Through the course of a format’s evolution and natural selection, common forms or themes begin to spring forth that deck lists have to adhere to. Similarly, we see the same in nature, where there is a tendency for creatures to evolve similar shapes and bodily forms. One such shape that we see on repeat is that of the noble crab. Between the dependence on multiple sideways facing legs, large forceps to interact with their undersea world and a rugged top side to protect their squishy underparts, things that look like crabs turn up with relatively huge consistency in nature. It’s actually a process called carcinization, and it’s pretty fascinating if you want to read up on it.
Magic has a similar process, wherein every competitive format will at some point evolve a deck whose game plan is to slap an Aura onto a creature that can protect itself from interaction. Since I’m the one to discover this process and that’s how science works, I’m going to coin this term as Boglization, or the act of rejecting modernity and returning to Bogle. Let’s take a look at the latest in a long line of Boglized decks with Selesnya Auras.
Budget Pioneer Selesnya Auras by Darren Magnotti
I’m sorry for that introduction. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again.
Selesnya Auras follows a traditional game plan of loading up a creature with hexproof or some other form of protection with as many Auras as possible. This creates one huge threat that most opponents will ideally struggle to deal with. This is by no means a new strategy, as we’ve seen in many other formats prior from the Modern Bogles deck to Innistrad Standard’s Bant Pants, even going back to Troll Worship decks in the way-before times.
The plan is simple: suit up a hexproof creature with Auras and use it to slap the opponent in the mouth until they die. While other variants of this deck have been known to load up on hexproof creatures, unfortunately Pioneer only has one reasonably costed creature with actual hexproof, so the creature base is slightly more fragile, but with enough secondary protection available, the deck is still reliable enough to pack a punch. The real strength in the Auras deck comes from its ability to sneak under decks like Devotion who want to go big while also going toe-to-toe with a lot of the decks like Azorius and Rakdos with their interaction. It banks on the opposing answers not lining up because hexproof creatures demand a specific method of dispatching them, and most decks aren’t usually playing those answers.
Creating a Hero
Illuminator Virtuoso comes in second as the backup option in terms of primary targets for the Aura train. With its very high individual power and the capacity to quickly outgrow opposing forces while sifting through the deck to find more gas, the Virtuoso is an extremely potent addition here. Most opening hands should include one of these two cards, as they provide the best starts and highest chances at sneaking through opposing defenses.
The other class of creature that these decks include is the card advantage engine. One of the biggest pitfalls that the Auras deck can face is when the opponent finds a way to remove the creatures in play, as doing so creates a huge card advantage swing because they were able to answer five or six cards for their one.
Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice, on the other hand, sort of combines these two creature classes as a card that can quickly become a threat on its own while providing substantial card advantage if it sticks around. Any Aura being played on a creature lets Light-Paws grab an Aura from the deck and put it on herself, either doubling up the efficacy of Auras that were headed onto Light-Paws already or by turning her into a second threat. She also enables a small toolbox in deck building by granting regular access to one-of Auras, which other versions of this deck can take some real advantage of. While this version omits the super spicy inclusions like Hammerhand and Kaya’s Ghostform, it’s worth noting that the deck can be built and tuned incredibly flexibly thanks to this feature.
Suit ‘Em Up
Audacity is a new card from BRO that serves a similar function, though in a way that’s much more green than white. +2 power for one mana is quite large, and trample is an extremely relevant ability that the deck didn’t have cheap and reliable access to up until now. Stapled on to the fact that Audacity replaces itself on its own accord, the card is a real slam dunk when it comes to “Auras that the Auras deck is looking to play.” Ethereal Armor and All That Glitters are the real bombs in the enchantment suite, scaling creatures’ power with however many enchantments are in play. One of these is frequently enough to outsize an opposing blocker, and with two any creature can become the biggest thing in the whole tournament hall.
In terms of protection, the Pioneer versions of the Auras deck have generally dedicated a playset of protection spells as well, just due to the lack of hexproof creatures available. Loran’s Escape is the optimal choice here, between its ability to save a creature from a board wipe effect via Indestructible, blank a removal spell via hexproof and give the slightest amount of card filtering with the scry. Previously this slot was taken by Karametra’s Blessing, but with Loran’s relaxed attitude not demanding that the creature already have an enchantment on it, it proves to be the better option for now.
How Does It Play?
Auras can be a bit of a glass cannon deck, relying heavily on mulligans and luck to assemble the perfect hand. The initial struggles involve assembling the correct combination of lands and creatures, and suiting them up with enough enchantments that they’re able to outpace an opponent’s creature base development. However, with the right pieces or a way to find them established, the deck can come out of the gates at lightning speed. Auras boasts a lot of the same pros and cons that other small creature combat-focused decks in this format have, from their ability to sneak under the larger bulky decks and steal a win before they can set up to being relatively fragile in the event that their matchup doesn’t line up. Control especially is a ridiculously difficult matchup, and one that you hope to avoid all day when piloting this strategy.
The game play is relatively straightforward, with some of the most difficult decisions happening on turn zero with mulligans. There are a lot of hands that are very close, and depending on the matchup, may or may not be able to find the finish line in time. I think that this deck is a good choice for those that want to get better at mulliganing on the whole, as that decision impacts the entire game and it can be very obvious when the wrong decision was made.
Once the game starts, there isn’t very much to think about here either. You establish a creature, make it swole and turn it sideways until the game is over. Games go pretty quickly, so it’s a good one to play if you enjoy lunch as well, as they say. On the whole, I think that Auras offers a very strong and immediate entry to the format, as well as a potent means to attack the particular meta game that we find ourselves in today.
Pioneer Selesnya Auras by Michael Letsch
This is the list that recently Top 8’d the American Regional Championship in the hands of Michael Letsch, and noticeably there are very few alterations needed to get to this point. Mana Confluence is the big piece, as well as the handful of sideboard staples that help to tack on additional percentage points in some of the more close matchups. The core of the deck is extremely cheap after having been printed as a Challenger Deck last year, and thanks to the otherwise complete void in the format for green-white decks, the lands aren’t in super high demand either. This may change soon as this deck is currently on the rise as a clean answer to Devotion, but for now it’s quite cheap to get into at a reasonable price point.
That’s all for this one. Auras is a deck that a lot of players begrudgingly accept as a part of the format, but it can be a valuable tool both in terms of as a threat in the metagame and as an entry point into the format with a relatively low skill cap. It’s definitely one of the least respected archetypes in the game, but there’s also a reason that it’s stuck around for as long as it has on the competitive and casual scenes. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.