Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale - Illustration by Lie Setiawan

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale | Illustration by Lie Setiawan

Something I really enjoy in Magic is when a card reflects its color identity nicely. Each color has a very strong personality and characteristics, and each combination that can result from them also has very notable themes.

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale is a great portrait of the Mardu identity. It rewards combat and seemingly reckless action, but it also brings a level of discipline and strategy to even things out. After all, it takes a consistent level of discipline to become a knight, and more so to become a knight worthy of some of the best equipment available.

Let’s take a look at Syr Gwyn’s company of knights.

The Deck

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar - Illustration by Bryan Sola

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar | Illustration by Bryan Sola

Commander (1)

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

Creatures (22)

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
Akiri, Fearless Voyager
Armored Skyhunter
Balan, Wandering Knight
Bruenor Battlehammer
Danitha Capashen, Paragon
Danitha, Benalia's Hope
Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Guardian of Faith
Halvar, God of Battle
Inspiring Veteran
Kinsbaile Cavalier
Knight Exemplar
Knight of the White Orchid
Leonin Shikari
Murderous Rider
Nahiri, Forged in Fury
Puresteel Paladin
Smitten Swordmaster
Sram, Senior Edificer
Stoneforge Mystic
Worthy Knight

Instants (11)

Akroma's Will
Boros Charm
Chaos Warp
Flawless Maneuver
Stroke of Midnight
Swords to Plowshares
Teferi's Protection

Sorceries (4)

Blasphemous Act
Open the Armory
Ruinous Ultimatum

Enchantments (5)

Fighter Class
Knights' Charge
Land Tax
Sigarda's Aid
Smothering Tithe

Artifacts (25)

Arcane Signet
Basilisk Collar
Boros Signet
Chromatic Lantern
Commander's Sphere
Diamond Pick-Axe
Kaldra Compleat
Loxodon Warhammer
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Maul of the Skyclaves
Orzhov Signet
Sigiled Sword of Valeron
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Hearth and Home
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Vengeance
Sword of the Animist
The Reaver Cleaver
Thran Power Suit

Lands (32)

Arid Mesa
Bojuka Bog
Command Beacon
Command Tower
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Godless Shrine
Luxury Suite
Marsh Flats
Minas Tirith
Mountain x3
Needleverge Pathway
Nomad Outpost
Path of Ancestry
Plains x4
Raucous Theater
Reliquary Tower
Sacred Foundry
Savai Triome
Spectator Seating
Swamp x2
Temple of Silence
Temple of Triumph
Tournament Grounds
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vault of Champions
Vault of the Archangel

The Commander

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale is a very aggressive and straightforward commander with menace and vigilance. This card mainly cares about two things: equipment and knights. Its main ability has you drawing a card and losing life each time you attack with an equipped creature, making each of your attacks a strategic move. One thing to point out: This ability triggers for each of your attacking equipped creatures. If you have a very consistent way to gain life and infinite hand, you can go wide. Otherwise, I’d advise simply putting lots of equipment on one or two creatures, maybe three, and swing with those. That way you’ll manage to get in a massive hit, draw cards without going over your hand limit and without losing too much life.

The secondary ability on this card allows for a simple buff to its previous ability: Equipping knights is free. This helps your strategy move faster by letting you save tons of mana that would originally go into equipping your creatures.

This combination of abilities makes for a knight typal deck with tons of equipment.

Typal Support

Inspiring Veteran Knight Exemplar

The deck is obviously packed with knights, and that means you need some support for them. Inspiring Veteran and Knight Exemplar make for the main two lords in this deck.

Kinsbaile Cavalier

Kinsbaile Cavalier isn’t technically a lord, but I’d argue it’s even better: All your creatures have double strike, which can make or break a combat situation.

Worthy Knight Knights' Charge

Finally, Worthy Knight and Knights' Charge reward you for attacking your opponents. Of these two, the enchantment’s arguably the best one for this deck since it helps mitigate the life loss produced by Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale’s ability, making it pure profit.

Equipment Support

While knights are a big part of this deck’s strategy, don’t forget the equipment. That’s why there are a handful of creatures that may not fit the typal theme but make playing artifacts easier.

The creatures in this category can be subdivided into knights and non-knights that interact with or buff equipment somehow.

Armored Skyhunter Puresteel Paladin

In the first group, you have things like Armored Skyhunter, Puresteel Paladin, and both mono-white Danitha Capashen cards.

Non-knight creatures that work as support for the equipment theme include things like Akiri, Fearless Voyager, Bruenor Battlehammer, Halvar, God of Battle, Nahiri, Forged in Fury, and a few more. All of these make it so that you can start profiting from your equipment faster while also giving you ways to access them earlier. Fighter Class keeps reinforcing this theme.


This deck runs a relatively standard selection of removal cards for Mardu decks. From Bedevil to Swords to Plowshares, including EDH staple Chaos Warp, these all aim at having a variety of options to take down key threats and targets your opponents control.

Of course, you also have Wear // Tear to remove any particularly pesky or annoying enchantments or artifacts. While you’re probably going to use Bedevil and Mortify against creatures, they can also be used to remove artifacts and destroy enchantments respectively.

Protection and Combat Tricks

It should go without saying that a deck focused on knights and equipment relies on combat to achieve victory. That necessarily means needing one or two combat tricks and even some defensive spells to get you out of a miscalculated combat.

For that purpose, this deck runs cards like Teferi's Protection, Flawless Maneuver, or Boros Charm which can work either as a protective spell or combat trick depending on what you choose.

Akroma's Will

The main combat trick in this deck is Akroma's Will, which should essentially be used to finish off the game by overrunning your opponents with flying double-strikers in a single attack. But providing your whole board with indestructible and protection can also help you get out of an unideal situation.

While the deck’s current build doesn’t run that many combat tricks, you can safely replace a couple of removal spells for tricks since they could very well have pretty much the same result.


Blasphemous Act

The deck only runs three board wipes. Blasphemous Act is a classic in Commander games and can help even out the playing field if your opponents’ have built threatening battlefields.


At this point I don’t even think I need to explain why Farewell is great. Cards that give you choice and flexibility are always great, especially when it comes to effects that involve blowing everything up. With this you can take out your opponents’ enchantments and graveyards without needing to exile your creatures or artifacts.

Ruinous Ultimatum

Finally, there’s Ruinous Ultimatum, which should honestly be played to rush your way to victory. A one-sided wrath that takes out all permanents can be a devastating spell.

The Mana Base

Arcane Signet Sol Ring

Most of the mana base for this deck is pretty standard. Fetch lands, dual lands, Arcane Signet, and Sol Ring.

It also runs a few utility lands. Bojuka Bog is a must include in almost all my decks that run black because it’s always good to have a way to exile an opponent’s graveyard for free. Command Beacon and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire have both become staples of EDH since their release, and their usefulness proves why. Path of Ancestry is also a staple of typal decks, and that’s the exact reason it’s here.

Minas Tirith Vault of the Archangel

Minas Tirith and Vault of the Archangel both give pretty decent support for this deck’s strategies and themes, especially if you find yourself in a pinch and have no other resources to rely on. Vault of the Archangel especially helps to mitigate the commander’s biggest drawback, which is losing life when you attack with equipped creatures.

The Strategy

This deck aims at a mid-game combat strategy. You should spend the first stage of the game building up your forces, both dropping equipment and playing knights to equip. By the mid-game you should have a relatively strong force to start attacking your opponents to put pressure on them and pick away at their life. Things like Akroma's Will or even Vault of the Archangel’s ability are there to help you push harder and put more and more pressure until you’re able to overrun your opponents.

While the deck can absolutely hold its own by the late game, it doesn’t run as many heavy-hitters and high-mana-value drops, so it can struggle against decks that run too many huge creatures.

Most of the support in the deck aims at helping your strategy go fast so you can build your strength early and start putting pressure on your opponents.

Combos and Interactions

This deck’s interactions are notably aimed at playing knights and equipping them early on, but it doesn’t really have any unconventional interactions or combos.

Rule 0 Violations

Rule 0 can change hugely between playgroups, but this deck doesn’t have any conventional rule 0 violations. Some groups may shun upon the sword cycle or Maul of the Skyclaves, but they’re not technically breaking any rules per se.

Budget Options

A huge part of this deck’s budget comes from fetch and shock lands. They all can reasonably be swapped for some acceptable alternatives. Fetch lands can be swapped for some of the Streets of New Capenna fetches like Obscura Storefront or Riveteers Overlook. Shock lands, on the other hand, can simply be swapped out for other dual lands, ideally ones with basic land types if possible.

Shadowspear and especially the sword cycle are also pretty costly, so they can reasonably be replaced by some less expensive equipment. This would of course mean lowering the power level of the deck, since there’s no real replacement for the swords, but there’s still a ton of powerful equipment out there. Sunforger, Vorpal Sword, Mask of Griselbrand, and others can definitely work as valid replacements.

There are also some costly creatures like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Stoneforge Mystic or Knight Exemplar. These can be replaced by things like Aryel, Knight of Windgrace, Roaming Throne, Valiant Knight, or even Midnight Reaper.

Other Builds

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale is very explicit about its two themes. You can technically build a deck based purely on equipment or use it as an excuse to build a full knight typal deck.

There’s some builds out there that give it a legendary creature focus, or a strong focus on cards like Sunforger, but I personally think it’s a waste of both a commander and an archetype. You’re not taking proper advantage of Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale while also not really giving your decks a proper commander.

Commanding Conclusion

Bedevil - Illustration by Seb McKinnon

Bedevil | Illustration by Seb McKinnon

I’ve been wanting to build a Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale deck for quite a while. I was honestly expecting to either a new card for the character or some additional support for it in Wilds of Eldraine, but it wasn’t to be. I’ll keep waiting and hoping. Not that it really needs all that much extra support, since it’s a viable card as it is.

But enough about what I think. Did you like the deck? Would you build it different? What’s your favorite commander for equipment and knight strategies? Leave a comment letting us know! And while you’re here, make sure to pay our Discord server a visit. There you’ll find an amazing community of MTG fans to share your hobby with!

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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