Magic: The Gathering‘s latest set, The Brothers’ War, releases very soon. Urza, Mishra, and many other classic Magic characters return to show us an untold, and now rewritten, chapter from one of the earliest stories the game has to offer. The Brothers’ War pre-release events will be starting as early as November 11th. I’m here to help you play the staples and steer clear of the stinkers. That is to say, I’ll be giving you a tour of the best colors, best commons, and a primer on the archetypes that Brothers’ War has in store for you. I’m Luka “Robot Rallis” Sharaska, and you’re about to level up your game.

Urza, a Magic: The Gathering planeswalker, is wearing flowing robes, carrying a staff, and has long hair and a short beard. He stands in front of of a mountain range, with an airship dropping bombs behind him.

Urza casually waving away the accusation that he’s a notorious war criminal.

Before we start rating colors, there are two issues.

First, many of the Prototype cards feature a Prototype cost that requires colored mana, such as Boulderbranch Golem and Rust Goliath. The golem is a card that you might play in a UB control deck, simply for its ability to stabilize a late game board state. The green Prototype cost might otherwise dissuade you for doing so, but it shouldn’t always! Conversely, cards like the Goliath should probably only see play if you can pay the Prototype cost, since the other half of the card is so expensive compared to other top-end threats.

The lesson here is that Prototype cards do not have a strict rule on seeing play in decks that can only pay full price. Instead, you will have to evaluate them on their own merits. Second, there are a great many colorless cards in this set, which means that while you can technically run most of them in any deck, some of them are better left in the sideboard, or not used at all.

With that out of the way, let’s explore the colors, from worst to best, along with the top commons in each one. Even in a room full of winners, someone has to get last place, so don’t be afraid to play the worst color! Since most of the cards you’ll be playing with are common and uncommon, these ratings reflect those rarities. There’s a good chance the worst color has busted rares, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good color.

5th Place: Red

It is with a heavy heart that I put my second favorite color in last place. So many of these commons have a high opportunity cost for a relatively poor result, especially when compared to other colors. The high power cards at uncommon don’t justify how weak many of the common creatures are. I had to dig deep just to find five commons I was very happy to play. They will be in demand if there are any other red players drafting at the table.

Best Red Commons

#1: Excavation Explosion: Although you’d usually want to pay two mana for this effect, the powerstone is a nice consolation prize. With how sparse the red playables are at common, you’ll be hoping to ramp out more powerful threats. This card will pull its weight while also enabling every manner of viable strategy red has.

#2: Dwarven Forge-Chanter: Two-mana creatures with prowess often tend to overperform, and this dwarf is no exception. You get a decently-sized body on the front side, and it can certainly tussle with sizable creatures with a bit of spell-based assistance.

#3: Unleash Shell: I don’t know what the shell is going on here, but these puns are seriously bombing. All jokes aside, while you generally don’t want to pay five mana for this ability, The Brothers’ War is slower (and commensurately weaker when it comes to removal) than many other sets. Do not be fooled, this is still a perfectly functional piece of removal.

#4: Scrapwork Mutt: Okay, this isn’t technically a red card, but the Unearth ability requires red, and a cheap creature that helps you dig is always a fine investment. Not only can you loot away otherwise unplayable cards or useless lands, but you also get a cheap artifact creature to sacrifice, which is a theme among multiple colors.

#5: Penregon Strongbull: Sacrificing an entire artifact is a large cost, but the threat of activation alone will allow this card to deal more damage than you’d usually guess. Keep in mind that powerstones are the ideal ammunition to feed this ability, in every way. With work, and a little luck, you can sacrifice everything you’ve got for the last 2-5 points of life your opponent has.

4th Place: White

The strength of white lies primarily in the strong removal and recursion abilities you’ll find within the uncommon slot. This color earns a spot near the bottom thanks to a relatively meek cast of creatures at common. White asks a lot of you, with many cards demanding setup for any amount of real payoff, and although the ceiling is high, the floor is quite low on some of these cards.

Best White Commons

#1: Prison Sentence: A solid removal spell that protects you against the primary ways that Pacifism-style effects often fall short. This will prohibit your opponents from making use of the ample activated abilities present across the set.

#2: Airlift Chaplain: It is hard to “miss” with this card, since you’ll be paid off decently. This is only a mild step down from Militia Bugler. Since the card says “you may,” you can decide that a counter is worth more than the card occasionally. That kind of card advantage and versatility is difficult to underrate. Did I mention that Unearth is a mechanic in this set?

#3: Deadly Riposte: Although this card is conditional in multiple ways, there are a great many creatures throughout the format that this will kill. The life gain is a nice consolation prize for your patience, and you’ll be happy to play a couple of these. Be warned that they have drastically diminishing returns in multiples.

#4: Aeronaut Cavalry: You may have noticed that many of the creatures in this set are a bit meager when it comes to stats. Well, the Cavalry is an exception to this, boasting a whopping 4/5 worth of stats if you have a soldier. In a set full of four mana 3/3s, this hits hard, and there are surprisingly few ways to profitably block or kill this at common.

#5: Warlord’s Elite: You won’t realistically be playing this on turn three, but you can expect this to come down reliably on turn four with some effort. The power/toughness combination is quite sturdy in this format of small fleshy humans and large metal monstrosities. You’ll be able to hold back the smaller threats while setting up solid blocks, or double-blocks on the bigger ones.

3rd Place: Green

Green has several potent activated abilities, and a decent amount of interaction, but other colors just shine a bit brighter. However, green earns 3rd place because the average level of power is simply higher than what white and red collectively muster.

Best Green Commons

#1: Epic Confrontation: Do not be fooled by the timing restriction, this card is certainly strong. The +1/+2 buff works quite well across the suite of common creatures green has to offer. Since removal at instant speed is less common in this set, you also don’t have to worry about getting blown out nearly as often.

#2: Argothian Opportunist: This is exactly what I want out of my commons. You get exactly what it says on the tin. No extra work, no setup cost, it just does what it does. If you want powerstones while also curving out, this will do the job. There are plenty of creatures with three toughness in the format that will trade with this, and many of them cost four mana.

#3: Blanchwood Prowler: You can play this on almost any turn in the game and not end up wholly disappointed. The presence of Unearth means that your graveyard has quite a bit of value, and smoothing your land-light hands has a great deal of it too. It is always nice to have a cheap creature that isn’t just a guaranteed blank in the late game.

#4: Boulderbranch Golem: Another card in a long line of beefy creatures with extra life on top, this card can stabilize you in the late game. It almost never gets stuck in your hand thanks to the Prototype ability. Although you never really want to get the discount version of this, the fact that you can goes a very long way.

#5: Argothian Sprite: There are many artifact creatures in the set, and a good number of them are quite large. Sneaking past those is already a valuable ability, and the late-game mana sink ensures that this is never useless.

2nd Place: Black

There are some remarkable cards among the lower rarities in black. Although some require moderate setup, the payoffs are extremely potent. The strong removal suite ensures that, if you play your cards right, you can accrue stunning advantage across the length of a game.

Best Black Commons

#1: Scrapwork Rager: It turns out Phyrexian Rager is still good if it costs one more mana, and having Unearth is icing on the cake. The format does not appear to be very fast, and you will likely have time to play out this card without feeling like you’re falling too far behind. It turns out that drawing cards while playing creatures is a good combination.

#2: Emergency Weld: While I was initially low on this card since I’m rather used to getting two creatures back for a slightly higher cost, I would be quite high on a 1/1 Gravedigger style effect. That is quite similar to what this is. There is a setup cost, but you will usually be happy to play this.

#3: Overwhelming Remorse: This is one of the best common removal spells to see print in years. You’ll be happy paying four mana for this, and it will often be less than that. Exiling is relevant for the numerous Unearth creatures in the set, and instant speed interaction is always at a premium.

#4: Disfigure: This card is a classic, and for good reason; it is versatile and powerful. It has the strength to get rid of small utility creatures and stymie aggression, or the adaptability to turn creature combat into a nightmare for your opponent. You will find a way to trade this card for one of your opponent’s cards, and you’ll often feel good about it.

#5: Powerstone Fracture: Aside from powerstones, there are a number of expendable creatures you won’t mind sacrificing to get rid of whichever of your opponent’s toys is bugging you the most. Notably, you can sacrifice an Unearthed creature that would otherwise already be on its way out. Beware of diminishing returns.

1st Place: Blue

The cards in blue have broad applications in a variety of archetypes, color combinations, and game-states. Blue has few unplayable cards, and a built-in sub-theme that only requires a bit of work to support. I expect to see these next five commons extremely often.

Best Blue Commons

#1: Scatter Ray: This card, in my estimation, is just Essence Scatter with a new coat of paint and the ability to hit artifacts too! Four mana is a lot of mana. I don’t expect most decks to be able to pay that much in a reasonable amount of time, especially in a format where people want to slam their 7-10 mana titans as soon as they can. I only wonder what poor Ray did to deserve something like this.

#2: Mightstone’s Animation: The last thing I want to do is trade my creature for an opponent’s powerstone, and that’s exactly what this card is going to do a lot of the time. It replaces itself, and creates a very large body. Although the setup cost is real, the reward is extremely powerful.

#3: Wing Commando: Wind Drake is off in a corner somewhere, crying. Cheap prowess creatures tend to perform well, and adding flying on top is a great way to make a card very threatening. I expect that many games will be won and lost in accordance with whether or not this gets to attack profitably.

#4: Koilos Roc: This combination of power and toughness is rather expected from this set given the medium stats most creatures have. Flash on a 3/3 is a bit difficult to ambush with considering it costs five mana, but the powerstone token is a nice bonus for your efforts. Flying creatures are good in limited. Play this card.

#5: Air Marshal: The colorless activation cost is what makes this card worthwhile, as you can pay using powerstones to give a topdeck Marshal significantly more impact later into the game. Of course, it can also be played on turn two. Two-mana plays that maintain relevancy across the game tend to be good.


Overall, I’m very excited about the set and believe that it’s more exciting than Dominaria United at first glance. This weekend, I’ll be cramming as many games in this format as I can. In sealed, you should expect most of the cards I’ve listen above to be a bit better than I rated them, since your card pool is quite limited. In draft, I think you should aim towards Prototype cards as first picks a bit more often than mono-colored cards just so you can stay open, unless the card quality drops significantly. I wish you many victories and few losses.

Luka Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a mind for calculating odds, and a calm demeanor. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011! Most days, you’ll find them in the gym or creating content for their YouTube channel: Robot Rallis.

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