Twelve-Card Upgrades To Throne Of Eldraine’s Preconstructed Brawl Decks

How much can you spice up the Throne of Eldraine preconstructed Brawl decks by changing just twelve cards and some basic lands? Plenty, as Dayv Doberne proves!

Throne of Eldraine hits shelves this Friday, October 4, and with it will be four preconstructed decks built specifically for Brawl! I’m sure many of you have seen these decks in action with the Courtside Brawl event on Magic Arena in early September. For those of you who haven’t, you can check out some gameplay footage, and be sure to check out Gavin Verhey article on the creation of the product, including original decklists!

Today we will be taking a look at the four preconstructed decks from the event, and for each one I will suggest a quick twelve-card upgrade to each one (not counting basic lands). At some point during The Brawl Project I plan on taking a closer look at each of the four commanders and building from the ground up, but today we’re going to keep the core of each deck intact and just try to streamline the gameplan a bit.

Also of note: this isn’t strictly a budget article. I certainly plan on visiting budget options for Brawl, and that article will take a close look at maximizing bang for your buck, but that wasn’t scrutinized over here for a variety of reasons. There are quite a few mythic rares and/or Constructed staples suggested as part of the upgrades to these decks.

However, if you are on a budget, the suggested upgrades can still be of use to you! Start with the cards I recommend cutting from the precons, assemble whatever cards you can from my additions, and then look at what you have available to you and figure out what fits best. Don’t worry if you end up putting a card back into a deck that I had already cut; sometimes, that just might be the best fit you have available!

And of course, for the more adventurous out there, I encourage you to not stop at twelve cards for your own upgrade, or even reconstruct the entire deck.

All right, enough blabbering. Let’s get on with the main feature!

One quick look at Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale suggests that she lends herself to a deck that features Knights and Equipment. The ideal situation is to hit six mana with a Knight already on the battlefield, equip Colossus Hammer or Embercleave to the Knight, equip Crystal Slipper to Syr Gwyn, and attack in for a ton while drawing cards. You still draw cards from equipped creatures that aren’t Knights, but she’s in the perfect colors for Knights, and who doesn’t love cheating ten mana for Colossus Hammer?

I won’t lie. This one was a tough one to change in just twelve cards. The deck’s mana requirements are all over the place, especially for a deck that plays just 23 lands (and for a six-mana commander!). There are some aspects of low-to-the-ground Knight tribal that don’t sit well with a deck that is solidly three colors. It doesn’t help that a lot of the cheap creatures in the deck, such as Inspiring Veteran and Corpse Knight, require specific colors of mana to cast. There’s a fair amount of Equipment in the deck, but a lot of it is very low-impact and has little synergy with anything but the commander. Sure, cards like Shining Armor will replace themselves when you cast Syr Gwyn, but they’re not going to do much until then.

Even if you are set on a Knight-heavy deck with an emphasis on Equipment, there are a few different ways you can take the deck. You can focus on maximizing the double strike and large Equipment combination with cards like Fireborn Knight and Raging Redcap. You can also emphasize one color pair (Boros, Rakdos, or Orzhov) with only a light splash of the third color, allowing for a lower-curve aggressive deck. Ultimately, the direction I decided to go with this one was to focus on the heavy hitters in the Knight tribe, and I fixed up the manabase a bit to cast its spells on a more consistent basis. The Core Set 2020 Cavaliers are all Knights, so why not try to play all of them?


Out go some of the lower-impact Equipment, a couple of clunky Knights, and the expensive sorceries. Fireborn Knight is great for enabling the Colossus Hammer dream, but what if you draw two Swamps?


In comes a bunch of bomb mythic rares and mana fixing. Chromatic Lantern on three allows the deck to hit all of the colored mana symbols in the deck’s casting costs, as well as any Cavalier on four. We also get three great Knights from Throne of Eldraine that weren’t in the precon in Acclaimed Contender, Murderous Rider, and Blacklance Paragon. I also upped the land count to have a better shot at hitting all of the five- and six-drops in the deck.

Let’s take a look at Alela, Artful Provocateur. She serves as either a lord for flyers or as a payoff for artifact and enchantment spells. Alela works well for both aggressive and defensive strategies; the tokens she produces are expendable enough to chump block, yet also pose a real threat. I suspect we will see some real fireworks with Alela if enchantment creatures return with Theros: Beyond Death, but that is speculative and a few months out anyway.

Based on the list we’re starting with and the tools we have access to, I feel like the best direction to take is toward an artifact/enchantment hybrid control deck. There are too many durdly elements to really streamline a beatdown deck, and the artifacts and enchantments are too varied to go for a big payoff like Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge (but I think both directions are very real possibilities for a reconstructed Alela deck). Let’s take out some of the aggressive elements and fill it in with more mana sources, removal, and card draw, your typical control elements.



Why win quickly when you can win eventually? An inevitable eight-turn march of Dawn of Hope activations takes a lot longer than a quick Embercleave victory. All of those turns where you have to tap all your mana four at a time at the end of your opponent’s turn, grabbing a couple extra tokens, and then immediately untapping everything? That’s time spent winning. More winning equals more fun. That’s just simplemath.

In all seriousness, if you want to speed up the process and win in spectacular fashion, just throw a Divine Visitation in there. It didn’t quite make the cut because I think it’s win-more, but it’s tech that I think a lot of people would appreciate.

One card I’m really excited to play with is Dance of the Manse. True, artifacts and enchantments don’t go to the graveyard as often as creatures, but we have a few that sacrifice themselves and opponents are bound to get rid of some of our permanents. I can see a mid-game X = 3 Dance to draw a few cards, but also a huge X = 8 Dance following a Planar Cleansing as a finisher.

I’d also like to note that we shifted the deck’s manabase to be mostly Azorius with just a small black splash. The mana in Standard right now isn’t fantastic, so I expect this to be a common measure in three-color decks.

Chulane, Teller of Tales may have an expansive repertoire, but there’s a very clear common theme: creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects.

I’m sure this is old news to anybody that took this deck on a test drive during the Courtside Brawl event, but Chulane is all emptying your hand onto the battlefield while drawing through your library at a furious pace. I remember having just ten to fifteen cards left while attacking for lethal on a regular basis. That’s just what happens when you have a deck of creatures that don’t attack or block particularly well but do draw cards.

Chulane can also rebuy enters-the-battlefield effects with his activated ability, but I found that simply wasn’t necessary. I’d rather just deploy the (many) cards in my hand. With Chulane out, Growth Spiral is essentially stapled on to each creature spell. The more spells you can cast, the more value you get out of Chulane. Therefore, I wanted to focus on cheap creatures and mana development with my upgrade to this deck.


I know Tome of Legends and Faerie Formation are great at drawing cards, but I feel like there are better ways to do that and still go along with our gameplan of playing lots of small creatures. Also, I ended up cutting End-Raze Forerunners and Thorn Mammoth for God-Eternal Rhonas and Agent of Treachery, respectively, which fulfill the same role.

Sweepers like Time Wipe are often great in Commander, but half our deck is comprised of creature cards! Outside of curving nothing into nothing into maybe something into Time Wipe on five, it’s hard to come up with a situation we would be happy to cast it.


I’d like to note two extremely powerful cards from the new set Throne of Eldraine, Oko, Thief of Crowns and Questing Beast, that aren’t included in here. Early reports have both cards (both legal in this deck!) causing major headaches for opponents, and yet they didn’t make the cut. You can certainly include one or both (or other generically powerful cards such as Teferi, Time Raveler) in these decks. They are powerful additions that will probably do a good amount of work for you, but they don’t have particularly valuable synergy and I wanted to keep these decks on theme.

Birthing Pod Prime Speaker Vannifar does some cool things in this deck! You can use her as a value engine, turning a two-drop to Risen Reef and then Elite Guardmage to draw a few extra cards, or (if you have it all) you can find a card like Frilled Mystic and then use Chulane to rebuy the enters-the-battlefield effect. Admittedly Vannifar’s potential targets are a bit slim with the available cards, but it’s the type of card that only gets stronger as more sets are released and there are more options for her toolbox. I’m really looking forward to building a dedicated Vannifar deck, though I will try to wait until we have a full eight sets legal.

Guardian Project is a nice standout for singleton formats. Ignoring Seven Dwarves shenanigans, it should always draw a card for nontoken creatures, making it great for creature-based green decks!

Similar to the Alela deck, we shifted the manabase more toward Simic with just a light white splash.

At first glance, the application of Korvold, Fae-Cursed King seemed pretty straightforward. Another Jund-colored commander that generates value off of sacrificing creatures, right? Well, the cards in the precon suggest a little more nuance than that. The new Food tokens in Throne of Eldraine allow for cheap, expendable… Food… for Korvold’s ability. Additionally, the inclusion of Woodland Champion suggests that there may be some interesting “Food matters as a token” considerations that may not be immediately obvious. Finally, cards like Pollenbright Druid and Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin suggest that there could be some nice unexplored space with +1/+1 counters available.

All that said, I’m just going to go with effects that benefit from sacrificing creatures or having creatures available to sacrifice. I did try to make a Food-matters build of the deck, but there were too few impactful cards to satisfy me.



The elements included here are pretty straightforward to people familiar with Golgari commander decks. Order of Midnight and Gravedigger allow us to rebuy our creatures; District Guide and Burglar Rat provide bodies to act as sacrifice while still providing value; and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and Liliana, Dreadhorde General act as pretty nice top-end payoffs. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to play two more Cavaliers (of Night and Thorns) in this deck, especially since both have triggers when they enter the battlefield and die.

The deck isn’t particularly fast or explosive, yet shines in an attrition battle. We make a lot of medium to medium-plus threats in this deck, and opponents relying on removal or attacking on the ground will find it difficult to gain an edge.

Next Week

Next week’s installment of The Brawl Project will feature Gaby Spartz’s chosen commander, Yarok, the Desecrated! I stream a substantial portion of my brewing for this column live on Twitch, so tune in on Thursday at noon PT if you want to catch the process. Also, a reminder that submissions are open here if you would like to see your own deck featured on The Brawl Project!

That’s all for this week. Go have fun battling these decks against your friends when they release on Friday!

Hopefully Brawl will be on Magic Arena soon. Until then…