Cat, Go (Brawl & Commander)

28 Jul 2020 - 10 min read

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Welcome back Hexdrinkers fans! There’s a lot of things going on with our crew recently, including another new author to our team! He’s hoping to join me in the mighty world of Brawl so hopefully you’ll be hearing from him soon…in the meantime welcome to a brand new series!


For each Plus40 we’ll be highlighting a Brawl Commander and a powerful deck strategy while also including what additional 40 cards will make that deck a Commander allstar come rotation. It’s a way to hold on to your favorite strategies and cards past the Brawl expiration date, or as a way to just level up your game into a Commander meta. And considering it’s a set list of 40 cards, you can transform back anytime! Our first swing at this versatile new series comes all the way from Dominaria in Core Set 2021…

Welcome to the Jungle

image sourced from scryfall.com

Today we’ll be discussing everyone’s favorite Zhalfirin. GIVE IT UP FOR TEFER-


Instead, show some love for Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse !

Now, I know what you’re thinking and I was the exact same way. “Wait, a card that triggers off of card-draw … but it’s mono green. Chev. Buddy. This is a clear example of what should be in the 59 of someone with a more ‘blue’ persuasion.” And I can see the logic, BUT in this wild wild world we call standard Blue is not the only one drawing cards at ridiculous speeds. In fact, call me a heretic but between Guardian Project , Elder Gargaroth , Return of the Wildspeaker , and Keeper of Fables I would say Green might almost be drawing MORE cards than Blue….No one better tell Julian though, it’ll kill him EDITOR’S NOTE: Julian here. Smh, but it’s true. I’ll save y’all the rant.

Basically what I’m saying is, there’s a chance we can build an entire two decks around green’s ability to draw cards and not even miss the islands a little bit.

The Game Plan

image sourced from scryfall.com

At her core Jolrael wants to be doing two things: making cats and buffing said cats with her mana sink ability. Drawing cards will have a positive effect on both since her buff is tied to cards in hand and will make our tokens. We’ll also include some extra go-wide synergy cards to sweeten the deal. That’s pretty much it! We want to be drawing cards, and we want to be loading up on as many Overrun variants as possible.

Cats, Go

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

These are all absolute powerhouses that I’m still not sure Green should have access to. Guardian Project is the most clear-cut draw engine for singleton formats considering we’ll never have more than one creature with a given name, and once it’s down, not only will each creature cast be generating tons of extra value, but Jolrael will be able to drop cats like nobody’s business. The Great Henge benefits us for casting creatures by drawing for each while also being an insanely powerful mana rock. Or more accurately a mana… tree… alien artifact. Lastly, Return of the Wildspeaker is an allstar giving us the option to draw a ton of cards OR as an overrun with our cat army. Either way it plays into our strengths to a tee. Rounding out this cast of characters is Elder Gargaroth , a pushed Green mythic from Core Set 2021 and Beast Whisperer who provides us a third back-up effect for casting creatures and drawing cards. Honestly Green, this is getting out of hand!

Cats go Prrrr

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

And what do we do once we’ve amassed so many cats we don’t know what to do with them? Well. We make them really big and we bap our opponent on the nose so violently they concede in a flurry of whiskers. Ideally, we’re using Jolrael’s ability to give everyone +x/+x on a hefty hand, but everyone needs backup. End-Raze Forerunners is like a little Craterhoof Behemoth but with more Boar, and a static +2/+2 with vigilance and trample for our creatures. Feline Sovereign is a cat anthem with a slightly relevant pro-dog clause, but also has a decent artifact or enchantment removal trigger. Overcome is a less mana-restrictive Overrun , but doesn’t provide quite as big a buff as the eternal staple. I’m also really interested to try out Klothys’s Design . While it doesn’t give trample, I feel like the average mono-green board state can put big numbers to our devotion count so I feel like the trade-off is worth giving a chance.

Backup Squad

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

At The Hexdrinkers Brawl Battalion we generally like to stay just competitive enough that we’re still able to come out positive, but not so competitive we’re ever restricted in our deckbuilding. That being said, it will always pay to have a suite of top-tier interaction and win-cons for when the going gets rough. Veil of Summer and Heroic Intervention are critical to protecting your creatures, and will give even the most savvy Dimir mages a run for their money. Nissa, Who Shakes the World is an excellent include from a mana perspective, a creatures perspective, and just a casual game-winning perspective. She doesn’t have much to do with cats but sometimes you just gotta beat someone with animated trees. Am I right, Ents?

But wait! There’s more!

Thaaaaat’s right everyone it’s time for the Commander build. Now, obviously there are cards that could be swapped out of our Brawl baby for a more intense final product but that’s not what this is about, son! We’re talking a straight Brawl DLC! This is like a season pass to all things Jolrael that can just be combined with your existing list for that little extra oomph!

We’ll be sticking with the same themes: drawing more than once per turn and going wide, but adding the more powerful older siblings to a lot of our Brawl picks. Add a classic package of protection and removal to round things out.

Talk less, Draw More

Well, we won’t be causing any confusion about what we’re against or what we’re for, we’re FOR drawing a ridiculous number of cards. We’re AGAINST our opponents being able to do anything about it.

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

The Archive is just absolutely insane. Now, a slightly cheaper draw-only version was just printed for blue ( Teferi’s Ageless Insight ), but feels like Blue can use all the help they can get these days so I ain’t complaining. You go Blue, you’ll get back on top one day. Now Alhammarret doesn’t really get us more cats…at least when used on your turn. It just lets you draw more cards. Get this activated on an opponent’s turn though and we’re seriously cooking. (That’s exactly why we’re packing Endless Atlas in this upgrade package.) Idol of Oblivion probably won’t help us generate any more cats (since it needs a token played that turn to activate), but I think nine turns out of ten it’ll net you an extra card which is still an amazing value for a two mana artifact. Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is essentially a second Guardian Project for a small mana investment, but also lets you scry every turn for whatever you need. (If you’re feeling like a little extra bling, sub this or Idol for Sylvan Library .)

Going Bigger

So we kind of hinted at this above but remember how End-Raze Forerunners is Something Something lite? WELL GUESS WHO’S HERE!!

image sourced from scryfall.com

Boom. Game over. Hulk SMASH.

{pics of Triumph of the Hordes, Thunderfoot Baloth, Finale of Devastation}

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

Triumph of the Hordes is one of the more interesting Overrun variants, swapping a larger buff for infect. Even if your opponents groan a little, this is always a good way to end the game. Thunderfoot Baloth stands out in the fact the buff doesn’t actually go away until your commander does which could let you eek out a couple more turns of super buff cats.

And then there’s Finale of Devastation . I….I don’t think I ever fully grasped what this card actually did but now that massive price tag makes sense. Not only is it a tutor that can search your graveyard for a game-winning piece but if you’re playing this late enough creatures will get +10/+10 and haste.. There’s a non-zero chance I’m going to be running out and getting a copy as soon as I finish this article. Jeez.

Treat Yo Self.

So far we’ve kind of stayed in the lanes designated by our Brawl build, but while Brawl is improved by the innovation required by a smaller card pool, Commander really shines due to the sheer volume of synergies available in lanes that haven’t been printed in a while.

{pics of Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, Beastmaster Ascension}

Doubling Season and Parallel Lives give us double the cats for double the fun, making up for the one-cat-per-turn limit on Jolrael’s army. Beastmaster Ascension has seen a lot of attention recently for just giving a permanent bump to all your creatures once you get it up there.

There’s still a few more goodies in there that fit into the above categories or provide some extra flexibility but I’ll let you find them out for yourself, or let me know if I missed anything in the comments! Thanks so much for tuning in!

Cats, Go Decklists

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