Hello everybody, and welcome back to another article of Brawl Haul! On Monday there was a Ban and Restrictions announcement and while I think it is fascinating that a card was finally banned in Vintage (aside from Ante and Conspiracies), two cards were banned in Brawl, being Drannith Magistrate and Winota, Joiner of Forces. Drannith Magistrate I was expecting, but Winota felt somewhat out of left field for me. It is a bit of a shame as my featured decklist for Ikoria had her as the commander, but the banning of Drannith Magistrate makes up for it. With all that said, let us jump into this week’s article!
The main goal of this deck is to stabilize the board and utilize planeswalkers to eventually close out the game. These planeswalkers serve several different purposes, whether it is creating a large number of creatures to slow down combat, slow down the opponent’s deck, or eventually winning the game.
What does Narset of the Ancient Way do for the Deck?
Narset serves two main purposes for this deck, these being helping the deck ramp and eventually stabilize. Her uptick is fairly strong as ramp for almost all of our cards, in addition to padding our life total is two things that help the deck. Her downtick is also a great tool for filtering through our deck, while still keeping the board clear. Finally, her ultimate is one of the finishers the deck has. Being able to shock every time a spell is cast is an amazing ability and it finishes the game very quickly. Another important aspect of Narset is that she has a Jeskai color identity, which gives us access to a wide variety of planeswalkers and powerful cards we could not run otherwise.
Slowing the Boardstate Down
The main way we slow down the board state to start having our planeswalkers ahead is by either clearing the board or flooding the board with tokens. The cards that fill this role in the deck are Shatter the Sky, Flame Sweep, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, and Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis.
Even though we often cannot draw a card off of Shatter the Sky, a four mana wrath is still amazing for this style deck. It works well with several of our planeswalkers, such as Teferi, Timeraveler, or Gideon Blackblade. Flame Sweep can also be just as strong as Shatter the Sky as we can wipe on three, into Narset on four. It does not always wipe the board, but often is enough. On the other side of things, we have Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, who provides a 1/1 every time we cast one of the noncreature spells in the deck. This adds up fairly quickly and is a great way of allowing us to develop the board while playing a lot of planeswalkers. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis also fits the same role, being able to send out a decent amount of chump blockers. Being able to escape her, later on, is also very nice as we have no recursion in the deck.
Locking the Opponent Out
Another way we have to stabilize the board is by locking the opponent out from playing the game. While we do not have access to most typical tax effects, there are a variety of nontraditional abilities attached to planeswalkers. The cards that exemplify this the best are Dovin, Hand of Control, Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor, Narset, Parter of Veils, and Teferi, Time Raveler.
Both Dovin, Hand of Control, and Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor do effectively the same thing for the deck, with Dovin providing a taxing the interaction and nullifying a creature, and Kasmina making it harder for the opponent to target our permanents and creating chump blockers. Both of them come out early and can help make our more important planeswalkers stick around longer. Narset Parter of Veils’s ability to nullify card draw shuts down control decks and her downtick giving us card selection lets us close out the game against those types of decks. The last main lock planeswalker is Teferi, Time Raveler, who hoses decks running instants and any large permanents. It is hard to describe how strong it is unless you have played against him.
Closing Out the Game
Once we have stabilized with a few planeswalkers onto the board, we can focus on closing out the game. There are three main ways we close out the game, these being Chandra, Awakened Inferno, Sarkhan the Masterless, and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.
Chandra, Awakened Inferno is our best win condition as her uptick adds up very quickly, Both of her downticks are also amazing as it turns into either wrath for a wide board or as removal for a single creature. Combined with the fact she cannot be countered makes her a powerful threat. Sarkhan the Masterless has a similar way of closing out the game as playing him, upticking, and swinging with at least 3-4 planeswalkers for lethal is a common line for this deck. The downtick can also be decent against token decks, but often we can just kill the opponent. This deck is able to churn through cards very fast, which makes winning with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries into a viable win condition. It often takes a turn or two with him on the field to deck ourselves, but given how the deck is able to lock people out from interacting with us, it is not hard for Jace to last a couple turns.
Other Notable Cards
There are a few other cards that do not have the main purpose but fit well with what this deck is trying to do. The cards that felt like they were putting in the most work was Mythos of Vadrok, Inspired Ultimatum, and Archon of Absolution.
To nobody’s surprise, Mythos of Vadrok turns out to be a very strong card in slower formats like Brawl. Without the special cost, it is an on-rate removal spell, but with the alternative cost, it is able to lock down 5 non-artifact, non-land permanents for a turn. This can either be used to protect our planeswalkers, lock down the opponent’s planeswalkers or disable their blockers to give us lethal. Inspired Ultimatum is another great card that can shift the game in our favor fairly easily. Dealing 5 damage and drawing 5 is very strong and while the 5 life is somewhat laughable, it still can be impactful. The last card that overperformed was Archon of Absolution, which prevents a lot of early game aggression as the opponent needs to decide whether to develop their board or attack.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Due to the nature of planeswalkers, this deck is able to grind out a lot of slower matchups. There are also a variety of cards that completely hose some style of decks and have numerous times caused my opponents to concede because it is so demoralizing to play against, such as Teferi, Time Raveler against control decks and Sarkhan the Masterless against token decks.
The blowout potential aside, there are some matchups that are absolutely miserable for the deck. This deck is not strong against aggressive decks and if we are not able to wipe their early aggression with a board clear, chances are we will not be able to recover.
If you are interested in checking out this deck, here is a link to the decklist.
One thing I want to start doing more is having planeswalkers as the commander for decks. In paper magic, I play a lot of Commander and so I am used to having creatures be at the front of the deck, but every time I have made a commander deck with a planeswalker at the helm it has always been a blast. As for this deck itself, I was torn in deck building as on one hand, Cycling is one of my favorite mechanics of all time and I wanted to make it based around cards like Zenith Flare, but on the other, this was likely one of the only times I can get the chance to make a fun superfriends style deck. Later down the line, I might go back to the drawing board with Cycling to try and make a strong and enjoyable deck, but I do not know when that would be.
With all that being said, I hope you have enjoyed this week’s deck tech and if there are any cards that interest you, make sure to let me know! I have still been trying to get companions to work, but have not seen much success in that regard. Like always, if there are any cards that interest you as a commander, make sure to let me know, and until next time, good luck brewing!