Replacement Commanders - Izzet Tokens? IT IS!
Brudiclad, the Well-Clad Brood
Hello, hello, all you lovely readers! My name is Seth Cross -as always, you can call me “DM” - and I am very excited to bring you another installment of the Replacement Commanders series here on EDHREC! This series was was inspired last year by all the awesome new legendary creatures that were not on the face of the Commander precon decks, and who simply didn't get nearly as much attention as they deserve. With this series, we grab hold of the spotlight and shine it on those unsung, often exciting, and very unique commanders, building a precon-like decklist around them. This allows their own unique abilities and strategies to shine, instead of forcing them to helm decks made for different legendary creatures.
For example, last time we looked at Gyrus, Waker of Corpses. Both he and Thantis, the Warweaver have shown to be very interesting commanders of their own lists, but had very little to synergize with the “lands matter” theme that Lord Windgrace had built around him for the precon.
I've been using a number of polls on my personal Twitter, my own public Magic: the Gathering Discord server and even the Discord server run by Jeremy Noell to see what YOU the readers want to read about next. This week was another close call, with Kestia, the Cultivator only trailing the winner by three votes and Varina, Lich Queen being only two votes behind Kestia. That, of course, means we are looking at…
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
For those of you who do not know (and in the event I have not revealed this previously), I love Magic lore. I love the art as well, but the stories and characters behind the cards are one of my favorite aspects of the game. People who experience and enjoy this game are commonly referred to as Vorthos players, and this part of me went crazy when Brudiclad was previewed for Commander 2018 because it harkened all the way back to Sarcomite Myr's flavor text! There is very little information available about Brudiclad that was not revealed in the insert of the product itself. If there is more out there, feel free to let me know in the comments down below.
So what does Brudiclad do in the game? Given the typical strategy we're used to seeing in Izzet colors, mechanically, Brudiclad should pique everyone’s interest, because it's shifted us into token territory! The only other legendary creature in the same colors that works with tokens at all is The Locust God, and the tokens are more a product of card advantage, which is somewhat different from what Brudiclad wants to do. With this deck, we are encouraged to make pretty much any kind of token (even noncreature tokens) and at least one token we want to see more of. As we enter the combat step, every token on our field (even our Treasure or Clue tokens) will turn into that same kind of token. From there, we can swarm our opponents with a field of flying Drakes (from Talrand, Sky Summoner, for example) or even multiple Brudiclads with the use of Helm of the Host.
It stands out to me that Brudiclad seems to require the same kind of setting up that the other Izzet Replacement Commander, Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice, needs before going off and ending the game. For Tawnos, it was combo pieces. No point in running him out onto the field until we've assembled toys for him to play with. Brudiclad is similar; a 4/4 body that costs six mana feels like something we want to play at the right time, and not necessarily run out as soon as possible. This requires a critical mass of tokens to take full advantage of the copying ability.
It is important to remember that these do not have to be creature tokens. The first card to discuss for the deck as a standout card for Brudiclad is Brass’s Bounty. By itself, this card seems to be a lackluster downgrade from green’s Boundless Realms. However, if we cast Brudiclad turn six and Bounty on turn seven, we're going to have eight 2/1 Myr tokens with haste (remember that Brudiclad makes a Myr at the beginning of combat), and all this can really set a tone for the game. Some other cards that make a plethora of tokens on the spot are Thopter Assembly and Siege-Gang Commander. I like that Tempt with Vengeance becomes less straightforward of a deal for the table. While everyone else can choose to get 1/1 Elemental tokens, we can get… well, with the right spells, we can get almost anything we want!
Quasiduplicate is an awesome new copy spell from Guilds of Ravnica because it is relatively cheap and gives you two attempts to make copies with the Jump-Start mechanic. In a deck where there are bound to be some high-value artifacts, Saheeli’s Artistry is another good one. It's even better when we realize we can double target things like Myr Battlesphere, which is both a creature and an artifact. Feldon of the Third Path and Flameshadow Conjuring are also great ways to make token copies of our own creatures, either from the graveyard or by entering the battlefield. One of my personal favorites that I saw from the EDHREC page for Brudiclad was Call the Skybreaker, which creates a big, flying token and is repeatable thanks to Retrace. As someone who enjoys political playing, I think Curse of Opulence is another great way to make tokens. Honestly, we have to do very little if the Aura is placed on someone people want to attack anyway.
As I was reviewing the EDHREC page for the Telchor Engineer, I noticed that many of the important cards of the deck (ones that created tokens) were instants or sorceries. This made me consider a few new possibilities, like adding Archaeomancer to fetch back those token-making spells for redundancy, but then I thought of something even better. What if we ran some spell copying synergies and gave the deck a traditionally blue-red spellslinging twist? This idea got me even more excited when I thought of turning all the little tokens we can make in the deck into Treasure tokens and then fueling a huge Banefire or even a Jaya’s Immolating Inferno to wipe out the table.
Thousand-Year Storm was already on the page, and this is a card I have been wanting to experiment with. I like the idea of running Sunbird’s Invocation for the sake of added value and then Swarm Intelligence as another way to get extra instances of spells we cast. Ironically, I chose to leave Twinflame out of the deck for the sake of putting Dualcaster Mage, though I like to avoid potentially infinite combos like the ones Dualcaster is occasionally involved in. Noting that, I feel it is important to address the exclusion of Godo, Bandit Warlord to tutor up the aforementioned Helm of the Host, since the two cards go infinite together and one helps find the other.
The spellslinger subtheme makes some of our other includes even more powerful, so I want to point out a few of them so that we can take special notice of important or key cards. We already looked at Talrand, but we also have Murmuring Mystic and Young Pyromancer to pump out more tokens.
Play to the Strengths
Last, but not least, we can round things out with cards that fulfill all the things a deck needs (removal, card advantage, ramp, etc.) and will also still feed into our own strategy. Removal like Pongify and Rapid Hybridization create unique strategies where we can remove our own creatures to get a token, perhaps in response to a Swords to Plowshares. We can make much better use of a 3/3 token than an exiled creature! Spell Swindle is a great counterspell that creates Treasure tokens. Storm the Vault is a huge spell in the deck. We can use it early on to ramp up with Treasure tokens, turning our other tokens into even more Treasure and flipping the enchantment into, essentially, a Tolarian Academy. Alternatively, we can turn the Treasure tokens into other tokens in order to keep it as the enchantment that keeps pumping out more tokens. There are many artifacts in the deck, so Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain and Sai, Master Thopterist both generate extra value just for playing the game. In the end, this is what a Brudiclad precon deck could look like:
Brudiclad and Shiny Friends
Writing for EDHREC is a blessing for someone like me. I know, odd statement to make at the end of an article, but hear me out. The reason I bring this up is actually to twist it around and let you all know that it can sometimes also be a bit of a curse! In these articles, I've occasionally struggled, poking and prodding at far-fetched possibilities before landing on a synergy I truly enjoyed. With Brudiclad, though, I feel like the deck almost makes itself. I could sit here and twist it into a Goblin token deck with Krenko, Mob Boss as a hidden commander, but I do not think that would fit the precon-style theme of the series. (Of course, as a Gobbo player, I would LOVE making that list, but again, synergy with the series comes first. If that is something you are interested in - and the more I think of it, the more I think I would really enjoy it - let me know in the comments, and I can brew a list and provide a link for you in the next article!)
With regards to Brudiclad, I think being straightforward sometimes provides clarity. There were many cards in the list that I felt were almost pointless to explain. I mean, why would I not want to include Wurmcoil Engine to make tons of deathtouching and lifelinking 3/3 Wurms? Ultimately, being straightforward is a blessing as well when brewing decks. Brudiclad provided a very simplistic basic package, and a few cards (like Thousand-Year Storm and Brass’s Bounty) stood out to give us the idea for the unique subtheme. We still have similar cards to the “normal build,” but those few tweaks make the games memorable when we cast them, and everyone gapes for a moment thinking “Wait… What is this deck REALLY doing?!”
As always, I love discussing the decks and commanders with all of you readers, so make sure you follow me on Twitter or join my public Magic: the Gathering Discord server and maybe you can help me out with the next article! Until next time, keep brewing and keep having fun!