The 600 - Predicting the Popularity of The Brothers' War Commanders

(The Brothers’ War Concept Art | Art by Chris Rahn)

Classic Sibling Rivalry

Move over Liam and Noel: Urza and Mishra have the real Brothers' War.

We're back for another edition of The 600the article series where we guess how popular new commanders will become after one year of circulation. The line is 600 decks, so every commander gets an "Over" for more than 600 or an "Under" for fewer. There's also one "Can't-Miss Pick," which is my lock for the set (assuming it's actually correct).

Alright, people. Get your robots ready. Here come our picks for The Brothers' War!


Loran, Disciple of History

This reads like Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle to me, only with a narrower trigger and no flying. Also, she seems to be a fan of desert artifacts, so maybe she’s the one who stole that obelisk in Utah. If so, I have no choice but to assign an Under. I wanted a selfie with that thing!

My prediction: Under

Loran of the Third Path

Wait, didn't I just roast you? Oh, I see: this is another version of the same character. Prepare to see this gimmick several more times.

This version of Loran offers card draw in mono-white... for multiple players. That could assist with table politics and/or support a Group Hug archetype, but it’s too low-impact to excel in either respect. I’ll take the fourth path, thanks.

My prediction: Under

Myrel, Shield of Argive

I like a Grand Abolisher in the command zone, and I like legit token engines even more. The Soldier typeline on those tokens will matter, but the artifact subtype should matter even more, especially in this set. An excellent commander.

My prediction: Over

Sanwell, Avenger Ace

Now I remember why Wizards did away with the retro card frame. Does that say Samwell? Sewell? Sawmill?

Whatever the name is, this commander offers an interesting spin on mono-white card draw. Though it's maybe not the most reliable (you might rip an artifact you can't cast), it's still effective. Vehicles are the obvious inclusion, since they tap our commander without risking its life in combat.

Still, this card feels pretty vanilla to me. There are far splashier white-based artifact commanders, such as Osgir, the Reconstructor or the versions of Urza we're about to meet. I think our illegible friend here will fail to find the same popularity.

My prediction: Under

Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam

Returning artifacts to hand can be beneficial, but you'd much prefer that ability at U, not 1U. Also, though copying artifacts is good, we'll be seeing another commander that does it better, and offers three colors (spoiler: it's Tawnos, Solemn Survivor).

My prediction: Under

Hurkyl, Master Wizard

Keep a checklist handy for Hurkyl, because she cares about a lot of card types.

Even so, I doubt she's drawing you many cards. Casting an instant and sorcery in the same turn, then hitting two more within your top five cards seems possible. Doing the same with artifacts, enchantments, and especially planeswalkers seems more farfetched.

An interesting design, but not destined for mastery.

My prediction: Under

Urza, Powerstone Prodigy

Lil Urzi Vert might've been busted if not for the once-per-turn trigger limit. As it stands, he'll be fine in the 99 of blue-based artifact decks, but will rarely lead them.

My prediction: Under

Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist

This is an unusual card, not least of all because it seems to depict a nightmarish visit to the dentist.

Since Ashnod is just one mana, you can likely create several Powerstones before anyone finds anything to block with. Her five-mana ability is less impressive, yet still, ramping quick and fast should prove potent. I’m in on both this card and my yearly tooth cleaning (as long as it doesn't look like the aforementioned picture).

My prediction: Over

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

I don't know what's sweeter: the artwork by Anna Podedworna, or the card itself. EDH players will care most about the latter, especially the faux-Edric, Spymaster of Trest text.

Of course, the reason everyone's playing this card is the seven-mana activated ability. I'm no rules lawyer, but to my understanding, you can play those cards for the rest of the game, even when Gix is absent from the battlefield. Just don't forget to pack five-color lands.

My prediction: Over (Can't-Miss Pick!)

Farid, Enterprising Salvager

It's a testament to artifact synergies that even an artifact with no text has its uses. Farid offers three ways to use Scrap tokens, and there are plenty more, including cost reduction for Affinity or Improvise and sacrifice fodder for stuff like Daretti, Scrap Savant.

Speaking of Daretti, he's the unquestioned king of mono-red artifacts. Farid is sweet, but I don't think he's sweet enough to usurp the throne.

My prediction: Under

Feldon, Ronom Excavator

I haven't been this appalled since I heard Chris Pratt do the voice of Mario.

Seriously, you have to jump through so many hoops to make Feldon work! You're probably pinging him with stuff like Prodigal Pyromancer, yet you'll need to augment his body to see multiple cards. Furthermore, the cards must be cast prior to turn's end or else you lose them to exile. That can lead to awkward turns where, to paraphrase The Talking Heads on "Psycho Killer," you're pinging a lot, but you're not casting anything.

I can see scenarios where this card is sweet, but it's ultimately too wheel-spinny to earn 600 decks.

My prediction: Under

Mishra, Excavation Prodigy

Like his brother, Mishra, Boy Genius would be borderline busted without the once-per-turn limitation. This kid has potential, but he's not ready to be a leader yet.

My prediction: Under

Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea

Gonna be honest, I was bored by this card until I read the word "untap."

Chaining five-mana creatures into each other sounds pretty sick. Problem is, most online discussion I've seen is all about shoehorning Gwenna into other decks, such as Raggadragga, Goreguts Boss, Neyith of the Dire Hunt, and Animar, Soul of Elements. Seems she's destined for the 99.

My prediction: Under

Titania, Nature's Force

If Titania, Protector of Argoth and Omnath, Locus of Rage had a child, it would be Titania, Nature's Force. (Never mind the mindbending implications of Titania being her own mother.)

She's probably not quite as good as either of those, yet she's still pretty interesting. For example, with Ashaya, Soul of the Wild, all your creatures enter with a 5/3 Elemental buddy. That's just one little scenario. I'm sure there are many more.

My prediction: Over

Titania, Voice of Gaea

Speaking of Titania, here's another Titania.

At first look, she's not quite as impressive as her previous version. Gaining life per land in the bin is nice, but it'll never win you the game (Aetherflux Reservoir notwithstanding).

But here's the rub: Titania can Meld, and she can do it easily. Green has oodles of nonbasic land tutors, including Sylvan Scrying, Crop Rotation, and Ulvenwald Hydra. Such cards will effectively multiply the number of Argoth, Sanctum of Natures in your deck.

A */* with four relevant keywords that animates lands and casts a free Splendid Reclamation when it ETBs sounds pretty good to me. You too?

My prediction: Over

Harbin, Vanguard Aviator

This is one of the best Soldier tribal commanders we've ever seen. My only hesitancy? The color identity.

This would make far more sense as a Boros commander, for example. But hey, blue does provide a handful of decent shield-counter Soldiers from Streets of New Capenna, along with counterspells, card draw, and some new Soldiers from the rest of this set. I think that'll prove good enough.

My prediction: Over

Urza, Lord Protector

Here's your ideal curve:

If my prior experience with Meld is any indication, this scenario will unfold exactly zero times, but just like Vince with the ShamWow, we're not selling reality, here, we're selling a dream. I believe there are far more than 600 dreamers out there.

My prediction: Over

Urza, Prince of Kroog

Man, I thought Urza, Lord Protector was sweet. I like Tempered Steel in the Command Zone, and I really like copying my best artifacts. Urza beats down with indestructible artifacts, like Darksteel Ingot, or he goes infinite with stuff like Powerstone Shard and Thousand-Year Elixir. Seems like an inkroogable commander to me.

My prediction: Over

Mishra, Claimed by Gix

Of our three Meld commanders, I think Mishra, Claimed by Gix is the best. Why? Because even if you never draw Phyrexian Dragon Engine, you've got a relevant threat. Imagine attacking with several evasive creatures and/or expendable tokens, then draining the table for tons. Mishra need not even risk himself in combat!

That's just the floor. The Dragon Engine is meh, but when you Meld it with Mishra, you get an unbelievable amount of value. Seems like Gix has been a positive influence.

My prediction: Over

Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa

I take it Mak Fawa is the hulking dragon engine thing in the background? If so, it comes in a long line of famous Maks, including Mac Jones, MacBeth, and Mac computers (C instead of K, but you get the idea). The ward condition is definitely a deterrent, and Unearth for artifacts is excellent, especially if you cheat with Sundial of the Infinite.

My prediction: Over

Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard

Hajar supports Gruul go-wide legends, I guess? Seems like you could pick either strategy and find something better. Appreciate the loyalty, but otherwise, I’m off it.

My prediction: Under

Queen Kayla bin-Kroog

There are literally thousands of cards one can retrieve with Queen Kayla, but here are a few of my favorites:

Feels like she's in the same corner as Osgir, the Reconstructor, but I believe there's enough difference to support 600 decks, if not more.

My prediction: Over

Tawnos, the Toymaker

Simic gets another toy, this time in the form of a toymaker. Just imagine doubling up on Ledger Shredder, Rampaging Baloths, and Thragtusk. Best of all, how about doubling your Craterhoof Behemoth? Talk about win-more.

I am a little worried Tawnos is too similar to Volo, Guide to Monsters, a commander who's already very popular. However, I think the tribal component here will prove too appealing to ignore.

My prediction: Over

Tawnos, Solemn Survivor

You know that feeling when you listen to someone on a podcast for years, then you finally see what they look like, and their voice almost never syncs up with their actual visage?

That's kind of how I feel about Tawnos. Based on his name, I was envisioning some sort of hulking brute. Instead, he looks kinda like King Viserys.

Looks notwithstanding, Tawnos is a decent little artifact engine. With Treasures, Clues, Food, and Powerstones all touching these colors, you should have no problem generating fodder to copy and sacrifice. From there, he's basically a reanimator commander that even mills cards to fuel himself. Put all that into a popular three-color package, and I'd listen to Tawnos's podcast any day.

My prediction: Over

Urza, Chief Artificer

We've now received several cards that create the Karnstruct token, and they're always good. I believe Urza, Chief Artificer will be no exception, especially considering that he gives them menace and they reduce his casting cost later in the game. Despite wearing a coat that makes him resemble Willy Wonka, I'm in on Urza.

My prediction: Over

Ashnod the Uncaring

Honey badger don't care, and neither does Ashnod. Here's a short list of cards that seem bonkers with her:

The thing I love about evergreen cards like this is they're only going to get better. Sacrifice has been and will be part of the game forever, so each new set should bring new toys to play with.

My prediction: Over

Mishra, Eminent One

This version of Mishra essentially Crews Vehicles for free, earns great value on enters- and leaves-the-battlefield abilities and gives you something to do with all those Treasures appearing on every card these days. I especially like him with Marionette Master and Spine of Ish Sah.

My prediction: Over

Tocasia, Dig Site Mentor

Pro: Tocasia offers a hyper-flavorful use of Surveil. Con: That bottom ability has an unbelievable setup cost. Not only is it outrageously expensive, but you need to get her into the graveyard somehow first. Also, while all those artifacts are buried in your graveyard waiting to be excavated, they’re sitting ducks for a Bojuka Bog. My recommendation: find another mentor.

My prediction: Under

The Archimandrite

An Advisor, an Artificer, and a Monk walk into a bar.

The Advisor says, "You want my advice? Don't build around Advisors. There aren't that many of us."

The Artificer says, "Yeah, but Changelings, bro."

The Monk says nothing, because the Monk has taken a vow of silence.

Alright, enough of this joke. The Archimandrite collects just about the most random three tribes onto one card. That said, weird tribal payoffs command a massive portion of the EDH metagame. I guess that's the punchline?

My prediction: Over

Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter

This card is, for some reason, not a Vehicle, even though it looks like something out of Maximum Overdrive. Instead, we get a Shimmer Myr in the command zone that gets bigger the bigger the spells you cast. Not bad, but Shimmer Myr reads better than it plays. Plus, you'll need to accumulate four or five counters before this thing comes close to being a legitimate threat.

My prediction: Under


Recap

Over (16)

Under (13)

Can't-Miss Pick

Well, that was tiring. Wizards is churning out content faster than King Gizzard lately, so I'm going to end this and get some sleep. You never know when another set might drop. Until then!

Kyle A. Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His current favorite card is Titania, Gaea Incarnate. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.