Thursday, September 12, 2019

Making Magic in the Arena - Eldraine Courtside Brawl

I had a deck planned to run for this latest Magic the Gathering: Arena, but on the day of recording there was an announcement that caused me to amend my plans. Although the next set, Throne of Eldraine, won't be released for another few weeks, the new Brawl Pre-constructed decks, and the Brawl format itself, would be playable in Arena as part of a special event.

And so, I decided to give these decks and format a try. Out of the 4 possible deck lists available for this event, I gave two of them a shot: The Wild Bounty deck helmed by Chulane, Teller of Tales and the Savage Hunter deck with Korvold, Fae-Cursed King leading it.

Before I get into my thoughts, I should explain the Brawl format, and how it differs from Commander. Here are the rules:
  • The format utilizes the same pool as the Standard rotation. Only cards that are Standard legal may be used in a Brawl deck, distinguishing it from non-rotating formats.
  • One Legendary Creature OR Planeswalker is chosen to helm the deck, that exists in the Commander Zone as it would in an EDH game. Standard Commander tax applies in the same way as EDH players are used to.
  • The normal color identity rules apply when building a deck, just as they would in Commander. However, instead of a 100-card singleton deck, it is only 60-cards (but still singleton).
  • Players start with 25 life, and there is no concept of Commander damage, but aside from that it's all the same.
For me, this will serve as an adequate substitute for Commander while playing on Arena specifically, but it also makes me sad that the Arena UI can't reasonably support 3 or 4-player games. I am aware that Brawl is supposed to be a 1v1 format, but what I enjoy most about formats like this are playing with groups of people. In it's current state, Arena can't be expected to support that.

As far as the pre-con decks themselves are concerned, I think they show off a lot of the potential that their commanders possess, but they're still pre-cons, much like Commander pre-cons. They play well against each other, but they're lacking in ways that I started to feel while I was playing the decks.

There's also the problem I was on both the giving and receiving end of where because these particular decks are so heavily reliant on their commanders, if they die then the decks are largely dead in the water. While removal is limited, there's enough of it where a few lucky draws and easily hose an opponent, and there wasn't enough adequate board clear to catch up when they pulled too far ahead.

Still, the new cards from Eldraine were a treat to play, and make me even more excited to get my hands on this set. Further, I am looking forward to building my own Brawl brews. Even if the format probably won't see much play outside of Arena, it does have its appeal.

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