Insider: Speculating on Brawl

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Hello, all! Last weekend at the Dominaria prerelease, I was able to experience not only the new cards but also the MTG Brawl format for the first time. Brawl is a relatively new addition to the MTG format arsenal. It is essentially a 60-card version of Commander that restricts deck building to only Standard-legal cards.

Deckbuilders choose a Standard Legal legendary creature or planeswalker to determine the deck’s color attributes. Each player starts at 30 life. It's pretty straightforward stuff.

All things considered, I greatly enjoyed playing games of this new format. It was like Standard, except players were required to include more cards from the available card pool. The addition of a Commander is also a neat spin on playing Standard, as the format forces the player to vary the cards in their deck, while still maintaining a sense of redundancy by virtue of always having the option to play their Commander.

Why Speculating on this Format Could Pay Off

Most importantly, the format doesn’t suck. I enjoyed myself enough while slinging a few games with a friend’s decks that I went home and brewed up some lists.

In general, there are varying scales of "stayability" for casual formats. Obviously, Frontier is gone with the wind. I have a high expectation that Pauper will continue to thrive. So what gives Brawl an edge?

Most importantly, the format has Wizards of the Coast’s stamp of approval. In fact, the format was announced by WOTC toward the end of Dominaria spoiler season. Having the backing of the company that prints the card leads me to believe that Brawl has a bright future ahead of it.

What's the Best Way to Invest in Brawl?

In my estimation, the way to make a few bucks speculating on Brawl is simply to know which cards that didn’t have a buyer now have potential suitors. One thing I noticed when I was brewing Brawl decks was that there were certain staples that seemed to go into every deck that met the color identity requirement.

When we build Standard decks, there are certain marquee staples that take up big chunks of the metagame. For instance, a card like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner makes it very difficult for other two-drops to earn a spot in most black creature decks. Every deck starts with four Glint-Sleeve before it even considers a fifth two-drop creature. In Brawl, on the other hand, there is a lot more flexibility at each slot in the curve since players can’t just choose the best two or three cards and play four copies of each.

For the most part, if a card appears in a Standard deck, it will be a Brawl staple. It is possible that Brawl creates more demand for Standard staples and the prices could go up, but I’m convinced the real value will come from identifying Brawl staples that are not currently Standard staples. I noticed when I was brewing decks that there were other Brawl staples that extended beyond Standard. These were cards that made nearly every Brawl deck that could play them but were often only fringe players in actual Standard decks.

A good example is Gonti, Lord of Luxury:

Gonti doesn’t always make the cut in a Standard deck but will slot nicely into nearly every Brawl deck that plays black. The card is just good enough that it doesn’t matter whether your deck is aggressive or controlling, Gonti is just a great card.

It is also worth noting that there is an emphasis on card advantage in Brawl, since it is highly encouraged to be a multiplayer format. People will obviously build Brawl decks focused on multiplayer or one-on-one specifically, but we should always be thinking about the multiplayer factor.

Finally, in a format where you get 30 life, control decks are obviously extremely good, so I decided to start by building a bunch of "not blue decks." I built BG (Hapatra), BW Kambal, and GW (Shanna). I noticed that I was playing a lot of the same cards between decks. With all of that being said, here are a few more cards that fit my qualifications of "Brawl staple":

I'm pretty sure every deck playing green will make use of this powerful sorcery. Even though it is kind of a niche thing in Standard, it is a full-on Brawl staple.

It doesn't really matter what your black deck is doing. The Prophet will likely make the cut.

This is a great beater with some built-in card advantage. It's likely good enough in any kind of creature-heavy deck to be worth inclusion.

The card is quite powerful and hard to deal with. The same idea applies here: basically, any green creature deck would play a monster like this.

Obviously, some amount of the deck-building process is to include cards that are good with one's commander, but a lot of building decks comes down to just playing good cards. I'm confident that betting on the "good cards" for Brawl will have significant upside as the format continues to impress players.

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