By promoting Brawl, Wizards of the Coast is also supporting commander. Each Brawl Deck starts with a sixty card framework in which to begin and construct a commander deck. With forty cards of design space the key to converting these decks is deconstructing the framework and then adding cards that will reinforce those themes. Since Brawl uses only standard legal cards there are several cards that would be better replaced when converting to an eternal format. Commanding Brawl will not replace these cards and instead focus on the forty additional cards needed to create a commander deck. Instead these replaceable cards will provide room for upgrades further down the line.
Finally, while Commander Clinic understands if you are purchasing a Brawl preconstructed deck to convert to commander the player is looking to keep the commander deck affordable. Forty $5.00 cards still costs $200 so there will be no budget limit for these decks. In order to keep the decks affordable we will not be bringing a decklist that is as fully optimized and excessively expensive. Sometimes more expensive cards ($20.00 and up) will be included in the build. When chosen it’s because they bring a significant advantage to the build or just flat out win games. These Commanding Brawl builds are not the only build or the best build. They attempt to be competitive with a fun play experience.. Feel free to adjust these lists as it meets your budgetary needs or preferred gameplay experience.
Deconstructing Knights Charge
My first impression when I looked at Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale with her abilities was this deck wants to be a voltron archetype deck. Everything equips onto her for free and her ability to draw a card when a knight with equipment attacks is sweet. The drawback is that it is a Phyrexian Arena on a stick. You will be losing one life for each card you draw. This will hit your life each turn as you swing out with multiple knights. You will lose life in chunks if you swing with too many of them. It seemed to me you want a solid package of equipment add Sram, Senior Edificer and then about 10 or so creatures to protect yourself and storm out of the deck like a crashing drawbridge with your knight champion leading the way.
And then I looked inside the deck…
What I found was knights tribal. From a game producer standpoint it makes sense. People like to play tribal and it can be more intuitive to play such a deck increasing sales.
As I was breaking down the deck into categories I began to look at the equipment and was horrified with the choices in the deck. Commander wants haste but Crystal Slipper is the wrong end of flavor. Yes, after rotation Crystal Slipper will be the only haste equipment in Standard.but a Crashing Drawbridge can accomplish the same thing and be far more on flavor with the deck. Embercleve is more necessary for the deck than a Mask of Immolation or Marauder’s Axe. With a $40+ price tag for sixty cards you would think Wizards of the Coast could include at least one Mythic Rare other than the commander who will synergize well with a deck. For Commander the equipment is powered down. Several pieces need to be added to make this commander playable out of the box. A minimum of five of the choices should be replaced.
Categorizing Knights Charge
The deck included three pieces of card draw and one card in the ramp category. It also contains five removal cards. Twenty-one cards will need to be allocated to card draw, ramp, and removal categories. Then an additional 12 cards will be needed to bring our land count up to 36. This will leave sevan discretionary cards that are not required for these categories. This reduces the ability of the deck to build strongly into a voltron theme which is not built into the deck. We will have to lean heavily on the knights tribal and build around any other sub-themes the deck provides us.
Luckily, there is a direct damage theme that runs through the deck. Corpse Knight, Knights’ Charge, Syr Konrad the Grim, and Smitten Swordmaster are all cards that punish your opponents. Midnight Reaper also allows you to draw cards when your creatures die. This means we will invest in an aristocrats strategy. This will drain down our opponents life when our knights get bogged down. We will slot three of our seven cards into this category.
Syr Gwyn wants equipment and for our knights to attack. So we will split our resources between combat synergies and equipment. It is easier for us to jam some powerful equipment into other categories so we will slot one piece of equipment in our upgrades and three cards towards combat synergies. This action plan was built with an eye towards future upgrades. Many of the equipment included in the precon and will not work efficiently in the commander format. This will allow these cards to be cut and the stronger equipment included in their place.
- 1 Commander
- 10 Card Draw/Card Quality
- 10 Mana Ramp/Mana Fixing
- 10 Removal
- 11 Knights
- 9 Equipment
- 7 Direct Damage
- 6 Combat Synergy
- 36 Lands
At the end of the article there will be a full list of the forty cards that were added. For now we will cover the highlights of converting the brawl deck into a commander deck. Most people when they give deck lists they break it up into card types. Here at Commander Clinic we believe while separating cards by type is a good thing, it is better to represent the deck into different categories of cards and the functions they provide in the deck. This helps to understand how each card functions. You can find the deck broken down by card category on Archiidekt here.
The Key Three
Every commander deck has a strategy and there are key cards that help employ its strategy. This deck starts with early combat and then some direct damage to bring everyone low in life total. Then it will take advantage of either combat or aristocrat means to win the game. If necessary, Voltron Syr Gwyn herself to win in the end. There is enough equipment to power her up for 21 commander damage though it isn’t optimal in this build. Turning Syr Gwyn into Voltron is a last resort alternate win condition. The following are three key cards for the deck.
Zulaport Cutthroat… And Company
Zulaport Cutthroat, Cruel Celebrant and Blood Artist form a trio of direct damage effects when creatures die. No one card is bigger than the other. Any one will do. Knights Charge will help bring your opponents lower as you attack without concern for death knowing if your knights die your opponents lose more life.
One of the ways to capitalize on the deck is to be opportunistic on who is open and attack. Or if you have a large power buff on a creature and swing to take a few creatures with sacrifice fodder. Aggravated Assault maximizes your opportunities with additional combat steps. Even if you can just get through for three or four damage being able to do it multiple times will eventually add up with some of the other direct damage cards in the deck. Swinging Zurgo Helmsmasher multiple times during a turn gives you more chances to grow his power as well as remove some creatures from the battlefield the old fashioned way.
Even if you don’t attack again it untaps all your creatures so that you can swing out without worrying about defense during your first combat phase. You can create another combat step untap your creatures and pass.It is a little over costed in mana but this is an additional tactic to employ not the main tactic. For the times mass vigilance is needed, it’s reasonable. This card also combos with Sword of Feast and Famine for infinite combat steps. This combination is included in the deck. You can read about the infinite combo here.
The Squadron is one of the new cards in the Knight’s Charge deck. This card was designed well for the deck and is a key cog to its strategy. It’s a vigilant flier who should find someone to swing at. It will be able to defend you while creating additional knights to buff it’s attack and defense. Those knights adds more defense on the ground. With every attack the squadron grows stronger and stronger and provides creatures to fuel death trigger mischeviousness.
Forcing the Damage Through
The deck needs to find a way to force the damage through when board states falter. This is where the Weathered Wayfarer shines. The Wayfarer is a top Ten White card and you can see why in this deck. The Wayfarer searches your library for lands although it does not ramp you. Its ability triggers only if you have less land than an opponent. This land to hand ability allows you to keep searching for lands.
Cards like Temple of the False God will ramp you if you search for them. While not in this build Ancient Tomb does the same as well. This card is stronger then just fetching ramp cards. Instead search your deck for two different utility lands. The first is Rogue’s Passage. This card will allow you to make a creature unblockable and if you load up a creature with equipment you can significantly damage an opponent. Even in a crowded battlefield. The other is High Market which is a sacrifice outlet. While not repeatable in a turn it can consistently sacrifice a creature allowing your aristocrats to deal direct damage and gain a little life in the process.
Jamming Some Equipment in the Build.
The Knights want some equipment. We gave them a little more to fight with than a Crystal Slipper. First is Blackblade Reforged. It is a big beater. The more lands you have on the battlefield the stronger it becomes. There is no evasion on the sword so it is best attached to one of the six creatures that have evasion in the deck. Worst case scenario place it on Zurgo Helmsmasher to create a lose-lose scenario for your opponent. They will either lose a lot of life or a creature while you lose nothing.You can also place it on Wintermoor Commander late game this should be enough for you to attack with him and keep him around for another combat. As a side effect another knight gains indestructible.
In the ramp category we jam in two more swords. The first is Sword of Feast and Famine which is excellent utility and allow you to have an explosive turn by untapping all your lands.granting protection from black and green is a solid effect as well. The other is Sword of the Animist. On attack, it will allow you to search your library for a basic land and put it in play. A couple of attack triggers with this card and you will be ramped well for the end game.
Finally, Godsend is included in the removal package. It provides a strong buff to your equipped creature. At the same time it will exile a creature it blocks or is blocked by. Destruction works in most cases but having another card that will exile to get around indestructible effects and graveyard recursions causes more difficulties for our opponents. Players often do not want to lose their creatures so you will often find if you attack with Godsend they won’t block unless they absolutely have to.
Legion’s Initiative in Card Draw/Quality?
Yes on the surface this card in no way has to do with card draw or quality. This card can fit into combat synergy slightly better as it beefs up your creatures. Legion’s Initiative also lets you trigger knights charge with a mass attack and then exile them before damage phase to save any creatures that will die. At the beginning of the next combat phase bring them back. This is especially degenerate with Aurelia, the Warleader. When she reenters the battlefield she is a new object but with the same name. This Aurelia has not attacked this turn and if you decide to attack again you will gain an additional combat phase. It gets more devastating if you build a deck that grants all your creatures haste.
Instead of putting Legion’s Initiative in Combat Synergy,I chose to add in more combat synergy cards. These cards give additional combat phases and an indestructible Zergo Helmsmasher. People play board wipes and a simpler way to use this card is protection against mass creature removal. Whether it’s you or another player that wipes the battlefield this allows you to protect your creatures creating a state where at the next combat you will have the only creatures on the board. This is not card draw or card quality. It is, however, card advantage. Often this will give you multiple cards on the battlefield that you would normally lose. Card Draw and Quality feeds into the overall concept of card advantage. It is this loose card advantage characteristic that has me slotting it into the Card Draw/Quality category.
Several cards were excluded from the deck list for cost reasons. If you have deep pockets you can look at adding them right away otherwise they make good additions as second pass upgrades. Some of these excludes are Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Sinew and Steel, Maze of Ith, and Toxic Deluge. Where possible cheaper substitutes were found for these cards.
It’s an equipment deck. Stoneforge Mystic is a must right? Before the modern unbanning it was worth a consideration. Unfortunately, there are few equipment pieces that this deck really wants to search up that will put you in a winning board state.The deck does provide several sub optimal options. At $70.00 a copy this card can wait until you. acquire several stronger equipment options to supplement this deck. Then add her to the build in place of an aristocrat..
Sram, Senior Edificer is a card draw beast. But he is really wanted in a voltron build not a knight tribal build. With just 12 equipment cards the metrics are a little low to have Sram be a value. A deck really wants 15-20 artifacts to efficiently use his card draw abilities. If you are building a Syr Gwyn voltron deck from scratch he would be an auto include.
Sigarda’s Aid is exactly what this deck wants to do. It doubles the “equip knight 0” ability but a little better as it does it for all your creatures. It also turns your equipment into combat tricks. While worth a card slot under combat synergy I think the other inclusions of extra combat phases and an indestructible attacker is stronger for a slow game that knights tribal offers. Flashing in the subpar artifacts that are in the brawl build does not carry the strength of an optimized build and will come up lacking. This card should be included in a second pass of the deck after some stronger equipment is included in the deck. It is not optimally effective for the first build using the precon cards from the standard pool.
Trample is a theme that is missing in this deck. When you attack with knights you want some damage to go through. Unfortunately, I had onlly one equipment slot allocated to improve equipment in a preliminary build. While a card like Chariot of Victory would be an excellent addition in that card slot I elected to go in a different route and actually increase the strength of the creatures in this deck. When looking at the power of knights they are often rather low compared to the stronger creatures encountered in commander. A knight equipped with a Blackblade Reforged is a better deterrent than one without a power buff. Look to add your favorite trample buffs on a second pass of this deck when it is time to include better equipment.
Turning Knight’s Charge into a commander deck was quite challenging. The commander asks for a voltron build but a knight tribal build was given. Most of the card slots that needed to be added were cards that would round out and make a deck playable versus the cards that are the fun trappings of a deck that we play commander for. This means a lot of the strategies in the original build can not be fleshed out as much and we can not branch down other avenues of deckbuilding.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
The 40 card inclusions with cost at the time of this writing are listed below. The total value of the cards is $216.10 and depending on what equipment you wish to include the cost can go much higher. You can find the full deck list on archiidekt here..
- Diabolic Tutor ($0.39)
- Faithless Looting ($0.35)
- Liliana, Dreadhorde General ($16.99)
- Legion’s Initiative ($2.79)
- Read the Bones ($0.25)
- Sign in Blood ($0.25)
- Vilis, Broker of Blood ($4.49)
- Boros Signet ($0.99)
- Felwar Stone ($2.79)
- Orzhov Signet ($0.25)
- Rakdos Signet ($1.49)
- Smothering Tithe ($8.99)
- Sol Ring ($3.49)
- Sword of Feast and Famine ($69.99)
- Sword of the Animist ($4.99)
- Weathered Wayfarer ($14.99)
- Austere Command ($11.99)
- Godsend ($10.99)
- Mutilate ($10.99)
- Rakdos Charm ($0.99)
- Swords to Plowshares ($1.79)
- Blackblade Reforged ($0.69)
- Aggravated Assault ($7.99)
- Aurelia, the Warleader ($10.99)
- Zurgo Helmsmasher ($0.79)
Direct Damage Shenanigans
- Blood Artist ($3.99)
- Cruel Celebrant ($0.39)
- Zulaport Cutthroat ($0.59)
- Blood Crypt ($10.99)
- Bojuka Bog ($1.99)
- Castle Ardenvale ($1.99)
- High Market ($4.49)
- Nomad Outpost ($0.39)
- Rogue’s Passage ($0.35)
- Sacred Foundry ($9.99)
- Temple of the False God ($0.25)
- Swamp X 3