The Brothers' War Set Review - Gold I
(Yotian Tactician | Art by Fariba Khamseh)
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold I | Gold II | Artifacts | Lands | cEDH
Are You Man or Machine?
Welcome to The Brothers' War set review for the Allied and Shard-aligned cards. We've moved full swing into Powerstone tokens and even more Meld cards that we can have in the command zone. This set is jam-packed with tons of powerful tech, so let's not waste any time and just jump right into it!
Mishra, Claimed by Gix
Mishra, Claimed by Gix is one-half of a Meld card, with Phyrexian Dragon Engine being his other half. Together, they'll form Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia. Mishra has a simple life-drain ability that we could play into by going wide with tokens. Decks that typically go wide might want Mishra in the 99 just for his effect alone! This effect is awesome alongside Hanweir Garrison, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, and especially with extra combat steps from a Cruel Celebrant or Moraug, Fury of Akoum.
However, as our commander, I'd imagine our main goal is to Meld him with the Dragon Engine and have a large 9/9 beater that'll dominate the board once he's complete. Use Entomb and Goblin Engineer effects to get the Engine into the 'yard and Unearth it ASAP. Once transformed, each of Mishra's modes feels like it has some relevance to it, though if we're building into a creature-heavy deck, I think the first mode we choose is being able to give all our creatures menace and trample and give other creatures -1/-1 to weaken any blockers we might face. With just a few swings, Mishra will make short work of his enemies.
Sarinth Greatwurm is one powerhouse of a creature. Whenever ANY land enters under ANYONE'S control, we creature a tapped Powerstone token. In general, I think Powerstones are pretty weak, given that we can't cast nonartifact spells, but that doesn't stop us from activating abilities of anything we have on board, like Helix Pinnacle or Treasure Vault.
I think the true power of Sarinth Greatwurm will be in how many artifact tokens it can make in a single turn cycle. We've been seeing more decks pop up just around the idea of artifact volume. Cards like Marionette Master and Rampage of the Clans have had a huge resurgence with the popularity of Treasures, Food, and plenty of other artifact tokens. It doesn't matter what they are, we just want a lot of them. Reckless Fireweaver and Fathom Fleet Swordjack will be very powerful in a deck with Sarinth, and I particularly recommend this card for any Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith, Kodama of the East Tree, or Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer players.
Urza, Lord Protector
Our second Meld card in the set is Urza, Lord Protector, which pairs with The Mightstone and Weakstone to form Urza, Planeswalker. The melded side is a sizable planeswalker that can activate loyalty abilities twice a turn. Each ability is very useful, especially since we can make bodies that can protect Urza, Planeswalker, and he can also reach his ultimate the turn after he transforms!
Urza's front side is simple and helps cast artifacts, instants, and sorceries for one mana cheaper. He's not as strong as Mishra, Claimed by Gix, and we'd have to pay seven just to Meld, but we're in colors that can easily tutor for the The Mightstone and Weakstone, what with all of blue's Fabricate effects out there.
Unlike Mishra, there's very little to build around for the front half, though perhaps he's a go-to for a Mystic Forge and Sensei's Divining Top combo deck? I imagine most of the decks we'll see here will be focused on getting him Melded ASAP to really take over the game. Much like Urza, Lord High Artificer, this commander seems destined for an relentlessly powerful game experience.
Having the option to pay mana to activate Bladecoil Serpent multiple times can be pretty strong. At a minimum, drawing three cards for six mana isn't a great rate, but we can combine that with making opponents discard cards (or potentially discarding their whole hand). The third mode isn't as strong, but having the option to make Bladecoil Serpent a large trampling creature could help finish some games.
I think the real strength of Bladecoil Serpent will be in decks that like to go into the late game and will have a ton of mana to dump into the Serpent. Given that it's three colors, Grixis deck will have to look at their mana base to see if they have enough mana to support the effect they desire. I suspect Grixis decks that care about casting artifact creatures are a pretty rare strategy, so I don't think the Serpent will have legs in EDH (pardon the pun).
Clay Champion offers a similar modal effect to Bladecoil Serpent. We can invest mana into it to make it bigger and/or make two other creatures taller. Is the investment worth it? I don't think so. Selesnya colors already have more consistent ways of achieving this, including better X spells. Verdurous Gearhulk strikes me as a better candidate because of its flexibility, trample, and that it doesn't have to be cast to get the effect, so blink or reanimation will still trigger the effect. Sorry, Clay Champion, I just don't think you measure up.
Mishra, Eminent One
Here we have our first card from the accompanied Commander precons! Mishra, Eminent One copies our noncreature artifacts and turns them into 4/4 Constructs that we can use to beat down our opponents. Mishra's ability is most effective with cards like Ichor Wellspring that have enters-the-battlefield and goes-to-the-graveyard effects. Pair it with Sundial of the Infinite to keep those tokens around for good!
Oh, and Mishra has a sick combo with Gonti's Aether Heart, too. The new token Mishra makes will be legendary, but it will have a new name, so you can activate the new token, exile it, and get an extra turn. And then do it all again next turn. And the turn after that. And the turn after that....
If you're looking to build Mishra, but not sure what artifacts are worth including, then I'd take some pointers from Osgir, the Reconstructor. His page is full of artifacts that benefit from being copied and going to the graveyard. He's in Lorehold rather than Grixis colors, so there's not a perfect one-to-one, but I think it's a worthy comparison, since most artifacts are colorless anyway. Given Osgir's popularity, I expect Mishra to jump in popularity just the same.
Urza, Chief Artificer
Urza, Chief Artificer wants artifacts, and lots of them. Urza gets cheaper to cast the more artifact creatures we have out, and he makes massive Constructs with menace. Myr and Thopter tokens will be our best friends in this deck, as they'll help us boost the power of the Constructs while also allowing us to easily recast Urza.
I think my only issue with him is that he's very self-sufficient. He makes the Constructs that can later make him cheaper and he even gives them evasion to ensure they get through. It feels like he doesn't need much in order to get out of hand.
Regardless, this deck will look very familiar to Esper artifacts players. Bronze Guardian, Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge, Ethersworn Canonist, Master of Etherium, Thought Monitor, tons of artifact lands... this is a powerful commander with a lot of well-established tools at his disposal.
Tawnos, Solemn Survivor
It took me a couple of reads to grasp what Tawnos wants us to do, and even one more read-through to understand that the thing we get to copy has to be an artifact token. To me, it feels like we want to use his second ability first if we want to have something substantial to copy. So, where does that put us?
I think we want to be in a self-mill strategy that has a Treasure subtheme. Treasures would help us not only pay for Tawnos's ability but also give us something to sacrifice. We could focus on Powerstone tokens, but it's rough since they can't produce colored mana for Tawnos' second ability. From there, I think the most fun we can have with him is recurring powerful creatures out of our graveyard and copying them with Tawnos' ability.
Some spicy inclusions would be cards such as Soul Foundry. Exile a creature we want and get a token copy of it, and if it's an artifact creature, we can just copy it with Tawnos' first ability. We can also think of his second ability as a way to cheat out huge artifacts or creatures, like Agent of Treachery, and if we copy them enough times, we can take advantage of his draw effect at our end step. Tawnos is a weird commander, but I think if you want to build around him, you can take some inspiration from Araumi of the Dead Tide, a commander that wants to self-mill into things that can be copied from the graveyard.
Ashnod the Uncaring
I believe Ashnod the Uncaring is the most explosive of the newer commanders from the precons. We can copy Goblin Engineer's activated ability to bring back two artifacts. We can get four lands off of Burnished Hart. From the likes of Wayfarer's Bauble to even something as simple as Commander's Sphere, she works so well with so many Commander staples that I think Ashnod will prove to be a powerful Grixis commander.
Seriously, the synergies seem endless. With Audacious Reshapers, we're morphing into two artifacts. Granted, that's at the risk of losing a ton of life in the process, but that's a small price to pay for progress! Oh, and how does draining the entire table for 20 with Bolas's Citadel sound? Ashnod provides so much value that we might end up getting lost in all the things she can do. Just make sure to include finishers, like Marionette Master and Mayhem Devil, so that the deck has a way to reliably close out games even when it's getting lost in all the amazing synergies.
Rares, Uncommons, & Commons
Hajar, Loyal Bodyguard
'Legends matter' decks will love a legendary creature that can also serve to protect the team. Dominaria United brought forth a lot of 'legends matter' commanders, so Hajar will slot in nicely with those decks. Plus, this gives Jodah, the Unifier a smaller legendary creature to Cascade into.
I doubt it'll see much play as a commander itself, but since it's so low-costed, Hajar could serve to be an easy way to protect your board over the course of the game.
Harbin, Vanguard Aviator
Soldier tribal has gotten a boost in support in this set, and Harbin, Vanguard Aviator serves to be a solid commander. Needing five Soldiers isn't a hard threshold to meet if we're making Soldier tokens; Call the Coppercoats, Martial Coup, and Finale of Glory are all powerful spells that give us more than enough bodies to trigger Harbin and swing with an army. This commander is straightforward, but a great new step for a fairly unexplored tribe.
Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa
I love seeing ward on commanders, especially ones where the ward payment isn't simply 'pay two mana'. Having an anthem that protects our permanents can prove to be very strong, and opponents being forced to sacrifice a permanent in order to do so can be very costly. If they're not running a token theme or making any expendable Treasure tokens, it'll be difficult for opponents to get rid of our things without losing something of theirs. I also like that the anthem isn't just for artifacts, even though we're probably leaning more into an artifact theme, just based on his second ability.
The Unearth synergizes very nicely with artifacts like Coveted Jewel. Draw three cards, then net back the three mana used to Unearth it! Plus you won't have to worry about your opponents getting it, because it exiles itself at the end of the turn. This will be a very fun commander to build around, and again, look for Sundial of the Infinite if you want to keep some of those tokens around for good!
Tocasia, Dig Site Mentor
Surveil tribal isn't something I saw coming from Bant, but nonetheless, giving all your creatures the ability to either fill your graveyard or manipulate the top of your library could be a fun build-around. Make sure you pack your Enhanced Surveillance!
Tocasia's second ability is similar to Nethroi, Apex of Death, allowing us to bring back any number of artifacts with mana value 10 or less, but it costs eight mana to activate and she has to be in the graveyard to do so, which feels restrictive unless we include sac outlets or let her die in a board wipe. That's probably the best way to think of Tocasia: she's a vigilance-granter that filters draw steps, and if your board blows up, she can rescue the most important pieces back out of the graveyard next turn to get you back in the game. Pair with lots of artifact creatures and artifacts that create artifact creature tokens, plus other white mass reanimation like Dance of the Manse and Brilliant Restoration!
Urza, Prince of Kroog
Urza, Prince of Kroog is the perfect example of a commander that wants all those Powerstone tokens. Six is a lot to pay to copy one artifact, but if we're leaning into Powerstones, then we shouldn't have any problems activating this once or twice a turn.
The anthem is nice. Check the page for Tempered Steel, which shows up in about 8,000 decks. +2/+2 turns all our copied artifacts into 3/3s, so they'll be a decent size either for attacking or blocking. It also gives the deck a nudge into an aggro strategy that can help give the deck a wincon that doesn't rely on an artifact combos. Azorius is known to be durdly, so maybe Urza, Prince of Kroog's anthem will inform an artifact creature token theme that can dish out some combat damage. Personally, I vote for Thopter tribal. Sai, Master Thopterist, Thopter Spy Network, Access Denied, Efficient Construction... that's a lot of power in the air! Don't forget your Training Grounds to activate Urza more easily!
There's a lot going on here for an uncommon. Junkyard Genius enters with a Powerstone token that can later help activate his ability on the next turn. He's a sac outlet, a haste-enabler, an anthem, and he can give your team evasion. Plus, if we need to, he can be activated multiple times for an additional +1/+0. Is that worthwhile? I think so. The buff and the menace are better than they look. I think Junkyard Genius will be a great budget option in Rakdos Sacrifice and go-wide decks, and could really catch opponents off guard with just how much it can actually do.
Becoming One with the Machines
The design space for this set feels like a continuation of the last two we've seen from Dominaria United and even the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks. We're seeing an influx of black artifact recursion spells, more Unearth tech, and even more legendary matters cards that support what we've seen from Dominaria United.
What do you think of Powerstones? Are they "fixed" Treasure tokens? Will there become an overabundance of them and prove to be too strong? Will you be brewing any of the new Meld commanders? Let me know in the comments down below!