Aftermath: The Winner of the Brothers War

Welcome into the Aftermath series where I reexamine sets that have been out for at least a year. During preview seasons, many cube content creators, me included, will do a preliminary look at cards and try our best to gauge how they will perform in cube. This is a tough endeavor as cubes vary wildly between different restrictions and players preference. Combine this with the fact that we haven't really seen the cards in action and what we all provide is an incomplete picture of the ceiling and baseline. As time progresses, the cards are better understood and the community does an amazing job of putting out this information. These posts are intended to highlight the winners, duds, and interesting cards in cube from the set. 

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Brothers War was a set I thought I would like coming off the high that was Dominaria United. That was wrong. Unlike DMU, the set wanted to be about hulking mechs swinging at eachother and it delivered on that. I don't like playing that way. This translated into many of the cards as well, making a lot of them unsuited for general cubes.

The Selects

Steel Seraph was the biggest sleeper. I wasn't a huge fan of prototyping and thought the card didn't do enough to justify being included, then I took a hard second look at it again and ran some searches. At the baseline, you are playing a 3 mana 3/3 that flies and can gain/give another keyword including lifelink. This is huge even to this day as no other card in white can do this. Furthermore, the card is able to give other cards that secondary keyword, which is huge as it allows the card to make an impact immediately. The keywords available are always make the ability relevant as you can adjust it to either push through more damage or make your swing sustainable and safe. This is all on the prototype, you always have the option of paying for the full cost of the card. The card at full power is less impressive when you take into account the mana cost to power/toughness ratio,  which is why cheating the cost is always an option. Aside from the traditional cheat methods, flickering/blinking the card will have it return as a 5/4 then the prototype. This is a very real scenario as the flicker cards are often used alongside white strategies. This card is easy to ignore, but it has aged well. I can see it getting replaced, but it'll be a long while.

Loran of the Third Path was another card that did not impress me right away either. I just saw it as Reclamation Sage, but white, then I ran the searches. I realized that there was only one other card that had the naturalize effect on ETB and it came out with the Warhammer 40K commander decks. Loran offers it at a cheaper rate and with other abilities. Her tap ability is notable as it is a  consistent source of cards in a color that has limited access to card draw. Giving your opponent a card is a major downside, though with proper management you can make it negligible. Lastly, her vigilance allows her to attack without sacrificing your opportunity to defend or use the tap ability. Thus as a whole package, she is good in every white deck. She's seems easy to replace, but with WotC's reluctance in creating similar cards as is, she will stand the test of time.

Recruitment Officer is a white 1 drop 2/1, which white surely doesn't have an abundance of (sarcasm*). What allows this one to stand out is the ability to dump mana in to dig for a creature. As mentioned with Loran, white has/had troubles sustaining a flow of cards and this is another solution. At its current body, it fits nicely in white aggro strategies already and makes for a solid addition/ upgrade to option you may already be running. This is one of the premier iterations of Savannah Lion and I doubt anything will threaten its play value in the future. Even then, it will be a solid option to have in most cubes.

Third Path Iconoclasts is a Young Pyromancer but better, but also in Izzet. Young Pyromancer is a staple in cube since inception and this card does an amazing job at taking that mold and future proofing it further. It allows the card to be triggered more often with artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers (almost forgot battles) now being included in the mix. Cards amazing.

Bitter Reunion was a card I wasn't sold on but the more I see it being used, the more impressed with it I am. The card takes the concept of Tormenting Voice and adds on additional functionality of enabling haste for later. This sets the card up as a whole package for every red deck but the hyper aggressive ones. Being an enchantment is a little odd, but situations wanting a diversity of card types will appreciate this aspect of the card. Solid sidegrade that will remain on your maybe list for years. 

Haywire Mite does a lot and I think it's a vintage cube staple. It's definitely a staple in any artifact heavy environment and for good reason. It is a Naturalize on a creature with its cost spread out. This versatility allows the card to exist in almost any deck with low deckbuilding investment. It's performance in your cube is heavily dependent on the artifact section in your cube, but with the increase in colored artifacts, this only makes them more prevalent as time progresses. Definitely a card that should remain on your maybe board as your cube develops throughout the years.

Bushwhack does a lot for 1 mana. It smooths out your game or becomes a removal spell when drawn later. This versatility is insane. If your cube has the room, run it.

Portal to Phyrexia is a card that somehow made it and respectfully so once you get a chance to play with it. Being a clunky 9 drop is enough to deter a lot of cubes from thinking about running it. The card is a colorless artifact which means the only thing stopping you from playing the card is the mana cost. Fortunately, most cubes have a lot of ramp either in green or with artifact ramp, helping overcome the hurdle of casting the card. In addition, there is always the option of reanimating it or just straight shoving it down. Once this card lands, within one turn cycle the game will shift in your favor. The card has a big effect and inspires players to build around it, which is enough for me to keep the card for a long time.

The End Step

This set following up Dominaria United was bound to make players feel a certain type of way. I initially did not enjoy the limited format and took forever to come around to it. Powerstone tokens were a mixed bag for me as they were great in the format, but translating that into other environment limited their application. Maybe they'll age amazingly with time, but that will be a very long time. Prototype on the other hand was solid and the good cards they did have it on did justice to what the mechanic can be. I want to see that explored more. Other than that, the actual set wasn't too memorable to me.

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