Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander Review - Aura of Courage

Naomi Krause • July 21, 2021

Galea, Kindler of Hope by Johannes Voss


Hi I'm Naomi, a forever DM who's been addicted to D&D since I was 10. Now that Wizards have broken the reality barrier because f&$# it, why not? Rick from the Walking Dead is a cannon Magic character but not really, I get to talk about my favorite game inside of my second-favorite game!

So why play with all of the cool new D&D inspired mechanics when you could just go Voltron instead? Well At least this legend doesn't break the color pie Old Gnawbone grumble grumble.

Galea, Kindler of Hope herself is quite the force to be reckoned with. Being able to play cards off the top of your deck provides absurd card advantage, and free equips on top of that lets you run a bunch of normally bad equipment as only sort of bad equipment! That being said, the Aura of Courage decklist is a weird one. There are some fantastic cards, both old and new, but it's missing a few key inclusions that seem like no brainers.

Think of "enchantments that let you play off the top of your library" for a second.

None of those are here!

The commander does sort of replace these effects, but also Puresteel Paladin replaces part of her effect and they're in the list so checkmate atheists. There are a number of cards that focus on manipulating the top of your deck, which work well with Galea, but not with anything else in the library. I mean cards like Brainstorm are always going to be fantastic, but the lack of an Oracle of Mul Daya or her cousins really slows you down. Not to mention that the mana base is abysmal, with every crappy land outside of guildgates you can think of.


The list similarly lacks powerful equipment and auras, which feels like a bit of a misstep. I understand wanting to keep things powered down for a precon, but come on you guys aren't even going to toss in one of the Modern Horizons swords?




Anyway, let's check out those cool, new trading cards! Also note that these ratings are quite subjective and I am not a smart woman, so a lot of my assessments are sure to be off. I was convinced Aetherstorm Roc was going to break standard back in 2016; yeah we all remember Roc Autumn.



Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl

Storvald, Frost Giant Jarl is an interesting beast; protecting your team while simultaneously buffing & debuffing creatures. I dig the group Ward, but I'm still not sold on the base power/toughness mathematics. Maybe if it had flash, or if the deck had more weak creatures to take advantage of the 7/7 mode. I get the intended synergy of buffing auraquipmented creatures with low base stats, but dropping a slow ass combat trick is just never going to feel great to me. 2/5 [Editor's note - no one asked Naomi to do a score out of 5. No one else did that. That just seems like... extra chances to be wrong. I mean, I'm not even mad, I like the system I just don't expect anyone else to be beholden to it.]


Hey look that's the only mythic, neat.



Belt of Giant Strength

I loooooove goofy cards that they put giant numbers on. My inner timmy goes nuts for Colossus Hammer and Colossification (which isn't in this deck for some colossally stupid reason). Unfortunately, the decks lack of Sigarda's Aid & Hammer of Nazahn effects beyond topdecks with Galea mean that this thing is going to stick on the field doing nothing for most of your games. 3 out of 5 in the Precon, 4 out of 5 in an actually good deck.


Catti-brie of Mithral Hall

This card is so boring, I forgot it existed until I started sorting cards alphabetically for this article! That's not a great sign! Catti-brie of Mithral Hall has what I call "Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Syndrome" where she's a named character that's cool to see in Magic, but good lord is she mechanically uninteresting. She's asking to be Voltron'd up, but at the same time has no evasion of any kind. She wants you to attack with her for the counters, but at the same time she doesn't have Vigilance. I guess the old-school archery pinging is kinda neat, but I'd almost rather just run Icatian Javelineers.  Sorry Drizzt, I'm not a fan of your wife. 2/5, should've married the panther.


Diviner's Portent

Diviner's Portent is a huge sleeper staple in these decks, easily replacing Blue Sun's Zenith for me. I will gladly trade out Zenith's reshuffle for a chance to look at potentially twice as many cards. There's also the fact that you can't target an opponent to mill them out with Diviner's Portent, but I'm a nice person so I've never really done that before. Screw you Jordan, let me draw cards. Easily slotting this into Aboshan, solid 4/5.


Fey Steed


Fey Steed bangs, but sort of conflicts with itself. I feel like you want the powerful static Shaper's Sanctuary (wow white stole something from green for once!) to give you card advantage, but the card encourages you to attack with it, putting itself at risk. It's by no means a bad card, I'm just not sold on the abilities working together. 3/5


Holy Avenger

Fireshrieker can be really powerful in the proper build, but unfortunately this deck isn't it. The list lacks any "when this creature deals damage" effects because they can't put swords in a precon for some reason. The aura dropping effect of Holy Avenger is similarly disappointing with the lack of high CMC/mana value enchantments in the precon, the two highest ones only cost 5 a piece. It's a cool card and double strike is still great for damage, but the current deck lacks sufficient payoff. 2 out of 5 in the precon, 4 out of 5 in the right build, 3 out of 5 in our hearts.


Mantle of the Ancients

Retether is one of my favorite pet cards. Back when I was first getting into Magic playing casual ass two headed giant at my LGS, I'd have my friend Mill me out while I Retethered 30 Ethereal Armors onto a Hero of Iroas. Wait why is All That Glitters not in this list? Whatever, stapling retether to all that glitters and reanimating some equipment in the process is wonderful. 4 out of 5.


Netherese Puzzle-Ward

Now we come to an adorable little enchantment that looks like a crab holding an eyeball. I dig it. It's great on its own and doesn't require any other synergies to do its thing, which really sets it apart from a lot of bad support cards that rely on other cards with their mechanic. Scrying every turn makes me happy, scrying multiple cards makes me very happy, and scrying every turn with a chance to draw an extra card makes my nipples hard. There are certainly better choices out there, and 4 CMC is a little much for card selection, but this feels like the perfect precon support card to me. 4 out of 5.


Ride the Avalanche

Scout's Warning is a good Magic card. Quicken is a good Magic card. Smashing both of those together and pumping the crap out of your board makes for a very good Magic card. It's sort of annoying that Ride the Avalanche can't put counters on a creature you summon with it, but colors that want flashy Simic bs are going to want this flashy Simic bs. It also goes quite well with my favorite Simic Archetype, Evolve/+1/+1 Counters. Hellooooo Verazol, the Split Current. 3 out of 5 in the precon, 4 out of 5 in my can of silly snakes.


Robe of Stars

Oh hey it's the best card in this deck, neat. In my humble, often incorrect opinion, Robe of Stars is perfect; perfect translation of a D&D magic item, perfect costs, perfect synergy with the rest of the deck, just chef's kisses all around. 5 out of 5, make more of this stuff.


Song of Inspiration

Oh hey it's a card so bad I will never think about it again after writing this. Restock sucks; Restock that only hits permanents sucks more. The incidental lifegain is alright, but spending 5 mana doing nothing but grabbing a few permanents from your garbage can is a play I'd never really like to make. The upside is that it can give you enough life to survive a turn doing diddly squat, but I mean why not just spend your turn doing anything else? I would never run this in any deck over Regrowth, Eternal Witness or Den Protector 1 out of 5 get out of my house.


Valiant Endeavor

Valiant Endeavor is great. Any board wipe that leaves you with soldiers is a massive swing, especially in a deck with this many creature buffs. The worst thing this card can do is rolling high when there aren't any expensive creatures out, but even then getting a handful of 2/2's is fine for the cost. I'm a fan! It'd fit better in a token focused deck, but this precon is half-assing that with Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree for some reason so I digress. 4 out of 5.



Winged Boots

So the deck has two phenomenal new cards, yeah that sounds about right for one of these. Granting creatures evasion and protection simultaneously for a tiny mana investment is everything this deck needs and more. 5 out of 5 going in every blue creature-based deck I run.



Clay Golem

Mommm can we get Meteor Golem?

We have Meteor Golem at home.

Meteor Golem at home:

If you want to spend 10 mana over multiple turns to blow up a permanent with a big chunker, go nuts. Hitting lands in any color is nice, but I'd play other removal over this in pretty much everything. Oh and Clay Golems are really cool in actual Dungeons and Dragons, so I'm extra disappointed with how little of an impression this pile of Play Doh left on me in cardboard. 2/5


Ebony Fly

Ebony Fly's a weird not quite but sort of vehicle that Launches a thug when it attacks. While I commend the designers for recreating a D&D Magic Item in a cool way, having a colorless mana rock that comes in tapped in a 3 color deck with an already sketchy mana base doesn't sit well with me. 2 out of 5, still twice as good as Song of Inspiration.


Sword of Hours

Hey what's this Hydra card doing in here? The Precon has 6 cards that care about +1/+1 counters total (including Sword of Hours), arguably 7 with Masterwork of Ingenuity. I don't feel like that's enough of a sub-sub-micro theme to make this card worth running. In this list you want it to stick on a creature for several turns in a row, which just isn't going to happen most of the time. I guess it's cheap to cast and equip, but I'm not feeling it. 2 out of 5, more goodies for Verazol.


Closing Remarks

While I have been pretty harsh on Aura of Courage as a whole, I do want to say that it's far from a bad deck. There are some nice reprints, a few cool new cards and Galea, Kindler of Hope is a sweet take on voltron that I'd love to build properly some day. That being said, there are a few duds, a handful of weird inclusions, and the mana base is absolute crap.






Naomi Krause is a weirdo Cephalid lady who writes jokes about card games and desperately craves your approval due to an emotionally abusive upbringing. She also loves crabs!