The Brothers’ War is on our doorstep and I’m sure by now many have spent hours poring over the freshly spoiled rares and mythics. Not every new, flashy or good card is found in the higher rarities though, and cards with real power can frequently be missed in the early days of a set’s release. BRO gives us access to some powerful synergy pieces at the uncommon level, and today we’re going to take a look at some of my picks for excellent cards to brew around at the budget level. Many players tend to get tunnel vision when looking at new cards, so it’s my hope that this article will help get those creative juices flowing as we move into this new season of play.
Third Path Iconoclast
Let’s start with the obvious one. As soon as it was spoiled, this card made immediate waves on Discords and forums everywhere as people drew an immediate comparison to its powerful cousin, Young Pyromancer. Third Path Iconoclast (TPI) certainly has a lot of potential, but does it keep up in today’s world of power creep and FIRE design?
Pioneer Izzet Pyromancer by Darren Magnotti
The first thing that my mind jumped was the deck I was already playing regularly in Pioneer, Izzet Pyromancer. This deck looks to play the tempo game, disrupting its opponent while creating a massive board full of threats before amassing a tidal force of power thanks to Balmor’s pump effect. TPI slots well into this deck because it fills both roles that the Pyromancer was filling prior. The deck really requires that go-wide engine to net value out of its deluge of spells, and the capacity to singlehandedly turn on Of One Mind for that necessary card draw makes TPI the perfect card here.
Modern Izzet 8-Cast by Darren Magnotti
Modern has a couple of other options when looking to take advantage of this card. The buzz on everyone’s lips is of course the infinite win condition that it provides for Grinding Station decks, though other authors are sure to cover that expensive pile of cards more in depth than I would like to today. An interesting element of TPI’s effect is the creation of artifact tokens at such a low cost. I’ve decided to take this into a sort of midrangey 8-Cast shell, emulating that established game plan of other decks of Modern and Legacy’s past that abused Monastery Mentor, combines with the insane synergies available with artifacts and affinity in Modern. While I’m not sure how groundbreaking this sort of strategy could really be in practice, in theory at least it’s an interesting take that we don’t see a whole lot of in Modern right now.
Yotian Dissident looks pretty similar to a few cards that we’ve seen before. There are plenty of cards that care about both +1/+1 counters and artifact cards, so surely this card slots well into decks that exist and are doing well today, right?
Standard Bant Artifacts by Darren Magnotti
In Standard, the only counters deck at the moment is Brokers Ascendancy, which doesn’t actually care very much about artifacts at all. However, by combining some key elements from BRO with the powerful modified-matters cards available in Neon Dynasty, we get a pseudo-affinity style deck that comes quick out of the gates and can hang around through the long game with ease as well. The core principle is simple and straightforward: cast cheap artifact creatures and make them swole.
Pioneer Selesnya Artifacts by Darren Magnotti
Moving to Pioneer, the Hardened Scales style decks have been in the back of everyone’s minds for years, but never quite figured out. This build looks to take advantage of one of my favorite cards available to the archetype in Animation Module, which “combos” quite nicely with the Dissident by allowing you to create as many one-mana 2/2s as you can afford essentially each turn. This turns the build into a deck that looks to grind through to the late game and go over the top of any other aggro or midrange deck in its way. Someday, the Hardened Scales archetype will have its time in the sun, and Yotian Dissident might just be the key to getting there.
This card, as soon as I read it, made me think I was taking some crazy pills. I am yet to see any discourse or discussion on this card whatsoever, but every time I read it, it feels like all of the words on the card are correct and that this card should be insane.
Pioneer Cat-Oven by Darren Magnotti
In Pioneer, the first thing that comes to mind is the Cat-Oven combo, as Cauldron Familiar would trigger the Vigil every time it comes back into play. The main issue is that the primary Cat-Oven deck in the format doesn’t have the threats to keep around and build up, as it would rather steal the opponent’s creatures than establish it’s own huge threats.
Enter this Golgari variant, which looks to abuse the Vigil as much as possible by jamming as many synergies as one can fit into a 60-card deck list. Deathless Knight can leave the graveyard whenever life is gained, which happens when the cat leaves the graveyard. Both of those triggers are either caused by or cause life gain, which would put counters on the Blood Researcher, who then gets even more counters thanks to the Vigil. Collective Brutality and Call the Bloodline both discard the Knight while gaining life, which will get the Knight back, which will trigger the Vigil.
Basically, every card in this list works to turbo power Thran Vigil to squeeze out as much value from the card as possible each turn. Is this deck better than Rakdos Sacrifice as it currently stands? Maybe. The fun part of brewing, and especially brewing on a budget, is finding interesting lines and synergies that can drive entirely new takes on classic archetypes.
Modern Zombie Combo by Darren Magnotti
Modern offers a vastly different take on the card, as Thran Vigil becomes a combo piece to fuel some persist based nonsense. When a persist creature dies, it’s returned to play via its own effect with a -1/-1 counter on it. When it leaves the graveyard, a +1/+1 counter is put onto a creature, which can coincidentally be that creature that just came back. When a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter meet, they cancel out and both are removed. This puts the persist creature back to the same state it was when it first died, and in combination with a card that allows for free sacrifice, creates an infinite loop.
Many will remember the famous Melira-Kitchen Finks combo that ruled the format back when the rocks were soft and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, which took advantage of the same concept. The big draw here is that the combo can now be fully had in mono-black with redundancies thanks to Metallic Mimic. The rest of the deck has been filled out with the Zombie aristocrat package that some players have found marginal success with in the past year or so as a beatdown plan that also generates pretty reasonable value over time thanks to Carrion Feeder and Undead Augur.
Arms Race is an interesting card, as its design emulates an extremely powerful effect that still sees extensive play in Legacy and competitive Commander today, Sneak Attack. The ability to cheat on mana costs for temporary gain has always been a strong plan, and it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this, albeit more narrow, copycat card in the coming months.
Standard Arms Race by Darren Magnotti
In Standard, The Brothers’ War brings with it a plethora of huge artifact threats that are just waiting to have their mana costs cheated. This list takes advantage of Scrap Welder to help eliminate the downside of Arms Race by trading the card that’s going to be sacrificed at the end of turn for one that’s already been through the process, doubling up on that first artifact’s abilities and setting the second up for the same process later on. The deck also leans on some of the Powerstone generators to help cast these huge artifact bombs the natural way as well, such as Karn, Living Legacy and Visions of Phyrexia.
Legacy Arms Race by Darren Magnotti
While I normally don’t cover Legacy as a format, I thought that the comparison to Sneak Attack was too good to pass up and investigate what that might look like. This list also uses the Welder plan to create additional value from the soon-to-be-sacrificed artifacts, as well as some giant artifact creature threats that don’t mind dying so much either.Triplicate Titan and Phyrexian Triniform both split into thirds when the Arms Race is done with them, completely negating the downside of that effect. The rest of the deck is bolstered by the classic mono-red prison plan, using fast mana spells to get lock pieces down in the early turns in order to stay alive long enough to pull off the cool thing that the deck has access to.
Similar to the Thran Vigil deck mentioned above, I have no idea if this is something that could ever see success to any degree in its format, especially on a budget. However, sometimes it’s just worthwhile to take a deep dive into your format’s card pool and find some cool new effects and strategies that you didn’t know existed. Even if the end product of that attempt isn’t very worthwhile, the lessons learned while constructing it can be translated to other future endeavors as well, and you end up a better brewer because of it. Never be afraid to try something goofy, you might just end up with the next big thing because of it.
The Brothers’ War brings with it a huge focus on a frequently underrepresented tribe, Soldiers. Recruitment Officer is moreso just a representation of the archetype in general, but on its own it provides a great effect that decks like this really depend on, so it’s sure to be an all-star in its own right.
Standard Soliders by adolce95
For these lists, I reached out to my resident Soldiers expert and fellow Magic writer Adolce95 for some inspiration. He had been on the archetype since Dominaria United’s release, with Resolute Reinforcements and Protect the Negotiators creating a powerful basis for a disruptive creature beatdown strategy.
In Standard, we really get to see some of these new cards shine through such as Skystrike Officer and Fortified Beachhead. The deck looks pretty similar as it moves through formats, and fairly close to other tribal strategies throughout Magic’s history, where it just wants to run out a ton of the namesake creature type and buff them up with lord effects. This is a very bare bones take on the deck, but even that is full well capable of putting up results in new Standard.
Pioneer Soldiers by Adolce95
The Pioneer version of the deck, ported from his Explorer version which he’s been having the most success with thus far, features more of the same on a much more powerful scale. Did you know that there’s eight Raise the Alarm effects available in Pioneer? Having access to so many token producers puts the lord effects into turbo drive, and really enables the payoff spells in a major way. Only needing to commit two card’s worth of card to Skystrike Officer’s card draw ability is huge, and cards like Harbin, Vanguard Aviator become exponentially more powerful as more creatures enter play. This deck has reasonably favorable matchups against the likes of Rakdos and provides a quick clock that Devotion might struggle to race effectively, so while it’s not guaranteed that Soldiers are the new Humans in Pioneer, it’s not-not a possibility either.
That’s all for this one! I really enjoy taking these deep dives into the new sets, as I’m usually one of those that will just brush past the first 14 cards in a fresh booster. Getting your hands dirty in the commons and uncommons can and will make you a better brewer as you get more and more exposed to new niche effects, and I think that it’s definitely worthwhile to try and emulate this sort of project for yourself. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.