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Convertible Commander: Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain


I'm still not sure where Brawl lands in the landscape of Magic. It feels like a "casual" format for new(er) players, but it's not completely casual because you can't just take a shoebox of old cards your sibling gives you when they leave for college and expect to build a Brawl deck out of it. It's supposed to be a casual, group format, but most casual groups are already playing Commander. You can build decks from drafts and sealed pools, but if you're drafting and playing sealed, wouldn't you just . . .  keep doing that?

That said, as a player who doesn't play competitively at all (I run a couple of Modern decks because I think the format is fun and it's nice to have something to do when I'm knocked out of Commander first, but I never go to tournaments and rarely do FNM drafting), it's nice to do some things I can't do in Commander. As I mentioned in my last column, Wizards keeps talking about Pirates. Ixalan brought the triumphant entrance of Pirates, but there really weren't enough to fill out a Commander deck. A pirate brawler, though, is completely do-able. There's also some value for the player who opens one copy of a choice rare and doesn't want to spend the coin to get three more; play it in a Brawl deck! (I just hope you can find someone else to play Brawl with.)

But, using a Brawl deck as the basis for a Commander deck really could work. Convince your EDH playgroup to all do one deck like this; once everyone's done it, play Brawl and see if you like it. If you do, great, you can start having a second format for when there's only thirty minutes left and you don't want to start another Commander game! If not, well, you each built the base for a new Commander deck to tinker with.

Which leads me to our deck for the day.

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain

Thaumatic Compass
Historic spells, in case you've read absolutely nothing about Dominaria until now, are spells which are Legendary, artifacts, or Sagas (which is another new card type). Jhoira lets us get way ahead of our opponents by playing nothing but Historic spells, so literally every card in our deck but our lands will draw us an additional card once we've got our general on the 'field. With any luck, we can leverage this to bury our opponents in card advantage and win by sheer volume of cards drawn.

One of our best vehicles to winning is, well, vehicles. There are some solid ones from Kaladesh block, and Jhoira is nice enough to have three power, which means she can be tapped to crew the vast majority of them. Because they're artifacts, they're historic, so we keep our card-draw engine running (see what I did there?), but what's scarier than a runaway train? A runaway train with a lance. Voltron -- or using spells to build up a single creature and attack with it -- is a great way to go to run a bunch of artifacts, but the problem is the cost to reequip our artifacts to our vehicles every turn, because equipment drops off when they stop being creatures once we pass the turn. That means mana, and lots of it. As such, we're running our standard 24 lands for a Brawl deck (the baseline for most 60-card decks not in Legacy or Vintage and the equivalent of 40 in Commander) plus every mana artifact we can find in the format. Most of them are three mana, which is a bummer because we won't be able to get Jhoira out a turn early, but we'll often want seven or eight mana just for equip costs, so they're worth it. Thaumatic Compass and Renegade Map both help make sure we're hitting those land drops. The one we're skipping is Gilded Lotus; the three mana would be helpful, but it's not worth it to add another 5-drop to the deck.

We're all-in on Jhoira to keep our cards flowing. This deck curves out at 5, so it won't be unusual to have six mana, play a 2-drop, draw a 2-drop, play it, draw another one, play it, and draw yet another card. That's a lot of cards drawn. Even if we're just averaging an extra card per turn, that's going to be a lot more than anyone else at the table. In a four-person game it would be perfectly possible to deck out, so be careful to win before that happens.

And we probably want to attack with our vehicles to win. Weatherlight and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship can probably win the game all on their own, but with a couple of pieces of equipment attached, it'll get nutty pretty fast. Renegade Freighter can get out of hand pretty quickly too. Even Heart of Kiran can do good work, and we do have a planeswalker who can take over for Jhoira if we want. Of course, we also have Kefnet the Mindful and Traxos, Scourge of Kroog kicking around. Those guys are big and carry equipment well, though they each have problems. Despite our card draw, we're playing a card to draw a card, so it'll have to be lands we don't play to get a full hand so Kefnet can attack. Traxos, on the other hand, will untap with any spell we cast, so a weird draw might be a problem but most often that guy will just be huge and a problem for our opponents.

We are running a Universal Solvent to take care of a serious problem, but mostly we are counting on out-drawing our opponents and pushing our damage through with equipment and evasion before they kill us. That's a fancy way of saying we're not actually running any removal. We could, but it would mean running spells which don't draw us cards, and for this experiment, that doesn't work. So buff up that Cultivator's Caravan and beat some face before anyone can play something we can't beat.

We've got most of the equipment legal in the format. There were a couple just not worth running, but most of them are here. Nicely, they're mostly cheap to play and equip. Our one major exception is Helm of the Host, which we're probably going to want to put on Jhoira, not our attacking creature. Multiple copies give us some blockers and mean we'll draw multiple cards per spell, which should let us close out the game in short order.

In order to make the jump to Commander, though, we can go much more traditionally Voltron and actually attempt to win with Jhoira. The problem with that plan in Brawl is an inability to give her enough power boost plus reasonable evasion with the current Standard pool. With the whole of Magic's history, we definitely can.

The Locust God
The first thing we do is add a bunch of better mana rocks and more lands. We're going to get some more dual lands plus basics to get us up to 40, and we've now got several rocks which cost 2 or fewer, which means we could conceivably jump Jhoira to turn three, which would be great. We're also going to want that mana to cast our now larger spells. We're adding a copy of The Locust God, which could be in the Brawler but is too pricey, as well as a Steel Hellkite for a sweeper effect and Argentum Armor, which should be in more decks but absolutely should be in Voltron decks. Padeem, Consul of Innovation is here too; in the Brawl deck she wouldn't do much because we don't really care if one of our artifacts gets blown up and we are very rarely going to have the most expensive artifact on the 'field. Hexproof for our artifacts in Commander, though, is worth it, so she joins the team.

We get some other really good pieces of equipment, too. Bloodforged Battle-Axe keeps making more of itself, Masterwork of Ingenuity can copy our . . .  whatever, and Sword of Vengeance is a big boost to anything we want to pump. Etherium Sculptor and Foundry Inspector do a nice job of lowering the cost of most of our spells; with both out, it wouldn't be unusual to just cast a bunch of 2-drops for free and keep drawing through our deck.

We've got a few ways to push Jhoira through blockers like Trailblazer's Boots, so equip and swing for the fences. If that doesn't work, we can always suit up Weatherlight again!

Mirage Mirror, Jaya's Immolating Inferno, and Voltaic Servant almost made it into the Brawl deck. The Inferno, especially, was tempting, because if the deck ends up ramping hard one game without drawing a ton of action, that spell could just end the game out of nowhere. It ended up feeling too out of theme, but if you've got one, give it a shot.

While budget is not really something I consider when building anymore, there are two cards I'd have in the Commander deck if I could afford them: Sword of War and Peace and Batterskull. Both are really strong in this build and would be nice to have around. Wurmcoil Engine would certainly be a strong threat. It's possible the deck makes so much mana that Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker would be good, too, but it's nice to remember a good deck can be built in this format without too much cash.

Talk to me about Brawl turning into Commander. Is this something we want to keep trying? How should we be doing it? Please let me know in the comments. As well as anything else you want to share!

Thanks for reading.

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