Getting tired of Drafting or playing Standard on MTG Arena? Do you like to build unique, creative decks that reflect your personality? Lucky for you, the singleton Brawl format has officially made its way to the game. Acting as a smaller, more restrictive variation of the wildly popular Commander format, Brawl allows players to create a deck around either a Legendary Creature or Planeswalker.
If you’re completely new to the Brawl format, make sure to check out our in-depth breakdown of the format’s rules. Knowing how the core ideology behind Brawl is vital if you want to succeed and craft a solid, consistent deck. Below we will go through what you need to consider when building your very first Brawl deck on MTG Arena. Keep in mind, not every deck is created equal and your preferred playstyle will factor into the cards you choose.
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Pick Your Commander
Perhaps the most critical part of any deck in Brawl is selecting your Commander. This will not only determine what colors you can play but the general theme of your deck. While you can use a Commander exclusively for its colors, making sure your cards synergize with the leader will help enhance your deck. Since you can keep casting your Commander time and again this gives you access to a unique engine that can feed into your overall goal.
For our example, we are going to pick one of my favorite Brawl Commanders, Yarok, the Desecrated. This card causes all Enter-the-Battlefield (ETB) effects to double when he is in play, allowing you to gain a ton of value. However, we want to make sure when building our deck that we can win without Yarok on the field. It’s critical that your deck can not only function but claim victory without ever casting your Commander.
Typically, I don’t like to use a Commander that costs six mana or more. While you can certainly do this, be prepared to pay a lot of extra mana if the game goes long and your Commander keeps dying. Having an aggressively costed Commander will not be as restrictive on your mana.
How Will You Win?
Now that we have our Commander, it’s time to ask ourselves how we will win the game. Since our deck is focusing on ETB effects, we want to pick some cards that will benefit from Yarok being out. God-Eternal Rhonas can come in and give our board a huge, temporary power boost along with giving them Vigilance. Dropping this with or without Yarok will let you swing and potentially kill your opponent.
If that doesn’t work, we can rely on draw spells such as Fblthp, the Lost, Risen Reef, Cloudkin Seer, Hydroid Krasis, and others to absolutely bury our foe in card advantage. This deck can be very difficult to stop once it gets going, especially if Yarok is on the battlefield. Being able to win the game via attrition is more than possible, especially with decks that give you a constant stream of valuable resources.
However, it’s important to not lose track of the larger goal. Don’t try to do too many things at once, otherwise, your deck’s overall power level will drop dramatically. Focus on the bigger picture, while still leaving yourself some wiggle room if things don’t go according to plan.
Ramp, Draw, and Removal
With any Commander deck, you’ll want to add a fair amount of ramp, removal, and card draw spells. The amount changes based on your deck, but typically we like to have each of the three make up 10% of the deck. This means you’ll want at least six ramp, six draw, and six removal spells. Of course, you can tune these numbers, as some decks that have more expensive costing cards will want a few extra ramp spells. For our deck, we are going to add Risen Reef, Gilded Goose, Incubation Druid, Paradise Druid, Cavalier of Thorns, and Maraleaf Pixie.
When it comes to removal, don’t just focus on creature removal spells, as you’ll often have to deal with Artifacts, Enchantments, and Planeswalkers. Try to include at least one nuke in your deck, especially if you are focusing on a control strategy where you won’t be playing a lot of creatures. This gives you a “panic button,” in case your opponent’s board gets out of hand. When looking at Yarok, we are going to add a nice mix of creatures and spells, just in case we cannot get our Commander out.
Finally, keeping your hand filled with cards is especially critical in the Brawl format. Typically, whichever deck has the best card advantage wins. This is because you’ll have more answers for any problems, allowing you to maintain control of the board. Try to avoid big, splashy draw spells that force you to dump a ton of mana into them. Instead, you typically want to draw between on to four cards per spell, but this can vary based on your Commander.
Filling in the Gaps
Now that you have a solid foundation, it’s time to fill the rest of your deck with various utility spells. These can range from additional threats to some recursion spells to disruption cards. Take a hard look at your deck and evaluate what weaknesses the core strategy has. With Yarok, we have a heavy reliance on our Commander staying on the battlefield. To offset this, we are going to add some additional ramp along with a few other finishers like End-Raze Forerunners.
What you need will depend on the general strategy of your deck. For instance, if you’re a reanimation deck then you might want to add a few extra ways to dump cards into your graveyard. These last five to ten spots are completely up to you, so feel free to customize and tinker as you play the deck.
Now let’s take a look at our final product:
Remember, at launch Brawl is a 1v1 format, but we fully expect this to expand and become a four-player game mode. Brawl was designed to play with multiple people, so if this does happen you may need to tweak your deck. Even though Brawl can be a competitive format, don’t be afraid to have fun and make wacky decks. Now get out there and sling those spells!