The Sun Titan And The King Eternal

Mark Nestico’s unhealthy obsession with Sun Titan has led to his latest Commander deck! And don’t worry about that Brago, King Eternal at the helm. He’s not going to do anything terrible. Mark promises…

It all started with an unhealthy obsession with Sun Titan.

For those of you young’uns who have just tuned in to Magic, Sun Titan is a Magic 2011 mythic creature in the Titan cycle. Each had a grossly powerful effect when they entered the battlefield, but Sun Titan was lauded as the weakest of its beefy brethren. When compared to Commander-banned juggernauts like Primeval Titan or army-in-a-can standout Grave Titan, all lil’ old Sun Titan was doing was bringing back permanents that cost three or less.

And that was good enough for me.

In Standard formats that included fetchlands, Swords of many different colors, planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil or Jace Beleren, and two-mana clones such as Phantasmal Image, Sun Titan carved out a wonderful niche for itself as one of the biggest impact players during its legality. It and I spent many a tournament causing mischief and winning games. Sun Titan almost took me to the Pro Tour on multiple occasions. There will always be a spot for it in my heart.

My grandchildren shift uncomfortably whilst sitting cross-legged on a rug in front of my La-Z-Boy armchair. There is, of course, a roaring fire behind them for atmosphere, even though I live in Florida.

“But Grandpa,” they’ll complain, “we asked you about why 2017 was considered the wackiest year ever. Why do you always talk about Sun Titan?”

I’ll pat little Timmy on the head and tussle little Jenny’s hair while sharing a wink with little Spike.

“My goodness, children, you’re right. And that reminds me of a story. It all started with an unhealthy obsession with Sun Titan.”

…it really makes you wonder how I procreated in the first place.

Okay, so I really dig blinking cards and enters-the-battlefield effects. It’s a love affair that has grown throughout the years into a full-blown mania, so much so that the Commander deck we’re going to talk about today is built with that infatuation in mind. But first, let’s get it out of the way who the commander is.

It’s Brago, King Eternal.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: last week I talked about walking that fine line between “overtly competitive and oppressive” and “competitive while still maintaining having fun while playing long and intricate games,” and that’s what we’re doing. This isn’t that kind of Brago deck. I’m not prison or Stax! I feel like I have to set up a sign when I sit down in a pod and people see me pull out my commander, which is a pretty big red flag to some players.

In the competitive world, Brago Stax is considered a Tier 1-1.5 deck that locks down battlefields with cards like Winter Orb, Static Orb, Cursed Totem, Tsabo’s Web, and other tools meant to keep other players from interacting with you or untapping their permanents. From there, Brago’s blink on your nonland permanents gives you access to mana through various artifact sources, essentially letting you play Magic while your opponent watches. It’s incredibly efficient as well as powerful, so imagine how trusting folks seem to be when the foil Brago, King Eternal comes out of the pink box I house him in.

That’s the biggest hurdle I’ve faced in the last few years when it comes to not crossing into the dark side of trying to kill an opponent by Turn 4: playing commanders that have given players nightmares, but not tuning them to be viciously cutthroat. Imagine sitting down in a pod and the girl across from you pulls out Teferi, Temporal Archmage. Is your first thought going to be “Wow, I bet she’s here to have fun, fun, fun,” or will it be something more along the lines of “Wow, I bet she’s here to combo us out on Turn 3”? Fun, fun, fun…

Instead of espousing the coolness of this Brago deck, let me just show you what a trip to ValueTown really looks like:

Brago, King Eternal
Mark Nestico
Test deck on 12-19-2017
Magic Card Back

Don’t Blink

One of the coolest parts about building a value-based Brago deck is that you can blatantly abuse the commander without locking the battlefield up and creating grossly unfun situation for the table or your 1v1 opponent. My version tries to play like a U/W Control deck that draws cards along the way, counters problematic spells, and eventually wins through overwhelming card and mana advantage, both of which are provided by protecting Brago and extracting as many blinks out of him as you possibly can.

In order to do this, almost every single creature in the deck has an enters-the-battlefield trigger that will generate small-to-medium-to-huge swings if they’re left unchecked. Grand Abolisher and Glen Elendra Archmage are two examples of non-enters-the-battlefield creatures, but they exist to keep Brago and the other creatures safe. Each creature is meant to synergize with the others; sometimes that will mean casting a Champion of Wits, discarding a Consecrated Sphinx, and then following that up with a Body Double to give you the Sphinx back.

The real MVP, though, is Sun Titan.

In decks with fetchlands, Sun Titan thins your library and accelerates you past your opponentsIt He also has six creatures that he can return to the battlefield immediately, which will generate additional value, and can bring back all but two of the artifacts this deck is packing. Let’s not even talk about how filthy it is to tick down a Jace Beleren to draw a card and follow that up with Sun Titan to return the Jace. After a sweeper, your battlefield can go from empty to immensely threatening after it resolves.

Panharmonicon is also the biggest snowball card in this deck. If left alone, your Mulldrifter will draw you four cards, Reflector Mage bounces their battlefield, Stonehorn Dignitary will freeze multiple combat steps, and Restoration Angel will flicker two creatures. If you’re battling with a deck that’s heavy on the blinks, Panharmonicon is likely the most powerful thing you can possibly do. I have won tons of games where I never once connected with Brago but was able to extract freakish amounts of advantage through the insane artifact. It was tailor-made for this type of deck.

The Virtues of an “Oh Fudge Button”

One thing you might notice about this deck is that it contains one (count it: one) arbitrarily large combo. It’s slow and not incredibly reliable, but it exists for a reason, which I will attempt to explain in hopes that you’ll incorporate the same philosophy into your Commander deck building.

Peregrine Drake + Deadeye Navigator + Blue Sun’s Zenith = an arbitrarily large amount of mana. While Brago can do some pretty sick things with all that mana, Zenith will allow you to kill a player outright by making them draw more cards than they have in their library. This combo is usually achieved through the slightly more efficient Palinchron and Phantasmal Image tandem along with Zenith, but Drake alongside Navigator feels more in tune with what the deck is attempting to do overall. They are solid pieces on their own, whereas Palinchron and Image give off the vibe of only existing in the deck to combo in the first place.

I will, however, express why I keep a combo: “Just in case.”

In most pods, there will be players like me, a five to seven on a scale of one to ten in terms of competitiveness, but that won’t stop someone who is trying to bring the house down quickly. Where Brago excels is stifling those decks in the early turns through countermagic and disruption, but where this version of Brago fails most is closing out games in a timely fashion. Extremely powerful? Yes. A quick killer? Not even close.

When a game is going absurdly long, if I can’t eke it out through creatures or an opponent has set up a situation where it’ll be impossible to kill them through damage, having a combo like mine may be your only path to victory. That also applies for the people trying to end the game extremely quickly; sometimes I find it best to have a way to instantly remove them from the game so that the rest of the table can continue playing or, at worst, end a game before they end you. It’s another avenue to victory, but not one I happily embrace unless the rest of the pod is packing the same heat.

Build Your Own Brago!

One of the most interesting aspects of Brago, King Eternal is that it can be entirely focused on blinking with the dozens of other cards that let you exploit powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers. I built mine because U/W Control is one of my favorite archetypes, but that shouldn’t mold the way you build yours.

My first iteration of this deck didn’t play any of the “unfun” cards, either. It’s just as easy to cut things like Parallax Tide (in my opinion the worst card in the deck, and I’m currently taking suggestions for something fun to replace it) or remove a Cyclonic Rift for a spell like Teferi’s Protection. You can focus more on the counterspell aspect and add Logic Knot, Condescend, or Spelljack. Even better is that the expensive cards like Grim Monolith or Mana Crypt aren’t musts at all! Other artifact accelerators that are easier on the wallet won’t heavily wear down the overall power level, so don’t be afraid to add something like Sky Diamond or Marble Diamond, since those will help you land your commander on Turn 3 anyway.

This is by far one of the most fun decks I have built and played, and am happy to have discovered it.

Feel free to share any cards that you think would go into the deck, as I love being able to evolve and change things up.

And to think…it all started with an unhealthy obsession with Sun Titan….