Brawling in Eldraine: Three Planeswalker Decks for Brawl
- Ryan Scicluna
Magic players are finally playing Brawl, mostly thanks to the format's run on Arena. Time for some fun! Ryan looks at the newest planeswalkers from Throne of Eldraine: The Royal Scions, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, and Oko, Thief of Crowns, and turns them into Brawl commanders.
Brawl has moved into the spotlight recently, starting with the release of the preconstructed decks and now with Brawl on Arena. Since I am more of a casual Commander player and I don't particularly follow Standard, I was intrigued by the possibility to build and play a Standard "Commander" deck. I was immediately attracted to the planeswalkers from Throne of Eldraine and Brawl's option to use them as commanders.
The Royal Scions and Oko, Thief of Crowns are both 3 mana 'walkers, which means they can drop in early and start messing with the board or provide value. On the other end of the spectrum, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is a 6 mana planeswalker with no plus abilities, but he can create Wolves to protect him and boost his loyalty when they die. All three have different play styles and need to be built in different ways. So let's take a look at what we can do with these Brawlers.
Disclaimer: Even though Brawl is a multiplayer format, I focused on building decks that can perform well in one-on-one matches, since that is the only option we have on Arena. More testing would need to be done for an optimized multiplayer experience. Also, Command Tower and Arcane Signet are format staples … so yes, they are in every deck.
The Royal Treatment
Let's start with royalty. Rowan and Will Kenrith share a planeswalker spark and their Throne of Eldraine incarnation represents this by putting them both on the same card. The Royal Scions have two plus abilities to represent the different characteristics of the twins. The first plus ability allows you to draw a card and discard a card, which manifests Will's affinity for blue mana. The second plus ability of giving a creature +2/+0, first strike, and trample shows Rowan's affinity for red mana. Their ultimate is a combination of both colors in that you get to draw cards and deal damage.
Meet the Royal Court
With the Kennriths as our commander, we can go in either a control or aggro direction. I prefer the control side of things. Since Standard has so many planeswalkers currently, why not build a little Superfriends deck? All we need are enough tools to control everything and finishers to grind down our opponents. So let's meet the royal court.
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is a great early drop because we typically cast lots of noncreature spells afterward. Servos also are relevant to our game plan in that they protect our many planeswalkers from attackers. Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor creates bodies we can use for protection too, but more importantly she makes it harder for our opponents to target our creatures/planeswalkers. Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer has a defensive ability that again protects itself or other planeswalker, and she can create a 4/4 flier. Sarkhan the Masterless similarly creates a 4/4 Dragon but can also turn our planeswalkers into Dragons to beat down. Ral, Izzet Viceroy helps dig for answers or deal 3 damage to any target. His emblem is also very powerful, if you manage to get to that far. Finally, we have Ugin, the Ineffable and Chandra, Awakened Inferno to close out the curve.
The rest of the deck also focuses on controlling the board with burn and counter spells. The creatures aid this aim too, as most of them deal damage, bounce stuff, and draw cards or provide card advantage some other way. One notable finisher in the deck is Faerie Formation. It's a manasink that can get out of hand pretty quickly, if our opponents do not take care of it.
Garruk's Wild Hunt
Garruk is back! Finally we get a new Garruk card and this one does not disappoint. Sure, not having any plus abilities is weird, but it all balances out with the Wolves and their death trigger. The −3 ability lets us destroy any creature and draw a card, while his ultimate gives us a permanent Overrun. Since Garruk starts with 5 loyalty counters and his first ability creates two Wolves, if those Wolves die immediately, we can ultimate Garruk on our next turn. 6 mana to cast Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is a lot and if our opponents keep getting rid of him, it will become very hard for us to keep casting him. Our deck needs ways to generate mana fast and be able to play the long game. The deck I have in mind is midrange in style and heavy on removal, so that we're able to protect Garruk in case his band of Wolves isn't enough.
Garruk's Wild Party
The deck needs a lot of mana. For this reason we are running Incubation Druid, Paradise Druid, Leyline Prowler, and Leafkin Druid. I have included Heraldic Banner too as it can ramp and also boost the power of our Wolves. The Great Henge works well in this deck because we have so many creatures that we should always get a cost reduction and then reap plenty benefits. Audacious Thief, Return of the Wildspeaker, and Beast Whisperer yield extra cards, which helps us get to our removal spells and all the mana we need.
Interestingly, I found Witch's Vengeance to be quite useful both offensively and defensively. Either getting rid of Elementals created by my opponent's Nissa or getting rid of Elks created by Oko, surprisingly there are a lot of tribal synergies in Standard. I sometimes even use this to kill all my Wolves in order to boost Garruk's loyalty. For finishers, the deck can use God-Eternal Rhonas to trample over our opponents' defenses or Doom Whisperer to hit them in the air. Syr Konrad, the Grim works pretty well with the deck as it synergizes with all our removal spells or just with blocking Wolves, making our opponents think twice before sending their creatures our way. Revenge of Ravens helps with this strategy as well.
|Commander: Garruk, Cursed Huntsman|
Oko and His Bag of Tricks
We all saw how Oko, Thief of Crowns took over the current Standard metagame. Some people are even calling it "Oko's Winter." But how does this 3 mana 'walker fare in Brawl? Are his tricks up to the challenge? Well, the card already got banned in Brawl on Arena, although he wasn't even that oppressive, or popular, in my experience. But the card is still fair game in offline games.
Oko creates a Food token or turns a creature or artifact into a 3/3 elk as soon as he hits the battlefield. His ultimate lets you exchange control of one of your artifacts or creatures for an opponent's creature with power 3 or less. These abilities make him so versatile that whatever the situation, Oko can deal with it.
I did not want my Oko Brawl deck to be too focused on control. We have The Royal Scions for that. However, we do want to have some cheap tricks up our sleeves. Counter spells such as Essence Capture, Tale's End, and—even though not technically a counter spell—Narset's Reversal help to mess with the opponent's plans. My deck tries to lull other players into a false sense of security, so whenever they think they have us, we can trick them with cards such as Teferi's Time Twist, Lazotep Plating, and Run Away Together.
As I said, my Oko Brawl deck is not a control deck and as such includes a number of creatures, most of which come with their own tricks. Agent of Treachery is a prime example of this, while Nightpack Ambusher, Wildborn Preserver, and Frilled Mystic can literally come out of nowhere to meddle with attackers or spells. Incubation Druid, Gyre Engineer, and Maraleaf Pixie are good ramp creatures, and Gilded Goose combos with Food tokens to boot. Speaking of Food tokens, Feasting Troll King is a huge threat which we can in fact recur with our Food production. Powerful planeswalkers Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Vivien, Champion of the Wilds round out the deck.
When it comes to removal I liked the fact that Oko doesn't really destroy anything but instead transforms stuff into 3/3 Elks. So to complement this theme, I picked Frogify and Kasmina's Transmutation as our way to deal with problematic creatures.
|Commander: Oko, Thief of Crowns|
Even though it isn't multiplayer, I am really having a blast playing Brawl on Arena. There are so many varied decks and fun strategies to encounter! After playing with all three decks listed above, I enjoyed them all, but my favorite definitely is the Garruk deck. Though I may be biased because I like Garruk from a lore perspective as well.
I liked playing Oko as a trickster deck, but in a singleton format Food is definitely less powerful than how it plays in Standard. The Royal Scions is a fun deck that requires patience and I think it is the weakest in a multiplayer match. In one-versus-one, however, it can hold up its own and win by out-valuing opponents.
What do you think of these lists? What other decks have you been trying out on Arena? Let us know in the comments below!
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