Hey everyone! We’re back once again for everyone’s favorite time of year! No, I’m not talking about the McRib… Why would anyone be excited for that… It’s new Magic set season and the full spoiler for The Brothers’ War just dropped so I’m going to be reviewing the entire set for you.
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:
- 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Tovolar's Huntmaster, The Meathook Massacre, Starnheim Unleashed)
- 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Alrund's Epiphany, Grand Master of Flowers)
- 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Froghemoth, Morbid Opportunist, Skullport Merchant)
- 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Magic Missile, Cathartic Pyre, Battle Cry Goblin)
- 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Usher of the Fallen, Search Party Captain, Dragon Turtle)
- 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Mourning Patrol, Steadfast Paladin, Goblin Morningstar)
- 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Contact Other Plane, Mindleech Ghoul, Timberland Guide)
- 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Secrets of the Key, Spiked Pit Trap, Village Rites)
- 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Secret Door, Mystic Skull, Funeral Longboat)
- 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. (You See a Guard Approach, Bramble Armor, Compelled Duel)
- 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. (Mimic, Change of Fortune, Curse of Shaken Faith)
I’m not looking to get too aero-naughty with this. If I do, it’s really more of a one-off thing that I’m not willing to invest too much into. It can function as a top end in the soldiers deck, but I just want more out of five mana these days.
Definitely not remotely in the same league as Inspiring Overseer, but better than it looks at a glance. It’s much harder to trade off with one power than it is with two so you’re not often going to get actual card advantage out of this. Even though it looks like card selection, it’s very limited so it will often miss leaving you with a Wind Drake that maybe milled an unearth card.
I do like the design of it being a may so that you can always just get the 2/2 if you need it. Solid card, nothing to write home about.
As for this particular one, its body isn’t quite relevant enough to matter on its own. Though it should still chip away for a few points in the early game before you can start to pump up the jams for your whole team.
The only calamity is if this is in your starting line-up in a draft. It’s even questionable coming off the bench unless your opponent is playing a very heavy unearth shenanigans deck or is somehow playing a combo deck. Don’t try and get cute with this, it’s not a limited card.
Damage to a tapped or attacking creature is another thing to check off on the list of white commons in every set. They are usually below average and this one only deals three damage so it’s not looking too hot.
The home for this card is against any of the soldier decks that are trying to go underneath because a cheap removal and a couple life can go a long way against them. The problem is that it’s almost a dead card against any of the chonkers decks.
Remember when Destroy Evil was really good in DMU? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Disenchant is a great comparison to that because it’s going to kill the majority of things you REALLY want to kill. There are a ton of artifacts floating around and even some enchantments that you wouldn’t mind popping off. Don’t underestimate this as it is premium removal in this set.
Great Desert Prospector
I don’t think this one’s prospects are looking too great. It’s difficult to maximize because it creates a huge tension between what your decks game plan is.
On one hand, you want enough small creatures to maximize the return on the ability. On the other, you need some kind of big artifact payoff or ability to use them on. Maybe in a deck that’s looking to pump your side of dorks up with Ambush Paratrooper, but then you still played a 3/2 for five in an aggro deck.
In the Trenches
This is a card I wouldn’t mind being In the Trenches of battle with. Historically Glorious Anthems have always been really good in limited. With the go wide soldier theme being prevalent this already has a perfect home to rock some opponent’s worlds.
You know what else tends to be good in limited? Unconditional removal. Even with the removal being a tad overpriced, it’s thrown in on a card you were happily playing anyway. You can even use powerstones to pay for the activation. This card is an all around winner.
This would be much higher if it cost one white and two colorless instead. The double white is a huge hindrance to play it on three when a 2/2, add a Plains to your hand would be at its best. You also already have double white in play so it is almost like it is functionally grabbing a colorless land at that point.
That said, it does have a lot of versatility built into it. There will definitely be times where giving an evasive creature double strike and a +1+1 counter will just end the game on the spot. The fallback of a Centaur Courser or a 2/2 with a scry 2 and gain two life isn’t too bad either. The grade is really based off of the options it provides and not the raw rate of what you can get out of it.
I’m sure Sierkovitz will make a handy dandy chart for this one. There are definitely going to be decks this is good in, but the fail case of stone cold nothing is pretty bad. Maybe you can play this if your deck is filled to the brim with dorks, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Lay Down Arms
Obviously if you somehow end up in a mono-white deck, this is going to be really, really good. We’re talking almost Swords to Plowshares good.
Since you are most likely going to be in two colors, early in the game this is going to perform a lot more like Cut Down with the downsides of sorcery speed and the opponent gaining three life. Late game it can pick off bigger things which mitigates that downside a bit.
You just don’t want to be staring at this turn six with one Plains on the table unable to do anything with it. That means if white isn’t your heavy color, you can skip out playing this at all.
Loran of the Third Path
In a format full of artifacts, the ability to pop one off as a comes into play ability is pretty disgusting. It’s not the best body, but it certainly isn’t nothing when it comes with that sweet cherry on top.
Those of you doubting that you’ll ever use the tap ability have obviously forgotten that everyone said the same thing about Sky Crier. It’s the same principle as a condom. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Loran, Disciple of History
Turning all of your legendary creatures into a Gravedigger for artifacts is pretty sweet. It even triggers when it enters the battlefield itself so it’s an instant two for one with upside. This is, of course, assuming that you’re packing enough artifacts to make it worthwhile which should be pretty easy. It goes without saying that if you somehow don’t have any artifacts, you shouldn’t be playing Hill Giant.
I love one mana tricks especially ones that laugh in the face of removal. We just got out of Dominaria United so I think everyone will immediately think of Shore Up and I expect this to be just as important to the format.
We got a functional reprint of Fallen Empires all-star Icatian Town. To be fair, Fallen Empires was a really, really bad set that almost killed Magic in its infancy. This is really expensive and while four soldiers are a lot to add, I want to be doing something more impactful at that point in the game. This does go up if you have In the Trenches or Yotian Tactician.
You need to meticulously build around this to get enough value out of it to be worth playing. Being restricted to only using it on your turn takes away the being able to hold up three mana to counter any removal tactic. That means it’s really about how much value can you generate from repeated enters the battlefield effects at a very pricey rate.
This is one of those cards that will play much better the first week it is out and then drop off once people have the discipline to play around it.
Myrel, Shield of Argive
Myrel just shuts down anything your opponent was planning to do on your turn. It will completely destroy people who habitually wait to do things on their opponents turn. Even without those mistakes, being the only one that can use combat tricks is a huge advantage on a card that wants to be attacking every turn.
If you’re a dedicated Soldier deck this is going to put a huge amount of pressure on your opponent very quickly. Just an overall great card.
Solid two drop that will be one of the key cards in the soldier deck. Combos great with Scrapwork Cohort to help push a bunch of early damage.
Per usual, any ability being on death is significantly worse than comes into play ones because you can’t reliably access it when you need it. This is still a decent curve filler that gives you a bit of value after it’s gone. It’s main use is trading off with a decent low drop while getting you closer to your end game.
Arrest in a format full of huge monsters is going to have a place even if people are going to be packing main deck Disenchant. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the scry two attached to it because it feels like one would have been sufficient.
This is significantly better if it’s part of your curve out as bringing back something that got traded off with a +1/+1 counter on it can help keep the pressure on. Other than that, you really want to bring back something cheap that has a meaningful effect when it enters the battlefield such as
I’ve been pretty down on Savannah Lions in limited for a while, but this one throws in a late game card advantage engine. Just like every real-life Recruitment Officer, this one is trying to sell you a magical Christmas land that doesn’t really exist. The ability is really expensive and extremely limited. Still, it’s decent on turn one and not completely dead if you draw it late so it’s good enough to always make the cut in an aggressive deck.
Repair and Recharge
This pairs great with prototype creatures as you can play them early on and trade them off before bringing them back supersized. It can even take advantage of some of the self mill running around. Bonus points if you manage to bring back a planeswalker with it.
Hey they fixed Luminarch Aspirant by making it cost one more and adding a relevant ability. This is actually debatably a better card in limited and that’s really saying something because it was a major bomb.
Getting tokens back every time one of your soldiers dies lets you just keep pushing your entire team into the red zone every turn. This does pretty much everything you want to be doing to force your way across the finish line.
This is basically a two-mana white bounce spell that makes the spell cost two more. If I’m in this color and it’s halfway through the pack, then sure I’ll take this. It’ll probably get gobbled up earlier by people overrating it because it’s a rare though.
This casts a wide net by letting you remove any nonland permanent. You even get two life and a powerstone thrown into the deal making this an absolute bargain at four mana.
Survivor of Korlis
We’ve come a long way from Tundra Wolves being playable in anything. The scry two isn’t nothing, but it needing to be in the graveyard and still costing two are pretty big drawbacks. Might still make the cut if you have some soldier payoffs or a decent amount of self mill.
This might be the architect of some victories, but spending four mana on it is a pretty rough spot to be in. An underwhelming body that’s dependent on having more artifacts to keep playing and creatures worth flying over makes me want to look elsewhere.
If there’s one thing that small creature decks love doing, it’s tapping out on turn three to do literal nothing. Oh…wait…that’s exactly what they don’t want to do. Requiring mana value 3 or less instead of the usual power two or less is a huge step up though.
This can still bury your opponent in card advantage as long as you properly build your deck. Instant speed creatures like Ambush Paratrooper or Zephyr Sentinel really help by letting you get a trigger on their turn too.
Union of the Third Path
A three mana cantrip that might gain you a few life makes me think this union didn’t fight too hard for its workers’ rights. It might see some play if you are trying to get to the late game where you can takeover with monstrous critters. Certainly not a high pick, but card 23 has to come from somewhere.
This is basically a vanilla 4/4 for five that lets you improvise with creatures and powerstones. Theoretically you could play this on turn three, but then you are probably missing out on damage when trying to be aggressive. Phalanx Vanguard helps with this, but you still need a perfect curve.
Are you really excited about any of these scenarios? No, well then that should tell you everything you really need to know about this card.
This medic doesn’t need to worry about being sent to the front lines. At it’s best, it’s a really annoying blocker if your opponent is trying to go wide on the ground. Unfortunately, it’s basically a useless speed bump if your opponent is ramping to huge monsters.
A vigilant threat that can grow itself every turn is eventually going to demand an answer from your opponent. The two-drop version of this is where it really shines as its often going to be growing above the current rate on the battlefield. You can even use this with Mishra's Foundry for some sweet rare combo action.
Seven isn’t an unreasonable casting cost with powerstones floating around and a double striking 3/3 can be a real menace to deal with. Plus it even has my favorite text of “draw a card”.
Worst case scenario you end up paying three for a 1/1 double strike with a card thrown in to the deal.
Dispensing soldiers all over the place while providing a card advantage engine would probably be a playable card on its own. This one even comes with a beefy body to smash face with too. Yeah, I’m down to slam this.
A great go wide card that even fits the soldier theme while being an artifact for extra synergies. While it’s easy to trade with, it comes right back to slap in for three more with another friend coming along for the ride.
Even for the prototype cost this can just be a 3/3 flyer for three which is above rate. The versatility of the various abilities is huge and you can even start passing the fun around the turn you drop this since it doesn’t require an attack. This is one of the cards that you happily play in any deck even without the white mana to drop it early.
Slightly overcosted creature with the minor upside of gaining a little bit of life when it dies. The only reason it’s this high is that unearth lets you crack back in with a 4/4 which is big enough that it’s not likely to just be brick walled.
Coming into play untapped is a big bonus for this since you can just pop it on the same turn against an unsuspecting opponent. The choosing six lands is kind of odd, but I think that’s for flavor purposes since all around good guy Urza destroyed most of Dominaria and started the ice age with this.
Huge bonus points again if you get to use this to go grab a Planeswalker. I smell a bounty coming on the podcast.
Am I missing something here? This seems like a terrible rate for an equipment even if you have the soldiers for it.
Benefits: Being a soldier and a curve filler at a very thin position.
Downsides: Attacking as a 1/1 so it will die to anything.
This card can be really solid if you are trying to go under someone, but it’s pretty much just a couple of minor pumps if they have literally anything to block with.
White looks like a versatile color in BRO that has the option of playing a different game than the rest of the format by focusing on going underneath all of the crazy things everyone is trying to pull off. Though it does also have some solid contributions to the normal powerstone monster game plan. While this is true of the format in general, especially with white, you really want to focus on taking the right cards for the plan you’re after instead of focusing on power level.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my The Brothers' War Limited Review of Blue. Until then, stay classy Magic people.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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