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. It can’t be because we are not using optimized cards or removing weak standard options. 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 Savage Hunter
While I read each of the commander of the brawl precons, I waited to check the full decklists before deconstructing what each deck was about and then building them back up into commander decks. While breaking the decks apart into different categories, I was chagrined to see that Korvold the Fae-Cursed King was using similar strategies that were used in the Knight’s Charge Deck.
This deck is all about sacrificing permanents and value of the death triggers that arise from it. This is very similar to the direct damage with Syr Gwyn. Since Korvold is a Jund commander it shares two of the colors of Syr Gwyn making the overlap of the solid cards that can be used in this deck very similar. We should not be surprised then to see Cards like Zulaport Cutthroat in both decklists. The green in Jund does mean that there is a stronger ramp package out of the box to build upon and less cards needed to fill out the cards that every deck needs. This allows for more flexibility when building the other packages of the deck.
Categorizing Savage Hunter
Outside of the three categories every deck wants there are several categories this deck wants in order to make it run. The first is sacrifice outlets Korvold himself benefits from sacrificing permanents and we want to be able to sacrifice things without always wanting to use our commander. This will allow Korvold, the Fae-Cursed King to grow larger faster. To threaten the board.
Next, we want many payoffs for sacrificing permanents than just Korvold himself. This will help to create a value engine that will allow the deck to take over the game. It is a tricky balance between sac outlets and sac payoffs. Only one sac outlet is needed to make the payoffs valuable. If you have a lot of payoff cards and no sacrifice outlets, then the payoffs will do the deck little and the value is not generated.
Finally, the deck wants cheap items to sacrifice. For this we want to look at cards that will make multiple tokens. We don’t want to lose a card in a sacrifice exchange but permanents that are worth less than a card. For example, Chittering Witch creates multiple rat tokens. Each token provides a payoff while keeping the creature we paid mana for on the battlefield. With Korvold on the battlefield you are replacing a token with a card and a counter. This is a great value.
For this deck we will want the following card packages. They are a little fluid as several of the cards can fit multiple categories. Usually this happens when a card fits one of the categories every deck wants and does it in a way that fulfills its individual goal. For example Grave Pact is a sacrifice payoff but at the same time it counts as removal.
- 1 Commander
- 10 Card Draw/Quality
- 10 Mana Ramp/Fixing
- 10 Removal
- 7+ Sac(rifice) Outlets
- 5+ Sac Payoffs
- 10 Misc. Effects
- 33+ Creatures
- 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 you to understand how each card functions. You can find the deck broken down by card category on Archiidekt here
The Key Three
Korvold The Fae-Cursed King
Korvold sets the tone of the deck. From the moment he is revealed in your command zone, people know death mischievousness is coming. He is a sacrifice outlet and a sacrifice playoff rolled up into one card. The card draw is critical. It allows you to refill your hand as you sacrifice creatures. If the board is wiped, then you can rebuild rapidly. He also will grow to immense proportions that it’s possible that you may kill someone with commander damage. It is not a primary win condition but Rogue’s Passage in your land base makes it possible. .
Revel In RIches
With thirty-five creatures in the deck death triggers abound. This allows you to create explosive turns with insane card draw and mana. Sacrifice a creature. It dies and create a treasure token and draw a card off of your commander. Then sacrifice the treasure token for a mana and draw another card. Revel in Riches is a piece of value beauty. It also is an alternate win condition if you can hold onto the treasure tokens. This card can sometimes deter opponents from wiping the board if it will give you the win by wiping more than ten creatures. Also because you have sacrifice outlets if this card is out you are always a threat to sacrifice a bunch of creatures with Dictate of Erebos or Grave Pact out before the start of your turn and win the game. This is a very strong card for this deck. .
If you have death triggers on the board but no sacrifice outlet Tendershoot Dryad will help you get those triggers. The tokens are made each upkeep. It will get better with each opponent you have as you can make a bunch of tokens on one cycle around the table. Once you have the Cities Blessing your Saprolings will all be 3/3 creatures and if you swing with enough of them your opponent will have to block.. Along the way a couple of them may die, triggering the death effects. This card synergizes well with what your deck wants to do.
The Misc. Cards
This is an eclectic mix of cards that are outside of the basic gameplan. Wizards started by including a populate package with Evolution Sage and Pollenbright Druid. It would have been easier to build upon that theme but instead chose to just build a new package of cards around graveyard recursion. This will help us recycle the creatures we sacrifice for additional value and payoffs.
The deck already included Golgari Findbroker and we included Eternal Witness to the deck. By themselves we can pull some cards from our graveyard toolbox to help us with our strategy. Playing a Vindictive Vampire again while we have a Mayhem Devil on the battlefield can help speed things up against your opponents. But we can also use one of them to fetch the other from the graveyard to our hand. Then we can use a sac outlet to sacrifice our graveyard fetch and then play the other again to create a loop. It’s a lot ado about nothing as it doesn’t develop our board. It does trigger the sacrifice/death value engine and that does affect the game. Depending on the game state this may be an advantage to the deck. Other times it will be a better choice to grab something else but be aware of the loop.
Sticking Out LIke a Sore Thumb
One card that seems out of place is Dauthi Embrace.Part of the fun of this card is to see how many “What does that card do again?” questions.It is a unique enchantment that will turn your creatures unblockable by using shadow for two black mana each. Often you will just be making your commander unblockable as an alternate win condition of the deck. With lots of mana in your mana pool you can make as many creatures you want have shadow. There are plenty of decks that contain fliers to stop your commander. This card is less targetable than a Whispersilk Cloak and worth the include when you need to punch an attack through..
A Favorite Commander in the 99
Meren of Clan Nel Toth is a strong commander in and of her own right. She brings a lot to this deck. First she will not stick around long. That is OK if your opponents want to remove her it will provide another death trigger for you and it will cost them a card. In fact the best way to play this card it to count on it being removed before she sees a turn cycle around the table. Players know what she can do when a commander deck is built around her. That reputation will speed up her removal. The experience counters you gain from Meren will never go away so if you can recur her you can pick up where you left off with the mischievous deeds of the deck. Your opponents are correct to target Meren.
The best way to play Meren is to have a target in your graveyard you want to recur to the battlefield that turn. Then after you play her sacrifice the creatures necessary to make it happen. This way you will gain value immediately from her and it does not matter if she is removed. If she survives to your next turn then consider yourself fortunate and take the extra value that the table gives to you.
The only real obvious exclude for monetary reasons is Fabled Passage. It is an upgrade over Terramorphic Expanse because it has the chance of coming into play untapped but at $12.99 the effect is not that good for a first pass to get the deck up to 100 cards. After the commander deck is built remove a guild gate for it. Fabled Passage is a sacrifice trigger for Korvald.
One of the famous sacrifice triggers in the game lies in text of Spore Frog. It shuts down opponents from attacking you as the threat of a Fog on a stick is enough for most people to aim their attacks elsewhere. Unfortunately, unlike Meren, this deck is not built around recurring shenanigans. It loses a lot of its appeal when you can use it once for most games. Spore Frog recurring shenanigans are not there. It is worth an include on a second pass where the proliferate package and Angarath are removed for a larger creature recursion package. Then the frog can abuse over and over again.
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is a sacrifice outlet. He also includes the word each in his text which is a word Commander Clinic loves. It means the ability scales in power the more players are in your commander game. If you choose to sacrifice Korvald with a lot of +/1/+1 counters on him Jarad can end a game quickly. Despite its ability to end games the ability costs four colored mana. He still works great to end the game in the right circumstances but the ability to play him and sacrifice several creatures to his ability is greatly reduced. Because the ability is slower and a late game play he was passed by for other sacrifice outlets that can be useful faster.
Much like Jarad Golgari being a late game play Razaketh, the Foulblooded is also excluded for the same reason. Seven mana for a sacrifice outlet is slower than what we want even if he is a Demonic Tutor on a stick. Razaketh sans Black Market means you will be waiting until next turn to play the card you want to search for. Often you will want to play the card now.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is a wonderful piece of recursion as he gives all your non humans undying. Add in some persist triggers and you can have infinite sacrifice triggers for all the mischievousness you want. Unfortunately, outside of a persist build there are too many humans in the deck that do not get undying. If you want to build Korvald from scratch, then Mikaeus is a card to build around as a key card in the deck.
When finished there are still cards that can be removed from the Brawl deck that create card slots to upgrade the deck. Despite that, the Brawl deck laid solid groundwork so that the card slots to upgrade it to commander was minimal in the card draw, mana ramp, and removal categories. This breeds creativity as these cards slots can be spent on different categories as commander players see fit. Overall the additional forty cards in this build costs less than the other builds at $166.88. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to having a conversation with you.
The 40 card inclusions with cost at the time of this writing are listed below. You can find the full deck list on archiidekt here.
- Experimental Frenzy ($1.99)
- Harmonize ($0.35)
- Return of the Wildspeaker ($0.25)
- Skullclamp ($4.99)
- Diabolic Intent($13.99)
- Diabolic Tutor ($0.39)
- Rampant Growth ($0.25)
- Cultivate ($0.59)
- Wood Elves ($0.35)
- District Guide ($0.25)
- Black Market ($6.99)
- Golgari Signet ($0.35)
Cheap/Make Things to Sac
- Disciple of Bolas ($2.99)
- Ashnod’s Altar ($6.49)
- God-Eternal Bontu ($4.49)
- Merciless Executioner ($0.25)
- Dauthi Embrace ($1.29)