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Ready to Brawl? Part 2—Guilds of Ravnica

Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome back to our second serving of Brawl decks that I brewed with an eye to playing Brawl on Arena in 1v1. I'm flattered by how well-received my first entry in this series was, and I'm pleased to inform you that we'll be releasing another article each day this week.

In today’s installment, we’ll be covering the five guilds featured in Guilds of Ravnica, namely Dimir, Selesnya, Izzet, Golgari, and Boros. While the decks have the colour identities of the guilds, building around each guild as a theme was not explicitly what I set out to do. But with many cards in these decks coming from Guilds of Ravnica, things tended towards that direction. Let’s hop in!


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Theme(s): Self-Mill, Combo, Creatures

We start off strong today with another deck I built early on. Several days after the Courtside Brawl event on Arena, I saw a Standard 2020 decklist posted to Reddit that used Syr Konrad, the Grim to deal a huge amount of damage in a single turn. We utilize Doom Whisperer’s mana-free surveil ability with Enhanced Surveillance to speed the process up and shuffle our graveyard into our library, which doubles up any triggers we’ve gotten. This list takes this idea to the extreme, as fully half of our deck is creatures to surveil over. A less all-in build could also be strong, favouring a more controlling shell, but having creatures with spell-like effects such as Foulmire Knight, Murderous Rider, and Massacre Girl means the deck is not without utility.

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Theme(s): (Self-)Mill, Control, Exile

Note: The commander in this deck has been updated since the article was originally published.

Although I came back to Magic shortly after Theros block rotated, one of my absolute favourite planeswalkers has been Ashiok, for many aspects of their design. From Cube to janky exile tribal in Modern, and now through Ashiok, Dream Render in Standard, I always enjoy the opportunity to have decks with this character. Unfortunately, some of the more fun Dimir stuff like Mnemonic Betrayal and the recent Drown in the Loch, while perfectly within our colours and generally being supported by mill, are complete nonbos with Ashiok’s downtick. I decided to prioritize Ashiok’s ability. Although Ashiok’s passive does not prevent our opponent from tutoring with Scheming Symmetry, we have many ways to mill their tutored card before they draw it.

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Theme(s): Artifacts, Artifact Recursion Loops

As one of several artifact-themed decks I’ll be sharing throughout these articles, this particular variation was made primarily because I was intrigued by using Emry, Lurker of the Loch to recur Retributive Wand over and over. Unfortunately, mono-blue has no sac outlet for artifacts I could find, but black does in Malevolent Noble, which made Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge an easy home. Each loop costs five mana and requires Emry to be untapped, but the damage quickly adds up. We get to play with a pair of powerful black artifacts in Bolas’s Citadel as well as Wishclaw Talisman, the latter of which can be sacced with the trigger on the stack or shut down for our opponent altogether with Karn, the Great Creator.

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Theme(s): Voltron, Alt-Win Con

Ending Dimir with something a little more off-beat, it surprised me that the deck was here to be made in Brawl, but Etrata, the Silencer is a go. She hasn’t really worked in Standard as she’s very slow, but while brainstorming any possible decks for her, I found the perfect new card: Crashing Drawbridge. With a haste enabler, in this colour identity of all things, Etrata becomes much more viable. While we can also make the deck more consistent by choosing to put Etrata in the command zone after her trigger resolves, we can also avoid increasing the commander tax by shuffling her in and using our tutors to find her quickly or by returning her to our hand / the battlefield during her trigger with cards Teferi’s Time Twist and Portal of Sanctuary. I’d hoped that there was an easy method in the format to give our opponent creatures to better support Etrata, but the only one—Clackbridge Troll—creates tokens, which won’t work. If you really like jank, animating Wishclaw Talisman with Karn, the Great Creator, activating the Talisman, and then exiling it with Etrata is... a futile dream to chase. It won’t count for your opponent’s total number of creatures with hit counters; it’s even worse in the mirror though, as it will count for your total!


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Theme(s): Go-Wide, Tokens

Nothing embodies Selesnya more than making a lot of bodies… to Em… mara Tandris? Thankfully, we don’t have a seven-mana dead weight to contend with but the much more efficient two-mana Emmara, Soul of the Accord. I think Ironroot Warlord is normally a better card than Ledev Champion, but the champion’s ability to tap Emmara to both avoid her entering combat and help him survive, as well as making slightly better tokens thanks to the lifelink, led me to favouring him for that slot. At five mana to activate their abilities each, I don’t believe we need both.


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Theme(s): Card Draw, Faeries

While you might rightly expect Alela, Artful Provocateur to be the home of my Faerie Tribal deck, I didn’t find a build that explicitly said Faerie Tribal to me that I liked. On the other hand, thanks to Improbable Alliance, Niv-Mizzet, Parun’s built-in card draw swoops in to save the day. Playing Faeries, drawing cards on your turn, and drawing cards on their turn make this the second coming of The Locust God! Hypothesizzle might be my favourite include in the deck, not least because it is always fun to say. It is objectively worse in almost every way to Ral’s Outburst yet is better exactly here.

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Theme(s): Spell Doubling, Spellslinger, Planeswalkers

Our first entry in the proud tradition of Spellslinger decks, a personal favourite archetype of mine, we have spell doubling, led by none other than Ral, Storm Conduit. This is interesting as I feel Ral, Izzet Viceroy is probably the more complete card, so switch them around as you please. Thousand-Year Storm is overdue for an appearance in these articles and is the manifestation of my general approach to and love of Commander and, by association, Brawl: flashy Battlecruiser Magic. The enchantment has enough power that it is a worthy include even in 1v1. We also have the red core of the planeswalker build from the mono-red deck, with new additions such as The Royal Scions to filter our draws as well as Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, who enables our otherwise creature-light deck to have a board presence.


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Theme(s): Graveyard Recursion

This is the second instance of a guild having only a single deck today. I admit to not being inspired by the options for commanders in Golgari. Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is obviously a house—but he’s tracking down other prey right now. In lieu of not having decks with the other available commanders, they are all here instead. Storrev, Devkarin Lich has disappointed me in Standard and even Draft, but I believe the card has promise and think it might take a more forgiving format like Brawl to allow her to shine. Deathless Knight is a perfect fit with Vraska, Golgari Queen as you can sac the knight with Vraska and immediately get it back to your hand. Also, I am personally running the closed-beta reward Mythic Edition Vraska for this deck as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria has rotated and Ral, Izzet Viceroy is not leading a deck.


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Theme(s): Midrange, Angels

I was honestly surprised at myself that I wanted to build three Boros decks for Brawl, given it has historically struggled as a combination in Commander. Wizards have done good work recently by giving red tools, many of which were introduced through Standard, so hopefully, white will get more help in the near future. In Arena Singleton events, the first deck I made during the open beta free-entry launch event, the deck I played the most in Singleton events that year, and the deck I had a 66% win rate with in over 70+ games was Boros Midrange. The combination of quick starts provided by cards like Legion Warboss and Tajic, Legion’s Edge alongside the raw power of late-game threats like God-Eternal Oketra and Chandra, Awakened Inferno covers a lot of bases and proved very successful. The price: the deck is heavy on rares and mythics. But don’t worry. This time last year, the original Singleton deck started with my post-wipe collection and has made it here. Today.

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Theme(s): Aggro

Going lower to the ground takes advantage of the fact that the Brawl format on Arena is best-of-one, one-vs.-one. Your adversaries are learning and exploring the format, and so Boros Aggro is closer in shape to how the above deck started. The starts get even faster, with Swiftblade Vindicator—a cut from Heaven Sent but back in full force here—into a guaranteed Tajic, Legion’s Edge for his Mentor trigger being tough to stabilize against. The pressure this deck applies is relentless, so the card you most want to have access to in order to mitigate any disasters is Unbreakable Formation. If you want the option of a fun deck that leads to quick games, take this and run them all down.

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Theme(s): Combat Tricks, Aggro

Last up today is the sensation for Boros in Commander: Feather, the Redeemed. Coming from a very different angle of card advantage, this deck feels unique among its peers. The two best spells for the deck, Gods Willing and Defiant Strike, did not rotate, and there are sufficient options to piece together a functioning deck thanks to the new adventure cards. Faerie Guidemother, as an example, can be cast as its adventure (Gift of the Fae) and then chosen to go into exile by Feather, thereby allowing you to get additional deck slots for spells without costing you creatures. The Guidemother is also a fine place to put repeated +1/+1 counters from Gird for Battle. Joust is a welcome addition as you can leverage more damage than a burn spell for repeatable removal, while Bond of Passion is demoralizing. Target Feather with the damage, and you’ll get to steal a blocker to attack with every turn.


I hope you are starting to discover decks you’d like to play as the colours and complexity of the options grow because things will have really started cooking when we get to five-colour. Next time: the guilds featured in Ravnica Allegiance to round out the two-colour pairs.

Until I see you again,

Erengard (@Erengard_PG on Twitter)

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