The Brothers' War has just launched with its first introduction to our favorite formats coming this weekend. With so many new cards focused on iconic characters and events, we were bound to get some awesome cards for Commander!
I've rounded up a couple of my favorite cards from the main set that I cannot wait to try out. Give them a look, and don't forget to let us know what cards from The Brothers' War got you excited!
Myrel, Shield of Argive
Myrel is everything I want and more in a white card. Myrel is a buffed-up Grand Abolisher. Double the mana value for more stats and a stellar attack trigger! I am stoked to pick up a copy of this card as soon as the set drops.
We last saw Grand Abolisher printed in Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, and Commander 2014 before that. This card has climbed to $30! Another example of this effect is Conqueror's Flail, which had an all-time high not that long ago of $35 in 2021. As of Double Masters 2022, it has dropped to a more reasonable $6.
This kind of effect is rare. If you have a deck that wants these effects, I think Myrel is an awesome pickup, especially before it goes up like these other two!
For two mana, being able to exile any nonland permanent is awesome, but you must ask, is the downside worth it? In a slower, or low-power game, this card is an over-costed Unsummon with a two-mana tax added on. However, in a faster environment, it is likely your opponent simply will not have the opportunity to recast whatever you just exiled. I would somewhat liken this to Delay. In a game of 15 turns, Delay delays the spell for about one-fifth of the game, in a game of only six to none, Delay could represent one-third to half the game. Similarly, I feel Soul Partition can be incredibly disruptive in high-power EDH where timing is crucial. Its flexibility to hit anything is a real strength!
Let's talk flashback! Arcane Proxy lets you cast an instant or sorcery from your grave with a mana value less than or equal to the Proxy's power. Given the Prototype mechanic, you can cast Proxy as either a 2/1 or a 4/3.
This gives a nice breadth of spells you can cast off the back of this. I think this card is most effective as a 2/1. Some of the most powerful spells are at this cost, such as tutors, card draw, and removal spells.
I like the play pattern in Simic or casting a ramp spell to turn two and then recasting it to turn three with Proxy. Not the most powerful play, but certainly enough to start putting yourself ahead.
This card reminds me most of Torrential Gearhulk. The one thing Proxy is missing is flash. Gearhulk has the advantage of being able to cast spells like Counterspell at a moment's notice, while Proxy is confined to your turn. Regardless, I think the flexibility makes up for it.
The Temporal Anchor
The Temporal Anchor is one of those wacky designs I am certain I have seen on r/custommtg at some point. Whenever you scry a card to the bottom of your deck, you exile that many cards, and you can play cards exiled this way.
Is it expensive? Is it flashy? Is it probably going to get zapped with a Nature Claim? Yes to all of the above.
However, I think this is going to see play in all those big blue decks that just want to flex all their mana and card advantage. This card is a natural fit in something like Elminster to grant you a further advantage when you scry.
This card is a pretty deep cut, specifically for those of you piloting Blim, Comedic Genius. You presumably have a penchant for forcing awful cards on your opponent. There is a bit of a balancing act going on here. You need four mana to cast Fateful Handoff and enough mana to cast whatever awful spell you want to give your opponent.
I think this card performs best around the four-mana spot. Not too expensive that you'll never cast it, but still valuable to you. Some of my favorites include Lich's Tomb and Immortal Coil! A cute little eight-mana combo that draws your four cards and kills a player.
Not the most overpowered combo in the world, but I think it will tickle some of you enough to give it a try! In a more practical sense, this works well with unearth as you can simply donate your unearthed creature to your opponent only for it to die on the next end step.
It is no secret that I love hatebears, and this one tickles me in all the right ways. This card has the traditional hallmark of shades in magic. You can pump this to your heart's content! This makes it incredibly effective on the attack and defense. However, what we're here for is the ability to exile creatures when they die!
We have seen this effect on cards like Samurai of the Pale Curtain, and Dauthi Voidwalker. I will admit the shade is probably weaker than both of these, however, in some decks, it may be on par if not better than the Samurai. Firstly, the shade is easier to cast, and it has its aforementioned pump ability. Meanwhile, the Samurai is double white, this may make it harder to cast turn two for some decks. Granted, both Samurai and Dauthi have the advantage of exiling any card type, from anywhere.
Arms Race is a fun rendition of Sneak Attack. Four mana to put an artifact into play is of course a much harder sell than Sneak Attack's one mana. However, I think Arms Race is a great addition in a lower power or budget-conscious environment that severely lacked this archetype.
Meteor Golem, Blightsteel Colossus, and Wurmcoil Engine are great options here, or practically anything with an enter or leave the battlefield trigger. I like this one for the ability to put non-creature artifacts in play too. Bolas's Citadel comes to mind here. Lastly, as with Sneak Attack, Arms Race pairs incredibly well with flicker effects, or cards like Sundial of the Infinite.
Feldon, Ronom Excavator
Feldon is everything I want in a red commander! He's cheap, he's got haste, and he can lend himself to shenanigans. Immediately my mind jumps to strapping Feldon with indestructible and going to town! Your opponent is in a funny little catch-22 in which blocking Feldon puts more fuel on the fire for your deck to find the pieces it needs. On the other hand, if you allow Feldon to hit, you are opening yourself to a surprisingly effective Voltron commander. Grab your favorite equipment and get swinging!
If you want to take advantage of Feldon's ability and self-inflict some damage, you can leverage high-damage board wipes such as Blasphemous Act to get a huge breath of card selection. Even small board wipes such as Anger of the Gods can become very playable when you pair them with the ability to rebuild using Feldon's card selection. And of course, it would be rude to forget Stuffy Doll, Brash Taunter, and Coalhauler Swine! While you're busy dishing out the pain to Feldon, why not get some damage in on your opponents with a jank classic?
Awaken the Woods
This spell is just awesome! Awaken the Woods is a fantastic take on ramp and token generation. Naturally, the tokens created by this spell are both creatures and lands, meaning they are affected by summoning sickness.
Where this card stands tall is with landfall triggers. Cards like Lotus Cobra love this, as it reimburses you for the mana spent on X. This card also reminds me a lot of Emergent Sequence. Both Awaken and Sequence give you access to land but at the cost of that land becoming a creature, therefore it cannot be used immediately. In the case of Sequence it sees little play because simply put, better options exist. However, Awaken the Woods has modality on its side. It lets you create as many lands as you want.
Another note to consider is the gameplay implications. Awaken the Woods does not require searching your library. It is quick and easy to generate one, two, five, or fifty tokens, unlike more traditional ramp effects which have you search your deck. I am incredibly excited that this might pave the way for more token-generated land effects. We saw this previously in the Mystery Booster Playtest Cards with Generated Horizons. I look forward to seeing more cards with this design in the future.
Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea
Gwenna is a great take on a five-power matters deck. The natural line of play would be to cast Gwenna to turn two or three and play a five drop the turn after. This is good but to get the most out of Gwenna we should consider looking towards low-cost, high-power creatures. This could even enable us to gain mana from her ability. Even leveraging cost reducers can enable us to get multiple uses of her ability.
This card also slots nicely into Experiment Kraj. As a card that generates more than one mana, this opens the door to so many shenanigans with cards like Freed From the Real.
Additionally, she fits incredibly well in any elf shell allowing you to ramp into more creatures, possibly even acting as a cost reducer thanks to her untap. Altogether, this is a solid include.
Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter
Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter wins the award for "Card That Will Haunt My Nightmares". Urza's head on a thopter isn't the only thing scary about this card.
It has a wall of text, all of it solid.
This thopter grants all your colorless and artifact spells flash, which means it's already outclassing Shimmer Myr. Additionally, Liberator can grow. The wording is a little funny as it specifies "amount of mana spent to cast that spell is greater than Liberator's power." This means cheating mana costs with cost reducers won't fly here. You need to cast spells the old-fashioned way.
On the other hand, if you cast a one-drop but pay the tax for a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben you will still get your +1/+1 counter. All in all, this makes Liberator one of the best colorless commander options. Many other options are simply high mana value Eldrazi without much focus, or are incredibly gimmicky Hope of Ghirapur, or better in the 99 such as The Peregrine Dynamo.
This one is just a special shout-out to all of you who play bear tribal, vanilla tribal, or even tokens! Symmetry Matrix allows you to pay one mana to draw a card whenever a creature with equal power and toughness enters the battlefield.
In the right deck, this could be a great mana outlet to keep you drawing cards. Additionally, token strategies may be able to leverage this effect such as Chattering, Squirrel General. Not too flashy, but certainly a subtle card that can generate a lot of value.
Bladecoil Serpent is one of my favorite designs in the set. I love the modality it offers. In its most basic forms, it is either a six mana 5/4 that draws three cards, makes each opponent discard three cards, or is an 8/4 with haste. You can also create your own combination to fit the game.
However, that is only this card in its most basic form. You can throw as much mana as you like at this to draw more, discard more, or pump the serpent even further. This card does a lot. It finds utility as a draw engine, a beater, or a disruptive menace. I love this design, especially for being a card that can be relevant at multiple stages of the game, and even an outright wincon. My only grievance is that it can only be played in Grixis or four/five color decks. I think this would be an awesome card in its respective one and two-color combinations.
Saheeli, Filigree Master
Saheeli strikes a nice balance with a quick ult and a low mana cost. Four mana feels fair for her effects. Her first ability to scry one and draw a card at the cost of tapping an artifact is a low cost to pay. This then sets you up for an ultimate the next turn that grants a permanent cost reduction to your artifacts, as well as +1/+1 to your artifact creatures. This effect is incredibly potent, especially the cost reduction.
For such a low cost, I can imagine getting this ability to resolve is more than possible. The only other examples of planeswalkers that can grant emblems in one turn are Nissa, Vital Force, Chandra Awakened Inferno, and Gideon of the Trials. In the latter two cases, the emblem is available the turn you play the card, hence these are inherently weaker emblems. Meanwhile, with Nissa, the effect is much slower, occurring at turn six. I feel Saheeli sits in an interesting design space thanks to that fast emblem. I am curious to see how she performs. Anecdotally I can say in the Draft and Limited environments I was able to get the ultimate ability very quickly, I am curious to see how this will translate to Commander games.
Demolition Field is a card I have been crying out for! Some of you may be looking at this and getting a severe case of déjà vu. This bears striking resemblance to Field of Ruin. Both of them sacrifice themselves for two mana to destroy an opponent's land. However, there is one key difference. Field of Ruins lets each player search for a land, Demolition Field only allows you and that land's controller to search for a new land.
This is a big deal for Commander. Many times Field of Ruin is played with good intentions, however, it feels bad letting the other players ramp too for your good deed. Demolition Field is a strict upgrade in every sense of the word for Commander players.
There is a plethora of awesome lands in the format, cards like Demolition Field are key in keeping decks honest. Whether it is a Command Tower to cut people off their colors, or a greedy Cabal Coffers generating too much value you need to run some one-off land destruction effects if these cards are prominent in your meta. If you are in the market for a budget version of Wasteland, then now is the time!
Fortified Beachhead is a funny include in the set. It is the only land of this kind in the set, however, it is incredibly powerful in the right deck. The effect is pretty simple, if you have a soldier in your hand to reveal, this land enters untapped. Additionally, a buff to soldiers for five mana, while not stellar, is a nice include if you need the extra damage.
This land hearkens back to a cycle from Lorwyn which entered tapped unless you controlled a certain creature type. I like the design on Beachhead, however, it stands out as funny given it is the only one in the set.
While it is a weird include, I think Soldier is a much broader tribe than those from the Lorwyn dual lands. Soldiers are much more ubiquitous, and there are many unassuming cards that just so happen to be soldiers, such as Esper Sentinel, Recruiter of the Guard, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.
I will concede almost all the good soldiers are white, not blue. However, enough of them are staples that I would consider running this in your blue-white decks, especially if you lean into hatebears. Consider giving this one a try, even if you have only a couple of soldiers, it's likely going to be better than that Azorius Guildgate a couple of times!
What do you think of our Brothers' War Commander round-up? Did you find your next Commander staple or a new alternative to an old classic? Let us know what cards you're excited about and how they perform at your table!
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