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Gwyn for the Win


Hello folks! I hope your day is going well.

Today I want to talk about my favorite Brawl Commander, and how I'd fix some issues I see in the Brawl deck in Commander.

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

I played with the decks on Arena for about 10 hours total over a week after they were released.

After playing with the Brawl decks consistently, I found hers to have the best potential but a weaker build. I mean, I never lost to Chulane, Teller of Tales while I was playing her, as those players were often more concerned with tricks and cards. I don't care that you drew three cards, if I managed to smash you with Knights for 8 damage. I'd win with one or two cards in hand versus their full grip, but it wouldn't matter, because I won.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Alela, Artful Provocateur

I'd win strongly against Korvold, Fae-Cursed King as Knights and Weapons that reward you for swinging with cards seem to really do a lot better than sacrifices for cards. The only issue was with the Esper decks as they could fly over most of my Knights and their leader could come down a full two turns earlier. The free 2/1 flyers she could easily get were rough asks, and she could out aggro-my aggro deck. It was really rough if she dropped Arcane Signet to ramp her out. Every game my foe had a third turn Alela, it was game over.

Chulane, Teller of Tales

Now, to be fair to Chulane, I took it to an 6-0 victory in my first bout with it. When I ran it, I emphasized defense first and tricks second, and was able to slow down the others and win. Three mana and self-tapping your leader, and then recasting on your turn for cards is a lot of mana. Instead I'd keep shields up and self-bounce at the end of the turn and then recast it. I might only get an extra card here and there, but remaining a defensive posture is how you win with a deck like this.

Mace of the Valiant

Syr Gwyn had such potential, but the deck with her was swingy. And not in an "attack in the red zone" swingy (which you want), but you just never knew what you were going to get. You had equipment (Mace of the Valiant) that only worked if you wasted a turn early to cast it instead of doing more valuable things, you had Knights that had reduced value in Brawl, and you also needed certain cards to be pertinent. For example, in the mirror match, it was very simple. Did you draw Arcane Signet? Yes? Did your foe? No? Okay, you win. Unlike Chulane or Alela, Artful Provocateur whose decks could do things without needing their leader, you didn't have that luxury.

Colossus Hammer

Here's a good example of what I mean. This is Colossus Hammer. Great! You can see the synergy with Syr Gwyn, right? You can get a huge bonus to your dorks for no mana required!

But here's the root of the issue. First, Syr Gwyn costs six mana. The Arcane Signet is the only mana accelerant in your entire build. Unless you have it in your initial grip, you won't be able to pump a Knight and swing with it until turn six. That means this comes down earlier, and thus is telegraphed. Your foe can answer by killing your leader or the dork. And by then, they may have enough answers that the Hammer isn't helping, or doing anything else.

Sure, Colossus Hammer has value, but you need to have Gwyn out earlier for that value to matter. Especially when the "aggro" deckhas the most expensive leader.

There were times when good value was substituted for flavor. Let me show you two pieces of equipment in the deck:

Shining Armor
Steelclaw Lance

Every Knight needs a good set of armor to keep them alive. Totally get it! And every Knight needs a Lance to win from horseback with - totally get it! I'm surprised that the Lance doesn't give first strike, but whatever.

Now the Shining Armor is flavorful. You can cast it anytime for two mana as a combat trick and maybe save a Knight! You could also swing with an Armored Knight for a card with Chulane. What not to love? It's not a bad card per se, it'll just often sit in your hand and won't do anything. And it's equip price is pricey unless you have Chulane out. You want your Knights to punch harder, not be saved. Which is why Steelclaw Lance was better. It was never a bad draw. You always enjoyed dropping nearly and leaning on it. You could cast and equip it on the third turn and swing for a +2/+2 Knight you dropped earlier. It also pumps your defense just as much as the Armor.

Accorder's Shield
Argentum Armor
Magebane Armor
Brawler's Plate

The Accorder's Shield is free to play, and gives you a better toughness boost. See how much better it is that a full set of Armor? I find that odd. We also have armor that will boost your attack, as you can see with a sampling of Armor there.

I want equipment that's in flavor and helps the team better than that.

My goal for today's deck is to do three things

  1. Make a deck themed around Knights and their Equipment.
  2. Ensure that everything included meets the flavor of our Commander and the idea of "Knights Protecting the Realm." If a card would be amazing for this deck mechanically, but it's not a flavor star, it won't be here (such as Skullclamp. Knights aren't turning their own over to Skullclamps for cards. Sure, it'd be a big hit mechanically for a deck that is always swinging to draw cards and enjoys equipment.) This will even be true for my lands. They'll places for Knights to hang out (Command Tower) or to quest to (Ancient Tomb).
  3. Run instants that work in the deck.

That last one may surprise you! But when you play this in Brawl 20 times or so, you learn something valuable. It needs things to do on others' turns. Why?

Because your equip costs all are nothing zero. You can equip for no mana, and then swing and punch and draw some cards (and lose a little life too, by the by). Once you've done that and drawn cards, you certainly can drop more dorks or things for them to take to battle. You may choose to do so. But what's awesome is to sit back and use the cards you drew to protect and defend at the multiplayer table.

Murderous Rider

Murderous Rider is perfect and a great example of where I'm looking. If you drew it off an attack trigger (or something else) you can cast it any time you need to destroy a creature or planeswalker. You can still drop it later and should you need it as a dork now, you certainly can drop it and equip it for free post-Gwyn.

Murderous Rider is also weird. It doesn't feel like a heroic Knight like those in the world of Eldraine that you are finding elsewhere, even in Black like Oathsworn Knight or Syr Konrad, the Grim. Having this in the set will help to inform where I feel I can go with my deck when considering flavor.

Great, now where do I want to head to the deck?

Midnight Reaper

Who wants to draw more cards? We do! As your stuff inevitably dies, and it will, you can replace it with cards which is very valuable here! Midnight Reaper also fits in with our Zombie Knight above too, by the by.

Now where?

Order of Midnight
Embereth Shieldbreaker

Having Knights that count as Knights and do other things is great. I named Order of Midnight in the honorable mention section of my Top Ten Cards in Throne of Eldraine because of how great it plays. We don't have a lot of flying Knights, so it adds a fun ability to swing over others. The ability to grab a dead dork and put it back into your hand is strong in a deck that swings and dies like this one. Meanwhile, Battle Display into Embereth Shieldbreaker is also very good. You'll never regret it!

Blacklance Paragon
Worthy Knight

In addition to the expected Knight Lords you'll find in the decklist below, I wanted to highlight these, as I really enjoy what they add. The first gives you a strong flash combat trick that can really add a lot. Given how many of these folks have first strike, I cannot wait to flash out Blacklance Paragon after someone has blocked a first striker they can survive and kill, and then you give it deathtouch and it kills the foe first! Meanwhile you are churning out tokens each time you cast a Knight with the Worthy Knight out on the battlefield. Both are cheap and fun!

Syr Alin, the Lion's Claw
Hero of Bladehold

In a deck that wants to swing as much as you do, Syr Alin, the Lion's Claw is brilliant. It's already an on-curve 4/4 first striker that's likely to survive combat. And when you invest it with creature pumpage when it swings, it'll help the group a ton. Similarly, the Hero of Bladehold swings and pumps the front end of the team. She also produces two attacking dorks that will really help out. Now they aren't Knights, they are instead Soldiers. But the feel of Magic has always been about Knights leading Soldiers into battle, and thus I don't feel like their lack of Knight-age is that much of an issue.

Sigiled Sword of Valeron

I am tossing in Sigiled Sword of Valeron. It does make Knights when the equipped dork swings, and that Knight is attacking right now. Both the equipped dork and the token have vigilance, so you can hold back any attackers that may otherwise seek an empty board. The Sigiled Sword can make a Knight, so you can turn a Soldier into a Knight with it, and then draw a card with Syr Gwyn when you do!

Aryel, Knight of Windgrace

Speaking of Knight tokens, Aryel can give the deck some reach as she creates Knights and acts as removal. Hold her back until the end of a foe's turn, and then make a dork and untap and take your turn per usual or tap your team to kill something. Either way, she's incredibly powerful here!

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Sorin, Grim Nemesis

While still on the subject of Knight tokens, everyone knows that that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can make a 2/2 Knight token turn after turn. You can also make an Emblem that permanently pumps your dorks. But did you know that Sorin, Grim Nemesis can also make Knight tokens? His +1 is very strong card drawing, his middle ability can be useful removal, and his ultimate can make a game-winning amount of tokens.

Heirloom Blade
Conqueror's Flail

I also have some fun equipment in here too that's perfectly on theme. Your Knight inherited the Heirloom Blade which gives them a nice boost for a cheap equip cost. Then when it dies, you can grab the top Knight in your library, and then put it into your hand to keep the pressure going. The Conqueror's Flail is awesome, especially on your leader! It's really here to make sure that your foes play nice and don't mess with your stuff on your turn.

Bloodsworn Steward

Hello Bloodsworn Steward! Our Commander doesn't have haste, so this will let Syr Gywn smash for 7/7 haste, vigilance, and menace on arrival. And you can equip her for free before she swings, so you can draw a card. That's a whole lot of damage. While this is not conceived as a Voltron build, there are certainly a few cards here and there that can get you there, like this. Plus, this is a 4/4 flying Knight on curve for 4 mana. It's great to add more flying to our build.

Bloodforged Battle-Axe

I don't know if you ever played with Syr Gwyn in Brawl. But if you have then you'll know that you have a ton more Knights than pieces of Equipment. You must. But that means you will often be swinging at someone's face with Knights that aren't drawing you cards since they aren't equipped. That's where Bloodforged Battle-Axe comes in, as it's one of the best pieces of equipment for Syr Gwyn, period. You drop it early, use it here and there if you can. Drop the Hero of Ashvale to the table.

Each time you connect with this, you get another, and then that token can also get more and more. You can easily equip the team with her free equip ability, and you can swing with many of these Knights and in a turn or two you've drawn 20 cards and killed everyone at the table. Don't forget this card!

Path of Bravery
Knights' Charge

This is a deck that swings to lose life and gain cards on your equipped dorks. That means your life total is slowly ticking down and down and down. Knights' Charge is here to drain life from each foe when you swing, and then has the cool sacrifice ability late game. Path of Bravery is not here for the first ability, although if you get it, that's useful. It's here for the latter. Gaining life equal to your attacks is a great break on the weakness of Syr Gwyn. In this deck, life can mean cards, so life matters.

Everflowing Chalice

Can you see why a "Chalice" (cough grail cough) is here? I hope so!


Embercleave loves Syr Gwyn! You are swinging with stuff and that makes this a cheaper cast. Go for the unblocked one to give it trample and doubles strike or go for the 3/3 one that was chump blocked by a 1/1 and now you are dealing 7 rollover damage to your foe's face. It's great, and it's easy to cast when you are swinging. Note that if you wish, you can cast this the turn after you drop Syr Gwyn and then just swing with her (you get the free equip on arrival), draw a card, and be prepared to deal 12 damage with your Commander.

Stoneforge Mystic
Stonehewer Giant
Godo, Bandit Warlord

Now here's a valuable question. Do these three belong in this build? All three have a mechanical fidelity to the deck. They all add to your ability to search for key pieces of equipment. Whatever you need most, they are there to provide. Let's do this in reverse order:

No, he's a Bandit Barbarian

Yes, he's a Warrior that can hang with the Knights

Yes, she's an Artificer that makes their stuff for them

All right! I toss in some mass removal like Rout that can be played as an instant, and a few obvious cards, and call it a deck.

Want to see it?

Gwyn for the Win | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there we are! What do you think of my deck or it's build? Anything missing? Anything you like? Just let me know and have an awesome day!

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