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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Dec 06 2022 1:00pm
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THE BROTHERS' WAR COMMANDER

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 Several products are released alongside The Brothers' War, including two Commander decks with the same setting, one for each of the quarreling brothers. The creature types follow the lead of the main set, favoring artifact-related tribes like Artificer and Construct, but with a couple twists. The two decks are Esper-colored and Grixis-colored, respectively, so green would be entirely left out of the deal. However, a few new green cards are part of a group of eight additional spells that share the set's expansion icon and legality, but are only found in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters for the regular The Brothers' War release. Among these, there are some very iconic creations, including the main set's namesake saga and a new pseudo-Urzatron land.

  

 Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications, though Limited is occasionally touched upon; the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 NOTE: Alchemy cards, Acorn cards, and other non-tournament legal cards aren't counted toward the tribal totals.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 176
  • New cards: 28
  • New creatures: 18
  • Reprinted cards: 148
  • Reprinted creatures: 46
  • New Legendary creatures: 8
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 2
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 0
  • Creature types affected: 15
  • Tribes with more than one addition: Human (+11), Artificer (+6), Construct (+2)

Advisor: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 78, online: 69

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The woman simply known as "the Archimandrite" (borrowing the term from Eastern Orthodoxy, for some reason) was the head of the Order of the Ivory Towers, a congregation of scholars and bookkeepers. She joined the two pair of academics Hurkyl & Drafna (from the College of Lat-Nam) and archaeologists Loran & Feldon in creating and running The Third Path, the coalition of intellectuals that tried in vain to oppose both Urza and Mishra (the Brotherhood of Gix was also initially with them, but later defected). In keeping with this spirit, the card that depicts the Archimandrite is not part of any the two Commander decks from The Brothers' War, since of course it wouldn't make sense for her to associate with either of the brothers. Instead, it's a Set Boosters and Collector Boosters exclusive.

 All this back story is actually some useful recap to understand the card's abilities. The first one is the same static effect from old school Ivory Tower, which is where the Archimandrite resides. The second and third abilities establish her as a bona fide lord for Advisors, Artificers and Monks – nicely representing the creature types that made up the Third Path union. These effects also tie back to the Ivory Tower lifegain, both feeding on it to improve the team's offensive capability and fueling it by using the fellow scholars to draw cards, possibly post-combat. It's kind of strange that one of these payoffs is a power boost, since we're used to see an Ivory Tower build as a draw-go type of deck, but it doesn't actually interfere with a control plan. All in all, it's a perfect representation of the character (we see her in the artwork fiercely defending her students and/or colleagues), and a great opportunity to batch together all the non-spellcasting academic types and make a solid Commander list out of them in the appropriate color combination: Jeskai.


Artificer: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 177, online: 173

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Since the two Commander decks are meant to be lead by Urza and Mishra, respectively, it's completely expected for the two brothers to get a new incarnation, in addition to the three we had already seen in the main set. They're both at the height of their power, but not yet in their final, transcendent form portrayed in the meld cards from The Brothers' War. Urza, Chief Artificer is a straightforward design intended for affinity decks, where he's going to be a three-mana 4/5 that grants the whole team semi-evasive capability via menace. If that wasn't enough – and it probably wouldn't be for a Commander card – he also creates a "Karn-struct" for free at each of his controller's end steps. Simple but effective.

 Mishra, Eminent One is also very aggressive, since these are the brothers depicted during the most intense phases of the war. And he also generates tokens, this time at the beginning of our combat phase They're temporary token copies, though, a la Kiki-Jiki, but only for noncreature artifacts, which are however turned into 4/4s, so we can attack with them while also retriggering their ETB effects and profiting of any artifact synergy we have around. This Mishra bears more potential for outlandish combos than his brother, but also requires a more specific build-around than Urza does. It's interesting to note their bodies are complementary, with Urza slightly more geared towards defense and Mishra towards offense, and their color identities involve white for Urza and red for Mishra, yet blue and black for both, since they both were brainy and selfish in equal measure.

 On top of the two protagonists, new versions are offered for their primary sidekicks, the forbidden lovers Tawnos and Ashnod. The former gets a third portrayals in which he yet again looks like a completely different character. After the Izzet-colored artifact forker Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice and the Simic-colored tribal extravaganza of Tawnos, the Toymaker, here's Esper-based Tawnos, Solemn Survivor, completing all five color identities for our guy, and oddly preventing any of his incarnations to be included in a deck led by any of the others. This older Tawnos has another very specific ability to copy artifact tokens, and then turning a pair of them into copies of a creature or artifact from our graveyard. It can be actually very powerful in a deck that produces Powerstones, Treasures or Clues, and it's also able to discard for value or self-mill (Tawnos himself provides a bit of the latter). This doesn't describe your ordinary Esper list, though, so it's a very Johnny/Jenny card, as a Tawnos should probably be.

 Ashnod the Uncaring moves the bob-sporting sadist into Grixis, after the monoblack Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist. She's hyper-specialized, in that she exclusively copies the effect of an artifact or creature's activation that caused a permanent to be sacrificed as a cost. And if this seems to spell "perfect commander for sacrifice builds", it's because it's what this Ashnod is – of course there's plenty of competition for that position, but she has good credentials. She's a bit costly at five mana perhaps, but she also functions as a good defensive blocker while we wait to assemble all the synergies she enchances. Granted, it feels wrong that Ahsnod's Altar is not among them, being a mana ability. But imagine returning two targets with Whisper, Blood Liturgist or drawing two cards with any Mishra's Bauble-like egg or even with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Speaking of which, Ashnod in the end redeemed herself by refusing to follow Mishra on his newfound Phyrexian allegiance. She returned to Tawnos the Golgothian Sylex super-weapon she had previously seized from Loran, then she held off Gix long enough for Urza to detonate the Sylex. After the war, Ashnod and Tawnos finally got together and founded their own wizardry school.

 The unsurprisingly large Artificer contingent from these decks is completed by two new black members, both coming off Urza's deck. Wire Surgeons is a simple card with two very unusual keywords, the near-discontinued fear (are these surgeons so scary?), and the former Commander Legends exclusive encore, a cross between unearth and myriad. They grant the latter to all our artifact creatures, which is neat, although a bit awkward on a six-drop, likely forcing us to untap with the Surgeons still alive before being able to use their ability. Wreck Hunter is a little ambusher that can situationally create a lot of Powerstones, but even just ending up with one or two is probably a good deal, if not extremely exciting. Last but not least, we shouldn't forget The Archimandrite acts as a high-profile lord for Artificers, too.


Construct: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 173, online: 172

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two six-mana Constructs to complement all those found in The Brother's War proper. Neither of these is a prototype, but Hexavus is the callback to Tetravus (and Pentavus and Triskelavus) that was sorely missing from the main set. It's basically an updated reworking of the original from Antiquities. It's bigger for the same cost, and can be activated at will, not just as an upkeep trigger – in short, it's actually playable in 2022. It's too bad it doesn't disassemble itself into tokens, so we have no Hexavites to join the ranks of the Tetravites, Pentavites and Triskelavites. Instead, it gives flying to our other creatures or grows bigger by borrowing counters from them. Overall, despite the modernization, it remains a tad underwhelming, having fewer uses than the previous Tetravus follow-ups. It can "filter" any kind of counter into a flying counter, but that's hardly crucial (it can put them on the opponent's creatures too, so they become vulnerable to flyer-killing effects, but that's a silly combo). Notably, they didn't try to remake the more effective Antiquities Construct, Triskelion. It's probably too dangerous to even try to improve on that design.

 The second new mecha is Scavenged Brawler. It's just a finisher with a ton of combat keywords that can graft itself in its entirey onto another creature after it dies, in sort of an aggrandized version of scavenge. Impressive, but unessential, and its clock is fairly slow at four power.


Dragon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 313, online: 308

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A Dragon that grants double strike to everything, on a permanent basis, like a Terror of Mount Velus without the end of turn clause? Well, that might be worth nine mana in Commander, and there's a multiplayer political side to boot. Wait a minute, though. What's offering again? Well, it turns out it's a returning keyword from Betrayers of Kamigawa, of all sets. Randomly, after 17 years, we get a new application of that ability, originally used in a cycle of tribal deities. And let me tell you, saccing any one artifact to get a mana discount and flash is not the same power level as saccing a Fox or a Moonfolk. It's going to be quite common to deploy Blast-Furnace Hellkite as a six-drop or even five-drop, even in decks that aren't particularly focused on artifacts. One could also drop Moltensteel Dragon on turn four using Phyrexian mana, then sac it the following turn and get the Hellkite at instant speed for three generic, potentially one-shotting an opponent that was being attacked by another for half of their life total. Say you wouldn't be impressed.


Drake: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 95, online: 94

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is a nice little critter, along the lines of those Drakes that become better when a specific card type is involved, like Crackling Drake or Enigma Drake. In this case, obviously, the card type is artifact. Which means, after dropping a mana rock on turn three, as one should in Commander, this guy could be a 4/3 on four. And its saboteur ability digs for more artifacts, so the build clearly requires a high concentration of those. In such a deck, Glint Raker becomes must-play. Elsewhere, it's naturally unplayable.


Druid: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 273, online: 269

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Uncertain

 Highlights: Green card means Set Boosters and Collector Boosters exclusive, because green is neither Urza nor Mishra's color (nature really doesn't agree with resource-stripping megalomaniacs). Rootpath Purifier has arguably the most unique ability of all these new cards. But what does making all our lands basic do? Well, the wording affects the library, so every tutor that only works on basics, like Cultivate, now can fetch any land. And we can run Blood Moon without consequences. These examples suggest our World enchantment-like Druid is better served by decks that aren't exclusively monogreen. But the applications for such a radical effect might be many, and are left to all Johnnies and Jennies to investigate, now and in the future.


Elemental: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 505, online: 497

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Underwhelmed by the meld-based avatar of the mighty Titania from The Brothers' War? The Set Boosters and Collectors Boosters fixed it! This Titania, Nature's Force (which calls back to the fact that she's technically the same as beloved Alpha colossus Force of Nature) is much more in line with her previous Commander/Legacy incarnation Titania, Protector of Argoth. In fact, this is pretty much an improvement of that one. For one mana more, we get a larger, non-boltable body; the possibility of reviving lands every turn, not just once, provided they're Forests; and the 5/3 Elemental tokens as a landfall trigger, not a death trigger, which is an immense game-changer. Cracking a fetch with Protector of Argoth in play would generate one token; with Nature's Force, you get two! And sure, once again, they have to be Forests. But that's an insignificant clause if we're using Titania as a commander. And if not, well, Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth is her friend (it's not that far from Argoth, anyway).

 Imagine pairing this Titania with a provider of extra land drops, like Azusa. And every time one of our Elementals dies (not even just a token, for complete tribal synergy), chances are we'll immediately mill the land we need to make a new one. Timmy/Tammy bomb Commander. Expensive, but absolutely affordable for green.

 Note: I would have liked to use Heonhwa Choe's beautiful artwork for Titania, Nature's Force as the header, but I couldn't find a sufficiently hi-res version of it. So I went with Cristi Balanescu's art for Titania, Voice of Gaea from the main set. It's still a striking depiction of the majestic Maro-Sorcerer's human form.


Elf: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 513, online: 499

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Undetermined

 Highlights: Do Elves have more uses for the Purifier than Druids? Probably. Many of them are basic tutors, like Farhaven Elf or Sylvan Ranger. How much this is going to matter is an unresolved question.


Goblin: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 394, online: 378

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Another lone Goblin joins Goblin Blast-Runner from the main set. Unfortunately, it's the kind of card whose effectiveness strictly depends on what our opponent is running, which is beyond our control. I guess it would work in the context of playing an Urza vs. Mishra game, but it's not even part of the two precon decks, it's only found in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters.


Human: +11

   

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 New Tribal Total: 3023, online: 2817

 Related Tribes: Advisor, Artificer, Pilot, Scout, Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Yeah, every single protagonist of this story is still a Human. Moving on.


Pilot: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 13

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Here's a cool twist. With all the mechas in this setting, Pilot should have been a naturally supported creature type, even if the concept didn't exist back in Antiquities (nor for many years afterwards, for that matter). This guy fought in Urza's army, alongside his brother Rendall. He even had his own mech, called Sword One. His partner, piloting Sword Two, was Rica. It's all very anime. Sanwell's card incarnation makes sure to be useful even if we don't run Vehicles, which is important. Basically, he's card advantage for no cost in an artifact-heavy deck, assuming we can always find an artifact creature to attack next to Sanwell, otherwise he's gonna fall in combat after the first couple of assaults – which, granted, might still be good enough.


Scout: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 167, online: 159

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Fairly efficient Plains-tutoring effect, even if it's predicated on us having counters to sacrifice, and unlike cards like Knight of the White Orchid, the potential acceleration doesn't happen until turn three, which means we can't profit from it until turn four (since the land is tapped). It guarantees land drops, though. Or at least one, but we should have some counter generators in the deck, regardless of the strategy. This might well become a Commander staple for white.


Soldier: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 803, online: 742

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This opportunist Soldier fought on Mishra's side, therefore appears in Mishra's precon deck. His body/cost ratio is slightly above-curve, and the sacrifice outlet he provides is efficient, since artifacts can be sacrificed twice, and any artifact that dies independently still generates scrap metal to exploit, and not just by Farid. The process is flavorful and the range of the three modes is varied: we can just grow Farid tall, or go for the tactical option of goading something, hopefully to its death (especially if we're in a one-on-one game), or the strategical option of rummaging – which means Farid is actually both a sacrifice outlet and a discard outlet. Two mana to activate is not very abusable, but as far as fair cards go, Farid is solid.


Warrior: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 904, online: 881

 Related Tribes: Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: In the war-ravaged landscape of The Brother's War, every fighter is a regimented Soldier. This guy is indeed the only Warrior we get in this setting, due to the wilder nature of the Sardian Mountains (in fact, Sardian Cliffstomper could have been a Warrior, too). The origin of Sardian Avenger is the reason why it's a Set Boosters and Collector Boosters exclusive, and not part of one of the two brotherly factions. This said, it's still too situational to have much Constructed sense, unless we want to entertain the notion of putting it in the sideboard of some Legacy aggro list against affinity and the likes.


Wizard: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 927, online: 903

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This Disciple of Caelus Nin (referring to Terisiare's god of time) is a strange Wizard, courtesy of the Set Boosters and Collector Boosters. First of all, it's monowhite, which constitutes a very low percentage of the near-thousand Wizards in existence. And it only contributes one ETB effect, a sort of limited board wipe that uses phasing instead of exile, preventing it from abusing any trigger from returning targets. The way it's worded, in fact, is akin to an Oblivion Ring effect, in that the affected permanents are stopped from phasing back in by the last line of the Disciple's rule text; remove the Disciple, and everything will come back. But since they were phased, there won't be any change of zone, so it's just like they never left. Counting the lands makes it a valid reset button, particularly for a degenerate board state in multiplayer. But it's very frail for its cost and the Disciple's controller's only advantage is having an extra 3/4 body on the battlefield.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS