The Knowledge Pool - Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer | Art by Daarken
A New Challenger Approaches
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Knowledge Pool, where we take a deep dive on deep commanders!
Like many Commander players, I find myself scouring each new set for upgrades to my decks. War of the Spark offers us a bounty of potential upgrades, and with the set releasing in a couple days I'm bringing you a deck showcasing one of my favorite new cards:
Saheeli does a lot of awesome things in Commander. First, her static ability lets us make dudes whenever we're casting noncreature spells. Most analogous abilities only make creatures when a specific card type is cast (ex. Young Pyromancer, Talrand, Sky Summoner, and Murmuring Mystic) making them only applicable in a small handful of decks, while Saheeli has a much broader appeal. However, Saheeli's activated ability is what excites me most, turning one of our artifacts into a copy of another artifact or creature we control. This means we can cast a noncreature spell, make a Servo, and then turn that Servo into something much more impactful. This unique suite of abilities feels perfectly designed to fit into a Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer deck, and it just so happens that Brudiclad helms one of the more unique decks in my arsenal.
Nothing is What it Seems
Brudiclad was spoiled to significant fanfare in the summer of 2018, with many excited about the prospect of making an army of their favorite tokens. Truly, Brudiclad embodies everything that is weird about the Izzet color combination, embracing the 'mad scientist' attitude of blue and red. He gives us unprecedented control over our board, with the ability to construct armies of Dragons, a trail of Clues, or a mountain of Treasure in the blink of an eye. This whimsy does not come without claws, as even a handful of Treasure represents a potentially lethal threat if we can get our hands on a powerful token.
These factors give us the ability to win a game out of nowhere, leaving our opponents little time to react to our change of pace. If these qualities aren't enough to make you excited about Brudiclad, it's worth noting that Brudiclad decks are forced outside the traditional staples of the Izzet colors. Spells that incidentally build up a board of tokens are our bread and butter, and finding the right mix of token makers and targets for our tokens to copy will force us to build around many of the underappreciated and underutilized cards Commander has to offer.
I built my version of Brudiclad shortly following the release of Commander 2018, and I've discovered that the deck fits snugly within the realm of the 75% theory. This isn't a deck that applies pressure immediately, and it requires a significant degree of setup, but once it gets going, this deck gets to do powerful things. My game plan is fairly straightforward, and involves generating a consistent stream of tokens as the game progresses.
I've divided my token makers into two categories: tiny tokens and copiers. Tiny token makers generate small dudes, Treasure, Clues, etc. and usually make a handful of tokens all at once or over time. Copiers will allow us to copy our nontoken creatures or artifacts so that Brudiclad can morph our tiny tokens into something more threatening. The creature copies we make will largely be the payoff of this deck, giving us the muscle to deal out lethal damage. Considering the strategies in this deck, is it any wonder why Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is one of my favorite new cards? She's a tiny token maker AND a copier all in one!
As important as Brudiclad is to our strategy, I've tried to ensure that the spells I've included in this deck don't force us to rely on him too much. Ideally, we'll spend the bulk of our game ramping, drawing cards, making tokens, and then using Brudiclad to make a push, but if our opponents are adamant about keeping Brudiclad off the board, Clone Legion, Utvara Hellkite, and Mechanized Production might just be enough for us to pull out a victory anyway.
Let's get into the meat of this deck so we can talk about the synergies this deck offers in more detail.
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Our somewhat heavy top end gives us an average cmc of 3.66, but with 44 of our spells costing 1-4 mana, we should have plenty of action for the early and mid-game. The bulk of our spells make tokens of some sort, with 18 of our spells responsible for making tiny tokens, while 12 are intended to copy creatures. Beyond our token makers we have eight spells each for ramp, card draw, and creature removal. We have four pieces each of enchantment and artifact removal, making us a little soft when it comes to removing non-creature permanents. While enchantments will always be a challenge for Izzet decks, I would like to find room for Vandalblast after I have more testing to dictate my cuts.
Given that Brudiclad starts at 6 mana, it's very possible we wont be able to cast him more than twice during the course of a game, so ensuring that our spells aren't dead in his absence is crucial. For this reason, I've aimed for spells that are synergistic with Brudiclad, but offer significant value if we can't keep him around. For instance, a token copy of Hellrider can be responsible for game-altering swings in conjunction with Brudiclad, but alone, Hellrider doesn't have a particularly impressive ability for our deck. Vizier of Many Faces, on the other hand, is at worst a Clone, and at best lets us turn our tokens into copies of the best creature on the board. This approach to card selection is also why our curve has a heavier top end. In the likely event that Brudiclad becomes unavailable to us, our top end spells will need to carry the day, and having a density of these will help ensure that we have significant late-game power.
This deck is full of fun interactions so let's discuss some of the spells that make this deck tick, starting with our tiny token makers.
A Token Investment
Tiny Token Makers
At all points in our curve we have tiny token makers. In the early stages of the game we can invest a little bit of mana into cards like Hangarback Walker, Curse of Opulence, and Retrofitter Foundry to begin a steady accumulation of tokens to enable a late game push. Hangarback Walker and Foundry both let us make good use of our leftover mana, while also becoming more impactful as the game progresses.
Once we get to 3-5 mana, our token making becomes all the more powerful. My new favorite card, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, makes an appearance here, and the token making qualities I described at the beginning of the article will make her a potent addition to the deck. A little less than half of the cards in this deck are either noncreature or nonland, meaning that we will have plenty of options for triggering Saheeli and building up our token stockpile.
In addition to Saheeli, our 3-5 cost spells offer us Trading Post, Storm the Vault, and Siege-Gang Commander. Trading Post does a little bit of everything, making tokens, converting our artifacts and artifact tokens into card draw, and even gaining us life in a pinch. Storm the Vault is may not be at its best in this deck given that we're not particularly artifact-devoted or aggressive, but we shouldn't have any trouble triggering either of its modes to make tokens and lots of mana. Siege-Gang Commander is a one-time token generator, but if we choose to turn our tokens into goblins with Brudiclad, we'll have endless fodder to burn away enemy creatures.
Once we hit 6-7 mana, our tiny token makers start to become massive threats. Chandra, Flamecaller is excellent in this deck, letting us draw a new hand, burn away creatures, and make two new bodies for Brudiclad to morph into something more valuable. Sharding Sphinx may seem like a strange choice here, given that we don't have a ton of artifact creatures, but if we can create a token copy of Sphinx, and use Brudiclad to make an army of Sharding Sphinxes, our token output will be massive. Sharding Sphinx is simply one of the best things we can turn our tokens into.
Lastly, Thopter Assembly is an explosive token generator for this deck. We don't have a ton of Thopter makers to begin with, but Brudiclad can help ensure that any Thopters we do have are morphed into something else. Once our upkeep comes around, Assembly can trigger and make us five new tokens. After we bounce Assembly to our hand, we can replay it, and then repeat the process, morphing the Thopters again, each time netting five tokens. Normally I don't like creatures that don't offer immediate value, but I have a feeling that Assembly will be able to fly under the radar at least once or twice so that we can make the most of its synergy with Brudiclad.
Several of our spells have valuable abilities and make tokens incidentally. Release the Gremlins will give us the option to deal with opposing artifacts while making token bodies in the process. Two of our four counterspells in this deck are Spell Swindle and Confirm Suspicions, both of which make tokens while dealing with enemy threats. Spell Swindle in particular has the potential to generate a wealth of Treasure at instant speed to make Brudiclad threatening with no extra setup.
Now that we've taken a look at a few of the ways we'll be building up tokens, lets look at the copiers that will ensure our tokens have killing power.
A Token Has No Name
As advertised, our Copiers will give us the ability to turn the tokens we've made into clones of the best creatures and artifacts at the table. Our most generic options for this task are Dance of Many and Cackling Counterpart. Dance of Many is a cheap way to copy any creature at the table for our other tokens to clone, and we don't even need to care about its upkeep cost once the rest of our tokens have cloned our target. Cackling Counterpart only lets us copy our creatures, but being instant speed means that we can do so during an opposing turn, and be ready to abuse Brudiclad on ours.
Beyond these two, Feldon of the Third Path lets our tokens clone the creatures in our graveyard, while Mimic Vat can let us copy any soon-to-be-dead creature at the table. Rite of Replication is powerful enough that it sees tons of play in Commander outside of Brudiclad strategies, and it's an excellent inclusion here too as a synergistic piece to work with Brudiclad and a game-ending spell on its own when Kicked.
In addition to making token copies of creatures, we also have the power to make copies of artifacts. Mechanized Production will let us produce a steady stream of artifact tokens, while being a backdoor win condition with Brudiclad. Even without Brudiclad, we have the chance to trigger the game winning ability of Mechanized Production by enchanting the Treasures or Thopters we generate with some of our tiny token makers. Saheeli Rai, Saheeli, Sublime Artificier, and Saheeli's Artistry give us the ability to make tokens of both artifacts and creatures, offering exceptional utility. It's worth noting that our artifact copiers are the reason I've included spells like Gilded Lotus and Worn Powerstone, as turning our tokens into either of these rocks would allow us to generate unthinkable amounts of mana.
One creature copier I would like to highlight is Metamorphic Alteration, as it has utility that might not be immediately apparent. Part of what makes Alteration so excellent is that it can act as a pseudo removal spell by turning an opposing creature into a lowly Servo. But we can also use Alteration proactively by turning one of our tokens into a copy of a powerful creature at the table for the rest of our tokens to clone.
Lastly, I want to make a note of Clone Legion. I mentioned Clone Legion previously, and it's exceptional here as a potentially game-winning spell. At worst we can target ourselves with Clone Legion to double our creature tokens, and thus double the damage with can deal with Brudiclad. At best, our opponents will have a board with awesome creatures for us to copy to make the most of our tokens.
Since we have so many options for copying creatures, what sorts of things do we want to copy? Next stop on Brudiclad's wild ride are the beasts that our tokens will aspire to be.
Just a Token in Disguise
We've already talked about Sharding Sphinx in some detail, but Sharding Sphinx's older brother is Utvara Hellkite. Hellkite is by far the scariest thing we can turn our tokens into in this deck, as attacking with an army of Hellkites will create more tokens than we know what to do with. What's even better is that Hellkite doesn't even have to make contact to generate more tokens, the simple action of attacking will be enough to summon a Dragon.
While copying Utvara Hellkite is the ultimate Magical Christmas Land dream for this deck, copying a Wurmcoil Engine is not so bad either. Once we have a board of Wurmcoil Engines, any non-exiling removal doubles our token horde to make future attacks more deadly. We could even Release the Gremlins on our own Wurmcoil Engines to make a ton of new bodies to transform on the following turn.
Anybody who's familiar with my series knows that I like to have a few combo win conditions to help bring a game to its natural conclusion a little bit faster. This deck is no exception, and Combat Celebrant and Scourge of the Throne are some of our combo pieces. These two cards don't necessarily go infinite with Brudiclad on the battlefield, but they will generate tons of value and may present enough damage to kill our opponents.
The combo is simple:
- Create a token copy of Celebrant or Scourge of the Throne
- Attack and trigger the token's ability to create an extra combat step (with Brudiclad on board the token has haste!)
- At the beginning of the new combat step, make a token with Brudiclad and have it copy our token of Celebrant or Scourge
- Repeat steps 1-3 each time making an additional combat step using the new token Brudiclad introduces.
While this combo might not go infinite in most cases, we do have a combo that will. I've written about Timestream Navigator many times for this series, but it might be at its best in this deck. Here's how we'll be taking infinite turns:
- Create a token that's a copy of Timestream Navigator
- At the beginning of combat, create a token with Brudiclad's triggered ability and make it a copy of Navigator
- Activate the ability of one of our Navigators to take an extra turn
- Repeat steps 2-3 on each turn, being sure to always leave behind one Navigator for Brudiclad's tokens to copy
The Cut List
There are a lot of neat token makers in Izzet colors, but we can't include all of them. Here are the ones that didn't quite make my cut:
Quasiduplicate is another Cackling Counterpart ability, but I've neglected this one in favor of other options because of its sorcery speed and because our other options are cheaper or more versatile.
Thopter Spy Network could be a great addition here, but I cut it in favor of cards like Trading Post. Network is a card with a very consistent and average floor, but it also has a fairly low ceiling and no modality. I think we have better ways to make little bodies.
Tamiyo's Journal was one of my last cuts. I like what this card does, but I think it's too slow most of the time, and we don't have enough other abilities to make clues to reliability trigger its activated ability.
Lastly, Helm of the Host could be in this deck, but our other creature copiers are more efficient and we don't have many legendary creatures to copy. I've purposefully skewed my creature selections away from legends because of how poorly they interact with most of our spells, so Helm would just be a slower and more expensive Cackling Counterpart most of the time.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my article! I've had a lot of fun building this deck, and I'm excited to do more testing with this deck.
Until next time, I wish you all the best and happy brewing!