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Brawl for All

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Brawl, Casual Magic, Commander


What on earth? For those not quite in the know, WoTC recently announced a new format called Brawl. You can read about that here. Color me intrigued. I actually really enjoy singleton formats that are competitive, although I haven’t played one in quite a long time. I’m thinking back to when 250 singleton was popular around Onslaught Block days. Since we have a brand new format on our hands, I thought I would take a stab at some initial options to begin an expected metagame intended for 1 on 1 play. The majority of the standard staple decks will still be viable with some slightly weaker picks to fill in the holes. I am hoping though, that perhaps there are some new things we get to do with Brawl. It’s also important to keep in mind there are no sideboards, so it’s imperative you have answers to as many situations as possible so you’re not left without a way to solve a problem. When looking over the current legendary options, the ones that stick out to me are the following:

Any Planeswalker
Any God
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Gishath, Sun’s Avatar
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Sram, Senior Edificer
Zacama, Primal Calamity

There are some obviously sweet options when you go down the Planeswalker rabbit hole such as Vraska, Relic Seeker or Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. There’s of course the nightmare of different God’s available, highlighted by The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent. After that we’re looking at different linear based strategies. With all that in mind, here’s my take on some of the options listed above.

Leading off I wanted to make a traditional ramp style deck with the dinosaur payoff. You can use either Zacama, Primal Calamity or Gishath, Sun’s Avatar as your commander. I think I hit the nail on the head here. There are a lot of different goals I wanted to accomplish with my deck list. Finding the dinosaurs was the easy part, but it’s figuring out the flexible slots to obtain your goals is a little more difficult. I did so by fitting 8 ramp effects, 9 removal spells, and 9 spells with cmc 2 or less. This makes it so you still get the desired ramp, you have enough interaction and cheap enough spells to make sure you’re making the most of each of your turns throughout the game. There’s many different ways of exploring the ramp strategy and I’m curious how it will evolve as players begin to pick up the format. Will bigger be better or will midrange be the way to go?

The next deck I want to take a look at is based around Baral, Chief of Compliance.

I know online that Baral had been dominating the 1 on 1 commander leagues, but that has long since passed, with its banning on MTGO. Since Baral has been a non-factor in Standard up until now, exploring him more in depth should be fun. The strategy is old as magic itself, counter go. I fit almost every single functional counterspell available in the Standard format. In addition, the deck needs some card draw to keep the permission flowing so I added all the reasonable options. If your opponent manages to sneak something through, I wanted to have some bounce effects so you’re not floundering. Finally, countering everything is fun and all but you do need a way to win the game besides attacking for 30 with Baral. You don’t need much, so Torrential Gearhulk and Nezhal, Primal Tide will do the trick just fine. Thankfully since this is a mono blue deck the mana is straightforward and simple. This is one of those decks that are possible thanks to this being a format and I’m pumped to see it in action.

Next up is going to be the aggressive deck of the format. 30 life is an obstacle to overcome, but this deck will certainly punish anyone trying to be a bit too greedy.

There are a lot of things to like about this deck. Surprisingly the curve is actually quite strong and the burn suite is good there too. The payoff for being mono red is you get to play either Hazoret the Fervent or Kari Zev, Skyship Raider for your general. It may be a little bit hard to get Hazoret attacking on turn four since you’re not playing him from your hand, but turn 5 or 6 is still quite powerful. Expect to see lists similar to this when you begin the format since it’s an easy transformation from Ramunap Red and is easy to build thanks to the new Challenger decks.

Finally I wanted to throw one more list at you. Sram, Senior Edificer is a pet card of mine. It reminds me of Puresteel Paladin. I don’t think this list is nearly as powerful as the previous lists I provided, but it’s possible that the ability to always have Sram on turn 2 means that this still might be competitive.

The list is pretty straightforward. I’m playing just about every “playable” aura in white. Along with those I have the “playable” vehicles to get the most value out of Sram while providing versatile threats. The deck has a lot of speed while getting a ton of value thanks to Sram. My major concern here is the deck isn’t as fast as red and without Sram in play it doesn’t actually get ahead in cards either. However, the deck still looks fun to play and should at least be competitive thanks to Sram.

There are so many options to choose from in Brawl. I suspect a ton of Planeswalker decks to kick things off until those get stale and players begin to explore the fringe options. I’m just excited there’s a new format that lets us use some of our standard cards that aren’t quite good enough for normal standard and to try strategies not previously available. Not to mention because it’s a singleton format, we get a lot of different games even with the same decks playing each other. Thanks for dropping in, what do you plan on Brawling with?

John Cuvelier
Gosu. On MTGO
@JCuvelier on Twitter

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