Voltron’s back with a brand new precon. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms’ Aura of Courage sees the first new Bant Voltron commander since 2018’s Tuvasa the Sunlit. Can Galea, Kindler of Hope kindle hope for us? Let’s find out in this precon review and upgrade guide.
GALEA, KINDLER OF HOPE
First things first, let’s look at the commander. A 4/4 vigilance for four is a decent rate, and both Elf and Knight are good creature types. The spice comes with her ability: not only can we look at the top of our library whenever we want, we can also cast Auras and Equipment from there. If we do, the Equipment auto-equips. This is a really sweet ability that offers some great card advantage. One thing to keep in mind is that Galea’s ability doesn’t affect when we can cast those cards; we’re still bound by timing restrictions (unless we have Sigarda’s Aid!)
There are obvious format staples that can help enable this, and if you’ve ever built Elsha of the Infinite or Aminatou, the Fateshifter, you’ll have some ideas of what tools you can use to manipulate the top of the library.
Along with the more expensive Enlightened Tutor, there are other ways to work with this ability. Sterling Grove has recently seen a reprint; Vega, the Watcher gives us card draw for casting off the top; the included Sword of the Animist gives us a shuffle when we attack.
The hardest part of building with Galea will undoubtedly be choosing the direction to go with her. Will it be in the vein of classic Rafiq, taking advantage of exalted and going full Voltron? Is Enchantress more your bag, running Sigarda, Host of Herons and Bruna, Light of Alabaster? Or would you rather have the best of both worlds and run Nettlecyst and All That Glitters? It’s truly up to you.
AURA OF COURAGE DECK REVIEW
If you were wondering whether to pick up the deck, then the outlook is positive. While I am a huge Voltron nerd, I think this precon is worth picking up for many reasons, not least some of the new cards.
While Storvald is hella specific — you’ll either love him or hate him — some of the other spells are pretty exciting. Catti-brie doesn’t even need to be in an Equipment deck to perform — stick her in a +1/+1 counters deck and enjoy her ability. Ride the Avalanche is a Quicken for all spells, with the bonus that a creature you control will get +1/+1 counters equal to that spell’s mana value. That card is seriously pushed, and I love it.
There are also some sweet new Equipment that can slot into any number of existing builds. Robe of Stars giving the creature phasing is just cool, and Holy Avenger is a way to pile on the damage, triggering mid-combat after first strike damage. Mantle of the Ancients is where it’s really at, though. This card, like Ride the Avalanche, is just straight up gas, and I can’t wait to play with it.
The precon also comes with some smashing reprints, particularly cards that were in desperate need of one. Along with hits like Sword of the Animist, we also get:
- Utopia Sprawl
- Basilisk Collar
- Nature’s Lore (with new art!)
- Puresteel Paladin
- Sram, Senior Edificer
- Realm-Cloaked Giant
- Swiftfoot Boots
- Viridian Longbow
Out of the box, the deck runs reasonably well and has some really great draws. For our upgrade guide, we’re going to focus on consistency: getting more action and more closing power.
UPGRADING AURA OF COURAGE
Voltron is a known quantity at this point, so I’m going to refrain from just advocating for jamming all of the best Auras and Equipment from the front page of EDHREC; you can easily check that out for yourself. Indeed, I actually think only Sword of Sinew and Steel from the sword cycle is worth an include here; the protection on the others can really mess up using Auras (the exception being, of course, if you’re running only Equipment). Instead, I’ll go over some picks that are more broadly relevant to how the deck plays.
First thing’s first, let’s look at ways to up our consistency. Equipment tutors are great, but the flexibility of Open the Armory is better. If you have the dollar, go for Enlightened Tutor, but otherwise, Open the Armory is perfectly fine.
In the hybrid version of the deck, a card like Starnheim Courser is perfect. I advocate for smaller evasive synergy creatures when building Voltron, and this one fits the bill perfectly. Ardenn helps out with reducing our mana outlay, too, by moving things around. If we’re using Aura-based removal like Darksteel Mutation and Kenrith’s Transformation, Ardenn can keep things in check. Maul of the Skyclaves is a nice, cheap, efficient piece of Equipment that’ll auto-equip even without Galea.
Armored Skyhunter augments our strategy, and gets better when we run Aura-based ramp, too, as we’ll hit more often. If we’re manipulating the top of our deck, the ceiling is even higher. There are some great card draw options available for this type of deck, but I really like Setessan Champion and Toski here, as they are both viable bodies to be strapped up for a beatdown.
Having recursion is great, and though Mantle of the Ancients does a lot of heavy lifting, you need more than that. Bruna is one to consider, and I also really like Heavenly Blademaster as a surprise attacker. Just make sure to run enough haste-granting buffs to have these really shine for you. Open the Vaults should do a lot of work in a hybrid build, too.
Continuing the theme of utility creatures, Restoration Specialist is perfect for a Voltron build in Bant, since it can get back some key pieces. Remorseful Cleric and Trygon Predator, meanwhile, offer evasive bodies that come with removal. Perfect.
As far as ways to buff our commander, I’m always keen to add some unblockable where I can. Trailblazer’s Boots and Steel of the Godhead are the cream of the crop, and given we can cheat on mana a little in this deck, I also fancy using Godsend. Not only will it remove a blocker that can absorb trample damage, it also helps us block better — Galea has vigilance, so we can double dip on value. It’s also pretty darn flavorful as a Paladin-style weapon!
If you’re leaning into Auras and Aura-based removal, then Cleansing Meditation seems sweet in Galea — a way to reset the board and get some value. Slash the Ranks is the premier Voltron removal spell, and Fumble is a card I always want to run that should finally make the cut, given it can be used both offensively and defensively.
Hyena Umbra is an auto-include for me in Voltron now, as is Blacksmith’s Skill, which also protects our other game pieces. Curator’s Ward is cute, and can help us keep an Aura in play. Even with the likes of Heroic Intervention, it’s good to be prepared.
There are countless ways to finish a game in Voltron, from Blackblade Reforged to infect, and from Fling to Helm of the Host. What you include will be personal to you, but here are some cards to consider.
If you’ve gone down the Auras route, then a Siona combo might be up your street. Using Shielded by Faith, you’ll amass an infinite army of Soldier tokens. What you do with them will be up to you, and the cards you’ve included — check out my primer on how to perform combos with her here.
As far as what creatures to top your curve with, you can’t go wrong with Sigarda, a Voltron staple. Sun Titan is also a relative auto-include here, especially if you’re using plenty of Auras. I also really like Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, as she makes it hard for opponents to block, and harder for them to get you on the crack back.
Ultimately, Voltron is heavily customizable, so it’s really up to you where you take the deck. Check out some of my previous articles if you’re needing inspiration:
EXAMPLE $50 AURA OF COURAGE UPGRADE
On a $50 budget, you’d be surprised what I managed to pack in. For our upgrades, I’ve given the deck more recursion, more draw, more evasive bodies, and ways to finish the game.
As we’re running Ardenn, I decided to give Bound in Gold a try. Tamiyo seems really great considering we will know what the card on top of our library is, and Sword of Sinew and Steel is our $10 treat — removal and protection is pretty nice!
The mana base is largely untouched, as that’s usually dependent on what you own. I did add two great cards, though: Buried Ruin and Hall of Heliod’s Generosity. Both help us recur our cards, putting them right where Galea can cast them.
Check out the full decklist to see how it all comes together.
Galea is a super fun commander, and I can’t wait to see where everyone takes her. A lot of the high-end Voltron cards can be expensive, but I hope this budget upgrade guide has shown how a few key pieces can help to make the deck tick — we got just under thirty cards for our $50. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, as ever. Got any cool picks?
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.