Challenge the Stats – Breena, the Demagogue
(Breena, the Demagogue | Art by Simon Dominic)
Brew-na, the Deck-a-gogue
Welcome to Challenge the Stats! This series is based on the awesome EDHRECast segment where we pick out cards that we think are overplayed, underplayed, or sleepers to challenge EDHREC’s data. Remember, these are merely comments on the data, and card choices made by you, the deckbrewer, for any reason such as flavor, budget, art, or fun are always most important and are what keep our format unique and awesome.
This week, we're challenging a new commander from the Strixhaven Commander decks: Breena, the Demagogue (1,090 decks). She encourages our opponents to attack each other and points us in a political direction. Another political Orzhov +1/+1 counters commander came out at the same time, so we can also consider these cards for Shadrix Silverquill (550 decks).
These challenges will lean towards underplayed cards since those tend to get washed out of precon commanders' pages. I talked to a lot of folks about these challenges, so I'd like to thank friends from my playgroup, Midgey and ProphetofAres, and from the Challenge the Stats Discord–Die Uschi / Ruben, AwesomeMcCoolName, MysticChaos, LooterScooter, TheStephenation, and CapybaraWashingMachine.
1. Malakir Rebirth (19%) and Sejiri Shelter (15%)
These are two of the most useful MDFCs from Zendikar Rising, as they're able to save our creatures from removal. Sejiri Shelter can also be used offensively to help us sneak attackers through and avoid losing creatures in combat, which is helpful for Breena's attack trigger. They're both in less than 20% of Breena decks, which seems far too low.
If you haven't tried MDFCs in your decks, it's definitely worth trying out! If you're not sure whether or not to replace lands or spells, my rule of thumb is to split the difference, so if I'm adding in both, I'd cut one land and one spell.
2. Tainted Strike (6%)
When our commander has evasion and the potential to get pretty buff, Tainted Strike is a hilarious way to come out of nowhere and knock a player out of the game.
Additionally, we're encouraging our opponents to attack each other, so if one opponent goes to hit another opponent, we can Tainted Strike it for extra hilarious shenanigans!
3. Vow of Malice (6%)
Not a lot of folks are adding the Vows to the deck. As a whole, they're a pretty hotly contested cycle among Commander players, but I'm a fan of their flexibility to enchant either our creatures or a threatening creature across the table.
In Breena, the most included is Vow of Duty at 24% (probably because it was in the precon), and Vow of Malice and Vow of Torment are both at 6%. Vow of Duty is pretty great to give Breena vigilance, allowing her to sit back as a strong blocker on defense, but I'd like to make a case for Vow of Malice.
Giving our creatures evasion is helpful for getting attack triggers, and might just help Breena get through for a commander damage win. It's also great to give our opponents' creatures Intimidate so they can survive combat to keep attacking and giving us cards and counters (and hurting our opponents).
4. Play of the Game
If we're the threat, we don't want to be casting this, and if we're not the threat, odds are good that we can get some help paying the Assist cost!
Folks are pretty excited about the new Vanquish the Horde, but in a deck that cares about politics, Play of the Game could be even better since it's exile removal and hits all nonland permanents.
5. Batwing Brume
Fogs can be very good in Commander, especially when they have extra utility. Batwing Brume is a multipurpose Fog that has the potential to punish or even knock out a player that's going wide. Since Breena might be building up one big creature instead of an army, having a defense for the token player could be key.
In fact, here's a bonus Fog recommendation: in addition to protecting us from an attack, Dawn Charm can save our commander or counter a potentially game-ending spell that targets us.
Reconnaissance is often a sleeper hit, but it works really well with Breena. It has weird interactions with how rules changed after the card was made. Basically, during combat, you can safely remove your creature from potential damage and untap it. That can be in response to any of these steps:
- Beginning of Combat Step
- Declare Attackers Step
- Declare Blockers Step
- Combat Damage Step
- End of Combat Step
That means we can activate Reconnaissance even after our opponent has declared blockers or after damage has been done, letting us proc any attack triggers and giving our creatures pseudo-vigilance without worrying about losing any of them in battle.
With Breena's attack trigger, we can send two creatures at our opponents with the highest life total, draw two cards and get some counters, and then decide if we want them to continue through combat or be ushered back to safety.
7. Custodi Lich
Monarch cards are good in political decks because they encourage other players to talk to each other and make deals, so we aren't the only ones doing it.
Custodi Lich is an extra juicy deal because we can ask one player to give us the Monarch in exchange for making a third player sacrifice a creature.
Other good Monarch picks are Marchesa's Decree (10%), to incentivize attacks elsewhere, Protector of the Crown, to help us keep the Monarch, and Court of Grace (37%), to give us some fliers we can attack with and pump up.
8. Persist cards
The Persist mechanic is often thought of in regards to combos with +1/+1 counters since they cancel out the -1/-1 counter, but what if we use Persist as a value mechanic instead? Cauldron of Souls lets us save any of our creatures, and maybe our opponents' creatures, too, if they're willing to make a deal with us! We're able to knock that -1/-1 counter pretty easily with Breena and reuse the Cauldron on the same creatures.
On a related note, Puppeteer Clique lets us steal a creature from an opponent's graveyard, then exile it once we've gotten some utility out of it, plus it has flying to sneak in for Breena's attack triggers. Kithkin Spellduster is a bit expensive to get on the battlefield, but once it's there we have another evasive creature to attack with, and it can repeatedly sacrifice itself to blow up our opponents' enchantments.
9. Akroan Horse
Do your opponents not have creatures to get a draw trigger from Breena? Give them creatures with Akroan Horse! Similar to this, Clackbridge Troll is a favorite draw engine of mine, but with Breena, it's another way to give our opponents creatures to attack with. It doesn't matter that they have zero power!
Slaughter Specialist is a new card from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt that give our opponents creatures and gets bigger when they die. It also synergizes with +1/+1 counters if our Breena deck leans in that direction. Finally, it's in dire need of a reprint, but Forbidden Orchard is a fantastic land that gives our opponents creatures.
On a similar note, I'm a bit surprised Curse of Disturbance is being cut from about half of Breena decks, since it does a great job at giving our opponents creatures to attack with.
10. Crescendo of War
I haven't gotten a chance to play with this card yet, but it looks very fun. It's a bit of a gamble because we can die to it, but we get to pump up all creatures on the battlefield progressively more each turn.
However, only our creatures get pumped up on defense, so it incentivizes our opponents to send their scary creatures elsewhere.
For this decklist, we're going to build off of the average Breena decklist and add in our picks! Check out the Archidekt link to see what was removed to make room.
Brew-na BreenaView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Are there any other cards you would challenge? Let me know in the comments below! As always, you can find me on twitter @jevin_mtg.
For more Breena content you can check out Joey Schultz's Precon Recon video, and the Precon Upgrade Guide on EDHREC.
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