This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Before I begin tweaking my Sonebrow versus Bruna EDH duel decks I will address some of the comments you have all left for me. First thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think of the articles. This has turned out to be more of a time commitment that I could have imagined and knowing someone enjoys the articles is a great motivation. Second, a few comments have been left suggesting ways to make the decks better, Bruna in particular. Remember the goal of this project is not to build the best Bruna deck possible and see how it fairs against a Stonebrow deck, but to build a Bruna deck and a Stonebrow deck that play evenly matched games of one-on-one EDH. Several card choices from the initial builds were far worse than sub-par and this week I will address them to the extent needed to balance, not optimize, the decks.

After finishing deck construction, I sleeved up the decks and asked my wife to play a few games. Here is the first lesson to be learned from this project: if you tell your wife you need to play a few games to be able to write a column, she will play Magic with you more. That aside, the testing went moderately well. As I have already alluded to in the previous article and responses to comments, there were some problems with the deck balance. It only took a few games playing each deck to realize several of my card choices, mostly in Stonebrow, turned out to be rather useless. The decks also had much different tempos. It only takes one or two attacks from Bruna to finish off one opponent from General damage while Stonebrow usually wins by chewing through all 40 life with a group of attackers. However, when both decks usually come online within a turn of each other Bruna easily won most of the games. I also bought and traded for a few cards to take out some of the sub par cards I had chosen or been forced to use because I lacked a better alternative.

The changes made to Bruna were the simplest and most straightforward, so I will address them first. All of the cards I changed were auras and only one was not intended to suit up Bruna. First I removed Take Possession. Stonebrow does not have many ways to interact with and respond to theft effects, so the extra cost for split second turned out to be a waste. Since I had tracked down a copy of Abduction, I slotted it in at three mana less and it can be used to keep Bruna from dying and can still take Stonebrow’s primary resource, creatures. Crab Umbra and Infiltrator’s Magemark were replaced because with simply better card choices. I originally included both of these cards because I did not own any better choices. I acquired Celestial Mantle and Unquestioned Authority to replace these two cards. Celestial Mantle turns Bruna’s clock down two turns and can quickly build a massive life barrier making blocking almost unnecessary. Unquestioned Authority adds repeatable card draw and spectacular evasion. Finally, I cut Vanishing for Pemmin’s Aura. Phasing is one of the more complicated and, more importantly, lacking reminder text abilities, so I replaced it with activatable shroud. Pemmin’s Aura will also be much more useful if it is needed on a creature other than Bruna since it can also untap, grant flying, and adjust power and toughness. With these changes made, the final decklist looks like:

Commander (1)
Bruna, Light of Alabaster

Creature (14)
Aeon Chronicler
Blazing Archon
Chromeshell Crab
Dreamscape Artist
Sphinx of Lost Truths
Sphinx of Magosi
Tidespout Tyrant
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Waterfront Bouncer
Weathered Wayfarer
Windborn Muse

Enchantment (20)
Armored Ascension
Aura of Silence
Auramancer’s Guise
Celestial Mantle
Diplomatic Immunity
Eldrazi Conscription
Empyrial Armor
Flight of Fancy
Fool’s Demise
Ghostly Prison
Oblivion Ring
Pemmin’s Aura
Steel of the Godhead
Traveler’s Cloak
Unquestioned Authority

Artifact (5)
Armillary Sphere
Azorius Signet
Coldsteel Heart
Talisman of Progress
Wayfarer’s Bauble

Instant (15)
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Crib Swap
Frantic Search
Into the Roil
Path to Exile
Reins of Power
Return to Dust
Spin into Myth
Swords to Plowshares
Wipe Away

Sorcery (9)
Austere Command
Hallowed Burial
Open the Vaults
Planar Cleansing
Recurring Insight
Rite of Replication
Wrath of God

Land (36)
Adarkar Wastes
Celestial Colonnade
16 Island
16 Plains
Prahv, Spires of Order
Skycloud Expanse

Stonebrow required much more in depth changes than Bruna. The first and largest problem was the artifact and enchantment removal package I included. Of the seven cards I included, only one turned out to be useful, Deglamer. I hoped destroying an aura or two would be enough to slow Bruna down, but the tempo gain turned out to be minor and the card disadvantage was crippling. Acidic Slime, Nantuko Vigilante, Krosan Grip, Naturalize, Slice in Twain, and Hull Breach were all cut. Instead of destroying enchantments to slow Bruna down, I decided to destroy Bruna herself and add more haste effects to turn up the pressure faster. Crushing Vines, Plummet, Fires of Yavimaya, and Swiftfoot Boots were all added leaving me with two more card choices to make.

Next I cut Insurrection which was nearly the same decision as Take Possession. The inflated mana cost to take every creature you do not control was not needed when only playing against one opponent who plays very few creatures. Finally I cut Gruul Signet and Talisman of Impulse. These two cards felt like they were out of place in a deck with access to green ramp spells. The were originally included because they could produce red or green mana, but since there were on-budget, in-color, non-artifact alternatives I cut them. I replaced the two artifact ramp spells and filled the other three free slots with five ramp spells: Rampant Growth, Nature’s Lore, Harrow, Sylvan Scrying, and Skyshroud Claim. The extra ramp power should also help speed up Stonebrow and make the race against Bruna much more volatile.

Finally I made two more cuts. Garruk’s Horde was replaced with Deus of Calamity. There are a lot of creatures in Stonebrow, but I found Garruk’s Horde to be underwhelming. The Deus paired with Stonebrow is a terrifying combination that mandates a */3 or larger blocker every time it attacks. My last cut was Triumph of the Hordes. Frequently it was dead weight in hand because when cast it either immediately ended the game or wasted an attack since there are no other poison effects in the deck. I found myself frequently wishing it was a more immediately useful card, so I added in Primal Rage to give all attacking creatures +2/+2 and trample. After these last two changes, the final decklist is:

Commander (1)
Stonebrow, Krosan Hero

Creature (29)
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Apocalypse Hydra
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Chameleon Colossus
Charmbreaker Devils
Deus of Calamity
Garruk’s Packleader
Inferno Titan
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Krosan Tusker
Loaming Shaman
Mana-Charged Dragon
Moonveil Dragon
Oracle of Mul Daya
Primordial Sage
Rampaging Baloths
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Soul of the Harvest
Taurean Mauler
Urabrask the Hidden
Yavimaya Elder

Enchantment (10)
Aggravated Assault
Fires of Yavimaya
Greater Good
In the Web of War
Lurking Predators
Nature’s Will
Primal Rage

Artifact (2)
Lightning Greaves
Swiftfoot Boots

Instant (8)
Beast Within
Crushing Vines
Momentous Fall
Savage Beating

Sorcery (13)
Desert Twister
Explosive Vegetation
Kodama’s Reach
Nature’s Lore
Rampant Growth
Reforge the Soul
Skyshroud Claim
Sylvan Scrying

Planeswalker (1)
Garruk Wildspeaker

Land (36)
19 Forest
Karplusan Forest
Kessig Wolf Run
Mossfire Valley
Mosswort Bridge
10 Mountain
Raging Ravine
Skarrg, the Rage Pits
Spinerock Knoll

These changes significantly changed the dynamics between the two decks and gave me a balance I was much happier with. If you have not yet tried playing these decks, I strongly encourage you to throw them together and try the decks out. For me it is a nice break from the control heavy EDH games my playgroup is accustomed to even if the tempo of the decks is a little bit slow.

I have also gotten a few comments about the low land count in the decks, but I’ve been happy with the pace the decks play at so I have not changed the land count. If you intend to play the decks with your normal playgroup in a free-for-all game, you should probably cut a high curve spell or two from each of the decks and add lands. In the intended play environment, the low land count seems to help slow down the game pace. I really enjoyed taking my time through the games and savored the relaxed feel of two slow, battle cruiser decks.

Next time I will be sharing some sample games with you. Until then, feel free to leave a comment or PM me on the MTG Salvation or official Commander forums where my username is irpotential. If you decide to try the decks for yourself, make sure to let me know your play experiences with the decks.

Series Navigation<< Wild Research 03 – Preliminary Duel Deck ConstructionWild Research 05 – Bruna Versus Stonebrow >>