Today I bring you a list of Historic Brawl decks that have gotten significantly better with the addition of Jumpstart and M21 on MTG Arena. We’ll be exploring Korvold, the King of Jund Sacrifice, revisiting Radha, Heart of Keld and her Gruul smash tactics, and for something a bit more obscure, Tatyova starring in a Simic combo deck.
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
This deck hasn’t gotten a ton of new toys, but those it picked up are crazy powerful. Jolrael came out in M21 and has single-handedly been a powerhouse that’s great in every format. The downside to Korvold requiring a sacrifice to attack is completely negated by Jolrael, since our Noble Dragon draws us a card every turn, which nets us a 2/2 token, which just happens to be great fodder for our beloved king.
Doomed Necromancer returns from days of yore, Tenth Edition, to bring back a creature from the graveyard directly to the battlefield at the cost of his own life. This is huge, since Korvold himself is often an immediate target once cast. Combined with Phyrexian Reclamation, which also came back in Jumpstart and Journey to Eternity, and we’ve got recursion that just wont stop.
Havoc Jester likely wont find a home in many other decks, but Korvold welcomes a second Mayhem Devil effect with open arms. The newer Devil may be more expensive, but it comes with a 5/5 body that burns down targets and beats down opposing faces alike.
Sadly, I tried to make Ghoulcaller Gisa into her own Brawl deck but just found it lackluster and slow; she rises to new heights in Jund, where we devote our ghouls to a greater purpose just as gladly. My favorite line of play was a synergy when I had Korvold, Jolrael, and Gisa in play – activating Gisa to sacrifice a cat token gave me 2 zombie tokens for an overall net gain. I’ve also used Gisa to sacrifice a large Korvold when targeted by removal, which made me well over 10 zombies!
This next card will not be an immediate game changer, but Witch of the Moors has grown on me; it takes a bit of set-up but I’ve found it well worth the effort. Our methods of lifegain in this deck vary, be it Bloodfell Caves, Jungle Hollow, or Rugged Highlands, which we can cycle with Crucible of Worlds and Korvold’s Sacrifice, Vraska, Golgari Queen on the uptick, or an attacking Cavalier of Night, which we have ample ways to keep recurring. The famous Cat/Oven combo is present as well. In whatever manner, if we gain any amount of life on our turn, the opponent is forced to sacrifice a creature and we get to recur one of our own, which is an absurd amount of value altogether.
The last new card for this deck was one I knew exactly what to do with as soon as I saw it: Phyrexian Tower is such an amazing piece of tech. Not only does it provide ramp, but an instant speed sac outlet that is hard to remove isn’t something to be underestimated. With every set, this deck just keeps getting more fun, with more lines of play and more shenanigans.
Radha, Heart of Keld
Historic Gruul does not necessarily look drastically different from Standard, but the subtle differences have led to a monumental increase in power level. As with before, the primary purpose of this list is to play as much of the deck as quickly as we can, overwhelming our opponents with raw power, right off the top of the library.
Just like the Standard Brawl version, we have ample ways to play lands directly onto the field, cheating into play more than 1 per turn. The new card Oracle of Mul Daya gets a special mention, since the elf does Radha’s work without having to risk our Commander early game.
A small change I made in my Standard version was to add Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate to the list – I realized all too late how great it is to play not only lands off the top of the library, but our creatures as well – the number of bricks when you have both out is heavily reduced.
I’ll mention that I also found room to add Field of the Dead to the deck, and it has provided tokens consistently, which is great with another new inclusion in Champion of Lambholt. With so many ways to cast or create creatures, the Champion quickly makes our creatures unblockable while becoming huge herself. She is a colossal threat that will often demand immediate removal.
Neyith is another great addition to Gruul, giving us card advantage when the opponent is forced to block our giant attackers, which her amazing second ability synergises with. If Champion of Lambholt made that creature unblockable, its a low cost way to have our attacker deal double damage, and often just kill our opponents in one shot.
Few things in Magic feel as good as when a card replaces itself with little to no effort, and Thragtusk does that with style. Gaining 5 life then leaving a 3/3 Beast behind just feels great. But the piece de resistance of the deck is easily the addition of Craterhoof Behemoth, and oh boy is this beast the best, being far better than End-Raze Forerunners while costing the same amount. Stack Craterhoof on top of Riot triggers, The Great Henge, and Terror of the Peaks, and the game will almost always be over the turn he appears.
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
I’ll admit this deck is a pet project of mine and, since Nexus got banned, it has seen better days, but I believe the combo I’m about to show you not only works, but is still viable with a ton of ramp and a bit of luck.
Most of what makes Tatyova win isn’t new from M21 or Jumpstart, but what those sets do offer is survivability and a major advantage through flexibility. When I first laid eyes on Zendikar’s Roil, I knew it was made for this deck – we play lands; as many as we can as fast as we can. Adding Roil’s creature tokens on top of Field of the Dead means we’re producing twice as many 2/2’s! Scapeshift can lead to an absolute blowout even if we never see our combo pieces.
Teferi, Master of Time was easily slotted in, not only as a way to dig for important pieces, but of course protecting Tatyova or our life total from threats. Most importantly, once we get the combo going, he will expediate our win.
Onto the main event: the combo pieces. Nexus of Fate was the most reliable way to win, but since that’s banned, I looked for other ways to take turns – not just 1 or 2, but all of them. Magistrate’s Scepter performs this task admirably, but admittedly it needs help. Enter Evolution Sage and Inexorable Tide: the aim is to proliferate as many counters on the Scepter as we can, and use the extra turns to draw into more ways to take turns, just as Nexus once did. Once the loop is started, it’s quite easy to manage.
Our honorable Commander keeps our hands full of lands, our spells let us keep playing lands, and those lands feed into more spells, but the real magic happens if we resolve Omniscience. Between proliferating turns, creating an ever-growing army of tokens, and the looming threat of Darksteel Reactor, when we start winning, we go big! If you don’t fancy actually attacking, once the top 98% of your deck is in play, Jace Wielder of Mysteries is here to deliver the finishing blow.
I won’t tell you this is the best deck; heck, I’m still trying to tune to absolute perfection, which is no easy task. Nonetheless this list will provide a starting point to mess around with yourself, or just to try out with your friends. While I understand this archetype isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the real joy of this deck isn’t actually the win: the fun is in seeing if it’s possible to pull off before the fair decks can take over.
With more and more cards being poured onto Arena, I’ll keep providing you with interesting takes on decks both competitive and fun. I hope you enjoyed this foray into new cards and my thoughts behind constructing each deck. Keep an eye out! I’ve already got more lists being tweaked and tested, coming soon. Let us know in the comments below if you have any feedback or requests!