he next few weeks are exciting times for Magic players. A new set is out, formats are undefined, and there's no better time to bring all sorts of brews to the battlefield. Last week, I took a look at the previous rulers of the format, and this week I'll take a look at the once and future king (okay, maybe just the future king).
That king, of course, is Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
I've said a lot about Brimaz, and now it's time to look at how he might fit into decks. The first (and most obvious) application is to add Brimaz to a pile of Plains and white creatures, a combination that could just be the best. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.
First, let's look at the list that Ben Stark made Top 4 with at Grand Prix Dallas (with two other copies finishing in the Top 16 and one in the Top 64).
Ben Stark's Mostly White Orzhov Aggro
Top 8 - Standard – Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth 2013
Now that the deck has Brimaz and Spirit of the Labyrinth, dropping the black could be a reasonable plan. Half the reason that we played black in the deck (I was the unfortunate fifth member of the team playing the deck in Dallas) was that the mono-white version was just a few good cards short. There are an abundance of good white cards, so playing the deck that has better mana is a good place to start.
Playing the full amount of Kings of Oreskos is an easy decision, even though he is legendary. If you have one in play and he isn't dealt with, you should be in good shape. Brimaz is the driving force behind this deck, providing its best threat, the best protection against mana flood, and the best way to reload after a sweeper. Brimaz also works very well with many of the other cards in the deck, enabling Boros Elite, Spear of Heliod, and Daring Skyjek, as well as Eidolon of Countless Battles.
The biggest reason to play this deck are the free wins you pick up by playing four Brimaz and four Brave the Elements. Sometimes you will cast Brimaz, counter your opponent's removal spell, and that's that.
The other new additions are exciting as well. Spirit of the Labyrinth has good stats and a very relevant ability, shutting down Divination and making Sphinx's Revelation into a draw one. I'd rather start with more Daring Skyjeks, just because of how valuable evasion is, but depending on what the field looks like, Spirit of the Labyrinth could be amazing enough to warrant four. It even makes Underworld Connections a little awkward, forcing the opponent to use it on your turn, and just once.
Eidolon of Countless Battles seems like a sweet way to fight against removal, especially sorcery-speed removal (Supreme Verdict comes to mind). When you have a couple creatures out, it's a haste creature that hits for 4 or 5, which is good. It then survives the Verdict, and once you play two more creatures (plus potentially activate Mutavault), it can hit for another solid chunk of damage. Spear of Heliod supports both sides of this plan, and in a pinch you can bestow onto Mutavault for extra damage. The one thing Brimaz is very vulnerable to is Supreme Verdict, so Eidolon of Countless Battles helps shore up that weakness. A white-black build can still just play Xathrid Necromancer, but mono-white has to utilize the tools it has available. I like going up to the full four Eidolons after board, and could even see playing an extra Plains in the sideboard to support them.
The biggest difference between this and past White Weenie lists is the lack of Banisher Priests, which is a consequence of playing four copies of Brimaz. Banisher Priest is your best card against any creature matchup, especially mono-blue. Although there are so many good three-drops fighting for that spot, I definitely want to have access to four Priests after board.
The rest of the deck is basically what we played before. Soldier of the Pantheon and Precinct Captain were amazing before, and will continue to be your best non-Cat creatures. Dryad Militant, Boros Elite, and Imposing Sovereign all fill important casting-cost slots, with Sovereign's ability coming in handy in such a removal-light deck. When you are ahead, there is no better creature to have than Sovereign, as it insures that your opponent won't be able to come back via blockers.
Plus, I just want to Acolyte's Reward a red deck after board. Countering a Lightning Strike and killing one of my opponent's creatures just seems awesome.
If you wanted to add Brimaz to a black version, I'd start with something like this:
This deck is now much more similar to our Dallas list, taking advantage of the black splash to play Orzhov Charm and Xathrid Necromancer. Necromancer conflicts with Brimaz but, again, fights against Supreme Verdict and removal in general, which are things this deck is looking for. Orzhov Charm is just an excellent removal spell in a deck that doesn't care about its life total much, and can even bring back a Soldier of the Pantheon if you are short on creatures.
Regardless of which version you start with, you get to play four Brimaz, and that seems awesome. He isn't the only three-cost aggro card that got printed, though, and as we fade from mono-white to white-black, it's only right that we end with mono-black.
When I say mono-black, I don't mean the control deck, either. One of the cards that could herald a viable mono-black aggro deck is this aggressive flier:
I like that this is a solid three-drop and a solid five-drop all in one, both of which will take large chunks out of your opponent's life total and small chunks out of yours. Harkening back to the mono-black aggro deck Owen Turtenwald played a few months ago (before he decided to win every tournament possible with mono-black control), we get the following:
The addition of three strong aggressive cards—two of which really only work in such an aggressive shell—might be all this deck needed to see some more playing time. The first, as mentioned above, is Herald of Torment. It needs to be attacking to be effective, and requires plenty of other bodies to bestow its magnificent gifts upon.
Pain Seer is the other aggressive card, and anything that can be compared to Dark Confidant has to be worth looking at. This deck has plenty of ways to get Pain Seer through, at which point you get to reap the benefits of extra cards. Why pay a life and a mana for Underworld Connections when you can make the opponent pay 2 life instead? Besides the removal spells and Thoughtseizes, which do clear the way, bestowing Herald of Torment is the perfect method of tapping Pain Seer without fear. The life loss might add up, but if you are hitting your opponent for enough damage, you should easily win the race.
Bile Blight is the last new addition, and it's a good one. This can at least go into any heavy black deck, but works just as well in this deck as a control deck. I'm a little scared of Pain Seer and Herald of Torment being hit by Bile Blight, but this deck has so many creatures that it was going to get Blighted in some fashion or another.
The rest of the deck follows the same logic Owen originally used: efficient one-drops, four Thoughtseizes, and Lifebane Zombies as the evasive three-drop of choice. If Brimaz does become a major player, Lifebane Zombie looks even better (although I'd advise winning the die roll).
I'm excited for the aggressive possibilities in the new format. Most of the old guard were control and midrange decks, so seeing actual beatdown decks get new cards is a positive. Once the tournament results start rolling in we will have more information, but until then I'm hoping Brimaz has what it takes.
Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).