Under the Radar - Aragorn, Company Leader

(Aragorn, Company Leader | Art by Anna Steinbauer)

There are all sorts of commanders in Magic: The Gathering. As I write this article, the game contains more than 2,000 legendary creatures to brew around in millions of different creative ways. Yet for every Atraxa, Praetors' Voice soaking up the limelight, dozens of forgotten commanders have fallen to the wayside. Cards like Jiwari, the Earth Aflame, Syr Faren, the Hengehammer, and Hythonia the Cruel have hugely exciting depths of untapped deckbuilding potential just waiting to be explored by curious players.

Under the Radar is a series dedicated to these unsung heroes. In every article, we will discuss a commander who, at the time of writing, has less than 500 decks to their name and give them their moment in the sun. We will analyze the strategies these forgotten cards incentivize, discuss their merits, and build a deck around them, with some help from EDHREC’s average deck feature.

Let’s open this series by talking about Aragorn…

All of the Aragorns!

Now Aragorn definitely isn’t the first name that comes to mind when we start thinking about unrecognised talent. As one of the primary characters in the most influential fantasy book series of all time and the star-making role for Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn is probably the world’s most famous fictional monarch (sorry Daenerys).

In Magic, Aragorn, the Uniter is currently (as of 07/06/2024) the 34th most popular commander of all time. More than 12,000 players have built around this incredibly powerful four-color king. But we’re not talking about Aragorn, the Uniter here.

We’re also not talking about Aragorn, King of Gondor, who commands a regal 3,137 decks, nor are we talking about Aragorn, Hornburg Hero or Aragorn and Arwen, Wed who command 1,303 and 494 decks respectively. No, we are here today to discuss Aragorn, Company Leader.

Aragorn, Company Leader is a three mana 3/3 Human Ranger. Despite “leader” being in his name, he currently (as of 06/29/2024) only commands 163 decks. He has two paragraphs of synergistic and pretty fun rules text.

First of all, whenever the Ring tempts you, and Aragorn, Company Leader is not chosen as your Ring-bearer, he gains either a first strike, vigilance, deathtouch, or a lifelink counter. Additionally, whenever one or more counters are put on Aragorn, Company Leader you can put one of each of those types of counters on another target creature.

As a reminder, since it’s probably one of the most complex mechanics in the game, the Ring tempts you is a keyword action from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth. Every time the Ring tempts you, you choose a creature to become your Ring-bearer. That creature becomes legendary and gains a beneficial ability. Each time the Ring tempts you again, you can change who your Ring-bearer is and new abilities are unlocked for them. All of these abilities are illustrated on a handy little reminder card that you can slide under your Ring-bearer to show which effects they have unlocked. Broadly, these abilities are focused on making your Ring-bearer harder to block, whilst also punishing opponents for letting them get through.

So, just what kind of game plan does Aragorn, Company Leader encourage?

Brewing Around Aragorn

Aragorn, Company Leader is a counters commander; Selesnya (white, green) has absolutely no shortage of these. While cards like Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn, and Sovereign Okinec Ahau can pour +1/+1 counters onto your board at a faster rate than Aragorn can, he offers a novel approach to the strategy. Aragorn, Company Leader doesn’t just care about +1/+1 counters, instead, he invites you to fill your deck with all manner of strange counters from the game’s history. Aragon’s ability to duplicate counters enables him and his pals to fly, trample, and double strike their way through combat. Shield counters from Streets of New Capenna and indestructible counters are also a great inclusion. You can keep your buffed-up king safe from removal effects like Beast Within or Pongify, and let him survive board wipes.

This commander also rewards you for running that let the Ring tempt you. While playing around with the one Ring is a terrible idea, just ask Gollum, Aragorn seems to have found a way to make it work. While he doesn’t give you access to every possible keyword alone, he does provide a powerful combination of them. You can use Aragorn to give your creatures first strike and deathtouch. These two abilities, when put together, are incredibly potent. Your creature will hit first, and then destroy the enemy with deathtouch before they have a chance to strike back. Adding vigilance means not only will your opponent not be able to block you when you come at them, but they will also struggle to push through attacks against you.

An Average Aragorn Deck

EDHREC’s average deck feature can be found on any Commander’s page. It takes the most common cards featured in all of a Commander’s lists and merges them into a single playable deck. These decks make a good starting point whenever you’re thinking about building around a new commander.

On the 29th June 2024, when this article was written, the average deck which EDHREC generated for Aragorn, Company Leader looked like this...

Aragorn, Company Leader Average Deck

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Commander (1)
Artifacts (8)
Creatures (32)
Instants (10)
Lands (34)
Sorceries (7)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (1)

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This deck works reasonably well, it runs a lot of different cards that let the Ring tempt you and cards that produce counters for Aragorn to copy. Any time you use the average deck feature though, it is always worth putting it under a bit of scrutiny. For players looking to put something a bit more budget-friendly together, you might want to consider cutting some of the pricier dual lands. Getting rid of Bountiful Promenade, Minas Tirith, Temple Garden and Overgrown Farmland will save you over $30.

Now let’s try to make this list our own! Here are five cards to keep, five to cut and five new options to include. All of the usage data for the cards discussed below was sourced on 06/29/2024.

5 Cards To Keep

Currently in 37% of decks.

Although Scavenged Brawler comes from the Mishra’s Burnished Banner precon, the card feels like it was tailor-made to work alongside Aragorn. Scavenged Brawler has a selection of powerful keyword abilities making it a useful threat when it is in play. Once it goes to the graveyard, it can be exiled to put four +1/+1 counters on any creature, along with keyword counters for each of its abilities. If you load these counters onto Aragorn, he can share the love and put a +1/+1 counter along with a copy of each ability counter onto another creature you control.

Currently in 41% of decks.

Keeping Aragorn safe is one of the keys to this deck. Although quite costly, at six mana, Eagle of Deliverance provides an invaluable indestructible counter, ensuring that your king is protected. Thanks to Aragorn’s ability to copy counters, he can return the favour and make this 5/5 Eagle indestructible as well.

Currently in 65% of decks.

While an indestructible Aragorn is fairly safe, a truly paranoid player knows that exile effects like Swords to Plowshares or Deadly Rollick can still slip past his guard and take him out. Enter Slippery Bogbonder, one of the game’s only sources of hexproof counters, who will prevent your opponents from even targeting Aragorn. The bogbonder’s ability to switch around all of the counters you have in play works beautifully here. You can move a bunch of counters from your other creatures onto Aragorn, and then have him duplicate and relocate them.

Currently in 45% of decks.

Contractual Safeguard provides a shield counter and then lets you take a kind of counter on a creature you control and put a copy of that counter onto each of your other creatures. This can be used not only to spread the shield counter it generates around but, if you’ve been able to get an indestructible or hexproof counter, then you can also copy those making your board exceedingly sturdy.

Currently in 45% of decks.

The Ozolith is one of the most expensive cards in this list, and if you’re looking to put this deck together on a budget it can absolutely be cut (Resourceful Defense pulls off something similar for a much lower price). It does provide a very valuable service if you can afford it though, allowing counters to persist after your creatures die. This effect not only preserves your counters but also enables Aragorn’s to copy them when they are transferred from The Ozolith onto him.

5 Cards To Cut

Currently in 69% of decks.

Slip On the Ring is a card you’ll want to slip right out of this deck. Blink effects are normally a great way of keeping your key creatures safe. Here though, flickering your creatures into and out of play will wipe away all of the counters that you’ve spent ages putting on them. This card's high usage is likely because it lets the Ring tempt you, but there are other options available which don't go against the intended game plan. Bombadil's Song provides similar utility whilst keeping the creature in play.

Currently in 31% of decks.

Took Reaper is simply too low impact to be worth keeping in the deck. A 2/1 for two without any keyword abilities is not the kind of card we want to bring anywhere near a game of Commander. Even though the card does let the Ring tempt you, this alone doesn’t make it worth keeping around. Comparing Took Reaper to Samwise the Stouthearted reveals all the ways that it comes up short. Sam has flash, a useful graveyard recursion effect and when he enters play the Ring tempts you immediately. Take Took Reaper away and don’t look back.

Currently in 38% of decks.

On the subject of Sam, unfortunately, his wife Rosie Cotton of South Lane won’t make the cut. Rosie Cotton lets you put a +1/+1 counter on a creature you control whenever you create a token. In the right deck, this can be really powerful, but as this deck currently stands, we have very few token makers, making Rosie a poor fit.

Currently in 39% of decks.

If you’re looking to bring down the cost of putting this deck together, it would also be worth cutting Damning Verdict. For a $10+ card, Damning Verdict is a card that looks a lot better in theory than it plays in practice. As a board wipe that destroys every creature without any counters, you can imagine throwing it down and having it destroy all of your opponent’s creatures, whilst leaving yours completely safe. Unfortunately, most decks these days do have some way of generating counters, so there’s a real risk that Damning Verdict will fail to destroy some of your opponent’s most buffed-up creatures. Replace this with a much cheaper alternative like Wrath of God.

Currently in 45% of decks.

Faramir, Field Commander isn’t as bad as something like Took Reaper, but it’s still not quite what the deck wants to be doing. Faramir’s ability to draw you a card in your end step if a creature you control has died works better in Aristocrats decks. While his ability to generate a 1/1 Human Soldier token every time the Ring tempts you is decent, it doesn’t justify including him. There are much better four drops out there than this.

5 Cards To Add

Currently in 0% of decks.

Although it’s a humble one-mana 0/2, Enduring Bondwarden is a fantastic early play. Its ability to move its counters onto another creature you control when it dies makes it the perfect card to heap a bunch of counters onto with Aragorn’s effect. This card has been overlooked because it's a common with an exceedingly narrow niche, but that niche pays off in this deck. If you’re looking for another copy of this effect, Star Pupil from Strixhaven is also a very similar card that shares its counters around once it dies.

Cankerbloom is currently in 0% of decks.

Grateful Apparition is currently in 15% of decks.

Cards with proliferate work well in this deck. Aragorn’s ability copies any extra counters that get proliferated onto him. Whilst we already have a few proliferate cards like Evolution Sage and Unnatural Restoration, it’s definitely worth adding a few more. Cankerbloom is a versatile card that can be used to proliferate or to destroy an enchantment or artifact. It would also be worth considering Grateful Apparition. This two mana Spirit proliferates repeatedly, whilst also offering a useful flying body to pile keyword counters onto.

Currently in 0% of decks.

Wing It is a new card from Modern Horizons 3. For two mana, Wing It gives a creature +2/+2 until the end of turn, as well as a flying counter, whilst also allowing its controller to scry 1. The card is a strictly better version of Spontaneous Flight from Ikoria (well, aside from the fact that the otter in the art of Wing It is nowhere near as cute as the fox from Spontaneous Flight). If you’re willing to spend a bit more cash, Luminous Broodmoth is another powerful mono-white source of flying counters. If you can get a flying counter on Aragorn, he'll be better at pushing commander damage through, and he'll also carry another of your creatures into the air.

Currently in 0% of decks.

Another New Capenna card worth considering is Sanctuary Warden. Although a bit pricy at six mana, this card is exceedingly hard to remove as it enters play with two Shield counters. The warden can remove a counter from a creature you control when it enters play and whenever it attacks, in order to draw a card and create a 1/1 Citizen token. If you’ve got some proliferate effects, this is a great way of getting rid of redundant ability counters. In this deck, Sanctuary Warden provides a steady stream of card draw and 1/1 bodies.


So there we have it. Aragorn, Company Leader has proven that he’s a worthy member of the fellowship through all of the wacky counter-generating gameplay that he enables.

This commander offers a fresh spin on a familiar archetype. There are loads of commanders out there that care about +1/+1 counters, but Aragorn pays you off for putting counters of all kinds in your deck. You can quickly turn this Tolkienian king into a stacked threat coated in keywords. Unlike most Voltorn decks though, you won't be putting all of your eggs in one basket, as Aragorn's ability to share counters around ensures that your other creatures get built up alongside him. You can hit one opponent with some commander damage from Aragorn, attack someone else with an Enduring Bondwarden that Aragorn has buffed up, and then hit a third player with your Ring-bearer to draw some extra cards.

Even though Aragorn, Company Leader slipped beneath the notice of most of Magic's player base, he's definitely worth a second look. The keyword counters he plays around with are a relatively new mechanic; they debuted in 2020 in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. As more powerful counter-generating cards come along in the future, Aragorn will grow stronger and stronger.

Read more:

Mechanical Memories - Knives Out, -1/-1 Counters In

Too-Specific Top 10 - Counter-Counter

Ben is a freelance writer from the UK. He's has been playing Magic since he was 8 years old, back when he thought Enormous Baloth was the best card in the game. You can find more Magic content from him on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iSANUGoKzdK6XgLyB1qLw

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