Brawl Versus Standard
Chances are good that you’re at least somewhat up-to-date on the Standard meta these days (if you’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering Arena at all, you likely are… unless you’ve somehow gone infinite in Draft). You are already probably familiar with the general “good cards” because you’ve seen them so many times. Sure, things changed a bit when the meta shifted with the Oko, Thief of Crowns / Once Upon a Time / Veil of Summer ban. But we’re still seeing the Questing Beast, the Wicked Wolf, the Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven, the Nissas, the Krases, and so on.
But what of Brawl mode, you ask. What kinds of cards should you craft a single copy of, so that you can succeed in this new game mode? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve played enough Brawl on Arena to earmark the specific cards that make my decks excel (or that opponents have used to completely clobber me and invalidate my entire game strategy). Let’s explore these cards color-by-color!
Bounty Agent: For the low low price of 2 mana, this card can simply tap to destroy your opponent’s creature Commander. It’s as simple as that!
Twinblade Paladin: Another lifegain synergy card, this 3/3 for 4 mana will have double-strike out the door if you’re able to hold onto at least 25 life for a few turns.
Angel of Vitality: This 2/2 flyer for 3 mana pumps to a 4/4 if you are able to somehow get to 25 or more life… which is great when that’s your starting life total!
Frogify and Kasmina’s Transmutation: If your opponent is running a creature Commander, then simply drop one of these 2-cost enchantments to turn it into a 1/1 creature with no abilities, a fate even worse than a sound Elking! For extra giggles, don’t ever block the opponent’s shrunken Commander when it attacks, just let it get through for 1 damage every turn and enjoy a game without an opposing Commander.
Tale’s End: In addition to two other useful abilities, this 2-mana Blue spell can counter any Legendary spell. This works on creature or planeswalker Commanders!
Epic Downfall: This 2-mana sorcery exiles any creature of casting cost 3 or greater. Turns out that there are only a few creature Commanders that this won’t hit. Among them are Emmara, Syr Faren, Fblthp, and the extremely niche Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, a card that I’ve literally never seen played.
Price of Fame: Don’t let 4 the casting cost of this spell fool you, against a creature Commander this only costs 2. Destroy their Commander and surveil 2 for only 2 mana? Sign me up!
Spark Harvest: With Vraska’s Contempt rotated out, this will have to suffice as the only mono-black creature / planeswalker spot removal spell I’m aware of that’s not already widely used in Standard.
Red is a bit of an exception. While all the other colors have cards that are specifically geared to destroy or disable creatures or planeswalkers, or capitalize on your higher starting life total, the only thing I can say about Red is that you’ll need to dig in for a longer game due to the enemy’s higher life total. That said, your regular direct-damage spells work the same as they used to. Here I’ll list some Brawlable multicolored spells that include Red.
Role Reversal: I’ve absolutely gotten annihilated by this card. How would you feel if you could just yank your opponent’s Commander away from them in return for a 1/1 Goblin token, for only 3 mana?
Rakdos, the Showstopper: While he’s too expensive for your average Standard match-up, this giant Demon is suited to Brawl mode where he’ll have a better chance to show his fiendish face! Let’s call him a “sort-of” board sweeper because his sweeping abilities are not so reliable.
Widespread Brutality: I’ve seen this card maybe once or twice in Standard. Since Brawl is generally more creature-centric, consider throwing this other “sort-of” board sweeper into your Rakdos deck!
Guardian Project: In any kind of Singleton format creature deck, this is hands-down the best card you can include in your deck. You get to draw a card every time you play a unique nontoken creature. Since you’re playing Singleton, every nontoken creature you play is unique. Enjoy your non-stop Green draw engine!
Season of Growth: In a brutal Brawl top-deck war, the ability to scry every time you play a creature can be priceless. Consider spending 2 mana on a Season of Growth!
Thorn Mammoth: This card hasn’t seen much play in Standard simply because it costs 7 mana. Many Standard games are over before turn 7! But in Brawl mode, maybe with a bit of ramp, Thorn Mammoth can clear out stalled boards one-by-one, letting your big creatures (or the Mammoth itself) fight their smaller creatures. Break through with Mammoth attrition!
Arcane Signet, Command Tower, and Tome of Legends: This 3-strong “Brawl Package” deserves to be included in most, if not all, Brawl decks with a creature Commander. If you use a planeswalker Commander though, consider giving the Tome a pass. In that case it’s worse than a 3-mana Golden Egg.
Most of this article has been about cards that you rarely see in Standard but that are fantastically Brawlable. Below we’ll mention three cards that you’ve already seen in Standard but that are especially useful in Brawl:
Quench: You’ve certainly seen this in Standard, in the dreaded Simic Flash deck, or the perhaps even more dreaded Mono-Blue Aggro deck from before rotation. The thing about Quench in Standard is that it often becomes obsolete in the mid to late game. In Brawl, on the other hand, your opponent might be tapping themselves out repeatedly even late-game in order to recast their Commander. What a perfectly fiendish time to throw an unexpected Quench their way! Be warned: this maneuver may win you the game but it might also lose you friends…
Heraldic Banner: “Mana rocks” are very popular in Brawl: Firemind’s Vessel, Mana Geode, the aforementioned Arcane Signet. These mana-generating artifacts provide an extra rampy nudge in the often slower-paced Brawl games. What if you had a mana rock that also buffed your creatures? Sure you can only pick one color for the buff, but Heraldic Banner can be clutch even in multi-colored decks!
Let’s Wrap This Up
Thanks for stopping by this week. The more we play Brawl mode, the more likely it is that Wizards of the Coast will open the game mode up all week long! Join our Discord server if you have any questions or need any help, or if you just want to bemoan the fact that Brawl is still Wednesdays-only. We feel you, friends.
If it’s not Wednesday and you want to Brawl, check out these options:
- Brawl Hall: This is a Discord server created by the popular MTG YouTuber and streamer Merchant. There are over 3000 people currently in the server that you can connect with to play Brawl on demand and have friendly chat with each other.
- ArenaBrawl.net: This is a new website that allows you to enter your MTG Arena ID and find other players that are currently available for Direct Challenge. You can find players interested in Standard or Friendly/Historic Brawl, and the creators are working on a chat feature as well.