Hello everyone! Tim here, Otherwise known as Tchamber5 in the queues. Today, I wanted to talk about a format that is coming to MTG: Arena that myself and a lot of members of Team Rankstar are very excited about: Brawl!
For those unaware, Brawl, like Commander, is a singleton format, meaning that you can only include one copy of any given card in your deck (except basic lands). The additional twist is that you have to select a commander to lead the charge. Your commander is a legendary creature or planeswalker that starts the game in the “Command Zone” and that you can cast repeatedly after it dies or changes zones, though it costs two additional mana to cast for each time you have cast it. This can lead to some really interesting gameplay. Do you play Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Try to take over the game with counterspells? Should you play Adeliz, The Cinder Wind and Foley over your opponents board with a loa of cheap prowess creatures? There are a bunch of different options, and something for every player. If you are interested in learning more about the rules, check out this link.
In years past, I was a PPTQ and Magic Online grinder, but my magic ambitions have since become secondary to the life of a full-time Dad. I still play competitively when the opportunity presents itself at MCQs (PTQs? Whatever these are called now-a-days) and local Grand Prixs, but I have started to dip my toes into more casual formats. Commander is among the formats that I enjoy because no two games are ever the same, and I find deck building to be very interesting. Naturally, I was excited when Brawl was announced a year or two ago, because I was heavily invested in standard at the time, and I was glad to find a new way to use my cards.
Unfortunately, The format never really took off the first time around. It had a lot of issues when it was first released. Not the least of which was a lack of events to play at, both at your LGS and at GPs. The format was also broken upon arrival, with Baral, Chief of Compliance decks completely dominating the format, occupying all the top finishes on MTGO. Eventually, Wizards banned the blue two drop, but it was a day late and a dollar short, and the format sort of just faded away. This was definitely an auspicious start for the format, but Wizards is coming at it again,with a renewed vigor, only this time it will be on Magic Arena. Contrary to the history of Brawl, I am quite excited to play the format, and you should be too. Here’s why:
It’s a break from the ladder grind.
There are, of course a few different ways to play MTGA, but the primary play mode for most players is the Ranked Ladder. I think standard is in a really great place right now, and I love playing the game, but sometimes I get a bit exhausted from playing a ton of standard matches, which is easy to do in digital. You can always change up the deck you are playing but that’s gonna cost you precious wild cards (More on that in a moment). So what do you do when you need a change of pace? Play Brawl. The Singleton format ensures that each game will be different, there are a ton of cool commanders to choose from and I could spend hours just brewing decks. The fact that War of the Spark will be in the Brawl format is huge, giving you access to a ton of legendary commanders.
It could be a Brewers paradise.
I never want to tell you this part as a statement of fact, because eventually, a new best deck will rise up. But again, because it’s a singleton format, this will probably happen way slower than regular standard. I’m excited to brew in this format because not only is the concept inviting of new ideas, but is also rewarding if you want to fine tune your deck. Like I mentioned, there are a ton of legendary Creatures and Planeswalkers to build around, and many, many cards that don’t see play in standard simply because most of the tier decks don’t have room for them. This brings me to my next point:
Brawl will incentivize you to use previously unexplored cards.
Sure, all your standard staples will still be great. Lightning Strike is a great card, but is there anything else in the format that can fill in for Strike two through four? It’s good practice to know what cards are legal in the format, even if they don’t see play. Even outside of Brawl, when I am building decks, I like to do deep dives on Gatherer and try to picture cards in my deck that probably wouldn’t make the cut, and theory craft situations where they would be good. This practice plugs directly into Brawl, and I’m excited to dive deep and find some hidden standard treasure.
Brawl will (probably) be much easier on your collection of wild cards.
Take this with a grain of salt, but in theory, since you only have to craft one of each card, Brawl should be much easier on the wallet. The bottleneck for me on MTGA is certainly rare wild cards, and I look forward to the ability to either A) craft less of them, or B) just find a replacement at common or uncommon that will perform at about the same rate in a slower format. As a disclaimer, I can't be too sure about how accurate this will be since we haven’t gotten to brew a ton with the new format yet.
Overall, I’m super stoked to try out the format, and I think that with the existence of Arena, Brawl will flourish, and maybe even be ported into paper reasonably well. I look forward to seeing you in the Queues!