Selesnya Auras Deck Guide

DarthJacen covers Pioneer's best way to build your own threat.

During the Regional Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the decks that burst onto the scene with a top 4 performance was Selesnya Auras. With the ability to destroy uninteractive decks like Devotion and fight through removal-heavy decks like Rakdos and Izzet Phoenix with hexproof threats, the deck seemed like a great choice for that event. Now that we’re a few weeks removed from the American RC, it’s clear that the deck remains a strong metagame choice that can take opponents by surprise and win the game when left to its own devices.

Much like the Orzhov version that did quite well with Lurrus as a companion, this is a powerful Aggro deck that can leverage a few powerful two-drop creatures to end the game out of nowhere. While players are generally more aware of this deck now thanks to its RC performance and subsequent rise in popularity, it is still a great option for your local events or to play on Magic Online.

So, what has brought this powerful deck back from the brink of extinction? Let’s dive right into one of my favorite archetypes in Pioneer in Selesnya Auras!

Selesnya Auras
Buy on TCGplayer $144.5
0 mythic
24 rare
18 uncommon
18 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Enchantments (24)
1
Hammerhand
$0.25
2
Gryff's Boon
$0.70
3
Sentinel's Eyes
$0.75
4
Ethereal Armor
$3.96
4
Audacity
$1.00
1
Alpha Authority
$2.79
Lands (19)
1
Forest
$0.01
1
Plains
$0.01
3
Mana Confluence
$74.97
4
Brushland
$7.96
4
Temple Garden
$55.96
60 Cards
$224.46
15 Cards
$32.07

Deck Breakdown

One-Mana Creatures

This version of Auras runs two different one-mana creatures. All versions of the deck run Gladecover Scout as it is a key reason auras moved from Orzhov to Selesnya. This hexproof 1/1 evokes memories of Modern Bogles, as you can load it up with enchantments and there’s no way to answer it with targeted removal. While there are plenty of wrath effects in Pioneer, they’re still not common for opponents to ensure a wrath right when it’s needed.

This version of the deck adds in Generous Visitor from the Standard Auras decks, which allows the deck to easily power up its creatures without over committing to a single creature. While not the most impactful creature, upping the overall creature count is important since you can suit up any creature in a dire situation.

Two-Mana Creatures

These are the bread-and-butter creatures of this deck. While you are happy to lead on a one-drop, often you can afford to miss your one-drop if you have a two-drop that’s likely to live. Paradise Druid is the least impressive of these two-drops, but it has hexproof when untapped, making it difficult to answer, especially when paired with Sentinel’s Eyes. Much like Generous Visitor, this is more an instance of any port in a storm than an ideal two-drop.

Your main engines are Sram, Senior Edificer and Light-Paws, Emperor’s Voice. Sram has been around for awhile and most players have seen what this card can do in any auras deck. Whenever you cast an aura, you draw a card. The key is that your auras don’t even need to resolve and you’re able to fuel your hand and keep the gas coming. While this is an impressive engine, it’s Light-Paws that revitalized this deck.

When Kamigawa, Neon Dynasty came out, there was plenty of buzz around Light-Paws. I managed to top 8 a Pioneer Challenge that first weekend with Orzhov auras back when it had Lurrus as a companion. Most of the creatures in this deck are reasonable threats that have evasion or help bolster your winning chances with card draw or +1/+1 counters. Light-Paws by comparison is a tactical nuke. If Light-Paws lives on turn two, the game will likely end on turn 3 or 4 as you will suit up this two drop and instantly the power on board will double, triple, or more. Thanks to Light-Paws’ ability, whenever an aura enters the battlefield, you can tutor any aura with the same Mana Value or less that isn’t already under your control and attach it to Light-Paws.

If you play an Audacity, you can get an Ethereal Armor for free. Need flying? Any one-drop can get you a Gryff’s Boon. What about trample, haste, or protection from removal? It’s all available and you can even fetch these one-mana specialty cards with your two-drops. Light-Paws is a card you need to see to believe and it’s just as good as advertised, especially against uninteractive decks like Green Devotion.

One-Mana Enchantments

These are the tools that make your various creatures powerful weapons. With the printing of Audacity, we now have a complete suite of options to fetch with Light-Paws from trample to flying to haste and more. So, what are these auras and what do they do? Let’s take a look.

Audacity is the new tech from The Brother’s War. This Rancor-lite gives +2/+0 and trample, which was an effect sorely missing from this archetype previously. The other benefit is that you draw a card when Audacity goes to the graveyard from the battlefield, so you aren’t losing out too badly if they kill your enchanted creature. While this clearly isn’t as good as Rancor, I wouldn’t expect us to get Rancor anytime soon if ever in Pioneer.

Next up, we have one of the Cartouches from Amonkhet in Cartouche of Solidarity. This Cartouche pulls double duty giving +1/+1 and first Strike along with making a 1/1. While a 1/1 isn’t too exciting, it can help swing races, it is a body to throw extra auras on, and it insulates your important creatures from edicts. While this is more of a role-player than Audacity, it’s one of the better role-players and earns its three slots.

Next is the best one-mana aura in the deck and arguably one of the best ever printed in Ethereal Armor. This one-mana aura gives first strike and +1/+1 for each enchantment you control, including itself. It scales incredibly in multiples and can help you kill opponents with ease. One of the best feelings in the deck is playing a one-mana aura on a Light-Paws, getting an Ethereal Armor, and then casting an Armor from hand, immediately making a huge/huge creature.

The last one-mana aura that earns three or more slots is Sentinel’s Eyes. This powerful aura gives +1/+1 and vigilance, which is exceptionally strong when combined with Paradise Druid. It also helps win the race against other Aggro decks, since you now have a massive threat attacking and blocking each turn. While not the most individually explosive effect, being able to recur it with escape means you can run it out early and you won’t be punished even if they kill your creature, which is a major benefit in this deck.

The last few one-mana auras in the deck are mainly flex slots that you can get with Light-Paws, including two auras you can’t cast without exactly Paradise Druid or Mana Confluence. We’ll start with Hammerhand. This one-mana aura was a staple in old Boss-Sligh style red decks and here it can give a creature +1/+1, haste, and makes a creature unable to block. This is especially effective at playing a Light-Paws in the mid to late game, playing a one-mana aura and then giving it haste and preventing a block. Often if you are searching out Hammerhand, it ends the game on the spot.

Like Hammerhand, Gryff’s Boon helps to give this deck evasion to ensure you don’t get brick walled by a glut of ground creatures. While much more castable than Hammerhand, Gryff’s Boon is one of the best auras to find in the mid to late game as you can even buy it back for four mana, ensuring you can keep tossing your large creatures into the skies, even if your opponent has plenty of removal.

Finally, we have Kaya’s Ghostform. This card is one of the best tools in Pioneer at protecting your Light-Paws or large threat. While it can’t save the auras attached, especially when on Light-Paws, it lets you go all-in without fear of losing your powerful creature. Against removal heavy decks, Kaya’s Ghostform can also help ensure your hexproof creatures are insulated against wraths or edicts, so that you can redeploy and kill after they deal with your creature.

Two-Mana Enchantments

While also powerful, the two-mana enchantments are less important to your overall gameplan than the one-mana enchantments. However, as you’d expect, two-mana enchantments can have more powerful effects than one-mana enchantments. We start with All that Glitters. This is like Ethereal Armor five through eight and while it doesn’t give first strike, it does stack very well with Armor to exponentially speed up the clock. If you play a two-mana enchantment with Light-Paws out, you will often get All that Glitters to get your creature out of damage-based removal range.

Next up we have the flex slots in Alpha Authority and Rune of Sustenance. Alpha Authority allows you to avoid double blocks and gives your creature Hexproof. If you can get an Alpha Authority on your Light-Paws against removal decks, it feels like cheating. Light-Paws with hexproof really is a menace.

Rune of Sustenance is a nice cantrip that also gives lifelink. One of the main benefits of the Orzhov version of this deck is you have more natural lifelink creatures to help stay ahead of races. Selesnya doesn’t have that benefit, but you can suit up your large creature with this rune to instantly win any race. Especially with Light-Paws, if you are against uninteractive linear decks, you can play a two-mana enchantment and get Rune to instantly get your life total out of danger.

Sideboard Guide

Rakdos Midrange

INOUT
+2 Adanto Vanguard-1 Rune of Sustenance
+2 Extraction Specialist-1 Hammerhand
-2 Generous Visitor

Matchup Feel:  Close, but favorable with the right creatures.

Matchup Approach: This matchup is surprisingly good given Rakdos wants to kill all your creatures and value you out. However, most Rakdos builds no longer play Liliana of the Veil, so your Hexproof creatures are safe, especially game one. Post-board, you need to watch out for Extinction event, but Kaya’s Ghostform does a good job ensuring you can survive their first few pieces of interaction. If you can suit up a hexproof threat or Vanguard, it often requires a lot of resources to answer, leaving you able to slam a follow up threat and immediately get it out of Stomp range.

If you can play patiently and leverage your threats at the right times, Rakdos is a reasonably good matchup, since you easily outpace their threats and can pressure their life total easily with Audacity or Gryff’s Boon. You almost always want to fetch Kaya’s Ghostform first in this matchup when possible and be sure to get Alpha Authority onto your Light-Paws as soon as possible, making it even harder for them to stop your lethal threats.

Heroic

INOUT
+2 Warbriar Blessing-1 Alpha Authority
+1 Rune of Sustenance-4 Paradise Druid
+3 Portable Hole-1 Cartouche of Solidarity

Matchup Feel: A close race

Matchup Approach: This is a classic race. You both are trying to suit up your creatures and win the race. That does mean that you both lack interaction most of the time, but they have access to Reckless Rage game one, which can mess with your plans. If you can get a creature out of range of Rage, you can quickly get it big enough to outpace their creatures. Light-Paws is especially good here alongside any Hexproof creatures you power up. Rune of Sustenance is especially powerful here since it can let you race without ever exposing your best creatures to blocking.

Leverage your five removal spells post board to surprise your opponents, especially since they are likely going to need to go all-in early and often to keep pace with your gameplan.

Azorius Control

INOUT
+2 Natural State-2 Generous Visitor
+2 Adanto Vanguard-1 Rune of Sustenance
+2 Extraction Specialist-1 Alpha Authority
-2 All That Glitter

Matchup Feel: Difficult

Matchup Approach: While some of the removal heavy decks aren’t too bad, Azorius Control can leverage Temporary Lockdown, March of Otherworldly Light, The Wandering Emperor, and Supreme Verdict to deal with almost all of your threats. If you can stick a turn one Gladecover Scout, you can go all-in and race their Supreme Verdict, but even so, it  takes a lot going right to win this matchup and it doesn’t get much better post board.

Abzan Greasefang

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Generous Visitor

Matchup Feel:  A close race

Matchup Approach: This is a race where you can take over the battlefield and out pace their combo. It’s tough to get ahead of their combo without Light-Paws, but their lack of removal means you can often stick your two-drop and then explode with multiple spells on turn three. If you can find your Rest in Peace, it makes life much easier since they will need to take a turn or two off to deal with that, giving you plenty of time to get ahead on board.

If you can get your Rune of Sustenance, Gryff’s Boon, and Sentinel’s Eyes onto a creature, it becomes very hard for them to do anything meaningful, especially if you have Audacity to speed up your clock.

Arclight Phoenix

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Generous Visitor
+3 Portable Hole-3 Cartouche of Solidarity
+2 Adanto Vanguard-2 Sentinel’s Eyes
+2 Warbriar Blessing-2 All that Glitters

Matchup Feel: Difficult

Matchup Approach: This matchup is difficult. While you have a pretty reasonable game into Rakdos, the amount of cheap red removal that can kill all your creatures except Gladecover Scout and Adanto Vanguard makes it tough to get traction without specific threats. If you can find one of those threats, then you can load them up and take over the game. If you don’t, it becomes very difficult to apply pressure.

This is also a matchup where you want to deal with their two-drops with Portable Hole or Blessing so you can keep battlefield superiority and keep attacking through. If you can land a Rest in Peace, you can buy a lot of time to find your best creatures. Unfortunately, this is also a matchup where you need specific things, but you don’t have the luxury of mulliganing low to find them since you need a critical mass of tools to outpace their removal and spells.

Also, be wary of Otawara. It’s one of the worst feelings to go all in on a creature like Adanto Vanguard only to get it bounced.

Mono Red

INOUT
+3 Portable Hole-2 Generous Visitor
+1 Rune of Sustenance,– 4 Paradise Druid
+2 Warbriar Blessing-1 Alpha Authority
+2 Extraction Specialist-1 Hammerhand

Matchup Feel: Favorable

Matchup Approach: This is a good matchup. It’s not as good for us as the old Orzhov builds with a pile of main deck lifelink creatures, but Rune of Sustenance does a lot to help this matchup. You can also get your creatures out of burn range easily with Ethereal Armor and All That Glitters. This is another matchup where landing your Gladecover Scout on turn one means they will have a tremendously difficult time winning if you have any functional hand.

This is a matchup where you are likely to play your two-drops on turn three to try and double spell, either getting an extra card or landing Light-Paws and suiting it up with Kaya’s Guile while they are tapped out.

Mono Green Devotion

INOUT
+3 Portable Hole-1 Alpha Authority
-1 Kaya's Ghostform
-1 Rune of Sustenance

Matchup Feel: Favorable

Matchup Approach: You are heavily favored in this matchup. You are trying to find a Light-Paws on turn two and suit it up with various means of evasion. If you can Portable Hole an elf on turn one and then drop Light-Paws, it is hard to lose. This is a matchup where you need to go fast, so don’t be afraid to mulligan low. You don’t need many resources, but a Sram or Light-Paws can push you through their gameplan well before they can find any footing.

Just be careful of letting them accelerate uncontested with slow hands. You’d much rather have a threat than answer their threat, so mulligan accordingly.

Mono White Humans

INOUT
+3 Portable Hole-1 Hammerhand
+1 Rune of Sustenance-1 Alpha Authority
+2 Warbriar Blessing-2 Cartouche of Solidarity
-2 Paradise Druid

Matchup Feel: Favorable

Matchup Approach: This is a solid matchup. The only thing you need to avoid is Portable Hole, removal like Declaration of Stone, and exile creatures like Brutal Cathar and Skyclave Apparition. If you can land a hexproof creature, it becomes very easy to take down Mono White since you easily outpace their sizing and you can run them over with Gryff’s Boon, Audacity, or Rune of Sustenance.

Leverage your few pieces of removal to keep them from running you over and prioritize dealing with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. While she doesn’t seem like a prime target to remove, since this deck only plays nineteen lands and you want to dump your hand as fast as possible, she can make life very difficult.

Mono Blue Spirits

INOUT
+3 Portable Hole-4 Paradise Druid
+1 Rune of Sustenance-1 Alpha Authority
+2 Warbriar Blessing-1 Kaya’s Ghostform

Matchup Feel: A close race

Matchup Approach: This is a matchup where you’re both low to the ground Aggro decks trying to get under the other one. While they have counterspells, it is hard for them to justify keeping in too many pieces of interaction as you’ll want to get your creatures down under their counters on turn one or two and then use whatever enchantments you can find. If you resolve a Sram or Light-Paws, it is very hard for them to keep up in terms of tempo. Once you get one of those two-drops into play, you’re a heavy favorite.

One of the other ways to win this matchup is to play a turn one Gladecover Scout and then suit it up whenever they tap low. Once you have a big Gladcover, if you can find an Audacity or Rune of Sustenance, it makes it very hard for Mono Blue to race effectively.

Tips and Tricks

  • Light-Paws’ ability can get auras less than or equal to the one that entered the battlefield, meaning you can get one-drops with your two drops.
  • Light-Paws cares that you cast the aura to trigger its ability, so escaping Sentinel’s Eyes counts.
  • Cartouche of Solidarity not only gives first strike, it also makes a 1/1 as a back-up threat and protection from edict effects like Lilliana of the Veil.
  • Kaya’s Ghostform protects from removal or exile effects, so it is often your first get with Light-Paws against removal heavy decks.
  • Once you start to search with Light-Paws’ ability, there’s no time for opponents to respond. That means if you play a two-drop aura and they let you search, you can get an Alpha Authority and make Light-Paws hexproof and they won’t be able to respond to the aura attaching.
  • Gryff’s Boon doesn’t trigger Light-Paws when it comes back from the graveyard, but it’s still a good option to ensure you don’t run out of gas in the mid to late game.
  • Post board in matchups where you bring in Extraction Specialist, exile auras to escape Sentinel’s Eyes.
  • Audacity going to the graveyard triggers can stack, so if you have two Audacity on a creature and it dies, you will draw two cards.
  • It is often correct to hold your two-drop until turn three to play a two-drop with an aura. This can help protect your Light-Paws versus removal decks or ensure you draw a card and don’t get two-for-one’d if they kill your Sram.
  • Boseiju and Eiganjo are particularly good in this deck since your main two-drops are legendary.
  • You never want to fetch Jegantha, but in a pinch, it’s an 18th creature and it does a great job wearing auras, especially Gryff’s Boon.
  • You always want to overload on White sources. This version has more green pips than most, but thanks to Brushland, Temple Garden, and Mana Confluence, you can generally always cast your green spells on time.
  • Light-Paws only cares about cards in play when it resolves, so you can fetch an aura you already have another copy of in your hand to double up on the effect. This is especially effective with Ethereal Armor or All That Glitters.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! This is an archetype close to my heart as one of my first Pioneer Challenge top 8s came with the related archetype in Orzhov Auras and I’ve been patiently waiting for auras to resurface. This version is a step in the right direction and each time we get a powerful aura like Audacity or hexproof one-drop, the deck inches closer to being a metagame staple.

For now, it’s a great metagame option that can take down any event, especially if you manage to find an onslaught of Green Devotion or other uninteractive decks.

Thanks for reading and be sure to stay safe out there!

  • DarthJacen

    Pioneer Competitive Guide

    Darthjacen has been playing Magic since Dark Ascension and plays Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. With a Grand Prix win in 2015 and an SCG Team Top 4 in 2019, he continues to pursue competitive Magic at every turn.

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