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Commander Multi-Tool

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Who doesn't love a good transformer? The idea that you can take a car or a dinosaur and turn it into a sentient robot is the basis of a movie franchise and a fun set of toys. While watching them transform is cool, when I was young, I particularly loved the idea that I was getting two toys in one. Optimus Prime would spend days as an 18-wheeler, just hanging out with the rest of my toy cars, then the following week he would stand valiantly on my bookshelf, defending my room against invading green army men.

As I got older, my love for the transformer toys of my youth shifted to a love of multi-tools generally. Between the Swiss Army knife that seemed able to do everything to kitchen utensils with multiple uses, finding alternate ways to use the same thing is something that I have really come to value.

This love recently hit home while listening to Gavin Verhey on a podcast talking about Brawl. I don't remember if it was with Commanderin or the Brother's War, but both podcasts were great! He mentioned someone at Wizards building a Brawl deck that had a 40 card sideboard, so it could morph into a Commander deck! It was something I had considered initially when I had first heard of Brawl, but never acted on. It wasn't until Gencon when I found myself carrying four Commander decks and two Brawl decks everywhere that I realized just how valuable a Commander Multi-tool deck could be. Instead of six decks I could be carrying four Commander decks and some of them could be built to transform into Brawl decks! This sounded great!

Before I got started, I decided to put a few other restrictions on the deck:

  1. The Brawl deck must be legal in the new Standard format. It would be a shame to show off a transformative deck that would only work for Brawl until the end of the month!
  2. The cards added to the Brawl deck for Commander must not be available in Standard. I want you to be able to take out the extra 40 cards simply by looking at the expansion symbols. If the card is from a set outside of Standard it should come out. Having cards in Standard be coming out of the deck is fine if you are playing it a lot and remember the 40 cards, but if you aren't going to play it that often, I don't want you to have to carry a list around to figure out what comes out.

I decided that the easiest way to build the deck was to choose a Commander that works in both formats and build out from there. I was leaning toward Emmara, Soul of the Accord as she is a new card and who doesn't love building around new cards? As I was building the deck, I found Shanna, Sisay's Legacy was a better commander for the deck I was building. She protects herself a little better and offers an option for a go-wide build that present in the deck. Don't worry, Emmara is still a part of the 59!

Ramp

The next step is the ramp package. If you are going to go wide, you are going to want ramp. Generally I like to have seven sources of ramp in a Commander deck, which translates into four sources for a Brawl deck. However, we have some decent sized creatures and a few mana sinks, so I upped those numbers a bit:

Brawl:

Mox Amber
Llanowar Elves
Song of Freyalise

Commander:

The Commander deck cards are the standard staples. If you are running Green in your decklist, you'll start with Sol Ring, Cultivate, Kodama's Reach, and Rampant Growth, then find reasons to eliminate them. I wanted the Brawl deck to have plenty of ramp, so I went with only three additions. Mox Amber may prove to be an early cut, but I love the card and desperately want it to work. I figure if it doesn't work in a deck where the Commander only costs 2 mana, then it isn't going to work anywhere. Grow from the Ashes is a great card that only gets better in the late game. Selesnya Locket may prove too slow, but as an untested card it gets a tryout. Song of Freyalise may be an issue, since it demands a few creatures before it starts to work then shows everyone at the table when your big attack is coming, but I've played more than one game where it didn't matter that my opponents could see it coming, so it made the cut here.

Card Draw

From there, we go to card draw. If you can't draw extra cards, particularly in a deck like this that is somewhat susceptible to mass removal, you are going to sit there in the middle of some games, just drawing off the top and hoping for a miracle that probably isn't coming, even with Entreat the Angels in the deck!

Brawl:

Colossal Majesty
Mentor of the Meek

Commander:

Beast Whisperer is a new card that will be a staple in Green decks for a long time. Colossal Majesty and Runic Armasaur aren't super dominant, but I like them here. Mentor of the Meek should be in most of your White decks that run smaller creatures. Azor's Gateway is a card I recommend you try out. I know players are reluctant to use a loot effect that makes them exile the card, but Azor's Gateway is worth trying. I initially ran it with no intention to ever loop it, treating it as a weak loot that can work in any deck. Then I decided I'd try to flip it and it proved to be almost no effort at all. Don't pin your hopes and dreams to flipping it, but if you treat it like a bonus if it happens, it is a great bonus!

Given the creature count for this deck I figured Shamanic Revelation made sense. Lifecrafter's Bestiary is just rotating out of Standard, but if you don't have a handful of them already, get them now. The Bestiary works so well and most Green decks have plenty of mana and few outlets for the mana, so adding a Green to a creature's cost just to draw another card is easy.

Removal

Brawl:

Seal Away
Take Vengeance
Ixalan's Binding

Commander:

There is little to say about the removal package. Brawl removal costs more and is more conditional, so when you find yourself with an option, play the card with more conditions.

Enchantment and Artifact removal

Brawl:

Thrashing Brontodon
Cleansing Nova
Vivien Reid

Commander:

I give this a section of its own mostly for the enchantments. Wizards is producing more and more excellent enchantments and players just aren't ready to handle them yet. So many decks skimp on enchantment removal, relying on the ability to kill all permanents or throwing in a token Reclamation Sage. It just isn't enough. I have six pieces of enchantment removal and I don't think it is enough. The only reason I'm willing to go with so few is Vivien Reid and Aura Shards. Both cards let me use their enchantment removal effects repeatedly, so I'm taking a chance. Add a little more removal to your decks and thank me in a month when you start to reap the benefits.

The Fun

Brawl:

Sylvan Awakening
Huatli, Radiant Champion

Commander:

These are the cards that are going to provide creature tokens, some ways to pump all the creatures, and ways to get them through. Some of these cards could probably fill in slots in the ramp or removal categories. Bishop of Binding can exile a creature and pumps an attacking vampire, usually itself. Huatli, Radiant Champion pumps your creatures and if it hits the battlefield at the right time can net you an emblem that eliminates any problems you had as far as cards in hand. It has worked in half of my Brawl games when I was using Huatli as my commander.

A card I'm trying is Sylvan Awakening. I have stayed away from cards that turn my lands into creatures since I always seem to walk into some mass removal, but I'm going to try it here. Making the lands indestructible gives me some reassurance. Admittedly, I'm asking for a Cyclonic Rift, but we'll see how it goes.

I was also excited when I saw March of the Multitudes get previewed. An instant speed convoke card means that if you have six or seven creatures already out, you could really be expanding the width of your army at the end of your opponent's turn. When others are thinking you may add another creature or two, then find out they are facing six or seven more instead with a Craterhoof Behemoth right behind it, they'll realize too late that they are done. I figured running it as part of the Entreat the Angels and White Sun's Zenith package just made good sense.

The Commander choices are staples that should surprise almost no one. Cathars' Crusade, Hornet Queen and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite just work in this style of deck. Mirari's Wake both pumps the creatures and doubles your mana, while Oketra the True and Ant Queen give you places to repeatedly dump that mana to make your opponent's lives miserable.


Shanna Commands | Commander | Bruce Richard


The numbers for both the Brawl deck and the Commander deck likely have to be tweaked; this is just something to get you thinking about your options. I think most of the two-color combinations could easily put together a Commander Multi-tool deck. With Lazav, the Multifarious previewed and other low cost commander options available for Brawl, your favorite guild multi-tool deck is only hours away!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned