The Brothers' War Set Review - Gold II

Ben Doolittle • November 11, 2022

(Fallaji Vanguard | Art by Joshua Cairos)

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

Archimandrites, Iconoclasts, and Toymakers

The Brother's War is finally upon us. This look back into the past has given new life to old lore, and let beloved characters realize their full potential in cardboard. They say hindsight is 20/20, so let's see what the past has to say about our future decks.

New Commanders

The Archimandrite

We start out strong with a new commander that adds support to two tribes that haven't really had much of an identity up to now. Magic has plenty of Monks and Artificers, but The Archimandrite is the first legendary creature to mention either specifically. The main attraction here is her middle ability to boost your Monks, Advisors, and Artificers based on how much life you gain. This rewards you for gaining big chunks of life at once rather than something like Archangel of Thune, which cares about many smaller instances. She can also help you gain life whenever you start your turn with more than four cards in hand. Bringing it all together, she lets you tap three creatures to draw a card, ensuring you can easily gain three life every turn.

The Archimandrite feels very Jeskai, rewarding you for keeping your hand by buffing your creatures. This makes it easy to keep casting spells to trigger prowess for Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, Monastery Swiftspear, and Monk tokens created by Jaya, Fiery Negotiator. Your creatures don't even need haste to draw cards with The Archimandrite, so she works extremely well in conjunction with Jeskai Ascendancy, drawing through your library to keep casting spells and making your creatures even bigger.

True Conviction is also a devastating card if The Archimandrite is your commander. When your creatures deal first strike damage, you'll gain a ton of life, which The Archimandrite converts into even more damage when regular damage is dealt. That damage will also cause you to gain even more life, setting up Aetherflux Reservoir to obliterate any remaining resistance.

Artificers and Advisors are less common creature types, and don't care as much as Monks about the combat step. Mavinda, Students' Advocate and Ledger Shredder are both valuable additions, while Artificers give you a little more synergy with powerful artifacts like Sword of War and Peace and Alhammarret's Archive.

Queen Kayla bin-Kroog

Red and white have been getting lots of tools to use the graveyard, a tradition that Queen Kayla bin-Kroog continues. For four mana, you get to wheel, then return an artifact or creature with mana cost one, two, and three to return from your graveyard to play. This is powerful card selection in a color pair famously mocked for lacking it. You can even turn Kayla's effect into card advantage with creatures that return to your hand.

Reinforced Ronin, Whitemane Lion, and Stonecloaker repeatedly return to your hand, ensuring you see more and more cards every turn. Aviary Mechanic even lets you return any permanent to your hand, recycling other abilities that trigger when artifacts enter the battlefield.

Focusing on artifacts lets you apply pressure with Reckless Fireweaver, Ingenious Artillerist, and Dragonspark Reactor. You can also use Cursed Mirror to get around the mana value restriction on Queen Kayla bin-Kroog's ability. Use it to copy Sun Titan, Angel of the Ruins, or Combustible Gearhulk. Of course, you can always use Queen Kayla bin-Kroog to discard those creatures and then bring them back, with Goblin Welder or Breath of Life, whichever you prefer.

There are also mass reanimation spells that can bring back everything you've discarded during the game. Ascend from Avernus is very mana-efficient if you stick to one-, two-, or three-cost creatures, while Triumphant Reckoning simply brings everything back. Whatever approach you take, Queen Kayla bin-Kroog brings a ton of value to the table.

Tawnos, the Toymaker

Copying spells is always powerful, even if it's only very specific ones. At his most generic, Tawnos, the Toymaker fits into Tribal Tribal decks with lots of Changelings. Doubling the triggers of Risen Reef and Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign generates incredible amounts of advantage. For a more straightforward approach, there are plenty of powerful Birds and Beasts to copy.

Craterhoof Behemoth and Thunderfoot Baloth are both Beasts, while Curiosity Crafter and Ledger Shredder come down earlier to keep the cards flowing. Because the token copies are also artifacts, you can even use Mechanized Production and Echo Storm to create even more copies.

If you don't mind getting weird with the rules, however, Tawnos, the Toymaker also works extremely well with Mutate creatures. The token copies will Mutate onto the same creature you target with the original spell, doubling the effects of cards like Pouncing Shoreshark and Dreamtail Heron.

If anything can be learned from Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief and Volo, Guide to Monsters, this will be a powerful way to build Tawnos, the Toymaker. As confusing as it is, Mutate is a powerful mechanic that generates a lot of value, even without doubling all your triggers. Even if you opt to play Tawnos without Mutate, however, he offers a ton of value and can threaten to end the game relatively quickly.

Mythic Rare

Saheeli, Filigree Master

The Brother's War only comes with one mythic rare in an enemy color pair: Saheeli, Filigree Master. I usually try to judge planeswalker cards by their plus abilities, but this Saheeli gets her ultimate ability at a mere four loyalty, and it's a powerful one. An emblem that gives your artifact creatures +1/+1 and reduces their cost? Sign me up. A single Proliferate trigger from Flux Channeler or Thrummingbird is enough to get two powerful effects that your opponents can't get rid of. Deepglow Skate sets you up to get multiple emblems from Saheeli, Filigree Master, letting you run wild with free Myr Retrievers and 3/3 Thopter tokens. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain decks don't play many spells that cost more than three mana, but Saheeli, Filigree Master could certainly earn a spot.

That doesn't mean you should overlook Saheeli in big artifact decks, though. Her first ability is an excellent source of card selection and advantage. Mycosynth Lattice doesn't mind being tapped, and you might actually want to tap Howling Mine to deny your opponents extra cards. In particular, Saheeli, Filigree Master fits right alongside Forsaken Monument in your Saheeli, the Gifted and Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders decks. And, of course, anything that makes tokens is worth considering for Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer.

Rares & Uncommons

Legions to Ashes

If you find yourself across the table from someone with powerful tokens, then you could certainly consider Legions to Ashes as an answer. Being a sorcery certainly feels like a knock against this card, but Maelstrom Pulse is played in just over 10,000 decks according to EDHREC. Against certain decks, these cards are essentially targeted board wipes, and Legions to Ashes gets around Flawless Maneuver and other common answers to Wrath of God.

It's also very flexible exile-based removal, preventing your opponent from recurring Myr Battlesphere and Angel of the Ruins over and over again. As tokens become more prevalent, Maelstrom Pulse may be worth reconsidering in your removal suite, and Legions to Ashes is a worthy companion.

Deathbloom Ritualist

It will be tempting to try and maximize Deathbloom Ritualist by having ten or more creatures in your graveyard, but even at five mana this is a powerful effect with only three or four fallen comrades. Three dead creatures puts you on par with Gilded Lotus, but Deathbloom Ritualist will quickly outpace it. Decks that already care about untapping creatures, like Lathril, Blade of the Elves, will naturally make excellent use of the mana from this card. Additionally, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant easily refills your graveyard after Bojuka Bog hits the field, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang only needs one color of mana to activate his ability. Deathbloom Ritualist may seem to suffer in comparison to similar creatures, but Sanctum Weaver, Circle of Dreams Druid, and Bloom Tender don't reach their full until turn five or later either, and if you can immediately tap for five or six mana, does it really matter how much it cost up front? Just be sure to stay away from Tormod's Crypt.

Hero of the Dunes

Hero of the Dunes may not be Sun Titan, but it's pretty darn close. Thanks to Goldmire Bridge and Vault of Whispers, Hero of the Dunes really only misses out on enchantments (and planeswalkers, but how many three-mana planeswalkers are you playing?). The +1/+0 to your small creatures is relevant as well, since many aristocrats and blink decks already accrue tokens over time. Hero of the Dunes makes your Servo and Thopter tokens twice as deadly, letting you turn the corner to start winning the game in Teysa Karlov, Myrkul, Lord of Bones, and Aminatou, the Fateshifter decks. Never underestimate the combination of card advantage and win condition.

Third Path Iconoclast

You may be tempted to think of Third Path Iconoclast as a new take on Young Pyromancer, but this card is so much more. It fits into a much wider set of decks because it triggers whenever you cast a noncreature spell, not just an instant or sorcery. If you want extra blockers for your planeswalkers, Third Path Iconoclast has your back. If you're playing an even spread of enchantments and artifacts, Third Path Iconoclast won't judge you.

Artifacts are where this card will really shine, however, because the tokens it makes are also artifacts. That lets you quickly build up counters on Dragonspark Reactor, take chunks out of life totals with Ingenious Artillerist, and easily achieve the conditions to win with Mechanized Production. It isn't flashy, but Third Path Iconoclast fits into a ton of archetypes, especially artifact and spellslinger decks.

Skyfisher Spider

Aristocrats decks are always looking for more ways to sacrifice creatures, and Skyfisher Spider has the added benefit of removing a permanent when you do. It isn't flashy, but this is the exact kind of card that ties a deck together and makes sure everything works. Recycling it with Karador, Ghost Chieftain or Muldrotha, the Gravetide keeps your Blood Artists happy, and blinking it with Yannik, Scavenging Sentinel lets you keep drawing cards with Nikara, Lair Scavenger. Having the added option to gain some life later on in the game is valuable as well, especially in these kinds of grindy, graveyard-focused decks.

Fallaji Vanguard

Very similar to Third Path Iconoclast, Fallaji Vanguard doesn't have a flashy ability, but it definitely gets the job done. Adding white to Ogre Battledriver gives you first strike and the ability to pump any creature whenever another enters play. This is great for token decks that can build armies in moments, letting you buff an unblockable Phantom Warrior for big damage. If your commander has evasion (looking at you, Kykar, Wind's Fury), this lets you go for the win with commander damage.

If your tokens have haste, you can alternately set up a massive charge to overwhelm your opponents. I actually really like Fallaji Vanguard in spellslinger decks, where it turns Young Pyromancer and Third Path Iconoclast into serious amounts of damage. It also fits right in with Duke Ulder Ravengard. A Fallaji Vanguard with Myriad gives another attacking creature twelve extra power, while copying any other creature still provides a hefty +4/+0.

Battery Bearer

Simic isn't a color combination known for its fondness of artifacts, but that shouldn't dissuade you from giving Battery Bearer a try. Turning all of your creatures into Powerstone tokens might not help you cast nonartifact spells, but it's great for activating abilities. Thrasios, Triton Hero, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Kenrith, the Returned King base their power entirely on their abilities, which Battery Bearer helps you activate faster and more often.

Don't sleep on the artifact half of this card either, however. Casting Spine of Ish Sah and Myr Battlesphere over and over again is a solid game plan no matter your color identity. The Brother's War added a lot of support for this style of deck. Cityscape Leveler, The Temporal Anchor, and Portal to Phyrexia are powerful artifacts that fit naturally into a deck helmed by Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood and Brinelin, the Moon Kraken. These two normally helm Sea Monster themed decks, but neither specifically cares about creature spells.

And that's all for this half of the Brother's War multi-color set review. There's a lot of exciting new cards here, but I'm especially glad to see The Archimandrite and Battery Bearer, which open up new archetypes for their colors. Getting a true Monk tribal commander is awesome as well. How do you feel about these cards? Have any new commanders grabbed your attention, or are you mostly looking to upgrade existing decks? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.