Hello everybody and welcome back to Brawl Haul! Before diving into this week's article, I would just like to say thank you for the support of last week's article. The timing was somewhat awkward as there was not any queue to play historic brawl decks so in the future I will try to release them whenever historic brawl is the FNM. Anyway, onto this week's deck featuring Radha, Heart of Keld!
The main goal of this deck is to ramp in the early game in order to make Radha a massive threat with her activated ability, but also to help ramp out massive threats capable of closing out the game by themselves, such as Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Meteor Golem. The other main win condition is with Radha herself, using her ability to pump her up and chunk the opponent for most of their life total.
What does Radha do for our Deck?
In standard, Radha is currently one of the only land-matters commanders, with the other being Omnath, Locus of the Roil and as much as he excels with a lot of lands entering the field, he is much more focused on elementals than lands. Unfortunately, a lot of the cool shenanigans one would be able to do in a land-focused deck simply is not available in standard. This results in her being much more useful in just a generic Gruul ramp deck. Radha doubles up as not only being a strong tool to ensure better draws but then doubles up as being a massive threat in the late game.
As strong as playing lands from the top of our deck is, there are a ton of other strong ramp tools in the deck to make sure we can consistently push out massive threats in the late game. The best ramp tools we have access to are Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Arboreal Grazer, Cultivate, and Circuitous Route.
Both Azusa and Arboreal Grazer can give us a massive lead in the early game as both can provide an absurd amount of ramp. Azusa is also incredibly silly with Radha as playing lands from our library is very strong. Arboreal Grazer is not as explosive as Azusa, but playing it turn 1 line up perfectly for our ramp on turn 3. The other types of the ramp we run are in the style of Cultivate and Circuitous Route, which just pulls them straight for the deck. Both of these spells are essentially the same, although Route is a bit worse due to coming out one turn later.
After spending the early game ramping, we need to start focusing on dropping bombs. The strongest ramp targets we have are Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Meteor Golem, Elder Gargaroth, and Cavalier of Flame.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is the best ramp target in the deck, and by a long shot too. Both his uptick and downtick are able to keep the board relatively clean while his ultimate just finish the game. It is hard to describe how demoralizing it is to play against Ugin and so more often than not the opponent concedes when he hits the field. When compared to Ugin, Meteor Golem is significantly weaker, but being able to remove any nonland permanent is great and can turn the tide of the game by hitting a big planeswalker or creature. Elder Gargaroth comes out a bit earlier and is great for closing out the game against aggressive decks as being able to generate tokens and gaining life is often enough to beat them. The Gargaroth also excels against control decks as the third option of drawing a card means we can refuel after a board wipe. Finally, there is Cavalier of Flame, which is an all-around great card. Being able to play a couple of threats and then give everything haste is invaluable.
The last type of cards we have in the deck is to help Radha get in for damage, with these cards often giving her trample or double strike. The best cards for this are Embercleave, The Triumph of Anax, Raking Claws, and Collision//Colossus.
Unsurprisingly, Embercleave is the best tool we have for giving trample and double strike. It has gotten to the point where it has started to feel like a copout to include because of how much of a shoo-in it is in pretty much any aggressive red deck. The Triumph of Anax is a bit less explosive but is great for setting up future turns, as well as for getting in with chip damage. Raking Claws is weaker on its own when compared to the other cards but being able to cycle it can be handy when the game is not going well for us. The last strong tool we have for this is Collision//Colossus, with the pump spell being a great way to surprise the opponent. Collision is not great, but in some matchups, it can shine.
Other Notable Cards
There were a few other cards that overperformed for the deck even when not supporting the deck’s main goals and deserve a mention for being incredibly strong. These cards are Cindervines, Living Twister, Once Upon a Time, and Field of the Dead.
Cindervines has become an auto-include for me as it is great in so many matchups. Hosing people for playing noncreature spells are great and the ability to take out a problematic artifact or enchantment makes it very versatile. Once Upon a Time provides a ton of consistency, even if we do not cast it for free. It lets us keep greedier hands as we can often find whatever the hand is missing, whether it be a land or a creature. Another all-around strong card is Living Twister, who lets us turn our lands into removal in the mid to late game, as well as providing a huge amount of reach. Living Twister also works great with the last notable card, Field of the Dead. I have talked about Field of the Dead numerous times and of how its a powerful card that can shift decks win condition very quickly, but with Living Twister, we are able to pick up lands and put it down again to generate zombies. This becomes even more silly when combined with Azusa as we can generate 6/6 worth of stats for free.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The biggest strength of this deck is how quickly we can get ahead of our opponents. Ramp is the archetype that if the draws are decent, you can rollover someone very quickly. Combine that with the fact the commander is helping with ramping as well as being a payoff and you are left with a fairly good all-around.
If you have kept up with standard recently, there is a solid chance you have seen Bant and Sultai Ramp, as well as Temur Reclamation, which is basically just another ramp deck. The reason why these decks all perform well is that Simic draws a ton of cards with Growth Spiral and Uro. This is where this deck falls short, as Gruul does not have a good source of card draw.
If you are interested in trying out this week’s deck, here is a link to it!
It has been a while since I have played a ramp deck in Brawl and so it was a very nice trip to play one again. This deck performed fairly well across the board and I have always been a fan of decks that can just do a complete 180 and win out of nowhere, which this deck is capable of doing somewhat consistently with Radha being able to pump herself up or by just playing a massive creature early on.
That is all for this week’s deck, it is fairly straightforward so there is not much else to really say about it. I am planning on revisiting some of the older commanders I missed before they rotate out when the new Zendikar set comes out, so if there is any commander that you want me to cover, make sure to let me know and I will see what I can do. Until next time, good luck brewing!