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Commander Top 10: Syr Gwyn, Hero Of Ashvale

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale isn’t just for Brawl! The Knights’ Charge face card can lead a Commander deck too, and Bennie Smith has his Top 10 cards to pair with Syr Gwyn, plus his latest list!

Throne of Eldraine released Friday, along with the four Brawl preconstructed decks. Unfortunately, the first print run was way under demand, considering how many Commander goodies are only available in those decks, and I’m sure that the fine folks at Wizards of the Coast are scrambling to print a lot more of them. In the meantime, I hope many of you were able to get at lease one of the decks out there, and if one of those was Knight’s Charge, you’re in luck—the face commander Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale is bonkers!

I think Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale might be flying a bit under the radar. On EDHREC as I’m writing this, Alela, Artful Provocateur has the most decks submitted; Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is second; and Chulane, Teller of Tales is a very close third. Syr Gwyn is a fair bit behind and in last place. This is good news—if people are buying up the Brawl decks, perhaps Knights’ Charge will be one of the last ones taken.

Syr Gwyn is the most costly of the new commanders at six mana, but she packs a real punch! Vigilance is an always welcome ability in Commander to let you both attack and defend, and the menace ability provides a measure of evasion.

The next two abilities are incredibly potent and synergistic. Whenever you attack with an equipped creature, you get to draw a card for the low, low price of one life. This ability has “haste” if you already have a creature equipped ready to go on offense. But even if you don’t, that’s where the second ability comes in—if you have a Knight creature, you get to equip them with any Equipment you have around for zero mana.

Zero.

Mana.

Many incredibly strong Equipment cards have been balanced out by making the equip cost expensive, so taking out that cost is huge game.

So, we’re going to want good Equipment cards, and we’re going to want good Knight cards. If we cover those bases nicely, everything else will fall into place.

Okay, let’s get into it—the Top 10 cards for a Syr Gwyn Commander deck!

#1: Knight Exemplar

Since we know we’re going to want a bunch of Knights, we’ll also want cards that make our Knights even better – especially if they are also Knights – and the best of the bunch is Knight Exemplar. One of the huge, glaring weaknesses for just about any non-Zombie tribal deck is being vulnerable to mass removal, and giving all your other Knights indestructible goes a long way towards patching up that weakness.

I’m including many other cards that do a lot of heavy lifting in a Knight tribal deck:

I particularly like Knights’ Charge, which is found in the Knights’ Charge Brawl deck, chipping away at your opponents while giving you life back to help pay for Syr Gwyn’s card drawing. Late-game, you can cash it in at instant speed to bring all your Knights back from the graveyard, either as a last-ditch defense against an attacking horde or a potent alpha strike.

#2: Helm of the Host

There’s no doubt Helm of the Host is one of the best pieces of Equipment in Commander, and only its steep equip cost keeps it from being totally out of hand. So naturally we want it in a deck where most if not all creatures can equip it for zero! If we get a non-legendary copy of Syr Gwyn, we get double the draw triggers from equipped creatures attacking. If we equip Knight Exemplar and make a copy, then they give each other indestructible.

I’m including a fair number of other, hard-hitting Equipment cards so we can ensure that Syr Gwyn’s party gets started right:

Dragon Throne of Tarkir is the kind of card that always seems like it could do great things, but with a mana cost of four, an equip cost of three, and then two mana to activate, that’s nine total mana invested just to get the one big effect. Sure, Commander is about big plays. but that’s a ton of mana investment. Shaving off that equip cost of three really helps make this card much more effective!

#3: Sigarda’s Aid

Sigarda’s Aid is a powerhouse card and it’s rather absurd it only costs one mana. The beauty of this card is that it turns all of your Equipment cards in hand into combat tricks, making blocking and even attacking into a very scary prospect for your opponent. Do you have Colossus Hammer in hand or no? One mana to give something +10/+10 is the epitome of Commander haymakers!

I’m including other high-quality cards that do fun things with Equipment:

#4: Heirloom Blade

One of the best tribal support cards happens to be an Equipment card, so I’m thrilled to have Heirloom Blade in this deck. Many Knights either have or gain first strike quite often, so that +3 power is very welcome, and the death trigger is great way to keep the gas flowing.

I’m including some other cards that pressure our opponents during our attack steps:

I like Path of Ancestry in any deck that plays at least three colors, but it’s obviously much better in a tribal deck and particularly welcome in the Mardu colors where card selection is at a premium.

#5: The Circle of Loyalty

If ever there’s a card that belongs in a Knight deck, it’s The Circle of Loyalty. This is the sort of card that can come down fairly early with a halfway decent start, boosting your team and also providing a way to build your battlefield without investing too many more cards.

There have been a fair number of strong Knight cards printed in the past year or so that are also legendary, so I’m including a good number of them here since they’re great to have early on to shave off mana from The Circle, and later on to make extra Knight tokens:

#6: Vona, Butcher of Magan

There are a fair number of Knights that can interact with our opponents’ plans, and the best of the bunch is Vona, Butcher of Magan. Vigilance is excellent in multiplayer, and the lifelink ability is exceptionally great when we have ways to boost the power of our creatures and even sometimes giving them double strike. Cashing in the extra life to destroy a problematic nonland permanent is well worth the cost.

I’m including some other cards that can help keep your opponent’s permanents in check:

#7: Blacklance Paragon

I want some more Knights in this deck, so I took a look for ones that do interesting things. The best of this bunch is Blacklance Paragon, not least of which is because it doubles as a removal spell for someone attacking you or a combat trick for when you’re attacking someone else. The lifelink-granting ability can be clutch in some situations too.

I’m including a few Knights will cool abilities:

#8: Crackling Doom

Even though we can cover a lot of bases with our Knights and Equipment, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include some instants and sorceries that can handle problems. As potent as our Knight synergies can be, there will be times when someone gets a gigantic threat on the battlefield, and for those situations, Crackling Doom can be our hero. Crackling Doom was a powerhouse in Standard, but once it rotated I kind of forgot about it until Wendy played it against me in Commander and wrecked me with it. Now I look for ways to put it into decks whenever I can, and I think it does great work here.

I’ve got a fair number of other interactive spells too:

#9: Acclaimed Contender

Once we get Syr Gwyn online it shouldn’t be tough to keep the cards flowing into our hands, but before that happens, we’ll still want some card draw and card selection. New goodies from Throne of Eldraine include the Knight-tastic Acclaimed Contender! I love that it can find another Knight if you’re low on creatures to wield your Equipment, or find an Equipment if you’re low on things to enhance your Knights. It could even find The Circle of Loyalty since it’s a legendary artifact card!

I’ve got some other cards that help draw cards or provide some selection:

I would love to keep recurring Acclaimed Contender with Phyrexian Reclamation—now that is some sweet value!

#10: Arcane Signet

Last but not least, a card that has stirred some controversy in the Magic Commander community, Arcane Signet! If you’ve picked up the Knights’ Charge Brawl deck, you’ll definitely want to carry over the Arcane Signet into Commander. This sort of deck is where Arcane Signet shines—color-fixing and mana ramp in a nongreen deck is hard to find, and since our commander costs six we need all the help we can get.

I’m also including these for mana ramp:

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale
Bennie Smith
0th Place at Test deck on 10-07-2019
Commander


What do you think? Are there any cards I’ve overlooked? If you see any new cards from Throne of Eldraine that should find a home here, let me know!

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter! I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!

Also, come play Commander with me! Coming up November 8th is MagicFest Richmond right here in my hometown, and I’m planning on hitting the Command Zone there at least one of the days. The following weekend, November 14-17, is the always spectacular SCG CON! Their Commander Celebration has set the standard for incredible Commander experiences and I’ll be returning as a special guest so I’ll be in the Command Zone all weekend playing Commander!

But that’s not all—Star City Games will be putting on #CommandFestDC December 13-15th and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be one of the special guests there. Stay tuned for more details as they become available!

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I’ve been writing about the Commander format and Magic: The Gathering in general for nearly two decades. Visit the Star City Games article archives for tons of content dating back to January 2000!

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