One of the keys to the new format is figuring out best how turn 4 will play out. This has been the fundamental turn for many Standard formats, in line with when cards like Wrath of God would be castable, ramp would be casting a 6-drop, or the few Standard-legal combo decks would have a reasonable chance of going off. With Siege Rhino being large and in charge as well as Elvish Mystic leaving, it may once again be the key turn this time.
Other than Siege Rhino, the new Gideon looks to be one of the most powerful turn-4 players in the format and perhaps we’ll even see the return of cards such as Sidisi. Control players have Languish, and tempo decks still have Ojutai’s Command. Not exactly a strong way to take control of the board if you needed it, but a decent way to stay ahead or produce a reasonable mana swing.
Brutal Expulsion solves that issue for the Jeskai deck by simply removing multiple problems with one card. This wouldn’t be too big of a jump in power except that this also doubles as a Remand-esque counterspell when ahead, or against control.
If you want to boil down Brutal Expulsion, it can be summed up as a Venser, Shaper Savant with the 2/2 replaced by an upgraded Magma Spray. Jilt is another comparison if you need more context for the card.
While I’ve seen comments alluding to how the burn portion should’ve obviously been a Lightning Bolt, it’s worth noting that as a Spray it still does a fine job of handling Den Protector, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Hangarback Walker while teaming up well with Mantis Rider to handle the multitude of planeswalkers that can jump straight to 5 loyalty. The majority of ‘walkers in the format will outright die to the card if they use their negative loyalty abilities. Exile is looking to be more important than ever.
The sizzle on the card comes from the bounce effect though. At worst it means you can clean a board out at instant-speed by Unsummoning and casting Magma Spray on a creature. Passable, but certainly not something to get excited over. No, the exciting part is being able to have a Jace or Mantis Rider in play and casually expel a Siege Rhino on the stack while taking out a morph or Hangarback. That is a huge tempo swing and while you aren’t always going to net a 2-for-1, the threat of it can be just as debilitating to the opponent’s development.
The best part compared to Ojutai’s Command is how it plays with Jace when you aren’t winning on board. You can clear things out and then threaten to do it again without running a dedicated sweeper in your deck. Much like the Charms, the versatility and number of options Brutal Expulsion allows you is why this card could be a major player. My biggest issue with something like Ojutai’s Command was that it couldn’t affect the board for such an expensive card, and Expulsion can.
This list may ultimately be too heavy on the 4-drops, but I’m big on running Jace and Gideon together in a Jeskai shell. Having a sweeper which clears out Thopter tokens while leaving your own Mantis Rider or Hangarback Walker alive is also of interest. Jace and Brutal Expulsion along with Dig can give you some real staying power.
While there’s a chance this will see play in Modern, I think we’re one mana off from this being the new Kolaghan’s Command card for Grixis and Jeskai. It does have some fringe benefits such as being able to kill Etched Champion or stopping Abrupt Decay for a turn while having enough flexibility to not be embarrassing. Still if the mana can support it I can’t think of too many times you wouldn’t rather have Cryptic Command instead. Perhaps a Jace deck wants one since being flashed back is quite good (which is why I really like it for Standard), but it feels like a fair Command and one that wasn’t pushed enough to break into Modern.
The Modern evaluations for Khans block were comically wrong from the majority of observers though, so who really knows? All I know is that this seems like a very solid Standard card in a format that could potentially swing between all-in aggression and slow Eldrazi horrors.