Some cards deserve more love that you’re currently giving. Maybe they came out before you started playing, and haven’t made it to the top of EDHREC. Maybe you drafted it, slotted it in your binder without a second a thought, and now it’s collecting dust. Maybe it’s always the first draft of your deck, but always ends up being your 101st card. No matter what, you should be playing: Aide from the Cowl.

Raise your hand if you like free stuff. 

That better be all of you reading right now. I don’t know a single Commander player who wants to pay full price for anything. We’ll jump through every hoop known to man in order to get a free card draw or to cheat a fatty into play. 

And yet I never see today’s spotlight card hit the table. OK, so maybe Aid from the Cowl is a bit unwieldy. Maybe it costs five and doesn’t guarantee you anything the turn it comes into play. But for most decks and most tables, Aid from the Cowl is an incredible advantage engine that doesn’t require much in the way of deck building cost.

Why You Want to Play Aid from the Cowl

Magic is a game of creatures battling it out on board, and you love the battles. You like making trades – especially when you come out on top. You understand that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. You don’t trust people who like to fight over spells on the stack. You prefer to keep everything on board. In a game of rock/paper/scissors you always choose dynamite. 

Tech, Tactics, and Strategies

On the surface, Aid from the Cowl looks pretty straight forward. It really just asks two simple things from you:

  1. You need a deck that’s heavy on permanents so you run a higher chance of procs. 
  2. You need stuff to die on your turn. 

For a lot of deck styles, neither of these requirements is that big of a hurdle. In fact, most decks are going to be 60% permanents without even trying. Even more archetypes will want to heavy up on creatures and push that number to 75%. That means the majority of times you trigger Aid from the Cowl you’ll be effectively drawing a card and playing it. 

OK, so a lot of the cards you hit are going to be lands. That still means you’re getting a free Explore

But the first time you hit a creature, even something standard like a Reclamation Sage, you’ve effectively drawn two cards (the Reclamation Sage and a Black Lotus) and played those cards for free. 

I’ll take a free Black Lotus any day.

Don’t Trust the Heart of the Cards

As noted above, most decks will get value off of Aid from the Cowl simply by building a normal Commander deck. But what if we don’t want to trust our luck and the odds? Well, it’s incredibly easy to make your top decks matter.

The poster boy for this is the recently reprinted Scroll Rack. You have a big boi like Avenger of Zendikar stuck in your hand? Just flip him into a new card then get him for free. 

Green actually has a long tradition of managing the top of your library. Sylvan Library is an iconic card that is slightly more available now that Commander Collection: Green is in the world. Mirri’s Guile has a similar effect, and Cream of the Crop is a bit easier on the budget. 

Honestly, you can get nearly as much value – for a fraction of the cost – with simple scry spells. Crystal Ball does a mean Sylvan Library impression when all you care about is the top of your library. Catacomb Sifter is on brand in this deck letting you get value from both the dies triggers and the scry ability. 

If you’re heading into black anyway look at cards like Haunted Crossroads. It’s a permanent so you can hit it off of Aid from the Cowl, and it makes sure your top decks are always stacked. Volrath’s Stronghold is a powerful way to have the same effect from a land slot. Bone Harvest sets you up for all the turns. We’re going to talk about some powerful artifact synergies later, and if you go that route you should definitely check out Arcbound Reclaimer.

Self Sacrifice

Making sure we hit on Aid from the Cowl procs is half of the battle. The other half is figuring out how to fire them in the first place. There is actually a significantly deep well of strategies that let you trigger Revolt. 

Aristocrats is already an established archetype in Commander. With these decks you are looking to sacrifice your own creatures for value. Cards like Blood Artist and Cruel Celebrant drain your opponents when creatures die while Grave Pact effects keep control of the board. 

Wouldn’t it be great to also get free cards into play when you execute your game plan?

Commanders like Ghave, Guru of Spores can easily support Aid from the Cowl by giving you easy sacrificial bodies and a way to get rid of them. You don’t have to be fully self contained though. Decks like Shattergang Brothers demand you build them with things to sacrifice. 

You could even branch out into blue with a Prime Speaker Vanifar deck. Who wouldn’t want to sacrifice a utility creature to find something better, then get a free creature so you can do it again next turn while advancing your board state?

Bounce House

The funny thing about Revolt is that it is so wide open. It’s obvious that you can trigger it by having creatures die, but you can also trigger the ability by bouncing creatures out of play. This can be done by returning creatures to your hand with Crystal Shard or Cloudstone Curio. You can also go with another established archetype – the blink deck.

Blink decks use Commander’s like Roon of the Hidden Realm or Brago King Eternal to generate value from enters the battlefield (EtB) effects. They want to flicker utility creatures like the aforementioned Reclamation Sage, or classics like Mulldrifter, to draw cards, remove problem permanents, and to power their value engines. 

And every turn they want to have permanents they control leave play (and of course come right back).  An Aid from the Cowl trigger could easily double down by both getting you a new creature AND an additional EtB effect. 

Some cards require mana to trigger the blinking, but often you can get it for no additional cost. Conjurer’s Closet, Venser the Sojourner, and Soulherder require a simple upfront investment then power your engine for the rest of the game. 

Can You Hear Me Now?

As you can see, Aid from the Cowl fits neatly into two of the more established commander archetypes. But I want to dig a little deeper and see what new things it makes possible. 

Aid from the Cowl actually plays shockingly well with an old mechanic that gets no love today. That’s right, I’m bringing back Echo. For those that haven’t played it before, Echo is an ability that spreads the cost of a card over two turns. You play a card for cheaper on one turn, then you have to pay it’s echo cost during the next upkeep or you have to sacrifice it. 

Sacrifice? For free? With no other card needed to enable it? That sounds right up our alley. 

I’m looking at abusing creatures like Ghitu Slinger and Firemaw Kavu that have their own EtBs. This is almost a variation on the blink deck, but with more burny cards. Red actually has a lot of ways to get advantages with Echo. Keldon Vandal destroys an artifact. Mogg War Marshal gives you a couple tokens to kill off later. Orcish Hellraiser is a nice way to clear off some planeswalker loyalty. 

I really want to abuse these cards with another expensive green enchantment: Wild Pair. With a Wild Pair out, your Ghitu Slinger can grab an Avalanche Rider or a Stingscourger for even more disruption. Banching out of red, you could play a Bone Shredder to go grab a Deranged Hermit and flood the board with squirrels. 

Evoke creatures offer similar benefits with a more immediate payoff. Ingot Chewer is basically a Kelden Vandal that doesn’t get a chance to block. Mulldrifter is a Divination that also gives you an Aid from the Cowl proc. White can even get in on the party with Wispmare and Reveillark

Trashing Trinkets

Another interesting angle on Aid from the Cowl is that you don’t have to focus on creatures. Revolt triggers when any permanent leaves play. That means you can get triggers when you sacrifice lands to Gitrog Monster – or when you sacrifice other permanent types like, say, artifacts. 

Artifacts actually have a long tradition of sacrificing themselves for the greater good. Goblin Welder, Goblin Engineer, Daretti Scrap Savant, and Slobad Goblin Tinkerer give you plenty of value for saccing an artifact. If you go artifact heavy, you can even run underplayed creatures like Arcbound Ravager.

The best part about artifact synergies is that in recent years, Wizards has gone out of their way to give us cards that easily produce artifact tokens that want to sacrifice themselves. Yep, I’m talking about Food, Clues, and Treasures. Treasures are definitely the best here because you can generate them easily, sacrifice them for free, and often get ahead by doing so. 

In fact, if you sacrifice an early treasure to play Aid from the Cowl early you’ll even get the Revolt trigger the turn you play it. 

Captain Lannery Storm and Gadrak the Crown Scourge are easy ways to get treasures over and over again. If you pull a Goldspan Dragon in this weekend’s Kaldheim pre-release you should definitely slot it into this deck. 

So What does an Aid from the Cowl Deck Look Like?

As you can see, Aid from the Cowl fits everywhere in Commander. It can give some extra oomph to existing archetypes like aristocrats and blink, but it also opens up access to some underplayed strategies as well. 

The deck I’m featuring this week is one I’m having a ton of fun with right now. It’s a different take on the traditional blink deck. By using Livio Oathsworn Sentinel and Kodama of the East Tree as my commanders, I can take full advantage of Aid from the Cowl

Livio gives me easy Revolt triggers, and any time I hit a permanent (which is basically all the cards in the deck) Kodama gives me an extra install. Take a look below and let me know if you see any other hidden synergies. 

Livio + Kodama Aids the Cowl | Commander

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Commanders

1 Livio, Oathsworn Sentinel

1 Kodama of the East Tree

Creatures

1 Thraben Inspector

1 Wall of Omens

1 Wall of Blossoms

1 Jorael, M