Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice reminds me of one of my favorite cards ever, Tallowisp. That said, Light-Paws lends itself to a bit of a different playstyle than Tallowisp – instead of having to split your deck between Spirits and Auras, you just get to play Auras, Auras and more Auras.
Light-Paws does ask you to pay good attention to how your deck is constructed, though, and today I’ll be doing just that as I take you through my newest brew. My goals for the deck are as follows:
- Build out a strong curve of auras for Light-Paws to enjoy.
- Find some Auras I can play repeatedly to keep tutoring strong Auras out of the library.
- Play threats that play well in parallel with Light-Paws – ones that grow with our Auras, produce more creatures when we play Auras or carry Auras well
- Use cost reduction effects to carry out effective multi-spell turns.
Let’s start with the reason for the whole deck: the auras! We’ll break the ones I chose down by mana value.
Thanks to the “or equal to” clause on Light-Paws, the one-drop slot is a real series of winners. I love the idea of casting Flickering Ward a few times to get the full complement on the table, and you can even use it as an early tutor target and return and replay it to stack up Light-Paws as soon as possible. That also plays well with some of our cards that trigger off casting enchantments! I want to highlight two all-stars here: Mask of Law and Grace and Shield of Duty and Reason. Giving Light-Paws protection from most of the color pie is a great way to improve your commander’s longevity. Of course, Ethereal Armor is here to make Light-Paws huge.
There’s a wide range of effects here. I love the idea of tutoring up Angelic Gift with Light-Paws’s ability and drawing a card in the bargain, and Conviction makes that a lot easier to do. Darksteel Mutation is our first offensive Aura, but don’t overlook Spectral Grasp, one of the stranger Auras I came across during my searches. It’s a lot of fun to imagine how that’s going to play out. Benevolent Blessing is one of the better Auras in recent years with its very friendly interpretation of protection, and Spirit Mantle contributes another great protection ability to let Light-Paws sneak past the competition.
Yes, I made sure to have an Aura that’s easy to return to hand at one, two and three mana value in order to maximize fun with Light-Paws. Goal 2 may really be Goal 1a, but that just doesn’t look as good, does it? Cage of Hands may not be super cheap, but at least it’s useful in general. Bound in Gold is another of our small number of Auras to put on other players’ creatures, though I think both Martial Impetus and Vow of Duty outshine it. Unquestioned Authority is probably my favorite of the threes, but Timely Ward does a fantastic job of triggering Light-Paws at instant speed where necessary.
Pickings get a bit slimmer up at four, but these are all solid – Angelic Destiny is a fun way to push through damage, Faith’s Fetters locks down pretty much anything and Sage’s Reverie is a huge blast of card draw.
I topped off at five for Auras in this deck, though you could go to eight for the Overwhelming Splendor/Eldrazi Conscription combo if you think your group wouldn’t mind. Mantle of the Ancients is an obvious winner, and Spectra Ward’s kind “doesn’t remove Auras” clause makes things so nice and frictionless.
Now that we’ve got the aura suite set up, what goes with these cards?
Obviously we can start with some Enchantress-style card draw! Mesa Enchantress has some extra value with other enchantments, but the other two care mostly abut Auras. Kor Spiritdancer is also a good creature to put Auras onto with an eye toward having more than one serious threat.
I do like the idea of making a wide board of creatures to back up some large and muscular Aura-laden creatures, and these cards do a great job of just that. All but one of these cards put tokens into play when we play enchantments or, better yet, put them into play. The only one that doesn’t is Celestial Ancient, which can quickly help turn those small tokens and other pint-sized utility creatures into serious threats. Of course, Flickering Ward and our other bounce-and-replay Auras make these even stronger.
Speaking of serious threats, these two both get huge alongside our wide range of Auras. Every Light-Paws trigger makes it easier to grow these faster and faster, and with the token generators going as well, Eidolon of Countless Battles gets even larger.
Cost reducers are going to make replaying Conviction or Cage of Hands a little easier, and they’ll also make multi-spell turns on the back of our enchantress effects even more possible.
So now that we’ve hit our goals, what can we use as scaffolding to support the cards we’ve already slotted in? Let’s start with some of the classics!
Our Auras won’t be around forever, so some recursion effects are going to be needed. I like Auramancer and Ironclad Slayer as cheap creatures that bring back key Auras while being able to carry Auras themselves, while Sun Titan is a stronger option at a much higher cost. Crystal Chimes brings Auras back to your hand if you want to get Light-Paws triggers, whereas Brilliant Restoration skips the hand step altogether.
These reactive ramp effects have gotten more powerful in recent years, and the two you see here are the best of the bunch. With 21 basic Plains in the list, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep these two fueled.
We need to protect our investment on the Auras, and phasing is one of the best ways we can do that. When something phases out, so do the permanents attached to it, which means Guardian of Faith and Teferi’s Protection can help us avoid all manner of wraths, removal spells and other problem effects. Swiftfoot Boots is here to provide hexproof (not shroud, notably), but the coolest card of the bunch is Umbra Mystic. Turning all of your Auras into protective effects is a huge boon for this deck!
Some of the most widely applicable pieces of interaction appear here. I don’t have a ton of room for effects like this since the deck is stuffed so full of Auras!
With so many cost reducers in addition to the catch up ramp, I skimped on mana rocks here. I think that’s probably okay, but I’ll have to do some experimenting to be sure.
I only put in two wraths, but both work very well with Light-Paws. Slash the Ranks lets us keep our heavily augmented commander plus anything with totem armor, whereas Winds of Rath may let us keep a large portion of our own board while sweeping away anything we haven’t invested an offensive Aura in. Imagine wrathing the board but leaving something behind that has Martial Impetus or Vow of Duty on it!
Auras contribute a lot to our devotion, so Nykthos will be a big player in helping us play all of our cards drawn by Sage’s Reverie and our other draw effects.
With an average mana value of just 2.84 ignoring lands, we will have clearance to exchange these lands for new cards fairly often.
The life loss from War Room is easily recovered via Daybreak Coronet, Felidar Umbra or a suited-up Danitha, and getting to four power for Bonders’ Enclave is a simple feat with all of our Auras.
My traditional group of lands to hit some of the classic blind spots of commander decks is here to help out once again! Be careful with Scavenger Grounds, as your own recursion effects will be stymied as well.
We have a solid group of utility lands here. Castle Ardenvale and Emeria provide a steady stream of creatures to put Auras on, and Command Beacon makes it easier to keep Light-Paws around. Rogue’s Passage makes it easier to sneak Light-Paws or another huge threat through, while Hall of Heliod’s Generosity helps when there’s an Aura-related dry spell. Reliquary Tower is kind of a freebie here, as is Eiganjo.
Throw in 21 basic Plains and you’ve got yourself a Light-Paws deck, or at least a nice draft to start playing and see where it lands! Here’s the full list – see you next time with another brew.
Light-Paws Aura Attack by Eric Levine