Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Sep 14 2023 11:36am


 Near-fall update to the Brawl series! Wilds of Eldraine adds to the existing pool of legendaries from Innistrad: Midnight HuntInnistrad: Crimson VowKamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Streets of New CapennaDominaria UnitedThe Brothers' WarPhyrexia: All Will Be OneMarch of the Machine, and March of the Machine: The Aftermath. Brawl enters its third phase of its newfound three-year cycle.

 The 26 new commanders come in all of the dual-color combinations, but monocolored is only represented by black and red. In addition, a new Temur commander and a new colorless commander are added.

 The total number of available commanders is brought up to 284. Pithing Needle is still the only banned card specific to Brawl.

 The count by color becomes as follows.

  • Monowhite: 21 commanders
  • Monoblue: 17 commanders
  • Monoblack: 24 commanders (+3)
  • Monored: 22 commanders (+2)
  • Monogreen: 16 commanders
  • Azorius: 16 commanders (+3)
  • Dimir: 15 commanders (+2)
  • Rakdos: 16 commanders (+2)
  • Gruul: 14 commanders (+2)
  • Selesnya: 16 commanders (+2)
  • Orzhov: 14 commanders (+2)
  • Izzet: 10 commanders (+1)
  • Golgari: 11 commanders (+1)
  • Boros: 16 commanders (+2)
  • Simic: 13 commanders (+2)
  • Esper: 4 commanders
  • Grixis: 4 commanders
  • Jund: 4 commanders
  • Naya: 5 commanders
  • Bant: 5 commanders
  • Abzan: 1 commander
  • Jeskai: 3 commanders
  • Sultai: 3 commanders
  • Mardu: 2 commanders
  • Temur: 2 commanders (+1)
  • Quadricolor: 1 commander
  • Pentacolor: 5 commanders
  • Colorless: 5 commanders (+1)

 Now let's see what our second visit to the fabled Eldraine brings to Brawl!

 Jump to: Monoblack, Monored, AzoriusDimir, Rakdos, Gruul, Selesnya, Orzhov, Izzet, Golgari, Boros, Simic, Temur, Colorless



 Lord Skitter, Sewer King: Lord Skitter is the only monoblack legendary creature that can be found in Wilds of Eldraine Draft Boosters. He's the king of the Rats, possibly inspired to the Mouse King from The Nutcracker (although Mouse is now a different subtype in Magic). Skitter is clearly at his best as a commander for Rat tribal decks, which are less viable in Brawl than they are in Commander, due to the best of the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty ones requiring more colors than just black. But his endless swarm of graveyard-eroding Rat tokens are a boon in every sacrifice-heavy strategy, or just as mounting pressure in monoblack aggro.

 Old Flitterfang: This uncanny hybrid of Rat and Faerie was originally designed as a Jumpstart exclusive. When Wilds of Eldraine lost the Jumpstart companion packs, these cards were redirected to Set Boosters and Collectors Boosters. Flitterfang bears the mark of that kind of design, a bit too expensive for regular Constructed, but powerful in long-winded games, where he can turn expendable creatures into Food and then Food, or those creatures themselves, into threatening swings in the air. He doesn't seem too likely to become a popular Brawl commander, though.

 Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator: Monoblack also gets the only planeswalker in the set, per new post-Desparkening norms. The latest Ashiok is a strong if not particularly ground-breaking five-mana walker, with a plus ability that provides basic card advantage while also growing the tokens created via the minus. It should also build up to a game-winning ultimate, through library consumption per Ashiok's usual, but the passive ability is what's supposed to fuel that plan the most, and it's not self-supported, requiring external sources of life-costing effects. It's not a rare mechanic in monoblack, and other forms of exile works as well, including adventures. Overall, a solid commander for midrange black lists, although the "milling" wincon is going to really suffer the lack of access to blue.



 Goddric, Cloaked Reveler: As the story goes, Goddric is actually a Dragon who masqueraded as a Human Noble to attend a ball – cue a dramatic mid-party reveal. As a commander, he's okay if not particularly synergistic with anything in particular (except, mildly, with other Dragons, since his firebreathing is of the universal type, for some reason). A hasty three-drop 3/3 is aggressive enough, and we can hope to trigger celebration right after, so his second attack will be even more threatening. Monored Aggro can do worse.

 Imodane, the Pyrohammer: Imodane is a renegade Knight who lost an arm to the Phyrexian Invasion and had it replaced by enchanted Faerie wood. She has a crucial role to play in the conflict between the Kenriths and the three witch sisters (Agatha, Eriette, and Hylda) that threaten the realm. Most importantly, she can command a deck where every single-target burn spell turns into Searing Blaze. It's not a fail-proof battleplan, since the lack of suitable targets is bound to leave us with burn spells in hand and a commander that does nothing except being a four-drop 4/4 on the battlefield. But it's not a disastrous worst case scenario anyway, and the ceiling is pretty high.



 Hylda of the Icy Crown: Hylda is one of the three witch sisters who helped defeat the Phyrexians with the Wicked Slumber and are now causing troubles on Eldraine (a fourth, late sister was the birth mother of Rowan and Will Kenrith, so the three surviving ones are in fact their aunts). She's obviously based on the Snow Queen and ties into the novel white-blue mechanic of "tapping matters". The trifecta of effects that result from tapping an untapped opposing creature is incredibly powerful and able to generate either board advantage, card advantage and selection, or potentially a decisive alpha strike. The only issue being that Hylda is entirely a payoff, so she needs a build centered around her ability and filled with enablers, preferably of the repeatable variety. There's a few of those even in Standard – starting from Hylda's own titular crown – but the risk remains of not finding any, or at least not being able to keep hold of any, leaving us stuck with a commander that does nothing.

 Sharae of Numbing Depths: We don't know if this mermaid is linked to Hylda in some capacity, but she basically functions as the uncommon version of Hylda's card. With Sharae, the card draw is the only effect triggered by the tapping, and can only happen once per turn, but at least it's free. Plus, Sharae does enable her own ability at least once on ETB. Of course, a deck commanded by Sharae would want the same cards as a deck commanded by Hylda, so at that point there wouldn't really be any sense in going with the lesser creature. But Sharae is surely welcome to join the Hylda build.

 Will, Scion of Peace: After the events on Arcavios (where he lost a leg) and the end of the Phyrexian Invasion, the desparkened Will Kenrith is now at odds with his twin sister Rowan. He named himself King of the Realm, following the demise of both their parents; and he's trying to fix the witch problem on his own. His new solo card has good stats for its cost, and the activated ability can lead to game-changing turns where we unload our hand, but it also requires an external, quasi-random condition: lifegain. This makes him kind of an odd commander, whose only function is discounting the colorless mana required to cast our spells, but in order to get access to that discount we must first cast other spells or activate abilities that gained us enough life for Will's discount to be relevant. Untapping Will also helps, and the best spells to use his ability on are clearly those with X in their cost. There are ways to combo with Will, but all of them seem to involve a range of cards that are only available in wider formats like Commander.



 Obyra, Dreaming Duelist: A Faerie princess and an accomplished fencer, Obyra is the daughter of Lord Talion, ruler of the Fae. She's the only shot at a tribal lord the set provides for the subtype. Being just an uncommon, the payoff is probably not alluring enough to push most Brawl players into trying the archetype. But it's a serviceable effect that improves the damage output in an aggressive style of Faeries, the colors are optimal, and Obyra's cost and stats are nicely below the curve.

 Talion, the Kindly Lord: The nonbinary Talion, a take on Sleeping Beauty's Wicked Fairy (the one that Disney has renamed "Maleficent", but was originally nameless), is the main antagonist in the story, although not as wicked as their original counterpart. In fact, Talion saved the plane from the Phyrexians by casting the Wicked Slumber, but in order to do so, they had to ask for the help of the three witch sisters Agatha, Eriette and Hylda, and the power-hungry trio eventually took control of the sleeping curse, forcing Talion to intervene against them. Their card incarnation suggests an otherwordly power, since the ability hoses a whole number of our choice appearing on the opponent's cards – either expressing their mana value, power, or toughness. It creates a minigame where we have to guess what number will make Talion's choice more relevant; two or three seem the safest bets, but it heavily depends on the game state and the turn we're in. Using Talion as a commander gives us the chance to reset the number later from the command zone. Of course the hosing is not entirely unbearable for the opponent, but losing life while lagging behind on cards can accrue to a defeat over time. All in all, Talion is an intriguing option for a commander of unfocused Dimir decks.



 Rowan, Scion of War: Formerly co-heir apparent Rowan Kenrith is having a violent disagreement with her twin brother Will, but her cards still reflect they're two faces of the same coin. On Rowan's side, apart from a very unfortunate haircut, we find better basic stats due to a 4/2 menacer body for three mana, which already suggests a more functional presence that her 2/4 vigilant counterpart. The discount ability is still quite difficult to capitalize on in Standard, and it's the reason why the two siblings are doomed to only activate at sorcery speed – otherwise Rowan's player could just take combat damage and then cast a big instant for semi-free in the end step. As it is, you need to build a deck with a lot of phyrexian mana or Dark Confidant triggers and the likes. Not impossible, but probably not enough of a payoff to bother.

 Totentanz, Swarm Piper: Totentanz (which is actually the German name for the Danse Macabre) is the set's reference to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. A lackey of the Rat King Lord Skitter, he's another legend that could technically command a Rat tribal deck in Brawl and Commander, but he's just an uncommon, so his contributions to the archetype amount to just turning nontokens into Rat tokens post-mortem, and making the Rats slightly better at connecting. In fact, the only reason to build Rat tribal around Totentanz rather than his patron Lord Skitter is to gain access to red – which isn't entirely a wrong idea, since red in turn gives us access to cards like Redcap Gutter-Dweller and especially the eponymous Song of Totentanz.



 Agatha of the Vile Cauldron: Based on the cannibalistic antagonist of Hansel and Gretel, the wood-dweller Agatha is the most heinous of the three witches that helped Lord Talion defeat the Phyrexians. She received the titular Vile Cauldron in exchange, and was later killed by Oko's teenage son, Kellan. As a commander, she's unusually complex to build around for a Gruul card. We need ways to increase her power, and a healthy number of creatures with worthy activated abilities to discount. This already includes Agatha herself with her repeatable mini-Overrun, so it's possible the most profitable way is just to focus on raise that power stat and she'll do the rest. Flavor-wise, though, all of this doesn't seem to actually convey the idea of cooking children for dinner.

 Ruby, Daring Tracker: Wilds of Eldraine's own Little-but-not-so-little Red Riding Hood, Ruby accompanied Kellan in his quest against the three witches. A hasty commander that immediately gives back half of her mana cost is nothing to sneeze at. There are better options for a ramp commander in green right now (though not that many: mostly Shigeki and Gwenna, which are both slower), but not in Gruul. Ruby may look unassuming, but she's able to improve the speed and effectiveness of any midrange red-green list.



 Syr Armont, the Redeemer: There's a subterranean retelling of Beauty and the Beast in Wilds of Eldraine. It involves Armont in the titular female role and the Elvish Archivist as her paramour, suffering from the Curse of the Werefox. It's in fact all detailed in the namesake in-universe story, which goes to touch a bunch of other cards. We see traces of it, mechanically, in the fact that Armont gives the Monster Role to someone else. What this translates to in the nitty-gritty of the battlefield is a five-drop 4/4 that acts as an anthem for enchanted creatures. Probably not the strongest reason to embark in that kind of archetype.

 Yenna, Redtooth Regent: The Elves of Redtooth Keep are the victims of the abovementioned Curse of the Werefox, and Yenna is their leader. She's another 4/4, but cheaper than Armont (higher rarity matters!), and her ability to clone an enchantment per turn is deeply intriguing. We can't duplicate any of them more than one, but it clearly works wonders with Sagas. Worst case scenario, we could turn Yenna into a source of scry by copying the same Role over and over again, by placing it on the same creature. It's worth a build-around.



 Eriette of the Charmed Apple: Apple and demeanor are a dead giveaway: Eriette takes her cues from Snow White's Evil Queen. Her ability essentially upgrades the Cursed Role into a Pacifism of sort. It also turns the use of Roles in general into a win condition. It doesn't look enough to justify a dedicated build, and she's not going to do much for Auras-based archetypes, which usually employ high-impact aggro strategies that don't need the extra draining. Also, her namesake artifact, Eriette's Tempting Apple, is the worse of the three witch sisters' trinkets, the only non-rare one, and completely unrelated with her abilities. Overall, Hylda wins the contest: she's the fairest of them all, where with "fair", we mean "most rewarding when built around". But yeah, these cards are all kinda fair, too.

 Neva, Stalked by Nightmares: Neva is the resident Sleeping Beauty, even if her story in Wilds of Eldraine doesn't go past "she fell asleep; she was placed in a Glass Casket; and then she woke up." Luckily, her card is a bit less underwhelming, at least for an uncommon. She's a 2/2 menacer that we're able to keep growing by using Roles or self-recurring Auras, although the latter are currently not available for Orzhov in Standard decks. Four mana might feel overcosted, but Neva immediately gives us something back when she hits the battlefield – an ability that she could exploit better as a commander than as a regular card. Not at the top of the food chain for Orzhov Brawl commanders, but still more appealing than most.



 Johann, Apprentice Sorcerer: A second, larger homage to The Sorcerer's Apprentice after Overwhelmed Apprentice from Throne of Eldraine. This time our bumbling young Wizard gets a name, in reference to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the author of the mentioned poem (better known as a segment from Disney's Fantasia). The card is a Future Sight for instants and sorceries, coupled with a nicely defensive 2/5 body, all for a reasonable cost. Most Izzet legendaries are friendly to spellslinging, but Johann appears to be primed for really tying one such deck together.



 Greta, Sweettooth Scourge: Once again, Hansel and Gretel had a previous non-legendary reference in Throne of Eldraine via Curious Pair, but Greta brings the homage to a whole other level. The only surviving member of the iconic duo, she's out for blood against the witch who ate her brother (and who apparently is not Agatha), and she's wreaking havoc on the Food monstrosities of the creepy, abandoned Sweettooth Village. And she's also a great uncommon, a three-drop 3/3 that comes with a Food token and can turn any of those into either card draw or +1/+1 counters. Any Golgari deck with a Food theme has found its commander.



 Ash, Party Crasher: Boros is not the color pair you'd expect a Cinderella homage from (although, it does make some sense: the conflict of passion and order!), but that's exactly what Ash is, in case the name, the ball-depicting artwork, and the celebration mechanic weren't enough to clue you in. This is certainly an aggressive Cinderella, though: a hasty two-drop 2/2 that grows bigger every time more couples of dancers/brawlers join the festivities. She's an okay commander in white-red Aggro, although she doesn't contribute much to the general battleplan, except a guaranteed play on turn two, which is not nothing.

 Kellan, the Fae-Blooded: Even in Faerie form (well, Human-Fae hybrid: Kellan is Oko's son!), Boros creatures still care for Auras and Equipment. Kellan is a double-striker that makes everyone else more threatening the more we exploit his damage potential by adding modifiers, and has an adventure that searches for just the best way to improve his body our deck can muster. Kellan is one of two legendary creatures (the other is Beluna Grandsquall) with an adventure side, an innovation of Wilds of Eldraine. A commander that's also a spell is a good recipe for inherent card advantage, and an adventure in particular lets us partially circumvent the commander tax, because only casting the commander from the command zone counts for taxing purpose (casting the adventure does count, though. It's still the same card). If having Open the Armory as part of your commander is enticing to you, then Kellan is your boy.



 The Goose Mother: Ever dreamed to have Hydroid Krasis as your commander? Now you can, thanks to this magnificent reference to all enchanted geese ever appeared in a fairy tale or fable. This honking monstrosity is arguably even better than the Krasis, as she automatically adds 2 to the body size. The card draw is slower, but doesn't just depend on the X we paid, as it synergizes with any Food-producing card in our deck. An excellent payoff commander for ramp builds.

 Troyan, Gutsy Explorer: The best Simic commanders typically do one of two things: help us ramp, or reward us for ramping. The Goose Mother belongs to the second type, but Troyan definitely subscribes to the first category, being an accelerant for big spells and a looter to dig for them. And if a Vedalken feels out of place on Eldraine, especially in the specific role of Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, that's exactly why Wilds of Eldraine is the first set in the Omenpath Arc – Troyan is actually from Ravnica!



 Beluna Grandsquall: The only three-colored creature in the set, this highborn lady from the court of the Giants (the one of which Yorvo is the king) is directly inspired to the antagonist from Jack and the Beanstalk, although she's much more reasonable. She's purposely designed as a commander for adventure-centered decks, where she offers card advantage, card selection, mana discount, and access to the most relevant colors – it's not a coincidence that Temur Adventures was a top list during Throne of Eldraine Standard.



 Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender: Remember the trailer for Throne of Eldraine, back in 2019, when Garruk was still treated as a character that existed? That little yet fierce gingerbread girl became so popular at the time that a card version of her was all but expected. And here she is, given the quite on-the-nose name of Ginger and somehow anointed as a Knight. She's not a bad card, but probably not a hugely viable commander, either. Unless we care about a commander that can gain us a bunch of life and then return back into the fold for more.

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