September 21, 2012
By PAT aka IRPOTENTIAL
The moment of truth is nearly here. Last time I selected Bruna and Stonebrow as the generals for my duel decks and hit the web in search of some solid deck ideas and pitfalls. I cannot stress enough how much heartache a half hour of searching and reading on the MTGS or official Commander forums can save. Apparently Stonebrow is not a very popular general, so deck lists dripping with tech I have never seen were scarce. Bruna on the other hand, offered tens of lists several containing some great auras I did not know about and probably would not have found otherwise. For example, the ideas of including Fool’s Demise as a super-totem aura or Flight of Fancy for card advantage would not ever have occurred to me. Next I headed to the Gatherer to look up red, green, or red/green creatures with trample. Again I found a few gems I would not have thought of otherwise like Mana-Charged Dragon. Of course I knew the card was a sweet red dragon, but I forgot it was a sweet red dragon with trample.
After my initial scouting, I consulted my two five row boxes of commons and uncommons to see which of these obscure cards I actually had to put into the decks and dug into my EDH collection until I had a pile of probably 150 cards for each deck. From here I decided I would give the 7×9 EDH deck construction technique a try, so I sorted the cards by primary function and started making cuts.
Obviously auras will play a huge role in this deck so I devoted a double slot to them. A few of these choices had to be pretty poor cards because I needed to track down some of the better auras. Since the deck will be using a very budget manabase Armored Ascension should consistently provide a good power boost. Anything that gives a +2/+2 boost is enough to take Bruna from a five hit clock to a three hit clock and with as much evasion as these auras provide Bruna will not be blocked frequently.
Flight of Fancy
Steel of the Godhead
Next I devoted a slot each to bounce, spot removal, and wrath effects. I intentionally used bounce effects instead of splitting it between the other two categories because I did not want Bruna to be packing too much heat, but the bounce spells can be effectively used to buy some time and tempo. I felt comfortable using a chunk of my budget here because the auras were so cheap. Wrath of God is probably the most expensive card in the deck, but there are numerous other options you can use in its place if you cannot get one such as Day of Judgment or Phyrexian Rebirth. I also stumbled onto my first spellshaper for the deck. Since several cards in the deck will be suboptimal, I decided spellshapers would be a good way to turn those cards into something more useful and you could throw auras into your graveyard for an effect then pick them back out with Bruna’s trigger. I cautiously decided to put tuck effects into the deck. If Bruna were to be tucked, the deck would collapse. Without any tutor effects and such a dependence on a voltron strategy, the deck would fold. However, Stonebrow just makes his deck faster. When he gets tucked, the deck suffers, but it does not just roll over and die.
Since Stonebrow will be running many more and probably better creatures I used a slot for copy and theft effects. I really wanted to include Vesuvan Shapeshifter[/card] and Chromeshell Crab[/card], but morph in not a very new player friendly mechanic. In the end I decided to just try them and see what happens. The shapeshifter will probably be the most problematic because it already had a brick of text and the designers never found room for reminder text for morph.
Next I added two of the most fundamental groups of cards for any deck: card draw and ramp spells. Blue has access to the best card draw spells in magic, so I only had to watch the price of the cards I intended to add. The two highlights in this category again involve discard effects that can be leveraged by tossing auras. Frantic Search and Sphinx of Lost Truths both can function with nearly no drawback other than informing your opponent of the beating they are in for. Ramp spells were a little bit trickier. One of my original requirements was to try and stay within the color pie and not leverage artifacts as much as possible, but you will notice that the ramp spells are almost all artifacts. However, white actually has access to a lot of really good and really powerful ramp and land drawing effects with cards like Land Tax and Tithe. When you consider the budget restrictions many of these cards are directly cut and the lands they can fetch to help smooth out colors are certainly outside of the budget of this project, so I used artifacts that serve similar purposes but meet the deck requirements. Weathered Wayfarer and Dreamscape Artist (another spellshaper) are by far the allstars here.
With my remaining slot and a half I decided to add a half slot each of pillow fort, artifact and enchantment removal, and artifact and enchantment recursion. The Propaganda effects in this environment will not stop you from being attacked, but they will serve to reduce the amount of damage you take or severely limit the spells your opponent plays while the archon will stop Stonebrow dead until a kill spell is found. Stonebrow, as you will see below, is running a few back breaking enchantments, so I tossed in a few of my favorite answers. Finally I added a few ways to get auras back out of the graveyard without Bruna in case she should be unavailable. A well timed Retether should easily turn any creature into a short clock for Stonebrow.
Last but not least I filled out the remaining 36 cards with almost entirely basic lands and a few cheap non-basics for utility and color fixing. I realized that 36 lands is super low for EDH, but I had never tried the 7×9 deck construction before and decided to give it a shot. To determine the split of islands to plains I input my decks into tappedout and tweak the numbers from a 50/50 split until the spell color cost/land pie charts are about even. This deck turned out to be very nearly 50/50, so I made no adjustments.
I again started with a double slot of the most obvious group of cards for the deck, creatures with trample and trample effects. Vigor is probably the most expensive and not reprinted card between both decks, but I felt the effect was so powerful that it was worth the inclusion. Stonebrow, like Bruna, is running two morph creatures, Akroma, Angel of Fury and Hystrodon. Luckily both of these have the full reminder text for how the ability works, and Akroma is a game ending atomic bomb versus Bruna. Spawnwrithe was another neat inclusion because it continues to make more trampling creatures. I also added in a slot of good old fashioned face smashers.
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Soul of the Harvest
Triumph of the Hordes
Since many of these creatures have high converted mana costs I added a slot and a half of ramp spells. This deck is going to be much more mana hungry, need to recover from board wipes, and have a higher effective curve than Bruna will, so I am not concerned about this density of ramp spells.
Next I added in a slot each of flying creature removal, artifact and enchantment removal, and card draw. Several of the flying creature removal cards are more general removal, but I wanted to guarantee at least a full slot of seven cards to directly answer Bruna. Red comes up with another anti-blue bomb for this deck with Jaya who can almost single handedly stop Bruna even through Diplomatic Immunity. Deglamer is by far the best aura removal the deck is running since it prevents Bruna from immediately picking the aura back up out of the graveyard. Hopefully the rest will be able to buy time and slow Bruna down enough that Stonebrow can trample in for lethal before Bruna gets to 21 general damage. The card draw is also pretty straightforward. Since Wheel of Fortune is too much for the budget restrictions, I decided to try Reforge the Soul. I know the spell risks loading up Bruna with even more enchantments, but the raw draw power of the spell will hopefully find an answer to her.
Artifact and Enchantment Removal: 7
[card]Slice in Twain
Finally I rounded out the deck with a half slot of haste effects and a full slot of random good stuff. The haste effects will provide an excellent way to turn up the pressure quickly. Especially In the Web of War which can have our trample creatures swinging +4/+2 the turn they hit the board. In the good stuff pile I added two recursion cards, some protection for Stonebrow’s army, three game ending attack spells, and one graveyard hate spell. I toyed with the idea of adding in more graveyard hate to mitigate the damage Bruna can do late game with a stocked graveyard. However, I decided Scavenging Ooze is far too expensive and artifacts provide much better graveyard hate than red or green provide on their own.
Again I finished the deck with 36 land most of which are basic. Red/green has a lot more cheap non-basic lands with great utility than white/blue with the two best hideaway lands, Skarrg, and Kessig Wolf Run. When I input the decklist into tappedout.net I noticed the deck was only about one third red, but has several spells requiring double or even tripple red. Since the deck contains ten ramp spells able to search out any basic lands, I decided to give the deck a try with only one third mountains. This is the number one issue on my watch list for these two decks.
Well that is the abridged version of the deck construction. It is a lot to digest in one article, but next time when I cover the initial testing of the decks I will go over some changes I made to smooth out the decks, remove cards that did not function as well as I had hoped, and most importantly, balance the decks. If you are interested in these decks, I really encourage you to try them out for yourself, but be forewarned, Stonebrow needed some significant tweaking to stand up to Bruna. If you have any further questions about some of my card choices or why I did not choose a particular card feel free to leave me a comment below or PM me on the MTG Salvation forums where my username is irpotential.