Hello everybody and welcome back to another article of Brawl Haul! There is not much I have to say beforehand so let us jump into this week’s deck featuring Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God!
The main goal of the deck is to slow the opponent down through hand disruption and resource denial until we can outvalue them with our planeswalkers. Once we stabilize we can just overwhelm the opponents and somewhat lock them out of the game with them until we can finish them off with Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God.
What does Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God do for us?
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is an interesting commander to say the least. His uptick and downtick are great for cutting the opponent out of resources while his ultimate is a great finisher once we have decided to be done with our food. His biggest strengths come from the fact he can double up on any planeswalker’s ability through his passive ability. This can lead to a wide variety of blowouts as the opponent might leave him at a certain number of loyalty, keeping in mind what he is able to do, only for us to drop another planeswalker out of the blue and surprise them. On top of this, Grixis is a color pairing that can be very controlling, as well as having almost every planeswalker we would want to run, aside from Teferi, Time Raveler which unfortunately has some white. Honestly, the one thing that does bother me about Nicol Bolas as a commander is that he lends himself so well to super friends, but that causes a massive flavor fail if you want to make the deck strong, but that’s something I can overlook once in a while.
Hand Disruption and Resource Denial
Easily the best part of playing any xxB deck is the premium hand disruption we have access to. Having information is invaluable for a deck like ours as it helps us know when we can extend and when we should leave up interaction. The best cars for this are Thought Erasure, Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, Narset, Parter of Veils, and Ashiok, Dream Render.
Thought Erasure is the best hand disruption we have as being able to choose almost anything from the opponent's hand can hinder their gameplan a ton. It even goes the extra mile by helping us with our future draw with the surveil 1 that is stapled onto the card. Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage is another great tool for making the opponent’s hand empty, also known as hellbent. If we are able to get our opponent to be hellbent, we can deal with every card they play fairly easily resulting in us eventually winning. In terms of resource denial, we have both Narset, Parter of Veils and Ashiok, Dream Render. Narset’s ability to prevent card draw obliterates a majority of control decks as we can go even with them while still pulling ahead via card draw or our planeswalkers. Ashiok is great against any decks relying on their graveyard while the static ability occasionally just hoses the opponent.
Removal and Counters
Whenever we aren’t focusing on disrupting our opponent, we are typically holding up interaction to make sure the opponent cannot do anything. The best removal and counterspells we have are Bedevil, Eliminate, Drown in the Loch, and Tale’s End.
Bedevil has always been a strong performing card whenever I have used it. Being able to hit every important type of permanent is amazing as the more flexibility we can have the better. Eliminate is a newer removal spell that has also performed great as it is a cheap removal spell that can hit most annoying planeswalkers that we have trouble dealing with, such as Teferi, Time Raveler. In matchups when we don't have to deal with the aforementioned planeswalkers, it is able to hit any random early game minion that can cause us problems. Drown in the Loch is incredibly strong as being a counterspell that doubles up as removal is great. While it can take a bit of time to make the spell castable, we can typically get enough cards in the opponent's graveyard to make the spell powerful. Finally, we have Tale’s End, which is one of my favorite cards in Brawl since every deck has it and there is something about having your commander get countered by it is so tilting. It is easily the card responsible for the most rage quits in any of my games.
Closing Out the Game
Aside from Nicol Bolas, we have a few other planeswalkers who can make quick work of the opponent if given a few turns on the board. On top of this, we have a couple of other cards serve the whole purpose of closing out the game. The cards that have the sole purpose of closing out the game are Chandra, Awakened Inferno, Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Command the Dreadhorde, and Field of the Dead.
Chandra, Awakened Inferno just clears the board over and over again while her uptick pings the opponent to death. She provides Nicol Bolas with not only a suitable clear but also an uptick that adds two loyalty. While seemingly not a huge deal, this lets him spam every other planeswalker’s abilities significantly easier. Next is Liliana, Dreadhorde General. Her uptick and passive ability do a good job at cluttering the board up and making it difficult for our opponents to get in with damage. Her downtick is a great tool for clearing out the board and her ultimate essentially just wins the game. Command the Dreadhorde just reanimates all of our planeswalkers, which will often just win us the game through sheer value. Finally, there is Field of the Dead, which lets us clutter the board and eventually either run over the opponent with zombies or help us raise the loyalty of our planeswalkers.
Other Notable Cards
There were a few other cards that deserve a mention despite not fitting the main themes of our deck. The cards that stood out the most were Soul Diviner, Spark Double, Interplanar Beacon, and The Elderspell.
Soul Diviner is able to turn our planeswalkers into card draw which is pretty nice as some of them do not have a great ultimate, such as Chandra, Awakened Inferno. Spark Double is essentially an extra copy of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, who in himself is an extra copy of all our planeswalkers. Basically Spark double is just an extra copy of our commander, except he comes in with another loyalty point on him. Interplanar Beacon gives a lot of padding for our life total, as well as helping fix our mana to cast our planeswalkers. Finally, we have the Elderspell, which is essentially a kill switch for our deck. We can kill all of our own planeswalkers to feed to Nicol Bolas and let him activate his ultimate. Not only is it a strong card for the deck but it is also a very flavorful way of winning.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This deck is an absolute monster against control decks as they typically struggle against planeswalkers, especially when we have 10 planeswalkers all that punish slower decks. Even against faster, more midrange focused decks, the deck has a good matchup due to having so much control tools. Occasionally a greedy deck comes around and out greed us, but those matches never felt unwinnable.
The biggest weakness of our deck is that it struggles a bit against aggressive decks. We have three main board clears in the form of Cry of the Carnarium, Flame Sweep, and Ritual of Soot but if we cannot hit any of those we just lose as the matchup is incredibly rough. Planeswalkers are not able to deal with wide boards easily and so we are very reliant on the board clears in order to deal with them.
If you are interested in checking out this week’s deck, here’s a link to it!
It was nice to go back and play around with a hard control deck given the last couple of decks have been a bit on the aggressive side, especially with a commander that I used to see all the time. I always enjoy taking a swing at popular archetypes since it is always interesting to see how different the builds are. As mentioned last week, I’m going through commanders that are rotating out this fall and so if there are any cards that strike your fancy, make sure to let me know!
That is all I have to say about this week’s deck, I had a pretty fun time playing it. I have been playing a ton of Historic recently so I might do a couple of deck techs for that format over the next couple of months, make sure to keep your eyes out for it! Thank you for reading this week’s article and until next week, good luck brewing!