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99 Problems: Going for Distance


There’s going to be some Magic lingo in this article. One of the most commonly used ones will be “Fling” base from the card: Fling.


As an additional cost to cast Fling, sacrifice a creature.

Fling deals damage equal to the sacrificed creature’s power to target creature or player.

While the wording on Brion Stoutarm is slightly different (he can only hit players and not other creatures), it’s much easier to say “Fling” when describing his ability. I know it was a common in Amonkhet, but still, it’s better to acknowledge this up front. Whenever you see something that might be a Magic term you don’t know, it might be based off a card. Like: Mill (to put cards from a library into a graveyard) comes from MIllstone. Not every piece of Jargon comes from Magic though: to “Ping” means to deal 1 damage to something. Just be glad it’s not called “Scorching Spear.” That’s way too long to say.

And “Tim” refers to Prodigal Sorcerer which used to ping in Blue, and was nicknamed that because the art looks like Tim from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Tim, was of course the wizard who could shoot fireballs, or “Ping” since there’s no X damage spell in Arthurian times.

Also, decks used to be called cereals because of course they were. Also the deck name TinFins comes from the much loved (by me) cartoon SeaLab 2021. Anyway, here’s my deck “Pasta Against the Wall”, aptly named because when you cook...

(Title Sequence. Intro song: Bring Me to Life by Evanescence)

Hey, remember when Evanescence was everywhere? They had two songs on the Daredevil soundtrack. Remember Daredevil before Netflix?

This week we’re looking at one of my favorite decks, one I’ve talked about before: My Brion Stoutarm deck. Now wr has traditionally been one of the worst color combinations for Commander because it lacks card draw and is focused on little more charging into the Red Zone.

(Red Zone, for those that don’t know, is what is commonly referred to attacking and defending. The name of this goes back to Pro Tour coverage where there was a separate part of the playmat colored Red to differentiate between tapped attacking creatures and tapped creatures.)

Obviously not all wr Commander strategies depend on the Red Zone. Four out of the top seven Boros Commanders on all depend on attacking while two more strongly hint at using the Red Zone to the Commander’s benefit. That’s what makes Brion so interesting; he can do so much more than turn sideways and smash face.

And yes, I do realize that for his ability to work he has to turn sideways and the damage goes to the face.

A quick reminder that Brion’s ability is NOT Commander damage; Commander damage only happens when your commander deals combat damage. In many cases, you need to do more than 21 damage to kill an opponent. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at my old list. It was last updated with Rivals of Ixalan, which means it’s pretty up to date (only less than a year old).

Brion List 1.0 | Commander | Robby Rothe

This is way less expensive than last week’s possible deck.

There was a new website that popped up recently called Archidekt that I wanted to check out. It allows for visual deck-building, something that’s always wanted but never found. Most important was the ability to put cards in separate piles. I knew this might be a site for me (Full disclosure: I supported them on Patreon after messing with the site for a while.)

Let’s take a look at my list visually and see it spread out into piles:

(Don’t let the price get to you. That includes an Arid Mesa Masterpiece I opened and a Plateau I have. So it’s a much cheaper deck than last week).

After looking at my list spread out, I can tell you a few things:

  1. I have 15 Recursion spells (not counting self recursion like Eternal Dragon and Magma Phoenix). That’s a good amount
  2. I have 6 creatures I want to sacrifice.
  3. I don’t have enough sacrifice outlets.

These numbers don’t add up (I mean deck construction-wise, of course they add up to the right number for the format). Since I’m not sacrificing my opponent’s creatures in this deck, I really have to dig around until I find something worth sacrificing. Of course, there are a few things that can benefit from the saccing of creatures like Mimic Vat and Phyrexian Rebirth, but for the most part I’m not liking the what I have in here.

One card that I know that should be in here but isn’t is Phyrexian Processor. Yes, the ability makes sense but I already have it in my Trostani deck where I feel it fits better (I gain the life with Trostani on the battlefield and I can make another immediate copy of the token with Populate. I don’t really want the same possible kill spell between two somewhat similar decks. Other cards that could fit into either deck might be Aetherflux Reservoir, though I would have to gain more life in this deck to make it work.

There are two new cards in Guilds of Ravnica that caught my eye. If you read my review of the set, you might be able to figure out which two. Dawn of Hope and Divine Visitation. Do I have something for White Enchantments? I just may.

Dawn of Hope seems like an auto include in this deck. Currently there are enough gain life triggers to draw cards. I’m not looking to Fling 1/1 Soldiers, but they do have Lifelink to trigger the enchantment. Divine Visitation is the other one that makes things interesting because it asks me to rethink the deck.

With Divine Visitation you want the deck to go wide, play as many tokens as possible. Paying 3w from Dawn of Hope to make a 4/4 Angel instead of a 1/1 Soldier is certainly more impactful. However, if you’re using Mimic Vat, anything you create will become the Angel instead of a copy of what you want. The same goes for Feldon of the Third Path. Those pieces just don’t mesh.

So, do I go wide, beat down with Angels, and Fling them with Brion, or stay with the big creatures and Fling them? I already have an engine with Angelic Accord (Gain four life, create an Angel, fling with Brion, gain the four life from lifelink, get another Angel, then go Henry the VIII on them (second verse same as the first).

Taking a step back, I think I’ll stick with the big creature plan. While I still really like Divine Visitation, I don’t think we’ll be getting the best bang for our buck here.

Now, with Brion you want to be Flinging the biggest things you can. So what can we add in here for big targets? I don’t want to go all in on Serra Avatar. If she’s Path to Exiled, I’ve lost a huge part of my deck. I need redundancy.

Let’s take a look at some of the creatures I pulled out that we can use with Brion. I’m looking for creatures that are big for their cost and/or do something when they enter or leaves the battlefield.

Bearer of the Heavens
Captivating Crew
Desolation Twin

Bearer of the Heavens - 10/10 for 7r. It has a devastating ‘on death’ trigger that you can abuse if you Fling it at an opponent right before your turn. The problem is wr usually can’t recover as quickly from land destruction as as other colors. Do I need a reset button in this deck? Maybe not this big.

Captivating Crew - This one might just be too good to not put in the deck. I can keep it as a political card that still does work even with Brion not on the battlefield, which is a bonus. It also lets you untap Brion for another Fling if you care to use it that way. The problem is, if my opponents don’t have big creatures, then I would only be able to steal smaller utility creatures. Of course, I wasn’t running that many big creatures either, so there’s that.

Desolation Twin - I originally had this in the list, but again ran into the same problem with Trostani. I think It works well in both decks (especially when my Selesnya deck has all of the token doublers), but this might get back in the deck because it gives me two creatures to Fling with Brion. Though, when I reanimate it, I don’t get the twin which is a major downside. Note: This is the only Eldrazi I’ve considered putting in here because being able to reliably cast the bigger Eldrazi just isn’t possible, and if I can’t reanimate it easily (ie. not the original Emrakul, Kozilek, or Ulamog) I just don’t want it in my deck. That is a personal choice, so you can do what you want.

Evra, Halcyon Witness
Hamletback Goliath
Homura, Human Ascendant

Evra, Halcyon Witness - New with Dominaria. Here’s the Serra Avatar redundancy. Should just be an auto include in the deck.

Hamletback Goliath - I’ve seen other lists run this one and I just never do. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because all it does is get large and I couldn’t trample over anything with it? It’s a Giant so it also helps trigger Ancient Amphitheater.

Homura, Human Ascendant - This was in my first Brion build and it’s always kinda just lingered in the background waiting to be reinserted into the deck. A 4/4 for 4rr that can’t block isn’t good. What is good is its flipped ability giving all my creatures +2/+2 and Firebreathing. It was hit often miss and I felt I wanted a bunch of creatures to make it worth it and I didn’t use the Firebreathing very often.

Phyrexian Dreadnought
Resplendent Angel
Selfless Squire

Phyrexian Dreadnought - Obviously not a turn one play, but a turn five when you have Brion on the battlefield. Cast this, let its sacrifice trigger go on the stack, Fling it with Brion, resolve the sacrifice trigger and do not pay it. It’s the highest power/lowest CMC in the game that I can run in this deck. It should be in here.

Resplendent Angel - This is another token generator when you gain life, like Angelic Accord. 4/4 Angels are good. Gaining 5 life shouldn’t be too hard in this deck.

Selfless Squire - One of the only reactionary cards in the deck. Let in an alpha strike and have a huge creature at the end of it. Since you don’t have many ways to prevent damage besides this card, you’d need to Fling it pretty quickly.

Another part of the list I wanted to look at was the number of sacrifice outlets I had. Currently Brion, of course, and Bubbling Cauldron (a Magic 2014 combo/staple with Angelic Accord). That might not be enough. Let’s see what else we can reasonably add, especially if we may be taking our opponents’ creatures.

Ashnod's Altar
Culling Dais
Fanatical Devotion

Ashond's Altar - It give us more mana and combines with Dawn of Hope. A classic.

Culling Dais - Allows us to possibly draw a lot of cards in one go. Can combine with Sun Titan.

Fanatical Devotion - While I don’t think I need it in this deck, I am bringing it up as a possible meta choice. If you play against a bunch of board wipes and direct damage, this might be a good answer for you. Plus, since it doesn’t specify a creature you control, you can Regenerate opponents’ creatures to play the political game.

Heart-Piercer Manticore
Phyrexian Altar
Trading Post

Heart-Piercer Manticore - This almost made it in the first time around, but now it needs another look. It allows me to pull a one-time Fling when it enters the battlefield, then I can sacrifice it to Brion. After that, I can Embalm it to Fling another creature before it gets tossed by Brion a second time.

Phyrexian Altar - This is the second article in a row I’ve mentioned this card. It’s stupidly expensive; it needs to be reprinted. May not be as good as Ashnod's Altar in this deck anyway.

Trading Post - Another card from this list’s past that was always appreciated. Was moved out but I think I’ll move it back in. It does work.

Worthy Cause

Worthy Cause - A 2w buyback card that lets you sacrifice creatures and gain their life in toughness. May be better in lists where you take your opponent’s creatures, but as an Instant it can be useful late game.

And where would we be if we didn’t look at more ways to create token copies of our cards. I’m looking at permanent/repeatable ways to accomplish rather than cards like Heat Shimmer.

Flameshadow Conjuring
Helm of the Host

Flameshadow Conjuring - It was in the deck when Origins first released but then I moved it out. I don’t know why. It needs to be put back in.

Helm of the Host - I mean, yeah. Even if I put it on Brion, making multiple copies to Fling away is just gravy. Put it on Wurmcoil Engine? *Chef’s Kiss*

So what have we decided here today? My deck, even though it had plenty of ways to bring cards back from the graveyard, didn’t have enough cards to put in the graveyard. Some of the cards are cute, and fun, but they’re not getting the job done. As always, this list is in progress. After finding out what works and what doesn’t work, I’m always open to debate and change it.

I am happy with some of the tech I have in the deck. Squee's Embrace is a one-time Gift of Immortality. Gideon’s ability to become a Scion of the Wild based on an opponent is cute. Flayer of the Hatebound is a card that you don’t see in Red, but it feels right at home in this deck. Well of Lost Dreams is still one of my favorite Johnny cards and I’m glad it was reprinted in a Commander set so more people could see it and give White some draw. Beacon of Immortality and Cradle of Vitality create an instant speed kill, which is fantastic. Martyr's Bond with me sacrificing creatures allows White to have a Grave Pact.

Here are my cuts:

Basically if you were an “S” card, you were cut.

My adds:

Firemane Angel, and to a lesser degree Soul Warden, seems like such a combo with Searing Meditation and Dawn of Hope. Firemane Angel would sit in the graveyard and gain me one life… if I remembered the trigger. I’ve missed so many of the triggers that I should remove it and see if I notice its absence.

Brion List 1.1 | Commander | Robby Rothe

We’re going to start tracking the changes. I only added one more sacrifice outlet. Is that enough? The only card I personally need to acquire is a Phyrexian Dreadnought, which isn’t bad for almost 10% of the deck being changed out (Yes, it’s really 9% but 10% is a much rounder number). Let me know what kind of changes you would make to the deck.

Here’s the link to my version 1.0 if you want to look at the site Archidekt and see what it’s about. In both versions they have something called a “Maybeboard” where it doesn’t count for the deck stats, but cards I’ve been thinking about for the deck. There are a few cards I added in there as well that I didn’t talk about that didn’t fit into any of those categories (Do I want Ghostly Prison in the deck?). I’ll convert to the new version of the Brion deck in a few days to let people explore it (If you want the original list, it’s at the top of the article.

As always, find me on Twitter @mtgcolorpie. I’m always taking your input and your thoughts, even if you think the deck is wrong. Join me next week where I update another favorite deck of mine. Will it be Slesenya or Dimir?