Are you playing Brawl yet? If not, give it a try! I'm smitten with it. Many Magic players don't have the time or money for keeping up with Standard. That's where Brawl comes in: it provides players who can't make FNM (like me) an affordable and less time-consuming way to play with the Standard card pool.
In case you aren't familiar with Brawl yet, here's a brief rundown of the rules as they compare to Commander rules:
In my last article about the Brawl format we looked at three different strategies for Vraska, Relic Seeker. In today's article, I'd like to look at a completely different character, the Gatewatch's version of Clark Ken: Gideon. Specifically, Gideon, Martial Paragon from Amonkhet.
In this article, we're going to build a deck that's both competitive and fun. We'll also cover some other ideas for Gideon that didn't make the final list, but that you may want to consider if you want to go in a different direction.
Before We Get Started
As of this writing, the Standard format (and therefore, Brawl) includes the following sets: Kaledesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation, Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, and Dominaria.
Let's also take a quick look at Gideon's three abilities. Ideally, we'll cast Gideon early in the game and then protect him, allowing us to use his abilities multiple times. Here they are:
The first thing I notice is the first and third abilities affect every creature you control. We'll get maximum value, then, if we have a lot of creatures on the board. This tells me that Gideon, Martial Paragon wants to command a token deck.
That said, whenever I review a Planeswalker's abilities, it seems wisest to avoid building around the third ability. I don't know about you, but it's not often that I can make a Planeswalker go ultimate. My opponents usually find some way to destroy them long before that happens. During most games, I end up toggling back and forth between a Planeswalker's first and second abilities.
The second ability is typical of a Gideon Planeswalker card. He turns into a big, indestructible soldier. Equip him, clear a path, and swing away. We'll come back to this later.
But Gideon's first ability is really interesting. It's something we can build around. It pumps creatures and it untaps them. Assuming we'll have a token swarm, I see two ways of interacting with this ability:
Nailing Down the Strategy
To sum up, here are the plans for the deck:
Card Draw, Ramp & Mana Rocks
Every deck, regardless of its color, needs a way to draw cards and ramp into extra mana. We're playing Mono-White within the Standard card pool, so our options are limited. Here's the best of what's available.
Many of these cards are among the best in the format, so they'll cost you a premium price. And some of them come with drawbacks -- Sunset Pyramid is a limited resource, Ghirapur Orrery and Howling Golem also help your opponents.
But don't be discouraged. There are numerous artifacts and White cards that give a one-time cantrip effect that could work in this deck. Removal spells like Bright Reprisal and Pressure Point will keep you drawing cards; simple spells like Implement of Improvement or Filigree Familiar, as well as the cycling cards from Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation. If we look hard enough, card draw is available to us, even in Mono-White.
Two other important spells for Gideon that will give you an additional card draw are Vanquisher's Banner and Silent Gravestone. Silent Gravestone is an auto-include in a format with Liliana, Death's Majesty, Muldrotha, the Gravetide, and The Scarab God. (Sentinel Totem is a nice option too.) Vanquisher's Banner is a solid card but you'll need to focus on a tribe in order to get the most value out of it. (I'd probably pick Humans, but solid cases can be made for Vampires, Knights, and even Thopters or Servos, depending upon the type of deck you want to build.)
Gilded Lotus is an amazing card in Commander, and a player-favorite because it's a lotus. However, if one of your goals is to get Gideon out early, then running both Orazca Relic and Hierophant's Chalice may be better options. Play either of them on turn three and Gideon comes out on turn four.
Creatures like Jhoira's Familiar and Foundry Inspector aren't exactly mana ramp or mana rocks, but they're worth considering in the same category. Run them if your deck favors either historic spells (artifacts, legendary spells, and sagas) or just artifacts.
Now we get to the fun part! Building our token army for Gideon to command. There are many options available to us in the current Brawl card pool. Here are some of my favorite options:
Legion's Landing // Adanto, the First Fort; Cogworker's Puzzleknot; Crested Sunmare; History of Benalia; Memorial to Glory; Queen's Commission; Angel of Invention; Anointer Priest; Anointed Procession; Call the Cavalry; Cradle of the Accursed; Oketra the True; Oketra's Monument; Sacred Cat; Sram's Expertise; Steward of Solidarity; Whirlermaker
Master Trinketeer and Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle are both solid token makers too. But in order to get the most value out of them you'll need to commit to the tribes of Servos and Thopters, or Vampires. I've left them out of the final list below, but I could see going in either direction if you wanted to.
I love casting Planeswalker spells. It's one of my favorite things to do in a game of Magic. But casting a Planeswalker is like pinning a target to your back. People just don't like to see them on the board. Whenever my opponent controls one I feel like it's just sitting over there, accruing mad value.
Players get so focused on Planeswalkers that I've even seen crappy Planeswalkers like Jace, Architect of Thought or Dovin Baan get taken down pretty quickly. I'm guilty of this too. I once countered my friend's Jace, Architect of Thought during a multiplayer EDH game and then thought, "Why did I waste my counter? What could he have possibly done with that?" Planeswalkers just get inside people's heads.
With this in mind, we need to form a plan to protect Gideon. I've looked for spells or artifacts that can deflect attacks, or creatures that have flying, reach, hexproof, protection, or vigilance. Here are some of the better options at our disposal:
Aerial Responder; Aethersphere Harvester; Angel of Condemnation; Consulate Skygate; Baird, Steward of Argive; Dusk Legion Dreadnought; Edifice of Authority; Icy Manipulator; Kinjali's Sunwing; Knight of Grace; Mirage Mirror; Serra Angel; Weatherlight.
A lot of great creatures are not in the list above, like Seraph of the Suns and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. Both of these creatures have high converted mana costs. Running one or two them in your deck is fine, but when it comes to protecting a Planeswalker I favor small-ish creatures that I can get on the board quickly.
Spot Removal and Board Wipes
In a multiplayer format, it makes sense to run at least one or two board wipes. I would choose Dusk // Dawn, Fumigate, or Urza's Ruinous Blast. It seems to me that Dusk // Dawn will give you the most value in a Mono-White deck.
I can also see choosing Wakening Sun's Avatar just because it's fun to swing with a big dinosaur. The converted mana cost is just a little high on that one. It's a judgment call.
I would not choose Hour of Revelation because it will destroy any sagas or artifacts you may have in play. Cards like Oketra's Monument and Legion's Landing are so good in this deck I would hate to lose one to my own board wipe.
Along the same lines, Consulate Crackdown is a card to consider. It takes care of your opponents' Gilded Lotuses, their monuments to the Amonkhet gods, their Sky Skiffs and of course, the Weatherlight.
As far as spot removal goes, we have some good options at our disposal:
I would also put Angel of Condemnation in the spot removal category. Because of Gideon's first ability you can use the angel in your first main phase, untap her with Gideon, then attack (with vigilance), and then use the angel again during the second main phase. That's #synergy.
Here's the final deck list:
Gideon, Martial Paragon -- Brawl?Andy Rogers
- Commander (1)
- 1 Gideon, Martial Paragon
- Creatures (16)
- 1 Adorned Pouncer
- 1 Angel of Condemnation
- 1 Anointer Priest
- 1 Baird, Steward of Argive
- 1 Benalish Marshal
- 1 Bishop of Rebirth
- 1 Consulate Skygate
- 1 Crested Sunmare
- 1 Devoted Crop-Mate
- 1 Emissary of Sunrise
- 1 Fan Bearer
- 1 Sacred Cat
- 1 Skyblade of the Legion
- 1 Steadfast Sentinel
- 1 Steward of Solidarity
- 1 Vizier of the True
- Enchantments (5)
- 1 Anointed Procession
- 1 Consulate Crackdown
- 1 Legion's Landing
- 1 Revoke Privileges
- 1 Thopter Arrest
- Artifacts (8)
- 1 Aethersphere Harvester
- 1 Hierophant's Chalice
- 1 Oketra's Monument
- 1 Orazca Relic
- 1 Silent Gravestone
- 1 Sky Skiff
- 1 Strider Harness
- 1 Sunset Pyramid
Earlier in the article, I mentioned that Gideon's second ability could be an alternate win condition. This is why I've included Strider Harness in this list. If it's late in the game and your opponents manage to knock out Gideon and whittle down your army, you can always re-cast him and swing away. I picked Strider Harness over some of the other more powerful equipment cards because it gives haste to the equipped creature. If it still seems too weak, you can easily swap in Blackblade Reforged, Forebear's Blade, or something else.
Some players may even opt for a Voltron strategy, making Gideon as an attacking creature their primary win condition. If you go this route, consider including more equipment and aura cards, along with Danitha Capashen, Paragon and Sram, Senior Edificer. Another strong strategy to keep in mind.)
Have you played Brawl with or against Gideon, Martial Paragon? How did it go?
What do you think of this decklist and the strategy outlined in the article? What cards or interactions did I miss?
Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @Steamfloggery.
May all your token swarms be mighty and may all of your Brawls be fun!