleet can target as many of your creatures as you can pay mana for and builds up an army fast.
If there was ever a home for Reckless Rage in EDH, this is it. It becomes an instant-speed Flame Slash that you get to keep casting over and over as long as you’re targeting the right creatures on your side of the battlefield.
The Mana Base
I don’t have much to report about this deck’s mana base. You can play whatever good Boros lands you have access to, but the deck operates just fine if you only have tap lands or other budget lands. The deck does benefit from having its lands come into play untapped, but you’ll notice my version has plenty of slow lands to ensure you always have both colors of mana.
Needle Spires and Den of the Bugbear are creature lands that can keep the pressure on if you’re playing against control-heavy opponents. They also serve as last-ditch targets for your spells if everything else gets dealt with.
Slayers’ Stronghold is a great Boros land that fits into just about any red/white deck looking to deal combat damage for the win.
You also have Windbrisk Heights in the deck since it’s pretty easy to fulfill the hideaway conditions in such a creature-heavy build.
Then there’s Strip Mine because I own a fancy expedition version and I wanted to play it somewhere, and this deck has wiggle room for a few colorless utility lands. It comes in handy against the occasional Cabal Coffers or Maze of Ith, and this deck could honestly benefit from a few extra utility lands like this.
Feather, the Redeemed really needs to stick around for this deck to do its thing. Your deck starts to look more like a Theros Draft deck than a competitive Commander one without it. Your cantrips and creatures aren’t individually powerful cards as they’re bolstered by the fact that Feather lets you keep reusing your spells to get those heroic triggers.
So step number one is to get Feather on board and keep it there. You never want to be tapped out with Feather on board because your opponents will kill it given the opportunity. Feather has a mana value of three, but you’d do well to think of this as a 4-mana creature because you always want something to do when Feather hits the board.
Tapping three mana on turn 3, casting Feather, and passing the turn hoping to fade a turn cycle is a death sentence. Instead, wait until turn 4, cast Feather, and keep your fourth mana open for a protection spell, or at least a cantrip should Feather get interacted with. You should probably wait on casting your commander if you have no targeted spells in your hand.
Your primary wincon is commander damage. Feather can usually get some chip damage in early and then finish off an opponent all at once with a flurry of spells like Kaya’s Onslaught and Balduvian Rage.
The backup plan is to go wide with tokens, pumping them up with cards like Leonin Lightscribe and Balefire Liege. Anax and Cymede is a great finisher, often pumping your creatures by up to +3/+3 or +4/+4 each while also granting trample.
This isn’t a political deck. You have very little to offer other players besides a swift death and you want to close things out as fast as possible. Attack when you have the opportunity to do so and look for openings to cast your spells.
Combos and Interactions
Feather, the Redeemed has some tricky interactions thanks to the way the replacement effect works. Feather “overrides” some of the exile effects you see on other cards. For example, Goblin Dark-Dwellers’s effect lets you cast a spell from your graveyard but exiles it instead of putting it in your graveyard.
Since both Feather and Dark-Dwellers have replacement effects on where that spell goes when it resolves, you get to choose which order these effects are applied. In other words, if the spell you cast with Dark-Dwellers triggered Feather’s effect, you can exile it with Feather’s ability instead of exiling it with Dark-Dwellers. This also works for cards like Radiant Scrollwielder and Mavinda, Students’ Advocate.
Feather returns spells to your hand at the beginning of the next end step, which is important for a couple of reasons. First, you’ll have a brief window during your end step to recast any spells that were returned to hand that turn. For example, if you really need to cast Reckless Rage twice this turn while your opponents are tapped out, you can do so once during your turn and then again on your end step once the spell returns to your hand.
Second, this helps you maximize a few cards in your deck. Captain Ripley Vance triggers when you cast your third spell each turn. If you only have two spells in hand you can cast them, get them back with Feather on your end step, and then recast one as your third spell that turn to trigger Ripley.
The same goes for Show of Confidence, which you can cast once during your turn and then cast again on your end step for an even bigger effect. Remember that spells you cast during your end step won’t return to your hand until the next end step.
Sunforger can be a backup game plan on its own. It takes a bit of setup but becomes a toolbox card that can fetch any effect you need from your deck once you have the mana available to unequip it.
You can grab removal, protection, pump spells… As long as it’s an instant with a mana value of four or less, Sunforger can cast it from your deck for free. And yes, this works favorably with Feather.
This is one of the few decks where you target your own creatures with removal from time to time. Spawning Breath is a cheeky way to get extra mana by making an Eldrazi Spawn token and then returning to hand with Feather.
This deck often makes expendable tokens from creatures like Akroan Crusader and Vanguard of Brimaz. You can get value off aiming a Chaos Warp or Path to Exile at your own creature if you have Feather on board, a token or two that you don’t need, and a window to cast an instant. You just get the removal spell back with Feather while potentially being up on resources (Chaos Warp at your own risk).
The decklist presented here is already fairly budget-friendly. Most of the spells are cheap, there aren’t too many monetarily expensive creatures, and anything that is pricey is easily replaced.
The mana base works fine without Arid Mesa, and Monastery Mentor can easily become Young Pyromancer if you don’t have a copy. Try Semester’s End as a backup copy of Eerie Interlude if you don’t own Teferi’s Protection.
This deck is a great home for creatures and spells that otherwise don’t see play in Commander, so feel free to customize it with whatever heroic creatures and targeted spells you have access to.
Free spells like Deflecting Swat and Flawless Maneuver are impactful upgrades if you have access to them. This deck doesn’t benefit much from fast mana, so I wouldn’t rush to add cards like Jeweled Lotus or Mana Vault.
I’d shy away from including Lightning Greaves in this deck. Players tend to run it in decks that rely heavily on their commander, and they’re often correct to do so. But the shroud from the Greaves can sometimes lock you out of having a target for your spells. I play Swiftfoot Boots in my deck for protection, but Greaves can sometimes counteract your game plan.
I’ve seen Feather built in several different ways. The most obvious alternative build is one that maximizes aggression and looks to kill as quickly as possible. This version would substitute some of the more expensive creatures and spells for generic pump spells like Titan’s Strength and Brute Force.
When I pull my Feather deck out against players I’m not familiar with they usually ask, “how fast is your deck?”, which is a clear indication that players usually gear towards to more aggressive builds. It’s a viable strategy and might be the optimal way to play this Commander.
I prefer a more attrition-based approach but to each their own.
Feather also works well as the commander of an angel tribal theme. You get access to all the great mono-white angels you’d expect to see in a Giada, Font of Hope deck but get to add in the awesome Boros faction angels as well.
I’ve also seen builds that lean more heavily into the spellcasting side of Feather.
You can load up on damaging effects like Guttersnipe, Electrostatic Field, and Firebrand Archer while using the commander as a way to ensure you always have spells to cast. It’s an effective game plan that benefits from damage amplifiers like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and never needs to engage in combat.
Defiant Strike | Illustration by Gabor Szikszai
As I mentioned up top, Boros was struggling in Commander for a long while. Feather, the Redeemed didn’t single-handedly change that, but it was a step towards giving the color pair more depth and viable alternative strategies. Players were excited when this card was revealed, and it’s not hard to imagine why.
I’m a sucker for commanders that turn unplayable Limited filler into commander playables, and I’m glad to have found a home for some of these janky pump spells and heroic creatures in my collection. If you’ve had success with Feather, or if you have a different approach to building around it, let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
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