Brothers War Cards for Traditional Cube

 Brothers War is coming off of what feels like a constant stream of Magic news and I'm feeling overwhelmed with the amount of product. The fatigue is detracting from the product, which is unfortunate, because look at the set, it looks great. The lore, art, and flavor of what is going in the story is well represented on the cards. There is a lot to say about the artwork. It is epic with everything really encapsulating the story of the brothers, the road to war, and the war itself. There's something exciting to behold seeing Urza leading an army of mechs to war or him and Mishra in melee combat. I find the cards themselves interesting to play with. I see this set opening up more artifact routes in cube in more colors. The printing of Meria, Scholars of Antiquities had everyone a little curious as to what was going to happen with Gruul artifacts and this set reaffirms that there will be more support for Gruul Artifacts.

The way I approach card reviews for cube is that I separate them into 2 categories: recommendations and cards of interest. Recommendations are cards that I think will play impressively in a large variety of cubes. These are what I would consider the slam dunk inclusions. Cards of interest will typically be cards that are interesting to play. They might need some build around to get going but could create a different playstyle or archetype in your cubes.They are also cards that are good in limited, but might be environment dependent. 

For people asking about meld, I would not run cards just because of what they can meld into as I think that is hurting the experience of your cube with a sub optimal card. Meld pairs that can be run in cube typically have both parts that are strong and independent already. The meld cards this time around do not fit this, thus they will largely be ignored and not seriously discuss.

With each review of a card, I might also mention the color identity of the card in cube because of the prototype mechanic, which allows artifacts to be cast for an alternative cost.

The Short List
  • Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
  • Into the Trenches
  • Third Path Iconoclasts
  • Hostile Negotiations
  • Arcane Proxy
  • Phyrexian Fleshgorger
  • Phyrexian Dragon Engine
  • Zephyr Sentinel
Cards of Interest
  • Argoth, Sanctum of Nature
  • Coastal Bulwark
  • Transmogrant Altar
  • Haywire Mite
  • Transmogrant's Crown
  • Razorlash Transmogrant
  • Surge Engine
  • Portal Phyrexia
  • Bladecoil Serpent
  • Recommision
  • Recruitment Officer
  • Laydown Arms
  • Brotherhood's End
  • Loran of the Third Path
  • Skystrike Officer
  • Myrel, Shield of Argive
  • Draconic Destiny
  • Staff of Titania

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
is easily one of the best cards coming from this set. The card is essentially a monoblack Edric, which is brutal to play against. Edric supports aggressive strategies by becoming a massive draw engine for go-wide strategies. This gives your deck a constant flow of resources to push your game plan further. The value you accrue from the card is explosive and will easily turn the game in your favor. Part of the reason, Edric is a nightmare is because the creature cards are not worth spending the spot removal or counterspell to deal with it, which ultimately becomes a mistake as the game progresses. The two cards do have significant differences between them that effects how the cards are played. First off, the card is just black, making it easier to play in multiple decks. The double black might place some restriction on what decks can cast it, but it isn't as strenuous as Edric. Being in black also means having access to the recursive aggro creatures black is famously known for. The draw effects are different as well with Gix's effect asking you to pay one life to draw a card. This creates situations where this card is bad to play as your life is too low and now this is essentially a vanilla 3/3. There are also hatebear pieces that can prevent you from paying the life, which does prevent the card draw ability. Lastly, there is a 7 mana ability that allows you to discard cards to steal cards from the top of their library to cast for free. There's no window, so once you steal these cards they are yours for the rest of the game to cast. This ability is costly and the chances of you activating them is slim since it is 7 mana, but this isn't the important part of the card.

EDIT: I keep misunderstanding how exile casting works since I assume everything is like Mind's Desire. Gix has no window for casting, so you cast it there or you lose it.

Verdict: Monoblack Edric is an easy auto include.

In the Trenches is another homerun looking card that seems hard to replace. At a baseline, the card is a Glorious Anthem, which is already playable for me as I was running a Spear of Heliod for years and that card did well every time it saw play. Though not a strict upgrade, this is much better. The anthem effect is classic meets the appropriate cost for what the card is already doing. The crazy part is that the card is able to also become an Oblivion Ring if you use the activated ability. This makes it a strong top deck later with the ability being a solid mana sink when you play it earlier. Another thing to note is that the card becomes a rattlesnake as you get closer to having 6 mana to use the ability because now your opponents will have to play awkwardly to play around the ability.

Verdict: Glorious Anthem with a powerful upside.

Third Path Iconoclasts is another card in the pyromancer/Talrand variant line and a really good one for a lot of reasons. What helps this card stands out from the rest is that the card feels similar to prowess in that it is triggered by casting noncreatures vs just instants and sorceries. This expands to you running more artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers in the deck. What's more the token the iconoclast creates are colorless artifact soldiers making them great in decks that care about artifact or soldier density, both of which is generally more common than any of the other tokens produced. Being in UR is the main thing that sets this card back as it can only exist in izzet shells, but everything else is pretty much where you want it. Being an uncommon allows this card to be played in peasant cubes as well.

Verdict: This is everything you wanted in Young Pyromancer, but fits in a different slot from the card letting you play both without conflict. Run it. 

Hostile Negotiations is a card I am bullish on because it reminds me of Fact or Fiction, but in black. The color shift is a big deal as though a card may not have thrived in its original iteration, the color shift may give it the proper respect it deserves. The biggest example of this was Harmonize, which gave monogreen a way to flat draw cards without any other hoops. For this card, this is a huge deal as Fact or Fiction, henceforth typed as FoF, was a cube mainstay for years. I believe this card will make an even bigger impact as Black is a color that is able to play from the graveyard. Black already has access to this effect, but not as efficient as seen here. There are some notable differences between the two cards. First off you are making 2 piles of three cards. You are guaranteed to get three cards, no more, no less. In terms of raw card advantage, this beats the general FoF scenarios as you would often get 1-2 cards dependent on situation.With Hostile Negotiations, however, your opponents get to decide which cards you get based on the situation that best suits them. Lastly, you are digging down 6 cards in yourdeck, which might be the biggest currently available for the cost and great for filling up the graveyard.

Verdict: Being available in Black makes this card stellar to play with. Run it in any cube and if you support graveyard strats definitely run it.

Arcane Proxy is looking to be an impressive card with a ton of value and versatility. The card has been compared to Snapcaster Mage, though I feel that it more akin to Eternal Witness since it lacks flash. First off, the card has the prototype mechanic, which allows the users to cast it at an alternative cheaper cost for a smaller body, but with the same abilities. This effectively sets the baseline for the card, which also makes me categorize the card as a Blue card and not a colorless artifact. The ability on the card does ask that you have a graveyard to be effective, thus you will often be playing this card later into the game as you have reasonable target much in line with its comparisons. Unlike the other two, this card is able to cast the cards for free, though it is limited based on its power. This is generally not a real concern in higher power cubes since they are already running a ton of efficient spells like Lightning Bolt and Ponder. With all this being said, we have not even taken into account that the card can be played later for a larger body and more targets to pull from the graveyard like Fact or Fiction. When you start looking at interactions, blink and reanimation/welder are where this card will really shine. When played in a blink set up, the card returns as the full body not the prototype, so go crazy there. Similarly, returning this card from the graveyard to the battlefield is the same thing as flickering it, though do be aware if you are using Animate Dead since that lowers the power of Arcane Proxy. As a side note, playing anthems with this card will also raise the power of this card allowing you to play bigger instants and sorceries. Last mention is that the card is an artifact, so it fits in with general artifact interactions and you can use it to replay Thirst for Knowledge for value.

DISCLAIMER: I misinterpreted the ETB effect of the card as it works only if you cast it. So reanimation and flickering are not going to allow you to retrigger the ETB. This does still work by bouncing the card back to your hand and recasting it, which is awesome with this card because it scales up as you have more mana and a larger graveyard. You will also be able to blink it, just to get access to the larger body as well.

Verdict: Arcane Proxy is a card I'd run. It's powerful, but its impact scales on the power of your cube. The card being an artifact lends it more versatility as it is able to be played as an artifact, while still being desired for being a value blue creature.

Phyrexian Fleshgorger
looks like the safe and powerful design that WotC has been known for. Sarcasm aside, this card is honestly strong, but not annoying. It too has prototype, which makes it categorized as a black card. On the baseline, the card is resilient with ward and has a decent sized body with powerful keywords that are great if you intend to grind out the value. As was stated with prototype on Arcane Proxy, you are able to blink/reanimate this card for the full effect, which in this card turns this card into a giant monster to deal with. Being in black, reanimation is already in the colors alongside welder effects. The card will also thrive in black midrange decks since extra mana makes this card a devastating top deck. There is a mixed bag to having the ward be based on life vs mana since it means early on your opponent can mostly disregard their life to remove this card, however on the flipside you got a free 3 damage. As the game progresses, the effect becomes more serious especially the full 7 life.

Verdict: Phyrexian Fleshgorger is a powerful card with a scaling impact. The main problem is that the card is boring to look at and play with, but gets the job done. I think what would pique my excitement would have been deathtouch for the pseudo nighthawk experience.

Phyrexian Dragon Engine
is a card I don't think will end up on a lot of people's list, but a 2/2 with double strike is a card I can't just overlook. What I like about the card is that it is technically overstatted. When looking at other double strike offering, this card stands out because of the lack of color requirements to play it when the baseline is normally heavy on colors. This makes it easy to play in any deck since it fits nicely on curve and threatens 4 damage each turn it can swing. What pushes the card over is that if you mana to return it from the graveyard you are able to wheel your hand into a fresh 3 cards. The card already has Unearth on it, which will give it haste, but you need to be in red to use it. Aside from that, it has synergies with Unearth, the card, reanimation, and welder. All of these decks appreciate that the discard cards into your graveyard. In red decks, you can use the unearth late game for extra damage and extra gas.

Verdict: Phyrexian Dragon Engine is not for every cube, however a colorless 2/2 with double strike is worth considering if you want to lessen the density of aggro in your colored sections. Just the stat line alone is what drove me towards the card.

Zephyr Sentinel is an awesome card to play based on just the baseline. A flash, flying 2/1 is an awesome card to be playing thanks to the added flexibility of when you play the card. The aggressive statting on the card makes a serious threat that needs to be dealt with. When compared to other similar cards, the last ability is great as it, combined with the flash, becomes an extremely powerful and flexible tool. It can be used as a combat trick to protect your creatures from your opponent's stuff, while putting the creature back in your hand. You can get value off of ETB abilities with it.

Verdict: This is probably one of the best 2/1 blue fliers available and is available at all rarities except common. A blue Kor Skyfisher. Would definitely try to include it.

Cards of Interest

These are cards that I'm not planning to run, but they provide interesting effects that you might want to include in cube.

Argoth, Sanctum of Nature has action going for it that I enjoy and want to try out. Lands are always worth a look at when they are trying to do more than produce mana. Unfortunately, Argoth suffers from being clunky to play. As a monocolored land, it has to compared to a basic Forest, although it's not taking the slot of one. I like what the card does and I think the cost for it is fair and I've seen all too often how deceptive the high mana cost on land ability blur the actual power of the card. What I don't like is that the land can only enter untapped if you control a legendary green creature, making this card an awful choice to have in your opening hand, especially if you play with a ton of mana dorks. Furthermore, the activated ability can only be used at sorcery speed.

Verdict: Cubes that are more midrangey can appreciate the value this card is generating, however the feels clunky to use.

Coastal Bulwark occupies a unique space in cube because it is an artifact. It is a colorless wall you can sink mana into. This is a worse version of Sinister Starfish, but colorless which changes the flexibility of the card. Unlike Vedalken Shackles, the wants an Island for the power buff, but that is not needed for this card to thrive. 

Verdict: I recently placed Sinister Starfish into my commander cube as a graveyard filler and seeing a colorless version has me interested in it, but probably won't run it.

Transmorgant Altar
looks to be a useful card in lower powered aristocrats being able to generate either mana or tokens. Main concern is that it's just not good enough with both abilities having too many hurdles to activate.

Verdict: It is too slow and clunky for faster environments.

Haywire Mite has me confused on my evaluation skills because I saw one article praising the glory of this card. The green sacrifice ability is the reason to play this card with the death effect being extra gravy. The number of targets in my cube is smaller than what other cards can already hit. There may be a spot for it in vintage cubes as artifacts are much more prominent in those environments.

Verdict: This seems strong environments with a higher density of artifacts and enchantments. In more general environment, you have more options to choose from.

Transmorgrant's Crown is at the crossroads of being both Bonesplitter and Skull Clamp. The main thing limiting this card is the mana cost to play with it. Outside of black, you are spending 4 mana to give a creature +2/0, when Grafted Wargear exists and it doesn't get better with black mana as you are still spending 3 mana.

Verdict: If you find Skull Clamp and Bonesplitter too power, this may seem as an alright option since it does fill the role of both to some degree, however it is much clunkier to use.

Razorlash Transmogrant feels like another card in the large selection of recursive aggressive black creatures. What I like is that it is a zombie for Gravecrawler synergies. The recursion cost being 6 mana is way too much and even the cost reduction is difficult to reach since it is dependent on your opponent.

Verdict: The card has a lot of hurdles it needs to climb to be considered, but the zombie subtype plays well with Gravecrawler.

Surge Engine is a card I'm iffy about but it might be more powerful than I am currently evaluating it at. The card has a similar level up mechanic to other cards in this vein, most recently Evolved Sleeper. What got me excited about this card is that it can essentially be a balanced True Name Nemesis or an upgraded Latch Seeker once you get the first level. This is honestly all you need for this card to thrive in your environment. You can scale this up as well by dumping your extra mana to hit level 2 to represent a faster clock. Should the game drag on any longer, you can always level it up to level 3 for my gas. This makes it an excellent top deck. Being a tempo based artifact creature really fits it into being a versatile blue creature.

Verdict: I might actually change my mind on this card and moving it up as a recommendation. The slot is pretty tight, but if you are not running the fairies (Brazen Borrower or Vendillion Clique), I would highly recommend you slotting this card in. If you are, some cut might need to happen.

Portal to Phyrexia is a bigger, badder God Pharaoh's Gift that forces your opponent's to sacrifice 3 creatures. The sacrifice ability will help fuel the second ability, which is allowing you to choose targets from both graveyards. The card seems awesome in Welder decks and ramp decks. The main problem is that the card is slow since it is 9 mana and does require a bit of set up, however you should be winning within a couple of turns.

Verdict: If you are looking for huge bomb artifacts, this is easily one of them. It does not win immediately, so slower cubes might be in for a treat with this one. Faster cubes might need to test it out, before including it.

Bladecoil Serpent is kind of a neat card. I like how it reads, however when I envision how this card actually play, it's not looking hot. Without spending X mana, I am seeing a highly versatile uncommon due to the need for double mana symbols. The card does not synergy well with general artifacts or reanimation strategies, however mana rocks might provide the mana fixes that will allow you to make this card devastating. For those of us who are planning to run it, I would classify it as a Grixis card.

Verdict: The requirements to make this card good are really high and I'd recommend including it in environments with really good mana fixing, otherwise stay away.

Recommission seems interesting to play with especially if you already play Unearth. This is a low MV reanimation spell that can also target artifacts. This can be interesting in lower rarity environments where other reanimation spells are limited, but in a general cube there are better options.

Verdict: I think pauper cubes will enjoy the added density of unearth effects, though I'm not too familiar with the environment.

Recruitment Officer is another Savannah Lion Variant that plays a role in white aggro. What stands out about this card is that you are able to use an activated ability to fill your hand with more creatures. This makes it an alright topdeck in these decks.

Verdict: If you need an increase in density of Savannah Lions, run it. This is significantly better than any of the other vanilla variants, though I do not think it is better than Kytheon or Usher, which prevents it from making it in my cube. I think it's definitely top 5 for savannah lions.

Lay Down Arms is a clear throwback to Swords to Plowshare. The card scales up its effect but is nowhere as powerful as the other removal that white has. Where this card shines will be in format restricted cubes where swords is not readily available. Also it's 1 mana to cast and will be able to hit almost any target. The only things dodging it are really big creatures.

Verdict: Generally not a card you play unless you can not play Swords. The effect is still playable, but can not hit huge creatures.

Brotherhood's End
is a card I might have to reevaluate as my cube evolves. This card is great as a flexible board wipe choosing between creatures and planeswalkers or just artifacts. The only thing keeping me from running this card is that it is not what my red section wants to be doing currently and I don't believe I run enough artifacts to justify its inclusion.

Verdict: If you support a more controlling Red section, this card is going to be stellar. If not, this might still have a place as a tool that your red section has.

Loran of the Third Path is the long awaited Reclamation Sage that white has been waiting for. Previously, white only had two creatures that would ETB and destroy an artifact/enchantment: one of which is a 5 drop and the other was a 4 drop space marine from 40K. This is the cheapest this effect is available and I would have really wanted to run this card, however it is a little late to the party. Skyclave Apparition is a card that exists now and it has all of the same lines of play or better than Loran. Loran does have a draw ability, however I feel that if you are using it, it could solidify your loss.

Verdict: This card is competing with Skyclave Apparition and I think it is worse than that card. If you have the additional space, then this might be an easy addition to welcome.

Skystrike Officer seems like the blue equivalent of an "Adeline/Brimaz/Rabblemaster" style card. There's a lot I like about the card. First off, the card is essentially a growing threat since it can grow your board state without you needing to spend extra resources on it. This is sweet for decks looking to hold up mana for interaction. It's clock may not be as high as some of the comparisons, but this effect is in blue, which doesn't get these type of effect normally. You can also use the tokens generated to start drawing cards with its second ability. The creature itself is a respectable flying 2/3 meaning that it can safely swing and push damage at a reasonable pace. The lack of flash is a real concern since in higher power cubes,Vendilion Clique and Brazen Borrower are competing against it. This card is a faster clock, but the lack of flash leaves its open to getting removed setting you back. 

Verdict: This card seems like an awesome to play with and include into your cubes, however it is lacking flash and Brazen Borrower exists.

Myrel, Shield of Argive is a card I want to like, however with so many other cards with similar effects already existing, I'd rather play any of those. By no means is this card a bad card, instead the concern is the power level of the card. Automatically it is going to be compared to Hero of Bladehold and Leonin Warleader, which it is better than neither of those two. What's more the dreaded 4 cmc section of white is stacked with some of the best cube cards, making it hard for this card to breakthrough. The Grand Abolisher effect is less potent as you are primarily dealing with only one enemy and this was the main reason to play the card. What's more the token generation ability does not having the soldier tokens attacking alongside it, hampering and already slow card. There is a role for this card and  I can see this card existing in an environment with soldier tribal, which isn't that hard to achieve.

Verdict: If you want/have a toned down white section, this card will be prominent there especially if there is a density of soldier cards.

Draconic Destiny is the long awaited cycle mate of Angelic Destiny and there's a lot to like and dislike about it. The stat boost, haste, and flying are a huge welcome to any creature alongside the addition of firebreathing. The recursion on the enchantment is great as it becomes sort of like a pseudo equipment being able to move it onto the next target and continue the pressure. What I do not like is that the card gives to little P/T to the creature, however I may be downplaying the impact of firebreathing. Having a mana cost of 3 does make the card a little clunky, but I am a huge fan of Maul of the Skyclaves.

Verdict: This card seems like an easy include if you have the space or are not running Embercleave since it will provide the necessary damage to end the game.

Staff of Titania seems like a better Blanchwood Armor, though the start up is a little clunky. The card generates a Dryad Arbor each turn you swing with it. This will give one additional mana to use each turn, increase the P/T provided by the artifact, and create more bodies to equip the artifact onto. This card excels in green decks, but will perform okay in nongreen decks. This main thing I do not like about this equipment is no evasion given. making it easy to chump block.

Verdict: The card is on the slower side and can be blocked easily, however generating an extra body every turn should be difficult to deal with.

The End Phase

This set is looking to be a fun drafting environment with a ton of large mechs squaring off against eachother. A lot of the cards I saw were powerful, however I felt that I needed to warp my cube a bit if I wanted to properly support these cards. Unfortunately, this set is wrapped up in a huge whirlwind of Magic News and product releases. This unfairly impacts the set as I have noticed a huge lack of hype and excitement around the set at my LGS and when I was at Magic 30, no one seemed to care what was being announced. As I was going through and looking at these cards, there is a lot of care and detail that went into this set and it generally got me excited to go and buy the book. So from my end, this just seems sad that this may be one of the coolest sets in a long time and no one seems to care.

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.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please leave a comment or complaint below, I like the interaction. If you want to support me and want to purchase some cards , please consider using my link for TCGplayer. If you want to stay connected, I left all of my socials on the sidebar including my email list and Facebook Page