This week's Top 10 is another one focused on Eldraine. This set has so many great cards and among them are some really great legendaries to lead your Brawl and Commander decks. That's why this week's Top 10 is going to the Top 10 commanders coming out of Eldraine.
Mono-Red has notoriously done poorly in Commander unless you are playing Goblins, and that's too bad because there are a ton of great red cards going unused in people's trade binders. Syr Carah is finally a red commander that addresses the main issue that red has in commander: card advantage. Red has card selection but many of red's draw spells don't net you any cards. In a format where games can go 10+ turns this just doesn't usually turn out well. Syr Carah doesn't draw you cards but between her tap ability and your damage spells you should be able to keep a respectable number of cards in hand even into the later game.
With Syr Carah you'll need to test a lot to make sure you always have enough mana to cast the exiled spells while making sure to not get flooded. Braid of Fire and Koth of the Hammer would be auto-includes for me, along with Grapeshot to get a ton of damage and Syr Carah triggers. This would still be a tricky build I'm sure, but she's here because she's a different take on red commanders than we usually get so I think it's worth exploring her potential.
I mentioned Emry, Lurker of the Loch as a spec target in the last Top 10, and in both Brawl and Commander I think Emry has a good shot at doing some cool stuff. I think Brawl could use some more useful targets for Emry, but one thing to watch out for as sets come out is a method to repeatedly sacrifice a creature or artifact. If something is printed in blue or colorless that can do that then Emry will have a solid combo in Brawl. Emry can tap to cast Corridor Monitor out of the graveyard, which can in turn untap Emry. If we end up getting a way to sacrifice Corridor Monitor easily we could keep chaining that over and over triggering numerous other effects. In Commander we have a lot of artifacts to choose from: Kuldotha Forgemaster, Burnished Hart and Mindslaver are some that I'd definitely want to include here.
This guy can get in damage very quickly in Brawl or Commander. At three green mana he can be played turn two, allowing him to start attacking as early as turn three. I don't think you should necessarily be baited by the allure of the extra +1/+1 counter on his triggered ability. Having a good number of small creatures will get you dealing damage faster and in the case of mana dorks they'll ramp you into your bigger creatures later. With proliferate still in Standard there are easy ways to turn this 4/4 into a monstrous creature. Evolution Sage and Karn's Bastion are the most consistent options but there are enough proliferate cards available to add a whole proliferation subtheme to a deck.
I had to reread Torbran a few times to make sure I was reading him right. In a mono-red deck he basically says "tack on an extra 2 damage to everything." Pingers, damage spells, planeswalkers and creatures all get a damage boost off of this. Making Torbran your commander balances out the higher starting life total in Brawl and can turn mediocre burn spells into game changers. Both in Brawl and Commander, Torbran should be able to finish off opponents using burn spells and damage-dealing effects.
Torbran works especially well with any spell that allows you to split damage. Grapeshot after you play a few spells and suddenly it's like you dumped a pile of Lightning Bolts onto the stack. The damage output red is capable of spikes whenever Torbran is on the table so your main priority is to try to keep him safe for as long as you can and get as much bonus damage from him as possible.
This guy is one of the preconstructed Brawl commanders. Wizards really stepped up their game with this one. Chulane is a bit tougher to cast than the rest of the commanders on this list but if you untap with Chulane on the battlefield it's pretty much over. Having a built-in Glimpse of Nature is already a powerful effect but Chulane tacks on the ability to play extra lands for every creature you play. As if that wasn't enough he can even bounce a creature to your hand which can help prevent the deck from getting stuck after some bad draws.
In Brawl this deck was powerful, and I only ever beat it during the Courtside Brawl event by getting lucky enough to put Smothering Tithe out before Chulane hit the battlefield.
Ayara isn't picky about what you play as long as it's a black creature. Zombies and Vampires are tribal favorites in Magic and Ayara is a perfect commander for either of them. Her static ability will do most of the work for you as you drop cheap creatures and drain your opponent while overwhelming them with your horde of small creatures.
Ayara should work well as a commander in both Brawl and Commander. Brawl cards to look for with her are Dreadhorde Invasion, Liliana, Dreadhorde General, and Gutterbones. Gutterbones works especially well with Ayara since Ayara's life drain allows you to activate Gutterbones and Gutterbones can be sacked to draw a card. Depending on how many sac engines and how much mana you have, it's possible to activate this combo a few times a turn.
In Commander there are so many cards that are amazing with Ayara. My personal favorites are Thornbite Staff, for repeated uses of her tap ability, Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder to get a ton of life drain triggers and some sac fodder, and Mausoleum Secrets as an inexpensive tutor that will usually be able to get whatever you need from your deck since your graveyard should have a decent number of creatures piled up from all of your sacrifices.
This guy is really cool because he essentially makes non-Human tribal a thing. For this you can build Red-Green Good Stuff, and with him on the field everything is slightly better value for the cost. He also acts as a Lord for any tribe you want to build other than humans. Obviously he can be a Goblin Lord, being a Goblin himself, but you can play elves, Warriors or Elementals as well and he gives them the same level of support.
He's a fun Brawl commander and even though he is an uncommon legendary I think he has what it takes in Commander as well. His ability isn't game changing in itself. Rather it builds incremental value over the game, and coming out on turn two fairly consistently will allow that value to build up before many other red-green commanders even get started.
I played Alela's deck during Arena's Courtside Brawl event and it was extremely powerful. I'll definitely be making improvements to that event's list, but I only lost two games in that event and those were both to another Alela deck. Esper is well known as a control-heavy color combination, so for me I'd focus on playing a prison control deck that locks down my opponent with enchantments and artifacts while chipping away at my opponent's life with the free Faeries.
If you start off with the base decklist and are looking for upgrades I've got a few suggestions for you:
Evolving Wilds is a classic fetchland for basics, but we just got Fabled Passage which is just an upgraded version so I'd swap those out without a second thought.
Shinechaser just never felt like a great draw to me. If you curve into it early and play more aggressively it's good, but drawing this late game just always felt like a dead card.
I'd actually throw in another removal spell, and since we just got an artifact that exiles creatures with a converted mana cost 3 or less, in the form of Glass Casket, I would opt in for that over a situational 3/3 for 3.
Lastly upgrading some of the dual lands could help ensure that this deck isn't being held up by tapped lands.
If you don't want to have to choose between aggro and control, this is your guy! He's a 3/3 for four mana in black with both flying and haste. That's hitting hard right out of the gate and the flying helps ensure that you get to use his triggered abilities.
When Rankle deals combat damage to a player you can choose any number of his three abilities. This might not be the deck for a brand new Magic player as you'll likely run into some tough choices and the order of effects isn't super intuitive to new players. But for someone who is quick on their feet and has a good understanding of how to make good tradeoffs, this can be a really controlling commander.
For Brawl, cards like Dreadhorde Invasion, Eternal Taskmaster and Gutterbones can force your opponent to lose cards and creatures while you maintain a strong presence throughout the game.
In Commander I'd build this as a stacks deck, always forcing your opponent to make tough choices on what to keep and what to lose. Rankle is a versatile card though and so he could easily be used as an aggressive commander only selectively using his ability when necessary.
This one is especially good in multiplayer. If you enjoy playing politics Kenrith is second to none. Like you'd expect from a king, he has all of the bargaining chips. Haste, trample, counters, cards, life and reanimated creatures are yours to give or withhold at your discretion.
Having a five-color identity grants Kenrith the largest possible pool of cards in Brawl, and he's versatile enough that you can build the deck pretty much however you'd like. The reason I put Kenrith as my number 1 commander from Eldraine is because there are just so many possibilities with him. No two Kenrith decks should be the same, as Kenrith leaves plenty of room to build around a player's personal playstyle. For example there's no rule saying you have to play cards of all five colors even though he is a five-color commander. You could build the deck as an Esper control deck and just put some lands and mana rocks that tap for any color so you still have access to all his abilities. That would improve the consistency of the mana base, probably make the deck a lot cheaper and focus the strategy.