Since The Forbidden Alchemy is a blog dedicated first and foremost to Standard, I am quite excited to see the potential of Brawl as a new format. For those who don’t know what this format is, please go here.
In a nutshell:
- Brawl is a standard format derivative of Commander.
- It’s intended to be a multiplayer format.
- Life starts at 30.
- The deck size is 60, including the commander (59 cards in the library when the game starts).
- The colors of the deck can only have the mana symbols in your chosen commander.
- Planeswalkers can be commanders.
- Each card can appear in the deck only once except basic lands.
- Follow the current standard banlist.
- Rotates together with the standard format.
Easy to play? Yes!
Cheaper than regular standard? Yes!
We can now play with Kambal? Yes!
My personal opinion of this format is very positive. It is a great way to welcome new players into the format who don’t have the cash to get playsets of Rekindling Phoenix or Scarab Gods. It’s also a great way to use cards in standard that never really found their homes (like Kambal). With the singleton restrictions, players are now forced to look into other viable cards to provide redundancy because you can play jam 4 Vraska’s Contempt and 4 Fatal Push in your deck anymore.
Want to get rid of Gods (which I think will be the most popular Commander thanks to their indestructibility and return-to-hand abilities), then you might need to go back to the shop you left your commons and uncommons at because you might actually need a copy of Final Reward in your deck. This restriction I think pushes deck builders to find the cards that will make their deck as consistent as possible even if they now need to play with sub-optimal cards.
Want to consistently play Gifted Aetherborn, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Jadelight Ranger and Ripjaw Raptor in the same deck? You better think about how Brawl’s format restrictions will push your mana base to its limit.
Opposing colors are not as lucky as allied ones because we have more dual lands for adjacent colors currently. This will change once Dominaria comes out but who can wait for Dominaria anyway?
What lesson from EDH and Duel Commander can we take and apply to Brawl? I can list my personal top 3.
- Removal will be key and plenty because most (not all) decks will win through combat.
- Protection and Permission will dictate the game – it will be a battle of who gets first on the board and who can stick a threat the longest. Like lesson #1, to win we need someone to take and make the punches.
- Diplomatic cards (or the lack of it) will help make your games more interesting – because this is a multiplayer format, you have to show your value at stabilizing the game and avoid other players from taking charge (while you secretly take charge yourself).
So how will TFA’s first Brawl Deck look like? Let’s begin who I chose to command my army.
Nissa used to call the Temur Energy Deck’s sideboard her home. She comes in during control match-ups to help improve the players draw and put Bristling Hydra’s in to play for free and right under the counter spells of the opponent.
I spoke about how limited good removal options will be and I want to punish the opponent from relying on them too much. Packing my deck with a lot hexproof creatures will surely pressure the opponent to find a board sweeper.
Blue also has some good creatures like Vizier of Many Faces that can copy one of our hexproof creatures and get the same protection. Glyph Keeper on the other hand does not have Hexproof but requires you to hit it twice to actually touch it. Honored Hydra neither has protection or a force field protecting it but maybe because it doesn’t need it. A 6/6 with Trample for 6 is fine but for a 6/6 with Trample for 4 after you exhausted some resources killing it the first time, that’s super! All these creatures having embalm is great because we essentially have 6 creatures taking 3 card slots.
Speaking of Embalm, we also have a good selection of Eternalize creatures. Resilient Khenra is great on the attack but doesn’t mind taking a hit as well. Champion of Wits helps us get our lands and let’s us throw cards we don’t need or maybe put an Honored Hydra in the yard for a turn 3 Wits into a turn 4 6/6 hydra play.
Our threats are positioned fourth on the curve so we need ways to skip turn 3 and capitalize early. We have a lot of selections for dorks and I prefer those with at least 2 power so they can trade well in combat. Servant, Channeler and Avid Reclaimer are great dorks because they can add any colored mana which is relevant at helping us get the colors we need early. Channeler also becomes a beat stick once we have exhausted her mana ability while Avid Reclaimer adds our colors conveniently and gains us 2 life for having our commander out in play.
We are not in the colors that offer good removal, so to compensate we will play protection spells which essentially counters the opponents attempt at killing our stuff. Blossoming Defense and Dive Down are my favorite because they both cost 1 mana and pumps our dude in case we need to block and don’t want to trade our creatures just yet. Heroic Intervention is the perfect answer for players planning to use Bontu’s Last Reckoning or Fumigate on us. Remember they only have 1 of these spells each so countering them with Intervention can be game over for the control player.
We will also play a bit of counter magic for opposing Planeswalkers or board sweepers. Needless to say, having access to counter magic is what incentivizes us for playing blue.
To keep us in the game, we will also play cards that give us card advantage. Chart a Course is the best 2-mana draw spell in my opinion which is handy if we kept a land light hand. Mouth can put us on the battlefield on time, and once we have a bunch of 3 power dudes on the field, Feed can replenish our hand instantly from the yard. Lastly I want to Bounty of the Luxa in the deck because it’s great at ramping us to Carnage Tyrant if we drop this on turn 3 with a dork on turn 2.
For resilience, we will also play some vehicles that punch hard. Skysovereign is my favorite because it’s also a source of removal for Planeswalkers. All of these are easy to crew since a lot of our creatures are high powered.
Let’s now look at how my first Brawl deck looks like:
Commander: Nissa, Steward of Elements
- Servant of the Conduit
- Channeler Initiate
- Drover of the Mighty
- Druid of the Cowl
- Avid Reclaimer
- Resilient Khenra
- Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- Champion of Wits
- Rhonas the Indomitable
- Thrashing Brontodon
- Ripjaw Raptor
- Bristling Hydra
- Vizier of Many Faces
- Vizier of the Menagerie
- Glyph Keeper
- Verdurous Gearhulk
- Carnage Tyrant
- Scaled Behemoth
- Nezahal, Primal Tide
Noncreature Permanents: 6
- Bounty of the Luxa
- Nissa, Vital Force
- Shaper’s Sanctuary
- Aethersphere Harvester
- Cultivator’s Caravan
- Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- Chart a Course
- Blossoming Defense
- Dive Down
- Heroic Intervention
- Revolutionary Rebuff
- Supreme Will
- Mouth // Feed
- Admiral’s Order
- Hour of Promise
- Botanical Sanctum
- Woodland Stream
- Evolving Wilds
- Hashep Oasis
- Desert of the Mindful
- Desert of the Indomitable
- Scavenger Ground
- Field of Ruin
- Arch of Orazca
- Forest x 8
- Island x 7
That’s it for now, I can see my plane taxiing in the runway. I hope you guys are enjoying the blog and hope you guys check back here soon!