Other Brawl Budget Upgrades
After doing the $50 upgrades for the Commander 2019 decks, it’s only natural that I would do budget upgrades for the new Brawl decks. So, let’s take a good premise and apply it to something new!
The idea here is to take the preconstructed Brawl decks and spend up to $25 (since it’s a 60-card deck, I’ve lowered the budget) before tax and shipping to improve them. Obviously, $25 has a different impact on everyone, but the idea is to show you how to take a deck and improve it while still operating on a set budget.
We’re going to throw a wrench in here, though. I’ve been considering how these budget articles could scale to different price points because everyone’s budget is different. This time around, I’m going to upgrade the decks for four price points: $25, $50, $100, and Unlimited. That way, you can pick and choose the upgrades you like based on how much you want to invest in a deck. If this ends up being something you like, I’ll incorporate it into more articles.
As we go through the changes I’ll list the prices (from this very website, ChannelFireball.com) of each card I plan to add. That way, you can see how I keep things in budget. Prices and availability of cards may have changed since I wrote this because time always progresses forward no matter what we do. If you see an inconsistency because of that, I apologize, but it’s inevitable. The overall idea is that Brawl, just like Commander, isn’t a pay-to-win format – instead, it’s about synergies and themes.
Oh, and this is predicated around multiplayer Brawl, just like my Commander articles. I’ll be building for 1v1 Brawl just as soon as we can play the format on Arena, though, don’t worry!
Brawling with Chulane
We’ll start with the Wild Bounty deck, helmed by newly popular Commander Chulane, an EDH staple already and plenty good in Brawl. The theme of this deck is to generate value by casting creatures to draw cards and generate extra land drops. Chulane’s bounce ability also encourages us to use creatures with enters the battlefield triggers to their fullest. Let’s start by cutting some cards that don’t really fit our game plan.
Biomancer’s Familiar serves mostly to make Chulane’s activated ability cost less, which I don’t think is worth the cost of a full card in our list. Sharktocrab is a cool card and amazing in limited, but I’m not sure it pulls its weight here. Rosethorn Acolyte and Gyre Engineer, as three-drop mana creatures, don’t really impress me compared to the options already in the deck (of which there are maybe too many.) Faerie Formation is a good mana sink, but we already have the best mana sink available in our Commander. Silhana Wayfinder putting cards on top of our library is unimpressive to me, and Faerie Vandal synergizes with Chulane’s draw ability but fails to work well when Chulane isn’t available. Parhelion II costs too much even in this format, and Flower//Flourish sacrifices too much power level for its flexibility.
Let’s talk about what I’ve lined up to replace these cards. I’ve kept the balance of creature/noncreature intact here, because Chulane wants as many creatures to cast as the deck can handle.
Agent of Treachery $1.79
Seven mana is a lot, but the effect is immediate upon entry – you get to take something. It’s very unlikely that you’ll manage to trigger the draw effect, but if enough Chulane shenanigans happen that let you replay this a few times, more power to you.
Charming Prince $1.25
Did I mention we’re going to be playing with a lot of enters-the-battlefield effects? Charming Prince does an incredible job of amplifying those effects with its flicker ability, though obviously the other abilities will come in handy as well. It’s hard to beat this effect for the cost.
Elite Guardmage $0.25
There are plenty of creatures that give you a card draw when they enter, but I think the additional three life sets this one apart. Plus, a 2/3 is much more respectable than some of the other stat lines.
Six power for five mana is solid, and when you factor in the removal and life gain you get, this is a great deal even if you only cast Tolsimir once.
Knight of Autumn $3.49
Flexible cards are the hallmark of strong creature-based value decks in multiplayer formats, and Knight of Autumn delivers like nothing else can. Returning and recasting this with Chulane is going to win games.
Voracious Hydra $2.99
Speaking of flexible cards, here’s another one. Do you need point removal or a game-ending threat? Voracious Hydra is either, and sometimes both.
Brawl is a lot lighter than Commander on effects like Vivien’s static ability, and when you add the power of her -2’s card selection on top of that, she’s an easy addition to this deck.
Portal of Sanctuary $0.25
Sometimes Chulane needs a little help playing the Crystal Shard role, and that’s where Portal of Sanctuary comes in. It’s admittedly a little weaker with its sorcery speed restriction, but it’s very strong in this deck full of creatures that synergize with it.
Conclave Tribunal $0.25
Prison Realm is good, but it’s not enough all by itself. Conclave Tribunal leverages the high creature count of the deck via Convoke.
We’ve still got some room left in the budget, so I’m going to spend it upgrading the mana base a tiny bit. The options for dual lands in the current Standard are extant but expensive, so we’ll be doing a very small change. These two lands come out:
We have so many ETB tapped lands that I want to cut two, and I think the replacements are improvements.
Blast Zone $3.49
Blast Zone works wonders in this format, and if budget allows, I think most decks will want to run a copy. A lot of the destruction effects exclude lands, making this hard to interact with.
Temple Garden $7.99
In three color decks, upgrades to your manabase are a huge part of increasing consistency. Cards like Temple Garden allow you to have consistency without sacrificing speed as long as you’re willing to pay a little life.
That puts us at a total of $24.29 spent, which pretty much finalizes our $25 upgrade. Let’s see where the list is at so far:
Wild Bounty – $25 Upgrade
Commander: Chulane, Teller of Tales
1 Azorius Guildgate 1 Blast Zone 1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 6 Forest (347) 1 Hallowed Fountain 4 Island (335) 5 Plains (331) 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 1 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Thornwood Falls 1 Agent of Treachery 1 Beanstalk Giant/Fertile Footsteps 1 Charming Prince 1 District Guide 1 Elite Guardmage 1 End-Raze Forerunners 1 Forbidding Spirit 1 Frilled Mystic 1 Incubation Druid 1 Keeper of Fables 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Kraul Harpooner 1 Leafkin Druid 1 Maraleaf Pixie 1 Meteor Golem 1 Paradise Druid 1 Risen Reef 1 Spectral Sailor 1 Steelbane Hydra - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Thorn Mammoth - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 1 Voracious Hydra 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Circuitous Route 1 Conclave Tribunal 1 Firemind Vessel 1 Growth Spiral 1 Incubation/Incongruity 1 Portal of Sanctuary 1 Prison Realm 1 Run Away Together 1 Time Wipe 1 Tome of Legends - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Okay, that’s the $25 upgrade – a fantastic start. But how do we take this to the next level?
Out: Kraul Harpooner
In: Spark Double ($2.49)
Kraul Harpooner is fairly low-impact in terms of trading with a flying creature, and we have better ways to handle threats. Spark Double generates a lot more value and allows us to leverage our other threats more efficiently.
Out: Firemind Vessel
In: Chromatic Lantern ($7.49)
Firemind Vessel is pretty slow. In contrast, Chromatic Lantern could allow us to cast a spell that’s stuck in our hand on the same turn we play it. The static effect that lets us use our lands for any color of mana really puts it over the top.
Out: Run Away Together
In: Guardian Project ($3.35)
Portal of Sanctuary does a lot of the work that Run Away Together wants to do and does it better over time, even if it’s sorcery speed only. Guardian Project continues to be an amazing card in singleton formats – just make sure you don’t deck yourself.
Out: Thornwood Falls
In: Fabled Passage ($9.99)
I’m quite happy to cut these non-Gate duals that enters tapped, as they don’t synergize with District Guide or Circuitous Route. Fabled Passage offers a great deal of flexibility and brings the land in untapped in the midgame and on.
In: Castle Garenbrig ($1.99)
I really like Castle Garenbrig in a deck full of creature spells. Given that the mana only goes towards creatures and their abilities, I think this deck does a good job of using the extra mana while working with the restriction on it.
We’re now up to a total spend of $49.60. Here’s what the deck looks like so far:
Wild Bounty – $50 Upgrade
Commander: Chulane, Teller of Tales
1 Azorius Guildgate 1 Blast Zone 1 Castle Garenbrig 1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Fabled Passage 5 Forest (347) 1 Hallowed Fountain 4 Island (335) 5 Plains (331) 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 1 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Agent of Treachery 1 Beanstalk Giant/Fertile Footsteps 1 Charming Prince 1 District Guide 1 Elite Guardmage 1 End-Raze Forerunners 1 Forbidding Spirit 1 Frilled Mystic 1 Incubation Druid 1 Keeper of Fables 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Leafkin Druid 1 Maraleaf Pixie 1 Meteor Golem 1 Paradise Druid 1 Risen Reef 1 Spark Double 1 Spectral Sailor 1 Steelbane Hydra - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Thorn Mammoth - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 1 Voracious Hydra 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Chromatic Lantern 1 Circuitous Route 1 Conclave Tribunal 1 Growth Spiral 1 Guardian Project 1 Incubation/Incongruity 1 Portal of Sanctuary 1 Prison Realm 1 Time Wipe 1 Tome of Legends - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
You could certainly stop there. You could stop anywhere–that’s the beauty of formats like Brawl. If you’re interested, though, you could keep going as follows:
Out: Tome of Legends
In: Finale of Devastation ($14.99)
I’m not convinced Tome of Legends is a great fit in a deck where our Commander costs 5 and doesn’t really plan to wade into combat. Finale of Devastation allows us to search our library or graveyard for the perfect creature. It doesn’t trigger Chulane, but that’s OK – the flexibility is huge. It also provides another Overrun-style effect to end the game.
Out: Keeper of Fables
In: Questing Beast ($17.99)
Keeper of Fables is a slower card draw engine than many of the others we already have, and I think the deck could use a little more raw power. Questing Beast is raw power personified – er, beast-sonified? Just look at all that text! As we get into this higher budget bracket, if our opponents are doing so as well, they’re likely to have more planeswalkers, and Questing Beast is a huge help in dealing with those.
Out: Forbidding Spirit
In: God-Eternal Oketra ($4.99)
Forbidding Spirit is a great way to inconvenience our opponents, but it pales in comparison to the power level of the deck we’ve started to build. Instead of a defensive card that’s easily overcome, I’d rather have an offensive powerhouse like God-Eternal Oketra that allows us to take over the board and isn’t easily dealt with.
In: Realm-Cloaked Giant ($5.25)
This is another case where flexibility takes a back seat to raw power. Incubation//Incongruity doesn’t quite give us the punch we’re looking for, whereas Realm-Cloaked Giant provides another sweeper, which I think this deck needs, as well as a threat we can then bounce with Portal of Sanctuary or Chulane (or even Time Wipe) to threaten yet another Wrath.
Out: Risen Reef
In: Deputy of Detention ($4.99)
Risen Reef does a good job in the lower-power versions of this deck, but without a critical mass of additional Elementals I think it’s past its prime. Deputy of Detention can erase a group of tokens or lock away a problem creature, which becomes more and more important as our playgroup’s power level increases.
That puts our spend at $97.81. Here’s our current list:
Wild Bounty – $100 Upgrade
Commander: Chulane, Teller of Tales
1 Azorius Guildgate 1 Blast Zone 1 Castle Garenbrig 1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Fabled Passage 5 Forest (347) 1 Hallowed Fountain 4 Island (335) 5 Plains (331) 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 1 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Agent of Treachery 1 Beanstalk Giant/Fertile Footsteps 1 Charming Prince 1 Deputy of Detention 1 District Guide 1 Elite Guardmage 1 End-Raze Forerunners 1 Frilled Mystic 1 God-Eternal Oketra 1 Incubation Druid 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Leafkin Druid 1 Maraleaf Pixie 1 Meteor Golem 1 Paradise Druid 1 Questing Beast 1 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off 1 Spark Double 1 Spectral Sailor 1 Steelbane Hydra - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Thorn Mammoth - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 1 Voracious Hydra 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Chromatic Lantern 1 Circuitous Route 1 Conclave Tribunal 1 Finale of Devastation 1 Growth Spiral 1 Guardian Project 1 Portal of Sanctuary 1 Prison Realm 1 Time Wipe 1 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Time for our final upgrade. Let’s see where we can go when we lift the shackles of a budget from this list.
Out: District Guide
In: Hydroid Krasis ($29.99)
I know District Guide puts lands in our hand, but so does drawing a bunch of cards. Enter Hydroid Krasis, who would have blown our budget to bits in any of the previous upgrades.
Out: Growth Spiral
In: Smothering Tithe ($9.99)
Chulane already does what Growth Spiral does, and we have plenty of other creature-based ramp effects. Smothering Tithe either constrains our opponents’ mana or unleashes a bunch of Treasure for us to play with – and honestly, either one is fine.
Out: Spectral Sailor
In: Teferi, Time Raveler ($19.99)
We’re going to have plenty of places to spend mana. I know Spectral Sailor is an instant speed way to trigger Chulane, but at some point that’s not enough power in an individual card. Chulane won’t always be on the battlefield. Teferi keeps opponents from doing too many shenanigans while being an occasional source of extra cards.
Out: Prison Realm
In: Oko, Thief of Crowns ($39.99)
I think we’ve reached the point in this list where Prison Realm has outlived its usefulness. We have plenty of other pieces of removal. Oko gives us some longevity with Food as well as a way to shut down opposing creatures – not even Commanders are safe from the +1!
Out: Evolving Wilds
In: Breeding Pool ($19.99)
Evolving Wilds, your time has come. We need faster fixing, and Breeding Pool is here to replace you.
In: Castle Vantress ($1.39)
I’m very interested in using the Scry 2 to improve the quality of our draws with Chulane’s ability and our many other draw effects.
In: Field of the Dead ($4.99)
I know we’re all a little tired of this land, but Field of the Dead is pretty good in this list. By now we have a total of 16 differently named lands in our deck, so Field of the Dead makes sense – and with Chulane’s ability it shouldn’t be too hard to slam a bunch of Zombies on the battlefield.
Now that we’ve spent a total of $224.14, let’s take a look at what the decklist looks like after we’ve removed budget restrictions:
Wild Bounty – Unlimited Budget
Commander: Chulane, Teller of Tales
1 Azorius Guildgate 1 Blast Zone 1 Breeding Pool 1 Castle Garenbrig 1 Castle Vantress 1 Command Tower 1 Fabled Passage 1 Field of the Dead 5 Forest (347) 1 Hallowed Fountain 3 Island (335) 4 Plains (331) 1 Selesnya Guildgate 1 Simic Guildgate 1 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Agent of Treachery 1 Beanstalk Giant/Fertile Footsteps 1 Charming Prince 1 Deputy of Detention 1 Elite Guardmage 1 End-Raze Forerunners 1 Frilled Mystic 1 God-Eternal Oketra 1 Hydroid Krasis 1 Incubation Druid 1 Knight of Autumn 1 Leafkin Druid 1 Maraleaf Pixie 1 Meteor Golem 1 Paradise Druid 1 Questing Beast 1 Realm-Cloaked Giant/Cast Off 1 Spark Double 1 Steelbane Hydra - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Thorn Mammoth - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 1 Voracious Hydra 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Chromatic Lantern 1 Circuitous Route 1 Conclave Tribunal 1 Finale of Devastation 1 Guardian Project 1 Oko, Thief of Crowns 1 Portal of Sanctuary 1 Smothering Tithe 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Time Wipe 1 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Okay, that’s all for this round! I hope you enjoyed the different budget breakpoints. Let me know in the comments (or on Twitter–I’m @RagingLevine) how you felt about the structure, and I’ll see you next time with an upgrade to another one of the precons!