Last updated on April 26, 2023
Brotherhood's End | Illustration by Bryan Sola
The Brothers’ War is packed full of incredible cards across all rarities and for just about every format. I’ve seen some crazy sets in my time, but this one takes the cake for the sheer amount of powerful cards in a Standard-legal set.
But as with Liliana of the Veil, not all of them will have a big impact in just Standard. Power creep has, well, crept. Cards that were once incredible in Modern are now barely played in Standard, and this set could either further that creep or just be another example of its effect.
Which cards from The Brothers’ War are the best, and how might they perform? Let’s jump in and find out!
#31. Painful Quandary
Painful Quandary returns from the dead and gets its first reprint since Scars of Mirrodin, and that’s fitting given the context of the story within The Brothers’ War and Dominaria United.
This card absolutely terrorized my Commander games when I was 13, and I fully expect to have to play against it again soon enough. It’s a decent enchantment at five mana to start taxing your opponents, and it’s really strong in pox/discard-based Commander decks with commanders like Tinybones, Trinket Thief.
This card helps power-up a fun style of play, but it isn’t so powerful that you’ll start immediately overwhelming precons. It’s even a decent win condition, and I’ve personally seen players be absolutely blindsided by this for upwards of 25 life.
#30. Titania’s Command
Titania's Command feels very underwhelming overall. It’s a good card, no doubt, but six mana to choose two abilities (two of which just make two 2/2s or put two +1/+1 counters on something) just feels bad.
I understand why it’s a “choose two,” and it’s because the second ability literally tutors out any lands from your graveyard into play tapped. You can get combos like Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers. This card is sort of the Tooth and Nail of lands, while the other three abilities are used based on what’s best for you.
Would I like to see more diversity in powerful abilities rather than one gigantic one and three minor ones? Yes. Is it still very good as a combo piece with graveyard hate? Also yes.
#29. Clay Champion
Clay Champion seems like a great value card for Selesnya (). For you can get a 8/8. For you get a 2/2 that puts a +1/+1 counter on four other creatures, and for you can get a 5/5 that also buffs two others.
This is generic great value, especially in Limited, and the in the mana cost lets this thing really shine in Commander. If you manage to really ramp out you can get a lot of value from your excessive mana regardless of whether you’re playing some generic big creature strategy or a go-wide tokens deck.
There are four other pain lands in The Brothers’ War to match the mixed set printed in Dominaria United. Certain lands from both the allied and enemy color pairings just don’t exist in the lore yet since the story messes around with time travel, so we’re getting a little bit of both in each set.
This time around players get to enjoy fresh printings and lower prices on Llanowar Wastes, Battlefield Forge, Brushland, and Underground River. Since Adarkar Wastes got a reprint as the sixth land in Dominaria United, WotC gave players Fortified Beachhead to help insulate the color pairing in Limited and give Azorius () a great soldier-based dual land.
#27. Queen Kayla bin-Kroog
Next up is Queen Kayla bin-Kroog, a Boros () legendary creature that wheels your hand and reanimates three creatures and/or artifacts with mana values of one, two, and three.
It’s a neat card that combines red’s wheeling functionality with white and Boros’ cheap artifacts and creatures. I don’t think it’ll stir up too much trouble in Standard, but it may prove an effective hatebears or aggro commander in EDH.
#26. Fortified Beachhead
Fortified Beachhead is an Azorius dual land that enters tapped unless you control or reveal a soldier card. It’s sure to make an impact on the Azorius soldier theme WotC is pushing so hard with this set.
It even has a great activated ability that buffs all your soldiers with +1/+1 until end of turn for just mana and tapping the Beachhead. That’s a great finisher!
#25. Saheeli, Filigree Master
The new Saheeli planeswalker is Saheeli, Filigree Master, which costs four mana to come in with three loyalty counters. Overall I don’t think this card will be too impactful in Standard just looking at its stats. That could change as soon as some unforeseen synergies are realized or more cards are printed.
Its +1 lets you scry and tap an untapped artifact to then draw a card. Its -2 creates two 1/1 flying Thopters that have haste until end of turn. Its 4-loyalty ultimate gives you an emblem that permanently gives your artifact creatures +1/+1, plus a discount on your artifact spells.
I could see this going a long way mostly because it can activate its extremely powerful ultimate the next turn. You’re starting to cook with lots of gas if you throw this in a superfriends Commander deck that can activate it twice.
#24. Portal to Phyrexia
Portal to Phyrexia is certainly one of the coolest cards in the set, but just how powerful is it? It comes in at a whopping nine mana for an artifact, but it has an immediate impact once it enters the battlefield by forcing each opponent to sacrifice three creatures. If it lives to your next upkeep it allows you to put any creature from a graveyard into play under your control as a Phyrexian.
This is the kind of awesome big-mana bomb that I love to play in Commander. It’ll do wonders there. And while I don’t think it’ll see much play at all in any 60-card Constructed format, never say never.
#23. Surge Engine
Surge Engine is a 2-mana 3/2 with defender that has a pseudo-evolve mechanic with blue. It can lose its defender for , become a 5/4 for , and draw you three cards for once later on. It’s a solid A in Limited, but it’s at the mythic level.
This may be a great way to hold the board early and get value throughout the game if some fast and heavy blue control decks get moving in Standard. These kinds of cards are great way to spend mana when the interaction you held up doesn’t find a target. It’s no Evolved Sleeper, but it certainly has potential.
#22. Skystrike Officer
Skystrike Officer, unlike a lot of the previous cards, will probably see some serious Standard play in the Azorius soldier deck. This creature does a lot of what you want in a tribal deck’s creature. It’s a soldier itself, it creates more soldiers, and it allows you to use unnecessary soldiers for something other than chump-blocking or attacking into blockers.
This is great and, other decks permitting, will be a fantastic 3-drop.
#21. Myrel, Shield of Argive
Speaking of great soldier creatures, here’s another curve-definer and bomb in Myrel, Shield of Argive. This 4-mana 3/4 legendary soldier locks down your opponents during your turn, which negates any attempts at combat tricks. It even creates more soldiers whenever it attacks.
These go-wide abilities are sure to be impactful in Standard. There’s at least one solid rally effect in Fortified Beachhead, and I’m excited to see how this deck turns out.
#20. Bladecoil Serpent
Bladecoil Serpent is another one of these colorless creatures that gives you different effects depending on the amount of mana of each color you pay. At the minimum six mana you can either draw three cards, have an opponent discard three cards, or give your creatures +3/+0, trample, and haste until end of turn.
The card draw here is immaculate, and this is really strong even for a mono-blue creature. Six mana to get a decently-statted creature and draw three? Sign me up.
This will be a great on-curve bomb if an Izzet () control deck pops up, possibly with artifacts and the new Saheeli. Giving your flying artifacts +2/+0 and trample on top of drawing a card or some other combination is really sweet.
This also gets bigger the longer the game goes on, and I truly fear some maniac casting this to draw five or four in some drawn-out mono-blue control matchup. (I’m the maniac).
#19. Urza’s Sylex
Karn's Sylex appeared in the last set, and this time Urza's Sylex shows up (the original Sylex?) It comes in at three mana and has an activated ability that costs , tapping, and exiling it to destroy all other permanents except for six lands each player chooses to keep.
Whenever the Sylex is exiled you get to pay to tutor out a planeswalker and reveal it before putting it into your hand. It’s a neat board wipe, and it may have some play as a turn 3 play and turn 4 wipe in some white-based control deck in Standard.
But it’s very easy to see coming unless you have the seven mana to pay for the combo up front. You also need to have an impactful walker to play the next turn because your opponent will likely just refill.
#18. Phyrexian Fleshgorger
Phyrexian Fleshgorger is set to be a total Limited bomb, and possibly a decent 3-drop in Standard. Ward for three life on a 3-mana 3/3 with menace and lifelink is really good on a generic creature.
Black already has lots of great choices for 3-drops, so it’ll be interesting to see where this card finds a home.
#17. One with the Multiverse
I love One with the Multiverse. It’s the epitome of massive enchantments that made me fall in love with Commander and Magic as a whole.
This is a whopping 8-mana blue enchantment that gives you access to the top of your library and consistent free spells to play. You’re set to have a great time if it resolves and your opponents have no real enchantment removal (an increasingly common problem in pods). Truly the blue equivalent to Bolas's Citadel.
#16. Hurkyl’s Final Meditation
Hurkyl's Final Mediation blew me away when I first saw it. This is a big spell, and it does big things when it resolves. Bouncing all nonlands for seven on your turn is basically just a worse Cyclonic Rift, but the ability to end an opponent’s turn if you pay the extra three is really something.
Will it dominate cEDH? No, not even close. Will it lead to fun and interesting interactions in other levels of Commander? Absolutely, and I can’t wait.
#15. Titania, Gaea Incarnate
The next three cards are the final forms of melded pairs. I’m going to rate them based on the final form without paying much attention to the bases. Some of them are inevitably better because of the guaranteed value of one of the cards required to meld, but that’s an entire topic in itself.
First is Titania, Gaea Incarnate, the melded combination of Titania, Voice of Gaea and Argoth, Sanctum of Nature. This is a massive elemental avatar, and it has the stats and abilities to reflect that.
It gets its combat stats based on the number of lands you control, and it even returns all lands from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped when it enters. At worst you’re looking at something like a 7/7 with vigilance, reach, trample, haste, and an ability to animate lands for just .
This is a super fun creature and there are some great shenanigans to get into with reanimating lands that could further this creature’s capabilities. I wish it had indestructible, but that may be going too far given how early this card can be melded in certain Commander decks.
#14. Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia
Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia is the melded combination of Mishra, claimed by Gix[/car] and [card]Phyrexian Dragon Engine. Mishra met a tragic fate on Phyrexia, and this amalgamation of machine and man is as strong a method of foreshadowing what’s to come with Karn and Ajani as it is grotesque.
Lost to Phyrexia is a whopping 9/9 that lets you choose between three abilities when it enters the battlefield. Its options are all great, and they help to stabilize the board after you combine your two powerful permanents. I think that the discard and deal three options are the most powerful of the six, while the remaining of the four are the flex choices depending on the situation.
#13. Urza, Planeswalker
Urza, Planeswalker is an absolute bomb, and that’s because you need both Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and Weakstone on board before you pay the seven mana to meld them. On top of getting two activations per turn you have five abilities to choose from. You can’t activate the ultimate immediately, but you can still get a lot done.
Exiling a permanent and then getting a massive discount is pretty sweet. Doubling down on the discount is really strong, too, mostly because you’re going up to nine loyalty on top of getting some of the best effects on the card.
#12. Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim
There’s lots to look forward to in Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim. It naturally ramps up in loyalty very fast, and it has a defensive ability to create a growing 2/2 Spirit token.
The ultimate ability is really something too. For 12 loyalty counters, which is a lot, you get to shuffle every nonland permanent an opponent controls into their library, minus one.
Getting to 12 loyalty when this comes in at four isn’t too hard, either. If you wheel and draw seven then you’re already at 11. Just one more draw source and you ruin another player’s night.
#11. The Stasis Coffin
It’s certainly no Teferi's Protection, but The Stasis Coffin offers a very important defensive measure for instant-kill combos in all colors for Commander. It doesn’t save your permanents but it does force your opponents to have another source of removal ahead of their combo.
I see this making ground in mono-white hatebear decks as another way to insulate itself from combos. Who knows, this could easily flop.
#10. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor stands to be an excellent mono-black commander. It incentivizes your opponents to beat each other up while still offering you the same level of card draw.
The activated ability on this card allows you to discard X cards from your hand to then flip the top X cards of an opponent’s library. You then get all those lands and can cast all those spells for free.
#9. Legion to Ashes
Legion to Ashes looks like a great removal spell for both Standard and Commander. It’s three mana to exile a nonland permanent, and it hits token decks like a truck.
This is currently the biggest card standing in the way of Azorius soldier decks taking over. Thank Gaea it is!
#8. Awaken the Woods
I really like Awaken the Woods. It’s a simple yet powerful green card that I just can’t wait to pump far too much mana into in a Simic () ramp deck.
Is this the most powerful card in this set? No, but it’s a very powerful card on its own and really represents what casual Commander is all about: casting massive and powerful spells.
#7. Loran of the Third Path
Loran of the Third Path does lots for just three mana. It’s a decently rated creature, but it’s the artifact and enchantment removal that makes this a prime inclusion for mono-white Death & Taxes Legacy decks.
This may even see play in the upcoming Azorius soldiers deck that’s being pushed so incredibly hard with this set. I think it’ll be a one- or two-of in the sideboard given that deck’s choices in 3-drops.
#6. The Stone Brain
Call it my pet card for today, but I expect great things from The Stone Brain. It’s a fantastic way to remove some combo pieces or deck-defining cards in basically any format, and it’s cheap enough to be played.
This might be relegated to a sideboard card for the decks that need it, but it’ll absolutely perform that function incredibly. All in all it’s a far worse (but still good) Surgical Extraction.
#5. Brotherhood’s End
Brotherhood's End is an incredible board wipe for multiple reasons, and it’s great way to signify the end of Mishra and Urza’s relationship. It’s a great Pyroclasm, and the fact that it hits artifacts makes this card an excellent control piece across multiple formats including Standard, Pioneer, and Commander.
#4. Fauna Shaman
I never thought I’d see the day that Fauna Shaman came to Standard and Pioneer, but here we are. The elf shaman is here and in full force.
I don’t know how this will affect Standard (it probably won’t) but it’ll likely see a lot of play in Pioneer, a format that already heavily supports mono-green creature decks.
#3. Arcane Proxy
I have high hopes for Arcane Proxy, but I’ll be sad to see the price of my Snapcaster Mage playset plummet even more if it’s good. It costs the extra mana, a colored pip no less, but getting to cast a spell with mana value two or less for free makes it well worth the increased cost.
Just think of how many great instants and sorceries are in that range in Modern and Pioneer!
#2. Sarinth Greatwurm
I was very underwhelmed when I first saw Sarinth Greatwurm. Hypeless, I kept asking myself “why doesn’t this just say landfall?” Then I realized that Wizards doesn’t just forget to put landfall on a landfall card, and that’s when it hit me.
This card triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield… period. Not just under your control. That single text difference turned this card from just okay to one of the best cards you could play in land-based Commander decks. It doesn’t even have to be in those decks, quite frankly.
Powerstone tokens stick around, and any deck that plays this card regardless of strategy can benefit from that.
#1. Diabolic Intent
Diabolic Intent is in first place. This card is and has always been absolutely sweet, and it now wreaks havoc in both Pioneer and Standard. It’s also a welcomed reprint because it cost nearly $30 before it was spoiled.
Two mana for a generic tutor at sorcery speed is great, and the creature sacrifice cost can be made into an upside in the right decks. This card will probably perform better than Liliana of the Veil did. Tutors are good in any format, and you’ve got a lot of easy things to throw into the meat grinder to get the perfect spell with the massive number of cheap token creators, especially in Orzhov ().
Arcane Proxy (The Brothers’ War) | Illustration by Kekai Kotaki
I’m super excited to get to know this set and start testing out so many of these new cards! I wonder how my rankings will hold up and if there will be any dark horses I didn’t see coming.
What do you think about my rankings? Are there any inclusions I might’ve missed or cards you think I overrated? Which ones are you looking forward to playing? Let me know in the comments below or come talk about it in the official Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!
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Hey mate Teferi shuffles nonland permanents. Still great just not as great.
Fixed this, thank you!
Arcane proxy is equal to its power so 2 cmc. Clay champ comes out as a 8/8 with 4green and a 5/5 for two green, last is mishra lost to phyrexian it triggers when it enters or attacks.
There are no commons or uncommons…I am trying to find a list of all the best commons, uncommons, and rares in each set. I first started with these draftsim lists to help me, but this didn’t helpe me.
Hey James! Yeah unfortunately our “best cards” lists for each set cover the overall best cards, so they’re mostly gonna be higher rarity cards. But Bryan does typically cover the top commons and uncommons in his Ultimate Draft guides. It’s geared specifically towards Draft though, so if you’re looking for the best cards for Constructed then that won’t be the best option for you.
But the top cards by rarity is an interesting idea. We’ll keep it in mind👀