How was everyone's Prerelease? Due to parental duties last weekend, I unfortunately missed my first Prerelease in years, so I didn't get my sneak peek. I am however champing at the bit to get my hands on these cards!
Eldritch Moon has some sweet legends to build around. I've worked with Emrakul, the Promised End and Ulrich of the Krallenhorde, and I've even built a Wizard deck focusing on Docent of Perfection. I was going to cook up a list around Ishkanah, Grafwidow next, since Golgari is my jam, but I see my Commander compadre Sean McKeown focused on that card in this week's Dear Azami, so I had to change things up. Luckily we still have other options!
Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is the exact kind of card that Commander was built to enjoy. It's big, it's swingy, and it gets everyone's attention. This is a creation of two meld cards, but even though you can only have one card as your Commander, if one of the melded cards is your commander, Brisela's damage is still considered commander damage.
The question, of course, is which card should we use as the commander, and which would be better in the 99? Gisela, the Broken Blade is pushed for tournament play, and its mythic rarity reflects that. It could certainly function just fine in a more aggressive Commander deck coming out on turn 3 (or turn 2 if you've got the classic Sol Ring opener).
But having Bruna, the Fading Light, a seven-mana card, in your aggressive deck – even if it's a Commander deck – might not be the best configuration. No, I think Bruna, the Fading Light makes for a much better commander. She's expensive, but she packs a lot of value for the cost. Vigilance is a fantastic ability to have on a large creature in a multiplayer game, and flying gives her evasion and makes her an even better blocker. Her cast trigger is amazing if you've got enough Angels or Humans in your deck, so even if she meets a regular counterspell, you can still bring something back from the graveyard to the battlefield.
Which then leads one to ponder—what sort of cards do you want to bring back from the graveyard? When comparing Human to Angel cards, it quickly becomes clear that we're going to want to play lots of Angels.
When Bruna, the Fading Light was spoiled, I was a little bit surprised at how different it seemed compared to its initial incarnation, Bruna, Light of Alabaster. One has blue mana; the other is monowhite and more expensive. The base stats are different. The triggered abilities seem quite different.
But then I started thinking: what does a Commander deck featuring Bruna, Light of Alabaster want to do? Well, it wants to make her a Voltron creature, loading her up with Auras and making her a gigantic threat. Bruna, the Fading Light is similar in that it wants to make a Voltron creature of sorts as well, but it needs one very specific companion card to do so. Her cast trigger allows you to retrieve Gisela, the Broken Blade if she's been put into the graveyard prior to casting Bruna.
So we've chosen one part of the Brisela meld as our Commander, guaranteeing access to the card when we want her. The trouble is figuring out a way to reliably find Gisela, the Broken Blade from the 99. White is good at searching up enchantments, Equipment, and Plains, but white on its own is not very good at looking for specific creatures. Pretty much the only option we have here is another new card, Thalia's Lancers. Since it's not an Angel, it's a bit of a fly in the ointment, but at least it's a Human, so we can maybe cut ourselves a little slack on the flavor front.
One other option I considered was exiling cards from the library (there are artifacts like Jester's Cap to do this) and then use Pull from Eternity, which conveniently puts Gisela right there in your graveyard for Bruna's cast trigger, but that seems really terrible if you don't draw Pull from Eternity.
I think the best approach is to just load up with big, impactful Angels so that Bruna will bring one of them back from the graveyard when you cast her, assuming your opponents will have dealt with some of your Angels along the way.
Mirror Entity, Angel of Finality, Angelic Field Marshal, Archangel of Tithes; Linvala, Keeper of Silence; Gisela, the Broken Blade; Herald of War, Archangel of Thune, Baneslayer Angel, Karmic Guide; Linvala, the Preserver; Sunblast Angel, Adarkar Valkyrie, Angelic Skirmisher, Twilight Shepherd, Angel of Serenity, Emeria Shepherd; Akroma, Angel of Wrath; Avacyn, Angel of Hope; Iona, Shield of Emeria; Reya Dawnbringer
We certainly want lots of Angels in our Angel deck, but I also wanted them to be high-impact so the cast trigger for Bruna will be a big deal. A lot of those sorts of Angels are quite expensive, which ended up impacting the way I built the rest of the deck to include a lot of mana acceleration in the form of artifacts and other ways to cheat the high mana cost.
Angelic Field Marshal granting our entire team vigilance (for those who don't already have it) is huge in multiplayer. Gisela, the Broken Blade is often compared to Baneslayer Angel, and in this deck we can have them fighting side by side. Reya Dawnbringer is a classic favorite that I rarely get to play with anymore, but I think she works perfectly fine in this deck.
Looking at Lots of Cards
Even though we don't have very many ways of making sure we can find Gisela, the Broken Blade, a white deck does have two cards you can play that can let you look at a lot of cards: Scroll Rack and Land Tax.
I decided to include Enlightened Tutor in the deck to help assemble this card selection combo. Journeyer's Kite isn't quite as efficient as Land Tax but can do some work too and works regardless of whether your opponents have more lands on the battlefield than you do.
One nice thing about Land Tax is that you can easily get to the point where you've got too many cards in hand and have to discard, and discarding expensive Angels to the graveyard seems perfectly fine when you've got Bruna's cast trigger on tap. With so many high-cost cards in the deck, I don't anticipate Sea Gate Wreckage being activated much, but in those games where you end up with no cards in hand, drawing single cards off the top of your deck, there are few better cards to get out of that situation.
I went hog wild on the mana rocks in this deck. There are some white creatures I could include that can accelerate your Plains, but I wanted to keep the deck as pure Angels as I could. I made sure to include Mind Stone, Commander's Sphere, Darksteel Ingot, and Magnifying Glass to try to minimize exposure to a big artifact sweeper like Akroma's Vengeance. Seer's Lantern does some nice work searching for Gisela with its scry ability.
Voltaic Key combines with some of the artifact mana to let you cast your really expensive Angels well ahead of their time. All that extra mana made it much easier to go ahead and include Mirror Entity as an honorary Angel.
In addition to the artifact mana, I also wanted to make use of some other ways to cheat out the really high-cost Angels. I'd only put one of these on the battlefield at a time, again to minimize exposure to a sweeper.
Surviving the Early Turns
Many of these cards would be played in any white Commander deck I'd build, but for this deck in particular I'm going to want to use these early and often to ensure I survive to start playing my Angels. There is pinpoint removal to deal with something big that hits the battlefield quickly; Declaration in Stone even has the option of sweeping away a bunch of token creatures if they've become problematic. Blind Obedience helps slow down hasty attackers. And I really like the new Blessed Alliance, since the escalate ability really lets you scale it up later in the game.
So here's what I've got cooked up for Bruna, the Fading Light!
- 1 Angel of Finality
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 1 Angelic Field Marshal
- 1 Angelic Skirmisher
- 1 Archangel of Thune
- 1 Archangel of Tithes
- 1 Baneslayer Angel
- 1 Emeria Shepherd
- 1 Herald of War
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Mirror Entity
- 1 Sunblast Angel
- 1 Thalia's Lancers
- 1 Twilight Shepherd
- 1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
- 1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
- 1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
- 1 Linvala, the Preserver
- 1 Reya Dawnbringer
- 1 Adarkar Valkyrie
- 23 Plains
- 1 Arcane Lighthouse
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Command Beacon
- 1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
- 1 Mage-Ring Network
- 1 Mistveil Plains
- 1 Mutavault
- 1 Myriad Landscape
- 1 Sea Gate Wreckage
- 1 Seraph Sanctuary
- 1 Thespian's Stage
- 1 Westvale Abbey
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Kor Haven
- 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Basalt Monolith
- 1 Belbe's Portal
- 1 Bladed Bracers
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Cryptic Gateway
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Hero's Blade
- 1 Journeyer's Kite
- 1 Magnifying Glass
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Obelisk of Urd
- 1 Quicksilver Amulet
- 1 Scroll of Avacyn
- 1 Scroll Rack
- 1 Seer's Lantern
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Unstable Obelisk
- 1 Urza's Incubator
- 1 Voltaic Key
- 1 Act of Authority
- 1 Blind Obedience
- 1 Darksteel Mutation
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Blessed Alliance
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Rebuff the Wicked
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Council's Judgment
- 1 Declaration in Stone
- 1 Wrath of God
What sort of cards might I have missed for the deck? Any other options for more reliably finding Grisela, the Broken Blade?
If you're like me, you're champing at the bit to see what the new Eldritch Moon Standard is going to look like, and I'll have my eyes peeled to see how things unfold at #SCGCOL! I've been busy cooking up funky brews to take to Friday Night Magic, and I've got one I'd like to share built around Tree of Perdition.
This is a great callback to one of my favorite cards from the first time we visited Innistrad, Tree of Redemption. I actually had a cool little Standard deck built around Tree of Redemption and Vizkopa Guildmage that stole some wins from unsuspecting opponents. I know I and others first thought of pairing Tree of Perdition with another new card, Triskaidekaphobia, and while I think that's a fine plan, I think there's an even sweeter card to combo with:
Okay, bear with me a minute. So play Tree of Perdition to hold the fort. Your opponent is probably attacking with everything in order to get around the Tree. At the end of your opponent's turn, swap the tree's toughness for your opponent's life total if it's higher than thirteen. Play Assault Formation, pay a green to let the Tree attack, and crash in for massive damage. C'mon, you know you want to do it at least once while both cards are legal in Standard!
Since Assault Formation and Triskaidekaphobia are both enchantments, I think we can play with some self-milling and enchantments matter cards to help pull together the combo. Here's what I'm thinking:
Vessel of Nascency does a great job of digging hard, and you can use Auramancer and Starfield of Nyx to keep digging. Crop Sigil is a great new spell that lets us see at least one extra card each turn, and we can add Den Protector to the mix to get back any non-enchantments we might want as well. Hangarback Walker might look a little weird, but it's a powerful card that can draw early removal that might otherwise target Tree of Perdition, and when it dies it adds two card types to the graveyard for a possible delirium enabler for Crop Sigil.
What sort of wild and crazy Eldritch Moon shenanigans are you planning on unleashing at Friday Night Magic?
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I've done (and links to decklists):
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice ( new player-friendly)
Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)