Hey everyone! I hope everyone is recovering from nonstop Brawl action with the weeklong Brawl queue on Magic Arena. For those of you who didn't get enough of the format, you will be able to battle in similar Brawl queues every Wednesday, and if that isn't soon enough for you, join The Brawl Project Discord, where you can find other people looking for direct challenge matches.
Oh, and before I forget, there's a giveaway this week!
IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME!!!— Sunyveil (@Sunyveil) November 1, 2019
This week I'll be giving away the Knight's Charge Brawl precon -- RETWEET and FOLLOW for a chance to win!
USA ONLY! Winner will be drawn at midnight Monday 11/4! pic.twitter.com/pl9ze6G7Y5
Today on The Brawl Project we'll be counting down the top ten cards in the Brawl format, excluding commanders. It's easy to say that Oko, Thief of Crowns or Golos, Tireless Pilgrim are great cards and thus build powerful Brawl decks, but Teferi, Time Raveler is also extremely powerful at face value as well but doesn't translate as well into a powerful deck. Which cards build the foundation for powerful Brawl decks?
If you are looking for the top ten commanders, I ran those down on The Brawl Project podcast this week.
Based on my experiences this past week, I've come to the conclusion that tempo plays a big role in most Brawl matches, even in multiplayer Brawl. A battlefield with creatures backed by a planeswalker is tough to answer with just one sweeper, with only Planar Cleansing and Single Combat able to deal with multiple creatures and/or planeswalkers at the same time. This means that putting together permanents that synergize well together and anything that might let you speed up your development are stronger than simply drawing cards. Similarly, being able to disrupt your opponent's permanents efficiently, especially at instant speed, are valuable effects to keep your opponent off their synergies.
So, what are the top ten cards in Brawl right now? Let's take a look!
Sweepers in Brawl are scarce, and Realm-Cloaked Giant (really, Cast Off) gets the nod over Kaya's Wrath and Time Wipe. Easy to cast and with a 7/7 Vigilance available as an afterthought, Realm-Cloaked Giant is a staple for white decks playing for the late-game. The only Giants people tend to play (aside from Realm-Cloaked Giant itself) are Bonecrusher Giant and Beanstalk Giant, so more often than not, Cast Off is hitting every creature on the battlefield. Sweepers keep strategies that develop several threats quickly in check, but even then, have their limitations in not answering diverse threats.
If one of the keys to the Brawl format is to develop quickly, no creature does it as well as consistently as Paradise Druid. It fixes your mana and accelerates to your Vraska, Golgari Queen or Ajani, the Greathearted a turn early. On top of that, it can attack to pressure your opponents' planeswalkers or hold back to block your own!
Many of you may be surprised to see Unsummon on this list, but that's just a testament to how important tempo is in this format. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King into Plaguecrafter is an insane value play – unless an Unsummon hits the Korvold to prevent the card draw. Attacking with 1/1s with a Torbran, Thane of Red Fell out does a ton of damage – unless an Unsummon snags Torbran so the red cards do the damage they're supposed to. The options for instant-speed removal are not terribly plentiful and Unsummon is cheaper than cards like Murderous Rider or Mortify. The ability to disrupt synergies dependent on creatures that cost four or more is such a huge tempo swing that Unsummon becomes one of the best cards in the format.
Shimmer Dragon only works in decks that play a ton of artifacts, but in those decks it is fantastic. I have yet to see a Shimmer Dragon without hexproof, and it turns artifacts that stick around like Glass Casket or Golden Egg into card draw engines that start working immediately. Plus, it attacks and blocks!
The best fixing in the format, period. I wouldn't go as far as to say Arcane Signet and Command Tower go in every Brawl deck, but they definitely go in every three or five-color deck. Command Tower provides any color you need with no cost and Arcane Signet also accelerates for just an initial investment. What's not to love?
Green card advantage in commander often goes off the rails, and Brawl is no exception. Guardian Project basically says "draw a card whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield", though do keep in mind its effect can be negated with a removal spell with the trigger on the stack. That said, Guardian Project triggers on creature commanders and keeps the cards flowing through sweepers and waves of removal. This is a must-have in creature-based green decks.
Some of you may be wondering why Guardian Project gets the nod over The Great Henge, and that's because it's easier to start your development with Guardian Project while playing The Great Henge requires some setup. Also, Oko can turn The Great Henge into an Elk, but not Guardian Project.
Not just for Golos decks! Any red deck that doesn't play countermagic or rely too heavily on artifact ramp probably wants Fires of Invention. Why? Well aside from playing cards from your hand for free, you also get to cast your commander for a huge discount. Sadly, you still have to pay the commander tax, but even so casting Torbran the third time for six mana instead of ten makes a huge difference.
Oh, and if you're playing Golos, it's completely insane.
Divine Visitation may do nothing on its own, and it's too bad there are no white commanders you can pair with it to consistently create Angels right away. Oh, except Trostani Discordant; Emmara, Soul of the Accord, and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. I suppose Dovin, Grand Arbiter and Ajani, Strength of the Pride work as well. There's also that Kykar, Wind's Fury deck that plays Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. Okay, well outside of commanders there aren't repeatable ways of making tokens, unless you count Dawn of Hope, Outlaw's Merriment, or Skyknight Vanguard.
It's pretty easy to make tokens in Brawl right now, and Divine Visitation makes each one a huge threat.
Speaking of huge threats, everybody in the format is playing a commander that powers up their deck. If you Unsummon, destroy, or exile it, the commander just goes back to the command zone to be casted again. You know what denies your opponent access to their commander? You can take control of their commander with Agent of Treachery and force them to answer their own commander, then pay the command tax to get it back. Mass Manipulation is good too, but you can reanimate, copy, or blink Agent of Treachery and the double blue is much easier to cast than quad blue.
It's not tough to find a ton of targets for your Casualties of War in Brawl. Creature and land are practically a given, and most decks have multiple planeswalkers. On top of that, Arcane Signet is ubiquitous in the format and three of the top ten cards are enchantments! Casualties of War is often a one-sided sweeper or close enough that it doesn't matter. The only downside is having to play a deck that can cast Casualties, which is part of why Vraska, Golgari Queen and Garruk, Cursed Huntsman make such powerful commanders.
There you have it! My top ten cards in Brawl right now. Don't agree with me? Great! I'd love to hear your take via Twitter or Discord!