Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Dec 12 2019 1:00pm
5
Login or register to post comments
2730 views


A GUIDE TO HISTORIC BRAWL

 Despite being officially endorsed only one day per week (every Wednesday), Brawl is booming on MTG Arena, and we can easily ignore that time restriction by using the commendable off-game match-making tool devised by the good folks at ArenaBrawl.net. That site is also telling us that many players are enjoying the slightly unorthodox Historic version of the format, which re-adds the four sets that were lost in the Fall rotation, namely Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core Set 2019.

 And in the Historic format there are 84 additional commanders (47 of which come from Dominaria alone), split between 71 creatures and 13 planeswalkers, and including Captain Sisay from the first Historic Anthology. The previous 115 commanders count from regular Standard Brawl is therefore raised to a grand total of 199 Historic Brawl commanders (134 creatures, 65 planeswalkers). One of these, Oko, Thief of Crowns, is technically banned in Brawl; however, the "Friendly Brawl" game mode, which is what Historic Brawl is officially called on MTG Arena, doesn't enforce any ban list, so Oko is still playable there, if frowned upon.

 Within this Historic Brawl environment, the count by color becomes as follows:

  • Monowhite: 19 commanders
  • Monoblue: 20 commanders
  • Monoblack: 20 commanders
  • Monored: 21 commanders
  • Monogreen: 17 commanders
  • Azorius: 8 commanders
  • Dimir: 5 commanders
  • Rakdos: 6 commanders
  • Gruul: 7 commanders
  • Selesnya: 9 commanders
  • Orzhov: 8 commanders
  • Izzet: 7 commanders
  • Golgari: 7 commanders
  • Boros: 7 commanders
  • Simic: 9 commanders (one of which banned)
  • Esper: 2 commanders
  • Grixis: 3 commanders
  • Jund: 3 commanders
  • Naya: 4 commanders
  • Bant: 2 commanders
  • Abzan: 1 commander
  • Jeskai: 1 commander
  • Sultai: 2 commanders
  • Mardu: 2 commanders
  • Temur: 1 commander
  • Pentacolor: 4 commanders
  • Colorless: 4 commanders

 As usual, this count doesn't include the starter decks, and there are indeed another 11 of those beginner-level planeswalkers (two for each regular set, five for the core set) that you could theoretically elect as commanders in the Historic version of your Brawl decks, as unlikely as that is (because, you know, they're just terrible "demo" cards). For the sake of completeness, we're just going to showcase them here, with no further comment.

    

  

  

 This said, let's see what the Historic format brings to Brawl!

 Jump to: Monowhite, Monoblue, Monoblack, Monored, Monogreen, Azorius, Dimir, Rakdos, Gruul, Selesnya, Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros, Simic, Esper, Grixis, JundNaya, BantSultai, Pentacolor, Colorless.


 MONOWHITE BRAWL COMMANDERS

     

     

 Baird, Steward of Argive: Dominaria had a large legendary theme linked to the Historic mechanic (and yeah, that's where the Historic format itself took its name, it would seem), so there's plenty of middle-of-the-road uncommon legends that aren't really going to attract a ton of attention. Case in point, Baird is a miniature Ghostly Prison with a solid vigilant body attached; he can be employed as a commander for some kind of monowhite control, but he's hardly going to matter.

 Danitha Capashen, Paragon: For being an uncommon, Danitha at least comes equipped (see what I did there?) with a clear theme, so if you ever want to load your Brawl deck up with Auras and Equipment, she'll be your commander of choice. You can even take a bit of a Voltron approach with her, since she's cheap enough to recast post-mortem, and sports three relevant native keywords that only need a bigger body to be better exploited. Too bad she can't count on much more than Curator's Ward to protect her.

 Evra, Halcyon Witness: Played within a Boros shell, Evra would be able to do its life-total-for-power switcheroo, then get Flinged at the opponent for a meme-worthy win. In monowhite, it's more likely to become a sad trombone meme, but there's still the potential for an unnerving presence on the board. After all, you just need for a supercharged Evra to survive one combat damage step in order to gain back the borrowed life. Definitely a commander for people who like to live on the edge.

 Kwende, Pride of Femeref: Remember Kwende, Dominaria's first strike lord? No? That's what I thought. Oh well, at least with him as a commander you know what kind of creatures you're going to include. Not that there's a massive quantity of monowhite first strikers to choose from (there are six in Standard, and another six if we extend our scope to Historic), and I'm not sure giving double strike to Pouncing Lynx or Encampment Keeper is really going to leave a mark. Actually, scratch that, I'm pretty sure it's not.

 Lena, Selfless Champion: Lena is another legend who saw zero competitive play during her Standard tenure, but she's actually not a bad Brawl commander. Sure she's expensive, in a color that doesn't ramp well, and her ability even actively wants you to sacrifice her. But she also wishes to join an already populated battlefield, so to double your board presence in the late game, then ensure the whole weenie team will be sweeper-proof for the final assault. It's not game-breaking or anything, but it's a plan.

 Lyra Dawnbringer: In Historic Brawl, the amazing Lyra comes out to reclaim her role as the best monowhite aggro commander, in opposition, I'd say, with God-Eternal Oketra and Gideon Blackblade. Angel is also a decently supported tribe in the format with 16 available monowhite members of various power level, although Lyra's best pal Shalai, Voice of Plenty isn't playable under her command. She doesn't especially need to lead an angelic host, anyway; she's above that kind of mechanical concerns.

 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle: Is monowhite Vampire something worth of trying and building in Brawl? Probably not, but if you'd ever want to give it a shot, Mavren is the guy to put in charge of that particular crew.

 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle: This feathered zealot is mostly known for his combo with Kethis, the Hidden Hand, but his shtick is strong enough on its own to possibly fuel a functional historic deck... in Historic Brawl.

 Zetalpa, Primal Dawn: If you seek sheer, undiluted power and you're ready to spend eight mana as a starting cost for your commander, then you may hear Zetalpa's shrieking, sky-piercing call. On the bright side, it's extremely hard to send this giant pteranodon back to the command zone, so the commander tax might be less of a concern than one would think.

 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants: The monowhite Ajani from Core Set 2019 is less specialized than his M20 counterpart Ajani, Strength of the Pride, but the two of them still go in the same deck, to the point that in Historic Brawl they could easily exchange command, although a list built around lifegain strategies will be more interested in the latter as its leader. The Adversary of Tyrants remains a prime choice for more generic white weenie builds, through his winning combination of boost and recursion.


 MONOBLUE BRAWL COMMANDERS

     

     

 Kopala, Warden of Waves: Kopala shares with Mavren Fein the same issue of being a tribal commander that only covers half of the colors of its tribe. If you want to try Merfolk in a shell where they're hard to deal with, give up on the green ones and go with Kopala. Otherwise, a Simic legendary Merfolk is obviously the best cornerstone to build such a deck around.

 Naban, Dean of Iteration: Here's another commander with a tribal setting in mind, and Wizard is definitely a big tribe, with a whopping 90 of them being Historic-legal, half of which are monoblue. Not all of those will be compatible with Naban's very specific ability, but it might be fun to find out which fits the bill. Plus the trigger doesn't need to be on the Wizards themselves, it could be something they cause to trigger. Admittedly, though, our goatee enthusiast here might feel more at home in a wider Commander setting than in Brawl.

 Naru Meha, Master Wizard: Naru also cares about Wizards to some extent, even if the tribe might not have too much of an use for an anthem effect (clearly Adeliz, the Cinder Wind would disagree with that assessment). Another way to build Naru is as a spellslinging commander, but realistically, how many spells will she be able to duplicate over the course of an average game? And will it even feel like a good deal after the second or third time, when she'll probably cost way more than the spell she's copying? Maybe in some go-big Omniscience build? Or with repeatable bouncing, like Portal of Sanctuary?

 Nezahal, Primal Tide: Let's be honest here, any single one of the legendary Dinos from Rivals of Ixalan makes for an awesome Brawl commander that's bound to make Timmy and Tammy smile. But a monoblue build with Nezahal always lurking around the corner will not differ much from those control decks that used Nezahal as a finisher in actual Standard. You can do the same in Brawl; you'll just have to wear your finisher on your sleeve.

 Sai, Master Thopterist: The competition for best commander of an artifact-themed deck is steep. We have a couple of Tezzerets, Alela, Artful Provocateur and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. None of these decks are as effective as they could be when counting on a proper Commander pool, but the Historic extension gives them more propellant than regular Standard could ever manage, and Sai is as good as any of the above at generating artifact tokens, then turning them into card advantage. Plus he's cheaper than most, and resilient enough, translating into a higher dependability, which is always a good quality to have in your commander.

 Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep: The more we delve into it, the more Historic is looking like a territory disseminated with tribal synergies, and Slinn Voda might be the most peculiar tribal commander of them all, because it's "aquatic creatures lord". Its Thing in the Ice-like effect is potentially game-ending, and sure, it requires ten mana, but if you time it right, you'll probably have to do it only once to clear the path for a lethal alpha strike of your assorted marine fauna. Narrow, but intimidating.

 Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive: This Umezawa descendant is probably more useful being fielded among the 59 cards of an Arcades, the Strategist Brawl deck, but she can find her own combos too, or just lead an army of unstoppable tiny critters.

 Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp: Are we really going to run an artifact-heavy deck (or at least a deck with more than just (Arcane Signet), which is even a bit of a nombo with Zahid, since you'd tap a mana rock to reduce a mana cost) just to let our Mahamoti Djinn surrogate hit the battlefield a couple of turns earlier? Well, maybe. After all, he's a good threat, if not too exciting as a commander, since he has nothing else to offer except for his airborne beating. It's also important to note that his alternative cost does not bypass the commander tax.

 Jace, Cunning Castaway: Sexy amnesiac pirate Jace has never been that great of a planeswalker. His plus is conditional looting, his minus (which leaves him at 1 loyalty if used right away) creates a fragile 2/2, and his ultimate is a meme – albeit an amusing meme involving a self-replicating Jace, a la Multiplicity. He could be the commander of a clone-themed build, or just of some wacky monoblue list.

 Tezzeret, Artifice Master: In the right deck, this Tezzeret either draws you two extra cards per turn or creates a Thopter, which is the best kind of artifact token you can get your hands on (and unlike Sai, Master Thopterist, Tezz won't need external resources for it), on the way to an ultimate that will slowly play out your entire deck for free. Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge remains probably more appealing, even just in virtue of his additional access to black, but the Artifice Master is still a fine Tezzeret, a key contender for the title of most efficient artifact-based commander – how good such decks are going to be in the format is still debatable, but the addition of Mind Stone and Ornithopter in Historic Anthology 1 sure helps.


 MONOBLACK BRAWL COMMANDERS

     

    

 Demonlord Belzenlok: The mightiest of Liliana's demonic sugar daddies, Belzenlok looks like the perfect commander for a monoblack ramp deck featuring Cabal Stronghold and big payoffs. Of course in Brawl you only get to run one Stronghold, and you can't even count on Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to fetch it up if your commander's color identity is monoblack; however, the ramp can be supported by artifacts like Treasure Map and various mana rocks, and then at each Belzenlok's iteration you'll put on the battlefield a big threat while doubling down on the card advantage. It's definitely in Timmy/Tammy's territory, and possibly a dud, but still worth a shot.

 Isareth the Awakener: Isareth's recursion is strong in theory, but terribly slow and easy to disrupt; most of the times, what will happen is that your medium-sized deathtoucher will trade for something while allowing for a creature to be cast from the graveyard. Still, the potential for shenanigans is there (how does an endlessly returning Ravenous Chupacabra sound?), especially if Isareth is helped survive somehow – we don't have any Equipment granting indestructibility in Historic, but we do have things like Kaya's Ghostform.

 Josu Vess, Lich Knight: If Belzenlok rewards a black- and colorless-based ramp by drawing cards, Josu is a go-wide endgame all by himself. And in the case of Liliana's undead brother, you don't even need to plan for multiple iterations of his menacing posse, since a single ten-mana kicker routine might just be enough to kill the opponent the following turn, barring an ill-timed sweeper. Josu provides a built-in clock and, in a pinch, he's a solid blocker and a decent threat on turn four, even unaccompanied.

 Tetzimoc, Primal Death: Tetzimoc could have been the most sensible of the five Dinosaur final bosses, and a perfect fit for monoblack control, if only its ability worked from he command zone. Alas, it doesn't, and while it's certainly possible to engineer a way to send it to your hand, it's overly complicated in monoblack Brawl, even with the Historic support (no Command Beacon or Erratic Portal, I'm afraid). And without the sweeping potential, it's just an underwhelming French vanilla dude with a keyworded ability that doesn't even complement a large body very well.

 Torgaar, Famine Incarnate: This ominously named Avatar has all the earmarks of a frightening commander. In a deck geared towards sacrifice, which is incredibly easy to concoct in monoblack, Torgaar can drop as early as turn three, and suddenly the opponent finds themselves at 12, facing a seven-powered threat. Futher iterations of its ETB trigger won't do much, unless you'll need to put yourself back to 12 to avert death; but the potential to offset the commander tax while possibly sacrificing creatures for value remains unaltered, and Torgaar body is still the same as Rotting Regisaur.

 Urgoros, the Empty One: Well, if you really like Hypnotic Specter, you can have a supersized version as your commander, I guess. Urgoros's design remains terrible even in Brawl, though, because a six-mana creature that causes discard upon connection is very likely to find an empty-handed opponent, even more so when it announces its intent from turn one. And let's not even mention how absurdly frail is his body.

 Whisper, Blood Liturgist: Another recursion operator, Whisper is as slow and clunky as Isareth, if not more. In fact, under normal circumstances, you can start activating Isareth on turn four, but you'll need to wait another turn for Whisper to do her thing, plus she employs sacrifices instead of mana, which could make for a better use of resources in the right build, but it's still a steep price to pay. Maybe the day something like Buried Alive will enter Historic, we will be forced to reevaluate this bald lady cultist. At the moment, monoblack just doesn't have enough ways to fill the graveyard without blue or green's assistance.

 Yargle, Glutton of Urborg: All right, nine power on the board by turn five can be something; but I feel like willingly choosing a vanilla creature as your commander is just trying to be cheeky.

 Liliana, Untouched by Death: This is the Liliana who's all about her Zombie pets, and that makes her an utterly perfect and quite terrific commander for Zombie tribal. Nothing else needs to be said, really: you want to build a Zombie deck in Brawl? Go seek Liliana's help. And hope more cards like Cryptbreaker keeps getting added to the format.


 MONORED BRAWL COMMANDERS

    

    

 Captain Lannery Storm: This smiling pirate is a swift commander that leaves a little piece of ramping behind and can eventually hit pretty hard. A classic monored aggro build will prefer the superior power level of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, but Lannery's speed is tempting, and not a bad choice at all.

 Etali, Primal Storm: There are a few over-the-top options for Big Red in Brawl, and Etali is definitely among those, rivaling Ilharg, the Raze-Boar as most ground-breaking cheat-into-play enabler. Another instance where Timmy and Tammy are definitely pleased – and they might even get away with the game if they manage to untap with Etali on the battlefield.

 Lathliss, Dragon Queen: The Historic tribal parade continues. Dragon doesn't have a wide range of members (only other 13 of them are legal in the format), and it's clearly a mana-intensive tribe, but most of the involved creatures have clear upsides, and they've got some additional tribal support in Core Set 2019, with cards like Dragon's Hoard, Spit Flame and Sarkhan Fireblood, the latter also being Lathliss's more sensible competitor for the commander seat; the Dragon Queen is an unbeatable source of board superiority, but demands a game state where you're already in the condition to drop one fattie after another.

 Squee, the Immortal: Do you dream of a commander that never has to pay the commander tax? Then you might be interested in Squee. I'm not sure what you can do with him in monored, short of lukewarm stuff like sacrificing him to Mask of Immolation over and over again for five mana per point of damage, but it's good to have the option of a self-recurring commander in Brawl, shenanigans to be established later.

 Valduk, Keeper of the Flame: A thematic Auras-and-Equipment commander in red. There's nothing in his rule text or in the Historic pool that makes Valdruk particularly good at a Voltron strategy, so it'll mostly be about providing him with some good gear like Embercleave and Blackblade Reforged, and then collect the free tokens for profit (and those are Elementals, which makes Chandra a surefire ally). (I know, "surefire". I did it again.)

 Verix Bladewing: Verix is essentially a commander with two bodies (the second of which is his broodmate Karox, still pretty annoyed to be relegated to token status when he's exactly the same as his brother and even comes first alphabetically; what's up with that?). Since both Dragons you create through this card are legendary, there isn't any collateral advantage in replaying Verix from the command zone, and seven mana as a starting point is already pricey, so you can't expect to see too many comebacks. And a lonely Verix without his kicker sibling leaves much to be desired.

 Jaya Ballard: Jaya is the main ramp-enabling commander in monored, with some aggressive digging attached for good measure. For the player who likes to be able to actually cast Big Red's big spells, instead of simply having one of those stationed in the command zone.

 Sarkhan, Fireblood: The main alternative to Lathliss for Dragon tribal ((Sarkhan the Masterless:WAR notwithstanding, though the tribal synergies are less crucial in that case). Basically, three-mana Sarkhan will get your Dragons out faster, but with Lathliss you can reach a scarier board presence. It's just up to one's favorite style of dragonry.


 MONOGREEN BRAWL COMMANDERS

      

 Ghalta, Primal Hunger: Oh my, a twelve-mana commander? Hmm... wait a minute, isn't that rather a turn-four, two-mana, 12/12 trampler that keeps coming back? In the correct build, which is mostly any build monogreen would lend itself to regardless, Ghalta is the ultimate ramp payoff, and a deadly serious candidate for the lead role in your Stompy-style Brawl deck.

 Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma: This angry Bear is another good option for Historic green. It has always felt too (preposterously) frail to be competitive, but reducing the cost and giving trample and a boost to fellow beaters like Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig or Beanstalk Giant is nothing to sneeze at. A solid commander for the more midrange-y versions of Stompy.

 Grunn, the Lonely King: As splashy as it looks, Grunn is actually just an oversized vanilla dork, sort of the legendary version of Gigantosaur, except much more expensive. To be properly functional, it would definitely require the services of either Goreclaw or Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, so there aren't too many incentives to bestow on this King of the Apes exclusive dominion over your command zone.

 Marwyn, the Nurturer: Elf tribal needs a commander, too, and Marwyn is there to fulfill that role. Having to rebuild her counters, hence her whole value, at each and every iteration can be a pain; then again, there aren't any other options for a commander who specifically cares about Elves (if you're into that), and she can successfully boost your mana production for a little while, until she inevitably gets removed and has to restart from scratch.

 Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar: Land-based ramp is the safest kind of ramp, and Multani is the ideal payoff for that strategy, a big trampler that blocks flyers and can even bypass the commander tax.

 Vivien Reid: If you want a versatile monogreen commander that can cover a lot of different ground, you can hardly do better than the original Vivien Reid. She finds action, destroys all kind of pests, and her ultimate is likely to win the game on the spot. Definitely the most tactical Historic commander in green.


 AZORIUS BRAWL COMMANDERS

    

 Azor, the Lawbringer: An Azorius build naturally veers towards control, and such a deck could use a commander that acts as a finisher of sort. Azor himself could be that kind of commander, although the idea of him surviving long enough for the summoning sickness to wear off, so he can attack and cast his Sphinx's Revelation, might just be wishful thinking. Still, he's bound to silence all the opponent's non-permanents every time he drops, so there's a chance he'll indeed earn his command scepter.

 Niambi, Faithful Healer: It might have been more correct to feature Niambi in the starter deck section, because she comes as an exclusive card with the Teferi, Timebender planeswalker deck. She's in fact Teferi's own daughter, but all she does is finding her own bro in that specific incarnation, so it seems like, if one really wants for Teferi, Timebender to lead their Brawl deck, they might as well choose him as a commander to begin with, rather than using his family as intermediary. And just to be clear, nobody wants Teferi, Timebender as a commander. Teferi, Timebender costs six mana and his plus ability is "untap up to one target artifact or creature", for crying out loud.

 Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage: In your "legendary matters" Brawl deck, you might be better off with Kethis, the Hidden Hand as a commander; for artifact decks, there are the Tezzerets, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, and Sai, Master Thopterist. But what about a deck running all the Sagas? Or all the white and blue ones at least. With Raff you'll be able to cast Fall of the Thran and History of Benalia at instant speed! On top of Lyra Dawnbringer, of course. It could be cool. And he still applies the flash trick to basically everything you'll put in the deck, lands aside.

 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria: Did I hear somebody say "most powerful Azorius commander available"? Or was it "most powerful Brawl commander available"?


 DIMIR BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Rona, Disciple of Gix: For a hot minute, Rona was involved in the Teshar/Kethis shenanigans (or with Teshar alone, before Kethis had taken over the archetype). On her own, she's sort of a Snapcaster Mage for historic cards, with an additional ability that only really works if you're able to manipulate the top of your library. There's potential for some degree of mischief here, and she's cheap enough as a commander to have a role in the early proceedings, but overall, Rona's package feels a bit clunky.


 RAKDOS BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Garna, the Bloodflame: For being a card with no history of Constructed play, Garna does two seriously useful things. The first is, she saves her team from sweepers, or from the dire consequences of unexpected combat tricks, or else she makes trades more palatable (granted, the opponent will see it coming in Brawl, but more often than not, they won't be able to play around it too much). The second service she provides is universal haste, which is always welcome, even more so in a color combination like Rakdos, which is bound to be aggro-oriented. Five mana isn't cheap, but the value is there, and she certainly feels different than most Rakdos commanders – I mean, rescuing compatriots? In Rakdos? What a weirdo.

 Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood: This Sengir Vampire on steroids can grow pretty quickly to enormous size, and pings as efficiently as Skarrgan Hellkite, albeit with no face-targeting allowed. Still, you can't be too keen on paying seven mana for your commander unless the results are utterly extraordinary, because you're not going to afford many iterations of them during an average game. And Kazarov doesn't impact the board in a significant fashion the turn he drops, so he doesn't get a high rating from me.

 Angrath, the Flame-Chained: Minotaur Pirate Angrath is a reliable, multifaceted planeswalker, capable of some pinging, some disruption, some Act of Treason, and even the occasional creature removal, provided the creature isn't too expensive. As result of his jack-of-all-trades design, Angrath doesn't fit any specific strategy, being instead tailor-made for a Rakdos-colored "good stuff" build.


 GRUUL BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Grand Warlord Radha: Radha has a peculiar way to ramp via mass attack, and that approach might fit a Gruul aggro build which is low to the ground, features many small creatures, and has means to restock the hand (e.g. Light Up the Stage, Experimental Frenzy), so to exploit Radha's sudden influx of fresh mana to further improve the board, possibly also dumping such mana into activations, perhaps even during the attack itself, like with Skarrgan Hellkite or Embercleave.

 Hallar, the Firefletcher: Kicker tribal? I mean, it's conceivable, as there are 16 Gruul cards with kicker in Historic. It surely can be built for kicks (sorry, I had to do it!), but whether it's good, or even just interesting, that might be a different story.


 SELESNYA BRAWL COMMANDERS

    

 Captain Sisay: Historic Anthology 1 (the first of the seasonal mini-sets that are going to improve the Historic pool) contains only one legendary creature, but it's a classic from Invasion that has been exceptionally popular in Commander over the years. Clearly, the reduced range in Historic diminishes Sisay's overall power level, and now there's Kethis, the Hidden Hand as a challenger for the title of "legends' legend" commander, and maybe Sisay is actually better off serving under him. After all, Kethis provides two services to his legendary customers, recursion and cost reduction, whereas Sisay "only" does tutoring; on top of that, she costs more, is easier to remove, gives access to one fewer color, and needs to remain unchecked for a full turn cycle before performing any function, while Kethis gets to work right away. Still, the ability to basically fetch anything from your deck can't be underestimated, especially with the addition of Dominaria's legendary spells like Urza's Ruinous Blast. Sisay is still a strong commander, and one of those who only get better with time.

 Shalai, Voice of Plenty: Selesnya seems to have a special affinity for legendary creatures, as Shalai is yet another excellent commander in the color combination. This Angel makes for one of the best leaders of your cardboard army (or its digital equivalent), able as she is to protect both your people and yourself, and then pump the whole team into inevitability. She's perfectly efficient in "good stuff" builds, but she could also easily combo with "+1/+1 counters matter" strategies, just requiring a bit more preliminary ramping than some of the alternatives. But hey, that's what green is for.

 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy: Sisay's own descendant Shanna is not a flashy commander, but she's cheap, so you can count  on her presence multiple times over the course of a game. She leads go-wide strategy well, and she makes a bit harder for the opponent to interact with her, given that effects like Teferi, Time Raveler or Law-Rune Enforcer can't touch her. Her main antagonist for that commander seat has gotta be the identically costed Emmara, Soul of the Accord, who provides a slightly superior payoff; both these ladies go in the same deck, though, so they can easily switch command from game to game.

 Huatli, Radiant Champion: The same go-wide deck commanded by Shanna or Emmara or, more likely, Trostani Discordant can have some use for this Selesnya version of Huatli. As a commander she'd be kind of unremarkable, though, her only proactive ability is a Might of the Masses, while her main shtick is getting herself worked up (with no collateral benefit) for her own ultimate, which is a Beast Whisperer emblem – nice, but hardly game-winning on its own.


 ORZHOV BRAWL COMMANDERS

    

 Arvad the Cursed: As far as commanders for a "legendary matters" deck go, there's Kethis, and then there's Sisay, and then there's Arvad, too. Arvad gives all the other legendary creatures a double boost, but that's it. Not really a compelling argument, made even worse by the fact that this Vampire Knight makes you lose a color compared to Kethis. Also, deathtouch on a commander is kind of a nombo, let alone when such commander costs five mana to begin with.

 Aryel, Knight of Windgrace: Meet yet another tribal commander, this time for Knights. Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale boasts more power and unlocks red cards, but if you're okay with keeping your Knights within Orzhov, Aryel gets on the board more quickly, increases your Knight presence and weaponizes your entire team – both of those are tap abilities, but pretty relevant. Being vigilant is also helpful to make them work, which turns Aryel into a sort of a "vigilance matters" commander as well, naturally suiting many of the Knights. She was almost entirely ignored in Standard, but she might shine in Brawl, and kinda feels like she was designed for a Commander format all along.

 Elenda, the Dusk Rose: Vampires have Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord as their monoblack commander of choice, but in Historic there's 18 of them that are monowhite and another 8 that are white-black, including some crucial ones like the tribal lord Legion Lieutenant, and all of those Sorin can't lead, but Elenda can. This said, she's a four-mana commander who wants to die, and doesn't do too much in the meantime. If there weren't any other alternative, I could still recommend her for Orzhov Vampires. But as it turns out, there's another one.

 Vona, Butcher of Magan: And there he is, the designated Vampire tribal commander for Historic Brawl. Vona already saw play in regular Vampire decks, since killing any permanent is indeed a big deal, even when you have to pay seven life for it. He's a well-conceived package, though: he can attack for life, and then he'll still be able to tap for his butchering; you'll be operating at a deficit, but the Vamps have usually other ways to gain you back some life. They suck blood, after all.


 IZZET BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Adeliz, the Cinder Wind: Wizard Tribal reporting for duty as well. Historic really covers all the bases, and with Adeliz (more than with Naban, Dean of Iteration), the Wizards too get their worthy commander that has already proved herself in Standard. Make no mistake, Adeliz's Wizards are aggro Wizards, but they still like spellslinging – it's Izzet at its fastest and most furious.

 Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain: What about a Historic historic deck? Sounds like a riddle? Well, the format shares the name with the mechanic, and Jhoira puts the two together, suggesting a build where you cast her, then segue into a bunch of artifacts, legendaries and/or Sagas, adding a novel cantrip factor to all of them. She's a pretty static commander, to be fair, since her presence on the board is akin to a card-drawing enchantment, except easier to remove. But the build-around factor is undeniable, and open-ended enough to feel attractive to some extent.


 GOLGARI BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Slimefoot, the Stowaway: Historic Brawl loves tribal strategies, have you heard? Oh yeah, there are all the Ixalan tribes, plus Dragons and Wizards and Knights... But what about the Saprolings, you might ask. Well, say no more, Slimefoot is there to satisfy all your fungal itching (metaphorically; if you actually have a fungal itching, you better get that checked). There are actually only 11 other Historic-legal cards that create Saprolings, which might not be enough to justify Slimefoot as a commander, but most of those create multiple instances of the little suckers, or keep the undergrowth going every turn, like Tendershoot Dryad and Verdant Force. Add your typical Golgari "sacrifice & recursion" stuff, and you're in fungal business.

 Vraska, Relic Seeker: Before she was the Golgari Queen, Vraska was a Golgari Pirate Queen, and boy she was powerful back then. She adheres to the familiar planeswalker layout featuring board presence when plussing, removal when minusing, and a game-winning ultimate as a cherry on top; but her tokens have menace, and she can kill artifacts and enchantments too, and even ramp you for your trouble. Personally, if I had to choose between the six-mana walkers in the format, I'd still take the Relic Seeker over Ugin, the Ineffable, Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Garruk, Cursed Huntsman – who can all serve under Captain Vraska, by the way, so now you know what to do.


 BOROS BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Firesong and Sunspeaker: Being available only as a Buy-a-Box promo, this pair of Minotaur siblings became somewhat infamous without even seeing much play. They're clearly meant as a Commander card, anyway, with a larger-than-life cost and a corresponding effect, where red burn and white lifegain become two sides of the same coin, something that reminds of Balefire Liege from Eventide. Definitely an ability that could inspire a build, despite the high cost of the commander, and the necessity to have an immediate follow-up at hand and the extra mana to cast it, otherwise you'll risk getting nothing out of the deal – just some dead bull and cow.

 Tiana, Ship's Caretaker: Automatic recursion of Auras and Equipment – that's definitely a theme, but it might be too narrow to bother building around it. Maybe paired with some sacrifice outlet for value? It seems hard to come across something like that in Boros, though.

 Huatli, Warrior Poet: This is Huatli in her original "Dinosaur whisperer" version (in fact, a shout-out must be given to starter deck's Huatli, Dinosaur Knight, who's even more all-in on the Dino motif). All her abilities are immediately available, though the minus X is not too effective right away; to make her removal better, she needs to spend a few turns just gaining life (which isn't even a guarantee, since it's linked to the presence of at least one creature), and that's not ideal. Her more naturally advantageous role is just being an assembly line for 3/3 tramplers, but doing that won't improve her loyalty. It's a balanced planeswalker, but all in all, not a remarkably attractive one, even less as a commander in Boros.


 SIMIC BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca: Kumena is, hands down, the best possible commander for Merfolk. It's no surprise he was featured heavily in all Merfolk decks of his Standard era, since all his abilities are pretty amazing in a tribal setup, especially the card-drawing and the repeatable, permanent boost. He's like Cryptbreaker and Venerated Loxodon rolled into one.

 Tatyova, Benthic Druid: Still a Merfolk, if not exceedingly interested in her kin, Tatyova can do extremely broken things if paired with the right cards (e.g. Scapeshift, World Shaper). And having access to her at any time from the command zone will make comboing easier.

 Tishana, Voice of Thunder: She's Kumena's mentor, and like her pupil, she comes with three different abilities. However, they're less immediately useful, and kind of combines into the same strategy of refueling the hand after going wide. For seven mana, her efficiency is a much bigger question mark than in Kumena's case, but she might be more suited to combo builds where drawing a ton of cards and not having to discard them to hand size is part of the equation.


 ESPER BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Chromium, the Mutable: Core Set 2019 had Nicol Bolas as its centerpiece, so all the original Elder Dragons from Legends got a flashback card alongside him, one per each three-color shard. Chromium ended up being the second most played of the bunch, because uncounterable and semi-untargettable are awfully good qualities for a finisher in control decks, and Esper is the supreme control shard, after all. Chromium as a commander allows you to build that same kind of list while having your finisher always ready to drop from the command zone once the game has been firmly placed under control.


 GRIXIS BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Admiral Beckett Brass: Unsurprisingly, Pirates got their commander too. Too bad Beckett Brass is one of the worst mythics in recent memory, so Pirate Tribal in Brawl would be better off using literally any other Grixis commander; but there's a chance that condition will actually be satisfied once or twice in your lifetime – or at least it'll be a dream to obstinately pursue.

 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager: Transformer Bolas is probably not as alluring as Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, but he's still an efficient commander, and his extremely powerful planeswalker form is not affected by the commander tax.


 JUND BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Darigaaz Reincarnated: The presence of a new Darigaaz in Dominaria felt pretty random, though I guess was to complement Primevals' Glorious Rebirth, story-wise. Still, there wasn't a cycle of Primeval Dragons in the set, and barely any other three-colored creature. As a card, he's not terrible, but not excessively playable either – he's a big frampler with haste for seven mana that got suspended for three turns whenever he dies. That clause might actually fit a mana-intensive commander more than it does a random finisher in regular Standard, since three turns are still probably fewer than it would tale to recast him by accumulating more mana resources to pay for the commander tax, and you don't need to spend any mana at all this way.

 Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire: That Warp World-esque routine sure makes for an amusing experience, and regardless of the outcome, you get rid of the opponent's most problematic permanent, including hexproof ones, since choosing is different than targeting. This still doesn't mean Vaevictis Asmadi is a highly playable commander, as he costs six mana and has to attack for his ability to trigger – which might just make things worse, and it's mandatory. But, as noted, the whole thing can indeed be a ton of fun.


 NAYA BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Gishath, Sun's Avatar: Dinosaurs have two possible commanders, both appropriately in Naya colors (embodying the Threefold Sun), but Gishath is the only one with an ability who cares about the Dinos themselves, so he might well be the automatic choice. At eight mana, he's a very expensive commander, but at least haste means he'll attack right away, trample means he'll probably connect, triggering his ability, and vigilance means he'll still keep the defenses up while doing so. Suitably over-the-top, but rewarding.

 Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner: Yet another of Bolas's Elder siblings, Palladia-Mors is the more straightforward of the litter and, as such, the less fascinating – just a big beater with some combat abilities. This said, if you want to go Naya, your options are somewhat limited, and Palladia-Mors is  cheaper than Zacama, and doesn't require any build-around, unlike Gishath and Rienne, Angel of Rebirth.

 Zacama, Primal Calamity: Piloting a deck with Zacama as a commander feels like bringing a supersonic jet to a soapbox race. What Zacama needs is just fuel, and her fuel is ramp. Just put ramp in your deck, particularly of the land-based variety, and Zacama will win the game for you. She's a gimmick commander, in a way, but a thunderous one.


 BANT BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Arcades, the Strategist: The last of the Elder Dragons, Arcades is also the one who more loudly screams build-around-me. High Alert, Tower Defense, Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, plus a whole bunch of Walls and other creatures with defender – that's what Arcades needs to be a winning strategist. It's one-note, but cute enough, and not without its value.


 SULTAI BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Muldrotha, the Gravetide: The wide-range recursion provided by Muldrotha is pretty much unparalleled, and could either be capitalized on, for instance by prioritizing the self-milling coming from her Golgari side, or just embraced in a "good stuff" build that contents itself with getting back every removed permanent, all game long, potentially multiple times per turn. A bit of careful building is still recommended, since the more different types of permanents you will have in the graveyard, the more resurrections Muldrotha will allow every turn. If she's not the most powerful commander of the Historic extension, she's at the very least in the top five.


 PENTACOLOR BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Jodah, Archmage Eternal: The current Standard meta contains a trio of excellent five-mana commanders; the unique angle Jodah offers is a Fist of Suns ability, granting a WUBRG alternate cost to everything you cast. Is that good in Historic? It's certainly intriguing and worth exploring, thankfully with the help of Chromatic Lantern.


 COLORLESS BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Traxos, Scourge of Kroog: Making this big Dragon Engine your commander might feel a bit dull, but at least all those colorless artifacts will keep Traxos routinely awake. It could be a better option than most of the other colorless alternatives, honestly.

 Karn, Scion of Urza: The Great Creator is a pretty dysfunctional commander in Brawl (with the format not having sideboards and all), but the older four-mana Karn retains all his skills. It remains to be seen if a colorless Brawl deck is indeed viable to begin with; Historic has access to more than twice the colorless nonland cards that are available in Standard, but it's not a very large number all the same, and still comprises nombos like Glass of the Guildpact and Tome of the Guildpact.


>> Back to the top <<