How a month after its release, The Brothers’ War Limited environment carved out its unique foothold, and what have we learned so far.
Heading into preview season for BRO, we were spoiled for choice in terms of new and returning mechanics. Between powerstones, prototype, and unearth, the general expectations of the Limited format have been based on large flexible artifacts being played either as smaller or larger versions of themselves.
Now that we had some time to play with the cards and experiment with the different synergies in the set, it's time to go back and look at where things stand.
Brothers' War Limited Format Overview
The reality is that Brothers' War is an aggressive format where early proactive interactions are rewarded over big battle cruiser plays.
On top of that, we also have the addition of retro artifacts which drastically change the power level and general experience of the format. With the addition of extra cards in your draft or sealed pool, we find ourselves in a similar space as we did with Strixhaven and the Mystical Archive.
Brothers' War Limited Mechanics Review
The first is a new mechanic which has to lead to the battle cruiser speculation in the format. Prototype lets us cast artifact creatures for a reduced color identity associated cost with lower baseline stats.
This creates an interesting new mechanic which allows us to choose how we would like to curve out our creatures. A great example of this modularity is Boulderbranch Golem which can be a 6/5, gain six life bomb for its full cost. Or a 3/3 gain three life for four mana tempo play.
The modularity of prototype cards has made them high picks in Draft and Sealed due to providing you with cards that have an application in both the early and late game.
From experience here, a lot of players will hold onto cards like Goring Warplow and Blitz Automaton to cast them for a higher cost. In doing so, they may be losing out on the advantage of playing out their prototypes and removing a midrange threat or swinging in with a hasty damage dealer.
This is a returning mechanic originally from Shards of Alara. It allows us to return permanents from the graveyard with haste and exile them at the end of the turn. A good mechanic, unearth fuels the battlefield with expendable blockers that can be returned for an additional effect or to squeeze in a few points of extra damage.
A good example of this is Scrapwork Mutt. A 2/1 for two that lets us rummage (discard a card then draw a card ) upon entering the battlefield. Afterward, we can unearth it for one and a red to rummage again and swing for two before exiling.
Other color identities don’t fall far behind with cards like Scrapwork Rager and Tocasia’s Onulet, which both have an effect associated with their color identity.
By offering so much value out of one piece of cardboard, the BRO unearth cards have cemented themselves as strong picks in the Limited environment.
Lastly, we have the powerstone. An artifact token that generates one colorless mana which cannot be used to cast non-artifact spells. Speculation-wise, powerstones have proven to be a key play style in Brothers' War with several cards generating extra value like Excavation Explosion or Stern Lesson.
This feeds nicely into the prototype acceleration and the heavy artifact subtheme of the set. But this isn’t the only use for them. The set itself gives us plenty of archetypes that utilize powerstones like B/R sacrifice and G/W artifact ETB.
BRO Retro Artifact Cards
Starting with Adaptive Automaton and ending with Wurmcoil Engine, the Retro Artifacts are the Mystical Archive of Brothers' War. The inclusion of these 63 cards has warped the limited format entirely around them and guarantees a very unique experience.
The vast variety of additional choices and decision-making involved in picking these cards from your pool may be the determining factors between a game win and a game loss. While not every deck will need a copy of Astral Cornucopia or Caged Sun, simple additions like Chromatic Star and Ichor Wellspring will fit into almost any deck and provide card advantage among other benefits.
I would highly recommend picking some of these over other rares as they tend to be more impactful during the early draft or against other fillers in the sealed pool.
BRO Limited Individual Card Performance
A number of cards have positively surprised me during the early stages of the format. Either by being better than I have expected or by getting blown out by them with no good answers on my end. I would recommend being on the lookout for these as they tend to increase the overall card quality in your Limited deck.
This card outperforms most of the other unearth commons in the set. For four mana we get a 3/1 body along with a 1/1 then for two and white we get it back with the 1/1 sticking around past the unearth trigger.
Count it with me now, 8/4 worth of stats split among four bodies with a convenient payment plan. The main body trades up with the higher-power creatures in the format. The soldiers left behind feed into the sacrifice and ETB synergies in the set.
You can't go wrong here.
This is a case where the name of the card fits very well. Getting a 4/4 out of your non-creature artifacts and drawing a card as a cantrip is a powerful effect that is efficiently costed. This card swings your otherwise potentially unutilized powerstone, Ichor Wellsprings, or Energy Refractors into a beater that will require a swift response.
Filling out the top end of the draw two cards this turn archetype, we have this beefy horror. The five mana value cost is not the easiest to sell in this format. But the advantage of having lifelink, even when it is conditional, pays off quite well. This card can generate big tempo life swings nearly by itself or trade for something more valuable with deathtouch. When all else fails it is still a 4/5 creature that will eat a good removal spell, trade well, or finish out the game.
Here we have a three mana 2/3 that enables you to sacrifice artifacts for one to pump itself and deal one damage to each opponent. The strength of the bull is twofold in this case.
The obvious start is that it enables the sacrifice archetype of the set while pumping itself and dealing damage. On the other technical note, the bull is a very efficient blocker. Penregon Bull with three toughness blocks 52% of all creatures in the set and trades with 41% of all creatures before you even pump it.
A three-mana 3/2 that comes in with a Powerstone attached is just the kind of midrange card that keeps the format pushing forward toward aggression. A well-stated body with an immediate upside for the artifact synergies is a hard thing to pass in either Draft or during your Sealed selection. The opportunist will provide enough value to either jet ahead in tempo or at least balance the scales back in your favor.
Only two out of the ten color pairs (Simic B/G and Dimir B/U) reward slow control plays. The format as proven by time revolves around aggressive archetypes or at the very least midrange value grinding.
Several common cards are carrying Limited decks and pushing ahead the true meaning of tempo plays. With the introduction of prototype and the comeback of unearth, we also have enough versatility and modularity to create value plays at any stage of the game.
Whether you are trying to rank up in Arena or do well during your next LGS event, I hope you will find this article helpful.
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