The Godfather (Brawl)

13 Jul 2020 - 10 min read

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Welcome back for another exciting Brawl deck tech! I know, I know. It’s been a while but I promise between M21 and Jumpstart, the time for Brawl has never been better. With Wizards announcing recently that Brawl will now be available every day for free and Historic Brawl seeing a little more attention from the big guys upstairs, we are truly living in a Golden Age. It does bring up the question of will we still be seeing powerful old legends backfilled into the format like we did in the Guildhalls. For now I’m going to revel in the ability to play my favorite format every day!

So, let’s celebrate the only way I know how… brewing a new deck chock full synergy, power, and a dash of ruthlessness. I’m about to make a deck you can’t refuse…

image sourced from scryfall.com

My family has finally gotten around to watching the Corleone crime saga and if nothing else is bringing us together in Quarantine, it’s Michael cleaning house of the snitches and hooligans that have tried to have him and his family killed. As Godfather he continues to create a crime empire that spans the country and knows no rivals.

That might be a little out of scope for a deck build, but here at Hexdrinkers world domination is never far from our mind…instead we’ll focus on Michael’s inspiration for his long lasting empire! Nothing Al Pacino does would be possible without the foundation laid by his father, Vito.

image sourced from scryfall.com

Core Set 2021 Introduced us to Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose and lemme tell ya, I’m impressed. Taking a classic Magic enchantment like Sanguine Bond , throwing it on a stick for two mana less is great. With the right crew, I don’t think it’ll take much to reach Vito’s maximum potential and before long our opponents will be sleeping with the fishes.

One for Me, Two For You

Ah pinging, the shin-kicks of Magic. Always annoying and not lethal by itself but still capable of inflicting a serious amount of damage. With Vito out, that trouble is doubled. Think of these guys as the street level enforcers.

image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com

For each life gained, we’ll be dealing more damage directly to our opponents, essentially halving their clock with one of these repeatable engines on the board.

Ill-Gotten Inheritance was a draft all star, ending games if you didn’t have an answer. While it’s a little slow for Standard, it fits just perfectly into our Vito shell. Add on the sac ability to potentially deal eight damage to our opponent?? This card should definitely not be taken lightly.

Ayara, First of Locthwain joins forces with Syr Konrad, the Grim to just hammer our opponents for any creature entering the battlefield, leaving the battlefield, never reaching the battlefield. No matter what any other creature is doing - it’ll bring the pain to whoever is on the other side of the table.

Dread Presence requires a couple land drops, but for the ability to deal two-to-four damage per turn outside of combat, this is not a hard condition to meet. Also, if Vito is currently unavailable - locked in his office listening to the plea of a fishmonger (since no Sicilian can deny a request on his daughter’s wedding day), Dread Presence can be drawing you an extra card per turn Phyrexian Arena style. It’s incredibly versatile.

Okay, okay hear me out on Tavern Swindler . In most decks, terrible. In the long run you’ll be gaining just as much life as you’re losing and the odds just aren’t worth it. But, but, in a deck that capitalizes on the mere act of gaining life this card is pretty buckwild. Consider the average of gaining six life every other turn, now consider that with Vito on the board. We’re going to be dealing six damage directly to our opponents on a fairly regular basis without even attacking! Even if it takes us a few turns to start the pain train, this deck sports enough life gain to make the sacrifice worth it.

…And of course in some games, you’ll be hitting your opponent for sixevery turn. Editor’s note: This is coming from a guy who runs Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom in Commander so keep an eye on his coin flipping.

Throw in copies of Serrated Scorpion , Bastion of Remembrance , and Sanctum of Stone Fangs for pinging redundancy and I’d be surprised if our opponent can escape ankles un-shanked.

The Bosses

Pinging is all well and good, but things really start getting scary when we’re gaining lots of life on purpose. Primarily, this means creatures with lifelink swinging in or making use of Vito’s secondary ability.

image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com

Murderous Rider certainly needs no introduction. As non-conditional creature and planeswalker removal at a decent price, there’s not a black deck that wouldn’t run this card. Throw in the fact that this 2/3 could be dealing four combined damage a turn and it’s all upside. Every self-respecting crime organization needs a hitman.

Cavalier of Night is more conditional to activate it’s powerful destroy trigger, but at the end of the day it’s still a 4/5 with lifelink swinging for a potential eight each turn and a recursion ability that can get us back Murderous Rider , Grim Dancer , or even a Vampire of the Dire Moon .

The Haunt of Hightower , the often overlooked Buy-A-Box promo for Ravnica Allegiance is a weird, but I assure you this vampire can put in some serious work. If your opponent values their life, they cannot let this live. The Haunt will continue to grow each turn with more and more life gained as your opponent loses all their cards. If nothing else, this card will immediately lure any removal your opponent has out of the woodwork. And ya know…the more I look at it, the more I feel like this card is the nega- Dream Trawler

I don’t think we’d be too far off to include Dreadhorde Invasion and Duskfang Mentor either. While not as flashy as the other lifelinkers, the support is very much appreciated.


image sourced from scryfall.com

All good things must eventually come to an end, and our games are no exception. After a while, it becomes tiring playing with our opponent’s life total, toying with them, and now it’s time to deal the killing blow. But where do we look for a card that could gain us an obscene amount of life to deal that much damage to our opponents??

image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com
image sourced from scryfall.com

I don’t know what Asphodel’s got going on, but it’s straight up scary when Vito comes to town. Our other main win-con is Erebos’s Intervention which trades devotion for paying mana, but we don’t get to hit twice. For consistency, we’ll include a Grim Tutor (which costs a single wild card! Booyah!!), and some other powerful black cards like Massacre Wurm just to cover our bases. 90% of the time, Vito will pull through. The other 10% we throw a giant wurm at ‘em and hope for the best.

In Conclusion

So there you have it! Whether you want to start your own criminal empire, or just drive your opponents into a rage with every life gained - Vito is your guy. A low cost commander who can enter the board quick and immediately start pulling his weight with the first Radiant Fountain .

In an initial run, Vito went 3-2 with losses to Yarok, the Desecrated and a Thassa, Deep-Dwelling / Agent of Treachery soft-lock. Wins against Niv-Mizzet, Reborn , Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy , and Illuna, Apex of Wishes have me feeling pretty confident in the power level of this deck before any fine-tuning. Some things to keep in note though: you always, always want to start with a low-cost lifelinker in your hand. Being able to drop a Boot Nipper or Grimdancer early is vital for success in ramping up the damage by the time your opponent is able to respond.

I’d also really consider getting a Grim Tutor if you want to play this deck or anything mono-black in general. The sheer versatility to grab either of our finishers or a removal spell is key, and directly responsible for our Kinnan win by being able to fetch Gray Merchant of Asphodel .

That’s it for this brew! If you think I’m missing anything, or you’ve had more Vito success, let us know below!

Vito Corleone

Unlimited Power

image sourced from scryfall.com

Ya know I just had a thought. Isn’t Exquisite Blood going into Historic? We might just have had an idea for our first official Historic Brawl deck…

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