Magic's last premium expansion of 2022 brings players back in time to the legendary Brother's War. Originally depicted in the game's second-ever expansion back in 1994, the tale of Urza and Mishra commanding opposing armies of machines is one of the biggest events in the history of Magic: The Gathering. Depicting that event makes for a strange set of cards in modern times, and player diving into the draft and sealed formats at their local game store may run into some hurdles if they don't know what they're in for. Each color has a role to play, but the victors of this particular skirmish may surprise you.
Since we're talking about limited, my card choices are as constrained as the format. Rares and mythics are great additions to many of the strategies discussed below, but you can't count on them showing up. However, if you see any of the powerful commons and uncommons I'm about to discuss, and you can support their game plan, be sure to scoop them up. With that upkeep step out of the way, here are my picks for the best pickups in any limited poll across every color and the all-important colorless artifacts that attempt to steal the show.
MTG Brother's War - White
We start things off with Urza's side of the color pie. White is about gathering forces to oppose the huge monsters that other colors rely on. This reflects in the Soldier tribal theme that goes through most of the color's cards, and any deck heavily investing in Plains will likely end up with tribal synergies by default. In my experience, the go-wide strategy was a winner more often than not, as the creatures in White can outrun the huge monsters and lock them down in prison when they arrive. I'll talk more about the deck in the second on Blue, as my pick for White's best sleeper is an odd duck.
Meticulous Excavation is a one-mana enchantment that allows players to bounce their permanents to their hand, but only on their turn. It looks expensive at first, but the three-mana ability can combo with several other common cards to create a game-winning combo with relative ease. My favorite version involves Mask of the Jadecrafter in a Green/White deck. Playing the mask in the midgame can create a 5/5 or bigger Golem token, and you can get the mask back with its unearth ability. Leaving up the mana to reclaim the mask and then bounce it to your hand means that your opponent has to contend with an endless stream of evergrowing rock monsters. It's a great backup plan in case your soldiers and elves get crushed underfoot by whatever your opponent is doing, and it's just one way to take advantage of this unique enchantment in the format.
MTG Brother's War - Blue
Blue decks commonly go one of two ways as you build them. Either you have an army of air support with a supporting cast of white creatures playing up soldier synergies, or you go for a slow game full of stall tactics, counters, and card draw. There are plenty of ways to build out the control plan (one of my favorite parts of Brother's War limited is how varied the decks can end up in both draft and sealed), but soldier decks are much more appealing to my sensibilities. Even if you don't hit any synergistic rares, there's enough power in the base pieces to put up a fighting chance if you pick well.
Zephyr Sentinel isn't going to turn anyone's head as they open an MTG Brother's War booster, but this flying Soldier offers a lot of value in a small package. In a deck built all around Soldiers, you have a Fading Hope with a 3/2 body that can swoop in on an opponent's turn to mess up attacks. This can save your best creature or get one more use out of a powerful ETB trigger. The fact that the Sentinel flies is also vital since it can punch through stalled board states and intercept your opponent's annoying thopters. Even if you're not fully committed to Soldier tribal, there are enough creatures that incidentally trigger the +1/+1 counter lying around to make this more than worthy of inclusion in any aggressively minded Blue pile.
MTG Brother's War - Black
The color of Phyrexian oil is split between several familiar themes in MTG Brother's War. There's support for sacrifice strategies that will likely go over better in Standard and some interesting card draw choices. However, the best way to go if you're playing black is all in on the graveyard. Several self-mill cards can load up your yard with Unearth targets, and several other key pieces care about cards buried six feet under. In a format all about huge mechanized beaters, the best way to ensure victory is to keep those monsters on the field, and that's exactly what Black's sleeper is all about.
No One Left Behind is another in a line of improved takes on Rise Again, but the ability to give new life to one of your dead creatures takes on more importance in a format where a 10/10 with Trample isn't out of the question. Even the smallest creatures with the new Prototype ability will work well with this card, as you can get the smaller version earlier in the game and then cheat the fully powered battle station online on turn 5. Even if you don't play the first version, Black and Green have enough milling matters cards that you'll have plenty of choices whenever you draw into No One Left Behind, and the card is even a cheap way to get back a smaller creature in a pinch. When in doubt, Raise Dead.
MTG Brother's War - Red
Red is the color that best reflects Mishra in the war with his more famous brother. The man who would eventually become a Phyrexian puppet was rash and hasty throughout the conflict, and the red cards throughout the Brother's War follow suit. Damage spells, a multiple-choice version of Fireball, and even some limited land destruction is what to expect when embracing the flame. In my time with Limited, Red was another color where going wide with smaller creatures often paid off, especially when paired with the destructive power of Black. The lynchpin of that particular deck is also my favorite card that bears the color.
Although he isn't a Warrior or a Soldier, the Junkyard Genius knows a thing or two about warcraft. You can turn any respectable board into a game-ending threat for the cost of three mana and the loss of one creature or a spare Powerstone. The power boost combined with Menace and Haste is always more devastating than it looks, especially if you and your opponent have found yourselves in a stalemate. The fact that you can repeat this effect over and over if you have a steady supply of sacrifice fodder pushes things over the top and makes the Genius a must-answer card for anyone not looking to have a face full of Goblin fists.
Green is the odd color out in MTG Brother's War, representing the natural world in a conflict defined by artifice. It seems that Wizards of the Coast boosted the power of the color to make up for this perceived gap, as I found most of my success in Green as my games went on throughout the BRO preview event. Green efficiently takes out most threats across the rest of the colors and slots nicely into a support role with several strategies. Its natural abilities to ramp also come into play for those who want to utilize the titanic mechs of the set, but my sleeper pick specializes in ruining those game plans.
Limited formats almost always have a spider to let green decks take care of all manner of flying threats, but our eight-legged friends are rarely this good at just about everything. Skyfisher Spider lets you trade your worst creature for your opponent's best permanent, and that's before it goes into combat with a 3/3 body that can more than pull its weight in the midgame. The minor life gain as the spider leaves the battlefield feels like a trap, as I'd much rather get this card back and play it again to take out another Mythic monster. Any Black deck worth its salt should be able to get that done, making this a removal spell on legs that is absolutely deadly in multiples.
MTG Brother's War - Artifacts
One of my favorite discoveries early on with MTG Brother's War Limited is the colorless deck. When you combine the many different artifact creatures throughout the set with the retro frame machines from Magic's past, you can build all sorts of unique and interesting decks that don't much care what colors you're playing. Sure, Unearth costs and premium rares can dictate which basics you grab, but it's very possible to sit down and play through winning games using only automatons and the Powerstones they generate.
Self-Assembler is one of the many retro artifacts you'll run into while drafting, and it has a backup strategy that Kaladesh players will remember fondly. Grabbing multiples of this card can provide excellent smoothing in an otherwise rough game. Dropping a line of 4/4s onto the battlefield can ruin plenty of plans, and the card is even better in this specific format. Not only can Self-Assembler grab copies of itself, but it also tutors up the creatures making up the new Urzatron and several other Assembly-Workers making their debut. It will be extremely rare to build an entire deck around this ability, but it can be a lynchpin in grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat.
TechRaptor previewed The Brother's War on MTG Arena in the creator's preview event. We received access to an account with boosted currency in order to enter into multiple drafts and sealed events throughout the event.