Recently, I wrote about the best aggressive commanders that survived rotation. With the announcement that Brawl will make its Arena debut this week, I thought it might be prudent to take a fuller look at my favorite of the bunch – Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin.
As I mentioned before, I prefer to play Brawl in a more competitive fashion. What this really means is that I enjoy playing one against one. I can appreciate those who prefer those drawn out political games, but Arena only offers one play style, and luckily, Ravnica’s favorite goblin and public servant is ready to shine.
Here is my build of Krenko:
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
The obvious plus to starting with a red commander is that it has access to some of the most powerful and proven aggressive cards in Standard. The combination of Runaway Steam-Kin, Light Up the Stage, Legion Warboss, and Experimental Frenzy have formed the backbone of red decks for the last year. Of course, as a singleton format, those cards do not show up as consistently as they might in a Standard deck. The key is to find the angle to connect other, less powerful cards back to Krenko. The two things that the deck is looking to maximize is haste and evasion. Yes, much like Sonic the Hedgehog, Krenko wants to go fast.
Using cards like Samut’s Sprint and Maximize Velocity, you can craft strategic points to drop Krenko, get an attack in, and create a lot of Dragon Fodder as you go. Other cards like Torch Courier and Crystal Slipper force your opponent to play very carefully, lest they drop their shields and let Krenko come rushing in. Cards like Rimrock Knight and Infuriate can also help force attacks and create even more goblins.
The other way to Krenko into the red zone is to ensure that the opponent just can’t block him. To that end, the deck offers a number of options. Traditional red removal spells are the first building blocks. Cards like Heartfire work really well with extra goblin tokens, and can remove troublesome blockers. Additionally, falter effects like Clamor Shaman and Smelt-Ward Minotaur are very effective, especially early in the game. The best of these is Cosmotronic Wave which often pulls double duty as a sweeper of opposing tokens. Tectonic Rift is a card that has made the cut in the past and could again, especially if the meta revolves around Golos ramp decks (Field of the Dead isn’t banned in Brawl!).
The nice thing about this deck is that it has a lot of synergies and ways to utilize all the little red dudes left in the wake of Krenko’s, uh, business dealings. The damage plus abilities on both Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Jaya, Venerated Firemage can turn a meager board of goblins into an absolute wrecking crew. While the deck certainly misses the more powerful goblin synergies that exited in Dominaria, cards like Icon of Ancestry and Goblin Ringleader do enough to justify the subtheme. Even Mask of Immolation does a solid enough Goblin Bombardment impersonation (a goblin card thematically, if not literally).
Overall the deck gets to play a solid burn suite in addition to the best red creatures and curve toppers in the format. The deck is surprisingly resilient even if plan A fails. I think this deck is a strong place to start in the burgeoning Arena Brawl metagame.
A Note on Irencrag Feat
By this point I assume that most felt the Irencrag Feat joke in the title was just there for cheap laughs; well that’s not the case! I do think that Irencrag Feat is a card that deserves consideration in strategies like this. Brawl, much like Commander, features a “tax” that forces players to pay two more generic mana each time they cast their commander. For a deck like Krenko, this can be hard to accommodate, and, prepare yourself for this, Krenko will die, a lot. Casting Krenko the first and second time is manageable, but once you get to that third attempt, it gets a bit harder. Irencrag Feat lets you cheat on casting your commander for the second, third, and sometimes fourth time. My play group allows for 5 card sideboards, and Irencrag Feat has a place in mine for this reason. If the Arena format is all about removal slugfests, then Irencrag Feat might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Anyways, thanks for reading and happy Brawl brewing!
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