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Fixing Your Brawl Deck by Adding 40 Cards


I really wish Brawl was a good format.

When it first came out I was gung ho. I built a couple of decks and was excited to play some games! Pax East came out soon after and Stybs and I each brought a couple of decks to battle with everyone else and their Brawl decks. While we did play some games, it was only with other people who borrowed our decks. Everyone enjoyed the games, but Brawl offered nothing that Commander didn't already have. Our games were fun, don't get me wrong, but if you are going to play Brawl, you have to offer something Commander doesn't.

Using a planeswalker as your commander doesn't count.

Having to rebuild when the format rotated wasn't appealing. I guess using weaker cards was kind of fun, but in the end, Commander just does everything I liked about Brawl, and most people seem to feel the same way. Brawl now appears to be a mostly 1v1 thing that you do on Arena.

Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale
So why do I wish Brawl was a good format? Because I prefer the size of a 60-card deck! Shuffling is just so much easier! I'm 6'4" tall and my hands are as big as you'd expect for someone of that size. My dexterity is good, but properly shuffling a sleeved 100-card deck is a challenge. At some point I simply stop, split the deck, shuffle 50 cards, then shuffle the other 50, then loosely mix them together. Not ideal at all.

Shuffling sixty cards is just perfect. It fits easily and shuffles nicely. I wish Commander was a 60-card format. I know about Oathbreaker and I know we would just see more broken stuff in Commander if the decks were smaller. This is less about wishing Commander was 60 cards and more about wishing I could find a way to deal with a small logistical problem. I'll just continue to enjoy my 60-card casual games and 100-card Commander games!

The purpose of all of this is a long-winded way of saying I was in my local game store a few weeks ago to get a box of Unsanctioned. The store owner also happened to have copies of all four of the Brawl decks from Eldraine. He remembered that I was looking for them when they came out and he offered me a great price on them now, so I jumped at it!

After going through Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale's deck, I was reminded that I wanted to make a knight deck and this seemed like a great way to get started! The challenge with this deck is to build it exclusively with cards I have in my collection. So, at the end of this, we are not going to have the premier Knight deck out there, but it will be a fun option to run with friends!

So, let's see what we are starting with:


Single Combat
After playing the deck and flipping through all the cards (have you noticed how different it is to flip through cards with the dry, cracked skin that comes with washing hands every couple hours?), there were a few glaring problems with the deck. The first problem was card draw. If Syr Gwyn is on the battlefield and you are attacking, drawing cards isn't a problem. If that wasn't happening, you weren't getting much help. This means that when the deck is doing what you want it to do, you get cards. When the deck is being stymied from its plan, you don't have a way to draw out of the problem. The deck needs more card draw that is independent of equipped creatures attacking.

The second issue is the lack of removal. When your mass removal plan is Single Combat, you are going to be in trouble. This is a theme deck that involves many knights. It isn't going to go wider than a token deck that looks to Craterhoof Behemoth or another Overrun effect to take people out. It also isn't a Voltron deck that builds up one creature. Instead it is somewhere in between. Single Combat is nice against tokens, but against Voltron it does nothing and it probably hurts you against the usual creature/spell mix more than it hurts your opponent.

There also needs to be way more enchantment/artifact removal. There are less than ten pieces of removal in the deck total. That might work in Brawl (it didn't for me), but in Commander, that isn't going to fly.

The ramp package for the deck will need a desperate upgrade. A single Arcane Signet will not even be close to what is needed for a viable Commander deck!

Finally, the mana base is hopeless. Guildgates belong in decks that can abuse them. In this deck they are bad duals that do nothing. The mana base needs an upgrade.


Let's break this down. We are adding forty cards to the deck. Included in that must be:

Sixteen lands. With a commander that we are going to be relying heavily on who costs 6 mana, forty lands should be the absolute minimum that we run.

Eight more removal cards. We are running about six cards now, so that will bring us to fourteen. I'd like it to be more, but let's start there for now.

Nine ramp cards. For this deck to hum, we are going to want a lot of mana. The commander costs 6 mana. When she isn't out there, we are playing equip costs, using mana to cast removal so our creatures can get through, and casting creatures. The curve of the deck isn't too bad, but those extra costs pile up and our ramp is going to help pay for them.

Six card draw cards. This probably isn't enough, but I'm going to hope we can find opponents to swing at so we can draw more cards. It is a dangerous game, but we can start there and add in more in future games if it proves necessary.

That brings us to 39 cards of the 40. This means we get to add one knight or piece of equipment to the deck. Let's hope we can find some cards that can do double duty in the categories I've listed so we can add more fun cards to the deck!

Knights' Charge | Commander | Bruce Richard

Sword of the Animist
As you can see, I added a few of the obvious staples (Sol Ring, Temple of the False God), but also managed to add a few cards that fit the theme very nicely!

Sword of the Animist is a card that I have overrated for other decks. I always want it to be cheap ramp and it just doesn't quite make sense in a lot of other decks that are better served with standard Green options or mana rocks. While this deck makes use of mana rocks, the Sword fits the "equip and attack" theme perfectly! While this is not going to be useful on turn three in most games, it will work wonders finding lands seven, eight, nine, and ten!

Sword of Feast and Famine is another equipment that will work well. Doubling mana when this is equipped to a flying knight that dodges around your opponents protection allows for spells before and after combat. I like this card in a lot of decks, but it goes on theme so well here.

Sunforger continues the equipment theme and is just busted in this deck. With Syr Gwyn out, you can equip it to a knight for nothing. Spend the Red and White to unattach it and tutor for a Red or White instant. Then you can equip it again for nothing and unattach it to tutor again. This card allows your removal package to be a little smaller, since that is what you are going to search for almost every time. I suspect my dislike of tutors is going to see this one sitting on the sidelines soon, but for now, it rocks!

Heartseeker continues the "bah-roken" theme. Equip to a knight for nothing, then tap the knight and unattach Heartseeker to destroy a creature. Then you can equip to a different knight and do it again. Honestly, the +2/+1 is virtually pointless.

Godsend only really sees half its value when run in Commander decks, but that is enough here. Equip it for free to a knight and swing in. If it gets blocked, the blocking creature is exiled. After combat equip it to a different knight for free and you have a blocker that exiles an opposing creature with no risk to your own.

Kindred Dominance is what Single Combat wants to be! Destroy all non-knight creatures, then swing in with the team! Everyone will be spending their turns resetting their defenses, so you really don't have to worry too much about overextending for a turn. Admittedly not cheap, you will be casting it before you swing, so if it is countered, you just don't swing.

Knights of the Black Rose give you some unorthodox card draw. The monarch is a great way for decks designed to attack to get some extra card draw. It is also a knight so it works with the theme in that way too!

Murderous Rider is another knight that needed to make an appearance. It adds to the removal package, while adding to the knight total. I love the win win cards and, in this deck, that is a win win!

I did cut a few of the knights and upgraded into others. Most of the upgrades were older cards since I don't have a lot of the newer, super-powered, knights, but I think I upgraded the overall package pretty well.

It may be a little while before I get to play this with my group, but I'll be sure to report back with how it rolls. If it proves to be as fun as it looks, I may just splurge for more upgrades!

Bruce Richard


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