Last updated on April 5, 2023

Arcane Proxy - Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

Arcane Proxy | Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

Who doesn’t love the idea of monstrous magic-imbued robots clashing on a war-strewn battlefield? Mech fans rejoice, there’s a new Magic mechanic that embodies everything you love about the robot-on-robot clashes of properties like Transformers, Pacific Rim, and Gundam. And it’s got such a fitting name.

That’s right, this new mechanic is The Brothers’ War’s prototype. I’ll be your resident robot-loving L1 judge here to answer any questions about how to cast your prototype creatures and how they behave in different game zones.

Ready? Let’s get into it!

How Does Prototype Work?

Hulking Metamorph - Illustration by Diego Gisbert

Hulking Metamorph | Illustration by Diego Gisbert

Prototype is an additional option you have when casting a spell. You can cast a prototype creature for its normal casting cost in the top right of the card, or you can cast it for its prototype cost in the text box.

If you choose the prototype cost, the attributes of the card change. It has a different power, toughness, and mana cost, and the color of the card also changes. All other abilities remain the same regardless of which cost you choose to pay.

Here’s the golden rule for understanding when you can and can’t use the prototype cost: if you aren’t casting the creature, prototype can’t be used.

Is Prototype an Activated Ability?

Prototype isn’t an activated ability but a static ability that provides a different possible casting cost for your creature. Pithing Needle, for example, won’t stop your opponent from casting a creature for its prototype cost.

Is Prototype an Alternate Cost?

Not precisely, because an alternate cost can still be applied to whichever prototype cost you choose. But functionally, it plays similarly to alternate casting costs just like evoke or blitz. You choose which set of characteristics the card has when you cast it. The prototype cost always results in a less power, toughness, and mana cost.

What’s the Mana Value of a Prototyped Card on the Stack?

Combat Thresher

If you paid the prototype cost of a spell on the stack, that card has a mana value associated with the prototype cost. For example, if you cast Combat Thresher for its prototype cost then the spell will have a mana value of three.

What’s the Mana Value of a Prototyped Card in Play?

The mana value of a prototyped card carries over once that permanent is in play. Paying the prototype cost of a card changes its physical mana cost, so you use that new mana cost to determine the mana value.

What Color Is a Prototyped Card in Play?

You can tell which color a prototype creature becomes by the mana symbols in its prototype cost. They’re always colorless cards in your hand but are treated as their new color if you pay the prototype cost.

Skitterbeam Battalion

If you pay to cast Skitterbeam Battalion, it’s a red spell on the stack and a red permanent in play.

Arcane Proxy

I should mention the color identity of prototype cards as it relates to Commander. All prototype creatures are colorless by default, but their color identity includes their prototype colors. Arcane Proxy, for example, has a blue color identity and can only be played in blue Commander decks.

When You Prototype Is it an Artifact Spell?

Prototype only exists on artifact creatures, and those spells remain artifacts whether their prototype cost was paid or not. The prototype reminder text says “it keeps its abilities and types,” meaning the artifact part of the card never changes.

What Are the Color and Mana Value of a Prototype Card in the Graveyard?

Prototype cards in graveyards are colorless and have their normal mana values. Remember that golden rule: prototype is irrelevant if you aren’t casting the card. If you’re just looking at the card’s characteristics in another zone then you can ignore the prototype text.

Can You Prototype a Card if You Reanimate It?

Generally, no. Normal reanimation spells won’t allow you to pay the prototype cost for a card. Reanimation effects don’t generally ask you to cast the reanimation target, they just put the card from the graveyard onto the battlefield. If that’s the case then there’s no opportunity for you to pay an alternate casting cost like prototype.

Can You Prototype if You Cast from the Graveyard?

If a spell or ability lets you specifically cast a creature from a graveyard, you can choose to cast it for its prototype cost. But if the effect specifies that you can cast that card without paying its mana cost, you can’t choose the prototype cost.

For example, the effect on Rivaz of the Claw allows you to cast Fallaji Dragon Engine from your graveyard for either its normal cost or its prototype cost. But a card like Wondrous Crucible won’t allow you to pay an alternate casting cost like prototype.

What Happens if You Blink a Prototype?

When you blink a prototype creature it re-enters the battlefield with all its normal non-prototype characteristics. Even if you paid the prototype cost the first time you cast it, blinking it “resets” everything and you’re left with the bigger colorless version of the card.

What’s the Point of Prototype?

Prototype exists to flesh out the themes of The Brothers’ War. The set revolves around the conflict between Urza and Mishra, who both command armies of machines to wage war against each other. These prototype creatures represent the destructive robotic forces of that war.

From a design stand-point prototype is a great way to reward players for playing ramp strategies with giant game-ending threats. They provide mana sinks for the Powerstone-producing cards in BRO while having a cheaper alternate cost that makes them more tenable for Limited.

Is Prototype Good?

Prototype is definitely great for Limited, and a few heavy hitters have a chance to see play in Constructed formats. Mechanics that offer flexibility usually see play somewhere, even if that means you only see these cards in Commander.

It may not be a tier 1 strategy but players will likely brew around the idea of blinking and reanimating prototype creatures to “cheat” on their more expensive halves. I expect prototype to be one of the defining features of The Brothers War Limited and to make a splash in Standard.

Gallery and List of Prototype Cards

There are currently 18 prototype creatures in Magic, 17 from the main The Brothers’s War set and another from the supplementary Jumpstart set for BRO.

Best Prototype Cards

Arcane Proxy

Arcane Proxy looks to be one of the standout prototype cards for Constructed. It mimics the effects of cards like Snapcaster Mage and Torrential Gearhulk, which were Standard powerhouses.

Phyrexian Fleshgorger

Phyrexian Fleshgorger also has a strong chance of seeing Standard play. It plays the role of an aggressive 3-drop very well and also makes for a powerful reanimation or blink target. With Touch the Spirit Realm in Standard it’s only a matter of time before someone brews a deck that looks to blink a 7/5 Fleshgorger into play early in the game.

Autonomous Assembler and Steel Seraph have decent stats and abilities for Standard, but they might miss the mark.

Rootwire Amalgam

Rootwire Amalgam can also make a big token. Like, big. Sometimes that’s enough to see play with the right supporting pieces.

Decklist: Prototype in Standard

Phyrexian Fleshgorger - Illustration by Steve Prescott

Phyrexian Fleshgorger | Illustration by Steve Prescott

I’ve provided a pretty tame outline of what a Standard control deck might look like if it tried to slot in the new prototype creatures. The idea here is to use Fake Your Own Death or a blink effect to reset your prototype creatures.

Touch the Spirit Realm is the best version of this effect in Standard, but Planar Incision has some janky combo potential with Arcane Proxy.

Wrap Up

Woodcaller Automaton - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Woodcaller Automaton | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

I’m with the rest of the Magic community when I say the prototype mechanic looks fantastic. Whether it makes a lasting impression in Constructed or not, it’s likely going to be one of the most memorable aspects of The Brothers’ War Limited. There’s no denying that casting giant robots and war-mechs is Magic at its most exciting.

If the positive feedback is any indication then we can expect to see this mechanic again in the future. It might require the right fantasy setting to make sense but I’m confident more prototype cards will appear down the line.

Are you excited for prototype in Magic? Got any burning questions I didn’t cover here? Let me know in the comments or over on the Draftsim Discord.

I hope I’ve answered any of your questions about the mechanic, and I’m looking forward to seeing how players cheat their giant battlecruiser creatures into play!

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  • Avatar
    jerodast November 11, 2022 9:26 am

    Either you or Wizards is wrong about the status as an alternate cost. (“The Brothers War Release Notes”) says:

    “Casting a prototyped spell isn’t the same as casting it for an alternative cost, and an alternative cost may be applied to a spell cast this way. For example, if an effect allows you to cast an artifact card without paying its mana cost, you could either cast Blitz Automaton normally, or as a prototyped spell.”

    This directly contradicts your statement about casting without paying its mana cost.

  • Avatar
    Junoxx December 5, 2022 2:32 am

    Hello, I have a question about a specific Prototype card. The card is called
    Hulking Metamorph and can copy any other card, either for its Prototype (3/3) cost and stats or its “normal” cost and stats (7/7). The situation was now as follows:
    Hulking Metamorph copied Reconstructed Thopter. Now he had fly and unearth, right? Now when Hulking Metamorph is put into the graveyard does it still have unearth and flying? If you retrieve him, does he have a 7/7, flying and haste because he doesn’t come back as a prototype?

    Perhaps there is an answer to this complex question here 🙂 Greetings Junoxx

    • Timothy Zaccagnino
      Timothy Zaccagnino December 5, 2022 10:13 am

      So if Hulking Metamorph copies Reconstructed Thopter, it will be a 3/3 Flying or a 7/7 Flying depending on whether it was prototyped or not. It will have Unearth on the battlefield, but once it’s in the graveyard it will just be a normal Hulking Metamorph again, and will no longer be copying what it was on the battlefield. So sadly, you cannot Unearth it from the graveyard.

      • Avatar
        Junoxx December 16, 2022 2:30 am

        OK, that makes sense. Thank you!

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