Last updated on May 16, 2022
Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice | Illustration by Randy Vargas
If you want to bail on the equipment and go all-in on only auras, then yes, you should. Sram is all about raw card draw, which, if you’re building your deck with enough mana sources, will only give you something you want a bit better than half the time. But Light-Paws will always dig you an aura, which is important because these decks are kind of glass cannons. You’ll only have a few opportunities to win, and you’ll need to make sure your deck can deliver when you need it to.
So, is abandoning Sram’s equipment worth the toolbox-style aura tutor that Light-Paws gives you? Again, I’d say the answer is yes, but it means you’ll want a slightly different suite of auras to take advantage of that.
Let’s take a deeper look at my favorite mono white Commander deck!
Kor Spiritdancer | Illustration by Scott Chou
All That Glitters
Burden of Guilt
Chosen by Heliod
Gift of Granite
Gift of Immortality
Grasp of the Hieromancer
Mantle of Leadership
Mantle of the Ancients
Rune of Sustenance
Shielded by Faith
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Ward of Lights
Arch of Orazca
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Flagstones of Trokair
Hall of Heliod’s Generosity
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Aura decks, which can be powerful in Historic, rely on creatures that draw cards when you cast auras. Versions with blue add in some evasion with cards like Aether Tunnel and more card draw with Curious Obsession. Versions with black add protection with Kaya’s Ghostform and removal with Dead Weight. Both usually have Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a companion to recur creatures and auras. Sometimes the decks pack interaction, but usually they win simply by sticking creatures and piling on enough advantage to either eke out a victory or get an All That Glitters on something and go to town.
The model for how to win with this deck in Commander is to find aura-based ways to get card draw, protection and evasion to voltron your commander in for lethal.
That’s not easy. Just goldfishing this deck, an ideal version still can’t deliver before turn five or six. And then it still takes four turns to kill the table, assuming no one targets you.
You can’t pack enough interaction to keep yourself alive long enough for that and you are pretty helpless to go wide strategies.
I know, this deal keeps getting worse all the time.
Here’s how you win, for real: Politics. Everyone knows your deck is a glass cannon. Holding up a Doom Blade or a bounce spell will often feel like enough to take care of you. Combo and control players will thus mostly ignore you until you swing at them or hope you get caught up in the sweepers that start rolling to take out the go-wide decks. If you can convince go-wide decks to leave you alone and focus on the “bigger threat” or the joker that brought the Korvold, Fae-Cursed King deck, you might be okay.
Is that not good enough? Look, this isn’t a cEDH commander. This is a fun deck that has some unique play elements and is worth trying out for that. But remember, Light-Paws is an “advisor.” You still have to do the work yourself, so if your political skills aren’t up for the task, Edgar Markov is waiting for you with an easier deck to play!
Creatures & Spells
There’s not a lot. All of these work toward repeated card draw and are pretty typical in Sram, Senior Edificer decks. The anomaly here is Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, the only Innistrad disturb flip card in the deck. Katilda is obviously huge and can let you keep Light-Paws in the command zone for a while if you draw her early. When she dies, the idea is to let her sit in the graveyard as long as you can. If you can drop her aura on Light-Paws on a key turn, not only is the buff pretty huge, but it also lets you use Light-Paws’ tutor ability to grab another powerful expensive aura that can put you over the top, like Sage’s Reverie or Mantle of the Ancients.
There are three classes of creatures that usually show up in Sram decks that are left off this list:
- Protection creatures like Mother of Runes
- Tutors like Heliod’s Pilgrim
- Cost reducers like Starfield Mystic.
Light-Paws takes care of the first two on her own, and the third isn’t as relevant for this deck, as we’ve selected auras that are pretty low to the ground in most cases.
We’ve also only got three(!) spells in the deck.
One doubles as a land.
One’s a nice sweeper that doesn’t target our creatures. We could easily pack more of these, but I’d rather get protection from auras for card advantage, and I don’t think sweepers can really save us in this deck. Winds of Rath is mostly there for flavor and memes. And the combo described below with Pariah, which isn’t that hard to play in this deck, is a bit better than a sweeper for your purposes here. Still, if you really wanted, Divine Reckoning and Single Combat are fine sweepers to include that will spare your commander if you wanted to switch out a few things.
Brilliant Restoration, when coupled with Light-Paws’ ability, can easily eliminate an opponent.
There are two non-aura enchantments in the deck, and both are win conditions that make piles of flyers as you drop auras onto things: Hallowed Haunting and Sigil of the Empty Throne. You could add some tutors for these if you’d like, but the card draw is usually enough to find one of these pretty reasonably.
Auras are the deck. Let’s look at what we’re doing by categorizing them in terms of function. Note that some show up in multiple places because they’re just that good.
Just Say No to Pacifisims
Pacifism effects have to be a hard pass in this deck. There’s a control build of this deck that uses those kinds of effects, but it’s terrible. It feels like a win because Light-Paws lets you grab a card out of the deck for each Arrest you drop. But most of those cards cost three or more mana, so if you’re packing enough of them to deal with someone’s out-of-control commander, your curve is just nonsense while you’re doing things that don’t really turn the tide all that much.
We’re packing two in here because they have some flexibility. Darksteel Mutation can shut down an Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice deck, but you can also tutor it up after casting a flash aura to give Light-Paws the lowest mana value indestructibility aura you can get, which matters because most flash auras in white cost two mana or less. The other one is Forced Worship, which you can bounce to hand if you need to start tutoring for a game winner.
These are the effects that will allow Light-Paws to deliver lethal damage, usually because they scale with the number of auras in play. We’ve got them at multiple mana values (which is how I’ve outlined them below), and, as with all the auras in this section of the article, it’s important to be cognizant of those given the mana value restrictions on what your commander can tutor.
- Ethereal Armor
- All That Glitters, Blessing, Daybreak Coronet
- Battle Mastery
- Armored Ascension, Sage’s Reverie
- Mantle of the Ancients
These are of various degrees of effectiveness, and you could drop a Twinblade Geist in the deck for its reverse side aura if you really wanted to, but since it’s not tutorable, I left it out.
Just about every white aura that ETBs with card draw is here. It should be obvious why we need these.
- Capashen Standard
- Angelic Gift, Chosen by Heliod, Rune of Sustenance
- Unquestioned Authority
- Sage’s Reverie
Some of these return to hand. Some come back from the graveyard. All are key in getting you through those times when you flood and aren’t getting tutor triggers.
- Flickering Ward, Gryff’s Boon, Raffine’s Guidance, Sentinel’s Eyes
- Brilliant Halo, Conviction, Skyblade’s Boon, Spirit Loop
- Forced Worship
If you’re the kind of player who packs a Swiftfoot Boots into all your EDH decks, you know what these are for. Some are protection, some are hexproof, and some are indestructible. The flash auras can often let you grab one of these as well, so even if the flash effect isn’t enough to save Light-Paws, one of these, which attaches at instant speed once the flashed aura resolves, might.
- Flickering Ward, Gift of Granite
- Darksteel Mutation, Favorable Destiny, Felidar Umbra, Flickerform, Spirit Mantle
- Gift of Immortality, Shielded by Faith, Unquestioned Authority
An important combo to note here is another card in the deck, Pariah. If you play Indestructibility, Shielded by Faith, or Unquestioned Authority, you can tutor up Pariah and make yourself immune to creature damage, which is your best defense against creature decks.
Some of these also serve as adequate protection, even though they weren’t listed in the previous section, but quite a few simply flash for a small benefit. But that flash can allow you to grab an answer as needed, protection, card draw, whatever. These are really the reason to play Light-Paws over Sram, as flash is so much more powerful given her tutor ability.
- Triclopean Sight
- Benevolent Blessing, Cho-Manno’s Blessing, Indomitable Will, Mageta’s Boon, Mantle of Leadership, Saving Grace, Sentinel’s Mark, Ward of Lights
- Guardian’s Magemark, Timely Ward
There are a few key connections between these and the win conditions. Flashing in a Triclopean Sight on your opponent’s end step allows you to get an Ethereal Armor from your deck, which might be enough for lethal on your turn.
There are certainly more of these out there in other EDH Light-Paws builds, but I think they can easily clog the deck. You only need one of these and you often only need it on the turn you win when you can tutor it up. Nothing is quite as good as Aether Tunnel from the Historic Auras deck or Prowler’s Helm in a Sram deck with equipment, but all of these can work for you in the right context. These grant flying and tapping to Light-Paws. Remember that your protection auras can make you unblockable in the right circumstances, as well.
The Mana Base
There are fewer of these than usual since you don’t really need them for fixing and you don’t want too many colorless sources in this deck given your hefty need for white mana.
Look weak and sad as long as possible.
You can’t play red to get haste and eliminate someone from an empty board the way you can with Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, and you can’t partner with Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar to kill ‘em all. So the best case is that you need to have Light-Paws on the battlefield and unkilled for a few turns to win.
So you’d like to wait as long as possible before dropping important pieces to get swept or yoinked or hit with an overloaded Cyclonic Rift.
Throw out your other creatures first, if you draw them. Get the aura train running if you draw one of the creature enablers like Kor Spiritdancer early. It will make it look like you aren’t doing what you’re doing, which is just waiting around until the total chaos of turns four through seven pass by.
Incidentally, if you’re at a table where someone’s going to win on turn six and you aren’t the deck to stop that, don’t worry. Someone at the table is playing blue and needs to deal with it. Why else are they packing blue? You can always switch something out for a Secret Rendezvous or other little political bribery cards if you feel the need.
Try to only get on the board when you have enough flash auras in hand to get protection going.
If all goes well and you’re alive long enough to attack someone, hit the combo or control player who isn’t running a lot of bounce spells or who’s tapped out. You’re pretty much terminally weak to bounce in this deck as there are just no ways to give instant hexproof to your commander in white. You can play through counterspells reasonably well. Light-Paws’ tutor ability drops the found aura in a way that can only be countered by Stifle effects, so you can throw out an underwhelming aura like Benevolent Blessing, have it not get countered, and then tutor up something wicked.
The reason you want to target the control player is that you can pretty much lock down the table against the creature decks with the Pariah combo. Hopefully the Selesnya () token mage and the zombie tribal deck have been after the more powerful control decks the whole time. If they’ve not read this article (key mistake!) and have never seen that combo because Pariah’s an old card, they likely think they can take you out at will and block or kill your commander as needed.
Combos and Interactions
Pariah | Illustration by Jon J Muth
All of these have been discussed so far.
The most ubiquitous sneaky thing you’ll do is use flash auras to tutor up the right kind of protection effects to respond to removal.
And the big game winners are to use those flash auras to grab win conditions out of the deck right before your turn with your commander on the table.
This is pretty budget! Most cards are under a dollar, including your commander. The expense is really a few of the pricier lands, but even then the land value in this deck is much lower than in multicolor decks with shocks and fetches. You could easily drop the more expensive utility lands and it would all play just fine.
The most common way to build this deck is to use more powerful auras instead of the eleven flash auras in this deck. Most of the flash auras are underpowered and so would never have made it into the Sram decks most people probably converted to Light-Paws when Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty dropped. But Light-Paws is just really different than Sram, and I think the flash is better than a decently better suite of slightly more expensive auras.
I have also seen versions that swap in a dozen Faith’s Fetters or other Pacifism-style effects. It’s tempting to do that, since Light-Paws’ ability is activated when you do that, which feels like a two-for-one.
Winds of Rath | Illustration by Drew Tucker
Sram-style aura decks have been popular across formats for years. Light-Paws adds a nice new functionality to that space, and I like playing this deck a lot more than I did Sram.
I wouldn’t break this deck out at a table where people are dropping their Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Kenrith, the Returned King cEDH decks, but I’d say once you got to know the deck you could beat upgraded precon decks with this. Worst-case scenario, this is a pretty fun deck to lose with, when it comes to that.
And for me, that’s Commander. The majority of players at a four-person table are losing tonight. And if that’s you, this evening, you’ll have some fun with this!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: