Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How to Play Historic Brawl in MTG Arena
Historic Brawl offers the closest experience to commander currently available on digital platform MTG Arena. Like commander, you choose a legendary creature or planeswalker to lead a 100-card deck while only allowing cards of your general's color(s), and only one of each except basic lands. But this time, you start with 25 life instead of 40, and since Arena began around the Ixalan era, you can only use cards from that set forwards.
That still leaves dozens of great sets to pick from, but despite the smaller card pool, historic brawl has its own ban list, with some cards somehow escaping its ranks—which spells prove most grating? Here are five overpowered cards in historic brawl format!
5. Swords to Plowshares
Plowshares is a commander staple too, but remember that brawl doesn't have access to all the sets commander does, meaning its power level is generally lower. Either way, Plowshares offers an amazing removal, exiling a creature at instant speed.
The only downside is that the creature's controller gains life equal to its power, but that's a paltry fee for such a fast and cheap card. Plus, it even gets around indestructible and prevents graveyard recursion, and unlike red's Lightning Bolt (another excellent low-cost removal), foes can't out-toughness it.
4. Mox Amber
With many commander mana-gain staples nonexistent in brawl (Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Gaea's Cradle, etc.), anything that provides early mana advantage can be brutal, especially if you're already behind on the curve by the sheer bad luck of playing second. Mox Amber makes things worse, as it costs zero and taps for one mana of any legendary creature or planeswalker you control.
Of course, in brawl, you're never short on legendaries. While Amber's nice in nearly any deck, it's especially broken with Kinnan Bonder's Prodigy (one of the most broken brawl commanders), who lets your non-lands tap for an extra mana—meaning Amber suddenly provides two free colored every turn.
Again, in commander, this is alleviated by availability of similar cards and effects, but playing second against a turn-two Kinnan/Amber often leads to immediate forfeiture.
3. Paradox Engine
Paradox Engine is banned in commander, but legal in brawl? How does that work? This colorless artifact untaps all your non-lands just by casting a spell, making it one of the most infamous infinite-enablers. You get to untap mana-rock artifacts and creatures, so as long as you continue getting draws, you can very easily play your entire deck.
This gets particularly annoying in builds like Captain Sisay (who taps to find a legendary) and Emry Lurker of the Loch (who taps to play an artifact from your graveyard).
2. Time Warp
Extra turns are arguably the worst mechanic in Magic history. They're pretty much locked into blue, debatably overpowered, and not fun to play against. Here, five mana nets you an easy extra turn, and guess what that means? You get your mana refilled and another draw, so at absolute worst, Time Warp replaces the mana and draw you spent on it, and at best, it's incredibly easy to spam planeswalker and other once-per-turn effects, plus bonus combat phases. And your opponent gets to sit there and wait—even if you don't think they're overpowered, you'll probably agree they're boring. Also consider that abusing planeswalkers is much easier in brawl since, unlike commander, you don't have other players to help gang up on a pesky one.
Plus, Arena is no stranger to adjusting the power of extra-turn spells (it weakened blue's similar extra-turn Alrund's Epiphany), yet strangely lets Warp, which costs even less mana, run rampant. Check out the ban list below and you'll see Arena also banned Nexus of Fate, an extra-turn instant that costs two more mana than Warp.
1. Wash Away
Blue already has the monopoly on counterspells, stopping plays before they ever hit the field. Fortunately, brawl lacks some of blue's most criminal commander cards (like Mana Drain), but this seemingly-innocuous uncommon slipped through the cracks. Wash Away counters any spell not cast from hand for a ridiculously-easy one mana, and guess where commanders are cast from? The command zone, making this an easy one-mana counterspell.
But the real problem is that by paying three, Wash Away can counter literally anything. Three is pretty much the base price for a catch-all counterspell these days (look at cards like Cancel and Dissolve), meaning at worst you have your regular counter, and at best you've got one for 1/3 the price.
Historic Brawl Ban List
Today we examined cards that should either be banned, or Arena-altered, as was the case with spells like Fires of Invention and Omnath Locus of Creation. Below you'll find the current ban list to compare and contrast, but for now, share your thoughts on brawl bans and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
- Demonic Tutor
- Drannith Magistrate
- Gideon’s Intervention
- Lutri, the Spellchaser
- Meddling Mage
- Natural Order
- Nexus of Fate
- Oko, Thief of Crowns
- Runed Halo
- Sorcerous Spyglass
- Tainted Pact
- Teferi, Time Raveler
© 2022 Jeremy Gill