With Brawl now enjoying all the fame and fortune that comes with being one-seventh of a real Constructed format, it’s steadily picking up more and more fans. However, given the reluctance Wizards is showing in giving Brawl more airtime, it’s reasonable enough to hesitate before incinerating wildcards purely for this part-time format.
Rare and Mythic wildcards are a premium resource, and dumping them into a deck you can play, at most, one day a week isn’t the best feeling in the world. As a result, and thanks to a decent selection of uncommon planeswalkers and legendary creatures, here are some entirely rare-free Brawl decks so you can get a foothold in the format.
Bear in mind that these decks are, necessarily, worse than the “average” Brawl deck; that’s the price of doing business with no rares! Be sure to check your collection for spare rares you have lying around to upgrade these decks. Each decklist below comes with an “upgrades” section, with a list of cards that it’s worth including (assuming you have them already).
Budget Brawl Decks
Grumgully, the Generous
Grumgully reads like a rare at first sight–it offers a powerful ability at a very reasonable price, and even synergizes supremely well with existing Gruul mechanics like riot. Many of the best green and red commons and uncommons aren’t Humans, and so it’s very easy to build the core of this deck within our zero-rare constraints.
1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 13 Forest (347) 1 Gruul Guildgate 7 Mountain (343) 1 Rugged Highlands 1 Barkhide Troll 1 Goblin Cratermaker 1 Kraul Harpooner 1 Leafkin Druid 1 Rimrock Knight/Boulder Rush 1 Zhur-Taa Goblin 1 Evolution Sage 1 Thrashing Brontodon 1 Bloom Hulk 1 Mowu, Loyal Companion 1 Paradise Druid 1 Rampart Smasher 1 Pollenbright Druid 1 Scampering Scorcher 1 Sunder Shaman 1 Bolrac-Clan Crusher 1 Keeper of Fables 1 Trollbred Guardian 1 Beanstalk Giant/Fertile Footsteps 1 Rumbling Ruin 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter 1 New Horizons 1 Rhythm of the Wild 1 Shock 1 Domri's Ambush 1 Courage in Crisis 1 Jaya's Greeting 1 Scorching Dragonfire 1 Band Together 1 Pulse of Murasa 1 Collision / Colossus 1 Bond of Flourishing 1 Lava Coil 1 Circuitous Route
Obviously, we’ve gone deep on the +1/+1 counter theme here, as Grumgully’s passive ability is the perfect enabler for this approach. We can gain them from riot or adapt, grow them with proliferate, and even get some weird bonuses from them with cards like Jiang Yanggu and Rumbling Ruin. On top of this, there’s not a single Human in the deck!
The biggest issue is that Gruul decks generally want to go big, and while we have all the mana dorks to enable this, we don’t have much in the way of payoffs. Having big finishers like Skarrgan Hellkite or Biogenic Ooze will level this deck up significantly, so be sure to have a look through your collection to see if you’ve already picked up some big monsters to include.
- Castle Embereth for Mountain
- Castle Garenbrig for Forest
- Fabled Passage for Mountain
- Stomping Ground for Forest
- Karn’s Bastion for Forest
- Incubation Druid for Barkhide Troll
- Wildborn Preserver for Goblin Cratermaker
- Pelt Collector for Rimrock Knight
- Bonecrusher Giant for Jaya’s Greeting
- Finale of Devastation for Band Together
- Once Upon a Time for Pulse of Murasa
- Biogenic Ooze for Courage in Crisis
- Voracious Hydra for Rampart Smasher
- Gruul Spellbreaker for Sunder Shaman
- Skarrgan Hellkite for Trollbred Guardian
- Nissa, Who Shakes the World for Scampering Scorcher
- Embercleave for Rumbling Ruin
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is the perfect commander for a Brawl deck. She gives you a very clear set of instructions: play noncreature spells and flood the board. Luckily, most of the cards we’d want to cast to support Saheeli (Opt, Shock, etc.) are commons and uncommons, so she’s perfect for a no-rares deck.
9 Island (335) 8 Mountain (343) 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Mystic Sanctuary 1 Izzet Guildgate 1 Swiftwater Cliffs 1 Command Tower 1 Augur of Bolas 1 Wee Dragonauts 1 Murmuring Mystic 1 Pteramander 1 Electrostatic Field 1 Goblin Electromancer 1 Crackling Drake 1 Invade the City 1 Shock 1 Heartfire 1 Jaya's Greeting 1 Lava Coil 1 Scorching Dragonfire 1 Thrill of Possibility 1 Light Up the Stage 1 Beacon Bolt 1 Into the Story 1 Opt 1 Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor 1 God-Pharaoh's Statue 1 Heraldic Banner 1 Ferocity of the Wilds 1 Chemister's Insight 1 Jaya, Venerated Firemage 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 1 Sinister Sabotage 1 Anticipate 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Improbable Alliance 1 Radical Idea 1 Negate 1 Clear the Mind 1 Chandra's Triumph 1 Tamiyo's Epiphany 1 Ral's Outburst 1 Winged Words 1 Witching Well
Saheeli is less of a planeswalker and more of an enchantment that can be attacked in this deck. You’ll very rarely activate her ability (usually only ever to beef up a Servo or turn one into a mana rock for the turn); she’s mainly there to just churn out 1/1s as you play your natural game. The overwhelming majority of the deck is noncreature spells, and the seven creatures all offer powerful synergies with the rest of the deck.
This is the best example of a deck that doesn’t make real compromises to meet our no-rare stipulation. Draw cards, kill things, win with Servo chip damage or a huge Crackling Drake–all these things can be done with commons and uncommons. This is the perfect deck for those looking to play straightforward, competitive Magic while still not burning wildcards on Brawl.
- Castle Vantress for Island
- Steam Vents for Mountain
- Fabled Passage for Island
- Bonecrusher Giant for Jaya’s Greeting
- Firemind’s Research for Winged Words
- Ironcrag Pyromancer for Wee Dragonauts
- Brazen Borrower for Clear the Mind
- The Royal Scions for Invade the City
- Electrodominance for Light Up the Stage
- Expansion // Explosion for Tamiyo’s Epiphany
- Ral, Izzet Viceroy for Ral’s Outburst
- Niv-Mizzet, Parun for God Pharaoh’s Statue
Syr Konrad, the Grim
If you enjoy sacrificing creatures for fun and profit, Syr Konrad is your guy. He’s just as happy to see creatures head to the bin, and is a powerful payoff card for any “aristocrats”-style deck–any deck that seeks to gain value from the death of its own creatures. And at common and uncommon, there are plenty of creatures ready to be sacrificed at the altar of Syr Konrad!
1 Witch's Cottage 23 Swamp (339) 1 Sanitarium Skeleton 1 Dreadmalkin 1 Vampire of the Dire Moon 1 Foulmire Knight/Profane Insight 1 Hired Poisoner 1 Pilfering Imp 1 Burglar Rat 1 Eternal Taskmaster 1 Lazotep Reaver 1 Order of Midnight/Alter Fate 1 Orzhov Enforcer 1 Yarok's Fenlurker 1 Plaguecrafter 1 Gravedigger 1 Cauldron Familiar 1 Sorcerer's Broom 1 Vindictive Vampire 1 Lotleth Giant 1 Vizier of the Scorpion 1 Duress 1 Forever Young 1 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage 1 Murderous Betrayal 1 Soul Salvage 1 Spark Reaper 1 Revenge of Ravens 1 Bloodsoaked Altar 1 Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted 1 Witch's Oven 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Heraldic Banner 1 God-Pharaoh's Statue 1 Bleeding Edge 1 Spark Harvest 1 Toll of the Invasion
Having so many one- and two-drops to feed to cards like Witch’s Oven, Plaguecrafter, or Bloodsoaked Altar is perfect, especially when many of them can be recurred (Sanitarium Skeleton) or provide value when killed (Orzhov Enforcer). All the while, Syr Konrad eats away at their life total, and even provides a mana sink in case you flood out.
Of course, the list can bear some improvement. Cards like Gutterbones or Dreadhorde Invasion provide more lambs for the slaughter, while powerful engine cards such as Priest of Forgotten Gods can also be found at higher rarities. Powering up this deck with some choice rares will quickly result in very noticeable improvement to this deck’s gameplay!
- Castle Locthwain for Swamp
- Gutterbones for Pilfering Imp
- Dreadhorde Invasion for Dreadmalkin
- Priest of Forgotten Gods for Burglar Rat
- Ayara, First of Locthwain for Spark Reaper
- Midnight Reaper for Vizier of the Scorpion
- Murderous Rider for Bleeding Edge
- Dread Presence for Forever Young
- Rankle, Master of Pranks for Toll of the Invasion
- Cavalier of Night for Bloodsoaked Altar
- Liliana, Dreadhorde General for Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted
- The Cauldron of Eternity for God-Pharaoh’s Statue
These lists are the perfect way to experiment with a format in its infancy, to test the waters and see if you want to invest further in it. I’ll be back next week for more Brawling on a Budget, this time with some lists that will cost you less than $100 in paper!