Ultimate Brothers' War Draft Guide and Archetype Breakdown
The one article you need to get ready for prerelease, sealed, and your next draft!
Magic's latest set is taking us back in time to witness a battle of massive mechs and the grudge between brothers that would destroy the world.
That's right, it's time for The Brothers' War!
It's also time for our Brothers' War draft guide and archetype breakdown. This is your one-stop-shop for all things Brothers' War Limited and is designed to get you ready for your first event.
The set drops on November 18th and prereleases will fire starting on November 11th. The Brothers' War full set spoiler has already been revealed. There are plenty of artifacts to enjoy as well as some high-powered legends, reprints, and more.
While everyone is busy crafting their Phyrexian Fleshgorgers and Meld Urzas, Limited fans are still brushing up on the set's commons and uncommons. There is plenty to talk about for The Brothers' War's Limited format.
After a very fun format in Dominaria United, this set has big shoes to fill. Interestingly, we'll be focused on the traditional 10 two-color pairs here after the Domain madness of Dominaria United and the three-color pairings of New Capenna. We'll see if keeping things simple really is better.
Without further ado, let's dive in!
Brothers' War Limited Mechanics
We have both the return of old favorites and some new mechanics to discuss. A few will be particularly impactful for Limited by giving you access to resources outside of your hand.
Let's take a look at the Limited mechanics you need to be familiar with for The Brothers' War.
Unearth is back baby! In the words of House Greyjoy, "What is dead my never die."
If you like things that come back from the graveyard for one more valiant swing, then unearth is for you. This mechanic, first introduced back in Shards of Alara, lets you return a card from your graveyard to the battlefield with haste at sorcery speed. You then exile it at the beginning of the next end step.
Interestingly, we are seeing unearth on cards that aren't creatures. Misra's Research Deck and Mask of the Jadecrafter are both artifacts that feature the unearth mechanic. Meanwhile, Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa gives all artifacts in your graveyard unearth for 1(B)(R).
With 22 unearth cards in the set, including 13 at common or uncommon, it promises to be important for Limited.
If Disturb taught us anything in Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, replaying things from your graveyard without spending another card is very strong in Limited--even if it doesn't last forever.
A new mechanic in The Brothers' War, prototype adds some flexibility to your big threats. This mechanic is awesome for Limited. The easiest way to think of prototype is that these are essentially split cards but creatures.
There are 11 common/uncommon prototype creatures with green having the most of them at four.
The mechanic lets you pay the card's prototype cost, which is cheaper, and put a smaller version of the creature into play. Each prototype creature has its own stat line right below the prototype cost.
This is a nice fail-safe if you can't find the lands you need to cast the larger version and ensures you'll have something to do in the early game if you only draw your big beaters.
It's also worth noting that, if for some reason, these cards leave and return to the battlefield, they'll come back as their full-powered version. Blink anyone?
We saw Powerstones in Dominaria United on Karn, Living Legacy. They weren't very good then. However, Brothers' War is bringing a lot of support for Powerstones as they are a major mechanic of the set.
A Powerstone token taps for colorless mana which can't be used to cast non-artifact spells. Notably, it can be used to activate abilities.
A whopping 27 cards feature the mechanic, with 18 of them at common and uncommon. Of course, not all of them are good. All cards that create Powerstones do so tapped. This means you can't use them for mana the turn you make them, which makes them a little less exciting for those explosive turns.
It's been difficult to evaluate Powerstones without seeing how they play out. They could certainly play a big part in Limited, much like Blood tokens in Crimson Vow, which were also hard to evaluate. We could also see them flop. Only time will tell.
This won't be super impactful for Limited, but we have to touch on meld. We're seeing three new meld pairs in The Brothers' War--including Urza, Mishra, and Titiana.
These cards are all mythic rarity with their meld pairing coming in at rare. This makes opening both of them quite unlikely for Limited. However, if you manage to pull it off, you've got a super powerful combo on your hands.
Brothers' War Retro Artifacts
Strixhaven introduced us to the Mystical Archive. Limited players found ultra-powerful spells from Magic's history with a unique art treatment in their packs.
WotC is bringing something similar to The Brothers' War with Retro Artifacts.
What are Brothers' War Retro Artifacts?
There are a total of 63 additional cards in The Brothers' War, each a reprint of an artifact from Magic's past. This is the Retro ARtifact collection.
Players can expect iconic cards like Wurmcoil Engine as well as highly playable staples like Chromatic Star, Aetherflux Reservoir, Ashnod's Altar, Helm of the Host, Mishra's Bauble, Mox Amber, Platinum Angel, Springleaf Drum, Swiftfoot Boots, and many more.
These reprints have multiple treatments, including their regular art in an old-border style. There are also "schematic" variants, which feature sketches of the original artwork in an antique, renaissance style. Finally, we are getting serialised cards, which each Retro Artifact getting a series of 500 stamped cards that are individually numbered and have a "double-rainbow" foiling treatment.
Are Brothers' War Retro Artifacts Legal in Draft?
These cards will work just like Strixhaven's Mystical Archive for Limited purposes. If you open one in your draft pack or pre-release kit, you could be dropping a Wurmcoil Engine on your opponent's head.
While not all of these cards are impressive for Limited, as many require synergies the set just doesn't support, there are some big hits.
It is super exciting to play with these and Mystical Archive cards showed us just how crazy a Limited format can be with such powerful additions. Just don't get used to building your deck around a Wurmcoil or Platinum Angel.
Are Brothers' War Retro Artifacts Coming to Arena?
Just like Mystical Archive, the Retro Artifact cards are coming to Arena. They'll be legal in all Limited formats.
It's also worth noting that several of these reprints will also be introduced to Historic for the first time. The only ban at release will be Mishra's Bauble. For good reason, you degenerate Nightmare Cat players.
Brothers' War Limited Archetypes
As mentioned, we are returning to a Limited format where the focus is on two-color pairs. Technically, this was also the case for Dominaria United, but the ease of putting together four- or five-color Domain decks was laughable.
In The Brothers' War, we have much less mana fixing available. There are also a lot fewer dual lands to work with.
This should make for an interesting format, especially for Draft. Picking your colors correctly will be important. While splashes will certainly be possible, they are not nearly as incentivized as they've been in the past few sets.
Instead, we have strong two-color archetypes that feature lots of synergies and are designed to work well within their identities.
Let's take a look at the Limited archetypes for The Brothers' War!
White/Blue (Azorius): Soldiers
UW is stepping away from its fliers and tempo identity slightly for this set. Instead, it will focus on tribal synergies featuring the soldier creature type. WotC has been cooking up a strong soldiers deck for constructed over the past few sets. That continues in The Brothers' War and will trickle down to Limited.
The uncommon signpost, Yotian Tactician is a four-mana lord that rewards you for going wide with your army of soldiers. Meanwhile, the rare signpost, Harbin, Vanguard Aviator, buffs your team and grants flying when you attack with five or more soldiers.
You didn't think UW could stay away from flying forever did you?
It's also worth noting that UW gets another gold-bordered rare in Urza, Prince of Kroog. He emphasizes the soldier theme less, instead buffing your artifact creatures. However, he does create artifact copycat soldier tokens with his static ability.
Green/White (Selesnya): Artifacts and +1/+1 Counters
Stacking counters can get risky if there is plenty of good removal. The Brothers' War packs some solid options in Obliterating Bolt, Unleash Shell, Excavation Explosion, Go for the Throat, Lay Down Arms, Overwhelming Remorse, and Powerstone Fracture.
Nonetheless, GW gives you lots of ways to quickly buff up your creatures. It especially rewards you for having artifacts ETB under your control. Yotian Dissident at uncommon is a great example, allowing you to put a +1/+1 on a target creature you control each time this happens.
It will be interesting to see if this archetype works out. I don't have my hopes up for it, but it could be surprising.
Blue/Black (Dimir): Drawing 2+ Cards
Dimir has always been a glutton for drawing cards. Now, that desire is out of the shadows. This archetype is blatantly asking you to draw two or more cards each turn.
Evangel of Synthesis looks great at uncommon, even showing promise for constructed play. We all know how good looting is (yes, we're looking at you Raffine). When this card ETBs, you get to draw and then discard a card. This is a great trigger for any other draw 2+ payoffs you have. Then, when Evangel can attack, its second ability of getting +1/+0 and menace for drawing two cards becomes relevant.
There isn't another gold-bordered card for UB this time around. However, we think Evangel of Synthesis is good enough.
Black/Red (Rakdos): Sacrifice
Rakdos wants you to sac stuff. Can you believe it?
Much to Oni-Cult Anvil's pleasure, you'll be focused on sacrificing artifacts here. Powerstones will act as nice fodder for this archetype and can also ramp you into big payoffs.
Junkyard Genius looks solid, creating a Powerstone when it ETBs. It also has an activated sacrifice ability, letting you use a creature or artifact to give your team +1/+0, menace, and haste. It costs three mana, but there is no "only once per turn" clause here. This could lead to some pretty big swings as you sacrifice the Powerstones you no longer need for a game-ending attack.
Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa looks great in the rare slot. He offers protection for all your permanents (including himself), forcing your opponent to sacrifice something to target them with ward. Every artifact in your graveyard also gets unearth. If Mishra sticks around, that sort of value will be hard to overcome.
Rakdos is looking quite strong and is the first archetype I hope to try out.
Red/Green (Gruul): Stompy Aggro
In classic Gruul style, RG will allow you to stomp all over your opponents in The Brothers' War Limited. Get ready for big artifacts, trample, and bigger statlines. You should also be able to take advantage of prototype here as half of all cards with the mechanic are either green or red.
Arbalest Engineers is a pseudo command when it hits the battlefield. You get great flexibility by dealing damage to any target, buffing a creature with a +1/+1 counter, haste, and trample for the turn, or making a Powerstone token. That's a lot of value either way for a three-mana bear.
Meanwhile, Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard dares you to play legendary creatures. He serves as protection, allowing you to sacrifice him to give your legends +1/+0 and indestructible for the turn. This looks more like a constructed card since you won't be finding too many on-color legends. However, it looks like a strong choice--even for its 3/3 body alone at just two mana.
Green/Blue (Simic): Powerstones and Ramp
Simic is getting a new look at ramp in The Brothers' War by using Powerstone tokens. We'll see if this can get the job done. Instead of strictly ramping into big creatures and spells, you'll want to power out (no pun intended) beefy artifacts as fast as possible.
Battery Bearer is a strong uncommon, letting you use your creatures as pseudo Powerstones to tap for colorless mana that can't be spent on non-artifact spells. You also get rewarded for going tall by drawing a card whenever you cast something with MV six or greater.
At rare, Tawnos, the Toymaker lets you copy Beast or Bird creatures as an artifact copy. To be honest, this feels more like a commander piece than a Limited buildaround. There are five beasts in the set and only one bird. Sure, it would be spicy to copy your Obstinate Baloth. But otherwise, Tawnos looks meh for Limited.
Red/White (Boros): Go-wide Aggro
Another archetype with two signposts, Boros asks you to go wide with aggressive creatures. Did anyone have that on their Brothers' War bingo card? Yes, we all did.
Fallaji Vanguard is a decent four-drop. Its 2/3 body with first strike may look unassuming at first. However, whenever another creature enters the battlefield, it allows you to give another creature +2/+0 for the turn. A 4/3 or 6/3 first striker is lot scarier.
Meanwhile, Queen Kayla bin-Kroog ensures you never run out of gas. You can four and tap her to discard your hand, draw that many cards, and then dump a creature or artifact with MV 1, 2, and 3 onto the battlefield. What?? This effect could easily win the game if it goes right. However, it is vulnerable to whiffs if you don't build your deck around it and draw into an ideal hand.
Black/Green (Golgari): Graveyard Shenanigans
Hope you like doing shenanigans with the graveyard! That's what you'll get in The Brothers' War version of Golgari.
Skyfisher Spider looks excellent at uncommon. The 3/3 reach body isn't to be laughed at. Meanwhile, you'll be able to sacrifice another creature when it ETBs to destroy a target nonland permanent. It isn't always great value unless you have some sac fodder. However, it's worth noting that this is a "may" ability. The spider also lets you gain 1 life for each creature in your graveyard when it dies. This looks spicy for those grindy games that Golgari loves to play.
Deathbloom Ritualist also rewards you for having creature cards in your graveyard. This elf lets you tap to add X mana of one color, where X is the number of creatures in your graveyard. At five-mana, it is pretty expensive. However, it could be a way to cheat out huge bombs in the late game.
This feels like one of those archetypes that could suffer from too many cases of two-for-oneing yourself or dumping too many things into the yard. However, both green and black feature some of the strongest cards in the set, which could make up for the relatively weak game plan.
Blue/Red (Izzet): Noncreature Spells Matter
Did someone say Young Peezy? Third Path Iconoclast summarizes everything you want to be doing in UR for Brothers' War Limited.
This archetype is all about noncreature spells and the payoffs for casting them. Iconoclast gives us a Young Pyromancer effect, creating a 1/1 soldier artifact token each time you cast one. With the soldier synergy in blue, this can quickly get out of hand. Though two-color pairs are definitely the focus, I feel a spicy Jeskai build floating around somewhere.
This archetype can be fragile in Limited at times, especially with big archetypes that like to go over the top. We'll see if Izzet is strong enough to hold off the onslaught of big artifacts.
White/Black (Orzhov): Recursion
Just like Standard (and arguably Pioneer), black is looking like the best color in Brothers' War Limited. There is a ton of strong removal as well as solid creatures to work with. This makes all archetypes featuring black a bit stronger.
WB has a lot of tools. It also makes use of the graveyard with recursion to build value over the course of a longer game. Hero of the Dunes looks strong in the five-mana slot. It allows you to return a target artifact or creature with MV three or less from your graveyard to the battlefield when it enters. It also buffs all of your MV three or less creatures with +1/+0. This is looking like an early pick for one of the best Limited cards in the set. Not only does it offer immediate value, it can also quickly turn the tide of the battlefield or break a stalemate if it sticks around.
Tricks and More
Each Limited format comes with plenty of tricks, hidden combos, and cool features that are discovered along the way. Though that will come with time, here are a few worth noting.
Everyone's favorite steal and sac combo is back! Use Sibling Rivalry to snatch a creature, swing in, and then sac it with one of Rakdos' many sacrifice synergies.
Giant Growth opens the door for a ton of blowouts in combat. Use it with Combat Thresher, Fallaji Chaindancer, Phyresian Dragon Engine, or Kayla's Command to swing in with a huge double striker.
An important note to keep in mind when drafting this set is how important and prevalent artifacts will be. Things that only target non-artifacts will be less potent. Meanwhile, effects like Disenchant will be more powerful than usual as they'll be able to hit a lot of creatures as well as their usual targets.
There are surely more tricks to come, so let us know your favorite in the comments or on social media!
We've had some incredible Limited formats in the past few years. Hopefully, The Brothers' War will be another.
Try to keep your decks simple as this format is designed to work well with two colors. Focus on synergies, strong payoffs, and good interaction and you'll be poised for success.
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So, what do you think about The Brothers' War? Ready to cast some giant artifacts in Limited? Let us know what cards you're most excited to play and which archetype you think looks the strongest.
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