Decisions, Decisions… CFB’s The Brothers’ War MTG Preview Card

Decisions, decisions… Magic’s a game that’s all about choices. Should you attack or stay back? Is blocking in the cards? Which spell should I cast? Part of the reason we all play this game is there’s so much agency. Even generating resources (in the form of lands) is a choice! Well today, we have one of the most painful choices in The Brothers’ War – but let’s start with some base level strategy.



Ask any pro and they’ll say that giving your opponents a choice is bad. One of CFB’s most famous articles, titled “PV’s Rule,” states…

“At a high level of play, it is better to force a poor outcome than to give your opponent a choice that includes that outcome.”

Fact or FictionSteam Augury

Let’s take a look at these two cards. They’re almost identical, minus a little extra color on one and a slight twist of text. Fact or Fiction is pretty famous – you’ll see it pop up in Cubes, Commander and even the odd Modern deck. Steam Augury, on the other hand, most players won’t even know of. What makes Fact or Fiction so much better?

Choices! Simply put, the end decision is in your court. The opponent makes the piles and you choose the optimal selection. Mostly it’s a standard 3-2 split, and it’s often right to just get more bang for your buck. But sometimes, you’ll get a 4-1 split, and that one card just wins you the game. Try to make the same piles with Steam Augury and you’ll just get the worst of both worlds.

Indulgent Tormentor

What about when both choices affect the opponent? Indulgent Tormentor never really caught on, well, anywhere, but it’s a prime example of agency in MTG. This isn’t a Bloodgift Demon and it’s not a Lightning Bolt every turn – it’s always whatever suits your opponent best. Sure, both options aren’t great, but you’ll be griping when they take three damage when you really need to draw your out.

However, we can get a bit more painful than Indulgent Tormentor, which brings us to our Brothers’ War preview card – Painful Quandary!

This isn’t a new card – we last saw it in Scars of Mirrodin (which marked the debut of the New Phyrexian threat… interesting), and any Commander player can tell you that both options here are not pleasant. Sure, you start with 40 life, but five life is still nothing to scoff at. On the other end, discarding a card is generally the worst – that’s resources you’re throwing away for almost nothing!

While Painful Quandary falls under the “give your opponents a choice” bad side of PV’s Rule, it still isn’t a pleasant choice to make. In particular, in a format like Commander with so many spells being cast and so many players to bug with a choice, Painful Quandary lives up to its name. If you liked to ask “Do you pay the one?” or “Do you pay the two?” then you’ll love asking “five life or discard a card?”

Thanks for choosing to read, and hopefully your choices are just as easy in The Brothers’ War!


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