Last updated on April 26, 2023
Wulfgar of Icewind Dale | Illustration by Aleksi Briclot
Aggro decks have been a staple in Magic pretty much forever. They look to play small creatures early for tons of pressure and probably finish the game with pump effects or burn spells to finish the game before their opponent can enact their gameplan.
But aggro is harder to play in Commander, where you’re playing against three opponents starting with 40 life each. You don’t have to deal 120 damage yourself, of course, because your opponents will whittle each other down. But you still need to go bigger and extract more value than a typical aggro deck has to worry about, so let’s see if you can get there by doubling attack triggers with Wulfgar of Icewind Dale!
Goblin Anarchomancer | Illustration by Joe Slucher
Cultivator of Blades
Etali, Primal Storm
Squee, Dubious Monarch
Captain Lannery Storm
Battle Cry Goblin
Grand Warlord Radha
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
Jolene, the Plunder Queen
Laelia, the Blade Reforged
Werewolf Pack Leader
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Birds of Paradise
Veil of Summer
Light Up the Stage
Escape to the Wilds
Seize the Day
World at War
Rhythm of the Wild
Shadow in the Warp
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Talisman of Impulse
Helm of the Host
Sword of the Animist
Grove of the Burnwillows
Den of the Bugbear
You’re looking to hit hard and fast with this deck. There’s some early aggressive creatures, but a lot of your cheaper spells ramp you out so you can start hitting hard with big creatures to make up for the higher life totals.
This deck focuses on generating a mana advantage to create a commanding board presence. You also have several ways to start extra combats in this list. These effects get you even more attack triggers and can feel like an extra turn spell if your opponents are low enough.
Wulfgar of Icewind Dale is a strong commander for this build-around deck. Its ability that doubles attack triggers makes for some interesting deckbuilding decisions. The emphasis on attacking makes Wulfgar a great fit for aggro since you want to be turning creatures sideways anyway.
This deck also wants to spread the love. The melee ability on Wulfgar also triggers an extra time, so it becomes a massive 10/10 beater if you attack all three of your opponents. Commander damage is a legitimate way for this deck to win a long game, especially if you can give Wulfgar trample.
It’s worth noting that Wulfgar makes your abilities trigger an extra time rather than copying an ability that triggers. This means that you choose each time for each individual trigger for triggers like Elder Gargaroth that give you a choice for the trigger. You’re not obligated to make two 3/3s and so on.
To start with, you need lots of card draw in this deck. You make an abundance of mana quite easily, so extra cards to pump it into are essential. Gruul () might not be as well known for card draw as colors like blue and black, but you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Conspiracy Theorist filters away your excess lands and lets you cast spells you discard with its ability.
Light Up the Stage lets you draw two cards for one mana. You attack often enough that enabling spectacle is rarely an issue, and you generate enough mana to play these spells.
Escape to the Wilds is Light Up the Stage’s bigger, older brother. Getting five cards for five mana is a fine rate and a windfall for Gruul decks. Getting to play an extra land helps maximize the odds of playing all five cards.
Werewolf Pack Leader provides an early attacker that draws you plenty of cards and hits even harder later in the game.
Laelia, the Blade Reforged offers a threat that scales the longer it sits on the battlefield and draws up to two cards with your commander in play. Laelia gets out of hand quite quickly since most of the card advantage in this deck involves exiling cards to cast.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a steady source of card advantage, but it also does much more. The ramp Chandra provides pushes you over the edge, and its ultimate makes for a great finisher in a deck with this much card draw and mana.
Professional Face-Breaker doubles as card and mana advantage. It also benefits from attacking multiple opponents at once. You have plenty of other Treasure generators, so you’re not reliant on the damage ability to draw cards with this.
Smuggler's Copter isn’t card advantage so much as it is card selection, but it’s still an invaluable tool. It fixes your hand at every point in the game and picks off planeswalkers.
Etali, Primal Storm might be the best (or at least most fun) card advantage engine in the deck. Attacking to cast up to four spells is great, but casting up to eight is even better! This dinosaur can often generate six mana worth of value from one trigger, making it well worth playing.
Elder Gargaroth could really fit in any section of this list. Here, or with the token producers, or even in its own category because it’s just that good. This card is a monstrous beating even without doubling the attack trigger.
These cards generate a bunch of tokens, either on attack or at the beginning of the upkeep. These are some of the stronger cards with your extra combat effects since they take over a board quickly.
Goblin Rabblemaster is an iconic red card that you make great use of in this deck. Most of the token makers you have here make more Goblin tokens, so this hits hard, even before you double the attack trigger.
Legion Warboss is sometimes called Rabblemaster at home but deserves a spot in this list. The mentor ability is nice since it helps make your tokens into more relevant threats and stacks nicely with another token producer along with Wulfgar.
Squee, Dubious Monarch is the latest edition of “3-mana goblin that makes goblins.” Unlike the other two Squee generates its tokens by attacking, so Wulfgar doubles them. It’s also a bit stickier than the others with its pseudo-escape ability.
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin stacks especially well with Wulfgar. It makes tokens for each instance of its trigger, and they increase each time. So a 1/2 Krenko will attack, get a +1/+1 counter, make two Goblins, and then get another counter to create three more Goblins. Throw in a few extra combats and this dominates a board.
These extra combats are great to get multiple triggers out of your various attack triggers. They stack especially well with the ones that generate card advantage or mana generation to pull well ahead of your opponents.
Combat Celebrant might be the best of these effects. Wulfgar doubles it, which is fantastic, but it’s also part of your combo finisher.
Seize the Day doesn’t have the same wide utility as Combat Celebrant, but it can punch well above its weight. It’s especially strong with Wulfgar; if an opponent doesn’t have blockers, you can attack them for 10 and again for an extra 20 to take them out. You might even get another one if you can flash this back the same turn.
Port Razer generates up to three extra combats for a crazy amount of triggers. Untapping all of your creatures makes this super powerful.
World at War is another card that gives all your creatures another go at combat, except it’s a sorcery instead of a creature. Rebound is a fantastic addition to the card, giving you four combats across two turns. It’s kind of like a red Time Warp if you squint at it just right since this deck is all about combat.
As I said towards the beginning, you need something big and explosive to close out a game of Commander. These cards help close the door after you’ve established a great board state with your token producers and have a few extra combats lined up.
Beastmaster Ascension provides a massive stat boost to your entire team. It takes some time to get going under normal circumstances, but you only have to attack four times to turn this on with Wulfgar in play.
Hellrider lets you kill your opponents without needing to connect with your creatures. It also helps mob down planeswalkers and spread your attackers around to keep your damage high.
Battle Cry Goblin is a fairly narrow finisher, but it can do the job. This only works as a finisher if you get some of the token makers I mentioned before and amass a large number of goblins, but pumping 10 mana into this and giving those tokens +5/+0 is a legitimate threat to consider.
Cultivator of Blades is one of several creatures that provide a team-wide buff every time it attacks. This one is a little weaker than the others that give trample, but it has the benefit of coming with a board state.
Blossoming Bogbeast might look a little out of place here, but it’s a super powerful effect. A doubled trigger gives your team +4/+4, outstripping Overrun. It also works really well with Elder Gargaroth to give as much as +10/+10.
Pathbreaker Ibex also gives a team-wide buff, but the sky’s the limit with this one. Remember when we looked at all those token producers? This is the main payoff. These team-wide buffs are especially important with the multiple combat effects, so your creatures don’t die from accumulating combat damage.
The Mana Base
This deck’s mana base starts exactly where you’d expect a Gruul deck to start: you have a bunch of mana dorks to burst out of the gate quickly. Birds of Paradise as well as every variant of Llanowar Elves gets you there. You also have Orcish Lumberjack to facilitate truly explosive starts.
Beyond these pieces you have some pretty typical cards like Nature's Lore and Cultivate to get extra lands in play.
There’s also a bunch of cards that work with Wulfgar to generate either Treasures or mana when you attack. Captain Lannery Storm is a fantastic aggro piece that makes a bunch of Treasures and can become a big threat that forces a trade or deals a bunch of damage.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is one of the strongest red cards printed in recent memory. The Goblin token gives you mana, and the saga fixes your hand and deploys another threat with the flipside that can copy most of your finishers.
Jolene, the Plunder Queen makes more than a few Treasures. It works great with your other Treasure producers and encourages your opponents to attack each other, taking pressure off you and making them lower each other’s life total.
Goldspan Dragon is just a broken card that generates obscene amounts of mana. Not only does it make a token when it attacks, it also doubles the value of all your Treasure.
Of course, Treasures not the only way you’re making mana. Kessig Naturalist comes down and starts ramping you early. The backside doesn’t really matter since you only have one other werewolf.
Grand Warlord Radha starts making mana as soon as it hits the board and generates plenty of it. It ramps especially well into your extra combats.
Cemetery Prowler and Sword of the Animist don’t provide immediate bursts of mana but are still powerful. Prowler doubles as graveyard hate and reduces the cost of your spells. Unfortunately you don’t have many multiple-type cards so you only ever get a cost reduction of 1. The Sword doesn’t produce mana itself, but finding lands gets you way ahead.
Beyond all these ramp options you’re working with a pretty standard Gruul mana base. There are a bunch of fixing lands and some value lands like Demolition Field and Castle Garenbrig.
Notably, Den of the Bugbear and Raging Ravine are two lands that become threats and work well with Wulfgar.
First you want to try and play against creature-light strategies. It’s easier to attack into those decks, thus getting you more triggers. You’ve got quite a few ways to assert yourself early, and making use of that will be one of the most important lines you can take.
Ramp is necessary. You have a lot of options for it, but make sure to keep some. Your commander is fairly expensive, so you need to get Wulfgar out quickly and be prepared to pay a lot of mana if it gets removed. You also want to accelerate into your bigger value creatures quickly. You need those heavy-hitting cards like Elder Gargaroth and Goldspan Dragon to come down quickly to make up for the high life totals.
Wulfgar of Icewind Dale is something to keep an eye on. Its melee ability stacks incredibly quickly, especially with your extra combats. Trying to get to a relatively clear board state where you can one-shot an opponent with an extra combat spell is one of the easiest ways to claim a quick victory.
You also need to build up a board. All the ramp helps with this as you can dump your hand into play pretty quickly. This is also where the token producers come in. By and large your finishers rely on you having a wide board state that becomes unmanageable when pumped with cards like Pathbreaker Ibex.
You also have some ways to take infinite combats that take over the game and finish everybody off in one fell swoop, regardless of how much life they have.
Combos and Interactions
Infinite Combat of the Helm
You have a few ways to generate infinite combats. One of them is the classic pairing of Combat Celebrant or Godo, Bandit Warlord with Helm of the Host.
Equip the Helm to either of these creatures. At the beginning of combat you get a token that’s a copy of the equipped creature with haste. Attack with the token to generate another combat, which generates another token, and so on.
This just kills the table. Even if they have blockers you can just attack them until combat damage stacks up and the creatures die, leaving their owners venerable. Indestructible blockers throw a wrench into this, but indestructible creatures tend to be hard for Gruul to deal with anyway.
You can also use the Helm to go infinite with Port Razer. Equip the Razer and make a token copy that attacks an opponent. Port Razer can only attack each player once, but each new token is a new instance of the creature. So the first token can attack Player A, make a token, and then start a new combat creating a token that can attack Player A again. The end result is that each token generates three combats apiece, which in turn makes three more tokens, and so on.
This isn’t as straightforward as the combo with Godo or Celebrant because Port Razer has to deal combat damage to get the extra combat. It doesn’t work as well on a cluttered board because chump blocking is an effective way to stop this strategy. For best results you want to pair this with Pathbreaker Ibex or Blossoming Bogbeast, which provide trample and enough power to ensure you get the job done.
Treasured Infinite Combats
Another combo that lets you go infinite uses Combat Celebrant, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and any card that produces a mana or Treasure token.
You need the Celebrant and the mana producer in play, and the Fable needs to be transformed into Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. First attack and exert the Combat Celebrant. In response to the trigger going on the stack, use the Reflection to make a token copy of the Celebrant with haste.
The Celebrant’s trigger resolves, untapping all your creatures. Move to the extra combat where you exert the token copy of Celebrant to untap all your creatures.
From here, the combo can go one of two ways. These two token copies of Combat Celebrant keep untapping each other for infinite combats, and that can be enough if the opposing board states are completely empty or you have a mass pump.
You can also keep producing copies of Combat Celebrant with Reflection. Your mana source can be something that makes mana when it attacks like the Goblin Shaman token that your Fable makes, or a dork like Elvish Mystic. The important thing is that it untaps each combat to make another token copy. Continuously generating the tokens is the more consistent wincon and is necessary without an Ibex or similar effect.
You can also use Port Razer instead of Combat Celebrant for this loop. Godo, Bandit Warlord doesn’t work for this, since there aren’t any samurai in the deck to untap.
Dealing with Indestructible Creatures
As an aside, you have a few ways around indestructible creatures. These present a hurdle to the combos since an indestructible creature just blocks forever. The first solution is to just go around it. Pathbreaker Ibex and Blossoming Bogbeast both make your team into infinitely large tramplers, as long as the buff they’re giving stacks toughness faster than the indestructible creature deals damage.
You can also go around it. Goblin Rabblemaster and Legion Warboss create additional infinite tokens to go with your infinite combats. And if you just can’t sneak in the damage, taking infinite combats with Etali, Primal Storm lets you exile and cast all the spells in your opponents’ libraries for a mill win.
Rule 0 Violations Check
The main way this deck violates some Rule 0 discussion is the inclusion of the infinite combos. That’s not something every play group enjoys playing with. That said, the majority of these pieces provide enough value to the deck that you could just agree to not go infinite.
The only exception to this is Godo, Bandit Warlord. It doesn’t do much in the deck except go infinite with Helm of the Host. If you’re not going to combo off it could get swapped for something else that generates extra combats, like Moraug, Fury of Akoum.
This isn’t the most expensive a Commander deck could be at around $300, but you can still make some cuts to save a bit of cash.
Heroic Intervention is a fantastic and pricy protection spell. You mostly want to protect your creatures, so you can substitute it for Wrap in Vigor. Sword of the Animist provides a consistent source of ramp at a high price. You could use Primeval Herald as an alternative that still ramps while attacking.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is one of the most generally powerful spells in the deck and a potential combo piece, but it’s also not needed. It could be replaced by something like Magda, Brazen Outlaw that produces Treasure and wants to attack.
Elder Gargaroth provides immense value, but it’s not strictly needed for the deck. It could get replaced by another big creature like Drakuseth, Maw of Flames or Kogla, the Titan Ape to apply pressure. Goldspan Dragon could also get cut for one of these options as another way to trim the deck’s price.
Wulfgar of Icewind Dale is a bit of a narrower commander to build around. It really needs you to get into combat to get the most out of its abilities. This list looks to capitalize on that with all of the extra combats and such.
Another way you could build Wulfgar would be to go for more of a Voltron deck looking to win with commander damage. Even in this deck, which isn’t Voltron in the slightest, winning with commander damage is still a possibility. You can easily one-shot opponents if you were to throw in some equipment and auras to bolster that melee ability further.
Goblin Rabblemaster | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
It’s hard to get aggro to work in Commander. It’s a quintessential strategy to Magic as a whole but offers challenges in a format where you’re staring down three opponents with 40 life each. This deck wants to close that gap by taking a bunch of extra combats and closing things out with a couple infinite combos.
That said, there are still plenty of other avenues aggro can take in Commander, like burn or infect. What did you think of this build? How would you approach building an aggro deck in Commander? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord.
That’s all from me for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!
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