Boorish Brutes And Mono-Green Bruisings

Bennie Smith still has plenty of ideas for all the new Commander 2016 legends, even the ones that are already forgotten! He’s also breaking out his Standard rogue deck that is crushing his local meta! Check it out!

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the partner mechanic from Commander 2016. It is amazing to think about all the potential Commander combinations you have with these 15 different cards.

One card in particular has caught my attention: Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder.

Initially I wasn’t very impressed with Bruse Tarl when I first read over all the new legendary creatures. I mean, the artwork was amusing—a shirtless dude who looked like a stereotypical carnival strongman, but who was a goat herder and “Boorish.” Assuming that doesn’t mean he’s from a land called Boor, boorish means “rough and bad-mannered; coarse.”

Maybe he always envisioned himself destined for something greater and has a real chip on his shoulder about his current occupation, like he gets extremely angry if you look even the least bit amused by his tending of his flock, so angry he’s become a legend in his land. Stay away from Bruse Tarl, they say. But if you’ve got to talk to him, don’t mention the Ox. I grew up in a rural part of Virginia, and many young men around those parts had hot tempers and were quick to throw a punch. When one of them got so angry that their shirt came off, you knew it was go time.

We can actually glean a little bit more about Bruse by looking for him in the flavor text of cards. Turns out he’s a character mentioned on some cards from Zendikar, Worldwake, Battle for Zendikar, and even the Core Set. Reading his flavor text, he’s a Goma Fada nomad on Zendikar. He’s quoted in the card Ondu Greathorn from Battle for Zendikar (“May your horns get lodged in an Eldrazi’s bony face, ornery brute!”), so hopefully he survived the Eldrazi invasion.

It’s easy to gloss over Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder’s card text, though. A 3/3 for four mana, and he gives a creature double strike and lifelink. Nothing to really see here… but wait a minute. Double strike is nothing to sneeze at when something has sufficient power, and it doubles the effect of the lifelink. While Bruse himself is of sufficient size to dish out significant damage, what’s cool is that he can give the ability to other creatures, starting with the turn you cast him. Since he costs four mana, I thought I’d take closer look at other partner legendary creatures that have combat triggers and cost three mana; if you’ve got the mana right, you could cast one of your partners on turn 3 and then Bruse on turn 4 and give your first partner double strike and lifelink.

Here are the two three-mana partners who have combat damage triggers:

Tymna would be easier on our mana, since there is white in both partners’ casting cost, but the triggered ability isn’t really enhanced by Bruse’s double strike other than just increasing the damage dealt. Also, Tymna already has lifelink, so gaining it again from Bruse isn’t really helping.

Silas Renn is a bit harder on our mana, but if it works out that Bruse can come down the turn after you cast Silas, you can potentially double Silas’s combat triggers. Now that sounds like the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Perhaps old Bruse was indeed destined for something greater.

So let’s pivot and look at Silas Renn, Seeker Adept. We want to attack with Silas early and often, and we want artifacts in our graveyard to cast. The first order of business is getting artifacts in our graveyard that we’d be interested in casting or re-casting. It wasn’t hard to find some:

Artifacts to Get Back

Having some zero-mana artifacts to get back is helpful for us to get our best line of play, where we cast Silas Renn at three mana, cast Bruse Tarl at four mana, give Silas double strike and lifelink, and then attack someone who has no blockers and get two combat triggers. Since we’ve spent all our mana to cast Bruse Tarl, something like Mishra’s Bauble or Urza’s Bauble would be ideal. Lotus Petal could be used to recycle a one-mana artifact. Welding Jar is a nifty card to have in the mix, since you can use it as a “Seal of Regeneration” because Silas Renn is an artifact creature.

Of course, all the double strike in the world won’t help things if Silas Renn can’t deal actual combat damage to a player, so we should include some cards to help with that. Luckily, there are plenty of artifacts that can do it, and if your opponents destroy them, we can try to get them back with a timely hit from Silas Renn.


Key to the City is a sweet card we can drop the turn before we cast Silas Renn and can pitch an artifact we plan to get back later to make Silas Renn unblockable. Blind Obedience isn’t an artifact, but forcing your opponents’ creatures to enter the battlefield tapped should open more opportunities to deal combat damage with your Commander. Also, if we’re replaying cheap artifacts from our graveyard, the extort ability could come in quite handy.

Another way to help ensure our Commander connects with our opponents is to remove blockers, and our color combination gives us a ton of ways to do just that.


I feel a little like I’m cheating on Glissa, the Traitor by playing Executioner’s Capsule without her, but there’s no green allowed in this deck. Ratchet Bomb is a great way to ensure opponents’ token creatures don’t clog up your attack lanes. Toxic Deluge can be a little painful depending on how big your opponents’ creatures are, but luckily Bruse Tarl has our back, making sure our life totals will be nicely padded. Scourglass is a great way to clear away most blockers while leaving Silas Renn behind, and when you attack, you can recast Scourglass.

Combo with Bruse

I know that Silas Renn attacking has gotten a lot of focus in this deck, but it’s highly likely that your opponents will eventually band together to slow down those shenanigans, in which case we might need to lean on Bruse Tarl for Plan B. Giving double strike to a creature with deathtouch is quite a nice combo, typically destroying any blocker before they can deal damage in return. If we can give the deathtouch creature trample as well, then you are really doing some good work, since only one point of damage is considered lethal and so everything else tramples through. Squeezing out another attack step or two with Aggravated Assault can give Bruse’s triggered ability even more mileage.

Artifacts/Equipment Matters

Silas Renn’s triggered ability is all about artifacts, so let’s just go ahead and run with that. Shaving off the cost of casting artifacts makes the ability even better, so let’s include Etherium Sculptor and Foundry Inspector. Since we’re already running many cheap artifacts to recycle, Salvaging Station becomes a no-brainer. Sigarda’s Aid and Shimmer Myr provide additional options if Silas Renn has double strike, letting us cast an Equipment card or artifact from the graveyard at instant speed when the first trigger hits from first strike damage but before regular damage is dealt. This leads me to think we definitely want a bunch of great Equipment cards in this deck, and if that’s the case, Armory Automaton is a slam-dunk. Goblin Welder can exchange a cheap artifact we get back from the graveyard with Silas Renn with a much larger artifact that we don’t feel like casting again.

Presuming that Silas Renn helps us get back lots and many little artifacts, we start to get into Kuldotha Forgemaster territory, exchanging those little artifacts we can get back for something large and scary lurking in our deck somewhere.

Then there’s Trading Post. Ah, who doesn’t love Trading Post in their artifact-heavy deck? Moreover, we even have something for Bruse Tarl – Goat tokens to help him feel right at home!

Sweet Artifacts

Sigarda’s Aid got me thinking about the crazy Swords we can make use of. Imagine attacking with Silas Renn, who’s got double strike thanks to Bruse, and we swing in unblocked. First strike damage activates the first triggered ability, and we cast Sword of Light and Shadow from the graveyard at instant speed and immediately equip it to Silas Renn with Sigarda’s Aid. Now we get to have Silas Renn deal regular combat damage, but with +2 damage and the Sword’s triggered ability added to the mix. And yes, I’ve slipped in the Aggravated Assault plus Sword of Feast and Famine combo—if you’re going to get as many attacks as you want, you might as well be casting artifacts from your graveyard and gaining life while you’re at it. Since we’re running three Swords, then Scuttlemutt is quite helpful at giving our equipped creatures evasion.

Speaking of something large and scary in our deck we can find with Kuldotha Forgemaster, there are few things larger and scarier than Blightsteel Colossus, which gives us a good plan B if Silas Renn and Bruse Tarl shenanigans are stymied.

Okay, so here’s the deck with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept and Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder as my partner Commanders:

Magic Card Back

I’ve got a really low curve here due to all the cheap artifacts I want to be able to cast and re-cast, so I was tempted to shave my land count lower, but I imagine I’ll have plenty of uses for extra mana lying around. I have to say I’m pretty excited about two cards we’ve seen from Aether Revolt that look like they’d fit right in here: Battle at the Bridge and Scrap Trawler! I’m sure we’ll have even more cool things from the new set to spice things up even more.

So what do you think of our one-two punch of Silas Renn into Bruse Tarl? How would you build things differently? Is there anything I’ve overlooked? What other partner legendary creatures have you been considering pairing up with Brush Tarl? And do you think he’ll ever be in a good mood?

A Quick Note on Standard

I know the consensus right now is that nobody likes Standard, that it’s gotten stale. That may be the case for high-level tournaments, but I’ve been having a ball with my mono-green brew at Friday Night Magic and Standard Showdown. Over the course of three tournaments, my record is 9-2-1 against both brews and Decks to Beat.

I built the first iteration to test a hypothesis: given that we have a lot of turn 2 mana producers and given that we can run potentially eight copies of Creeping Mold in Standard (since we can also run the functionally identical Reclaiming Vines), how good would turn 3 Creeping Mold be in the current Standard, given the plethora of artifacts and enchantments seeing play? Not to mention there’s the potential for disrupting someone’s colored mana if you’re on the play and you destroy his or her second land.

Turns out, between Smuggler’s Copter, Stasis Snare, Always Watching, Aetherworks Marvel, Dynavolt Tower, and various flavors of Gearhulk, Creeping Mold is pretty good. Here’s the build I used to win last week’s Standard Showdown:

Along the way I discovered what was even better than turn 3 Creeping Mold: turn 3 Tireless Tracker and then playing your fourth land to immediately get your Clue token. Turn 3 Thought-Knot Seer is pretty good too.

Servant of the Conduit and Ulvenwald Captive accelerate you to the mid-game, and the mid-game is where you dominate. Casting an Ulvenwald Hydra and searching up a Mirrorpool means you can copy the Hydra on the next turn and search up another Mirrorpool. If your opponent somehow stops your army of Hydras, World Breaker eventually comes along and makes things difficult too, especially with Drownyard Temple to ensure you never run out of lands to bring back World Breaker. And if you draw a late-game Ulvenwald Captive, it’s usually easy to transform it into a threat too.

The deck has a surprising amount of staying power against all sorts of decks. The one current hole I’ve been struggling to fill has been my local metagame adjusting to my deck by making a Gideon emblem right away, which makes it difficult to kill their 2/3 creatures with Spatial Contortion and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Right now I’m considering Endbringer or some mix of green “fight” cards to help. Any ideas?

If you want to try something fun and different in Standard, give this deck a whirl. I can’t say it’ll win you the next Standard Open, but I bet you can take Friday Night Magic by storm. Let me know what you think.

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician (Tribal Birds)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ( The Indestructibles)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius ( new player-friendly)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Progenitus (

Fist of Suns and Bringers


Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)

Uril, the Miststalker (my “more competitive” deck)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)