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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 08 2019 12:00pm
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A GUIDE TO BRAWL

 Fall update to the Brawl series: Throne of Eldraine is in the pool! The legendaries from the Arthurian/fairy tale plane provide further option as commanders of your Brawl decks on top of all the others already available in the meta, either creatures or planeswalkers. With the Eldraine additions, the count by color becomes as follows (not including the planeswalkers from the starter decks):

  • Monowhite: 9 commanders
  • Monoblue: 10 commanders
  • Monoblack: 11 commanders
  • Monored: 13 commanders
  • Monogreen: 11 commanders
  • Azorius: 4 commanders
  • Dimir: 4 commanders
  • Rakdos: 3 commanders
  • Gruul: 5 commanders
  • Selesnya: 5 commanders
  • Orzhov: 4 commanders
  • Izzet: 5 commanders
  • Golgari: 5 commanders
  • Boros: 4 commanders
  • Simic: 6 commanders
  • Esper: 1 commander
  • Grixis: 1 commander
  • Jund: 1 commander
  • Naya: 1 commander
  • Bant: 1 commander
  • Abzan: 1 commander
  • Jeskai: 1 commander
  • Sultai: 1 commander
  • Mardu: 2 commanders
  • Temur: 1 commander
  • Pentacolor: 3 commanders
  • Colorless: 2 commanders

 Throne of Eldraine contains more legendary creatures than all the sets immediately preceding it (19 versus 8 each in Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance, 16 in War of the Spark, 12 in Core Set 2020), including an uncommon monocolored cycle. And it's also the first set to come accompanied by four Brawl decks as a spin-off with exclusive new cards and commanders, marking the ideal beginning of the Brawl era.

 Let's see what all this brings!

 Jump to: Monowhite, Monoblue, Monoblack, Monored, Monogreen, Gruul, Izzet, Golgari, Simic, Esper, Jund, Bant, Mardu, Pentacolor.


 MONOWHITE BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Linden, the Steadfast Queen: The queen of the white court of Ardenvale is in direct competition with Ajani, Strength of the Pride as the commander of choice for "life matters" decks. Ajani is more versatile, but with Linden and a few creatures on the battlefield, the quantity of life triggers is potentially game-breaking. Then again, there are probably not going to be too many lifegain payoffs on the battlefield at once in a game of Brawl.

 Syr Alin, the Lion's Claw: Serviceable in a White Weenie deck, Syr Alin looks a bit too expensive for his effect, and as an uncommon, he unsurprisingly can't hold a candle to mythic commander options like Gideon Blackblade or the equally costed God-Eternal Oketra.


 MONOBLUE BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Emry, Lurker of the Loch: Eldraine's take on the Lady of the Lake gives you access to much more than just Excalibur. Problem is, in a monoblue Brawl deck, her scope of targets will be somewhat limited; but there's still enough power cards among them, like Mystic Forge, The Magic Mirror and Midnight Clock, to warrant the attempt at a strong thematic build.

 Gadwick, the Wizened: The wizarding ruler of the blue court of Vantress, this Merlin counterpart positions himself as the default commander for monoblue, a color that was until now deprived of a truly convincing "good stuff" option beyond cards like Narset, Parter of Veils and God-Eternal Kefnet. Gadwick is more mana intensive, but his payoff neatly increases with the progress of the game, and his tap trigger can prove annoying.

 Syr Elenora, the Discerning: As far as uncommon commanders go, Syr Elenora is solid, since making it harder to kill your commander is never a bad thing. Although, in the late game, she risks of becoming just a cantrip and a ground blocker. The appeal is not high, but the overall working of her abilities could be worse.


 MONOBLACK BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Ayara, First of Locthwain: The black-widow-y queen of the black court of Locthwain really shines as the commander of a monoblack deck, since everything she desires is having black creatures flocking to her so she sacrifice them to draw into more. Not a bad gameplan at all, especially considering the various cheap value creatures the color offers.

 Rankle, Master of Pranks: Eldraine's resident Rumpelstiltskin is an explosive Brawl monoblack commander who's always going to impact the board right away every time he drops. He wants to be in roughly the same deck as Ayara, so they can easily switch duties as commander of the same list when one grows bored.

 Syr Konrad, the Grim: This dour graveyard guardian is definitely something you want around every time Ayara and Rankle cause sacrifices, but he can also be an effective commander in his own right for a more combo-oriented list, perhaps one specifically built around The Cauldron of Eternity and other reanimation effects.


 MONORED BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Rowan, Fearless Sparkmage: Shout-out for the solo Rowan from her planeswalker deck (Will is gonna be jealous). In short, you don't want to ever play her in any kind of Constructed endeavor, even less as a commander – five mana for a Sure Strike or a bad Chandra's Pyrohelix aren't exactly a good investment. She does look fabulous in her red riding hood, though (Will is gonna be jealous of this, too).

 Syr Carah, the Bold: If you're keen on the idea of putting a pinger in command of a Brawl deck, Syr Carah is your girl. She also adds a limited impulsive drawing effect, a la Chandra, Fire Artisan, though the latter is clearly a more accomplished commander.

 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell: One of the grand lords of Embereth (the red court is ruled by assembly), Torbran is a truly explosive commander for monored. Forget Jaya, Venerated Firemage, this cranky Dwarf is going to add a whopping two to any red creature's power as well as the damage output of any red spell and effect. You don't have to see it in action to grasp how huge this is. With Torbran as a coach, three-mana Chandra, Acolyte of Flame creates the Elemental tokens of six-mana Chandra, Flamecaller! Syr Carah pings like she were Kamahl, Pit Fighter! Shock becomes a kicked Burst Lightning! Even the more control-ish monored builds can't go wrong with Torbran – when in doubt, just make everything more destructive.


 MONOGREEN BRAWL COMMANDERS

   

 Questing Beast: Now, this is tricky to evaluate as a commander, because Questing Beast is definitely a powerful card, one of the most coveted of the entire set, but it doesn't particularly synergize with the rest of a list as a whole, beyond just nullifying protection from green and giving all your creatures resistance to Fog effects. Still, with Questy as your commander, you get constant access to four hasty damage that sneak past most go-wide defensive setups and deal particularly well with your opponent's planeswalkers, including those that they may have elected as their commander. It might not be as impactful as Nissa, Who Shakes the World or as versatile as Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, but starting with Questing Beast in the command zone is not the worst choice.

 Syr Faren, the Hengehammer: A quick-on-the-draw green commander for specific Stompy lineups that feature a lot of pump spells, probably backed by cards like Season of Growth and of course The Great Henge. It could work.

 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig: The king of the green court has the ability to quickly grow into a serious threat on the battlefield, but he needs some form of support, namely something giving him trample (Vivien, Arkbow Ranger being the best at this job). On top of that, he might not be the most effective commander, because he doesn't contribute anything else that one big body, and commanders are routinely sent back to the command zone anyway, so Yorvo's counters will be constantly reset, even if he can rebuild them again easily enough.


 GRUUL BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Grumgully, the Generous: The most obvious choice for a Gruul commander is currently either one of the two main Domris, but this weird mushroom pusher makes a good case for himself, just as something that you drop early on to gift with a permanent boost all your following creatures, which will most likely agree with his non-Human requirement. Particularly intriguing in the under-explored archetype of red-green tokens, which is given to exploit highly profitable cards like Legion Warboss, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Chandra, Acolyte of Flame and Nightpack Ambusher.


 IZZET BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 The Royal Scions: I've been underwhelmed by the shared card that Throne of Eldraine chose to represent twin planeswalkers Will and Rowan Kenrith, which I expected to be splashier and, above all, less generic. This said, if you want to go Izzet in your Brawl adventures, all the other options (Niv-Mizzet, Parun, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, the Rals) quite naturally lead to a spellslinger deck, whereas The Royal Scions want creatures around, while still providing some digging into the library. They're also designed to enable a "drawing your second card matters" kind of deck, with Improbable Alliance and such – there are only seven cards with that mechanic, but it plays well with other card-drawing spells and their payoffs, like Murmuring Mystic, so it's a viable archetype in Brawl, too.


 GOLGARI BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman: Here's a mighty Brawl commander who comes to challenge Vraska, Golgari Queen as the dominant choice in this color pair. Essentially, you can go Vraska to have your commander available earlier and more frequently, or you can choose Garruk to have a greater impact on the battlefield every time you can afford his heftier mana cost. They both supply some card-drawing and some removal, although in very different ways, and they also play extremely well with each other, so there's a good chance they'll end up in the same deck – i.e. in each and every Golgari-aligned Brawl deck until they'll rotate.


 SIMIC BRAWL COMMANDERS

  

 Oko, the Trickster: This is the Oko from his planeswalker deck, and as far as these beginner-level cards go, he's surprisingly playable. Sure he's costly, but at least he provides a very different ability from his regular version, as well as something pretty unique in general, as a sort of Vesuvan Doppelganger planeswalker, which is also the one instance where his flavor of being a shapeshifter is portrayed in card form. Granted, that alone might not be something you want to spend six mana on, especially when it comes to your commander, since it's only able to copy creatures you control, and can't even successfully copy legendaries; but it's still intriguing, and his plus ability is decent enough, so it's the one starter level planeswalkers that shouldn't be dismissed entirely.

 Oko, Thief of Crowns: His Trickster incarnation might be cute, but of course this is the real Oko you want to play, the one whose many tricks are not just referenced in his name, but a very tangible element on the battlefield. Now, Simic has a steep competition for commanders (there's the sublime Prime Speaker Vannifar, and there are Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales), but Oko defiantly challenges all his rivals with the incredible versatily of his set of abilities. With Oko you can: gain life; remove or steal problematic creatures; remove problematic artifacts; populate your board with potentially hasty creatures; enable sacrifice triggers; enable "artifacts matter" effects; get rid of longterm harmful effects from your creatures and artifacts; enlarge creatures with +1/+1 counters on them and base P/T equal to zero (or lower than a 3/3 anyway); plus other stuff that's not immediately apparent (did you know he can straight kill a creature that's been assigned damage if turning it into a 3/3 results in lethal?). One thing is sure, for the next two years, there won't be a Simic Brawl deck that won't include Oko somewhere in their 60.


 ESPER BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Alela, Artful Provocateur: With Alela we delve into the territory of the Brawl preconstructed decks that are part of the Throne of Eldraine release (although their exclusive cards only show up in collector boosters, not in draft boosters), but at the same time feel like a different product altogether. In fact, their four designated commanders appear unambiguously conceived for a Commander format, as you can tell from three main details they all share: 1) they're three-colored, so the deck they command can access more than just one or two colors but fewer than four or five, thus maintaining a strong identity while achieving a bit of flexibility; 2) they all have a clear theme to build around; and 3) they all produce a degree of card advantage.

 In the case of Alela, she's Esper (possibly not coincidentally, three out of four commanders of these Brawl decks come in a color combination that didn't previously have any other option in current Standard); she cares about artifacts and enchantments; and while she's the only one of the four that doesn't directly draw you cards, she still provides card advantage in the form of token generation. She's also a "lord of the flyers" as a secondary theme, and herself a flyer that trades for about anything, thanks to deathtouch, and improves your life total for grindier games, thanks to lifelink. She's kind of a complete package, but that's the feeling all these commanders induce – as powerful as other legendaries could be, especially the planeswalkers, it's a safe bet that these four represent the most accomplished commanders available for Brawl right now, since they've been expressly designed for the job. "Artifacts and enchantments matter" is a theme Throne of Eldraine at large already supports, so there are many more cards to tap into in the set proper (Dance of the Manse immediately comes to mind) to help Alela triumph, as well as more enablers for her "flyer tribal" subtheme. Nonetheless, Alela's own precon deck, called "Faerie Schemes", features three exclusive rares that remain must-include: Banish into Fable, Shimmer Dragon, and Workshop Elders.


 JUND BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King: Arguably the ancillary card with the highest potential for constructed applications in actual Standard, Korvold is at the moment the only Jund option available for Brawl. He's the ultimate combination of sacrifice outlet and sacrifice payoff, the latter mainly being of the card-drawing variety, while also growing a big, evasive finisher in the meantime. Building around this hungry Dragon (his precon deck is aptly called "Savage Hunger") is fairly easy: to say it in three words, Korvold wants food – and this doesn't even need to be a metaphor anymore.


 BANT BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Chulane, Teller of Tales: The theme emphasized by Chulane's preconstructed deck ("Wild Bounty") is the wider of the four, something you could just call "creatures with good ETB triggers". Splicing (Growth Spiral) onto every creature spell you cast, and then getting to rescue and/or recast those creatures, translate into a huge longterm advantage, making Chulane perhaps the hardest of the four precon commanders to face in a game of Brawl. Being vigilant means he can even attack and still activate his ability, or return himself to hand, thus skipping the commander tax entirely. Korvold and Chulane remind of two of the commanders from Commander 2013Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, respectively – but they both feel much stronger than their predecessors.

 Chulane also comes equipped with helpful exclusive cards from his deck (not that the Bant colors will be lacking in apt companions for his strategy): Faerie Formation, Steelbane Hydra, and Thorn Mammoth. Tome of Legends is something every Brawl or Commander deck could theoretically enjoy, but Chulane seems particularly good at exploiting it by maximizing his returns to the battlefield.


 MARDU BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale: Contrary to her three fellow Brawl precon commanders, Syr Gwyn's color combination already had an option in Standard with Kaalia, Zenith Seeker from Core Set 2020. Curiously, both are very focused tribal lords (or, I guess, ladies) that ask for a high degree of build-around. Gwyn is a big-bodied Knight that lets Knights equip for free (cue the very conspicuous combo with Colossus Hammer) and then draw you a bunch of cards when they attack. Mardu Knights is already an established Standard archetype post-Throne of Eldraine, and now thanks to Syr Gwyn you can live the dream of putting all Knights and "Knights matter" cards in one big pile, and have it be a functional deck. You can even add the ones exclusive of her preconstructed deck: Embereth Skyblazer, Silverwing Squadron, Mace of the Valiant, and especially Knights' Charge, a fundamental enchantment that gives the deck its name as well as its biggest punch.


 PENTACOLOR BRAWL COMMANDERS

 

 Kenrith, the Returned King: The good king, when he doesn't get himself turned into venison by Oko, is an alluring "good stuff" commander with an all-color identity. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is probably his main competition in this field, but with all of his various activations, Daddy Kenrith feels more entertaining than the wandering robot, sort of a human-sized Zacama, Primal Calamity. He could also shine in multiplayer, since all his abilities are expressed through a politically friendly wording, which is very flavorful for someone who's supposed to represent King Arthur.


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