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Building With Brokkos, Apex Of Forever In Commander

Prepare to mutate! Sheldon Menery builds his latest Commander deck around Brokkos, Apex of Forever.

Brokkos, Apex of Forever, illustrated by Filip Burburan

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When you’re a Commander player and a set comes out with a cool new mechanic, you take notice.  When that mechanic is part of a legendary creature, you start exploring possibilities.  So it is for me with Ikoria:  Lair of Behemoths and mutate. 

The mutate mechanic carries an inherent risk.  In combining two or more creature cards into one, you create a situation in which an opponent can use targeted removal for extra value, giving them a two- or three-for-one (or more).  Commanders with mutate mitigate some of that risk, since you can cast them over and over again.  Brokkos next-levels that, allowing you to use it from the graveyard — and thereby avoid paying the commander tax on subsequent uses to mutate it onto something.  I chose Brokkos because of the ability to use it repeatedly; being in a favorite color combination didn’t hurt the argument, either.  As if to solidify the choice, I got a foil alternate art version in one of the boxes of Ikoria that I opened. 

The search then began to find things I’d like to mutate Brokkos onto.  I opted for a spread of creatures with various abilities that would provide benefits in a broad range of situations, being careful not to add any Humans (well, there’s one).  Making any of a bunch of creatures into the commander should lead to some high-variance and epic games, putting many notches into the commander damage kill belt. 

I added a number of the mutate creatures in the Sultai wedge for some extra-plus mutating; most of them are pretty straightforward.  I’ll offer up the list and then we’ll talk about how we got there.


Mutate Targets

The deck has a solid number of creatures with good enters-the-battlefield triggers.  What makes Acidic Slime saucy as a mutate target is that it has deathtouch.  While there aren’t too many creatures that are going to want to battle with Brokkos anyway, it’s extra insurance. 

One of the cards that it seems like lots of folks have considered for Brokkos and other mutate decks. The combination of trample and deathtouch means that there are very few viable blocks for our even-more-deadly commander.

Any creature with +1/+1 counters on it will do good work when mutated, adding to the bigger base power and toughness.  You could certainly build an entire Brokkos deck around that theme.  Bane of Progress led to thoughts about putting Forgotten Ancient in the deck as well, which is nearly a single-card strategy. 

Mana creatures become less useful as we get later into the game, so being able to give Brokkos flying gives it a pretty useful evasion ability.

I considered a whole line of morphs for the deck.  You’ll see only two made it, Brine Elemental being one of them.  It’s one half of the famous Pickles Lock combo; I’m not running the other half.  Brine Elemental is indeed a finisher, though, as it’ll likely get you another uncontested attack step.  2/2 creatures don’t get to do too much attacking, so just sitting there waiting to be turned face up isn’t aggressive as I like. 

Brine Elemental’s presence also means that there is more than just Willbender when it comes to morphs.  Like Willbender, it doesn’t need to be mutated onto to do something strong, but it won’t hurt.  Brine Elemental is also a viable target for the other mutate creatures.  Mischievous Quanar was also a consideration. 

Making a mutate chain with Chittering Harvester into Brokkos clears a lot of the chaff from the battlefield.  Going the other direction might be the surprise you need to get the final blocker out of the way to swing in for lethal (commander) damage as well.

Hey, you knew this card was going to be in the deck.  I’m only sad that it’s not an Elemental.  It did lead to the Elemental subtheme, though. The thought process was something like “Coiling Oracle.  Ooh, Risen Reef—and then…” so on.  Plus, I had a copy of Primal Beyond just sitting there, waiting to be stuffed into a deck. 

Sure, drawing a card when you attack is nice.  Drawing six is better.  A small creature with islandwalk is good.  A big commander with it is downright devastating. 

Like with Chittering Harvester, putting together a chain makes this a big hit.  I think the creature having flash is a bigger upside than might be initially evident, whether or not you’re going to mutate it. 

This card does work on several different axes.  As a target to mutate Brokkos onto, the lifelink ability is key.  The ability to cast spells from the graveyard for one less is huge.   Unlike what I suspect is its predominate use in other decks, the Entomb ability is only tertiary.  There are a few graveyard recursion cards in the deck, so putting something in only means having it there for later.  It makes me think that Wonder or Filth might make a good inclusion. 

The crowning jewel in what I hope will be a regalia of commander damage kills, Lord of Extinction on top is going to be a real bomb.  Or boom tube.  Its inclusion probably warrants also adding Consuming Aberration to the deck, but I didn’t have one lying around.  It’s a likely acquisition for a future update, though.  Lord of Extinction is also an Elemental, so it fits the other subtheme as well.

The best part of Mindleecher is that you can still play the cards if Mindleecher isn’t around anymore.  As a Brokkos target, it has flying.  It’s another one that I’ll prefer to play as part of a mutate chain, but won’t be sad if I can only arrange it the other way.  Mindleecher is also what got me onto playing Gonti, Lord of Luxury, which is simply fun most of the time. 

The third leg (along with Chittering Harvester and Dirge Bat) in the creature-removal tripod, Pouncing Shoreshark is viable in a chain or on its own.  Again, having flash is a thing.  Plus, I got a cool alternate art one. 

Because I can’t steal or borrow your creatures to perform mutate shenanigans with, exiling them is okay with me.  Then there’s the whole adding counters part, which we’ve mentioned is excellent with Brokkos.  That our stack can’t be blocked by chumps sends us to the next level.  The only reason Ravenous Slime even occurred to me is that it was sitting on the table I build decks with, having just come out of another one.  I slipped it right into the Brokkos box.

Another card that I suspect many folks have also thought about when it comes to Brokkos, having an indestructible commander that also does something else good means serious business.  Losing a creature stack is the main anxiety of mutate, and cutting down on the ways that can happen is a relief. 

Flying, deathtouch, and lifelink.  There’s really not much more to be said.  Also a great target for the other creatures with mutate.

As we’ve mentioned, targeted removal on a stack is problematic, so Willbender is reasonable protection.  It’s less of a mutate target than something that helps out with the other mutate targets. 

Who doesn’t want a 12/12 commander with trample that had the mana acceleration to get you there in the first place? 

We obviously can’t mutate onto Pir since he’s a Human, but he brings along his friend Toothy, who definitely isn’t. 

More protection for our stack in the form of hexproof and regeneration.  In the eldest days of the format, Wrath of God was the predominant battlefield sweeper, so regeneration didn’t matter.  It’s still played in a large number of appropriately-colored decks (as is Damnation), but there are plenty of other sweepers that get played as well, and they don’t have the “can’t be regenerated” clause. 

We already aren’t going to mind so much if Brokkos or our stack gets destroyed, because we can do it again from the graveyard.  If Brokkos is mutated onto Toothy, we really won’t mind so much, because we’re going to draw some cards to replace it as well, then still be able to get the mutate runbacks. 

In my Yarok Energy deck, I noticed that Yarok was frequently a single card battle strategy.  Very few people are going to block it with anything useful because of deathtouch.  If they do, there’s still lifelink.  Then, we put the doubling of the enters-the-battlefield triggers on top, and it’s easy to see why it’s a popular choice as a commander.  I don’t normally play commanders I’ve built as one of 99, but this one is so right for the Brokkos deck that I’m willing to make the exception.

Other Relevant Cards

There are plenty of basic support cards in the deck, such as mana ramp and board control.  I’m going to say “Look at me, I’m Josh Lee Kwai” every time I play Vedalken Orrery.  There are also a few which fit more directly into what is going on in the deck, many of them to protect our precious resources. 

The hexproof and regenerate abilities are both relevant.  In addition to being able to keep our Brokkos stack from getting destroyed, it’s also immune to combat tricks like Maze of Ith

Emergent Ultimatum might go into the Villainous Wealth category of “if you’re playing Sultai, you’ll want to play this,” not because it’s broken, but because it can lead to some amazing game states. For this deck, the three cards will most often be Beacon of Tomorrows, Zendikar Resurgent, and Return of the Wildspeaker.  I might rethink things down the road and add a second extra turn card for fullest value.  Or maybe In Garruk’s Wake

Crystal Shard is one cheaper, but the deck has a lower commitment to blue, so I like the choice of colorless mana.  Plus I had one that I had pulled out of another deck and didn’t want to be bothered to put it back where it belongs.  The idea is to be able to bounce my own stack in order to save it from destruction—that way I’ve saved multiple cards from a sweeper.  There aren’t too many times that I’d use it for raw value.  If the creature stack is staying on the battlefield, things are going the way I want them to. 

Sometimes you just need a sacrifice outlet.  It’s not called Bene Supremo in Italian for nothing.  If the big creature stack is going away anyway, we’ll want value.  Big value.

You don’t need for Keruga to be your companion in order for it to be valuable.  Be careful, though, since mutating onto something doesn’t make enters-the-battlefield triggers happen. 

One real concession to graveyard recursion is Muldrotha.  It’ll enable us to get back the things that may have gotten destroyed, which you know will happen in Commander games. It’s not there as a feature of the deck so much as a backup plan.

Unremarkable in that it’s a format staple, remarkable because I don’t for some reason play it much.  I wanted it for this deck as another layer of protection for the creature stack.

Already just a good card on its own, Syr Konrad is meant to leverage the leaves your graveyard ability, since Brokkos will definitely be leaving the graveyard.  If I’m not using its mutate ability from the graveyard several times in a game, then things are probably going my way anyway. 

Such a good card in this format, Thryx is protection for a whole host of things you want to do.  Time Stretch?  No counterspells, thank you.  Nearly all of the mutate cards?  Can’t be countered.  The flying body helps, but it really didn’t come into the deck as a mutate target, but as a protection source. 

Additional Considerations

There are certainly plenty of other ways the deck could go, even sticking with the same basic theme.  The most likely avenue would be more graveyard recursion.  While Brokkos can bring itself back, there are plenty of other cards which would benefit from Oversold Cemetery, Palace Siege, or maybe even Genesis.  With more recursion, additional sacrifice outlets become viable.  For this particular deck, I prefer those as a backup plan instead of the focus.  For one thing, the recursion thing is one of my signature moves, so I’d like to do something different.  The second is that I just want to jam beefy commander creatures everywhere and do some bashing. 

There were Voltron angles I considered, but then realized some of the popular ones would have been awkward.  Putting Sword of Feast and Famine on a creature would mean that I’d be unlikely to mutate onto it.  Darksteel Plate is a pretty good option. 

Another option I considered was some sort of creature token generator, just so that I’d always have something to mutate Brokkos onto.  In the end, it felt like there were enough creatures and card draw to get them to not need one. 

Specific cards I strongly considered but that didn’t make the cut were Damia, Sage of Stone; Vesuvan Shapeshifter (the other half of the Pickles Lock combo); Otrimi, the Ever-Playful; and any number of cards with infect.  The whole idea of a Clone suite occurred to me, thinking that there’d be plenty of things around to make copies of.  Eventually, I wanted to be less dependent on other players’ cards.

This build of Brokkos sits comfortably in the low-to-middle power of decks.  It’s not going to do anything particularly fast, but will have a threatening mid-game against appropriate competition.  It will be aggressive in the kinds of ways that make people notice, but it’s not going to be an oppressive force in any scenario—just the kind of game that I like to play. 

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