Commander fans are in for a treat this week! I normally alternate week to week between Commander and my Constructed misadventures but this week you get another Commander column following the sweet Niv-Mizzet deck I built for Chuck and shared with you last week. Why the special love?
Well we've got a brand new set that's been spoiled and this weekend we get to crack shiny new packs at the Avacyn Restored Prereleases so of course that means a bunch of new cards to think about for Commander. While Sheldon Menery's going to give you the rundown of what cards you'll want to consider for your Commander decks Sean McKeown and I are going to tag team the new legends you get to build entire new decks around.
And thanks to Avacyn Restored being a big stand-alone set it gives us a good number of new ones to consider!
This week I want to talk about Bruna Light of Alabaster. Let's take a look at her:
What a badass huh? When you hold a copy of her in your hand she's looking you straight in the eye and telling you "Build around me and I'll win you games." It's very clear that a Bruna deck wants you to have a fair amount of powerful auras in the deck and to have some number in your hand and/or graveyard when you get around to attacking with her (assuming no one is crazy enough to let her block an attacking creature before then).
This strongly suggests a Voltron approach very similar to how we build Uril the Mistalker decks though Bruna's colors can also lead more towards a combo/control approach like typical Zur the Enchanter decks roll. Since control and combo aren't really my cup of tea I'm going to go more towards the Voltron approach though adding blue to the mix and losing green and red will certainly give the deck a much different flavor than Uril.
While the rest of the text box is very distracting and gets us deckbuilders all hot and bothered by the possibilities we should certainly not forget to pay attention to that very first line. Flying gives our Commander much needed natural evasion something that we don't need to rely on other cards to give her. Considering how many white and blue auras give flying we can keep in mind that we won't need many of those unless the other benefits are worth it.
Vigilance is also a top notch ability to have in a multiplayer format like Commander especially with a Voltron-style deck. When you spend a bunch of energy loading her up with auras getting the benefits on offense and defense is extremely powerful. It's also something nice to keep in mind when running across auras that might let you tap the creature for some effect considering that you won't need to tap her to attack.
Bruna happens to be an Angel and it looks like Avacyn Restored has a handful of "Angel matters" cards so you can certainly consider adding some tribal synergies to a Bruna deck. I don't think I'm going to do that here since I'm going to be focused more heavily on using and abusing auras.
We should also pay attention to Bruna's size. A 5/5 is fairly respectable but still will take five hits to kill a player with commander damage. Of course going the Voltron route we can hope and expect for Bruna to become considerably bigger…so we should definitely lean towards auras that make her hit harder.
One thing I noticed when I had an Uril deck was to make sure that I had other creatures in the deck that I could enchant with auras for the times when Uril wasn't available. It was difficult to find that after Uril had been killed a couple times and I was unable to recast him I kept drawing auras and had nothing to do with them.
What's particularly nice with Bruna is that she gathers up auras from your graveyard as well as your hand so you can freely enchant creatures early on and know that once your opponent kills them off when Bruna comes to play those auras will be available to her (barring any unfortunately graveyard incidents).
We only need to look to current Standard to quickly find a couple of fine hexproof fellows ready and willing to take up some auras while you wait to cast Bruna: Invisible Stalker and Geist of Saint Traft are certainly good enough to make the jump over to a Commander Voltron-style deck. Swiftfoot Boots does a good job of handing out the hexproof ability to other creatures too.
Okay let's get down to the nitty gritty—what sort of auras do we want for our deck? Here are the ones I've selected sorted by casting cost:
Looking at one-drop auras for white and blue there aren't too many to choose from that are worth the effort. I ended up with Curiosity to add some card drawing to the deck and it goes nicely with Invisible Stalker. I know I had some people question running Curiosity over Ophidian's Eye in Chuck's Niv-Mizzet deck last week… Yes the Eye is much more flexible but I've found that in Commander the three-mana cost slots are at a premium. I do my best to pay reasonable attention to mana curve.
In a deck with lots of auras Daybreak Coronet delivers a big punch. The vigilance is redundant on Bruna but +3/+3 lifelink and first strike is certainly welcome. Spirit Loop does a nice job of stacking lifelink by not actually being lifelink and it's one of those great enchantments that come back if it goes to the graveyard—not necessarily needed with Bruna but handy for enchanting your other guys.
Spirit Mantle provides some nice evasion while also providing solid creature defense. The last two are here to protect my guys with Flickerform "blinking" out and Phantom Wings returning the enchanted creature back to your hand. Phantom Wings can also play sorcery speed Unsummon on an opponent's creature in a pinch.
Here's where the hammer hits the anvil! Battle Mastery's double strike can make a creature out of hand in a hurry and so can Empyrial Armor. Steel of the Godhead is a staple in Zur decks and certainly does good work with Bruna. I really like Infiltrator's Magemark letting you spread the love of unblockability among multiple creatures.
Bruna's already got flying and is an Angel but the +4/+4 first strike and "buyback" ability are all very welcome. Having an indestructible Bruna can be pretty sweet as well.
6CC: Celestial Mantle
This card is right on the edge of playability with six mana being a lot (I mean you can just cast Bruna for six mana) but the effect is pretty impressive if you can connect. The various other ways you can have a creature be unblockable in this deck leans towards giving this a try especially since Bruna can simply get around the need to actually cast this monster.
8CC: Eldrazi Conscription
The biggest and baddest aura ever made this pretty clearly belongs in a Bruna deck and is something you definitely want to be shortcutting into play.
One little wrinkle we should also pay some attention to: Bruna only gets to go wild with auras when she attacks or blocks. Since it's highly unlikely your opponents will oblige you the trigger by attacking into Bruna you'll want to attack with her as soon as possible. Obviously the turn you cast her is optimal! Unfortunately haste isn't something that you find in blue and white much less their enchantments so I've had to turn to other means.
We've already got Swiftfoot Boots for hexproof; the haste is also great for this as. Lightning Greaves doesn't cost any mana to equip which is nice and since Bruna's attack trigger doesn't require auras to target they get around the Greaves' shroud ability—just be cautious about equipping the Greaves to other creatures if that's the only creature you control so you don't strand any auras in your hand that you might otherwise want to cast.
I considered Hall of the Bandit King but I was a little bit worried about drawing it early and having to use it for mana at three life a pop… I still might squeeze it in; I'm not sure yet.
White and blue have a fair number of creatures that are very synergistic with auras and I'm going to try quite a few of them in this deck. Grand Abolisher shuts down shenanigans from your opponents during your turn hopefully letting you at least get one attack step in with a creature just enchanted by an aura. Kor Spiritdancer and Mesa Enchantress turn your auras into cantrips which can really turbocharge the deck.
Nomad Mythmaker and Hanna Ship's Navigator help get back auras that have been dumped into the graveyard. Hakim Loreweaver might also be decent to include… He's got a fair size starting body and can put the aura directly into play from the graveyard enchanting himself. It's a shame you can only activate his ability during your upkeep and that might ultimately get him the boot. But we'll give him a shot for now. I figure he might fit nicely with a flipped Kitsune Mystic.
Academy Researchers does a nice job of being a mini-Bruna in the early game especially if you've drawn your Eldrazi Conscription—ho!
I thought about Crystal Chimes especially in conjunction with Empyrial Armor but again the three-mana slots are really chock full of good choices. Besides for one mana more Retether is probably just a better option.
There are some fun options for Tutoring up auras as well. Academy Rector does a great job of waving off attackers who might fear what Aura—or other enchantment—you'll Tutor up if they kill him. Three Dreams is the perfect card to cast while you have Bruna in play and ready to attack. Totem-Guide Hartebeest is similar but gives you a body on the board to go with the aura you Tutor up. Auratouched Mage lets you Tutor up an aura and stick it into play enchanting it—which is perfectly fine since when Bruna attacks she can nab it off the Mage if you want.
Of course at six mana we also want that sweet tournament-caliber card Sovereigns of Lost Alara which spent a lot of time putting people into Top 8s by Tutoring up Eldrazi Conscription and putting it into play on an attacking creature. Doing it this way won't trigger the annihilator but +10/+10 and trample isn't anything to sneeze at.
Since I've got cards that play nice with enchantments not just auras I decided to round the deck out with some decent enchantments too. Soothsaying is an enchantment that does a halfway decent Sensei's Divining Top impression. Soul Snare acts like a Path to Exile. Land Tax is just super sweet to make sure you're making your land drops. Seal of Cleansing is your Disenchant.
Reconnaissance might be a little too cute but it's a way to let Bruna attack get all the auras you want but then call off the attack if your opponent has some really nasty blocker. I like Angelic Renewal as way to keep a critical creature in play particularly Bruna since she can retrieve all her auras again from the graveyard at the next attack. Copy Artifact is an enchantment that lets you take advantage of any sweet artifacts your opponents are playing.
Lastly since we're playing a metric truckload of enchantments we'd be foolish not to squeeze a Serra's Sanctum into the list!
Finally one last thing to think about… With Bruna and auras having auras in the graveyard is nearly as good as having them in your hand so I thought I'd make use of many of blue's ways to "cycle" cards to draw deeply. Compulsion and Attunement cycle cards and are also enchantments. Murder of Crows is like a super looter whenever creatures die. Jace's Archivist gives you Windfall on a stick. Devout Witness's spellshaper ability lets you pitch auras for Disenchants and makes me think I might want to keep an eye out for other spellshapers.
Here's my first draft of a Bruna Light of Alabaster Commander deck:
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Academy Researchers
- 1 Auratouched Mage
- 1 Devout Witness
- 1 Grand Abolisher
- 1 Invisible Stalker
- 1 Jace's Archivist
- 1 Kitsune Mystic
- 1 Kor Spiritdancer
- 1 Mesa Enchantress
- 1 Murder of Crows
- 1 Nomad Mythmaker
- 1 Shaman en-Kor
- 1 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
- 1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
- 1 Bruna, Light of Alabaster
- 1 Geist of Saint Traft
- 1 Hakim, Loreweaver
- 1 Hanna, Ship's Navigator
- 1 Sakashima the Impostor
- 1 Azorius Signet
- 1 Crucible of Worlds
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Angelic Destiny
- 1 Angelic Renewal
- 1 Attunement
- 1 Aura of Silence
- 1 Battle Mastery
- 1 Celestial Mantle
- 1 Compulsion
- 1 Copy Artifact
- 1 Curiosity
- 1 Daybreak Coronet
- 1 Empyrial Armor
- 1 Flickerform
- 1 Indestructibility
- 1 Infiltrator's Magemark
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Phantom Wings
- 1 Reconnaissance
- 1 Seal of Cleansing
- 1 Soothsaying
- 1 Soul Snare
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 Spirit Mantle
- 1 Steel of the Godhead
- 1 Arcane Denial
- 1 Dream Fracture
- 1 Remand
- 1 Thirst for Knowledge
- 1 Akroma's Memorial
- 1 Retether
- 1 Three Dreams
- 1 Winds of Rath
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Eldrazi Conscription
I like the looks of it and can't wait to bring it to battle! I wouldn't consider it an overpowered deck at all but I think it would be a lot of fun and capable of making some really cool splashy haymaker plays.
What do you think? How would you build a Bruna deck differently?
That's it for this week; have fun at your Prerelease!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
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)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Niv-Mizzet the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Grimgrin Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)