Humble Brags

Commander guru Bennie Smith is still waist-deep in Conspiracy hype for his favorite format, and he both gets a Conspiracy draft in and builds a new Commander deck around another Conspiracy legend, Brago, King Eternal!

So last Friday I was finally able to draft some Conspiracy! I was super-stoked already, but things got even better when I opened my very first pack and saw this beauty:

Pack One, Pick One

I just wrote about Selvala, Explorer Returned in my column last week, and then I opened her in my first pack of Conspiracy — how cool is that? I considered this my first WIN of the night. She’s obviously very playable, so I went about nabbing green and white picks and then opened up pack number two.

And what a pack #2 it was...

Well hello there! So I doubt I’d be able to splash a red/blue card into my green/white deck but I’m happy to tuck this away as a nice bonus to cover my draft three times over. WIN number two!

What I got passed...

Then I get passed this beauty, and consider it WIN number three! I suppose there must have been a sweet Conspiracy in that pack.

Anyway, I end up crafting a pretty sweet green/white deck with a strong token theme as illustrated in the pic below:

Tokens Tokens TOKENS!

I go on to win the first multiplayer round, and then win the second to nab some extra boosters of Conspiracy and end a night of cascading wins. Did I use up all my luck? I guess we’ll see when I give Conspiracy another run this Friday.

Today I wanted to shine a spotlight on another Legend from Conspiracy. I’ve covered Selvala, Explorer Returned, and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. Marchesa, the Black Rose is an obvious Commander powerhouse and a Legend I’m really looking forward to exploring here at some point, but she’s been covered already by two of my Commander compatriots Abe Sargent (Roses are Black) and Sean McKeown (Conspiracy Theories). I’ll keep my powder dry for Marchesa until a little later this summer; today, let’s take a look at Brago, King Eternal!

Brago, King Eternal’s value as a Commander isn’t exactly subtle — if you’ve got a lot of non-land permanents you’d like to blink, he’s your man. I’ve already explored some of this with Roon of the Hidden Realm, and a lot of blue or white value creatures that work in Roon will with Brago too. However, Brago takes things a heckuva lot further than our Rhino friend Roon — Brago can blink any nonland permanent, not just creatures, and when he triggers he can blink any number of them. Any number of them! If you’re like me, you’ve envisioned a whole battlefield of value creatures blinking out and back in for another round of value and, if you’re like me, you find this thought very appealing indeed.

But wait — there’s a catch. Brago only triggers from combat damage, so… before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to figure out how Brago gets in there.


Rogue’s Passage, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Mother of Runes, Writ of Passage, Trailblazer’s Boots, Thassa, God of the Sea, Whispersilk Cloak, Opposition, Turnabout, Cryptic Command, Parallax Wave, Deepchannel Mentor

While Brago is thankfully blessed with some evasion, he’s not very large and can get stymied by a flying blocker or one with reach pretty easily, so we need some more ways in. There are some Commander staples that help a creature get in there — Rogue’s Passage and Whispersilk Cloak. Thassa, God of the Sea is sending in her minions unblockable in Standard, she can do the same work in Commander. While pinpoint removal like Swords to Plowshares is useful in Commander, we often lean more towards mass removal or reusable effects. However, sometimes all you’ll need is to clear out one blocker to let Brago get in there, and then you’ve got all the value triggers to more than make up for the card expenditure. I think I’m going to like Parallax Wave here — drop it, remove one or two remaining blockers, attack with Brago, then reset the Wave and do it again next turn. Deepchannel Mentor is a little pricey for a 2/2 even though it makes your blue creatures unblockable, but being small just means it works with Reveillark.


Auriok Champion, Declaration of Naught, Meddling Mage, Wall of Omens, Blade Splicer, Mentor of the Meek, Nevermore, Vendilion Clique, Nikko-Onna, Stonecloaker, Treasure Mage, Trinket Mage, Venser, Shaper Savant, Phyrexian Metamorph, Solemn Simulacrum, Angelic Chorus, Karmic Guide, Reveillark, Lavinia of the Tenth, Treachery, Voidstone Gargoyle, Mulldrifter, Jace’s Mindeeker, Sun Titan, Exclusion Ritual, Duplicant, Angel of Serenity, Chancellor of the Spires, Luminate Primordial, Quarry Colossus

Most of the cards here are easy picks for their abilities that trigger when entering (or leaving) the battlefield — Wall of Omens, Trinket Mage, Solemn Simulacrum, Reveillark, Mulldrifter. They are first-string players in Value Town. Lavinia of the Meek does decent work as a one-shotter, but she really gets out of hand if you trigger Braga each turn. I also included some other cards that trigger off permanents coming into play like Auriok Champion and Angelic Chorus, and Mentor of the Meek can potentially net a fair number of cards with enough mana lying around.

I also decided to include a handful of other, “rule-setting” cards like Declaration of Naught, Meddling Mage, and Voidstone Gargoyle — you can play them early and just lock out an someone else’s early Commander, but later on Brago can reset them to neutralize a card that might be more detrimental to your plans (like, heaven forbid, Time Stop).

Blinking Exclusion Ritual every turn seems particularly awesome to me (and extremely obnoxious to my opponents). Treachery seems like a fun card to throw into the mix, blinking it out to steal another creature while also untapping five lands. If I’m not mistaken, a Treachery that comes into play this way can take control of a creature that has shroud or hexproof. [Editor’s Note: Yep, that’s how that one works.]


Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Glasses of Urza, Grim Monolith, Azorius Signet, Journeyer’s Kite, Darksteel Ingot, Jace, Architect of Thought, Venser, the Sojourner, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Spine of Ish Sah

Taking advantage of triggered abilities is old hat in Commander, but the fresh new territory Brago explores comes from resetting nonland permanents other than creatures. Mana Vault is a potent card in Commander but can often end up dinging you for quite a bit of life over the course of the game, but with a Brago trigger you can blink it and untap it. You can do the same thing with the usual mana rocks as well. What’s really exciting is blinking Planeswalkers — activate the -2 ability on Jace, Architect of Thought, attack with Brago, blink Jace and then activate the -2 ability again. Activate the -3 ability on Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to kill all the big creatures (lucky for us Brago has less than four power), swing in with Brago, blink Elspeth and then activate her +1 ability.

I was looking for higher cost artifacts to fetch up with blinking Treasure Mage and ran across Spine of Ish Sah — perfect! As if playing it once wasn’t potent enough, but now you get to do each time Brago triggers.

I thought Glasses of Urza was worth the slot since I was playing those “name a card” cards I mentioned above. Take a peek, blink them with Brago, take another peek. This is a card I’ve been tempted to play quite a few times before, but usually it doesn’t make the cut. In this particular Brago deck, I think it definitely has a strong place.

Here’s what I’ve got cooked up for my first Brago, King Eternal deck:

Commander: Brago, King Eternal
Bennie Smith
Magic Online Daily Event on 11-30--0001

I kept the basic land count rather high in order to ensure that Quarry Colossus and Emeria, the Sky Ruin can make an impact.

I have to say, this looks like a really obnoxious deck to play against, but it also looks like an absolute blast to play. I think I’ll save this to play against the more aggressively Spikey decks; the lockout cards could be quite helpful against the more combo-riffic decks out there. Besides a Jace, the Mind Sculptor (which I don’t own or he’d probably be in there), what other cards would you play in a Brago deck?

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:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

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)

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus

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)

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)

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)

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)

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!)

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)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

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