The Ultimate Guide to MTG Brawl

Do you want to be the first to master the newest Magic the Gathering format? We’ll help you do just that with our Complete Guide to MTG Brawl.

It this article we’ll answer the following questions:

  • How to play MTG Brawl?
  • How to build a Brawl deck?
  • Which cards will be staples in MTG Brawl?
  • When is MTG Brawl coming to Arena?
  • Which Brawl precon is the best?
  • How to upgrade Brawl 2019 decks?
  • and more!

What is MTG Brawl?

Brawl is the newest Magic the Gathering format. It’s a combination of both Standard and Commander. You build a deck around a legendary creature or planeswalker – that’s your commander card. All cards in your deck must be Standard legal, and no multiples allowed (except basics).

It’s a great format for new players, since there are fewer cards and interactions that you need to know. It’s also more budget friendly than Standard. If you want an expensive card like Teferi, Time Raveler in Standard, you’ll need 4 copies. That will cost you over 60 dollars. In brawl however, you’ll only need one, and $15 is definitely more manageable.

While brawl is a friendly format for new players, don’t think it’s boring for the more experienced ones. The format is still very unexplored and therefore provides a lot of deck building choices. The Singleton rule also helps with that, since it’s hard to figure out the best list quickly.

MTG Brawl Rules

Brawl has it’s own set of rules, both in deck building and in gameplay. Those differ further depending on the number of players. Let’s take a look a deck building rules first.

Deck Building Rules

Your deck must contain exactly 60 Standard-legal cards. One of those cards is your commander. It can either be a legendary creature or a planeswalker. You can’t have more than 1 copy of a card. The only exception to this rule are basic lands and cards that abide this rule – Rat Colony and Persistent Petitioners.

Color Identity Rule

All cards in you deck must align with your commander’s color identity. What is a color identity? It’s defined by the mana symbols that appear in a card’s casting cost, color indicator and rules text. Each card has a color identity.

For example Yarok, the Desecrated‘s color identity is green-black-blue. You can play Narset, Parter of Veils in a Yarok deck, since her color identity is blue. You can’t however play Yarok in a Narset deck.

Yarok-the-Desecrated-Brawl
Yarok, the Desecrated by Daarken

For instance Saheeli, Sublime Artificer has color identity of blue-red. Both red and blue mana symbols appear in her mana cost – that’s why you can’t play her in Yarok, because Yarok doesn’t have red in its identity.

You can play artifact and land cards without mana symbols in any deck. Pay attention to the rules text box, though. Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is colorless, but its color identity is green, since there is a green mana symbol in the rules text.

Gameplay Rules

Most gameplay rules are the same as in normal Magic the Gathering game. You want to put other player(s) to 0 life before they do the same to you. Or mill, them if that’s what you’re into. We’ll take a look at the rules that are different from the normal MTG games.

Command Zone

All commanders start the game face-up in the command zone. The command zone is a special zone only for your commander. That means it can be discarded with cards like Mind Rot or Toll of the Invasion. You can play it from the command zone as if it was in your hand. You must pay additional 2 generic mana for each time you’ve cast it before.

When your commander would be put into your library, hand, graveyard or exile from anywhere, you may return it to the command zone instead. The next time you’ll cast it from there, it will cost 2 more mana than before.

MTG Brawl Mulligan Rule

Brawl uses a special mulligan rule. The first time you take a mulligan – it’s free. That means you’ll shuffle your hand into your deck and draw 7 cards. You don’t have to put any cards on the bottom of your library. If you want to take another mulligan you’ll only draw six cards. The third mulligan is to five cards, fourth one to four and so on.

Which Cards are Legal in Brawl?

All cards in the current Standard sets are legal in Brawl. After Throne of Eldraine you will be able to play cards from the following sets:

  • Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica Allegiance
  • War of the Spark
  • Core Set 2020
  • Throne of Eldraine

You can read more about how rotation of Standard cards works in our article. Some cards might be on the Brawl banned list. Those card wouldn’t be legal in Brawl.

MTG Brawl Banned List

Brawl uses it’s own banned list, separate from Standard. Currently there are no cards banned in Brawl.

MTG Brawl Starting Life Total

Your life total depends on the number of players. If you’re playing 1 vs 1, your starting life total is 25. If you’re playing a multiplayer game, the players will start the game with 30 life.

Is There Commander Damage Rule in Brawl?

No, Commander damage rule is only for Commander. There is no such rule in Brawl.

When Does Brawl Release on MTG Arena?

Brawl releases on MTG Arena on Septmber 26th, 2019 – with the start of the newest set Throne of Eldraine.

Precon deck were already available to play in a special Arena event – Eldraine Courtside Brawl. You can also get them in paper, so let’s take a look at them.

MTG Brawl Decks – Throne of Eldraine

The first edition of MTG Brawl decks comes with Throne of Eldraine. There are four of them, each build around its own commander. We’ll take a look at every one of them and talk about their strengths and how to upgrade them. Afterwards we’ll also explain how to build your very own Brawl deck from a scratch.

Each deck provides you with some nice value. You’ll get a shock land, scry land, Command Tower and great commander in every one of them. Besides that you’ll also get some other Commander/Brawl and Standard staples as well. When Wizards design a product for the first time they usually don’t hold back. This is definitely true with those pre-constructed decks. You can check their price here.

Wild Bounty – Chulane, Teller of Tales

MTG-Brawl-Chulane-Teller-of-Tales
Click on the card to check deck’s price.

Chulane seems like of the strongest Eldraine Brawl commanders. It will definitely see a lot of play in regular Commander and possibly Standard also. All he wants you too do is to play good creatures with enter the battlefield effects. If that’s something you enjoy, Chulane is likely a great commander for you.

Wild Bounty Decklist

Creatures (15)
End-Raze Forerunners
Incubation Druid
Biomancer’s Familiar
Forbidding Spirit
Spectral Sailor
District Guide
Kraul Harpooner
Silhana Wayfinder
Paradise Druid
Frilled Mystic
Leafkin Druid
Gyre Engineer
Sharktocrab
Risen Reef
Meteor Golem

Sorceries (3)
Time Wipe
Circuitous Route
Flower // Flourish

Instants (2)
Growth Spiral
Incubation // Incongruity

Artifacts (2)
Parhelion II
Firemind Vessel

Enchantment (1)
Prison Realm
Lands (25)
Hallowed Fountain
Temple of Mystery
Plains
Island
Forest
Azorius Guildgate
Blossoming Sands
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Tranquil Cove
Thornwood Falls

New* (12)
Faerie Formation
Steelbane Hydra
Thorn Mammoth
Tome of Legends
Faerie Vandal
Run Away Together
Beanstalk Giant
Keeper of Fables
Rosethorn Acolyte
Maraleaf Pixie
Arcane Signet
Chulane, Teller of Tales

*These cards are new, released with Throne of Eldraine. As such they aren’t yet in the deckbox’s database. Until then you can check Eldraine cards here.

Chulane Upgrade

You mostly want to add some powerful creatures that have a use for lots of mana and provide a nice effect. Deck already has plenty of ramp but if you see another creature that gives you mana missing from the deck, feel free to add it. You can’t ever have too many of those.

Agent of Treachery is a great addition to Chulane deck. He can make use of lots of mana and is also great to bounce (return to your hand) with Chulane. Biogenic Ooze is also great, providing a nice mana sink.

Cavalier of Thorns looks like it was made for this deck. It ramps you, provides a great body and went it dies it gives you great value by returning the best card from your graveyard for another use.

However don’t forget to add some more removal, since the deck isn’t running enough of it. You can play cards like Conclave Tribunal but if you want to stay on the creature theme – Cavalier of Dawn and Deputy of Detention are waiting for you.

Savage Hunter: Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

MTG-Brawl-Korvold-Fae-Cursed-King
Click on the card to check deck’s price.

Big Dragon? Check. Sacrifice synergies? Check! Draw engine? Check! King Korvold does it all! If you enjoy all of this, Korvold is surely the right commander for you. It offers plenty of interesting deck building choices and has the right colors to support him.

Savage Hunter Decklist

Planeswalker (1)
Angrath, Captain of Chaos

Creatures (16)
Priest of Forgotten Gods
Judith, the Scourge Diva
Orzhov Enforcer
Plaguecrafter
Vindictive Vampire
Goblin Cratermaker
Rapacious Dragon
Evolution Sage
Paradise Druid
Pollenbright Druid
Golgari Findbroker
Thrashing Brontodon
Leyline Prowler
Mayhem Devil
Woodland Champion
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin

Sorcery (1)
Find // Finality

Instant (1)
Deathsprout

Artifact (1)
Bloodsoaked Altar

Enchantments (3)
Dreadhorde Invasion
Rhythm of the Wild
Moldervine Reclamation
Lands (25)
Temple of Malady
Stomping Ground
Swamp
Mountain
Forest
Bloodfell Caves
Cryptic Caves
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Golgari Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Jungle Hollow
Rugged Highlands
Rakdos Guildgate

New* (12)
Chittering Witch
Taste of Death
Thorn Mammoth
Gluttonous Troll
Bake into a Pie
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Keeper of Fables
Savvy Hunter
Golden Egg
Witch’s Oven
Arcane Signet
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

*These cards are new, released with Throne of Eldraine. As such they aren’t yet in the deckbox’s database. Until then you can check Eldraine cards here.

Korvold Upgrade

Liliana, Dreadhorde General is the perfect planeswalker for the deck. Her passive works in a similar vein to Korvold. Her first ability provides fodder for dragon to eat and I bet you can find a great use for her -4. Last but not least, the ultimate is fairly easy to reach especially if you’ll build on the proliferate sub-theme.

When you have lots of sacrifice outlets, cards like Act of Treason become playable. Steal your opponent’s best creature, hit them with it and then sacrifice it for value.

Both Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed will provide lots of sacrifice fodder which is important in a deck like this.

We expect Cavalier of Night to be an important part of Korvold decks. It’s both a sacrifice outlet and a removal stapled on a nice lifelinking body. He could save you from plenty of nasty spots.

Faerie Schemes: Alela, Artful Provocateur

MTG-Brawl-Alela-Artful-Provocateur
Click on the card to check deck’s price.

Alela brings the whole package. Buff effect for your flyers, great keywords and her personal Faerie Army, if only you build around her. Therefore she’ll provide you with lots of rewards if your deck is built in a right way. And it’s pretty good right out of the box. Take a look:

Faerie Schemes Decklist

Creatures (3)
Massacre Girl
Empyrean Eagle
Sephara, Sky’s Blade

Instants (3)
Winged Words
Mortify
Chemister’s Insight

Sorcery (1)
Kaya’s Wrath

Artifacts (6)
Bag of Holding
Ancestral Blade
Bloodsoaked Altar
Scrabbling Claws
Guild Globe
Mana Geode

Enchantments (5)
Smothering Tithe
Angelic Exaltation
Conclave Tribunal
Prison Realm
Lawmage’s Binding
Lands (26)
Temple of Silence
Watery Grave
Plains
Island
Swamp
Azorius Guildgate
Command Tower
Dimir Guildgate
Dismal Backwater
Emergence Zone
Evolving Wilds
Orzhov Guildgate
Scoured Barrens
Tranquil Cove

New* (16)
Mace of the Valiant
Shimmer Dragon
Workshop Elders
Banish into Fable
All That Glitters
Animating Faerie
Corridor Monitor
Frogify
Witching Well
Shinechaser
Arcanist’s Owl
Golden Egg
Arcane Signet
Heraldic Banner
Shambling Suit
Alela, Artful Provocateur

*These card are new, released with Throne of Eldraine. As such they aren’t yet in the deckbox’s database. Until then you can check Eldraine cards here.

Alela Upgrade

There’s really lots of way you could go on about Alela upgrade. You can focus on the flying sub-theme, or just rely heavily on enchantments and artifacts.

Dovin, Grand Arbiter seems like a perfect planeswalker for an Alela deck. He makes artifact flyers, which will synergize with lots of card in your deck. His ultimate can also be quickly reached with your Faerie army. Hanged Executioner provides two flyers and a removal spell when you need one.

If you maybe want to focus on Faeries, Icon of Ancestry – with Alela in play it’ll provide you with both Faerie and a buff effect for them. In addition, the best enchantment you could possibly add to this deck is certainly Ethereal Absolution. It grows your creatures, makes opposing ones smaller and also creates flyers! What’s not to like?

Knight’s Charge: Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

MTG-Brawl-Syr-Gwyn-Hero-of-Ashvale
Click on the card to check deck’s price.

Want to attack? Want to play Knights and equip them? Syr Gwyn will be your (and Ashvale’s) hero. While costing six mana is not nothing, he will immediately give you a bunch of mana by equipping everything for free! Check his decklist.

Knight’s Charge Decklist

Creatures (5)
Midnight Reaper
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Skyknight Legionnaire
Corpse Knight
Skyknight Vanguard

Sorceries (2)
Single Combat
Bond of Discipline

Instants (5)
Response // Resurgence
Despark
Mortify
Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty
Integrity // Intervention

Artifacts (5)
Marauder’s Axe
Icon of Ancestry
Ancestral Blade
Mask of Immolation
Colossus Hammer
Lands (23)
Godless Shrine
Temple of Triumph
Plains
Swamp
Mountain
Bloodfell Caves
Boros Guildgate
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Orzhov Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Scoured Barrens
Wind-Scarred Crag

New* (20)
Mace of the Valiant
Silverwing Squadron
Embereth Skyblazer
Knights’ Charge
Shining Armor
Venerable Knight
Belle of the Brawl
Foulmire Knight
Order of Midnight
Smitten Swordmaster
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Crystal Slipper
Embereth Shieldbreaker
Inspiring Veteran
Steelclaw Lance
Wintermoor Commander
Fireborn Knight
Arcane Signet
Tournament Grounds
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale

*These card are new, released with Throne of Eldraine. As such they aren’t yet in the deckbox’s database. Until then you can check Eldraine cards here.

Syr Gwyn Upgrade

When upgrading Syr Gwyn, you’ll want to focus on good Knights and good Equipment. All Cavaliers from M20 are Knights:

Each of them is worthy of the inclusion. You might want to play only some of them, depending on the particular build of your deck and your mana base. For example if your build is focused on white-black and splashing red, you probably won’t want to play the red Cavalier.

Cavalier-of-Dawn-Syr-Gwyn-Upgrade
Cavalier of Dawn by Daarken

One card that might look weak is Charity Extractor. It does seem like a draft chaff but it’s one of the only two Knights with lifelink in Standard. When you play Gwyn and put a bunch of equipment on Extractor, you’ll gain so much life that your opponents will have a hard time coming back.

All Standard-legal playable Equipment is already in the deck. Pay attention to the new spoilers and future sets, there might be something you’ll want to add in the future.

Which Eldraine Brawl Deck is Best to Buy?

When deciding which Brawl deck to buy, the only question you need to answer is: “Which deck looks the most fun to me?”

Each deck can be upgraded to be competitive, each one comes with plenty of valuable cards. However the one thing a deck can’t do is be fun to you if you don’t enjoy the theme. The following ranking of the decks should serve more as a tiebreaker than a exact pick for the best deck for you.

Most Upgradable

  1. Wild Bounty: Chulane
  2. Faerie Schemes: Alela
  3. Savage Hunter: Korvold
  4. Knight’s Charge: Syr Gwyn

Here we’re ranking the deck on how many possibilities it has for upgrading the deck. The first three deck are close enough, the biggest outlier is the Knight deck. It really puts you in its niche of Knights & Equipment. As such it doesn’t provide too much wiggle room for upgrades.

Other three decks however provide plenty of customization. They are ranked based on how focused its theme is.

Most Valuable

  1. Faerie Schemes: Alela
  2. Knight’s Charge: Syr Gwyn
  3. Wild Bounty: Chulane
  4. Savage Hunter: Korvold

Each deck comes with a shock land (valued around $10), scry land ($2), Command Tower ($2) and Arcane Signet which is new commander staple and will probably be worth something. There’s also the commander and some Standard staples and brand new cards. Our rankings are based on what value we predict will be in each deck. Alela’s deck for example has Smothering Tithe a great Commander staple.

Deck values are actually pretty close in value and should provide you with at least 15-20 dollars worth of cards which seems great.

Best Win Rate

  1. Faerie Schemes: Alela (58%)
  2. Wild Bounty: Chulane (45%)
  3. Savage Hunter: Korvold (45%)
  4. Knight’s Charge: Syr Gwyn (35%)

These win rates are based on how well the decks play against each other right out of the box. The data was made from MTG Arena Tool, during the Brawl event on Arena (1 vs 1).

This doesn’t mean too much though, since you’ll probably be playing against other decks and upgrade your deck. If you just want to buy all the decks and play them against each other, maybe give some extra upgrades to the Knights so they’ll be able to hold their own.

Best Deck

If we were to pick the best deck of the bunch using all of the criteria above, we’d choose Faerie Schemes with Alela Artful Provocateur.

Best-Brawl-Deck-Eldraine

How to Build an MTG Brawl Deck?

So you decided to build a Brawl deck from a scratch. We already wrote about general deck building tips. You should check the article out, although some stuff can’t be applied to Brawl. We’ll talk about stuff that’s specific to Brawl here in addition to the article above.

First Steps

There are usually two ways of starting a Brawl deck. You might already have a fun legendary creature or planeswalker picked. Now you just want to find cards that work well with it. The other way is to have a certain strategy in mind – and you need a commander that’ll allow you to play the cards you want in it.

In both cases you’ll want to have a good search engine. You should definitely check out Scryfall’s advanced search. You can search by color identity, creature type, rules text, Standard legality, whatever you want really. It will definitely help you to find the right cards for your Brawl deck.

How Many Lands to Play in Brawl?

The amount may vary from the build of your deck. As a rule of thumb we’d say to start with 25 lands and then add or remove them depending on you deck. Aggressive decks could possibly work with 22, but since starting life total is 25, we don’t expect those to be the best strategies. More greedy deck like 5-color Golos could go as far as to play 28 lands. It really does depend on the curve you have.

Which Lands are legal in Brawl?

You can check all of this with this Scryfall search. For a two-color deck we’d recommend getting all which are in your two-colors.

Same goes for three-color decks, but there you might not have enough space to run all of them or you might to play more basic lands, yo they’ll come in play untapped. If that’s the case try to build your deck in a way that there are two main colors and one splashed. Therefore you can have less lands in the splashed color.

The best dual lands are probably shock lands (Overgrown Tomb) followed by scry lands (Temple of Malady) and life-gain lands (Jungle Hollow). You might have some synergy with Guilgates (Golgari Guildgate) too – for example with Circuitous Route.

Brawl Staples

Although the Brawl has just began getting some traction, there are some cards that will be staples for as long as they are legal.

MTG-Brawl-Staples-Arcane-Signet

Command Tower and Arcane Signet are two cards that are so good at their rate that they should see play in any kind of Brawl deck. Thankfully both of those are included in the pre-constructed brawl decks.

Since three color decks will already want lots of different dual lands, we’d imagine that Field of the Dead would be a good inclusion to all of them. Maybe as a 26th land – it provides both mana and late game value, although it enters the battlefield tapped.

Best Mono-Colored Commanders for Brawl

Although it’s fairly early in the Brawl beginning, we think these commanders will often be at the front of mono-colored decks:

Playing a mono-colored deck will give you more consistent mana base. Besides that, you won’t need to mess with dual lands. Just take a bunch of basics, one or two value lands (like Karn’s Bastion) and you’re good to go.

Best Multi-Colored Commanders for Brawl

On the other hand multi-colored commanders give you more option to chose from. If you’re not sure from which to pick, legendary creatures from Core Set 2020 seem like fantastic build-arounds:

As for two-colored commanders there are plenty of choices from Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance. Some ideas:

Niv-Mizzet-Reborn-5-Color
Niv-Mizzet Reborn by Raymond Swanland

If you’re one of those players that can’t decide and want to play every card, Brawl has two nice options for you. Niv-Mizzet Reborn wants you to play lots of two-colored cards, while Golos, Tireless Pilgrim just wants you to cast and activate him.

Brawl Review

It’s time to put a final grade on the Brawl as a format. Should you try MTG Brawl out? Is Brawl any good? To understand all this, we’ll firstly have to take a look at why Brawl failed the first time around.

Why did Brawl Fail the First Time?

Brawl as a format was first announced on March 22nd, 2018. Now after one and half year later, it got a second chance. But what made Brawl fail the first time around? Well, there was some unfortunate mistakes.

Mistake #1: Baral

If you want to blame one single guy for Brawl’s problems, Baral, Chief of Compliance is your guy. It was the most played deck on MTGO (original way to play Magic online) and it won the most games too. His way to victory – as you can imagine – was to counter every single relevant spell. Nobody wants to see their spells countered, especially in a fun casual format like Brawl.

After some months Wizards banned Baral but the damage was done. At least now Standard and Brawl have separate ban lists, which wasn’t the case before May 10th, 2018. So the next time something like this happens, bans can solve the issue more quickly.

Mistake #2: Starting Life Total Changes

After Baral ban, Wizards were afraid that Brawl starting life was too high at 25 – giving control too much to work with. That’s why they reduced it to 20. It seems like a pretty normal life total, right? Well, that sadly isn’t the case when you’re limited to singles only. Afterwards an aggressive deck build around Kari Zev, Skyship Raider started to wreck everyone.

Since the idea of Brawl was to have longer games where you could play your big spells, this was far from ideal. As a result the life total change was reverted back to 25 for 1 vs 1. Multiplayer starting life total was always at 30 during those changes.

Mistake #3: No Brawl on Arena

Brawl seems like a perfect format for Arena. Focused on Standard, but with unpredictability and fun combos of Commander. It’s seems like a perfect fit for MTG Arena which needs a permanent Constructed format besides Standard.

However at the time Arena was still in Beta and it apparently didn’t have resources to support a brand new format. Things have changed and MTG Brawl is coming on MTGA with Throne of Eldraine.

MTG Brawl Review: Final Grade

As we’ve seen the three biggest mistakes with Brawl were removed. We now have the Brawl Banned List, starting life set at 25 and with September 26th, 2019 – Brawl is finally joining MTG Arena.

Pre-built decks for Brawl look fun and have strong cards at a reasonable price point. Format looks fun and nothing seems to broken so far. With all the craziness of Commander and the freshness of Standard – Brawl looks like it’s poised for success on its second try.

The most important piece of Brawl’s potential triumph is the happiness of you – the players. First time around this didn’t happen. It’s yet to bee seen if fixing of the mistakes changes that. In conclusion we give the new Brawl format a grade of optimistic B+.

Brawling Out

What do you think about Brawl? Tell us in the comments bellow. If you don’t want to miss another informative content or you just want to laugh at some Magic memes, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

If you’re planning on buying some of the decks you can alredy preorder them on Amazon.

MTG Arena players, make sure that you’ve checked our code list for free swag in MTGA. It would be a shame to miss some.

Anyways that’s all for today. May you have a lot of spectacular and fun Brawl games.

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