These Cards Do WORK! - Feather, the Redeemed

(Feather, the Redeemed | Art by Wayne Reynolds)

Light as a Feather, Hits Heavy as a Mack Truck

Hi there! I’m Jeremy Rowe, AKA J Ro, the Unsummoned Skull, a former Judge, Tournament Organizer, and Pro Tour competitor. I'm also a current teacher, college professor, streamer, community leader, and content creator. In this series, we examine the big EDH questions: What makes a card good? What’s the difference between popularity and synergy? What even is that synergy thing anyways? My intention is to differentiate between high- and low-synergy cards, describe in what ways the cards work with the commander, and explain why high synergy is such a good thing. For a deck to be powerful and consistent, each card needs to do a job, and these cards do WORK!

For our fourth article, we're taking a look at a slightly different way to build: a fast, aggressive, angelic commander.

Feather, the Redeemed comes down quickly, hits hard in the air, and provides card advantage by recycling the instants and sorceries we cast that target our creatures. Most aggressive decks run out of things to do, but with Feather returning things to hand, the same spells can be used turn after turn to give her keywords, provide boosts in power and toughness, draw cards, and more. Because we want to cast a lot of instants and sorceries, we need spells that are naturally cheap, so as to keep mana open on all turns. Speed and card advantage are great, as is having a tremendous source of commander damage in the command zone, but how do you build a balanced shell, capable of interacting meaningfully while still applying pressure?

It is my belief that all Commander decks are midrange decks, each needing to perform the same jobs to switch cleanly between offense and defense, as well as to combat a variety of threats from around the table. Feather, the Redeemed is a special commander, so let’s find the right tools for these jobs!


Ramp

Most decks need ramp to play high-impact spells at a time when they are still relevant. This is especially true in the era of rapid power creep, but, in hyper-aggressive builds, it's sometimes correct to shave these spells in favor of mana-efficient threats. After all, the reason slower decks need ramp is to make late plays happen earlier, but our endgame is already happening faster, so it’s better to close the door before they get going and the spells they cast are stronger than the many cheap spells we're casting.

For each job, I'd like to highlight a low-synergy-score card, a high-synergy-score card, and an underrated card for this commander, to add more context to the qualitative data and see how each one magnifies the abilities, accentuates the strengths, and mitigates the weaknesses of our commander.

Dockside Extortionist provides tons of mana to help cast spells, and the fact that it's attached to a body is certainly relevant, especially if blinked! On Feather, the Redeemed's EDHREC page, you'll see that Dockside Extortionist has a low synergy score (-1%), but that doesn't mean it's a bad card here. Synergy scores on EDHREC are a form of uniqueness calculation (21% of Feather, the Redeemed decks play Dockside Extortionist, and 22% of all other Boros decks also play Dockside Extortionist, so the difference = -1%). 

Sudden Breakthrough, by contrast, has a synergy score of 44% on EDHREC, which signals to us that it's a little bit more unique to our feathery friend than to other Boros commanders. It might not seem like much of a ramp spell, as it costs two mana and leaves behind a Treasure, which only makes one mana, but it provides power and a keyword in addition to the Treasure, and since it targets a creature, it'll be returned by Feather. Since first strike is a great defensive ability, it enables Feather to capitalize on untapped or summoning-sick creatures to leave up a formidable blocker and/or accumulate Treasure each turn!

I apologize if Favored Hoplite seems a bit like cheating, but I promise there's a reason I put this in the Ramp section! In low-to-the-ground decks like this, which lean into the aggro element and provide their own internal card advantage, ramp is not always needed. For example, this is not a deck that wants to cast Sol Ring on turn one, as it doesn’t help cast the commander faster (except when re-casting it if, you miss land drops) or enable the gameplan of beating down on the table with cheap, efficient creatures that get pumped by instants and sorceries. An alternative build, which plays better into Feather’s strengths, would use 1- and 2-drop Magecraft and Prowess creatures instead of ramp, so as to attack players while they’re casting mana rocks, and ensure immediate value for our the cheap instants and sorceries on turn four and onward.


Spot Removal

In addition to casting spells on time (or early enough in the game to still be relevant), decks need removal to help deal with the threats opposing decks present, as well as to protect their own threats from opposing removal. In Feather’s case, ideal spot removal should in some way be able to target our own creatures, to help trigger Heroic effects and to be recycled by Feather herself, or else just be hyper-efficient at removing problem permanents.

Chaos Warp is excellent at removing all manner of permanents, and this flexibility is important to a deck that wins with creatures and wants to be able to swing into the red zone profitably and reliably. It's got an +11% synergy score on Feather’s EDHREC page, because other Boros decks play it at a slightly lower rate than Feather, the Redeemed. I suspect Feather may run it at a slightly higher rate because it can be used to protect a creature by shuffling it into the library instead of whatever dark plans the opponent may have had for it, and maybe we need an emergency Heroic effect. Plus, it doesn’t provide an opponent with a blocker, unlike Generous Gift (which is a fine card in its own right).

Valorous Stance, meanwhile, has a synergy score of 22% for our guardian Angel, which means it's used more with her than with other Boros commanders. It can destroy creatures, but also comes with a mode to protect our own. The protection mode targets, which means we can save our commander and still later destroy a problematic creature. It's two mana, but the flexibility is well worth it.

Light of Hope is an underrated option, played in only 17% of Feather decks. Like the others, it can answer a permanent, in this case an enchantment, but we also have the option to add to the power of a creature (or gain life) in a pinch. We can return the card each turn to pump up a creature before finally removing the enchantment when necessary.


Mass Removal

Most decks need plans for what to do if things get out of hand, and Feather, the Redeemed is no different. However, as a deck that maintains a large board state and is usually the one responsible for things getting out of hand in the first place, you don’t need too many of these effects, and might even prefer versions that either ignore your board or protect your board from them.

Wear // Tear is a deceptively powerful card; it doesn’t appear to be a mass removal spell because it only removes one permanent unless you Fuse it, in which case it gets rid of two. However, artifacts and enchantments are notoriously difficult to remove, especially for aggressive decks, and you may even find yourself Tearing your own Hero of the Nyxborn to Wear away an additional artifact in a pinch!

Eerie Interlude, meanwhile, has a synergy score of 33%, as it's an excellent counter to a board wipe for less than $2! Interlude is an incredible card, protecting the creatures you want protected while targeting them, so the Interlude can be returned! It won’t protect tokens like Teferi’s Protection, though.

Aurelia’s Fury is my underrated mass removal pick. As Feather’s Guild Leader, it makes sense that a card tied to Aurelia would work well with her fallen and redeemed disciple. Fury can be used to tap down creatures as well as to Silence players from casting noncreature spells, helping protect a big turn. It's also a Fireball effect that can be used post-combat to finish off players who thought they were safe after surviving Feather’s onslaught! Who knew they had two furies to deal with?


Card Draw

Every deck needs card draw, selection, tutoring, or advantage to help find the pieces it needs to transition between the phases of the game. There are always going to be spells that are better early than late, or better from ahead, or better from behind.

Jeska’s Will shows up with a -6% synergy score on Feather’s EDHREC page. This is a popular red spell, typically slotted into generally red-based decks, and it's an example of the rebalancing of red by adding a powerful ramp and card draw spell that works to red’s strengths. That's actually why it has a negative synergy score: it’s really good in decks playing at the same speed as everyone else, but not as good at pushing the aggression, as it doesn’t work with the advantage engine in the command zone. 16% of Feather players are still running it, so it deserves a mention, but as a form of card advantage, it’s better to play a flurry of small spells at instant speed than have a singular powerful turn.

Balduvian Rage doesn’t draw a burst of cards, but it does pack a substantial punch by making a creature large at instant speed. It also draws a card, but the draw is delayed. It can be important, though, to cast it for X=0 in order to target the creature, trigger abilities, and draw a card.

Panic helps us turn extra red mana into extra card draw when Feather's around, but the draw is delayed and the effect is not terrific. It makes a creature unable to block, so we'd usually be hesitant to target our own creatures, but we can target a tapped creature, especially one that makes bodies, like Akroan Hoplite, to create blockers out of seemingly nowhere. If you stack the triggers, you can even let new tokens still receive boosts from cards like Leonin Lightscribe!


Win Conditions

The last major job that most decks need is a way to actually close out the game. Ramping allows you to play spells out, but can be dead draws late game. Removing threats works for a while, but with three opponents, someone’s going to stick something, and games can either stall out or develop into arms races. Card draw helps, but what are you looking to actually draw? The answer is... win conditions! In a deck where the commander requires targeting with instants and sorceries to add power, toughness, and bodies, finding ways to grant those bodies evasion, present additional power, break board stalls, and reduce the risk of retribution is key to winning!

Seize the Day wins games. Period. Feather, in particular, allows us to return Seize so we can continue the extra bashes turn after turn. When our commander is sufficiently large, we can cast it and flash it back to take as many as three extra combats in a row! It’s a brutally effective way to finish off games, and it can sometimes end them before opponents are able to finish setting up.

Reckless Charge is another Flashback spell that provides a massive beating. Flashback is one of my favorite abilities - it creates massive swings in value, lets you use a zone that isn’t easily answerable in a profitable way, and makes sure you don’t run out of things to do, with or without ramp. In a deck with a relatively low curve, casting the same spells over and over helps prevent our deck from running out of steam. The fact that Charge grants haste allows us to cast Feather and attack in the same turn, which could be enough to secure the win!

Invigorated Rampage, our last card of note, is just as solid on big boards as it is on small ones. This is one of my favorite cards from Kaladesh, a plane bemoaned for the parasitic Energy mechanic and for continuing the long history of problematic artifact-based sets. Invigorated Rampage offers a tantalizing choice, either of which will target at least one creature and provide a net power boost of +4, which will trample. It's able to trigger Magecraft once and potentially trigger Heroic twice, while still being returned with Feather. For the low, low price of two mana, this $0.25 card is one of the best combat tricks ever printed!


It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Decklist!

Let's round it out with a sample Feather decklist! We're focusing on doing the jobs a deck needs to function in a way that capitalizes on the commander’s unique characteristics. This will look a little different from the others, as mana-efficient threats replace the usual mana ramp, but the land count is the same, to ensure we hit land drops. The curve, or average converted mana cost, may be low, but the goal is to cast multiple spells in a turn. Also, Feather is a lightning rod for removal that may need to be cast multiple times, so hitting land drops is still as vital as ever, even if accelerating isn’t.

Also note: this deck costs less than $20, and was recently featured in a September stream featuring Angel decks battling it out for suicide awareness! Since the list is from September, it does not include cards like Angelfire Ignition.

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer


Hopefully, this guide helps you to evaluate cards and use the data at hand! Results may vary, as playgroups, deck choices, and the luck of the draw can impact how games go.

Which cards overperformed for you? Which cards were overrated? Join me next time as we explore which cards are dead weight, and which cards do WORK!

Teacher, judge, DM, & Twitch Affiliate. Lover of all things Unsummon. Streams EDH, Oathbreaker, D & D, & Pokemon. Even made it to a Pro Tour!