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X Brawl Decks Better than Mine


I've previously introduced my beloved league: Pro Magic Guerilla. Our special event for this month is a holiday special that semi-aligns with Arena's weird "Brawliday" initiative.

For those unfamiliar, the "event" is that you can play Brawl heads up with friends anytime you want, but on Wednesdays you also get to play with strangers in events like you do with all the other Arena formats. Brawl absolutely rules to the point I guess they're concerned it'd cannibalize the other formats on Arena. I might be wrong, I don't know. But it's an odd thing to do in the eyes of most of the Arena gladiators I converse with regularly.

So back to Pro Magic Guerilla.

I got the runner up spot in our first event, and I went undefeated in an outright rout in our second. Overconfident in my top tier status, I decided to approach the December Brawl event with far too much casual attitude.

Garbage Day

Here's the deck I'm battling with all month long:

I underestimated my opponents and my own ability to completely disregard the boundaries of this format.

I was all those glassy-eyed Pioneer hopefuls that think they're going to win with a four-card combo.

Public Service Announcement: This is not a real Brawl deck.

We're 0-6 so far, and here's why:

First and foremost, discerning players and deck-builders will note that the deck is crap from top to bottom (minus Rankle, who everyone agrees is awesome).

Rankle, Master of Pranks

It has a few niche "maybe" synergies that rely on playing cards with no synergy most of the time for minimal payoffs in the rare instance it does work out. I've had Once Upon a Time in three games for free, and I didn't get a damn thing worth having.

Add to that somewhere along the line I just started adding the "best" rares in Abzan and became a ramp deck. And except for Finale of Devastation (getting nothing) I have zero things to actually ramp to.

Teysa Karlov

Like, look at this card. What the hell was I thinking?

I got it to do some stuff with Liliana in some preseason exhibitions. I still lost, but whatever.

In the spirit of not wasting your time with more information about this unplayable deck here are a few league lists that have either already beat me senseless or will very, very soon.

King Me

Though I don't believe he's bludgeoned me in formal league play yet, I know for a fact that my league-rival Lsuaksauke is on the following menace to society:

So this is more or less my deck except it looks like a Magic player built it.

Our games mostly consisted of me helplessly trying to ride a lousy Rankle Pox aggro strategy to a win only to get buried by Kenrith's mana sink activated abilities. It was impossible to win: same removal, better options in Blue for refilling the hand and moving to the next phase of conquer.

Drawn from Dreams
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

Niv-Mizzet Reborn is a cool trick. I played some Niv-Mizzet Reborn last month, but it didn't feel very "me." An 0-6 start, though? That feels like me.

Having to play the chunky aggro role in Brawl is particularly impotent. Players start at 25 life. Food is a thing. Do not build decks that fold to these realities.

Speaking of Niv-Mizzet, the Dragon that won't put anyone over:

A Star is Reborn

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Deck-builders that understand this format more than me (re: anyone) can correct me, but I got about four to five cards per instance of Niv-Mizzet hitting the scene. It didn't feel overwhelmingly powerful or anything because a bunch of the gold cards are situational - even flexible cards can still suck sometimes.

So yeah, it feels like a big scary Mulldrifter, and that's not the ceiling of this format...but it's not the floor, either.

Anyway, here's the list Kid's on:

Again, this deck has elements of my deck work [sic], and again, it is doing better things. Whereas my deck goes hard on sorry, empty air once it has ramped up the mana, this deck can always just cast Niv-Mizzet again to draw between three and six real cards.

I haven't played against this deck yet, but I'm not looking forward to it. At least not in the way I like to look forward to Magic games.


This over Assassin's Trophy is interesting - both is likely the most reasonable answer - but as a convenient thought experiment, I think this comparison is just about perfect for symbolizing my disastrous misunderstanding of the format going in. Now I'd be more inclined to think the format is more about Deathsprout cards than Assassin's Trophy cards. I'm painting with a pretty broad Golgari brush, but these are the building blocks of understanding Brawl interaction dynamics. Play a few games; you'll feel it.

Casualties of War

This card should likely be in every Brawl deck that can support it. Strip Mine-levels of outrageous.

The Ticking Time Bomb

In other more restrained color news, this Brawl league marks the PMG debut for northeast Cube ringer, robin0900. He took on a more traditional control role that I think is pretty inspired, assuming I'm not actually playing against him. Because in that case I feel only misery.

All things being equal in a format I'll typically start instinctively looking for traditional control decks that rarely work anymore, usually Azorius or Dimir. So imagine my horror when I realized not only was such a deck reasonable in current Brawl but that it was going to destroy me in the hands of a rival.


This card is my favorite example yet in this league of the importance of format contextualization.

In other words: Even if a card is unplayable by most Limited or Constructed standards, it's possible for it to be an utter dagger when one of the most important cards in your opponent's "hand" is telegraphed and increasing in mana cost at all times.

Time Wipe
Charming Prince
Realm-Cloaked Giant

The few creatures around are obscene amounts of tempo in conjunction with Time Wipe, resetting the board while giving you all the time in the world to re-cast all the same cards that were pulling you ahead before, except now they're pulling you way ahead.

Agent of Treachery
Mass Manipulation

The steep cost of the Control Magic effects in Brawl are no issue. They'll often run away with the game on their own before a Time Wipe and Mystic Sanctuary allows them to reset and take the opponent's new best pseudo-solution for crawling back into the game. Not winnable.

This deck is Rainbow Efreet levels of awesome, and it may be my favorite deck I've played against so far in all of PMG. I'm jealous I did not build it.

Brawliday. Celebrate.

I plan to give all my losses out equally so that my comrades may play to an honest finish for this event. We're going to have more Brawl decklists from this event coming very soon.

As always if you'd like to get involved in PMG, hunt down my Twitch and shoot me a DM. We're happy to have new blood aboard, though I insist on the fly-by-night backalley password method.

Here's hoping my friends continue to build good decks on weeks where I fail to.


The Rascal

The "Indestructible" Danny West

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