Queen Kayla bin-Kroog Art by Cristi Balanescu - The Brothers' War

Top 25 Historic Brawl Cards and 5 Commanders from The Brothers’ War and the Retro Artifacts

The Brothers' War is set to be one of the most high impact sets for Historic Brawl. We break down the top 25 cards and the 5 commanders from the expansion!

Historic Brawl is very budget friendly in the long run, but every once in a while there comes a set that has a huge impact on the format. The Brothers’ War (BRO) and the special set that comes with it, the Retro Artifacts (BRR), are bringing some of the most powerful cards in the history of the game to Historic Brawl. Today we are going to have a look at 25 of the most exciting additions to the format, as well as my personal top 5 Commanders.

Top 25 Cards for the 99

The following cards are only seen in the context of being run in the 99 as the Commanders are on their separate list below.

25. Caged Sun

Caged Sun is basically a worse Mirari's Wake that only works for mono-color decks. The reason why this card is still exciting is the fact that it can actually be run by any mono-color deck as opposed to Mirari's Wake. Any mono color big mana deck will run this deck, from mono green super ramp decks with Azusa, Lost but Seeking to mono black  Tergrid, God of Fright decks that are built around the backside.

24. Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim

Another Teferi with a static ability that is hard to evaluate. 5 mana at sorcery speed is generally a big ask for control decks that mainly play at instant speed, but these are the exact kind of decks I can see this card shine. If you draw enough cards per turn you can continuously put huge threats on the board every turn. There are a few decks that can ultimate this card extremely quickly like Rielle, the Everwise, but I don’t see this being the main focus of the card.

23. Sundering Titan

A big impactful colorless creature is always welcome, but this card is definitely overhyped. One important thing to note here is the fact that you have to destroy a land of each type, so unless your opponent runs the same basic types as your opponent you will likely destroy at least one of your own lands. What decks actually want this card? Any deck that puts huge threats on the board early, preferably in mono color. Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded are the winners here.

22. Overwhelming Remorse

An interesting removal spell with an interesting deck building restriction. It is definitely very powerful if you can make it cost {B} quickly but the challenge is to find the deck that is up to the task. Self mill decks like Nethroi, Apex of Death likely want to have a look at this card.

21. Painful Quandary

It doesn’t look like much but this card will finish the game very quickly if left unchecked. Multicolor decks are likely going to have access to better finishers but mono black control and aggro should both consider this card.

20. Soul Partition

This card is effectively a bounce spell that forces the opponent to spend more mana if they want to play the card again. These kinds of cards are traditionally very solid in tempo decks, but costing two mana instead of 1 like for example Unsummon can be a big deal for certain decks. Overall a very interesting removal spell that might overperform in certain lists.

19. Brotherhood’s End

The direct comparison here are Anger of the Gods and Sweltering Suns. If you are running a bunch of planeswalkers or are relying on artifact ramp this is likely not an upgrade, but there are some lists that would make good use of this card, namely Hinata, Dawn-Crowned + Transmogrify decks. Also just good if you need a third 3cmc sweeper.

18. Defense Grid

A huge upgrade for linear combo decks. Oswald Fiddlebender, Birgi, God of Storytelling and other combo commanders are going to make great use of this card. Especially Oswald can tutor for this card in certain matchups, making his first activation even more threatening. Remember that this card weakens your instant speed protection in those decks as well.

17. Mechanized Warfare

A very simple card with a very strong effect. This card is only really good in one kind of deck, mono red aggro, but an absolute staple. Torbran, Thane of Red Fellis a similar effect in the command zone and while the difference between one and two additional damage is definitely huge you can not underestimate how much harder enchantments are to remove.

16. Wurmcoil Engine

A solid creature that is strong in a variety of matchups. Good against board wipes as it leaves two bodies behind, good against aggro due to the amount of lifegain, just solid all around. The question is what kind of deck wants a “just good” creature in the deck, but you will definitely see this card a lot in the public queue.

15. Transmogrant’s Crown

This card is basically a fixed Skullclamp, one of the best equipment ever printed. Crown will find its home in basically every sacrifice deck that seeks additional value. The question is just how consistently you can trigger this card: If you sacrifice your whole board in one turn chances are that you are unable to equip it to every single creature as it can be really mana intensive.

14. Mishra’s Bauble, Chromatic Star, Astral Cornucopia, Bone Saw

I am grouping these cards into one category as they will often see play in the same decks: Either Storm with commanders like Birgi, God of Storytelling and Kykar, Wind's Fury to either cantrip for free or act as rituals, or artifact decks like Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter. Either way, most of these are not going to be used fairly and you can expect a lot of shenanigans.

13. Monastery Swiftspear

One of the best red 1 drops ever printed, this card will see play in red aggressive decks for as long as this format exists. Especially prowess decks like Balmor, Battlemage Captain will love the additional power that comes from this little creature.

12. Adaptive Automaton

This card is effectively another changeling for the format, which is obviously great for some of the less popular tribes. The one big downside here is that it is only a construct in any zone outside of the battlefield. This is relevant for cards like The First Sliver and Realmwalker, but should still provide a nice boost to a lot of tribes.

11. Scatter Ray

Effectively a second copy of Essence Scatter with the additional utility of hitting artifacts. 4 mana is a lot and almost impossible to pay at most stages of the game. It is definitely worth conserving running this over Essence Scatter if you want to finish the game in a reasonable amount of time.

10. Go for the Throat

The only reason this card is not higher placed on this list is because black already has a bunch of solid removal spells at 2 mana. Together with Infernal Grasp and Heartless Act we have probably reached a point where we have enough solid kill spells that are not too conditional.

9. Flow of Knowledge

While Flow of Knowledge is not going to be played in a lot of decks it is an absolute monster in mono blue control decks. You will likely want to cast this card with at least 5 islands in play, but luckily this is exactly how much it costs. Anything from there is pure upside and it is not unlikely that this will draw you 10 or more cards later in the game.

8. Semblance Anvil, Cloud Key

If these cards hit the field your opponent is up to no good. The big winners that immediately come to mind are Meria, Scholar of Antiquity and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain. Any deck that draws a high quantity of the same card type will run these, but there are not going to be too many lists that do exactly that. If you want to use them in a fair way keep in mind that they should save you around 2 mana per turn as they are not going to be better than a 3 mana value mana rock otherwise.

7. Ashnod’s Altar

While Ashnod's Altar opens up a bunch of different infinite combos, especially for commanders like Chatterfang, Squirrel General, you can play this card in a fair way in sacrifice based decks. Free sacrifice outlets are always exciting and getting two colorless mana on top is really strong. Altar will really go crazy if you have a way to draw cards when your creatures die, the already mentioned Transmogrant's Crown helps with that.

6. Loran’s Escape

Basically a white Tamiyo's Safekeeping, a card that has already proven to be strong in the format. Very few cards are able to interact with an indestructible hexproof permanent and at one mana this will be the premium protection spell in white. I would still only run this if your gameplan heavily focuses around your commander as it is hard to justify otherwise.

5. Tocasia’s Welcome

The obvious comparison to this card is Welcoming Vampire, a staple in white creature decks. This is arguably better, as you want your value engines to stick around after a board wipe. Tocasia's Welcomewon’t draw you tons of cards in a single turn like Guardian Project, but costing one mana less is really relevant if you want to sneak this past countermagic. Remember that you can also trigger this in the opponent’s turn, but that will likely not happen too often.

4. Diabolic Intent

Demonic Tutor with downside is still a very powerful card and this is one of the best tutors in the whole format. The cost is actually not as trivial as one might think, unless you are playing a sacrifice or token deck. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can tutor for Nest of Scarabs and Chatterfang, Squirrel General can search for Pitiless Plunderer, both cards being a 1 card combo for a commander that will likely have fodder on the board.

3. Springleaf Drum, Citanul Stalwart

Any piece of 1 mana acceleration is exciting and these two cards are no different. Springleaf Drum is the more powerful card as it is able to tap for mana immediately and can enable truly disgusting starts in decks like Emry, Lurker of the Loch, but Stalwart has a very relevant creature type as well. Both slot into the best deck in the format, Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, and will also find their way into many other decks.

2. Swiftfoot Boots

A lot of people asked for Swiftfoot Boots and we finally got them. Artifact decks are usually pretty reliant on their commander and this is able to give hexproof and haste at a premium rate. Oswald Fiddlebender can search for this in certain matchups where you expect lots of removal and Emry, Lurker of the Loch makes use of both abilities as well.

1. Llanowar Wastes, Brushland, Underground River, Battlefield Forge

As boring as it may seem, any solid fixing is huge for the format. We now have the full cycle of Painlands on arena and basically any two and three color deck will run as many of these as they can. When it comes to five colors it becomes a bit more tricky, but you are still very likely to run at least a couple.

Top 5 Commanders

We are now going to have a look at the top 5 commanders. While this set is definitely going to impact the 99 much more than the command zone, we still have a few exciting toys to play with.

5. Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist

Any 1 mana commander is worth looking at since you will get them into play very reliably and recast them quite easily. Ashnod is able of ramping you as well, the question is just how you can utilize that mana as efficiently as possible. Playing artifacts is obviously one way, but you can also use powerstones by activating abilities like Recurring Skeleton. I don’t think this commander will be a big gamechanger, but I am excited to see what the community will come up with.

4. Ramos, Dragon Engine

6 mana do-nothing and no enter the battlefield ability are generally a red flag, but Ramos might be able to make up for it by winning the game on the spot if you untap with him in the right build. The idea is to run a bunch of blink spells and tons of card draw to be able to use the mana ability multiple times in a single turn and draw though the whole deck. The big downside is obviously to get going in the first place, but once you do there is not much the opponent can do to stop you.

3. Queen Kayla bin-Kroog

This is a very interesting card with quite a unique effect. For four mana you will effectively draw three cards and put a total of 6 mana worth of cards into play. Being able to do this every single turn seems very powerful, the question is just what we want to put into play in the first place. We have better options for generic Boros aggro commanders, so I would think that we would look at an artifact + creature value pile. This is one of the commanders that is hard to evaluate before being built.

2. Harbin, Vanguard Aviator

This is a two mana 3/2 flier in Azorius. Soldiers? Never heard of them. This is basically a strong tempo threat in the command zone that you are trying to back up with cheap and efficient answers. There is not much else going on here, but since this is the first commander we have for this kind of playstyle in white/blue I am excited to see how this turns out.

1. Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor

Gix is practically a mono black Toski, Bearer of Secrets that comes down a turn earlier. Black has some great cheap cards that are card disadvantage, which you wouldn’t mind in a deck that can draw tons of cards each turn. We just need a critical mass of one drops that are worth attacking with, menace, flying and deathtouch all being relevant keywords here. This commander might make Mono Black Aggro a viable strategy in competitive environments and I am all here for it.

Final Thoughts

The Brothers’ War is an absolute banger and a great set for the format. The Commanders are definitely less exciting than the rest of the cards but that doesn’t really mean anything given the power level of those cards. The last time we got a set this powerful was the Mystical Archive in Strixhaven and it changed the face of the format forever.

One last tip: Buy BRO packs as you get a lot of value from the additional Golden Packs you are going to get.

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Hannes Kaiser, also known as ImNotFine, was first exposed to Magic the Gathering back in Mirrodin at the age of 7 and fell in love with the game ever since. When Wizards of the Coast announced the public queues for Historic Brawl he had already played thousands of games of the format for almost two years and pioneered some of the most popular decks. If you want to stay up to date with the latest meta you can also join his Discord, Historic Brawl Stronghold.

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