Ellivere of the Wild Court | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak
Wilds of Eldraine is just around the corner, bringing fresh takes on old fairy tales, the return of Adventure cards, and, of course, brand new Commander precons! Eldraine is a plane of knights and monsters, fairy tales, and sagas of heroic quests.
The Virtue and Valor precon chooses to embrace the more heroic elements of Eldraine, turning all of your creatures into virtuous heroes, their strength bolstered by powerful magic and the bonds they have with each other. Helmed by Ellivere of the Wild Court, it’s a Selesnya () auras deck. You can play it out of the box, but how might one make it better?
Into the upgrades!
Destiny Spinner | Illustration by Livia Prima
Virtue and Valor is an aura-based enchantress deck that wants to spread as many enchantments across the battlefield as it can to benefit from the Virtuous role tokens Ellivere of the Wild Court distributes.
There’s also a tokens sub-theme to the deck. Between the role tokens and Ellivere’s card draw ability, having a huge board presence helps up the enchantment count, keeps the pressure high, and draws plenty of cards.
The strategy is simple: The deck wants to land Ellivere and distribute roles. The role tokens are one of the new mechanics from Wilds of Eldraine, though the Virtuous Role only appears in this Commander deck. Notably, a creature can only hold one role per player at a time; if a creature gets a second role, the first falls off. The new role will still enter the battlefield even if it doesn’t improve your creature, which is useful for extra constellation triggers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Virtuous role tokens are very powerful. Ellivere essentially distributes free Ethereal Armor copies across your board. Ethereal Armor is one of the strongest auras in the game, providing Bogles decks with tons of power for years.
Additionally, Ellivere rewards you for dealing damage with its card draw effect. In fact, between Ellivere and the enchantress effects in the deck, like Eidolon of Blossoms and Enchantress's Presence, this deck can draw tons of cards simply by performing its gameplan.
The token subtheme is also potent. Developing a wide board of tokens while making a large threat or two puts a lot of stress on your opponents’ removal. Creature tokens also hold the role tokens well, adding to our enchantment count and the number of creatures dealing damage and drawing us cards.
Virtue and Valor does have a couple of weaknesses. Aura decks have a general weakness to removal. Once you invest multiple cards into a single creature, one removal spell can be all it takes to wreck everything. Ellivere’s focus on distributing threats instead of generating one large one helps, as do cards such as Umbra Mystic and Liberated Livestock, but we can make those defenses a little stronger with a few choice cards.
The deck also contained a few fine cards like Sylvan Ranger, but they don’t do much to help with the core gameplan except in the loosest sense of being a creature. We’ll trim these for cards that work empower the strategy instead of just existing in the deck.
Another weakness is a general lack of removal. We have some excellent board wipes in Austere Command and Winds of Rath that will generally be Plague Wind with some setup, but that’s about it except for a Swords to Plowshares. We’ll add a few more pieces with a focus on aura-based interaction that stays on theme.
Lastly, the deck has a couple of expensive cards that are just unnecessary. Pollenbright Wings, for example, offers valuable evasion but is so expensive compared to cheaper options. Replacing these makes the decks sleeker and more efficient, which lets us shave a land or two to get things going.
Birds of Paradise + Path to Exile
Birds of Paradise and Path to Exile are Selesnya staples for a reason. Getting fixing and ramp turn one is invaluable, and the Birds can hold auras well with evasion. Exiling a creature for one mana and virtually no downside makes Path to Exile a fantastic choice. The cuts for these cards are Krosan Verge and Myriad Landscape, two absolutely terrible lands. The tempo loss you get from tapped lands that force you to invest mana for any value is terrible. I frankly don’t know why Wizards encourages new players to add these to their Commander decks.
Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Suggested Cut: Rishkar's Expertise
To get Toski, Bearer of Secrets into the list, we’ll remove Rishkar's Expertise. Expertise is a fantastic card that offers a ton of value since you can cast a second card, but it’s not a consistent source of card draw. Toski is effectively a second copy of Ellivere, at least for the second ability, and holds auras well as an indestructible creature.
Suggested Cut: Careful Cultivation
Wild Growth is a great upgrade over Careful Cultivation. You’re pretty much only playing Cultivation for cycling into a mana dork; this is a low-value enchantment to put on a creature. It’s also not particularly synergistic, as it asks you to choose between having a mana dork or an aura. Wild Growth provides an aura, mana, and it comes online much faster while being less vulnerable to removal.
Suggested Cut: Celestial Archon
Lure comes in over Celestial Archon. The Archon feels like it’s meant to be a finisher but is rather lackluster. You’ll slap Lure on your worst creature, practically making the rest of your team unblockable. The deck has plenty of recursive elements to get it from the graveyard for more alpha strikes. You could also put it on your biggest creature to eat somebody’s board.
Skrelv, Defector Mite
Suggested Cut: Plains
Skrelv, Defector Mite shall upgrade a humble Plains. The deck has plenty of lands and acceleration to handle dropping a land or two. Skrelv is a great protective piece, especially since we can’t really play the other Mother of Runes variants, as protection can knock off our auras. The unblockable text can make Skrelv into a sneaky finisher as well.
Canopy Cover + Treetop Bracers
We’ll play Canopy Cover and Treetop Bracers over Pollenbright Wings and Verdant Embrace. These auras enhance the token theme, but they’re also expensive and easily blown out. The two cheaper auras provide excellent evasion, which is especially important with a commander who wants to attack every turn.
Suggested Cut: Realm-Cloaked Giant
We’ll play Clever Concealment over Realm-Cloaked Giant. This isn’t really as one-for-one as the others; the Giant is simply an unwieldy board wipe we don’t want in our creature-based deck, while Clever Concealment offers some of the best protection for creature-based decks. Phasing saves you from any board wipes, and it’s often free or close to it.
Suggested Cut: Sylvan Ranger
Silhana Ledgewalker has been a Bogles staple for years. A cheap, evasive creature with built-in protection easily outshines Sylvan Ranger, an okay card this deck doesn’t have much use for. Ranger does replace itself, but Ledgewalker’s evasion should let it replace itself several times over with Ellivere’s draw trigger.
Suggested Cut: Rether
Ossification is the kind of removal this deck wants. It’s a cheap aura, so efficiency and synergy are present. We’ll play this over Rether, the weakest of our options to recur enchantments from the graveyard.
Suggested Cut: Tithe Taker
Tithe Taker isn’t a bad card as a disruptive piece, but we can do far more with Collector Ouphe. Stax effects are great for decks like these to help slow the game down. Collector Ouphe shines in any deck that’s not reliant on artifact mana – like this one, whose ramp primarily comes from enchantments and creatures. This card slows other players down and can lock some decks out of the game until they find an answer.
Song of the Dryads
Suggested Cut: Ox Drover
Song of the Dryads is a powerful removal spell, primarily because transforming a permanent doesn’t make it change zones. Slap this onto somebody’s commander, and they’ll need to destroy the aura or the land to get it back. We’ll play this over Ox Drover. I honestly love the design of Ox Drover and want to find a deck to play it in, but it’s not this one. Giving our opponents tokens to block with while being an aggressive creature deck is about the worst idea ever.
Toski, Bearer of Secrets | Illustration by Jason Rainville
Commander precons are great ways to introduce new players to the game or to give established players an entry point to EDH. You can definitely sleeve them up out of the box, but it’s often worth giving them a few choice upgrades to make them sleeker and stronger.
Virtue and Valor is a great precon. It showcases one of the new mechanics from Wilds of Eldraine while capturing a slice of the plane’s flavor. It also offers a fresh take on an established archetype. Most aura decks are Voltron-style decks that want to make a single huge threat, whereas this one floods the board with enchanted creatures.
Which Wilds of Eldraine precon is your favorite? Which commander from the new set are you most excited to build? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord!
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