Brawl Deck Tech – Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
Hello everyone, today I’m going to be taking my first dip into the deckbuilding pool that is Brawl.
What is Brawl you might ask? Brawl is a new Commander-like format that was introduced by Wizards of the Coast last week. Basically, Brawl is a format that only uses cards that are legal in the current Standard format. If a card is banned in Standard, it is banned in Brawl. Each player must choose a Legendary creature or Planeswalker as their Brawl Commander. This commander is part of your 60-card singleton deck. Each deck can only contain one of each non-basic land card, and any card used may only contain the same mana symbols that are seen on your commander. Each player starts with 30 life in which to battle with.
I am not a Commander player, but I am an avid Standard player. So much so that 90% of the cards I own are Standard cards. I often trade cards when they rotate out of Standard to get cards for the new Standard format and so on. When I heard of the new Brawl format, it was right up my alley, as I already had the card pool to try it out. One of the rules that stood out to me was the ability to use either a creature OR a Planeswalker as your commander. I knew right away what my choice would be, none other than Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh.
Since this is a new adventure in deck building, I like to look at potential card pools that I can could use for the deck. That includes creatures, spells, and lands. I thought I would start off by looking at what the mana base would look like for Brawl. Here is a list of potential lands I could use in this deck:
- Swamp, Mountain, Island
- Aether Hub
- Canyon Slough, Fetid Pools
- Cinder Barrens, Highland Lake, Submerged Boneyard
- Crypt of the Eternals
- Desert of the Fervent, Desert of the Glorified, Desert of the Mindful
- Ifnir Deadlands, Ipnu Rivulet
- Dragonskull Summit, Drowned Catacomb
- Evolving Wilds
- Spirebluff Canal
The next set of cards I want to investigate are Energy cards. I think there's a strong pool of Energy cards to choose from for the deck and I believe there is enough of them to make it worthwhile. Here are the Grixis and colourless cards that use Energy that we could include.
As you can see, there are a fair amount of Energy cards that could be used to make a solid base for an Energy deck. Some of them are obviously more powerful than others, but there are enough to make sure this deck won’t run out of Energy easily. The next subset of cards I want to look at are other instants or sorceries that aren’t Energy cards that could be used for removal and card advantage.
Now that we have a pool of cards providing removal and card advantage from, the next step is looking at what other creatures could be used in the deck. The creature pool is very large, so there will be a better chance of making sure we can put some quality creatures in the deck. Here is the standard card pool for creatures.
Creatures… check! Lands… check! Instants and Sorceries… check! That leaves us with one last small subset to look through for potential cards: enchantments, Planeswalkers and artifacts. Here's one last subset of cards to consider for the deck.
Now that we have a smaller card pool to build the deck from, let’s break that card pool down even more and start eliminating cards from contention.
When it comes to the lands, I think we will be able to play all the lands listed, since there are only 19 different ones there. This can be supplemented to make 25 lands by playing three of each basic in the deck. When it comes to the Energy cards, the following subset of cards are a must for me:
This doesn’t mean that I won’t come back to the ones I’ve removed, but for now these are must haves for me.
Moving on to the instants and sorceries I’m able to also provide a smaller subset of must haves:
This list has been cut down significantly, but the power of the cards listed are AAA grade in my books. There might be room for some of the other cards listed once we start to formulate the first deck build.
Now that we’ve cut down the list of instants and sorceries, it’s time for some creatures to be cut from the list. Here is a smaller list of must have creatures for the deck:
Now that I’ve removed most of the creatures and gotten down to a handful, it’s time to do our last cuts on our larger groups with the enchantments, artifacts, and Planeswalkers:
Wow, almost a perfect fit with 58 cards for the deck. With a large mana curve for this deck, I think I’m going to want to add a 26th land and some way to draw more cards so that I can make sure I hit my land drops every turn. This will allow me to get to the ultimate pay off card, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. I’ve decided to add an extra Swamp and add the card draw spell Live Fast, both for card draw and to get some extra Energy for the deck as well. Here is the final decklist.
Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh Brawl Final Deck
There you have it folks, my first jump into the Brawl deck building pool. It was a lot of fun and I think I’ll enjoy playing the format. I believe this deck will do well, as it is looking to play a longer game. With a starting life total of 30, I’m hoping that using my life total as a resource to extend the game will help this deck succeed.
Thanks for joining me on my first Brawl deck tech, I look forward to building more decks as this new format grows.