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Balan, Wandering Knight | Equipment Voltron

Commander / EDH Aggro Mono-White Multiplayer Voltron




May 17, 2018:

Dominaria Update

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The primary objective for victory is to deal 21 Commander Damage to each opponent with Balan, Wandering Knight!

Early game is spent setting up. Any ramp, utility creatures, and Equipment are played in the first several turns to prepare the board for Balan, Wandering Knight. Once the board is ready, Balan is cast, equipped, and starts the clock.

Further resources are devoted into keeping Balan suited up to retain her quick clock, casting new Equipment or recurring destroyed ones when necessary. I'm also disrupting my opponents' game plans with removal and may pressure other opponents with any available alternative threats.

In the event that Balan dies, she is recast and reequipped through her ability to quickly resume her assault. If I'm in a situation where recasting Balan isn't ideal, such as right after a full board sweeper, the deck's alternative threats pick up the slack until the board is restored for Balan to take command again.

If Balan ever becomes too expensive to recast and Command Beacon isn't available, my deck's alternative threats fully take over and I attempt to defeat my opponents though regular Equipment beatdown.

This is my first Commander deck. I started building in October 2011, with Kemba, Kha Regent as the first Commander for her synergy with Equipment. The earlest builds of this deck were a Token/Voltron hybrids to benefit from Kemba's cats. Overtime the token support dwindled, as I no longer cared about the token aspects of the deck and desired to focus more into accomplishing Commander Damage kills.

In July 2013, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, took over from Kemba as the second Commander shortly after the token support was dropped completely. 8.5 was much better suited for a Voltron strategy by using his protection to keep targeted removal off of himself and my Equipment and bypass blockers. 8.5 wasn't without his own issues. He's essentially useless early game and the occasional games with mana screw botched his effectiveness, but he was the best Commander available that fit my needs.

Aether Revolt gave this deck its third Commander, Sram, Senior Edificer, and Equipment synergy returned to the Command Zone. Sram's ability to drop as early as Turn 2 and begin the Commander Damage death clock much faster than his predecessors while keeping my hand stocked fit the deck very well.

Sram's reign was short-lived. Commander 2017 heralded this deck's forth and current Commander, Balan, Wandering Knight, who possesses what her predecessors never had: raw power. Balan is an Equipment master, able to quickly defeat opponents with the minimal set-ups.


Acquirable: 2 | Unavailable: 8 | Reserved: 2

Foils: 58

Prerelease Foils: 8

Grand Prix & Pro Tour Promos: 4

Judge Gifts: 1

Masterpieces: 8

Miscellaneous Foils & Promos: 9

Remaining Acquirable Foils:

Karn, Scion of Urza

Petrified Field


Currently Unavailable in Foil:

Balan, Wandering Knight

Armory Automaton

Conqueror's Flail

Hammer of Nazahn

Masterwork of Ingenuity

Grasp of Fate

Teferi's Protection

Nahiri, the Lithomancer


Reserved List:

Argivian Archaeologist


Deck Development

As of July 27, 2018

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July 27




Pending Changes


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July 2



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June 25




Pending Changes


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May 17 - Dominaria Update

Deck List Changes

Dominaria Additions:

Other Additions:






Pending Changes

  • All removed

Rivals of Ixalan Update

Rivals of Ixalan Additions:

  • None

Other Additions:

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Boreas Charger

Mana ramp and on a utility body. Can tutor for Mistveil Plains.


Heavenly Blademaster

A powerful back-up Equipment wielder.


Magus of the Balance

Balance on a body.


Remorseful Cleric

Grave-hate reusable with creature recursion.



Grave-hate and creature utility.


Basilisk Collar

Lifelink to boost my life, deathtouch to pressure opposing creatures.


Endless Atlas

Low-cost card draw engine.


Cleansing Nova

A flexible sweeper.


Credit Voucher

Shuffles away a stagnant hand for fresh cards.


Scout's Warning

Allows Balan or a key utility creature to be flashed in and catch opponents off-guard. Can also be "cycled" if necessary.

Commander decks are dynamic and ever-changing. New cards replace the old, players adapt to each other's strategies, and opinions of cards can alter over time. What was yesterday's strong additions can become tomorrow's weakest links. No deck stays the same for too long.

The following cards are what I'm currently thinking about dropping, either because, they're no longer effective, I became uninterested in them, or they're being replaced with something better.

Currently none
The following are changes I'm currently testing.

Crook of Condemnation -> Remorseful Cleric

Day of Judgment -> Cleansing Nova

Please read my Notable Exclusions list before posting!

Not every card is going to be usable. Some have become obsolete, some are overall too weak, and some just don't fit the theme properly. Whatever the reason, there are some cards that I simply don't want in my deck.

I currently have no intention of using any of the following cards.



Equipment Tutors


Equipment Support


Auras & Vehicles

Balan has no use for Auras and focuses solely on Equipment.

After playing with them for a while, Vehicles have been deemed too much of a distraction for the deck.


Mana Rocks & Mana Doublers

Equipment decks will naturally incentivize heavier use of artifact hate, and non-Equipment artifacts will frequently end up as collateral damage. I'm intentionally keeping mana rocks to an absolute minimum and abstaining from mana doublers entirely, focusing mostly on land-based ramp options instead.

Mana doublers have their individual issues as well:


Removal Options


Hate Cards

Cards like Aven Mindcensor, Loxodon Gatekeeper, and Hushwing Gryff with abilities that slow down opponents and/or prevent certain shenanigans. I don't care for this type of card as they all share the same problems:

  • The longer the game goes, the less effective they become.
  • Not enough of them isn't consistent.
  • Too many of them burns space on non-synergistic cards.
  • Simply not drawing them feels no different that not running them in the first place.

Overall, it's not worth the loss of deck synergy for the random chance of stopping opponents tutoring, ramping, or abusing ETB triggers early enough in the game to matter. If I'm going to use a Hate Card, it has to function like Rest in Peace: effective against any deck and completely functional at any stage of the game.


Mass Land Destruction

I don't like MLD in Commander. It's either win-more when I'm ahead or useless when I'm behind. There's no middle ground. It also carry the stigma of ruining games. Not what I want for this deck.



  • Fetchlands are primarily for colour-fixing, which a mono-coloured deck doesn't need. Deckthinning with them is statistically negligible.
  • Artifact Lands don't provide any meaningful utility and will end up as collateral damage from sweepers more often than not.
  • Cavern of Souls doesn't do much in a non-Tribal, mono-coloured deck with a Commander that has no ETB trigger.
  • Eiganjo Castle has a very low-impact ability that's easily outpaced by the deck's Equipment.
  • Flagstones of Trokair is a card that does absolutely nothing. It's not "strictly better than a Plains", no matter how hard you convince yourself.
  • Inkmoth Nexus, like Grafted Exoskeleton, promotes a horrid win-con that is hated by everyone.
  • New Benalia & Zhalfirin Void don't do enough. The cycling lands are much better.
  • Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can't function properly in an artifact-based strategy.
  • Temple of the False God is a trap that promises to produce two mana, but is a dead card when that two mana matters the most.


Avacyn, Angel of Hope & Darksteel Forge

Both have cumbersome mana costs and can't effectively protect my Equipment in the wake of the quality, efficient exiling removal that's being printed nowadays.


Bastion Protector

Too narrow. Only boosting Balan and nobody else isn't that great in games where I have to restort to my alternative threats. Not being an Equipment also hinders it.


Iona, Shield of Emeria

Mean-spirited griefer card that unnecessarily hates on Mono-colored decks. Her entire purpose is to stop players from playing the game. Why is she even allowed in this format?


Ranger of Eos

It doesn't work with the tiny amount of 1cmc creatures this deck has. Adding more creatures would be forcing Ranger to work instead of it being a natural addition.


Inspiring Statuary

The one card type that this deck would want to be made cheaper is Artifact (and by extension, Equipment). Statuary doesn't provide that.


Land Tax

Replaced by Tithe to get the needed lands a turn faster. This deck also no longer has any way to use the spare lands Land Tax offers.

Updates Add

Dominara Additions:

Transcendent Master -> Danitha Capashen, Paragon

Godsend -> Blackblade Reforged

Conqueror's Galleon -> Karn, Scion of Urza

Terminus -> Urza's Ruinous Blast


Other Additions:

Angel of Sanctions -> Thalia's Lancers

Reveillark -> Teferi's Protection

Smuggler's Copter -> Mind Stone

Land Tax -> Tithe

Rest in Peace -> Crook of Condemnation

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx -> Ancient Tomb

Dominaria, Where Legends are Born

Balan has a new best friend: Danitha Capashen! Three strong keywords on a cheap and efficient body in addition to her Equipment mana cost reduction makes her a great blend of both support and back-up roles. Just give her a Sword and watch her take over!

Danitha has booted out Transcendent Master. With a Commander that can become a quick clock with the minimalist of resources, various Equipment that can turn any chump into a champ, and Equipment synergy ever-growing, cutting Master at some point was inevitable. Master is a fun card, but this deck wants Equipment support more than a generic beater.


I haven't been a huge fan of Equipment with variable P/T boosts. Their effects are 'hit-or-miss': offering maximum potential in some games or being flat out bad in others. Blackblade Reforged has none of those issues. This weapon of ages past is all consistency and power, with a boost that will continue to grow as the game progresses.

Previous Commanders weren't as fast as Balan is, and Godsend's exile trigger was often used defensively to deter threats. Balan's capacity for quick kills has changed the needs of Equipment, and being defensive isn't what she does. Blackblade's massive P/T boost pushing Balan's damage into one-shot range or allowing back-up attackers to be significant clocks on their own is more important than exiling creatures within combat.


Card draw is an important part of any Commander deck, and decent card draw can be difficult to get a hold of in Mono-White. Karn, Scion of Urza arrives to offer just that, with also the ability to defend himself through his tokens. These tokens getting a P/T increasing from the number of artifacts you control is a good fit in a deck centered around Equipment, often becoming a sizable blocker or back-up attacker if the situation calls for it.

Karn has taken up Conqueror's Galleon's  Flip place. Crew 4 is just a smidgen too high. There were times a swordless Balan could have a quick joy-ride, but the needed 4 power is a significant snag that kept getting in the way of flipping the Galleon consistently.


Although ineffective against opposing Commanders and Planeswalkers, Urza's Ruinous Blast is the newest sweeper that can purge the board while sparing Balan and (maybe) an Equipment. These type of sweepers are valuable, as they allow me to keep my opponents' strategies in check while having to rebuild.

Terminus was dropped for Urza's Blast. I'm being really thorough with having enough removal for anything and everything. The loss of Terminus still leaves Day, wrath, and Austere Command (first two modes) as available creature-only sweepers if blowing everything else up isn't ideal.

A Legendary Friend

Dominaria is a great treasure trove of legendary cards, and there is one creature in particular in the Maybeboard that benefits from this immensely.

Thalia's Lancers has been added to take complete advantage of Dominaria's legendary gifts. I only wanted a second Planeswalker to have Lancers be an effective 'Walker tutor, but the creation of legendary sorceries, along with the other fresh legends, has opened up Lancers tutor pool more than I expected.

Lancers have taken up Angel of Sanctions' Open Slot.


White loves its sweepers, and this deck is no exception. It's a necessary evil to have sufficient artifact sweepers to rid the field of my opponents' mechanical shenanigans. Keeping Vehicles on board with this increased use of artifact hate is rough. Artifact recursion is more often than not spent on Equipment for the benefit of Balan, leaving Vehicles to rust away in the grave and unlikely to be brought back into the game.

This deck's creature base isn't the best for crewing either. It's mostly comprised of low-power utility dorks. I usually only have 1 or 2 of them on the field at once, which leaves Vehicles with crew costs higher than 2 to be unwieldy and greatly restricts which Vehicles could be used. A few of the utility creatures in this deck have vital activated abilities that need to be left available and can't be used to crew at all.

Overall, Vehicles are too much of a distraction for this deck's Equipment gameplan with Balan at the helm. She wants to be all-in on Equipment, with no desire for anything else.

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With this new stance on Vehicles, Smuggler's Copter has been removed and its slot is given to Mind Stone, another ramp source to help Balan out of the Command Zone faster. I've been adamant about keeping mana rocks to a minimum and use land ramp in the deck instead, but there are only so many land ramp effects that aren't dead draws in the late-game. Mind Stone, at the very least, can be "cycled" when unneeded or in the event of removal.

Spring Cleaning

Reveillark's Open Slot is now occupied by Teferi's Protection. Honestly, Teferi's Protection should of been added alongside of the rest of the Commander 2017 additions last year. But it wasn't in the Cat Precon, I didn't bother buying a single at the time, and getting the deck fixed up for Balan was more important. Better late than never.


I get what I want out of Land Tax from one trigger. A few land drops is often plenty to get the deck going in the early turns. Any additional lands from further triggers, if I even bother with them, end up being discarded due to the maximum hand size. Scroll Rack was cut over a year ago, and along with the Looter Scooter's departure there are no incentives left in filling my hand up with superfluous Basics. Land Tax also suffers the problem of being a terrible draw later in the game when Equipment or interaction is needed more than a enchantment with no immediate impact and waning relevance.

Tithe offers a similar effect a whole turn faster, not being left waiting for an upkeep trigger. It can still function and only grab one land if I happen to not be behind and retains late-game use by being a tutor for the excellent Mistveil Plains or another cheap, on-demand shuffle effect to refresh my library for Sensei's Divining Top.


Rest in Peace was primarily added in response to a certain Graveyard deck in my meta. That deck was dismantled for parts by its owner a few years ago and other graveyard-based strategies that pop in every now and then haven't been as powerful since. RIP is a strong answer to graveyard-based strategies, but if there isn't a hard Graveyard deck in the meta, RIP leans too much on the harsh side. Coupled with my own desire to recur my fallen utility creatures and destroyed Equipment, RIP constantly sits in my hand, waiting for bloated graveyards worth purging to retain my own yard as long as possible. All the while, my opponents have the opportunity to cherry-pick their graves unhindered.

I looked up the available options for more appropriate grave-hate and settled on Crook of Condemnation. It's the best fit for the deck's new needs: something to stop single-card recursion effects, while still having the ability to purge.


Having enough devotion for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is _ impossible_ in a deck centered around colourless permanents. I kept Nykthos in the deck longer than it should have, and I'm finally throwing in the towel.

Nykthos was an easy cut for Ancient Tomb. A flat for 2 life is a much better deal than trying to build devotion that never lasts.


Crook of Condemnation is obviously not as powerful as Rest in Peace, and a popped Crook in exile will leave the rest of the game without graveyard interaction. Of the other possible options, Stonecloaker is my first choice for a second grave-hate card. It's repeatable, tutorable, and has utility beyond grave-hate by saving another creature from removal, getting a second ETB trigger, or being an evasive back-up attacker.


Banisher Priest has been in the Maybeboard for a while now and hasn't found a place in the deck. At this point, with Angel of Sanctions' removal, Priest is unlikely ever be added. Banisher Priest has been removed from the Maybeboard.


Having Reliquary Tower borrow Mikokoro's slot for a while caused a gap in the deck's card draw capabilities. Keeping Sword of Fire and Ice from overloading my hand was a problem I worried about too much and paid the price with dwindling hands and a Reliquary Tower doing nothing. Reliquary Tower has been removed from the Maybeboard.

The Summer Releases

I focus this deck's updates around the four Standard set releases. In the event of a supplementary set or product containing new cards being released close to a Standard set, I pair them together for one update. The upcoming Summer release schedule has throw a wrench into this plan.

I initially intended to pair Dominaria with Battlebond, but after reviewing the release dates of the Summer sets, this wasn't ideal. Battlebond, Core 2019, and Commander 2018 are being released on June 8, July 13, and August 10 respectively, with their spoilers beginning a few weeks prior to each of these dates. This tightly packed release schedule only left early May as a 'breather' before a Summer without breaks. Dominaria was left unpaired in favour of bundling entire Summer together.

Next Update:

Battlebond, Core 2019, & Commander 2018

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Date added 5 years
Last updated 6 days
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This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.84
Tokens 1/1 Construct, 0/0 Germ, 1/1 Kor Soldier, Equipment
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Top rank #12 on 2018-03-16
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