Last updated on November 16, 2022

Vedalken Humiliator - Illustration by Jehan Choo

Vedalken Humiliator | Illustration by Jehan Choo

Magic’s latest set takes players back to the events of one of the game’s oldest sets. The Brothers’ War revisits the events of the Antiquities set and a brutal war between the brothers Mishra and Urza. This war wasn’t fought through magic, but through artifacts and war machines. The Commander decks for this set reflect just that.

I don’t think anyone had any doubts about who the commanders for the precons were going to be. I would’ve really liked if there were two or even three other decks depicting the Phyrexians from the Brotherhood of Gix, the druids and elves from Argoth, or the scholars from the Third Path. The two decks we got still feature the two major figures of this conflict along with two interesting artifact-centered decks.

Let’s take a look!

All About The Brothers’ War Commander

What Is The Brothers’ War Commander?

Command Tower - Illustration by Evan Shipard

Command Tower | Illustration by Evan Shipard

The Brothers’ War Commander decks are two preconstructed decks that are a companion product to Magic’s latest set, The Brothers’ War. Starting a few years ago, WOTC decided to replace traditional 60-card precons with Commander precons because it had become the most popular format among players.

These decks serve to introduce the setting and world of the set while also giving newer players an easy way to get into Commander. The decks comes out November 18 alongside the main set.

How Does The Brothers’ War Commander Compare To Other Commander Products?

I think both these decks hold up pretty well to most Commander precons in terms of power and strategy. I’m also surprised at the mana bases for these decks. They’re nothing too absurd. but they’re relatively good. Both decks notably include the Planechase Mirrodin artifact lands, which all cost a dollar or more.

These decks are also especially good for those who enjoy a good nostalgia factor and old Magic aesthetics. Every single card in these decks comes with Magic’s old border design. I personally support this completely because it’s the perfect set for this treatment.

Should I Buy The Brothers’ War Commander?

These decks are great to play out-of-the-box against each other or against similar EDH precons. If you’re looking for casual but fun decks, these are pretty solid options. All the cards in this deck come with the old border treatment, so it’s possible that they’ll cost at least a little bit more than their regular counterparts thanks to the collector factor. I’d say it’s safe to assume that they’ll more than make up for the decks’ cost.

Getting both decks could be particularly fun because they play well against each other. They’re both artifact decks with different strategies around the same archetype, so it’s fun to place them against each other. It’s also very satisfying lore-wise!

The price for each deck as of writing is around 45 dollars, which is a bit more than what you can get most recent EDH precons for. If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive way to get into Commander, I’d personally recommend looking at other options like previous precons or the upcoming Commander Starter Decks. It can safely be assumed that these decks are just going to grow in price thanks to their collector value.

Urza’s Iron Alliance

Urza's Iron Alliance
Commander (1)

Urza, Chief Artificer

Creature (36)

Alela, Artful Provocateur
Angel of the Ruins
Armix, Filigree Thrasher
Baleful Strix
Bronze Guardian
Chief of the Foundry
Chrome Courier
Darksteel Juggernaut
Digsite Engineer
Etched Champion
Etherium Sculptor
Ethersworn Adjudicator
Filigree Attendant
Hexavus
Indomitable Archangel
Losheel, Clockwork Scholar
Marionette Master
Master of Etherium
Myr Battlesphere
Noxious Gearhulk
Sai, Master Thopterist
Sanwell, Avenger Ace
Scholar of New Horizons
Sharding Sphinx
Sharuum the Hegemon
Shimmer Dragon
Solemn Simulacrum
Steel Hellkite
Steel Overseer
Tawnos, Solemn Survivor
Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
Thought Monitor
Vedalken Humiliator
Whirler Rogue
Wire Surgeons
Wreck Hunter

Instant (4)

Despark
Sphinx’s Revelation
Swords to Plowshares
Unbreakable Formation

Sorcery (7)

Austere Command
March of Progress
One with the Machine
Phyrexian Rebirth
Preordain
Urza’s Ruinous Blast
Vindicate

Enchantment (2)

Tempered Steel
Thopter Spy Network

Artifact (14)

Arcane Signet
Azorius Signet
Bident of Thassa
Cranial Plating
Dimir Signet
Kayla’s Music Box
Liquimetal Torque
Orzhov Signet
Relic of Progenitus
Skullclamp
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots
Thopter Shop
Thought Vessel

Land (36)

Ancient Den
Arcane Sanctum
Ash Barrens
Azorius Chancery
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Darksteel Citadel
Dimir Aqueduct
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Goldmire Bridge
Mistvault Bridge
Orzhov Basilica
Path of Ancestry
Prairie Stream
Razortide Bridge
River of Tears
Seat of the Synod
Skycloud Expanse
Spire of Industry
Sunken Hollow
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Silence
Vault of Whispers
Plains x4
Island x4
Swamp x3

Magic: The Gathering The Brothers’ War Retro-Frame Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black) + Collector Booster Sample Pack
  • Retro-Frame 100-card The Brothers’ War Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black)
  • Every card in the deck is Retro-Frame, with 2 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Legendary cards + 98 Nonfoil Retro-Frame cards
  • 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 1 special treatment card of rarity Rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Artifact card
  • Accessories—1 Traditional Foil Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, life tracker, and deck box
  • Construct an army of artifact creatures with the legendary master artificer, Urza

Commander, Theme, and Strategy

Solemn Simulacrum - Illustration by Dan Scott

Solemn Simulacrum | Illustration by Dan Scott

Urza, Chief Artificer is at the helm of this army of artifact creatures. The three abilities on this commander tell you all you need to know about the deck’s strategy: it leans hard on artifact creatures. Affinity for artifact creatures already makes this card particularly good considering there’s gonna be a focus on them throughout the deck. You’re almost guaranteed to avoid the commander tax if you play your creatures right. The second ability is a great lord ability for artifact creatures, and the third ability can be absurdly strong with the right build.

The rest of the deck leans into two main strategies: tokens and cheap artifact creatures. This deck cares about having large numbers of artifact creatures on the field. There are plenty of cards that benefit from you having tons of artifacts like Vedalken Humiliator and Shimmer Dragon. There’s also ways to make those same artifact creatures better, like Tempered Steel and Steel Overseer.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

A quick estimate puts about 55 out of the 100 cards in this deck above the one dollar mark. This will probably change as soon as the decks are actually released, but it’s still noteworthy. There are plenty of cards that have higher costs than their other reprints thanks to the old border treatment. Most of the new cards that come with these decks go for around 11 dollars, but I’m sure that price will drop once the decks are out.

The Verdict

This deck is a perfectly viable precon for Commander. It has a consistent-enough strategy to make it good and fun to play, while also leaving the door open for various upgrades and improvements. The mana base is a notable step in the right direction compared to some of the older precons. Getting artifact lands and dual lands that are at least somewhat better than guildgates is always a nice bonus.

I also appreciate that all four previous Urza cards (the three from The Brothers’ War and Urza, Lord High Artificer) all fit perfectly into this deck and its strategy.

Mishra’s Burnished Banner

Mishra's Burnished Banner
Commander (1)

Mishra, Eminent One

Creature (22)

Ashnod the Uncaring
Audacious Reshapers
Blast-Furnace Hellkite
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Fain, the Broker
Farid, Enterprising Salvager
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Glint Raker
Hellkite Igniter
Herald of Anguish
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Machine God’s Effigy
Master Transmuter
Metalwork Colossus
Muzzio, Visionary Architect
Padeem, Consul of Innovation
Scavenged Brawler
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept
Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
Traxos, Scourge of Kroog
Workshop Elders

Instant (5)

Abrade
Bedevil
Chaos Warp
Fact or Fiction
Thirst for Knowledge

Sorcery (6)

Blasphemous Act
Expressive Iteration
Faithless Looting
Feed the Swarm
Terisiare’s Devastation
Thoughtcast

Artifact (29)

Arcane Signet
Commander’s Sphere
Cursed Mirror
Dimir Signet
Dreamstone Hedron
Executioner’s Capsule
Fellwar Stone
Hedron Archive
Ichor Wellspring
Idol of Oblivion
Lithoform Engine
Mind Stone
Mirrorworks
Mnemonic Sphere
Mycosynth Wellspring
Nihil Spellbomb
Oblivion Stone
Oni-Cult Anvil
Prophetic Prism
Rakdos Signet
Servo Schematic
Smelting Vat
Sol Ring
Spine of Ish Sah
Strionic Resonator
Thran Dynamo
Trading Post
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Wondrous Crucible

Land (37)

Ash Barrens
Buried Ruin
Command Tower
Crumbling Necropolis
Darkwater Catacombs
Dimir Aqueduct
Drossforge Bridge
Exotic Orchard
Great Furnace
Izzet Boilerworks
Mistvault Bridge
Myriad Landscape
Path of Ancestry
Rakdos Carnarium
Reliquary Tower
Seat of the Synod
Shadowblood Ridge
Silverbluff Bridge
Smoldering Marsh
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Malice
Terramorphic Expanse
Vault of Whispers
Swamp x4
Island x5
Mountain x4

Magic: The Gathering The Brothers’ War Retro-Frame Commander Deck - Mishra’s Burnished Banner (Blue-Black-Red) + Collector Booster Sample Pack
  • Retro-Frame 100-card The Brothers’ War Commander Deck - Mishra's Burnished Banner (Blue-Black-Red)
  • Every card in the deck is Retro-Frame, with 2 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Legendary cards + 98 Nonfoil Retro-Frame cards
  • 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 1 special treatment card of rarity Rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Artifact card
  • Accessories—1 Traditional Foil Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, life tracker, and deck box
  • Extract every bit of advantage by sacrificing artifacts with the ruthless artificer, Mishra

Commander, Theme, and Strategy

Thirst for Knowledge - Illustration by Anthony Francisco

Thirst for Knowledge | Illustration by Anthony Francisco

There’s a significant difference in power levels at first glance between the two commanders for this set. Mishra, Eminent One has no cost reductions, no lord ability, and only has a single ability. This commander lets you copy one of your noncreature artifacts and make it into a 4/4 creature with haste. This is a relatively mild ability by itself, but it can be complemented well with several cards.

The deck has several cards that either benefit from when you sacrifice artifacts or that have ways of returning artifacts from your graveyard. This is complemented by Ashnod the Uncaring. Its ability leans heavily on you sacrificing permanents, and there are plenty of artifacts that sacrifice themselves to be activated. Having both ways to double that ability and bring the artifact back relatively quickly can prove powerful.

There’s a pretty good combo with Mishra, Eminent One. You need Voltaic Construct and Gilded Lotus or any other artifact that generates three or more mana. The copy created by Mishra is an artifact creature, so you can use Voltaic Construct to untap it over and over and generate infinite mana. That said, I personally prefer Ashnod the Uncaring as the deck’s commander because it can be exploited in more ways.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

There are just under 50 cards in this deck that go for a dollar or more. It’s a bit less than the opposing deck, but it’s still a pretty decent number of cards. Once again, keep in mind that this is before release, so most of those prices are almost sure to change by then.

The Verdict

This deck is a bit less straightforward in where its strengths lie. I think Mishra, Eminent One gets outshined by Ashnod the Uncaring easily, and I’d swap their places almost immediately. I think the strategy of the deck is solid and consistent, but it requires a bit more strategizing than “play as many tokens as you can then cover them in +1/+1 counters.” I would’ve expected this to work the other way, lore-wise. Mishra is a way more aggressive character, while Urza’s plans are more convoluted and confusing. That’s just a minor nitpick from a Vorthos type of player.

Unlike with the Urza cards, I think most Mishra cards don’t really fit in that well in this deck. Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa is by far the most useful when combined with Ashnod the Uncaring. The other two Brothers’ War Mishra cards could work, but they don’t bring anything too special. And don’t even consider Mishra, Artificer Prodigy. Even with all the artifact copy and recursion effects in this deck, it’s still pretty much completely useless.

The Best Brothers’ War Commander Deck

For Value

Urza's Iron Alliance

It’s hard to tell just yet which of the two decks is going to have the most valuable cards. My safest bet goes to Urza’s Iron Alliance. The deck has some great reprints, and the new cards that it offers are extremely interesting. It also has the advantage of having blue and white cards that support artifact strategies, which are usually the two colors that focus on that archetype.

Magic: The Gathering The Brothers’ War Retro-Frame Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black) + Collector Booster Sample Pack
  • Retro-Frame 100-card The Brothers’ War Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black)
  • Every card in the deck is Retro-Frame, with 2 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Legendary cards + 98 Nonfoil Retro-Frame cards
  • 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 1 special treatment card of rarity Rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Artifact card
  • Accessories—1 Traditional Foil Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, life tracker, and deck box
  • Construct an army of artifact creatures with the legendary master artificer, Urza

For Competitive EDH

Urza's Iron Alliance

I’d probably have to go for Urza’s Iron Alliance once again thanks to its color combination. Esper is a color combination that can very easily be upgraded into absurdly powerful artifact strategies. The Esper shard from Alara was focused on artifacts, after all.

Mishra’s Burnished Banner has some interesting and powerful cards that could find their place in a competitive environment, but you’d have to build a completely new deck around them rather than simply upgrading the precon.

Magic: The Gathering The Brothers’ War Retro-Frame Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black) + Collector Booster Sample Pack
  • Retro-Frame 100-card The Brothers’ War Commander Deck - Urza's Iron Alliance (White-Blue-Black)
  • Every card in the deck is Retro-Frame, with 2 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Legendary cards + 98 Nonfoil Retro-Frame cards
  • 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 1 special treatment card of rarity Rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Artifact card
  • Accessories—1 Traditional Foil Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, life tracker, and deck box
  • Construct an army of artifact creatures with the legendary master artificer, Urza

For Fun

Mishra's Burnished Banner

Fun is obviously a very subjective thing, and what I find fun can be the complete opposite for others. In this case I’d go for Mishra’s deck. I think it gives the artifact archetype an interesting and fun twist that also fits perfectly into the deck’s Grixis color identity. I still think Urza’s deck can be super fun too, but I also think it falls into a more traditional strategy that could be achieved with tons of other commanders. Mishra’s deck feels more unique.

Magic: The Gathering The Brothers’ War Retro-Frame Commander Deck - Mishra’s Burnished Banner (Blue-Black-Red) + Collector Booster Sample Pack
  • Retro-Frame 100-card The Brothers’ War Commander Deck - Mishra's Burnished Banner (Blue-Black-Red)
  • Every card in the deck is Retro-Frame, with 2 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Legendary cards + 98 Nonfoil Retro-Frame cards
  • 2-card Collector Booster Sample Pack—contains 1 special treatment card of rarity Rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame Artifact card
  • Accessories—1 Traditional Foil Display Commander, 10 double-sided tokens, life tracker, and deck box
  • Extract every bit of advantage by sacrificing artifacts with the ruthless artificer, Mishra

Where to Buy Brothers’ War Commander Precons

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Support your local game store! If you have one available and you can, of course. They’re important spaces for the Magic community to thrive, and getting official products and singles helps them stay afloat.

If that’s not an option due to stock or closures (I feel your pain), you can always find these decks through Amazon and other online shops.

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying through LGS or online, always make sure to check that you’re not buying from resellers who purposefully spike prices to scam players. Wizards has an official Amazon account where you can check what the average price for each deck should be.

Commanding Conclusion

Fact or Fiction - Illustration by Matt Cavotta

Fact or Fiction | Illustration by Matt Cavotta

I know the old border treatment is mostly nostalgia bait, but I must admit I’m weak to those things sometimes. I love the old border look (oh, my baby Magic days) and I think it’s especially well implemented in this product since the two decks are focused on one of Magic’s oldest storylines.

Aesthetics aside, I think the decks are pretty good. They can hold up against recent Commander precons right out of the box, and they bring a combination of interesting new cards and reprints. I always think mana bases for Commander precons could be better (give us reprints of the original dual lands!) but this one at least has artifact lands and some decently functional lands.

What’s your opinion on these decks? Do you think the old border treatment is a good idea, or do you think it’s just nostalgia bait? Are you gonna be getting one of these when they come out? Which brother’s side are you on? Feel free to drop your answer in the comments below. And don’t forget to join our amazing Discord, with an ever-growing community of Magic players and fans!

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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