Pattern Recognition #293 - Samut of the Brawl

Features Opinion Pattern Recognition


17 August 2023


Good day everyone! My name is berryjon, and I welcome you all to Pattern Recognition, TappedOut's longest running article series. I am something of an Old Fogey and a definite Smart Ass, and I have been around the block quite a few times. My experience is quite broad and deep, and so I use this series to try and bring some of that to you. Be it deck design, card construction, mechanics or in-universe characters and the history of the game. Or whatever happens to catch my attention each week. Which happens far more often than I care to admit. Please, feel free to talk about my subject matter in the comments at the bottom of the page, add suggestions or just plain correct me.

And welcome back! Today, I will look into building my Brawl deck for Arena for the coming year, and then next week, look into expanding it into a full Commander deck. Now, this is something of a yearly tradition for me, and I did this last year for Queza, Auger of Agonies, and the year before that for Killian, Ink Duelist, and before that was Questing Beast and then Gideon Blackblade. To that end, I will be designing my primary Brawl deck for the next year, and then next week, I will tell you how that all fell out. I've got a new computer since last year, so might give a try at video recording for that update.

Now, this year, I've been running an Esper Control deck to pretty good effect, with only a few changes the whole year. And because of that, I want to run something different this year. Like literally the opposite. Let's look into Gruul! Here is the current list. And while I would love to run Ognis, the Dragon's Lash, as something very Hasty to swing out with - I can even see how this goes into the full Commander side of things, there is also Samut, Vizier of Naktamun, which isn't going to rotate out in a ...

Oh. Right. No rotation. Ognis is New Capenna, and I at least want to maintain some degree of Fidelity to Standard, and Brawl before it goes down. My only other option would be Kogla and Yidaro, and while the latter would certainly be interesting, I don't think I want to go that way. Maybe in the ~~99~~59?

So with that in mind, Samut is interesting as it rewards swinging with Hasty, but Unblockable, or otherwise evasive creatures to fuel card draw and then... how to close out? Well, I'm in , so just smash face! Now, I've done Gruul Smash before in paper, so I'm well familiar with the archetype, and its requirements, so let's do some quick paper cutouts.

What I mean by that is that is that I want to start off by looking at my deck's layout, the number of cards I want to do various things in it, then fill in the containers that I am creating. If you look back to last year, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out levels of Card Draw, control and protection and the like for the deck, and this one is very much the same. With a 60 card deck, I want to reserve 1 card for my Commander, and 24 cards for Lands. This latter number can change as the game advances, but for now, it's a placeholder to help me keep track of what I'm doing and why.

I've thought about it, and in the end, I think I should be dividing my remaining 35 cards into three broad categories. The first is HASTE, as these will be the creatures - or the effects that add Haste to something - that can swing the turn they come down, and thus trigger Samut's ability. And if I was building an Ognis deck, Samut would go into the 99 without hesitation. Anyway, the second category will be REMOVAL. Interaction in this case is representative of Removal of opponent's resources. One of the things that can slow this deck down while I'm in the concept stage is stuff blocking my attacking creatures. The third category will be PROTECTION as I still need to be able to keep my stuff alive on the turn they enter to swing. And mono- control is a pain in the ass. The last category will be WINNING, which should be self-explanatory, but I want some sort of cohesive plan for actually closing out the game, rather than just hitting face. Not to say that hitting someone's face isn't a bad plan, it's just a plan that can falter in the face of particularly annoying responses from the opponent.

I'm not sure what will go here, as there is a lack of alternate win cons at this point, and the goal of Samut would be to draw into them. This sounds more like future proofing for the Commander variant to me at this moment, and I'm the one writing all of this!

Well, to start with, let's look at our first subject:


With 35 cards available at this point, I want to allocate about 12 of them to this subject. This attempts to ensure that I have something I can play in the first turn or two to see things through. Looking at all the creatures with Haste in the last year, I'm thinking that this list will start to look something like this:

This is a very top-heavy selection, and I can see some issues already, including a lack of evasion that could come from Shivan Branch-Burner or Shivan Devastator. However, I do have a source of Trample, so that might help in the mid game. In addition, I completely forgot about my Acceleration for the deck, so I'll have to make room for that, thank you to the Invasion and the flip side of that to remind me to deal with getting mana out faster than normal, though most of those options will be next time as there isn't a lot in the way of rocks in the format right now. But, this is just the first pass through the deck, there's still time to work on the details later.

I also avoided, at this time, including other sources of Hasty creatures, such as Urabrask's Forge or Invasion of Mercadia  Flip. Not because they are bad, but because I'm playing with my focus for now.


Actually, you know what? I goofed. Interaction and Protection should be in the same card pool, and Acceleration can be in its own replacement pool. I like this idea better than trying to separate the two. Now, for this, I will again have to subdivide my card picks into different methods of removal. Now, while is a classic source of direct damage, and yes, they will go in, is more highly dependent on indirect damage, or rather - throwing my creature at one of theirs. This Fight for mutual damage or Bite for one-sided harm is highly dependent on having creatures either with Deathtouch to ensure a kill, or sufficient power to make the removal, while hopefully not dying in the process.

Looking at my cards above... I'm not seeing it. The ones I do have are pretty expensive and while throwing them down would be good and wonderful, I have to reserve my options there and focus more on for the offense, and for the defense.

You see, there's another form of interaction I want to address, and this is one shared by both colours. Making my creatures bigger. Now, while Giant Growth isn't in the format, there are other options I can pursue. I don't think I'll need a lot, mind you. Just hopefully enough to put me over the edge. And if I can swing an additional source of Trample while I'm at it? Lovely!

Man, what I wouldn't give for Ball Lightning or Groundbreaker in this deck. Oh well. Maybe for the Commander version. Or not. They're one-shot creatures, and I have more important things to be doing. But regardless, with 23 cards left to pick from, let's look at... 7 Removal, and 6 Protection. This will leave me with 10 cards for Acceleration, Wins and Flex. Eh, I've planned and played around worse. I was a bad deck builder in the 90's, let me tell you.

Once again, I'm not comfortable with these casting costs, but I'm limited in my card pool. Yes, I know Play with Fire is technically going to still be in Standard/Brawl, but dammit, I have standards, as much as they limit me. But I have a nice range of damage options, so I should be able to punch up into a 5 toughness Sheoldred when I have the chance, as well as having a couple options here to close out with damage to the face. I wish we had something like Banefire in format to just end a game, but there isn't a proper spell out there right now. I know, I know, but give me Blaze and I can be happy. Happy-ish. But I still have to move on, with 6 options.

There's a sharp limit to protection spells for the most part in my chosen card pool, and so I would up with a double-bite card in the Takedown, as well as the perfectly balanced Giant Growth. I wish I had more viable sources of Ward or Hexproof, but again, it's not like Heroic Intervention is in the format anymore, so that's a bust.


Thankfully, I'm in , so getting cards to give me more mana is easy. It's just a matter of choosing what I want. Of note, I'm skipping the cards that produce Powerstone Tokens, as I'm not running artifacts, or other effects that would use them.

Arcane Signet is a card that is perennially legal in Brawl, despite the lack of a reprinting, so it goes in. The others are cheap Dorks to help fill in the lower mana values in my deck, and to smooth out my larger costing cards and make them more viable.

It's acceleration. It's not that difficult to work with, though once I get to the Commander side of things, this will get some serious choices applied to it.


And here we have five last cards. Five cards that I'm trying to draw into to try and close out the game when simply punching the opponent becomes harder.

The Command is there for utility, as well as the +1/+1 counters on all my creatures. I can't go wrong with it here. City on Fire is an intended game ender. Slam this guy down, and all my damage is tripled, meaning that I need to commit to the end-game, or be able to burn my enemy for the last bits of damage.

Etali is Etali. As much as I may find the card annoying, it's a good top end finisher, and I'm not depending on ramping out to it to do anything. I have plans for which this is the top-cap.

Draconic Destiny is just an evasive card to allow me to swing past blockers, and throw down more damage as time goes by. Tribute makes my stuff bigger, and can draw me cards for the larger creatures as well. It's a decent addition, but it's no The Great Henge.


And we still have room for 24 lands! Excellent! Now, by the breakdown of my mana symbols, I have 24 Green Symbols, and 27 Red symbols in my mana costs. This tells me that I should want 13 sources and 12 sources. So, let's just start with the dual lands, then the utility lands, then fill out with basics.

That's those five; we'll see what the year has in store for us with the incoming Man-Lands. Now, as for utility, let's grab the two Spheres for the backup card draw, and Drannith Ruins for additional biggness on a creature each turn.

And after that, I don't see anything else that jumps at me. So let's get 8 Mountain and 8 Forest to round out the deck.


Samut, Vizir of the Brawl

Brawl* berryjon


Here it is, in all its janky glory. I feel this deck will need some work, but for now, it is what it is. What do you guys think? Awesome? Sucky? Join me next week when I give you all a special treat for this deck!

Until then please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job, but more income is always better. I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!

This article is a follow-up to Pattern Recognition #292 - Soldier On The next article in this series is Pattern Recognition #294 - Samut of the Brawl Video

berryjon says... #1

Thank you, Wilds of Eldraine, for printing Stonesplitter Bolt and Song of Totentanz! I will slot those in as soon as I can.

August 17, 2023 8:24 p.m.

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