Zendikar Rising has turned the spotlight on some creature types that don’t often get tribal support: clerics, rogues, warriors, and wizards. Most of the cards in this set that care about these creature types focus on the party mechanic, which requires you to have some of each. But there are also four legends that each care about one of these types, and those make an exciting cycle of Brawl commanders.
The multicolored cleric commander is Orah, Skyclave Hierophant, whose abilities work well in lifegain and graveyard strategies. Run them with cards like Attended Healer, Relic Vial, and Taborax, Hope’s Demise (who also makes an interesting commander in their own right) to drain your opponents, draw cards, make creatures bigger when your clerics die, and then bring them back to do it again.
You can also build a control deck with spells like Angelheart Protector, Containment Priest, and Mangara the Diplomat. If you’re more interested in turning creatures sideways, you can make a combat-focused clerics deck instead, using Glory Bearers and Victory’s Envoy to give your attackers an edge.
Zareth San, the Trickster is the rogue tribal commander. They’re a little trickier to build for, since their tribal ability requires them to be in your hand and not your command zone. Fortunately, you can get Zareth San into your hand with Into the Roil, Inscription of Insight, or Sublime Epiphany, and then sneak them back out to the battlefield when your Sure-Footed Infiltrator attacks.
Zareth San‘s tribal ability interacts well with other evasive creatures, of which there are many in blue and black. You might also want to focus on flash, using rogues like Thieves’ Guild Enforcer and Cunning Nightbonder. Rogues like Faerie Vandal and Library Larcenist also have useful card draw synergy, and you can even build a mill deck using rogues like Nighthawk Scavenger and Zulaport Duelist.
The warrior tribal commander – Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients – lets you filter your library for warriors and equipment. An equipment theme is a good direction to take this deck; you’ll have access to powerful artifacts like Embercleave and Maul of the Skyclaves, plus spells like Akiri, Fearless Voyager (also an interesting equipment commander) and Resolute Strike.
You can put your equipment on evasive warriors like Aven Gagglemaster and Haktos the Unscarred to make sure your damage gets through. Either way, you may want to include Goma Fada Vanguard and other combat-affecting spells to keep the odds in your favor.
Kaza, Roil Chaser is a wizard tribal commander who cares about instants and sorceries. Good news: there are quite a few spells in Zendikar Rising with abilities that trigger when you cast an instant, sorcery, or wizard spell. You’ll probably want those to be the core of your deck, along with “instants and sorceries matter” spells like Shipwreck Dowser and Rielle, the Everwise.
You can also make Kaza the new commander of a Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Ral, Caller of Storms deck you had left over from last season. Or you could build a new deck built around the “draw your second card” spells from Throne of Eldraine and the cycling spells from Ikoria. Other potential decks might focus on kicker, using wizards like Coralhelm Chronicler and Merfolk Falconer, or evasion, with flying wizards such as Fae of Wishes and Expedition Diviner.
Standard’s Tribal Staples
There are a few new tribal cards that can play a supporting role in all four of these decks. Base Camp gives you colored mana to cast creatures of all four types and activate their abilities. Stonework Packbeast counts as all four types, both adding to your tribal count and acting as a different type for effects that count the creatures in your party. And even some of the “party matters” spells, like Deadly Alliance and Skyclave Plunder, are good to have in decks that use their colors, even when you only have one creature type available.
Zendikar Rising‘s class tribal theme is bringing a whole lot of fresh deck-building potential into Brawl. Let us know which class tribe you’re most excited to brew for!
Alex is an Azorius bureaucrat who dreams of joining the Selesnya Conclave. Their favorite color of mana is green, and they love brewing for Commander variants.