Last updated on March 6, 2023

Karn, Jhoira, and Teferi - Dominaria Key Art by Tyler Jacobson

Karn, Jhoira, and Teferi | Dominaria Key Art by Tyler Jacobson

The Historic Brawl meta is always in flux. With each set released on MTG Arena we have more options to build decks and more powerful cards, mana rocks, legendary creatures, and mana fixing options.

5-color decks have plenty of mana fixing available to them thanks to the tri-lands and Triomes, the shock and check lands, and artifacts like Chromatic Lantern. As such lots of 5-color commanders are at the top of the meta.

Today we’re going to take a look at the Historic Brawl format on MTG Arena and the decks that are at the top tier. Ready? Let’s get into it!

What Is Historic Brawl?

If you’re not familiar with this other format, Historic is a constructed, non-rotating game format introduced for MTG Arena in late 2019 that includes sets that have rotated out of Standard. It’s fair to say that players really enjoy the format as it’s become a pretty popular play mode in Arena.

As for Historic Brawl, as the name suggests, it’s a variant of Brawl format. It was first introduced on during the Festival: Erebos’s Memoir of Death event in March. It was even extended for an extra day because of how popular it was!

MTG Arena Festival Erebos's Memoir of Death event

Basically, Historic Brawl is just what you would expect: the Brawl format (which otherwise uses only Standard-legal sets) with the added Historic card pool. That is to say, sets that are no longer Standard-legal due to rotation.

Historic Brawl was recently added to the regular game modes on Arena due to popular demand. It also switched from a 60-card format to a 100-card format meaning you now have more options to brew your decks that’s more similar to Commander.

It’s best of one and does not have a sideboard.

How to Play Historic Brawl

Originally there weren’t many events where you could test your beloved Historic Brawl brews. But as I just mentioned it’s now available indefinitely in the Arena queue! You can also try joining unofficial channels like the Brawl Hall discord channel or the Arena Brawl website to find other players who want to play Historic Brawl.

Top Tier Historic Brawl Decks

5-Color The First Sliver

The First Sliver - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

The First Sliver | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Commander (1)

The First Sliver

Planeswalker (4)

Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Teferi, Time Raveler
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God

Creature (17)

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Oracle of Mul Daya
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Paradise Druid
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Scholar of the Lost Trove
Esika, God of the Tree
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
The Kami War
Ornithopter of Paradise
Displacer Kitten
Zacama, Primal Calamity
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Instant (1)

Growth Spiral

Sorcery (18)

Solve the Equation
Time Warp
Ruinous Ultimatum
Final Parting
Escape to the Wilds
Karn’s Temporal Sundering
Mastermind’s Acquisition
Supreme Verdict
Cartographer’s Survey
Settle the Wilds
Alrund’s Epiphany
Verdant Rejuvenation
Genesis Ultimatum
Casualties of War
Emergent Ultimatum
Overwhelming Splendor

Enchantment (8)

Black Market Connections
The Cruelty of Gix
Fight Rigging
Phyrexian Arena
Mirari’s Wake
Binding the Old Gods
The World Spell

Artifact (9)

Key to the Archive
Firemind Vessel
Arcane Signet
Coldsteel Heart
Skyclave Relic
Relic of Legends
The Celestus
Chromatic Lantern
Chromatic Orrery

Land (42)

The World Tree
Zagoth Triome
Raugrin Triome
Indatha Triome
Ketria Triome
Savai Triome
Spara’s Headquarters
Jetmir’s Garden
Xander’s Lounge
Raffine’s Tower
Sulfurous Springs
Yavimaya Coast
Dreamroot Cascade
Command Tower
Shattered Sanctum
Caves of Koilos
Godless Shrine
Deserted Beach
Ziatora’s Proving Ground
Breeding Pool
Overgrown Farmland
Temple Garden
Sundown Pass
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Rockfall Vale
Karplusan Forest
Shivan Reef
Hallowed Fountain
Overgrown Tomb
Deathcap Glade
Haunted Ridge
Blood Crypt
Stormcarved Coast
Steam Vents
Shipwreck Marsh
Watery Grave

A go-to deck in the Historic Brawl format since you can play all colors, mana fixing is good and The First Sliver will always give you an extra card when it’s cast. All you need is big haymakers in all colors as win conditions.

New cards in this build are Relic of Legends, The Cruelty of Gix, and The World Spell.

5-Color Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin

Go-Shintai of Life's Origin - Illustration by Alexander Mokhov

Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin | Illustration by Alexander Mokhov

Commander (1)

Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin

Creature (30)

Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars
Kumano Faces Kakkazan
Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom
Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor
Sky-Blessed Samurai
Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty
Jukai Naturalist
Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose
Michiko’s Reign of Truth
Hopeful Initiate
Kessig Wolfrider
Deathbonnet Sprout
Crashing Drawbridge
Spectrum Sentinel
Coastal Bulwark
Monastery Swiftspear
Jodah, the Unifier
Rootcoil Creeper
Zur, Eternal Schemer
Llanowar Loamspeaker
Evolved Sleeper
Suspicious Bookcase
Unlucky Witness
Gala Greeters
Falkenrath Pit Fighter
Llanowar Elves
Druid of the Cowl
Wall of Runes
Moon-Blessed Cleric

Instant (16)

Mystic Reflection
Village Rites
Soul Shatter
Tamiyo’s Safekeeping
Brokers Charm
Fateful Absence
Soul Partition
Thrill of Possibility
Boon of Safety
Tainted Indulgence
Rite of Harmony
Defiant Strike
Swords to Plowshares

Sorcery (4)

Sunset Revelry
Multiple Choice
Abundant Harvest

Enchantment (11)

Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Seeing Winds
Honden of Night’s Reach
Honden of Life’s Web
Honden of Infinite Rage
Sanctum of Shattered Heights
Sanctum of Stone Fangs
Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest
Sanctum of Tranquil Light
Sanctum of All
Sanctum of Calm Waters

Artifact (1)

Mox Amber

Land (37)

Xander’s Lounge
Ziatora’s Proving Ground
Jetmir’s Garden
Roadside Reliquary
Dreamroot Cascade
Caves of Koilos
Llanowar Wastes
Plaza of Heroes
Shivan Reef
Karplusan Forest
Needleverge Pathway
Cragcrown Pathway
Brightclimb Pathway
Branchloft Pathway
Evolving Wilds
Shipwreck Marsh
Rockfall Vale
Haunted Ridge
Deserted Beach
Overgrown Farmland
Riverglide Pathway
Darkbore Pathway
Barkchannel Pathway
Hengegate Pathway
Blightstep Pathway
Clearwater Pathway
Skyclave Cleric
Forest x2
Island x2
Mountain x2
Plains x2
Swamp x2

Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin is a 5-color commander that‘s also a shrine and a card that encourages you to play shrines. Shrines are a kind of tribe present in Kamigawa sets and the main characteristic is that you’ll gain something the more shrines you control.

This deck will play the Hondens from old Kamigawa and the shrines from Neon Dynasty along with some new cards like Zur, Eternal Schemer, Spectrum Sentinel, and Jodah, the Unifier. You’ll slowly build an engine that will let you gain lots of life, make lots of tokens, draw a bunch of cards, and deal damage to your opponents if things go the right way.

Simic Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy | Illustration by Jason Rainville

Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is a tailor-made card for EDH and Historic Brawl. Simic () colors are usually strong in these formats because they provide ramp, color fixing, and card draw, and Kinnan effectively generates one more mana whenever you tap a nonland permanent for mana, which are often mana dorks and rocks.

Kinnan is cheap to play starting at two mana and has a powerful mana sink ability that allows you find the powerful win conditions like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, The Tarrasque, and Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur.

Izzet Niv-Mizzet, Parun

Niv Mizzet, Parun - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Niv-Mizzet, Parun | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Niv-Mizzet, Parun is an interesting Izzet () commander because you’re guaranteed to draw a bunch of cards. You’ll usually cast Niv when you have some counterspells to back it up, mana, and some spells like the new Shore Up, which protect your commander from removal spells while drawing cards and progressing the game.

This deck got lots of new toys like Impulse and Fires of Victory, a new land in Shivan Reef, and a new sweeper in The Elder Dragon War.

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Commander (1)

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

Planeswalker (6)

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Elspeth Resplendent
Basri Ket
Wrenn and Seven
Tibalt, Wicked Tormentor
Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Creature (33)

Maja, Bretagard Protector
Solemn Simulacrum
Werewolf Pack Leader
Inspiring Overseer
Verdant Force
Tovolar’s Huntmaster
Gala Greeters
Ancient Copper Dragon
Back-Alley Gardener
Tireless Provisioner
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Big Spender
Professional Face-Breaker
Impassioned Orator
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
Soul Warden
Iridescent Hornbeetle
Rapacious Dragon
Scampering Scorcher
Social Climber
Terror of the Peaks
Anointer Priest
Old Gnawbone
Scute Swarm
Prosperous Innkeeper
Hoarding Ogre
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Battle Cry Goblin
Tendershoot Dryad
Elder Gargaroth
Goldspan Dragon
Kor Celebrant

Instant (4)

Return to Nature
Swift Response
Fateful Absence

Sorcery (6)

Warm Welcome
Rip Apart
Traverse the Outlands
Planewide Celebration
Improvised Weaponry

Enchantment (9)

Colossal Majesty
Outlaws’ Merriment
Stimulus Package
Sworn to the Legion
Growing Rites of Itlimoc
Sticky Fingers
Parallel Lives
Anointed Procession
Smothering Tithe

Artifact (3)

Cosmos Elixir
Helm of the Host
The Great Henge

Land (38)

Needleverge Pathway
Treasure Map
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Furycalm Snarl
Sunpetal Grove
Temple of Plenty
Temple Garden
Branchloft Pathway
Sundown Pass
Temple of Triumph
Evolving Wilds
Brokers Hideout
Cabaretti Courtyard
Jetmir’s Garden
Command Tower
Dwarven Mine
Riveteers Overlook
Clifftop Retreat
Rootbound Crag
Fabled Passage
Temple of Abandon
Obscura Storefront
Maestros Theater
Mountain x4
Plains x5
Forest x5

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels is a Naya () commander related to tokens. It buffs your creatures the more you have. Jetmir is an anthem that can give +1/+0 to +3/+0 depending on the number of creatures you’ve got one the ‘field.

You’ll fill this deck with creatures and token makers since those are the most reliable ways to get lots of creatures. Scampering Scorcher gives you three while Anointed Procession and Wild Pair double the number of tokens generated. Planeswalkers like Basri Ket buff tokens and create more.

Building a Historic Brawl Deck

Slimefoot, the Stowaway MTG card art by Alex Konstad

Slimefoot, the Stowaway | Illustration by Alex Konstad

Historic Brawl decks follows the same ruleset as Brawl decks, except for a single, important difference. Do you remember what it was? That’s right, you can use cards from the Historic card pool including the Anthologies and any other cards released during Brawl events.

When it comes to Brawl’s general deck building rules, you choose a legendary creature or planeswalker as your commander and pick a single copy of 59 other cards within your color identity to build your deck.

Your commander defines your color identity, which means that you can only use cards that have the same colors as your chosen commander. You don’t need to draw your commander since it waits patiently in the command zone looking over the battleground, and its’ cost raises by 2 mana each time you cast it.

Banned Cards

Wrap Up

Torgaar, Famine Incarnate MTG card art by Lius Lasahido

Torgaar, Famine Incarnate | Illustration by Lius Lasahido

Historic Brawl is a diverse format and far from being stale since new cards and legendary spells affect the format immensely, bringing new deck and gameplay possibilities. A player can succeed by playing monocolored decks, but seeing the format’s big picture maybe there’s enough sweepers and mana fixing that the rainbow decks can be good without dominating.

Historic Brawl is a fun and casual format so pro players haven’t broken it yet, and the decks I mentioned here are sure to be competitive. What do you think about these lists? Let me know in the comments below or in the Draftsim Discord, where we discuss all kinds of things MTG related.

See you around, folks, and have a good time!

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  • Avatar
    Lee June 13, 2020 5:36 am

    “since the format is now supported in-game as a separate deck building format” — not in my client as of the time/date of my comment post. I think ‘friendly brawl’ is the only format you can make this deck with.

    • Ender Orçun Çetiner
      Ender Orçun Çetiner June 13, 2020 6:11 am

      Yep, sorry about the confusion. I mentioned “friendly brawl” is used for building historic brawl later in the article but it should be moved, I’ll fix it. Thanks for pointing that out!

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