This deck was born out of a couple of good pulls from Eldritch Moon: I first pulled Gisela, the Broken Blade and later Bruna, the Fading Light. I had considered using Gisela as general, but she offers less (to my mind at least) in terms of overall synergy. Truth be told, I'm also a sucker for reanimation. It's a strong effect, and having it available on a general is very helpful.
This has led to me a reasonably tribal build; Angels and Humans. This is strictly a synergy reason, as Bruna will not reanimate anything else. However it has it's benefits, as there is a lot of utility stapled to these tribes.
Why Bad Bruna?
So, let's look at Bruna as a general:
- 5WW is a lot to pay, but she is a solid body with good 'standard white angel' keywords.
- Flying and Vigilance is nothing to scoff at; it gives her defensive options, especially with a fat booty like she has.
- We are really after her cast trigger as her main payoff - this would be abusable as an ETB ability, but as a cast trigger there is a very, very small list of cards that can stop it from happening - we don't even need her to resolve! The tribes she resurrects are not only relevant thematically, they both have options in terms of making things harder to do for your opponents. We're not staxing heavily, we just want to give ourselves some space to expand, and Bruna is good at that.
- Brisela, Voice of Nightmares - we're not guaranteed this; however, it's not the hardest effect to set off. It still counts for commander damage, and once it hits the field it can be pretty oppressive. Why not Bad Bruna?
All this being said, she's by no means the strongest commander of all time. She needs support to really run as a cohesive deck, and being mono white means draw issues and ramp issues. These are areas we need to build around, but otherwise it all fits together pretty well.
- Mono white; not known for strong draw options, or strong ramp options.
- Her casting cost - 7 is a lot to pay on first cast.
- She lends to a control deck; if this isn't something you're interested in, look elsewhere.
Other Commander Options:
Avacyn, Angel of Hope - Clearly, the biggest and baddest angel to date. A reasonable target on her back, but she is a beater and you could lock a board up pretty good around her with her third ability. Gisela, the Broken Blade - Bruna's little sister, she's lean, mean, and probably works better around a lifelink/midrange strategy than what we're doing. Reya Dawnbringer - The closest comparison to Bad Bruna in that she is both an angel and has reanimation, but otherwise, I'd think a deck built around her would both look very different, and play very slowly. 6WWW is enormous amounts to pay, and tapping to use her ability takes her out of combat. That's tough, and is a good reason I've never used her in a list. Lyra Dawnbringer - Dominaria's latest legendary angel, she's clearly a strong, well costed angel with tribal impact. She's a different deck, I feel she'd run better as a tempo/aggro commander with lifelink synergy. Excellent general, but what keeps me with Bruna is her resurrection ability. Kaalia of the Vast - classic angel tribal commander. She does come complete with a bullseye and a simultaneous roll of the eyes from your opponents, so be prepared for some salty feelings.
As mentioned, mono white is not a strong colour for ramp or draw. Its strengths are in other areas, and while we play these up, we do need to make concessions. A lot of our deck is going to be dedicated to draw and ramp. But also, we're looking at slowing our opponents to a pace we can deal with. There's plenty of options we can use for this, and when we're knocked back, we can generally rebuild fairly quickly with Bruna's trigger. For this reason, I'm not too bothered about her dying so that we can recast her. Ultimately, our win condition is going to be smashing face with angels, but we're also working around a delicate balance of keeping momentum up, staying relevant, and keeping the board relatively manageable.
Ultimately, there's three things we want to see in our starting hand: lands, ramp and draw. If you've got a hand full of angels, you can more or less mulligan with confidence. If we get the right pieces in hand, you can more or less guarantee we'll actually outpace the rest of the table for mana and draw in the early stages. Strange to say it of a mono white deck, but it's generally true.
Once we have a board presence and have established some measure of control on the field, we're going to make each creature of ours count. There's a lot of sweepers and removal in this deck, and you shouldn't be afraid to use them; we can recover pretty well in most cases from these, and generally quicker than other decks, too.
Essentially, once you have some ramp and draw on board the idea is to start swinging at relevant targets. That doesn't mean swing with impunity, as we're not bulletproof. It means pick your target carefully and think about each play. You're almost going to want to play some politics, in that you want to swing at the biggest threat. There's times that will be us, and we can mostly manage, but it's ideal to help the table initially. Build presence, but don't play out every trick you have. You're looking to play a war of attrition, and outlast everyone in it.
There's no real instruction manual for this, sadly. Turning creatures sideways sounds easy enough, but EDH is no man's land for that in a lot of cases. We're facing down decks with combo, walkers, stax and it isn't just as easy as pressing 'attack'. That is our way to win, but the how-to of that is really going to vary from game to game. It will benefit the player a lot, though. You'll learn to think around problems, you'll learn a degree of politic play, and you'll learn how to control a boardstate and what an out of control boardstate looks like.
Melding into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares
Not every commander fuses with another creature to become a giant, horrific Eldrazi Angel Horror. Hard to believe, but true. There's a few ways here to go about making it happen, so it deserves a mention in terms of strategy.
The how of doing it is easy enough - find Gisela, the Broken Blade and cast her. I run one piece that can do so, Thalia's Lancers. Piece of cake. You could also discard her from hand with Mask of Memory's trigger or likewise, and reanimate her with Bruna. Even easier. All you need to ensure is that they both last until the end of your turn. The thing is, it's not always the right choice to do so. It's worth knowing that as soon as you do it, all eyes are on you. Make it count. Don't do it unless you can maximise the threat it presents, and use it to hurt the table and keep your opponents down. Often the better choice is going to be reanimating something else for a different species of control, some removal, or a chain of creatures to refill your board.
This being said, there's certain decks it'll turn off altogether. Lots of spellslinger/combo decks are absolutely out of the game with her on the field, she shuts down playing mana rocks and some of the more efficient spot removal in the game. It's a strong ability, it's just a case of making sure it's the right environment for her to work best.
If or when she's removed, her component pieces essentially hit whatever zone the horror would hit. If she's killed, both Bruna and Gisela hit the yard as two (at which point you can send Bruna to the command zone if you so wish). Likewise with exile, and with returning to hand.
Serra Ascendant - It's a one-drop flying lifelinker that can be recurred by Bruna. It's on curve, and will most likely keep us in the game nicely. Late game its variable, but ultimately is usually reliable.
Bastion Protector - Pretty obvious why this one is here. Puts Bruna on a 2 swing clock, Brisela on a 2 swing clock.
Resplendent Angel - Well costed angel that helps keep bodies in the air. Conditional on lifegain, but we can do that easily.
Silverblade Paladin - Well costed beater with a great effect. Mostly the target of soulbond will be our general, but often it'll just be whatever flies and swings. Does what it says on the can, and does it well.
Stonecloaker - Graveyard hate, creature saver, instant chump blocker. This guy is seriously versatile. In good times we use him to abuse ETB triggers, in a pinch we get rid of something nasty and let him take the heat.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar - Slows down a lot of decks. A ton of them. Well costed for 3 mana, she's a great early drop.
Angel of Condemnation - Well costed, but her abilities are really valuable. She can help us abuse ETB abilities, save Mangara of Corondor from herself, remove threats from the field, and still be relevant in combat.
Gisela, the Broken Blade - Makes our commander bigger and meaner, but generally is a bit of a beast herself. She's well costed, keeps our life total up and curves well.
Magus of the Moat - A control piece, obviously. Recurrable, too. Turns off aggro decks, green decks, really good value. A ton cheaper than its namesake, too.
Magus of the Tabernacle - See above - turns off swarm decks, keeps the board clear. Applies to us too, so there's times he will be the wrong choice, but given we can sac him to himself and bring him back whenever we like it's not a huge deal.
Solemn Simulacrum - The best robot there ever was. Here for the abilities, mostly. We can recur him with some pieces, so he's not just a one shot.
Blinding Angel - Another strong control piece, puts in some great work. Keeps swarms and aggro decks at bay.
Karmic Guide - So we don't go infinite with Reveillark, but we can still use it to chain some ETB effects together, or just fill our board a little more.
Lyra Dawnbringer - Tribal angel buff at a superb cost. Really strong card that just keeps us up as a threat, and keeps our life total solid.
Sun Titan - Neither human nor angel, he's a recursion engine on his own - as well as this he can get pieces back that Bruna can't. Being able to get back lands, enchantments and artifacts makes him very valuable.
Angel of Glory's Rise - I've thought about removing this a few times, as the zombie clause is rarely all that relevant. The humans clause is so good, though. This is one of my top targets to reanimate with Bruna, as she can just stuff our battlefield full of bodies again.
Angel of Serenity - She removes key pieces from the field and graveyard. Strong ability, and if/when she dies the cards return to hand, which we can use to get key pieces back if we need them.
Emeria Shepherd - This is one of the strongest angels in the deck. Most of our mana is land based, so she really just gets great value even from non-plains land drops.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope - I mean, we all know what she does. Truly strong at the end of the curve, and makes us a solid, resilient threat.
Parhelion II - This is a new addition I'm trying out. It swings for more than its CMC, it gives us bodies, and it's something to do with our little pieces that we don't actually want to swing with so much.
Kozilek, the Great Distortion - Big body with combat evasion, great cast effect, and decent control. Because we never really commit all of our pieces to board, there's a pretty good chance we can use him to stop strong spells being cast. Besides, if we're tossing a creature there's a really good chance we can reanimate it anyway.
Skullclamp - We're not worried about our critters dying, so this is gravy. And we're in white, so artifact draw is good draw.
Sol Ring - Turn one 3 mana is always nice. There's not much to say about the tenth card in the power 9 that hasn't already been said.
Azor's Gateway - So, honestly, we're really in this for the filtering, not the flip. And it's early filtering, so it's really helpful. I have flipped it before, and it's obviously strong. But that's a cherry on top.
Dowsing Dagger - The plants from this are so neglible for us it doesn't even matter. We can drop it and equip it early, flip it and get some great mana coming through. The flip is a may, so we don't need to transform it if we don't want to.
Endless Atlas - This is such a great card. I can't stress how well it performs, it's so easy to turn on, is a great mana sink, keeps our land drops coming and our grip full.
Mask of Memory - I was hesitant to add this, but it's performed admirably. Another form of filtering, it works really well to keep land drops coming and give us fodder to reanimate.
Swiftfoot Boots - We all know why this is in here. Protection and speed are great assets.
Sword of the Animist - Another great ramp option. We can get it on a critter pretty early, and it doesn't need to connect either. Has a buff so if we need to hit 21 commander damage, that's an option too.
Golden Guardian - DFC that's easy to flip for 2 mana, or as a mana sink to fill the board. Decent value.
The Immortal Sun - A Swiss Army knife for 6. Extra draw, cheaper spells, bigger creatures, redundant planeswalkers. It does so much.
Land Tax - Obviously better with Scroll Rack, this is still the best ramp that white has. Keeps land drops up from turn one.
Dawn of Hope - Gives us board presence early, gains us some life, draws us some cards. Decent mana sink.
Aura of Silence - It hits us, but we're not entirely hamstrung by it. Other decks can be, and it's instant speed removal of something that just needs to be gone.
Ghostly Prison - We're not too committed to taxing the attack, because we don't generally need to be. I mostly don't care if people attack me, but this stops swarms, and if someone wants to swing at me, I can make sure they do less with their turn otherwise.
Unexpectedly Absent - Temporary removal for anything that needs to go right now. Often this will clear the way long enough for us to sweep in for a win.
Teferi's Protection - If you need a turn cycle's breathing space, this gives it to you. It won't win games, but it will stop you losing them.
Crush Contraband - Removal of key pieces of tech. Does double duty, is instant speed.
Faith's Reward - One of my favourite pieces of tech. 4 can be a lot to hold up, but this will save literally everything that goes to your graveyard. Lands, Artifacts, Enchantments, the kitchen sink.
Return to Dust - More tech removal, more double duty, more instant speed.
Open the Armory - Gets us a beater, a ramper, a draw filter, or protection.
Gift of Estates - Seems lame, but this card is fire. Early turns, drop this prior to your land drop for a full grip of your next 3 land drops. Goes nicely with Emeria Shepherd, too.
Divine Reckoning - We're mostly ok with having one creature on board, and being able to cut out any strategies other than voltron builds is nice. Flashback gives us a surprise from the graveyard if we lose control of the board at any point, too.
Cleansing Nova - Has thus far been really great, both modes are useful.
Rout - The option of instant speed makes this really useful.
Tragic Arrogance - For when you have indestructible things to remove or want to switch to Voltron mode. The great thing with this one is you make all the choices.
With the help of the contributors to this thread, I feel like this deck is now at a level I'm happy with - it's strong, resilient and has varied ways to control the game and win. There is still a want list however:
I see you're looking for cheaper options, so I'm going to suggest the most budget options I think will help.
I say low budget mainly to avoid people suggesting things like the divining top, Land Tax, Mana crypt and such. There's not NO budget here, but ideally if I already have the stuff suggested all the better.
Oreskos Explorer/Kor Cartographer - Along with the Knight you already play, two of the few other creatures that put lands directly into play for W. Explorer gives you another early drop.
Wholeheartedly agree with both of these. The cartographer I'll probably struggle to pick up but I have the explorer, so that's a slot.
Inheritance - A pet card of mine that I like more than Armistice.
That is some really sweet tech. I like it a lot, and I will have to find it now.
Vengeful Dreams - Very cheap exile removal, with the added bonus of dropping Gisela or another target in your graveyard.
You know, I have this card, and have been looking at it for months thinking 'what the hell have I kept this for?' Now I know.
Paragon of New Dawns/Spear of Heliod - You have a lot of token makers that Always Watching does not benefit. Paragon boosts everything and is a human that can attacl and be pulled back by your commander, and the Spear can boots everything, destroy a creature, and returns with Emeria/Titan. Or you can go maximum flavour and use Angelic Voices.
I'm not entirely sold on the token track I have. Shrine of Loyal Legions is slow, WSZ produces non relevant tokens, as does Sacred Mesa, although at least those have evasion. Really they are just there to hit the ground early while I get a foundation sorted. I'd be happy to go a different route if it were suggested. I already have Blind Obedience, I could always add things like Norn's Annex and the like.
Angel of Glory's Rise - You're running a good amount of humans and she can bring them all back. I'd run her over Konda in at 7 mana. And if you do run this angel you can look into all sorts of silly combos with Fiend Hunter, a sac outlet like Reaper of Flight Moonsilver, and: Reliquary Monk to destroy all enchantments or artifacts
Mardu Woe-Reaper to clear all creatures from graveyards and gain life
Mardu Hordechief to, if you attacked this turn, make infinite creatures
That is a good solid contingency. I'll definitely add the angels of glory's rise and Flight moonsilver.
Thank you very much for those recommendations, they help with directing the deck into a specific direction considerably.
It may not be the most popular decision either, but I am toing and froing on whether sun Titan has a place here. He's not recurrable himself, and the recursion he provides is otherwise accounted for. Plus I have another deck I'm rebuilding that could make better use of him.
Had a playtest today against a pretty well tuned Trostani deck. It held it's own thanks to a well timed Crawlspace, but capitulated eventually after Rest in Peace hit the table. One thing was very clear; this deck NEEDS more draw. It could probably use some non creature removal too.
Couple of big adds for more draw, land ramp and synergy. Seems to be playing really well at the moment. May need a bit more removal, and a bit less land. I have a spare Tragic Arrogance, and could maybe track down Wrath of God which might see the land count drop just slightly.
Edit: Lived the dream of melding Brisela, Voice of Nightmares last game. Good times, she holds things pretty well in check. Still lost, but it seems to be remarkably easier than I'd thought it would be to get the monstrosity on board.
Looks like solid changes all around. I'm guessing removing Sun Titan has worked out?
Haven't really noticed the loss. So yeah it worked out well. As I said, the land count is maybe a bit high, could use a smidge more removal, and another sac outlet would be nice. Otherwise, it's all playing nicely.
Out: Wayfarer's Bauble - The ramp has felt pretty good last couple of games, so it's a punt taking this out, but evening the battlefield seems worth it.
With Amonkhet officially out this weekend, there's really only one solid addition that I'm looking forward to for Bruna, and that's Devoted Crop-Mate. Very solid card, and a true winner here. Angel of Sanctions is a maybe, but I won't be seeking it out. If I pull it I'll playtest it and see how it goes, but it seems like a strictly worse Angel of Serenity to me.
Some controversial removals here. The incubator could be a loss, so could the Hart, and the two sweepers. That being said, given how much of a target Brisela, Voice of Nightmares can be I wanted to add a few surprise white counters for protection. To my mind I've kept the most appropriate sweepers for this deck. Armistice I won't miss, and the Hart is slow. I want to see how well the deck copes with the ramp it has before I make any further changes. At this point most of the things I want to add are pretty expensive anyway. I've eventually got my eye on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Loyal Retainers, Expedition Map and Land Tax, maybe Eldrazi Displacer and Erratic Portal. These are mostly pretty big ticket items though, so it's definitely a slow burning project.
So yeah, Fall is pretty mean. I guess it's a bit of a choker if the rest of the table gets out of hand. Damping Sphere I'd take out if or when I manage actually track down a copy of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Baird and Urza I'm fairly happy with, generally pretty happy with the updates from DOM.