There are a lot of formats in Magic: The Gathering, many of which have cultivated massive fanbase of casual and competitive players. While some formats such as Pauper and Commander quickly gain popularity, others end up falling by the wayside. Brawl is one of those formats that never took off with paper players but is aiming to find a home on MTG Arena. Set to release alongside Throne of Eldraine, Brawl is one of the most requested formats by users for this game.
With this new format destined to quickly take over MTG Arena, here’s a quick primer on everything you need to know before it launches.
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MTG Arena Brawl – Rules
Brawl is a singleton format, which means outside of basic lands you can only have one of each card in your deck. Every deck has a Commander that defines what color cards you can use and typically the core themes. Every Brawl deck must have a Commander which must be either a Legendary Creature or a Planeswalkers. Commanders exist in a separate zone called the “Command Zone” and they can be played any time you could normally cast them. If your Commander dies it will go back to the Command Zone, but can be recast for an additional two colorless mana.
MTG Arena will only support two-player games at launch despite this being a multiplayer format. Everyone starts with 25 life (30 if there are more than two players) and the game is over when one person is left alive. There is no Commander damage in Brawl, but you can win through alternative methods such as milling your opponent’s decks. Finally, this format rotates alongside Standard, meaning cards from non-Standard legal sets cannot be in your Brawl deck.
MTG Arena Brawl – Sets
When MTG Arena’s version of Brawl launches five sets will be playable in this format. The Dominaria, Ixalan, and Core Set 2019 block will not be legal so keep that in mind when you’re building a deck. At the time of writing this, the sets that will be legal when Brawl launches are:
- Ravnica Allegiance
- Guilds of Ravnica
- War of the Spark
- Core Set 2020
- Throne of Eldraine
Additionally, there will be four pre-constructed Brawl decks that release alongside Throne of Eldraine. These will also be legal for the format and are designed to serve as a jumping-off point for new players.
MTG Arena Brawl – Ban List
Like other formats, Brawl has its own separate ban list despite using the same cards tied to Standard. Currently, only one card is banned in the format, but it will rotate out when this feature goes live on MTG Arena. Make sure to check back on Wizard’s official website for an updated list. Typically, only extremely oppressive cards get banned in this format, so don’t worry about a long list
MTG Arena Brawl – Commanders
If you are new to this format then picking your first commander can be pretty overwhelming. There are a lot of choices, especially with the release of War of the Spark. Since Dominaria is rotating out, we are losing a lot of extremely popular Brawl commanders such as Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Thankfully, there are still some terrific choices that fit a variety of different deck archetypes.
Here are a few suggestions for commanders leading up to Throne of Eldraine:
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
If you’re a fan of Planeswalkers than Nicol Bolas, Dragon God is the commander for you. Boasting four abilities, this card has a ton of utility that makes it extremely powerful. Since he can use the loyalty abilities of all Planeswalkers on the field, this makes him especially dangerous. This is a pretty easy control deck to make since Grixis has access to some terrific spells and Planeswalkers. Personally, we love Sarkhan the Masterless as a win condition since he can transform all your Planeswalkers into terrifying dragons.
For those who enjoy interacting with the graveyard than consider using Teysa Karlov. Acting as a Panharmonicon for death triggers, Teysa Karlov is all about accruing value from sending your creatures to the graveyard. There are a ton of cards that this deck can synergize with making it extremely potent. Cards such as Midnight Reaper, Corpse Knight, Vindictive Vampire work wonders with the Afterlife mechanic. Plus, a lot of the best cards in this deck won’t be rotating out this fall.
Kykar, Wind’s Fury
My personal favorite, Kykar is for the spellslinger players out there. Unlike Niv-Mizzit, Parun who is difficult to cast and extremely flashy, Kykar is fantastic for flying under the radar. This bird’s ability allows you to quickly put up a nice wall of creatures. Yet, it’s the ability to turn these creatures into mana that makes Kykar so explosive. When used in conjunction with powerful X spells such as Electrodominance, Kykar can become really dangerous, really fast.
Nikya of the Old Ways
Sometimes you just want to play the biggest boys. Even though Nikya limits you to playing creature spells, there are so many terrific utility creatures already available. Once she enters the battlefield you are free to quickly deploy some truly fearsome monsters far earlier than they should be played. Cards like Ravager Wurm, Impervious Greatwurm, Drakuseth, Maw of Flame, and God-Eternal Rhonas are superb finishers in any game. If you’re building this, make sure to include a lot of draw and early ramp spells so you can get Nikya out as