The Commander format is OK for us because we get to sell those expensive precons, but it doesn't help move booster packs. Imagine how cool it would be (for us) if there were a format like Commander, but without all of those old cards that don't make us any money.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think this will work. Standard works because WotC provides some of the infrastructure and support for the format through their tournament system. But this is, explicitly, a casual format. If casual players want to play a format based around legendary creatures, I'm pretty sure they already have one.
Though it is one that is increasingly filling up with expensive cards. Whenever I find out that some random old card is valuable, the answer is almost always, its played in Commander. My favorite thing about Commander is that it makes more cards playable. There is nothing I hate more than looking at cards in my collection or opening a pack and looking at the rare and then saying, this card will never be in any of my decks. So, from that perspective, I like Brawl, because it will make more cards playable.
My initial impressions - this is a better format than Commander, and better for a mixed casual group setting than Standard. Ergo, my first impression is, "Good job Wizards." I agree completely with Oversoul that there is a profit motive mixed in there with moving booster packs, and with Melkor in the analysis of Commander as an increasingly overpriced option that I personally find a lot of faults regarding. It is not the casual format I would have asked for, but it is one I can be glad will have official support going forward.
So I initially pooh-poohed the whole concept of the "Brawl" format. While I do have some reservations, I had an interesting conversation about it that did quell some of my initial reaction...
Basically, I've been visiting an old local game store I remember from when I was a kid (one of those places that started out focused on baseball cards decades ago, but branched out to other hobbies and is still around). For a long time, I never went there, just because even though it's reasonably close it's not geographically in an area I've usually had reason to go. Recently, a friend I went to high school and community college with was hired as manager there, and he's trying to get regular Canadian Highlander events there. So I'm finally exploring Canadian Highlander. Eventually, once I actually have more than a tenuous handle on the format, I'll probably post something about all that. But anyway, he and I and some of the other players there for Canadian Highlander discussed various formats.
So Commander is obviously popular and successful. But it has some issues...
Huge cardpool, which is daunting to most new players.
Awkward ban list, which is regulated by a committee separately from other major formats.
In most places, Highlander gameplay gets taken over by broken stuff and the format becomes unapproachable to outsiders.
The divide between multiplayer and one-on-one is more of a complicated barrier than for other formats.
Similarly, with stuff like the "Standard Showdown" WotC are trying to push Standard not just as a flagship tournament format, but also as an entrance point for new players. And Standard has its own issues when it comes to approachability. Hopefully the new "Challenger" decks will help mitigate this, but when it comes to bringing inexperienced newcomers or returning players into the fold, Standard isn't really meant to be a friendly format. I guess it's common for those players to show up at FNM hoping to play the game, but they just aren't ready and they get trounced by optimized tournament decks piloted by regular LGS barnacles. Yeah, some people won't even be put-off by losing. But it's one thing to lose. It's another thing to be completely overwhelmed and to start realizing that even if you had knowledge and experience, you don't own the four copies each of the three most sought-after mythic rare Standard tournament cards, which you'd observe in your opponent's deck.
Supposedly, and I don't know how much this will turn out to be the case, Brawl won't be as dependent on having the appropriate chase-rares. One person even claimed that the format was sufficiently constrained from broken stuff and high-value card engines that a new player could reasonably open some sealed product and, with the collection available to someone who is still starting out, come up with a deck that is viable in the format. Of course it won't be a favorable matchup against the experienced, knowledgeable player for whom money is no object, but that guy is probably playing Commander or something anyway, and has little incentive to build a Brawl deck. And even when it does come up, the gulf isn't as pronounced. Give me the Commander rules and card pool and tell me to build a deck to beat a newbie with a meager collection of cards and I'll probably dominate that matchup handily. Switch the format to Brawl and I simply don't have as much to work with. Even if I have the advantage, it's a closer matchup.
I've got mixed feelings about the changes. Personally, I am not a fan of planeswalkers as commanders. But I also understand that once Dominaria leaves Standard there won't be such a rich array of legendary creatures for the format. And if planeswalkers as commanders is going to be an important aspect of the format, Sorcerous Spyglass is probably a bit much.
Not sorry to see Baral go, but balancing this casual multiplayer format based on people trying to turn it into a competitive duel format is going to cause problems in the long run.
Participated in a Brawl event yesterday and had a lot of fun with it. I posted my decklist in the casual decks forum and I was going to comment on the format too, but I remembered this thread and it seemed like the more appropriate place for that...
It seems like, probably with a trend starting even before the article Spidey linked to back in July, Brawl kinda crashed and burned as a format. Online, I've seen a lot of people refer to the format as dead. I live in a pocket with some of the more die-hard Brawl enthusiasts, but even I see that the format has diminished. The level of interest and support has pretty much dropped to an unsustainable level. And once Dominaria rotates out of Standard, the pool of interesting Brawl commanders will shrink. That could be the death-knell for this format. Still, the event was a blast and the response from participants about someday doing another Brawl event was almost overwhelmingly positive (I think they said it was something like 20 out of 26 participants were interested in a potential return to this format for a future event). Some of us, myself included, were more interested in setting up an "Eternal Brawl" event, (the guy who created the Eternal Brawl website was one of the participants in our event).
The events run by Magic of Browns Point seem like they're always fun, and while Brawl will never be my favorite format, it was a nice change of pace and my games were all quite fun. Not sure how much it matters, but when the whole cost compared to other formats point was brought up, it's worth noting that this really is affordable. In this event, the deck prices (going by the calculations on MTG Goldfish) ranged from $29.71 to $353.73. Admittedly, the guy with the $353.73 deck did pretty well on victory points, but the best-performing deck was only $99.25 and I think some of the other decks below $100 also did well. The two guys with decks over $200 were filling their decks with rares on purpose. My vague intuition is that the very most optimal Brawl decks, if you're really gunning to win, are probably between $80 and $180, skewed a bit toward the high end of that because the strong three-color midrange stuff from Ixalan Block uses a lot of rares and mythic rares and those add up. But there were some respectable lists piloted by good players in this event that were under $70 and a new player on a budget could even, as demonstrated by one of our players, dip below $30 for an entire deck. Worth noting, these are gross price estimates. I already owned most of my deck's contents from sealed product that I'd purchased anyway and spent about $15 on cards for my deck. I think it might have been a bit more (I was also buying a Legends Underworld Dreams in the same purchase as all but one of the cards I bought for this deck, and it was more than all of those cards combined a few times over, so I forget what they contributed to my total); but the LGS where I bought the Thaumatic Compass only had the Buy-A-Box promo version, which is gorgeous, but added some to my cost.
Affordable deck construction.
Limited cardpool isn't as overwhelming to new players.
Deck construction is usually easy.
Gameplay interactions can partially piggyback off Standard.
Three-player pods and the inconsistency of a singleton format lend Brawl a surprisingly robust level of balance.
The singleton deckbuilding constraint, higher starting life total, and small cardpools tend to polarize gameplay around midrange decks.
There's far less depth to explore than in EDH.
The format rotates.
The popularity of Brawl has already nosedived and it competes for the same space with other EDH variants (i.e. you can already do budget-enforced EDH—that's already a thing).
I don't know if Brawl was ever going to work out long-term. My initial post in this thread was skeptical and that appears to have been on-the-mark. But also, having made a brief return to trying the format out, I think that WotC screwed up. They tested the waters with feedback from game stores in a few locations, then suddenly tried to push hard on making it an official format for the whole world. Every successful long-term gameplay format I can think of grew with time, one might even say "organically." They tried to just make a fiat of "This is a thing now. Go forth and play it." Well, when has that ever worked? They emphasized casual multiplayer and tying the format to Standard, then (within a matter of months) did an about-face, pushing for Brawl duels and decoupling the ban list from Standard.
I appreciate the update on this. I have near zero Magic interest in this class of after school visitors, and while that might be an entirely local phenomenon, I do wonder if it reflects the diminishment of Magic on a larger scale (we will have a long time to wait of course to really know).
This announcement seems to be well-received in my local area, so I'm cautiously optimistic. But...
Reading the whole thing, I'm not convinced that they've found a way to give Brawl lasting appeal. The somewhat striking mistakes that were made in the launch of the format aren't apparently corrected or even acknowledged.
This might be the first format that either lives or dies based on its success on MTG Arena, which is interesting.