How They Brew It - Night at the Casino

Michael Celani • March 22, 2021

Arni Brokenbrow by Dmitry Burmak

The roll of the dice. The spin of the roulette. The massive, hulking guards you wish were pounding you for a different reason than breaking the rules. No, it's not Russian prison; it's the Ruby Medallion casino, and you're on a streak so hot you might as well be breathing fire. Chase the high of the pot, and no amount of chips will sate your hunger. How far are you willing to push your luck?

An Addictive Personality

My name's Michael Celani, and I'm one card shy of a full wallet. If anyone knows where I left my driver's license, please don't ask any questions about why the name says Pasquali Fontina.

If there's one casino game I'm good at, it's blackjack. It's easy to learn, and since I've had experience taking hits until I was twenty one, I'm a total natural at it. So imagine my surprise when I learned you can win a game of Magic: the Gathering by hitting people until they took that much damage from your commander!

There's nothing more exhilarating than risking it all and coming out on top, and it's a story you'll be boasting about for days. Put on your best tuxedo, illegally transfer funds from your client's escrow account, and take Arni Brokenbrow along to bring down the house. This is How They Brew It.

Arni's Game

You might not have a lot of experience gambling. Maybe you play Texas Hold 'Em with your coworkers on weekends. Maybe you tried some video slots at your local bar. Maybe you lost your inheritance in an underground Stunt Race FX tournament and were forced to hire some stats-obsessed dork from Reddit in a desperate bid to retain some sense of dignity. Don't worry, we've all been there! Once you know how to get into the exclusive games, you'll quickly find your footing. To that end, I keep these cards up my sleeve to make sure nobody's blocking me from high society.

  • In addition to being what geophysicists call it every time your mom takes a step, Seismic Stomp effectively gives your attacking creatures flying for a turn.
  • Your opponents will have a long night ahead of them when you throw a Key to the City or Manifold Key party.
  • Sidestep the casino bouncers with a Prowler's Helm.
    • ...unless you're fighting Ted and his Wall's Well That Ends Well Arcades, the Strategist deck. Ted took my wife, he's not going to take my dignity, too.
  • Make your opponent croak with a Whispersilk Cloak, an equipment which protects Arni from both enemy spells and enemy blockers.
  • With any trip to the casino, remember that you'll eventually end up in D.E.B.T: Commander's Plate stops Arni from being damaged, enchanted, targeted, and most importantly blocked by any white, blue, black, or green creatures.
  • Force combat with Goblin Diplomats and Warmonger Hellkite to leave enemy blockers tapped for your next turn.
  • Finally, if you're just sick of everyone's garbage, play Bedlam and hope you don't fold after you go all in.

Raising The Stakes

Of course, you need risk for it to be a real game. Putting a penny in the pot just doesn't get my blood pumping, y'know? Gambling with pennies is what my grandparents did, and their heart rates are all zero now.

To kill an opponent in one shot, we'd need a creature that had at least twenty power. Arni's ability bumps it up by one, getting us to twenty one exact. However, with these effects, we can cut that threshold in half. Never turn down an opportunity to double or nothing.

  • Red all-star Temur Battle Rage grants a creature double strike, and its trample effect can power Arni through a tough blocker if he can't evade them normally.
  • If you're lowering the damage threshold to nine for three mana, you might have an Uncaged Fury. If your friend thinks the werewolf on that card is hot, you might have an Uncaged Furry.
  • Already have a doubling effect? Cycle Raking Claws away for just two mana.
  • Fireshrieker and Blood Mist are more permanent ways to give Arni double strike on the cheap.
  • Are you a hipster and double strike's too mainstream for you? Skip the complications and actually go beast mode with Unleash Furry Unleash Fury. It combos well with Chandra's Ignition!
  • And slap down a Dictate of the Twin Gods to really punish your opponents for their blasphemy.

Damage isn't the only thing you'll be doubling. Some extra mana can make your gambling all that more thrilling.

  • Ghirapur Orrery? I 'ardly know 'er orrery! Plunk down two lands a turn, and refresh your hand when you inevitably run out of gas.
  • Caged Sun bumps up your red creatures' power (which is actually relevant) and doubles the mana you get out of your lands.
  • And save all your winnings for later with a Leyline Tyrant.

Go Big Or Go Home

Now that you're in and you've got so many chips you'd make a bag of Ruffles blush, it's time to put everything on the table. What's the secret that makes Arni Brokenbrow a gaming god? Tyrite Sanctum? Think bigger. Let's look at this ruling from his page:

Any effects that modify Arni Brokenbrow's power without setting it to a specific value will apply after Arni's base power is set, regardless of the order in which those effects were created. The same is true of counters that modify Arni's power.

Arni Brokenbrow's new base power is set to the actual power of the other creature you control with the highest power, not that creature's base power. If that creature's power changes after the boast ability has resolved, Arni's power is unaffected.

If a creature were to pump themselves up, Arni can take advantage of that in addition to our other anthems and power-boosting effects. In other words, Heraldic Banner and Caged Sun each effectively give him two additional power. Get ready, because these creatures will blow your mind.

  • Burn the house down with Ashling the Pilgrim.
    • Arni gets the power granted from +1/+1 counters, and you can always use Ashling as an emergency board wipe.
  • Out with the old and in with the New Phyrexian firebreathers Immolating Souleater and Moltensteel Dragon.
    • With a doubling effect, you can kill an opponent for the modest sum of 18 or 12 life, respectively.
    • Alternatively, turn life into actual mana if you have your Alena, Kessig Trapper out. Eat your heart out, Treasonous Ogre.
  • Anax, Hardened in the Forge was not only my stage name at certain "clubs" I worked at to get through college, it's also a powerful threat that gets bigger with more red devotion.
    • With Arni out, he's guaranteed to have at least three power. Anything else is gravy.
  • Tatyova, Benthic Druid player getting you down? Turn that fish into a delish dish with some Coastline Marauders!
  • A surefire way to beat the casinos is to count cards, and Sokenzan Spellblade is all about that as it provides perhaps the most efficient firebreathing effect in red.
  • Use your evasion techniques to build up a powerful Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, use his army to protect yourself, and then swing for the kill.
    • Tip: Make sure to say "This is the bad Krenko, though, guys!" when you do it.
  • With three opponents, they're likely to have some creatures. Scourge of Geier Reach can easily reach 10 power.
  • Myriad Construct becomes massive when kicked, and the little creatures it will inevitably spawn really pump up your Beast of Burden.
  • Take advantage of pumping up your whole team with Cavalier of Flame, Moonveil Dragon, and Warmonger Hellkite.
    • You can give Arni +2/+0 for a meager fee repeatedly!

And let's not forget the granddaddy of thicc boys himself:

You can abuse Malignus multiple ways in this deck. Grant it double strike and swing to snipe an opponent. Alternatively, double its power with Unleash Fury and kill everyone with Chandra's Ignition. And finally, if someone hasn't been hit yet, Malignus will have exactly 20 power. Arni can copy his power and add one to it, swinging in for 21. Blackjack!

Wheel of Fortune

I used to have a gambling problem, and that's why I play Magic: the Gathering. But ever since I found a way to beat the odds with Arni, my luck's drastically improved. For instance, I found a $20 bill in the street, and those gremlins that used to wake me up at four in the morning every day by punching me in the groin no longer come by. It's the little things in life. Good luck at the tables.

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.