I’m going to be honest. I’m a little tired. I’m just getting over Covid, jet lag, and two exhausting but fruitful months of testing for Worlds. Ultimately, I decided not to go to Atlanta despite wanting to see my friends because I needed a break.
However, the show must go on. I’ve taken my first look at The Brother’s War and had a ton of FOMO watching people play Limited. The set looks super fun for Limited, and I’m excited to sit back, relax, and play that at home this weekend while watching coverage, if that exists.
I want to point out some of my favorite cards in the set that I’m excited to try out in various constructed formats. Spoilers: I’ve lumped Meld cards together and there are a lot of them, as it’s one of the most unique aspects of the set.
1 Hurkyl, Master Wizard
Hurkyl is a card that had so many words I glossed over it at first. But, Hurkyl is a card that has the ability to potentially see play in any format. It’s got a solid sized body to dodge cards like Lightning Bolt and Abrade, and can be easily slotted into a deck like Izzet Phoenix. It’s by no means a slam dunk but it’s a card I’ve got my eye on as a card to try in various spells decks as it can snowball, even drawing as many as two cards a turn. This is certainly a card with an incredibly high ceiling.
Hurkyl would play incredibly well in a deck using cards like Mishra’s Bauble, Mox Amber, or Mox Opal as it can find you immediate value the turn you cast it, and continue to provide you advantage as the game continues.
2 Titania, Voice of Gaea / Argoth, Sanctum of Nature
This is the kind of card I’d love to see packaged into the Slogurk deck I posted last week. It’s not great on rate alone, but in the right shell it might be strong enough to see play. Argoth, Sanctum of Nature is a decent value land, and the combination is worth implementing in some kind of Legends package with Plaza of Heros. A Slogurk deck seems best suited for both Titania and Arogth. One of the biggest issues I had with that deck was the inability to gain life, and this is a tool that solves that problem. I’m excited to try that out.
3 Cityscape Leveler
This card is no secret to anybody. It’s a must-have Karn wish target that easily replaces Meteor Golem as it becomes a plan itself. Powerstone Tokens will make it more castable where applicable, and it’s a strong card that fits my playstyle of working towards a top-end card and having those cards do the work for me.
4 Bladecoil Serpent
Bladecoil Serpent is a cool card that feels like it may be a bit too overcosted for constructed, but I’m sure it’s going to get some air time. It’s a lot of card advantage rolled into one card. It forces opponents to discard the last card or two in hand, fuel up, and suffer a huge crunch of haste trample damage. Its closest comparison on first read was Hydroid Krasis, but it doesn’t scale the same because Hydroid Krasis could have been played at four mana replacing itself while providing a small body on the battlefield. I’m excited to try this card, but I think it’ll fall a bit flat.
5 Evangel of Synthesis
This is a potential creature to add to Esper Midrange. It blocks Fable tokens, smooths your draws a little, and it’s difficult to block if you attack with it with a Raffine in play. It may be an improvement to Ludevic, but the big problem is it’s not castable off Plaza of Heroes, so it’s unlikely to edge it out. If it’s still viable, I’d certainly like to try this card in the Esper slot.
6 Mishra’s Foundry
I love the downgraded version of Mishra’s Factory. Standard desperately needed some incentive to play a mono-color deck, and we just got a little bit of that. This will make it a cost to play three-color decks. It didn’t seem like there was a good reason not to prior, as the mana was fine, and Streets of New Cappena lands pushed you into playing three-color decks.
7 Arcane Proxy
Essentially a flashless Snapcaster, Arcane Proxy is a sweet value card that plays well with black cards like Duress, Thoughtseize, various Cantrips, and card draw. Arcane Proxy also provides a little additional scaling. These days, I dislike cards that aren’t obscenely powerful that rely on the graveyard, as you don’t want to expose yourself to cards like Unlicensed Hearse and Graveyard Trespasser. Be careful not to build decks too weak to that stuff unless it’s powerful enough to win through it. This will be a fun card to play in grindy, value decks like Grixis.
8 Urza, Lord Protector/ The Might and the Weakstone
The curve is kind of interesting. Urza has solid stats, and if unchecked, it can curve into the Might and Weakstone to create a melding opportunity on the following turn. Urza, Planeswalker is quite powerful, and I can’t imagine you lose often if it stays in play for more than a turn. It can exile up to two cards that same turn, and both cards, on their own, have some merit and aren’t the easiest things to interact with but still cause disruption.
The Might and Weakstone can kill a creature on an empty board or draw you towards a copy of Urza. This combo may be a bit underpowered because individually the cards don’t play out incredibly well. It will be fun to try, and it’s worth pursuing in Standard. However, I think it’s the worst of the meld combinations from the set.
9 Mishra, Claimed by Gix/ Phyrexian Dragon Engine
In contrast to the above, this is potentially the strongest meld pair. Mishara is just an acceptable creature on its own. It plays nicely in a low-curve aggro deck as a curve topper that can lead to a lot more when melded.
Phyrexian Dragon Engine, however, is a solid card in its own right. It provides an unearth threat that can unload its hand quickly, be discarded to a card like Fable of the Mirror Breaker, and be brought back to form the meld combination down the road or strictly for value. This may be the combination with the highest potential, as Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia may outright win the game, dealing a huge chunk of damage from both its own triggers and the original trigger put on the stack when Mishra first attacked. I’m excited to play with cards that work well with Fable of the Mirror Breaker, as it’s still the best card in Standard, but it didn’t get a ton of support in this set.
10 Portal to Phyrexia
This is my favorite kind of Magic card. Similar to Cityscape Leveler, Portal to Phyrexia is a plan to work towards that will both stabilize and win you the game. It’s prohibitively expensive, but it’s not out of reach with Powerstone tokens. This is a card I’d shove into the Urza meld shell because you can ramp to it with both of those cards and it will catch you up from behind. Cheating it into play with cards like Refurbish or Indomitable Creativity seems like a fun way to experiment with the card. However, it’s probably not a good enough plan since you’d be extremely reliant on your opponent’s deck.
While this card will be fun to build around, I think it’s simply too weak if not put in a deck specifically designed to cast it.
This set looks very fun and relatively weak. The cards don’t go that well with what already exists, as many seem like build-arounds. This is one of the trickier sets I’ve evaluated because the set isn’t low powered for Standard, but it’s too underpowered outside of Karn toolbox cards for eternal formats. In Standard, it’s hard to figure out how games will play out without actually getting some games in.
My week-one Standard deck to test will be Slogaak from last week’s article. After that, I’ll test a Mishra Meld deck of some kind. Ultimately, I think Standard will change quite a bit, and it will be interesting to see which direction the metagame takes us.