The Brothers' War - cEDH Set Review

Jake FitzSimons • November 7, 2022

Urza, Lord Protector by Ryan Pancoast

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold I | Gold II | Artifacts | LandscEDH

G'day brothers1 Jake FitzSimons here to review the best cEDH tools from the worst thing that ever happened to Dominaria; The Brothers War. We've got combo pieces, powerful interaction, fascinating commanders and even a leak that didn't quite live up to the hype. Most surprisingly, we've got good white cards!

This is my seventh cEDH set review of 2022 and try as I might, it's usually a stretch to fill out the white section. Not so with The Brothers War, white got as many cEDH relevant cards as blue, red and green2 put together!


Calamity's Wake

Calamity's Wake is half a Silence stapled to half a Rest in Peace. Underworld Breach won't know what hit it! Silence effects are one of white's great strengths in cEDH and Calamity's Wake looks a lot like extra redundancy. Let's look at the Silence side first.

The best thing about Silence is its utility. It's just as good at stopping an opponent from winning as it is at protecting your own win. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Calamity's Wake. Like most white abilities, this is a symmetrical effect, and a resolved Calamity's Wake is going to shut off your own noncreature spells the same as your opponents'. This would relegate it to a purely defensive role, if not for creature only wincons.

Protean Hulk and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker are established cEDH win conditions that can sail through a Calamity's Wake just fine. In these instances, it's almost as good as a sacrificed Ranger-Captain of Eos. If your deck can win without ever needing to use a noncreature spell, Calamity's Wake may just be the best card in the set. You'll also want to avoid trying to win with a graveyard strategy.

The instant speed graveyard exile on Calamity's Wake is similar to the Silence effect; powerful, if you can play around it. If your deck is hoping to set up an Underworld Breach combo, a Yawgmoth's Will turn, steer well clear of Calamity's Wake. But if you can go without your own bin, take a look at what you'll be able to stop: Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Worldgorger Dragon, Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward, Mnemonic Betrayal, a host of commander specific win conditions, and of course Underworld Breach.

Loran of the Third Path

A white version of Reclamation Sage would have been significant at one point a couple of years ago, but with the printing of Cathar Commando, Loran of the Third Path isn't bringing much new to the table. She's fine if you're desperate for redundancy, but the real appeal is her activated ability.

No, I'm not about to tell you giving out free cards is secretly a good thing. This is a terrible source of card advantage, if you could even stretch the term and call it that. But if you read Comprehending Competitive: How To Stop Thassa's Oracle, you'll know forced draws are one of the strongest ways to defeat Commander's strongest combo. From the turn after Loran of the Third Path lands, she becomes a must remove problem for any hopeful Thassa's Oracle player. Unless of course they have Grand Abolisher at their disposal, in which case Loran can't be activated at all.

Meticulous Excavation

Every set.

That's right, another card that goes infinite with everyone's favorite Double Masters reprint, Dockside Extortionist. While every color already has access to Dockside infinites by virtue of Cloudstone Curio loops, this is easily the best white card that can do it without help.

Granted, Dockside needs to be producing six treasures to actually go positive, but if you're looking for additional redundancy Meticulous Excavation fits the bill. It goes beyond the Goblin as well. You need even more setup, but you can get there with Village Bell-Ringer or even Peregrine Drake if you're scraping the bottom of the infinite mana barrel for some reason.

Myrel, Shield of Argive

Myrel, Shield of Argive is a fair four mana rather than the terrifying two mana that the "leak3" suggested she would be. On the one hand I'm thankful because a superior Grand Abolisher doesn't seem necessary and the price would be ridiculous. On the other hand, I love busted cards and I like when white gets broken things. Anyway.

Myrel has the Abolisher effect we all love and loathe, one of the best cards ever printed for saying "wait your turn" to every blue player at the table. With no direct stack interaction to speak of, it's one of white's few ways to truly protect itself. Unfortunately in the case of Myrel, it also costs four mana, nearing the upper limit of what most players want to pay for protection.

It's worth noting both Grand Abolisher and Silence effects have become a little worse since the printing of Boseiju, Who Endures and Otawara, Soaring City in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty thanks to how Channel works, but they remain airtight against everything else. If you're not interested in the Soldier production, the only question is whether or not you're willing to pay twice as much for a Grand Abolisher.

If you are interested in the Soldiers? I applaud you, exponential growth is fun at any power level in Commander. In a stax deck, once everyone is locked down, Myrel does present a very real clock and she will take over the game in much the same way Najeela, the Blade-Blossom does.


Recommission won't change the fabric of the format anytime soon, but it's worth keeping an eye on little tools like this. It wasn't too long ago Regrowth still saw a modicum of cEDH play and while Recommission isn't half as versatile, the ability to bring things straight back to the field is a significant one.

We discussed Jailbreak back in Streets of New Capenna, and even though it (predictably) amounted to nothing, Recommission strikes me as a significant improvement on that effect. The great shame here is that it can't bring back lands. If it could, Recommission would double as ramp in conjunction with a fetchland, but if wishes were fishes, hey?

Possibly the best thing about this card is that it's a reanimation spell that won't kill Walking Ballista. Usually Ballista is dead on arrival as a 0/0, but Recommission solves that with its own +1/+1 counter. If you're already trying to combo off with Ballista and you're worried about having it milled or countered, Recommission is your answer.

Soul Partition

A white bounce spell. With upside. I say bounce spell because while it's really an exile spell, Soul Partition will feel closer to a blue spell like Into the Roil than a white one like Elite Spellbinder. If you're still new to cEDH, it's worth knowing bounce spells are ubiquitous. The temporary nature of the removal doesn't matter in a format that moves this quickly. Besides, you'll often use interaction like this to open up a winning line.

Improving on traditional bounce spells, Souls Partition adds an additional tax of (2) to whatever you hit. In shorter games, this is essentially hard removal. Who wants to pay five mana to get back the Rhystic Study they played a couple of turns ago? Throw a Drannith Magistrate into the mix and you'll never have to worry about what you partitioned again. Just remember that's a double edged sword - you don't want to exile one of your own things and have someone else land a Drannith Magistrate before you get a chance to cast it again.

Why would you want to exile your own things? Enter the battlefield abilities of course. Yes, we're back to Dockside Extortionist and we haven't even left the white section. Replaying Dockside Extortionist with cheap instants isn't new to cEDH, but outside of Ephemerate, it's fairly new to white. The sheer utility on this card as a tool to remove stax pieces and go further on your own combos makes it my pick for the best card of the set.



As long as I've played cEDH, Stifle and its associated effects have been on the verge of playability. Or so the conversation that reignites whenever a new card like Defabricate is printed would suggest. And I do see where it comes from.

This format is overrun with powerful triggered abilities. Just Dockside Extortionist and Thassa's Oracle are enough that you'd think any card that could handle both would be playable. Add the fact Defabricate can not just counter but completely exile wincons like Lion's Eye Diamond and Underworld Breach and this is starting to look like a staple.

Except it isn't. I'm not yet willing to die on this hill, but I'm willing to get bruised and bloody. Stifles are bad. They're not good in cEDH and until Wizards of the Coast prints Trickbind at one mana, I don't think they'll ever be good. Because you know what else is great for stopping Dockside Extortionist and Thassa's Oracle? Counterspell, which can stop them and a thousand other things and protect your own win conditions, and sees no play. Or Mana Drain which sees less play now than ever before. Or Delay which has been falling steadily for the last two years.

We went through this with Tale's End. We went through it with Ertai Resurrected. No doubt we'll go through it again next time we see a card like this. But I'm always thrilled to be wrong, so quote me and call me a fool if Defabricate ends up becoming a staple. Next.

Machine God's Effigy

What if Cursed Mirror was blue? Well, you'd have a better card than this one. While it's close, Machine God's Effigy has a few key differences that make it worse than it's leaner red cousin. Obviously, four mana is just not as good as three. Three is already sketchy given the speed of cEDH mana, but Cursed Mirror gets away with it thanks to providing haste and sharing a color with Dockside Extortionist.

That second feature can't be overlooked. Blue already has access to clone effects at a cheaper price (Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph see a healthy amount of play) which makes Machine God's Effigy less groundbreaking than Cursed Mirror was.

However... it is the FIFTH4 card printed this year that will go infinite with Devoted Druid! The other four are in the footnotes, but see if you can guess them all before you scroll down.


Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor sits somewhere between Tymna the Weaver and Edric, Spymaster of Trest but with all the worst parts of both. If you know anything about cEDH, you'll know Tymna the Weaver is a powerhouse, drawing her controller card after card for small increments of life. If you've been playing for a while, you'll know Edric, Spymaster of Trest was once a force to be reckoned with, overcoming the downside of its universal draw ability with a tide of 1/1 enablers, turn spells and countermagic.

That's not an option for Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor. Black has no shortage of evasive beaters, but it doesn't have the density of interaction and inevitability that blue can boast. For all its strengths as a color, black is also severely lacking in wincons. They're just too expensive to assemble and too difficult to protect. There's likely a winning line available via Doomsday, but with no countermagic or preemptive protection, it strikes me as too fragile to be reliable.

There's also Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor's activated ability, but it costs as much as Peer into the Abyss and doesn't do even a tenth of what you'd expect for seven mana in cEDH. What you're left with is a mono-black deck that struggles to interact, struggles to win, and actively helps any combat-centric decks it might share a pod with. Sadly, Gix is nix.

Misery's Shadow

Misery's Shadow is the sort of card that would have seen play back when Flash was still legal. When creature based graveyard combos were so dominant that you could play Anafenza, the Foremost in the command zone with a straight face. Thankfully, it's 2022 and Flash is long gone not to mention we've got access to the far superior Dauthi Voidwalker.

Overwhelming Remorse

I was shocked with the initial hype I saw around Overwhelming Remorse. I'm shocked I'm mentioning it at all. Yes, in ideal circumstances you have a one mana removal spell that exiles not just creatures, but planeswalkers. But what's the more realistic scenario? Short of a self-mill strategy with a creature focus, you're unlikely to have a full graveyard in the early game. Frankly, you're unlikely to have a full graveyard in the mid game, and if you do, it's not likely to be made up of creatures. And if you're not getting the full discount, it's hard to argue this fares any better than reliable staples like Dismember, Deadly Rollick, or the still new Cut Down.

I would sooner play Murderous Cut than Overwhelming Remorse. At least with Cut I know I can fill my bin with instants and sorceries and fetchlands. And they're both just as horrible to flip off an Ad Nauseam. Thankfully, the card is aptly named because it's a great way to describe how you'll feel when you draw it and can't play it.


Brotherhood's End

There was an earlier period in cEDH where Pyroclasm reigned supreme. Cards like Sweltering Suns and Anger of the Gods have always been on the verge of playability. There aren't many creatures with more than three toughness that see play in cEDH. Add mass artifact destruction as an option for when there aren't enough creatures to warrant a wipe and you've got a powerful tool for levelling the playing field.

The only problem is Delayed Blast Fireball, printed in Battle for Baldur's Gate and likely the superior option. While it only deals two damage, it's instant speed and asymmetrical to boot, making it a far easier inclusion for most decks. Still, if you're looking to keep the board under control over the course of the game, Brotherhood's End offers two great options. Either hold back your artifacts a turn or two so you can clean up everyone else's, or hold back your creatures and do the same.

Sardian Avenger

This is Dockside Extortionist's other half. The good half, the one destined to bring balance to the Treasures. Just like his dock-dwelling predecessor, Sardian Avenger counts the whole table's artifacts, not just one player's. That guarantees he'll hit hard, hard enough to make an Ad Nauseam player's life harder (and lower) than they'd like it to be.

On top of that, Dockside Extortionist loops and Lion's Eye Diamond loops become impossible with the Avenger in play. The chip damage from this static ability doesn't seem likely to matter, but it's a must-remove thorn in the side of anyone wanting to combo off with Treasures. As to what sort of a deck would actually want this sort of anti-artifact tech, it's hard to say. First strike and trample make it a valuable attacker, but decks that want good attackers usually want them at one mana.


Haywire Mite

A massive upgrade on Caustic Caterpillar. At least, that's what Haywire Mite looks like at first glance. It's colorless (easier to find mana for) and it costs one less to active (quicker to activate) so what's not to love?

For one, Caustic Caterpillar isn't the Naturalize on legs that it used to be. Outland Liberator is the new favorite. For another, green decks in cEDH love one more creature than any other, our friend Collector Ouphe. As an activated ability on an artifact creature, Haywire Mite can easily clash with the Ouphe and Null Rod, two incredibly common hate pieces.

The "noncreature" clause is also more of a detriment than it might look at first. It won't hit Spirit of the Labyrinth, Eidolon of Rhetoric or Ethersworn Canonist, three major stax pieces that can get in the way of otherwise game-winning combos. You can't even tutor Haywire Mite out with Green Sun's Zenith!

To really want Haywire Mite instead of either Caustic Caterpillar or Outland Liberator, the fact it exiles rather than destroys has to be important to you. If it isn't, find an extra mana to spare and play Haywire Mite's organic predecessor.

Rootpath Purifier

Rootpath Purifier is a cute way of getting maximum value out of a Prismatic Vista. Grab a Cradle, grab a Saga, get any land you like - they're all basics.

As for how that translates to cEDH? Poorly. It's a sweet interaction and in a high end landfall deck I'm sure there's no limit to it's uses, but cEDH decks just don't have four mana lying around for such an incidental bonus. Being asymmetrical, it's noteable that Rootpath Purifier can save you and nobody else from a Blood Moon, but that's still not worth four mana.


Queen Kayla bin-Kroog

Finally, a Boros commander that breaks parity on stax and cheats mana costs! Card advantage paired with mana advantage is a potent combo indeed and Queen Kayla bin-Kroog takes both concepts to the extreme. For just four mana a turn Queen Kayla can get six mana worth of permanents into play and she'll still leave you with the same size hand you had before you activated her.

As it works for both creatures and artifacts, this is an incredible way of "cheating" stax effects into play. Without enchantments, Queen Kayla bin-Kroog will miss out on Rule of Law, Deafening Silence and a few others, but there's no reason they can't be played in the 99. There are more than enough stax pieces spread out between one and three mana that a Queen Kayla bin-Kroog activation should give maximum value every single time.

One of the biggest challenges for any stax deck is how to get around its own stax. Queen Kayla bin-Kroog's beauty is that she can develop the board without ever casting a spell! Better yet, once you've revealed your cards from a Queen Kayla activation, your opponents won't have priority to respond to that. That means fetches can't be cracked in response to a Magus of the Moon! This is sounding very similar to another Boros queen...

Which raises the question, why not just play Winota, Joiner of Forces? "Because I don't want to" is a perfectly valid response to that, but let's quickly look at the similarities. Obviously, they share a color identity, one that does best focusing on stax pieces and disruptive effects. Queen Kayla might be one mana cheaper to get into play, but she also takes a full turn to actually do anything, not to mention an ongoing mana investment. I think that's enough to relegate Queen Kayla bin-Kroog to being Winota second fiddle, but she may be fun to play for her own reasons.

Urza, Lord Protector

We've seen instant and sorcery cost reducers in the command zone (Vadrik, Astral Archmage, Mizzix of the Izmagnus) and we've seen artifact reducers in the command zone (recently, in the form of Stenn, Paranoid Partisan) but not until Urza, Lord Protector have we seen all three at the same time in a single package.

The most obvious thing to do with this is set up the classic Sensei's Divining Top combo, substituting Helm of Awakening with Urza, Lord Protector and Future Sight with the modern alternative, The Reality Chip. That's straightforward to assemble, easy to cast, and sure to win you the game. But is it an improvement on what we already have?

It's almost precisely on par with Stenn, Paranoid Partisan as far as I'm concerned. Sure, discounting instants and sorceries is nice, but the majority of them only cost 1cmc to begin with, making the discount useless. If you're already enchanted with Stenn then Urza, Lord Protector is another option for doing the same thing.

But if you're already on Elsha of the Infinite, a commander looking to combo in almost the exact same manner? Stay put. The additional color and card advantage is worth more than the incidental cost reduction. I admit, I'm not crazy about Urza, Lord Protector, but if you want to see a powerful preliminary brew, check out this list from Joking101.


Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter

Hell will freeze before colorless commanders can pull their own weight in cEDH. The legendary nature of Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter might matter for Captain Sisay decks, but this is a card for the 99, courtesy of how similar it is to Shimmer Myr. Better, in fact. The meta has moved on since, but there was a time when Shimmer Myr was a sign of impending doom in the hands of Zur the Enchanter after they'd sunk most of their life into a Necropotence.

For that purpose, Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter is both redundancy and an upgrade. If you need to attack with your combo pieces you know you're in a spot of bother, but it doesn't hurt that can also become a growing, flying threat without much extra effort.

The Brothers Snore?

The Brothers War is less powerful than I'd hoped it would be. Artifact-centric sets have a history of far too powerful cards that require banning, but it seems like the powers that be have learned their lesson. In fact, there were only two artifacts even worth covering, neither of which will make waves in cEDH.

More than anything, I'm thrilled white has so many new tools. We're not there yet, but we're rapidly approaching the day that white feels like a genuine addition to a deck's color identity. I'm also excited to see Queen Kayla bin-Kroog start showing up. Even if she does end up a pale imitation of Winota, there's something so fascinating about such an offbeat effect in Boros.

What did I miss? What are you most excited for? Is Defabricate better than I gave it credit for? Is Calamity's Wake too symmetrical to be useful? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on twitter @Jake_FitzSimons.

  1. And sisters, and siblings of any description, a warm g'day to all of you. But c'mon, the set acronym is literally BRO.
  2. More, if you think of Haywire Mite and Machine God Effigy as colorless cards.
  3. A false version of Myrel was circulating online that showed her cost at just two white mana.
  4. The other four were Swift Reconfiguration in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Luxior, Giada's Gift in Streets of New Capenna, Myrkul, Lord of Bones in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate and Captain Rex Nebula in Unfinity.

Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.