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Brawl is a new format, freshly released by Wizards of Coast, that wants to merge the most “for fun” format, Commander, with the most competitive, Standard.
I love this idea, and despite the fact that I’ve never played a game of Commander in my life, I’m attracted to Brawl.
A competitive player who wants to qualify for the Pro Tour usually owns a bunch of Standard cards to play in PPTQs and GPs. Getting to also play some “for fun” formats without having to purchase Doubling Seasons or Mana Crypt is very cool!
Commander has a big entry barrier. It’s not as prohibitive as Legacy, but it’s similar—dual lands are expensive and you can’t get too creative in deck building without spending a bunch of money.
Brawl doesn’t require you to do that if you are a Standard player—you’ll already own the most expensive cards because you need them for your Standard decks.
I’ve read some negative comments on the format, that this is no more than a money grab from Wizards of the Coast.
Imagine you love a restaurant—let’s call it “Pizza Italia”—and you go there every other night. You see there’s a new offer. It says, “pineapple pizza—all you can eat for $10!”
What do you think?
I hate pineapple on pizza and now my favorite restaurant is promoting it! I hate all of this—I’m quitting this restaurant!
Or, you think: Wow, I really hate pineapple on pizza. I guess I won’t eat it, but I will keep on eating my pepperoni pizza and loving it as I’ve always loved it.
What’s wrong with Wizards creating new formats that incentivize selling packs? Shouldn’t every player want Magic to keep making a profit so that Magic cards will keep being printed and remain a game? Brawl isn’t going to the PPTQ level, so if you don’t like it, just don’t play it, and keep on playing Commander like you always have. Nothing has changed. Pepperoni pizza is still on the menu at the same price.
Now let’s dive into the format, starting with my favorite Standard card as a Commander: The Scarab God
Commander: The Scarab God
The Scarab God is one of the best cards in Standard. It’s hard to answer and it can easily take over the game. Having it as a Commander is great, because if your opponent kills it with Walk the Plank, then you can just return it to your hand at the end of the turn, and pay 5 the following turn. If they exile it with a Cast Out, than you can put it in the command zone and pay 7 to replay it.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, while being the best card in Standard, isn’t as good here, where it can only produce energy by itself and with a few other cards, but it’s still quite good for a lower power format.
U/B Midrange is one of my favorite decks in Standard, and if you love it too, then this is the deck for you!,
The second one that came into my mind as soon as I read the rules of the new format is Mono-Red.
I had to choose one of them for my commander, and I went for the latter, since I figured it might be harder to empty your hand in a format with fewer good cheap cards, especially since you are playing Hazoret the Fervent from the command zone—you even have one more card in your hand than you do in Standard.
On the other hand, there are fewer removal spells that exile, so Hazoret the Fervent might just be game over more often.
Still, I decided to settle for one of the best planeswalkers of all time: Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Commander: Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra, Torch of Defiance’s ultimate is one of the best in Standard, and rushing her to 7 loyalty isn’t hard when you play so many early creatures and removal spells. That’s why I think she’ll be the best commander for Mono-Red.
Someone suggested Kari Zev, Skyship Raider as a commander, since it guarantees that you always have the best 2-drop and you can fill your deck with better cards than Nef-Crop Entangler or Fathom Fleet Firebrand. If life totals started at 20, I could see that being the case, but since the starting life is 30, I don’t think an aggressive curve will do 30 damage without some broken cards at the top end, and your opponent will have time to recover. Having Chandra as your Commander always means that you have the best turn-4 play possible, and if you start with a mediocre turn 2 and turn 3, it’ll be still be a solid start for a slower format like Brawl.
If you have sweet ideas on these decks or on your own, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments!