News Brief: Commander Anthology Volume II, Great Designer Search, Brawl, & GP Birmingham

Commander Anthology Volume II

The second iteration of the Commander Anthology will hit the shelves on June 8. Volume II will collect four decks from the Commander line and reprint them in one boxed set. This year’s decks will also have their legendary creatures get the new frame treatment from Dominaria. Commander Anthology Volume II will feature “Devour for Power” (with The Mimeoplasm), “Built from Scratch” (with Daretti, Scrap Savant), “Wade into Battle” (with Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas), and “Breed Lethality” (with Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice). The complete deck lists, as well as images of all cards getting the new frame treatment, can be found here.

Great Designer Search 3

The Great Designer Search is a game show run on the main Magic website. The final eight competitors have been vying for their chance to win an internship working in Magic R&D. For the third edition of the contest, Mark Rosewater has held back on doing a week-by-week recap of the Search, instead biding his time until there was enough content to release things in a timely fashion.

The wait is over. Starting this week there will be two articles a week for the next three weeks (six total articles). These pieces will cover the judging of the first design test and the next five challenges. The final three contestants will be eligible to participate in the finals, held at Wizards of the Coast.


Brawl, the multiplayer format using the Standard card pool, is getting a serious overhaul. In a detailed article from both Gavin Verhey and Ian Duke, the folks at Wizards lay out the thought process behind what Brawl should be moving forward. It seems, in many ways, the impetus for this article and the bevy of changes was both the popularity of the format and the dominance of Baral, Chief of Compliance.

While conceived of as a multiplayer format, Brawl found a home on Magic Online as a heads-up competitive endeavor. The earliest challenges—large, once-a-week events—were dominated by Baral decks. These decks were jam-packed with card draw and countermagic, and were simply better than everything else available. While this may not have impacted three- and four-player games, it still fell under the umbrella of “Brawl.” Verhey makes it clear that Brawl is a singular format with many ways to play. A player should not feel as if they can’t play their heads-up deck in a five-way free-for-all and vice versa.

In recognition of this, Brawl will see the following changes: First, the ban list is being uncoupled from Standard. As a result, the following cards are now legal in Brawl: Aetherworks Marvel, Attune with Aether, Felidar Guardian, Rampaging Ferocidon, Ramunap Ruins, and  Rogue Refiner. Baral, Chief of Compliance and Sorcerous Spyglass will join the banned list. In one-on-one play, the life total for each player will start at 20 (as opposed to 30 for multiplayer games). Finally, if you want to play a deck with a colorless commander (like Karn, Scion of Urza), you can pick any one basic land and have any number of them in your deck (but you can still only have cards of that commander’s color identity). In other words, you can run a Karn deck with 24 Islands, but there will be no Divinations, only Skittering Surveyors.

The changes to Brawl regarding life total and the banned list will go into effect on Magic Online on May 30. Until that time, Brawl Leagues and Challenges are suspended. The change involving colorless commanders will take a little longer and will go live with the Core Set 2019 update later this year.

Grand Prix Birmingham

Birmingham played home to the second double Grand Prix of the year. Featuring Legacy and Standard, the three-day event showcased exactly what Dominaria has to offer to Constructed formats of all stripes.

The first Grand Prix of the weekend focused on Legacy. Using cards from the entire history of Magic, Legacy highlights the variety available in a pool of tens of thousands of cards. The Top 8, despite featuring three copies of Grixis Delver, was pretty interesting. There was a copy of Dredge, a Grixis deck featuring Kess, Dissident Mage, 4-Color Leovold, Emissary of Trest (a.k.a., Czech Pile), Steel Stompy (an artifact beatdown deck), and Mono-Red Prison.

That Mono-Red Prison deck was in the hands of seasoned magician Gary Campbell. Campbell, who has been playing Magic for almost the entire 25 years of the game, is a seminal figure in the Scottish Magic scene. More than once the coverage team made mention of the fact that many of the Scottish players attending Birmingham were using his cards. So when Campbell defeated Grzegorz Kowalski is the finals, the roar was deafening.

Mono-Red Prison

Gary Campbell, 1st place at Grand Prix Birmingham (Legacy)

Saturday saw the start of the Standard Grand Prix. The traditional start time meant that Sunday evening would play home to the elimination rounds. While Grixis may have been popular on Saturday evening, Black-Red dominated the Top 8 on Sunday with six pilots. One of them was Simon Nielsen, who had an interesting Sunday to say the least.

Nielsen did not wake up in time for Round 10 and as a result took a loss (one of two on the weekend). Nielsen made the most of his Top 8 berth, however, by taking it all the way to the finals. Down a game to Leo Lahonen’s Bule-White Control, the Danish pro threaded the needle to even the score before rolling to victory in the third game.

Black-Red Vehicles

Simon Nielsen, 1st place at Grand Prix Birmingham (Standard)

Looking Ahead

Dominaria was on full display in Birmingham. Karn, Scion of Urza played a role in both winning deck lists. As we head towards Pro Tour Dominaria in June, we have a Team Trios Constructed event in Toronto next weekend, followed by a Team Limited Grand Prix in Washington D.C. the final weekend of May.

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