Somewhere in the bowels of Wizards R&D bunker, there exists a master list of “Cards We Have To Make”. These are the cards that players constantly beg for, be it on Mark Rosewater’s blog, at panel discussions, or in Twitter threads. Wizards tries to oblige where they can, but there seem to be very tight restrictions on what can go into a Standard-legal set.
Supplemental products like the Commander 2019 precons are the best chance for R&D to tick much-asked-for items off their list, and often they seize the opportunity to hit two (or more) at once. Such is the case with Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero.
Fans of Boros colors in Commander have been consistently asking for more varied legends which care about things other than combat? Check.
Long-time Vorthoses and lore friends who love the Weatherlight Saga wanted more modern card designs to represent its characters? Check.
A red-white Renaissance Man
This card is a home run in almost all aspects! From the incredible Zack Stella artwork referencing other characters from Gerrard’s story, to the reasonable cost and stats, to the flexible and unique rules text which evokes Gerrard’s self-sacrifice as depicted on Vindicate.
As soon as I saw him, I couldn’t wait to explore the different ways to build around Gerrard’s ability and legacy – and luckily, there are a few that stand out.
I asked the community what they wanted to see in this deck tech, and even though it was a close poll, the majority wanted Gerrard’s versatility on full display. So climb aboard our maiden voyage under this new commander, and I’ll break down the key cards you can use to build your own crew around Magic’s greatest mortal hero.
Gerrard’s Irregular Legion
We begin simply, with a style of deck all red-white players are familiar with! Creature aggro is R&D’s go-to portfolio for the color combination, but unless you are packing Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer levels of damage, it’s a strategy which often struggles in the slower, multiplayer Commander format.
Committing to the board in numbers is risky in these multiplayer games, where any one of your opponents might decide to pull the trigger on a sweeper when they detect a growing threat. But Gerrard can come down at the middle or top of your boros aggro curve, providing vital, efficient insurance against such effects.
I know some Commander players who don’t enjoy building aggro decks, because the card choices can seem generic. But why not take the openness of creature beatdown and use it as license to create your own subthemes? Equipment synergy or Affinity-style artifact creature beatdown is even more effective with artifact-recurring Gerrard at the helm!
The one thing you should try to include in any Gerrard aggro deck, strangely, is a few Wrath of God effects. His ability keeps you safe from blowing up your own creatures as well as opponents doing it; and if they’re trying to play blockers or utility creatures, you will almost certainly be better off after Wrath resolves. Including ways to sacrifice your own creatures for mana or damage is even better – Tears of Rage is a finisher nobody will see coming!
Give me the Lööps
Alright, so you’ve got your aggro curve of hatebears and beaters, you’ve layered on some synergy cards for your chosen subtheme. You’ve supplemented that core with Commander staple mana rocks, removal and utility cards. Maybe you’ve even focused on filling those slots with self-sacrificing/trigger-based creatures and artifacts, like Pyrite Spellbomb and Fiend Hunter, to better utilize Gerrard. Nice work!
Now, it is time to add some of Gerrard’s special combo sauce.[Gerrard Looper pic]
Sure, we’re not playing a dedicated combo deck – our Plan A is still to hit face with creatures. But even offsetting Gerrard’s exile clause in a fair way can be massive when you consider that each sweeper he “counters” probably buys you a full turn of attacking.
Saving Gerrard from himself
The best and simplest combo for Gerrard is with Loyal Retainers. Any time Gerrard dies, you can respond to his trigger by sacrificing the Retainers, ending up with both creatures back in play. Add in a sacrifice outlet, and you can infinitely sac and reanimate all your creatures and artifacts in play. Loyal Retainers is also easily tutored for with cards like Recruiter of the Guard!
He studied the blade
Finally, we have one of the weirder and more stylish Gerrard loops. Oathkeeper, Takeno’s Daisho buffs Gerrard at a decent rate for equipment, and reanimates him for free if he’s a samurai. Conveniently, Gerrard can become a samurai with the help of other equipment cards.
The final way to enable this interaction is with Mirror Entity, already a fantastic finisher for this sort of aggro deck. Activating Entity for X=0 will both make Gerrard a samurai AND kill all your creatures – which you can then reanimate by sacrificing Gerrard!
All-In Artifact Combo
Gerrard’s Infinite Justice Omlette
As I mentioned earlier, I let a Twitter poll decide whether or not this article would focus on Gerrard’s potential to lead an “Eggs” style combo deck full of cheap artifacts. Many players really love this style of combo, and Gerrard is a fantastic option to enable it in Commander.[looping gerrard pic]
The main difference between choosing combos to include in the Eggs build of Gerrard vs. the aggro build is that we can dedicate far more of our resources to enabling the combos here. We can play more fast mana to allow for more expensive pieces, and we can safely focus on going infinite knowing that our deck construction will almost always convert that to a win.
Poached or Scrambled?
The building blocks of the deck are mana rocks, eggs, and sacrifice outlets. Eggs, in the Magic parlance, are cheap artifacts which are intended to come into play and then die, usually generating some value by doing so. Gerrard’s trigger allows us to reanimate many eggs at once, generating game-winning value for free.
Great eggs in this deck are ones that draw cards, since the hardest part about winning is just getting our combo cards into hand.
Some mana rocks also play like eggs:
Special mentions go to Pyrite Spellbomb, which sees play as an egg but is also an effective win condition once we go infinite.
Saccin’ and Crackin’
Sacrifice outlets are vital to make sure our eggs get “cracked” when we need them to, and also let us control when Gerrard’s death trigger is activated. We’d love a good “Sacrifice a permanent” outlet, but Greater Gargadon is the only one I’d recommend – by suspending it you can sacrifice Gerrard and as many artifacts as you need to go off, although you will need to be able to do so at instant speed so Gargadon doesn’t come out of Suspend.
How else to address the problem? You can simply play the best artifacts that sac creatures and run more creatures to feed to them:
But there’s tricky ways to get Gerrard to die while playing only artifact sac outlets – so many that you can potentially skip out on creature sacrificers altogether!Krark-Clan Shaman is a solid board control spell, and saccing your board of artifacts to it should also send Gerrard to the yard for reanimation!
A pet card of mine, Grafted Wargear can equip to Gerrard for free, and then when it is sacrificed he will die along with it.Liquimetal Coating allows you to target anything with Boros’s great artifact removal suite, and lets you feed Gerrard into artifact sac outlets to combo off. Remember to also sacrifice the Coating so it returns to play untapped to continue the loop!
To get even more tricky, Meteor Golem, Spine of Ish Sah and other artifact-based removal can be used to destroy Gerrard instead of sacrificing him! Then, with his trigger on the stack, you sacrifice that artifact along with everything else you’re looping. Since all your combos rely on returning Gerrard to play before his death trigger resolves, he will be back in play when the Spine/Golem comes back, allowing you to destroy him again and continue your loop!
Lööps on the Rocks
Mana rocks are obviously a staple of every deck in Commander, but we care about them more than most. Many Gerrard loops are only infinite if you can pay a certain amount of mana for each iteration. Mana rocks which come into play untapped can pay for these costs by tapping, being sacrificed, and then coming back with Gerrard’s trigger to pay for the next loop! When discussing these combos, I’ll note down what the “mana threshold” is for each one – once you have that much rock-based mana available, you’re good to go.
First up, Nim Deathmantle. This equipment is a staple for its borderline-busted reusable reanimation, and we are definitely into that effect here. You need Deathmantle, a way to sac Gerrard, and 4 mana per loop to reattach it to him. Then you’re infinite.
You can also go infinite with token makers Flameshadow Conjuring and Minion Reflector. You need a way to sac Gerrard, and either R per loop for Conjuring or 2 mana for Reflector. You also need Gerrard to enter the battlefield to start the loop, which might be the trickiest part. You pay for the trigger to make a Gerrard token, then legend rule the real Gerrard into the graveyard. Before his trigger resolves, sac the token (and anything else you’re looping). The token Gerrard’s trigger will resolve first, returning the real Gerrard and everything else to play and allowing you to pay for a new Gerrard token to continue the loop.
A similar combo can be achieved with Mirage Mirror or Mirror of the Forebears to copy Gerrard, with the benefit that you can start the loop with Gerrard already in play. Mirror of the Forebears is best of all, costing only 1 mana per loop rather than 2, and allowing you to combo off without a creature sac outlet (since it remains an artifact while copying Gerrard).
Untapping for fun and profit
Including “untapper” creatures for copy token combos can also pay off with several other combos. Splinter Twin is the most obvious one and dodges artifact hate your opponents might bring to bear, but Mimic Vat also works (though you have to exile Gerrard). Of course, you also need a way to sacrifice the untapper creature to recur it.Adarkar Valkyrie and Feldon of the Third Path are other options for looping with untap creatures. The Valkyrie is easy enough to untap and reuse, while Feldon needs 2R per loop and requires Gerrard to be in your graveyard, which often means you have to go off at instant speed with his death trigger on the stack.
The nice part about these two is that you can swap out the untap creatures for any haste enabler, including Flameshadow Conjuring/Minion Reflector, and combo off by sacrificing them and returning them to play untapped for immediate reuse.
These are probably more combos than is actually required for the deck – pick the few best ones you like and sprinkle in generic sac outlets and removal to fill out your 99. If you’re among the Twitter voters who were interested in a full Eggs decklist, my friend “ryuzakighost” on TappedOut has published one I think makes most of the optimal card choices. Go check it out!
The Weatherlight Saga Deck
Gerrard’s Invincible Ariship
The Eggs build is likely to be the most powerful way to play Gerrard in Commander, just thanks to the nature of the format. But for many players the appeal in playing Gerrard comes from his status among Magic’s great protagonists (alongside Urza and the Gatewatch) and killing him over and over so you can reuse artifacts doesn’t really evoke that heroic ideal!
So, I looked into how you could build a red-white deck which references the characters and events of the Weatherlight Saga. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain already provides the WUBRG shell needed to put all the crew members into one deck, so I went more abstract, including cards which depicted or referenced the crew members we can’t play in Boros colors. Luckily, a strong theme began to emerge as I went over the cards from that era – Pillow Fort!
This style of deck is popular in Commander, using defensive permanents to build a boardstate which protects itself from interaction while limiting opponent’s options. The Weatherlight crew don’t have the strongest stats by modern standards, but they do have powerful and interesting effects! I began to think of the deck as being the airship Weatherlight itself, the strong “hull” of defensive white enchantments shielding the crew, and the “armaments” of red sweepers providing firepower!
This is going to be Legendary
The first stop on our list of cards to assemble is the Weatherlight and her crew. Fortunately, the living airship has been crewed by a who’s-who of powerful legends and planeswalkers. In no particular order:
All of these legends offer a surprising amount of utility outside the combat phase, and the Planeswalkers of course generate value turn over turn – perfect for a prison/pillowfort deck! Some ask you to make deckbuilding allowances. Starke benefits from Homeward Path; Tiana promotes the use of auras. Incidentally, there are a few great and unusual ones which fit our theme:
It’s especially cool how many of these cards can work as jank-yet-recursive (with Tiana out) removal. See if you can hunt down the printings which show Gerrard and his crew!
Gerrard again helps us by protecting all of these utility creatures from harm, but you can give them some extra help with “legendary tribal” cards. Whether or not you use the ones obviously flavored for planes other than Dominaria is up to your sense of theme – but they add significant power to the list.
Shields up, we’re going in!
The actual pillow fort of the deck relies heavily on defensive white – and, surprisingly, red! – enchantments printed during the Weatherlight Saga. There are also a few key artifact lock pieces which feature Gerrard and his crew – check out multiformat all-stars Ensnaring Bridge and Null Rod!
Remember to add rainbow mana sources like City of Brass or Darksteel Ingot to fully unlock the power of Protective Sphere, and avoid playing cards that are punished by two-sided effects like Tsabo’s Web. You can also support this theme by playing on-theme recursion like Argivian Find and Treasure Hunter.
Some of those effects are attached to creatures, which would normally make them more vulnerable. But not only do we have Gerrard to defend them, but we can play further “pillows” to keep them safe – Inner Sanctum and Hidden Retreat do a great job, as well as non-theme cards like Mark of Asylum.
By playing a lot of damage-prevention effects, we open ourselves up to play Red sweepers as Weatherlight’s cannons, which will then hit everyone’s creatures but ours. You can even turn those cards into win conditions with options like Captain’s Maneuver, Debt of Loyalty, General’s Regalia, Firesong and Sunspeaker or Boros Reckoner!
Get to the Good Stuff
The Weatherlight crew also manage to contribute some great removal and utility spells to the deck. First on my mind are Orim’s Chant and Abeyance, which are almost prison cards in their own right when combined with Isochron Scepter. We also have great removal available within our theme:Renounce is a weird sort of card, but plays very nicely with Gerrard’s trigger.
Card draw and selection come a little less easy. Try and fit in Land Tax alongside Scroll Rack, and beware of having to re-pay Echo on Urza’s Blueprints if it’s reanimated by Gerrard. This is one area where you might need to step outside the theme a little if you want to go heavily into control – classic EDH staples are your friends when you’re not in blue to draw cards!
Ultimately, I think the important thing to remember is that not every card has to depict Gerrard’s adventures in order to convey the deck’s message. Even if 15 or so cards are given over to prime removal like Swords to Plowshares, win conditions like Felidar Sovereign or extra prison effects like Martyr’s Bond, your list is still going to be recognisable as a Weatherlight Saga deck. Better to have a deck that functions well at the power level of your play group than a cute pile which struggles to feel like it’s “in the game”, trust me.
Still, on paper the “theme deck” is surprisingly consistent. Your planeswalkers and creatures shelter within the protection of the Weatherlight, playing their signature abilities to slowly pull you ahead in the match. Actually winning can be tricky, but by Planeswalker ultimate or red damage spell you should get there eventually.
Gerrard didn’t know until the very end of his journey how he would be destined to defeat Yawgmoth – but when the time came, he was able to finish the job! Be like Gerrard and remember that the real story is told along the way.
Well, that was one whirlwind ride through the potential of this most potent Boros commander! While some people were disappointed in the design for this new Gerrard, I think he offers a great suite of options for a card with “only one ability”, and for my money he’s up there with the best of the legendaries we’ve seen spoiled from Commander 2019.
Whether you plan to have him attacking, looping or leading his loyal crew, let the master of the Legacy guide you into a brighter future for Commander!