Brother Wars cards for Commander Cube

 The Brother Wars is looking to bring a refocus back to battle cruiser Magic game play and my commander cube is excited for it. From doing the general set review for traditional cube, I was seeing a ton mana ramp and huge, scaling creatures a perfect environment for explosive late game plays. In addition, there is a huge emphasis (as there should be) on artifacts and artifact creatures, which is a great follow up to the Necron Warhammer 40K commander deck. Aside from that, there is a noticeable amount of cards that will scale up in multiplayer games or maintain their impact.

Dominik Mayer's Vision of Phyrexia is my favorite piece of art from this set

 For this post, I'll be discussing the cards from The Brothers War that I plan to run in my commander cube. I will be categorizing cards based on their function in Commander cube since the format is constructed differently from traditional cube. The categories will be Recommended, Recommended as Commander, and Cards of interest. Each category will be explained in their own section.

The Short List
  • Titania, Force of Nature
  • Blast-Furnace Hellkite
  • Demolition Field
  • Arcane Proxy
  • Portal to Phyrexia
  • Hurkyl, Master Wizard
  • Loran of the Third Path
  • Over the Top
  • Hostile Negotiation
  • Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
  • Meticulous Expedition
Recommend as Commander
  • Urza, Lord Protector / The Mightstone and the Weakstone // Urza, Planeswalker
  • Mishra, Eminent One
  • Urza, Chief Artificer
Cards of Interest
  • Ashnod the Uncaring
  • Sardian Avenger
  • Staff of Titania
  • Scavenged Brawler
  • Kayla's Music Box
  • Scholar of New Horizons
  • Cityscape Leveler
  • Fade from History
  • Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam
  • Myrel, Shield of Argive

In this section, I'm planning to cover the cards I recommend. My criteria is based on the power and synergies of the card. This list will include potential commanders. If they are mentioned in this section, this means the card had merits beyond being a commander. There is a separate section for cards that only qualify as commanders.

Titania, Nature's Force
is quite a card if you are looking to push land based decks. The card is a mix of 5MV Titania, Rampaging Baloth, Satyr Wayfinder, and Ramunap Excavator with an intense affinity for Forest into a single card.The main concern for the card is that it is asking that you play a ton of forest. Coincidentally, you more than likely are since almost all of the land matters cards are in green already and it fits nicely into the already existing Windgrace builds, while still being power enough to warrant its spot. The tokens generated by the card are a huge threat being 5/3 Elementals and even if they were to die, they would continue fueling cards to the graveyard, further pushing her agenda. She plays well with  Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild as both of those cards turn more things into forest. Outside of lands matter, she does play well with land based ramp decks that will incidentally grab a ton of Forest and Nissa, who Shakes the World. The value she creates overtime will close out games quickly, though her impact does need a bit of set up.

Verdict: She can enable a whole lands matter archetype on her own, though she can slow. If there is already a ramp archetype present in your cube, she will easily have a spot that can compliment her abilities. If not, she'll make one herself.

Blast-Furnace Hellkite
seems unwieldy at first, but it might actually be more playable than what is presented and I like what is going with this card. The card is nearly unplayable at its face value due to how high its mana cost is, however it has artifact offering, which will reduce its mana cost and give it flash. This is important to the multiplayer aspect of the card as being able to flash it down is on par with playing Dictate of the Twin Gods for attacking creatures. The double strike ability works on attacking creatures, not just creatures you have declared attacks with. When played through artifact offering, the card is way better as long as you can reduce the cost by at least 2. Anything more and this card seems stellar. What's more is the card sits at the nice crossroad of having minor artifact synergies, being a dragon, being combat oriented, and being a political card. That double strike clause might be its X-factor as it encourages on hit effect decks and cards like Edric or the Swords to start being pointed elsewhere should the players want them. In addition, the huge damage boost given will accelerate games into ending faster, which means more games, which means more testing. 

Verdict: This is a beefy battle cruiser card that can turn creature combat lethal without the combatants knowing it. It plays into all of the archetypes present in my cube and adds a multiplayer component that isn't presently available. If you're looking for slower, game ending cards, I believe this fits the bill.

Demolition Field is an alternate choice to Field of Ruin. Field of Ruins allowed all players to fetch a land even if their land wasn't the one being destroyed. Demolition Field fixes that just so it's just you and the other player.

Verdict: If you found it unfair that Field of Ruin's ramped the two non involved players, this will fix that.

Arcane Proxy is looking to be an exciting card for a traditional cube and I am looking forward to it making an impact in commander cube. This checks off a lot of things that I wanted for a blue creature in commander cube. The card is an artifact wizard that cares about instants and sorceries with two modes for different points of the game. The allows the card to fit into a variety of deck build since the ETB ability makes the card good in every deck, though commander cubes tend to run a higher average MV. Though I compared it to Eternal Witness for my traditional cube review, I realized the card feels more like a limited, flexible Torrential Gearhulk. This alone would have merited the card a consideration however, the card incidentally being a wizard and an artifact adds more density to these archetypes. The card may seem limiting since you can only cast spells based on the creature's power, remember Wrath of God is 4 mana.

Verdict: A smaller, but more flexible Torrential Gearhulk that can be used for more than just a value card is an easy include.

Portal to Phyrexia is a card I wanted to main list for traditional cube because it seemed so over the top, however I had to reconsider when I thought about its true impact, it wasn't good. Fortunately, it seems like a much better card for commander cube. It actually reminds me a lot of Sheoldred, the Whispering One, which I already run, with an even bigger effect. The card has an ETB effect that forces each of your opponents to sacrifice 3 creatures. This effect remains the same regardless of the number of other players you are playing with, which is always great for multiplayer since effects normally get watered down. The sacrifice effect helps support the reanimation effect on the card since it can pick from anyone's graveyard. What makes me rate this card so highly is that it is a colorless artifact, opening up reanimator to any color that is willing to support it. As an artifact, the typical artifact synergies apply with Goblin Welder and Daretti smiling happily at their new toy. The card is clunky to play with at 9 mana, but ramping is available in artifacts and cheating it out is always an option as well.

Verdict: This seems like a fun spell to play since it has the interactions to make this busted, but the card itself is not game warping. This can be a game ending card in any deck, which is why I recommend it for commander cubes at any level.

Hurkyl, Master Wizard is extremely versatile, while appearing as a card that does nothing. To start off, the big setback about this card is that if you are not casting noncreatures, this card is doing nothing. Once you do start casting them, it turns the first of each noncreature type into a potentially delayed cantrip with an unlikely ceiling of drawing 5 cards. This ability helps the card to fit into virtually any creature light deck because every deck likes card advantage. For commander cubes aggressively shoving in as many archetypes, while trying to ensure they are decently respectable, this card is a godsend as it is a card advantage engine in a lot of decks. The card is also a human wizard if you are running cards that care about those tribes and awkwardly advisors also received some love with the new commander they released.

Verdict: A draw engine that fits into multiple decks is easily an inclusion for me. What's more is that she can function as a commander.

Loran of the Third Path
is a card I'm more bullish on for commander cube over traditional. I'm currently not playing Skyclave Apparition in my commander cube because the card is more restricted in battlecruiser magic with everything being a bigger spell. Loran looks a lot better when she's not competing against it. Her being a white reclamation sage has been something I've been looking for this cube as I have been concerned that there might not be enough removal that hits artifacts or enchantments and without removal those decks are able to go unchallenged for the most part. Loran adds extra density to the hate department, which honestly would have been enough for me since the only other times you see this effect as an ETB for white is on a 5MV dog and a 4MV Space Marine from 40K. She also offers this effect at the cheapest cost on a creature. What's more she has vigilance and can be a source of card draw when you start going empty, though do be aware that another opponent will draw as well. You can mitigate this with a Narset or Spirit of the Labyrinth. She's also human in white, so easy mode synergies.

Verdict: White Reclamation Sage with upside and a multiplayer mechanic is an easy auto include for commander cube. Not to mention, she can be your commander.

Over the Top
just seems well over the top and I'm here for the nonsense that follows after this card. The card looks like a universal Genesis Wave in red. In a vacuum, the card will throw a huge wrench into everyone's game plan forcing them to rethink their steps as they have to take into account the new board states. I can see this card creating highly emotional and memorable situations when played and I'm here for it. The card can be taken advantage by decks that create a ton of tokens or are able to play a ton of nonland permanents. Red is a color that has no trouble generating tokens, so adding another color will only make it more proficient. The graveyard aspect of the card makes it prime for decks who can take advantage of it especially decks like Welder. The more token based spells matter decks will have a field day with this card as they follow it up with any form of mass grave recursion and try to secure a win. The main downside is that the card does need setting up since you need a big board and it could backfire by pushing your opponents ahead, but that's the fun in playing this card.

Verdict: The card looks fun to play and game warping, which is what I want out of my huge spells

Hostile Negotiation is a card I'm really looking forward to in commander cube for all of the same reasons I am excited about it in traditional cube. Black graveyard fillers was something I was concerned in commander cube and this card hits all of the marks for what I am looking for.

Verdict: Black Fact or Fiction in colors that can use the graveyard better.

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor is a black Edric and excites me for this reason. Edric has been a card I've been wanting to run because it encourages players to hit each other. I have been having trouble adding him in because of the limited slots in Simic. This does much the same but fits in the black section, which is a more aggressive color and can better make use of the on hit ability. In addition, players will lose life if they want to draw, which helps speed up the game. The activated ability is more relevant in the multiplayer format than it is in 1v1 scenarios since you are more likely to have the mana available. This can be useful, though expensive,  for feeding any graveyard strategies you have, while also letting you dump off any unwanted cards to steal your opponent's cards.

Verdict: Black Edric with easier casting requirements is an easy auto include.

Meticulous Excavation is a card I would have overlooked had I not had the chance to play with it during prerelease. The card felt busted to play and I wonder what impact it can make in cube. For context, I was bouncing and replaying The Mightstone and Weakstone because of this card. The card allows you to bounce any permanent you control back to your hand. This enables you to replay them and get any ETB or cast triggers that matter to you deck, which is highly sought. The card seems expensive, but looking through other cards, this is the only card that can hit any target and the activation cost is the cheapest I've seen for unconditional usage. The card is universally playable in any deck since it can return anything. The main downside is that you can only activate it on your turn. What I found when played this card was that it felt a lot like playing Recurring Nightmare, but much more costly, which is find in a slower, mana heavy environment like commander cube. The card can even bounce itself if someone tries to stop it.

Verdict: Run it if you have a slower environment. The value generated by this card will shine through the more you play with it.

Recommend as Commander
This section is to highlight cards that would not have been made normally, but because they are legendary they have the potential to serve as a commander, which is kinda important for commander cube.

Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and the Mindstone seem like a cool pair to run as commanders. To settle the record first, as a cube designer if you allow them to be treated as partner commanders that only partner with eachother, I think these are worth playing. If you do not, these cards are way less exciting to play with. Both of these cards will get their own small section. For context Urza is considered a WU card while The Mightstone and the Weakstone is colorless.

Urza reduces mana cost for instant, sorceries, and artifacts, which is sweet especially on a single card. This effect is pushed on a commander card because they are sitting in the command zone. Urza's ability hits a lot of the more commonly played card types. The problem I am seeing is that Urza cost 3 mana to play, which is higher than normal for cost reduction, which is normally at 2MV. Also if you are not actively taking advantage of the mana reduction ability, the card essentially sits there and does nothing else. 

The Powerstones is a much more interesting component of the commander pair. The ETB effect offers either a powerful removal ability or card draw.  Follow this up with it being a mana rock for artifacts and abilities and you got a card with a lot going on. As a whole card, this is underwhelming when compared to other 5 mana artifacts. Each aspect of this card can be found on more efficient cards, however the commander aspect is what makes this card a whole lot better. As a commander, you now have a removal spell/ card draw that is always available. What's more in combination with Urza, this card is significantly better because of Urza's cost reduction. 

Because the two cards are partnered with each other, their gameplay flow is actually really smooth and if you can hit all of your lands drops, you can easily meld them by turn 5 without any other ramp spells. Once melded, you have a monster of a planeswalker to play with in the form of Urza, Planeswalker. The card has a mode for every board situation and is able to activate 2 abilities per turn. The highly versatile nature of the planeswalker side and its components make it a solid commander option with a variety of build routes. At worse, you can always opt to go the Blue White value route. When you start looking at other routes, artifacts and spells matter decks are an obvious choice, while tokens and reanimator are viable in more unconventional colors. 

Verdict: A powerful and versatile commander in Azorius that can be played in a thematic built or a a straight value build. The card does take up 2 slots and components make for okay-mediocre cards on their own. They are solid as a commander pair. 

Mishra, Eminent One is looking to be a solid option for taking Grixis into the artifact direction, which hasn't been explored enough. This plays well with all of the noncreature artifacts that have ETB and LTB abilities like Ichor Wellspring and Prized Statue. Additionally turning them into a 4/4 beater creatures creature synergies that shouldn't be there. The tokens you create are going to sacrifice themselves anyways, thus they make great fodder to sacrifice outlets. Outside of that, being able to get an extra copy of an artifact with abilities you like is always a huge plus. Do be aware that you must enter the combat phase for Mishra's ability to trigger. This ability feels strong, but not overbearing and scales well with the power level of your cube. It's impact is based off what noncreature artifacts you choose to include in your cube. Mishra's ability is well suited for welder artifacts decks that were already prominent in Rakdos. Tacking on the blue expands your options significantly since blue is where most of the powerful artifact synergy reside. Being able to play cards like Fabricate and Tezzeret is a boon to any artifact decks.

Verdict: As a commander, Mishra opens up Grixis as a route for artifact build. This already supported by the fact that artifacts are sitting in the colors already, but never had a singular commander that could helm the deck. The card is a powerful value engine on its own and doesn't need a real build around other than some density of artifacts.

Urza, Chief Artificer takes artifact builds in a different direction than traditional esper artifact decks. He plays more into the creature based affinity builds that are more commonly seen in pre Modern Horizon modern. As a whole package, this is a commander that can shine on his own without a build around, though he does seem lackluster when you do so. He has inbuilt cost reduction with affinity, which means that as long as his player maintains a board state of artifact creatures, he will always cost 3 mana. He supports this entire game plan on his own by creating a construct token every end step and these tokens scale with your artifact count, making these great at any point in the game since they will have menace from Urza. The longer he stays on the battlefield, the more likely you are to win the game. Beyond the vacuum, the card easily marries the 3 colors and thrives at the helm. Blue already has a go wide artifact game plan that employs Thought Monitor and Research Thief that fits well into the Urza builds. White has the support for token strategies with anthems and token generators. Black has the tools to interact with the tokens.

Verdict: This is a solid alternative to esper artifacts. If you support an archetypes that is go wide artifacts, this might be the best option. No need to switch over though if you're satisfied with your other options.

Cards of Interest
Cards listed in this category are cards that I think are cool and could potentially make it in a cube, but there is no space for them for my current cube or I can't find a way to fit them in. Some of these cards will make the cut over the cards mentioned prior.

Ashnod the Uncaring is looking to be an interesting build around commander for aristrocrats and welder decks. Her inclusion will add more variety to Grixis as a color as there isn't a ton of interesting routes (or at least I'm ignorant of them) for builds. Typically, it is a value based control deck or a spells matter deck. She is a narrow commander and does need a build around to support her, but since sacrifice cards are common place in cube and commander, this shouldn't be a huge problem. Pay attention to the wording on her. She wants the sacrifice to be part of the cards and they can't be for mana abilities, so funnily enough, she doesn't work with her own altar. Cards like Breya and Ghoulcaller Gisa do play really well with her ability, however Goblin Welder would not because the sacrifice is not part of the cost. Cards that can turn other cards into artifacts or creatures are equally excited to play with her since they open up more cards to her. 

Verdict: Will be an interesting option to your players since there is usually a lot of incidental cards that synergize with her. If you do not have a ton of sacrifice outlets in your list, this card will flounder. If you do, this card will be worth trying out. The main thing holding this card back is the density of cards that synergize with it.

Saridian Avenger is an interesting choice as its utility is entirely dependent on your cube and meta. The card functions as punishment for playing artifacts. Within the past year, treasures have become increasing more prevalent with MTG as a whole and this has bled over into commander cube as it is how some of the weaker colors generate mana for ramp. As long as the card remains on board, it is punishing you for cracking your treasures or having a stockpile of artifact rocks. I can honestly see this card being a huge annoyance to artifact players and that is not a bad thing. Last thing to note, it is a goblin warrior and has tribal synergies with those types.

Verdict: If you feel that hate cards should exist in your cube, this is an awesome one for artifacts. I don't see my artifacts being problematic and thus its hard to justify a slot for it.

Staff of Titania is an interesting choice for equipment due to its versatility, though it does seem really strange. The card feels like a mix of Captain's Claw, Sword of the Animist, and the Blackblade Reforged. You do not need to play this card in a green deck for it to thrive, though it does function best in those color. The equip cost does seem huge, especially if you choose to compare to one of the swords of X and Y, but commander cube is a slower format and can accomodate the larger costs. The card does scale up with each Forest you have and it generates a forest dryad with each swing. Thus it powers itself up and creates a new body that can hold this equipment. Furthermore, the tokens it creates can tap for green mana, functioning essentially as a ramp spell. Since the tokens are lands, cards that hit all nonlands permanents like Cyclonic Rift can't affect the tokens.

Verdict: This is a card that I think is way better than I give it credit for, however I am unsure of the slot it takes. I think the card is powerful, but it is balanced correctly for what it does. 

Scavenged Brawler seems like a nutty card that's just stacked with keywords. The card makes for an excellent attacker and blocker because of flying and vigilance. That alone makes it already an interesting card because it becomes a colorless Serra Angel, but tack on the trample and lifelink and you have a pain to deal with. What's more is that even if this card has died or is in your graveyard, you are able to "scavenge" it and put its stats onto any other creature. This is insane as it will turn any of your cards into a serious threat. The scavenge ability is takes this card over the top and is a real option for any deck since the card just needs to be in the graveyard.

Verdict: The card definitely warrants consideration as it is a very solid creature in the colorless section, making it available for any deck to incorporate.

Kayla's Music Box might be able to make a huge impact for white decks. This card is a source of card advantage for white. There are several problems with this card that should be noted. The card is slow because unlike red's impulse style of drawing cards, you are unable to play the cards right away. Instead need to wait until the box untaps, so you can activate that second ability to be able to play the cards. Since you generally are not untapping the card multiple times, you have to seriously think about how to use this card.  The cards are also tied to the music box, so if your opponent destroys it, you lose all those cards as well. The card is still more than serviceable as you can dump extra mana into it for each untap. 

Verdict: The inclusion of this card is debatable. I find the card limiting since you can not activate the abilities right away. I do still think it's worth mentioning as it is a source of card advantage for white, which struggles with that aspect. I would much rather play the draw spells that have other players draw cards over this, but the preference is up to you.

Scholar of New Horizons seems like a pretty sweet addition to white trying to generate. The card will fetch you any plains card including any multicolored lands with the basic land types such as any of the Triomes. In typical white fashion, you are ramping if you are behind in lands or drawing a plains to play it next. What's nice is that you do need to remove a counter to use the ability and it already comes with one +1/+1 counter. The counter can be taken off of any card you control to pay the cost meaning you can use planeswalkers to fuel this card.What's holding this back is that the land always enters tapped and that you have to tap to activate the ability. This delays the ability by a whole turn.

Verdict: If you have the room, this is a solid card to consider for giving white a way to ramp. The process is slower, but there's not a lot of ways white could generate mana ramp anyways.

Cityscape Leveler is another option as a finisher with a devastating effect. The creature is massive and the effect on it is not laughing matter. The stats on the card make it great at pushing damage. The cards reminds me of Argentum Armor, but as a creature. The abilities can be played pretty dirty since you can swing as a random person and still hit someone else's board. Unfortunately the wording on the card prevents you from abusing ETB triggers, which makes the card way less busted. In fact, the lack of interaction makes this card less interesting to play especially nn a format where huge creatures are the norm. The stat lines and ability don't really stand out and with the multiplayer environment, this card is less concerning to deal with.

Verdict: This card is powerful when played, but doesn't really do anything your other artifact fatties can't do. This is an easy skip unless you're looking for more artifact fatties.

Fade From History is a solid option if you are in the market for mass artifact/enchantment removal. This card is the cheapest option you are looking for this effect. There's not much else that needs to be said about this card.

Verdict: Run it if your green section doesn't have it or if you want to lower your mana curve. I'm currently running Wave of Vitriol and Bane of Progress, both of which fulfill the same function. 

Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam is looking ripe to be broken. You can consider him to be the blue Temur Sabertooth for artifacts. This is because you can use the bounce ability to rebuy ETBs like with Meticulous Excavation. What's more is that you can make more copies of your artifacts with the 2nd ability. So as a whole package, this card is great for bouncing your artifact late games and make extra tokens for value to help overcome your opponents. Outside of these things, the card does very little.

Verdict: This is a card to keep tabs on when looking to revise your cube. If you want more artifact synergies this is easily a shoo in inclusion. Lack of artifacts and this card looks really bad.

Myrel, Shield of Argive
does a lot for the white decks. The cards being the combination of both Hero of Bladehold and Grand Abolisher is exciting. This card allows you to play more ignorantly on your turn because of the 1st ability preventing interaction. The token generation is a neat part of the card, however the tokens do not come in tapped and attacking, which lowers the output of this card. As cool as this card is, it has serious competition at the 4 MV slot even in commander cube, this deters this card's inclusion because it is simply not better than the other cards.

Verdict: This is a strong card mired in competition with other similar cards that are just better than it. If you can find room for it, run it.

The End Phase

This wraps up my preliminary thoughts on what cards I'm speculating on including in commander cube. I was fortunate and managed to play in a prerelease while in the middle of working on this post and it helped me pick up the feel of the set a lot better. The format did help me better understand how battlecruiser commander should feel like and how to create that feeling. When playing the event, I was extremely happy with Meticulous Excavation as it allowed me to keep replaying the Mightstone and Weakstone to either draw cards or kill off their creatures. This was absolutely disgusting to loop against people, but man did it feel real good. I don't know if it is the set or it is my cube, but I felt like I chose less cards this time around. I was pondering the possibilities and inferred that it might be because this set is more artifact dense while my cube isn't. What was interesting was seeing other people's list of cards for cube and realizing that none of us really lined up with this set. 

Outside of the set, I am experimenting with how I am formatting these post as I realized that although it seems okay on desktop, the articles look like a mess on mobile. Let me know if you guys like the changes I am making.

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