The Brawl Project: Aurelia, Exemplar Of Justice

Dayv Doberne kicks off his new Brawl-focused column on Star City Games with a look at Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice! How many ways can she help your team take to the Red Zone?

Hello everyone and welcome to The Brawl Project!

Brawl is slated to come to Magic Arena soon (the latest ETA is simply “October”) and it looks like it’s going to be an absolute blast. We all got a sneak peek at the format with the Throne of Eldraine Brawl-specific preconstructed decks, and everybody I talked to loved the event. However, Brawl is about much, much more than battling a few decks against each other. My latest count has a total of 128 legendary creatures and planeswalkers available as commanders, and with each one comes a unique angle to try to take advantage of the card’s text. Soon, we will have access to the nigh-boundless possibilities Brawl has to offer, so get those creative juices flowing and let’s build some decks!

The Brawl Project

The Brawl Project is an effort to help people find their own voices in Brawl. The format opens up so much creative space with all of the different possible commanders and configurations of decks each commander can have. It melds the careful planning of Constructed formats with the fresh “every game plays out differently” aspect of Limited formats. Especially without the tutors available in older formats, each game will feature a slightly (or not-so-slightly) different cast of lands and spells, even when jamming the same decklist repeatedly. And if you’re just hitting the “Play” button on Magic Arena, well, it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to run into the same 60 twice*.

* Except for that 10% of the population that you just know is going to pack Teferi, Time Raveler and as many counterspells as possible.

With so many possibilities available, it can be daunting to find the right starting point. I’ll be writing about Brawl here on Star City Games on a weekly basis, taking you through the process of building decks each week. I’ll try to supplement that with gameplay videos and interactive livestreams pertaining to each week’s topic on my own time. For some, that may be all they need to pick up a list and start jamming games on Magic Arena (which is great!), but for others that might only be a starting point to explore their own ideas and build their own decks (which is also great!).

I plan on featuring a different commander each week here on The Brawl Project, but even if I didn’t take any weeks off during the year, I would miss out on more than half the available commanders before they rotated out. I want your submissions! Simply fill out this form, and each week I’ll feature a submission. If we ever get too much of a backlog, I’ll dedicate an article entirely to submitted decks. I can’t wait to see what everybody else has come up with!

If you are not familiar with Brawl or why it is well-suited to Magic Arena, go ahead and check out the introduction to this article.

Featured Brawl of the Week: Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

Commander formats tend to involve a lot of mana ramp, durdling, and general nonsense. That’s all well and good, but today we’re doing none of that. This week’s featured commander is Twitch streamer Amazonian’s favored legend, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. If you’ve ever hung around Amy’s stream, you know that she wants to start a fight, and that fight starts now. Let’s take a look at Aurelia:

Aurelia sends her legion charging forward, granting red creatures a buff and trample, while giving white creatures…vigilance? Huh, that’s anticlimactic. Let’s be real here, with Aurelia as our commander, we don’t actually plan on blocking, so we’re going to try making the most of that buff to red creatures.

Let’s brainstorm some ways to capitalize on this temporary buff to creatures:

  • Red creatures with double strike
  • Spells that give double strike
  • Red creatures with flying
  • Red creatures with mentor
  • Other effects on red creatures that check power
  • Effects that grant an additional combat phase

Of course, we don’t want Aurelia to be our only source of buffs, so we will include plenty of instant/sorcery buff spells. We should also take a look at white creatures that may benefit from our plethora of buff spells, even if they don’t receive a boost from Aurelia herself. I did a search of the cards that provide these effects, and there are definitely some nice tools to work with here!

Here’s the list that I came up with:

Our Plan A when playing this deck is to assemble the combination of double strike and power buffs to unload a tremendous amount of damage all at once. With no other support, curving Aurelia into Embercleave hits for ten. Add a couple of creatures to that curve, and not only do you get in an extra attack or two, but you free up some mana for further pumps. But we’re not entirely reliant on Aurelia for our deck to function here; Torbran, Thane of Red Fell allows for some redundancy for Aurelia’s effect, similarly causing red creatures to hit for two more and playing well with double strike. Feather, the Redeemed is a sizeable threat on her own, and she allows us to reuse the pump spells we are so reliant on in this deck.

We play several creatures that have double strike on their own, and Swiftblade Vindicator is the best of the bunch. It’s cheap, red (to receive Aurelia’s buff), and has built-in trample so it’s not reliant on Aurelia in order to negate chump blockers. Double strike really allows for some absurd damage output in this deck, so we’re willing to play creatures that might normally seem inefficient like Raging Redcap or Fireborn Knight.

Getting another chance to attack is kind of like double strike for your whole team, right?

You may have noticed that there are not many ways to interact in the deck. With our low curve, we hope to get ahead on the battlefield and not concern ourselves with math-intensive skills like blocking. In case our opponent mounts a defense to our double striking offensive, we would also like to alleviate — allevitate, if you will — the burden of doing their own math by flying over. A good number of our threats have flying (much more than would be expected of a Boros deck, anyway), and for our altitude-challenged creatures we have Angelic Gift and Arrester’s Zeal.

I’d also like to take a second and point out Opportunistic Dragon, a card I’m really excited to play with in Brawl. A significant flying threat on its own, it can also shut off some artifact mana sources (such as Arcane Signet) your opponent might be depending on.

We have several other creatures that benefit from buffing power, even if they don’t threaten to end the game right away. I’m not sure how much these abilities will matter, as they deviate from our Plan A, but I’m willing to give them a shot.

Even if our opponents are very lucky and have the removal spell to disrupt our big attack, we have the tools to establish some staying power. Angelic Exaltation allows each creature to present a serious threat and plays very well with double strike. Outlaws’ Merriment is a card I’m very excited to pair with Aurelia, as it allows an endless supply of threats to either send in with Aurelia’s blessing or benefit from her mentor ability when attacking alongside the Angel.

There isn’t too much to say about the manabase. Castle Embereth and Castle Ardenvale both come with very little downside, though admittedly neither supports our primary objective too much. Mobilized District doesn’t benefit from Aurelia, but having an untapped land that acts as a creature later on is always fantastic.

When building this list, it did come to my attention that this would be very similar to what a Feather, the Redeemed** deck would look like.

** The rightful leader of the Boros Legion — I’m still miffed that they basically ignored her during the events of Return to Ravnica!

If you’re looking for a Feather list that does roughly the same thing, this is where I ended up:

This is a very similar deck, but the emphasis is shifted more toward the double strike combo with lots and lots of pump spells. There aren’t as many standalone threats or contingency plans in this list; almost every card is either a creature awaiting a pump spell or a pump spell awaiting a creature. What it loses in resiliency it makes up for in potency; if your opponent doesn’t have the answer, their life total won’t stand a chance.

But wait, there’s more!

I waffled back and forth on whether I wanted to build a Boros Knights list with Aurelia. The Knights certainly have plenty of tribal synergies, though there’s nothing spectacular with how Aurelia interacts with them. What ultimately swayed me is when I looked at the other possible commanders for Knights in Brawl. There are several monocolored options and there’s Ser Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale if you want to be in full-on Mardu, but if you want to build a straight Boros build and try to capitalize on a low curve and the Knight lord, you are limited to Tajic, Legion’s Edge***; Feather, the Redeemed***; Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice***, and Nahiri, Storm of Stone***.

***Not a Knight.

Of these, Tajic and Aurelia make the most sense for the army-based Knight tribe, so I figured this was my best opportunity to build this deck.

This Knights build is much more of your typical assemble-an-army-and-win-the-battlefield type of deck. The strategy is simple: play creatures and then give teamwide buffs. The Circle of Loyalty and Inspiring Veteran really shine here with so many Knights to capitalize on. I also would like to point out Burning-Yard Trainer – it’s no Charging Monstrosaur, but it tries to do its best impression!

Since we’re not relying on pump spells and evasion to pick apart our opponent’s defenses, you’ll notice that this list has removal in the form of Prison Realm, Trapped in the Tower, and Conclave Tribunal. One major obstacle for this deck is if the opponent can present a large blocker to stonewall our squad, so we need to have a plan in place for that possibility.

These types of decks are satisfying to play – just lay out everything on the battlefield, cast your Unbreakable Formation or The Circle of Loyalty, turn everything sideways (or hit the Attack All button), and let your opponent do the math! Unless you cast Unbreakable Formation, of course, and those creatures have vigilance.

On Deck

Next week we will be looking at the Throne of Eldraine preconstructed Brawl decks and how to upgrade them! If you’re interested in watching the process of upgrading these decks, I plan on streaming it this Tuesday during the Throne of Eldraine Early Access event on Magic Arena (#sponsored) at noon Pacific.

That’s it for this week! Have fun brewing with all the new cards from Throne of Eldraine, and I’ll catch you next week for more of The Brawl Project.

Note: This is actually the fourth article I’ve written for The Brawl Project. The first three were previously unpublished and existed as… proof of concept? An exercise in personal growth? Practice? I’m not entirely sure.

In any case, most of the important information has been covered in this article, but if you’re interested, they can be found here: