Commander Deck of the Week: Astor, Bearer of Blades Takes the Helm

Bennie Smith is back with another Commander deck of the week, this time featuring Astor, Bearer of Blades!

Astor, Bearer of Blades, illustrated by Josh Hass

When Adventures in the Forgotten Realms came out I was super-excited about Bruenor Battlehammer. As a long-time D&D fan, I was super into the early works by R. A. Salvatore starting with The Crystal Shard. I’ve loved Dwarves since The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so the character of Bruenor really connected with me, and I was excited that the card was powerful and hit hard!  In fact, it hits a little too hard, and the Equipment deck I built with Bruenor at the helm very quickly steers the game into Archenemy territory if I draw even just a handful of powerful Equipment spells. So when Dominaria United brought a new Equipment overlord in the Boros colors, I was intrigued.

Astor, Bearer of Blades

Astor is a really sweet design, and gives the Equipment deck a much different feel than Bruenor. First, I love that Astor has an enters the battlefield trigger that helps you dig for an Equipment card, so even if Astor immediately dies you’ve likely gotten some value from your mana. Giving all your Equipment cards equip 1 means you can more easily move multiple Equipment cards around to various creatures, rather than slowly moving one per turn with Bruenor’s ability. And since Astor doesn’t have Bruenor’s power boosting effect, creatures you equip multiple times won’t necessarily become existential threats to your opponents, meaning it’s possible they won’t immediately buy a removal spell.

Plus, Astor gives love to Vehicles too, so you could run him in your Vehicle deck or even make a hybrid deck that cares about Equipment and Vehicles. Since I already had an Equipment deck built with Bruenor, switching to Astor as the commander kept my focus on Equipment, but I did keep an eye out for a few Vehicles I might want to run too.

Okay, let’s dig in!

Equipment Creatures

Rabbit Battery Lion Sash Lizard Blades Cloudsteel Kirin Bronzeplate Boar Komainu Battle Armor

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty brought the perfect new creature type for Equipment decks, the Equipment creatures that can configure to attach as Equipment onto another creature or detach and stand alone. This helps solve the problem of drawing too many of one thing and not enough of the other.  Astor really helps with the high configure cost of the best of them such as Cloudsteel Kirin and Komainu Battle ArmorRabbit Battery and Lizard Blades have pretty low configure costs but being Equipment and creatures warrants the slots.

Equipment with High Equip Costs

Colossus Hammer Blackblade Reforged Blazing Sunsteel Maul of the Skyclaves Helm of the Host Kaldra Compleat

Shaving off the high equip costs is where Astor really shines, and I’m excited to be moving around Helm of the Host, Kaldra Compleat with ease!  Easily equipping Colossus Hammer is something you see in tournament formats like Pioneer and we can get with that train here, just keep in mind there is a drawback to Colossus Hammer besides its high equip cost—if you equip a flying creature, it will no longer be flying!  I’ve forgotten about that once or twice and it mattered, so pick your hammer-wielders with care!

Interactive Equipment

Shadowspear Resurrection Orb Robe of Stars Sword of the Realms Hammer of Nazahn

I’d like to call these Equipment cards as helpful in interacting with your opponents’ cards. Shadowspear helps to break up attempts to shut down interaction by taking away hexproof and indestructible which is situationally amazing, but other times it does nice work giving trample and lifelink to equipped creature. I currently just have one copy of the new Warhammer 40,000 card Resurrection Orb but knew I wanted to slam it into this deck since shaving that expensive equip cost to one is incredible and saving the equipped creature from permanent death is going to be a boon against battlefield sweepers. Robe of Stars already has a cheap equip cost but the astral projection ability means you definitely want it in your Equipment decks.

Sword of the Realms is the backside of Halvar, God of Battle and I imagine I’ll be playing the Sword side most of the time since it can get back equipped creature when it dies, but with the right circumstances I could see playing Halvar himself.  Hammer of Nazahn’s ability to make a key creature indestructible can help insulate my battlefield from battlefield sweepers that would otherwise kill all the creatures.

Other Equipment

Swiftfoot Boots Sword of Feast and Famine Sword of Sinew and Steel

Swiftfoot Boots and Sword of Feast and Famine are powerful Equipment played in many, many decks.  Sword of Sinew and Steel gets overlooked sometimes, but I really like it’s ability to snipe artifacts and planeswalkers.  I also play Liquimetal Torque which combines nicely with Sinew’s triggered ability!

Equipment Synergies

Axgard Armory Sigarda's Aid Stoneforge Mystic Sram, Senior Edificer Puresteel Paladin Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist Kazuul's Toll Collector Bruenor Battlehammer Mantle of the Ancients Danitha, Benalia's Hope

Nearly all of these carried over from my original Bruenor deck. I moved Bruenor to the 99 because he makes a great haymaker play once the battlefield is otherwise stalled.  I’m also excited to give the new card from Dominaria United Danitha, Benalia’s Hope a whirl—what a fantastic collection of abilities, and how awesome would it be to put Kaldra Compleat from my hand onto the battlefield equipped to Danitha!

Artifact Synergies

Ironsoul Enforcer Bronze Guardian Brilliant Restoration

Since Equipment and Vehicles are artifacts I’m including a few good cards that play well with artifacts.  Bronze Guardian can get quite fearsome the more artifacts are on the battlefield and provide a measure of protection for your artifacts from pinpoint removal. Ironsoul Enforcer is a sweet card from Neon Dynasty Commander that provides a small amount of recursion, while Brilliant Restoration brings back all my artifacts (and enchantments) in one fell swoop.

Card Draw

War Room Skullclamp Sword of Fire and Ice Akiri, Fearless Voyager Magus of the Wheel Wheel of Misfortune Mighty Servant of Leuk-o Sun Titan

Card draw is important for any Commander deck and I’ve tried to squeeze some of it here.  Card draw Equipment is perfect, so Skullclamp and Sword of Fire and Ice are slam dunks. I’m also excited to slide in Mighty Servant of Leuk-o, which has impressed me the few times I’ve played it as a card draw engine, and as a Vehicle it can be found from an Astor trigger.

I count Sun Titan as card draw since “drawing” and playing for free your best three mana or less permanent from the graveyard is often better than just drawing a random card from the top of my library.


Vandalblast Swords to Plowshares Rip Apart Delayed Blast Fireball Crush Contraband Space Marine Devastator Wrath of God Blasphemous Act

Most of the usual removal suspects from Boros are in here.  I’ve added Delayed Blast Fireball from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate; the foretell ability is incredible in a deck that plays Wheel effects, and the non-symmetrical damage is rare for a red battlefield sweeper. I’m also excited to play with Space Marine Devastator from Warhammer 40,000 which can translate extra mana into more bodies.


Nautiloid Ship Luminous Broodmoth Blacksmith's Skill

Nautiloid Ship is another good Vehicle to slide into the deck, providing a measure of graveyard hate that can potentially generate card advantage with extra creatures. Blacksmith’s Skill is a cheap interactive spell to counter pinpoint removal or some other effect.

Luminous Broodmoth is Wrath of God insurance so I’m better able to keep creatures on the battlefield to equip and gaining flying in the process can help push through damage for the end game.  Nifty little combo here—Colossus Hammer removes flying so Luminous Broodmoth will bring back any flying creature equipped with the Hammer, including itself!

Mana Ramp

Myriad Landscape Sol Ring Wayfarer's Bauble Boros Signet Arcane Signet Liquimetal Torque Sword of the Animist Sword of Hearth and Home Solemn Simulacrum

Sword of the Animist and Sword of Hearth and Home are fantastic pieces of Equipment that help you ramp your mana. Sword of Hearth and Home’s triggered ability lets you “blink” a creature you own, which means you can get back a creature that’s been stolen from you, or you can blink something that has a sweet enters the battlefield trigger.

Lastly, I’m giving Akki Battle Squad a whirl in the deck.  Equipped creatures count as being modified, and it’s ability will likely trigger the turn you cast it if you attack with something else.

Akki Battle Squad

If it doesn’t work out, I do have a Godo, Bandit Warlord I could swap in for it.  What do you think?

So, here is the decklist as it stands today:

Astor, Bearer of Blades
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 10-28-2022
Magic Card Back

Here are the deck stats from our friends at Archidekt:

What would you put in your Astor, Bearer of Blades deck that I may have missed here?  Do you think Astor is better or worse than Bruenor Battlehammer for an Equipment commander?

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And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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