What is MTG Brawl Cover
7, Sep, 23

What is Brawl in Magic: The Gathering?

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Article at a Glance

As Magic: The Gathering continues to grow both in the physical and digital marketplace, new game formats are always welcome. Brawl is one of the latest MTG formats created by Wizards of the Coast. Launched in September 2019 and is available both on MTG Arena and as a Paper format.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, fear not, we’re here to give you the low-down on what Brawl is and how to play it. It may be the closest we get to Commander in MTG Arena for some time!

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What is Brawl?


Brawl is a singleton format meaning you can only build decks using single copies of cards. Legal cards are those currently in Standard sets. Importantly, however, the regular Standard ban list does not apply to Brawl. Instead, the format has its own separate ban list which you must adhere to.

Alongside following the banlist, your deck must also be built under the color identity of your selected Commander (any legendary creature or planeswalker from a Standard set).

Once you have selected your Commander, let’s take The Goose Mother, for example, you can only have blue or green cards in your deck. Colorless cards are allowed in any deck UNLESS they contain a triggered ability with a selected mana cost. An example of this is Basilica Skullbomb which is colorless but has an ability triggered with white mana. Due to this ability, its color identity is white.

You can have any number of basic lands in your deck but any other lands must also be limited to one. If playing with two players, you both start at 25 life. If you choose to play with up to six players, you can start with 30 life.

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MTG Brawl Ban List

Pithing Needle | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Pithing Needle | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Despite it being a thoroughly enjoyable format, both in Paper and on MTG Arena, Brawl is not very beloved. In fact, MTG players have won Brawl tournaments without ever playing a game before thanks to a lack of players. While this is usually a death sentence for formats, Wizards does occasionally give Brawl love.

That being said, however, occasionally is definitely the important word in that sentence. As, currently, only one card is banned in Brawl. When a card is banned in Brawl, it cannot be used in either your deck or used as your deck’s Commander, where applicable. 

While it is a very short read, here are all the cards currently banned in the Brawl format:

  • Pithing Needle

How to Play Brawl

Teferi Midnight Hunt

When starting a game of Brawl you draw seven cards. Your first mulligan is free but any others follow standard rules of placing one card back in your deck per mulligan. Your Commander is placed on show in your Command Zone. It can be played from here as long as you have the required mana. Each time your Commander is removed from the battlefield and back to its Zone, its cost increases by two mana. Your Commander cannot be permanently removed from the game.

The remainder of the game plays out as normal with the standard draw, main and combat phases.

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