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Razorlash Transmogrant Art by Kekai Kotaki

The Brothers’ War Limited Set Review: Black

Our complete review of all the The Brothers' War cards, for limited (sealed and draft).

Hey everyone! We’re back for day three of our limited review of The Brothers War. Today we’re going to be going over every card in Black.

We’ll be using the normal grading scale described below. The biggest difference from previous sets is that I am going to be lumping artifacts with a color identity in with their color. This is a combination of Wizards numbering system and not wanting to have one article be longer than War and Peace. All grades on them are assuming that you can easily pay the colored cost.

I’m really proud of myself for getting through that introduction without making a BRO joke. With that said, let’s get on to what’s going on literally back in the day.

Here’s the usual grading scale:

Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist

Rating: 3.0/5

It’s pretty cool for us boomers to finally get an Ashnod card after hearing about her since Antiquities. Before someone is like “actually…”, I am aware of the Vanguard card. Let’s be honest here, barely anyone knows what that format is and it was relevant for less time than Magic: Legends.

Deathtouch is going to perform much better in a format full of massive chonkers. It seems unlikely that you are going to be getting many powerstones from it since it requires Ashnod to be attacking, but it is a nice option to have against enchantment removal.

She’s also opened up a local chapter of the Build-A-Zombie Workshop to let you generate some value out of your minions that are no longer with us. That’s a great grindy mechanic that can even be paid for by powerstones.

Ashnod’s Intervention

Rating: 1.5/5

They change this effect up almost every set with a pretty huge delta in effectiveness. Returning it to hand instead of to play is a huge step down from cards like Undying Malice when it could have been an amazing way to upgrade from prototype. The best use is going to be trading up with something with an enters the battlefield effect.

The exile text does make it work with being able to recycle an unearthed creature though.

Battlefield Butcher

Rating: 2.0/5

What is this butcher serving up to make them lose two life? This can be a decent way to get across the finish line once the ability is almost free, but the body doesn’t offer up much resistance against some of the bigger creatures running around.

Carrion Locust

Rating: 1.5/5

It’s nice if this can pick off an unearth creature while pinging them for one. On curve, it’s probably just a slightly below rate creature.


Rating: 2.5/5

I feel like I’m repeating myself with this cycle, but don’t play this if you aren’t heavy this color. You can get away with this one as long as you have nine swamps in your deck because even an overpriced drain for three is an acceptable downside when it has a ceiling this high.

Diabolic Intent

Rating: 1.5/5

This might be busted in some constructed formats, but tutors are not where you really want to be in limited unless you have something you REALLY want to get. It might have shades of Demonic Tutor by only costing two, but sacrificing a creature is a very real cost. That takes away a lot of the versatility of getting anything such as a land on turn two when you need it.

Disciples of Gix

Rating: 1.5/5

These disciples are pretty lame and need to make better decisions with their lives because following Gix has gotten them nowhere. A 4/4 for six in the ramp format that you can’t use the ramp to cast is just sad. You need a critical mass of Unearth cards that are actually worth bringing back to even start considering playing this.


Rating: 2.5/5

A complete house against the aggressive decks and basically a combat trick against the decks that Sir Mix-a-Lot prefers (for you zoomers, those are the ones with the large bottoms).

Dreams of Steel and Oil

Rating: 2.5/5

Selective discard in limited is something that a lot of people rightfully frown upon. The main problem is that if you draw it late it’s often a dead draw. This, however, is a format where people are trying to play the late game so you will often get an opportunity to hit something important with this. It also can incidentally pick off an unearth card in the graveyard as a little bonus.

The exile clause is also relevant because there are reanimation spells in this format.

Emergency Weld

Rating: 2.5/5

Just picture Gravedigger saying “I shall call him Mini Me”. Raise dead effects have been gaining value as the power level of other cards have risen. It’s a lot better to get back something that’s going to be worth multiple cards than just playing a generic creature.

Fateful Handoff

Rating: 1.5/5

This is an odd one as it can draw you a ridiculous number of cards in exchange for handing something over to your opponent. It does combo nicely with Unearth and it is actually a good sideboard card against decks playing enchantment removal, but not something I particularly want to be playing otherwise.

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

Rating: 4.5/5

The card draw ability is not limited to once per turn or anything silly like that, you just bash in with a few guys, draw multiple cards, and crush them. It’s even an optional ability so you can’t lock yourself out of attacking.

The nature of the second ability is one that is going to lead to a ton of absurd screenshots. That means I’m prepared to get sent plenty of unsolicited Gix Pics.

Gix’s Caress

Rating: 2.0/5

This seems like a key card in the battle cruiser mirrors. Taking away their payoff while getting closer to your own is big game. The potential problem with this one is if they top deck No One Left Behind or Repair and Recharge, you could actually be fueling them getting their best threat out earlier. It’s also not great against aggressive decks.

Gix’s Command

Rating: 4.0/5

I got 99 problems, but a Gix ain’t one. Seriously this command can solve many of the issues you could run into.

Getting beat down? Just wipe out the small creatures, while making a massive creature with lifelink.

Deep into a battlecruiser mirror? Make them sacrifice their biggest monster while casting a Soul Salvage to get your best two creatures back.

Gixian Infiltrator

Rating: 2.0/5

There aren’t enough cheap sacrifice effects to consistently keep this thing growing, but it’s still a solid addition to your curve that can stay far enough above rate to matter. Since it’s any permanent, that means you can get a counter off of following this up with Evolving Wilds. This could have been a real contender if Unearth was a sacrifice instead of an exile.  

Gixian Puppeteer

Rating: 3.5/5

Draining your opponent for two is a pretty good incentive to draw some extra cards. You know, if somehow you needed a reason to want to draw more cards.

I don’t understand the flavor of the recursion ability though. If they are puppeteering these dead bodies and they die, wouldn’t the puppet just stop moving instead of coming back to fight?

Gixian Skullflayer

Rating: 1.5/5

It’s a grower, not a shower. Unfortunately, it grows slowly and will be outclassed by the time it starts to do something. Having three creatures in your graveyard is a criterion that’s almost automatic later, but difficult to hit early.

Gnawing Vermin

Rating: 2.0/5

Shambling Ghast without the treasure option still plays the same role against aggressive decks. In most cases you want to be milling yourself with this to both enable the number of creature cards in graveyard abilities and possibly get some value with unearth.

Go for the Throat

Rating: 3.0/5

This is still a premium removal at two mana even if it can’t hit a bunch of the bigger creatures in the format.

Gruesome Realization

Rating: 2.0/5

This is a solid set of options that is good against two very different scenarios. Though only being -1/-1 instead of an Infest effect makes it a lot less likely to ever actually be great.

Gurgling Anointer

Rating: 2.0/5

I’m not sure what a Gurgling Anointer is and I’m not sure I want that information taking up space in my head.

You have to have at least four ways to trigger this to be happy playing this. Otherwise, it’s below rate and going to do stone nothing when it leaves unless you happen to have a one drop in your yard.

Hostile Negotiations

Rating: 1.5/5

I do love these types of cards with little mini games baked into them. Not for the potential power, but for adding something extra to the game. It just feels like such a win when you trick your opponent into choosing the wrong pile. There’s actually a lot that goes into the decision, but I think people will give you the face up pile most of the time because the face down one could be anything, even a boat.

Despite all of that, it’s still Ambition's Cost with an opportunity for your opponent to have a decision in whether or not you get the right cards.

Kill-Zone Acrobat

Rating: 2.0/5

There aren’t a lot of cards that you are going to actively want to sacrifice just to give this flying. The biggest one that comes to mind is Ichor Wellspring, but even then, I think you can find better ways to sacrifice it.

Misery’s Shadow

Rating: 3.5/5

Back in my day (Editor’s note: Someone get Josh his meds or we’re going to have to hear another boomer rant) Nantuko Shade was one of the most powerful creatures in Type 2 (or standard as you whipper snappers call it). This is a strictly better version and it’s just really good, but not quite amazing in limited. That’s power creep for you.

Basically, it makes blocking profitably almost impossible so it’s a “do you have removal” card. Unfortunately, the answer is usually yes.

Moment of Defiance

Rating: 2.0/5

I do love drawing a card with this especially with all of the triggers for drawing two cards in a turn. It will swing a race really fast and this is something that you need to keep in mind when you’re sending your side all in so you don’t leave yourself Dobbers.

The only real drawbacks are that it’s hard to sneak a three-mana trick in and that whole thing about leaving yourself open to get blown out.

No One Left Behind

Rating: 2.5/5

I like this for many of the same reasons that I like Repair and Recharge. It’s a great way to take advantage of Prototype and self-mill in a format lousy with them. The discount is a great option to have if you are just trying to get some early pressure in.

Overwhelming Remorse

Rating: 3.5/5

In general, unconditional removal is more valuable in a format building up to large creatures. The ceiling of exiling a creature or planeswalker for one mana is completely insane. It will usually end up being around three mana by the time anything worth using it on appears, but even that is a bargain.

Painful Quandary

Rating: 2.0/5

This can be really annoying, but it’s really more of a win more card. If you can play a five-mana spell that doesn’t affect the board and lets your opponent choose the less painful option on it, did you really need that to win? It just slows them down and forces them into painful decisions.

Powerstone Fracture

Rating: 2.5/5

As long as you have some sacrifice fodder, I rate the first one at 2.5 and it rapidly drops off from there. If you have multiple things that you actively want to sacrifice like Ichor Wellspring, then rate the second one there as well.

I almost forgot to mention that as the name implies, the most common thing being sacrificed should be powerstones.

Ravenous Gigamole

Rating: 2.0/5

I wanted to make a comment about this Gigamole being a GigaChad. Unfortunately, a Gravedigger that can only hit from the top three cards is just going to be alright.

If your deck is about 1/3 creatures than this should hit, but it’s nowhere close to a guarantee. A low roll leaves you with a four mana 3/4 which is straight up sad trombones. Maybe next time gigamole.

Thran Vigil

Rating: 1.0/5

This is a very heavy build around that I want nothing to do with. Did it really need the “on your turn” so you don’t even get to punish them for removing cards from your yard.


Rating: 2.0/5

This would have been so much better without the tap symbol. It’s already three to activate, but I guess I have to hold my Grizzly Bear back on defense to threaten the card draw now.

Got some extra powerstones laying around? You can tap a powerstone to pay for part of it’s ability and then sacrifice it to this to dig for more gas.

Trench Stalker

Rating: 2.0/5

A four power lifelinker can swing a race and surprise deathtouch can wreak havoc upon a multiblock. Kind of difficult to fit more than one of these into your deck at five mana, but can have a serious effect on the game if you can enable it.

Ashnod’s Harvester

Rating: 2.5/5

A 3/1 for two is totally fine on rate and exiling cards from a graveyard actually matters in a set with unearth. Its own unearth ability is cheap enough that it can let you go wider while still holding up mana for tricks.

Clay Revenant

Rating: 2.0/5

A really annoying card that can help you stall until you can start deploying your real threats. A wonderful card to use with Powerstone Fracture since it’s going to end up coming right back.

Dredging Claw

Rating: 1.5/5

Obviously designed to make your unearthed creatures have a bit more oomph to them. I just don’t think it does enough for the mana outside of that.

Goring Warplow

Rating: 2.0/5

A giant deathtoucher gets me really excited to combine with Whirling Strike to crush my opponents hopes and dreams. As I’ve said a few times, Deathtouch should be an overperformer in this format.

Phyrexian Fleshgorger

Rating: 4.0/5

Wow, this is a freaking tank of gas. A 3/3 menace with lifelink and ward-pay 3 life all for three mana is going to pull you ahead really fast. They deal with it, then you can reanimate it and Daddy comes out to play.

This is another one that is so powerful that I would play it even without the ability to pay for prototype.

Razorlash Transmogrant

Rating: 2.5/5

Let me check the lands in the set…yeah, it’s never going to be discounted. Still a decent rate that can come back slightly bigger while getting those powerstone contributions to paying that big old cost.

Scrapwork Rager

Rating: 2.5/5

Someone at Wizards was like “What if Phyrexian Rager cost one more mana, but we gave it Flashback?” I really hope its playtest name was something ridiculous like Hollaback Rager.

Transmogrant Altar

Rating: 1.5/5

This really needs a combination of Clay Revenant or a token maker along with a desire to hit a redonkulous amount of mana quickly. Build around without that great of a payoff.

Transmogrant’s Crown

Rating: 3.0/5

Now this is a Bonesplitter that I can get behind. The equip cost of a single black mana is a huge difference from even two colorless since you can easily move it around after combat to pump up your defense.

It puts your opponent in the position to either take a bunch of damage or let you draw a card potentially triggering your draw two abilities. They also don’t want to attack in and trade down while giving you a card.

Wrap Up

Black is another divided color split between sacrifice synergies, draw two cards a turn triggers, and self-mill + Unearth shenanigans. It has two common unconditional removal in Overwhelming Response and Powerstone Fracture. It also has known destroyer of aggro decks Disfigure back down to common as well. Overall, it looks like a very strong color that can supplement most gameplans.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my The Brothers War Limited Review of Red. Until then, stay classy Magic people.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

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Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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