Thursday, July 16, 2020

Making Magic in the Arena - Brawlin' with Bolas

Especially after that last MTG Arena stream with the Esper/Sultai Control decks, I've found myself growing somewhat disinterested in the current standard environment. For that reason, it was important to give something else a try in order to keep me going.

That's when I remembered that time I played Brawl using Nethroi as my Commander. Those matches were some of the best I've had in Arena for a good long while, and maybe continuing down that path would rekindle the spark I have for the game.

Naturally, when picking a Commander, the first one that comes to mind is good ol' Tricky Nicky. After doing a bit of research into Brawl deckbuilding, I found a good-looking decklist that I wanted to try out. The only change I had was replacing the Rakdos Guildgate with a Temple of Malice.

Let the games begins!

The fact that Brawl is a singleton format actually serves to our advantage here, because Grixis is filled to the brim with tons of great cards that serve as standalone win conditions if we can get them to stick on the board.

While we technically aren't a Superfriends deck, once we get to the mid/late point in the game we have access to so many powerful Planeswalkers that it can certainly seem like it. Many of them are their own can easily turn the tide, and overwhelm our adversary of they can't adequately answer them. Since our commander is also a Planeswalker, we get a lot of strong fixing and incidental lifegain from Interplanar Beacon. In a pinch, we can also sacrifice them to The Elderspell to activate a game-winning ultimate.

And for the same reason it was banned in Standard, Fires of Invention is a phenomenal card for us, since we're in the colors to run it. While we still have to pay our commander tax with it in play, we can ignore the rest of Nicol Bolas's cost, which allows use to get way more use out of him than we otherwise would. Even aside from that, the mana advantage exceeds the penalty of not being able to cast spells on our opponent's turn.

Aside from that, our biggest strength is our extremely powerful suit of removal spells, board clear, and a light dusting of theft to kill of steal whatever our opponent might have up their sleeve. We're light on enchantment removal, with Ugin, the Ineffable being our only option, but that's just the price of playing Grixis.

Seeing the variety of decks on display, even using the same commander, is extremely refreshing, reminding me why I've grown so fond of Commander as a format. I guess what I mean to say is...

...put Commander in Arena you cowards.

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