The Brothers’ War is the fourth and final Standard Magic: the Gathering set coming up in 2022. Taking place on the TCG’s premier plane of Dominaria, the set will cover a pivotal moment in the history of the MTG multiverse: a massive, world-spanning war, featuring devastating magical artifacts, monstrous mechs, and some of Magic’s oldest heroes and villains.
Many MTG veterans have ants in their pants about the upcoming The Brothers’ War set, and that’s because it’s a retelling of a story we’ve heard before. The high-tech war between super artificer bros Urza and Mishra was the focus of Magic’s second ever expansion, Antiquities, released in 1994. There was even a The Brothers’ War book – by fantasy author Jeff Grubb. That means the contents of the upcoming set are ripe for speculation. It’s a safe bet to expect shiny new versions of old, underdone cards and characters.
The release of The Brothers’ War set is still a few months away, but we’ve already seen a few card spoilers and story clues. Here we’ll cover everything Wizards of the Coast has let slip: all the details revealed so far. You can also get a quick overview of all of next year’s MTG sets in our rundown of the 2023 MTG release schedule.
The Brothers’ War release date
The Brothers’ War is going to be the last Standard set of 2022, releasing in the final quarter of the year. According to the Wizards Play Network events calendar, The Brothers’ War global release date is November 18. As usual there’ll be a prerelease event the week before, beginning November 11. Here’s the full list of dates for the set:
Expect to see tons of spoilers and previews popping up before The Brothers’ War releases (we’ll have the best ones here, naturally). Previews kick off at Magic 30 on October 28-30, but it’s also likely a couple will appear scattered amongst the story articles that start to drop on October 20. And the Building Worlds video, also on October 20, will likely show a ton of card art, just as the Dominaria United one did.
The Brothers’ War Spoilers
Spoiler season for The Brothers’ War is still a month away, but a handful of cards have already been shown off. Above you can see the planeswalker card for Urza, which shows off the godlike power of the ‘oldwalkers’. You can’t just play this planeswalker with mana, you have to combine it by melding together the new creature card Urza, Lord Protector, and the artifact The Mightstone and Weakstone.
Another couple of cards were shown off in a WeeklyMTG Announcement on September 29. Recruitment Officer is a strong one-drop for the ‘White Weenie’ archetype, a 2/1 that can dig up low mana creatures. Card draw in white! There’s also Surge Engine, a little construct that can get much stronger, becomes unblockable, and draws you cards. Mishra’s Foundry, meanwhile, is a land that becomes a creature, and is a reference to classic card Mishra’s Factory.
We’ve also been show these glorious full-art basic lands, each one featuring a giant robot.
We’re expecting The Brothers’ War to be a set with a heavy focus on Artifacts, Equipment and Artifact Creatures. And one powerful Artifact in particular need of a glow up in The Brothers’ War is the Golgothian Sylex, the superweapon Urza uses to end the fighting. The single card it appears on at the moment is particularly underwhelming, only interacting with other cards from the Antiquities set. That might have been relevant in the 90s, but not so much now.
The Brothers’ War Mechanics
Meld is a confirmed mechanic for The Brothers’ War. Previously appearing in Eldritch Moon, this allows you to combine two cards together to make a third, much stronger card. We’ve seen Urza’s card that uses this mechanic already, and Mishra’s will apparently be shown off on October 4.
As we mentioned, Artifacts will play a heavy role in The Brothers’ War set. In the past, Artifact-heavy sets have been notoriously hard to balance, and often led to broken Standard environments.
But the fact that Artifact cards can now have colour restrictions allows Wizards to be a little less cautious when designing them, so there’ll most likely be some outrageous examples of this card type. Perhaps there’ll even be a few cards with Affinity for Artifacts – a notoriously troublesome mechanic, but one that’s been pretty popular in the past.
Mark Rosewater has confirmed that Powerstone tokens, as seen on the Dominaria United planeswalker card Karn, Living Legacy, will appear in The Brothers’ War, and that this mechanic was originally meant to show up more in DU, as a throw-forward to the next set. These artifact token, which tap for one colourless mana, aren’t that exciting mechanically, but they certainly suggest there’ll be cards in The Brothers’ War that care about the number of artifacts you’re packing.
The last Artifact-themed sets in MTG were the ones in Kaladesh block in 2016. Looking back at Kaladesh’s Artifact-focused mechanics, Fabricate and Improvise have the most potential for a revisit. Another big Kaladesh mechanic, Energy, seems less likely to come back, as it was an itty bit controversial.
Magic: the Gathering has been through some momentous design changes since Urza and Mishra first waged war, and it’ll be intriguing to see modern design sensibilities at work on a piece of the game’s past. Planeswalker cards were a decade away when Antiquities released, and Vehicles – surely relevant to a conflict in which great war machines go toe-to-toe – were but a distant dream. Odds are extremely good that at least a sprinkling of each will make it into The Brothers’ War set.
The Brothers’ War Story
The Brothers’ War’s story articles will start to appear on the Magic website from October 20. But while we’ll (naturally) have more information then, we can already make plenty of guesses about what the story of The Brothers’ War
The Antiquities set and The Brothers’ War book feature the first appearance of perennial Magic villains, the Phyrexians (big, mean robots who want to turn us all into littler mean robots). Following the fall of nasty Nicol Bolas, the Phyrexians have risen to the top as MTG’s new big bads. The Brothers’ War set will be part of the Phyrexian storyline started in Dominaria United, and it seems like there’ll be a time travel element, as according to the Wizards Presents 2022 stream “the fate of the future might be rooted in the past”. Card art for a Teferi card ‘Temporal Pilgrim’ has been revealed. That’s a synonym for time-traveller!
Therefore, we’d say it’s quite likely the Phyrexian creature type will appear somewhere in The Brothers’ War set. Strong candidates include the Phyrexians’ creator, Yawgmoth. It looks like Phyrexian demon Gix will get a look-in; the poor demon’s never had a Constructed-legal card before, but card art for Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor has already been shown off. And (tinfoil hat time) maybe there’ll be a time-travelling Praetor! Stranger things have happened.
As well as Teferi, it looks like Saheeli is going to be in The Brothers’ War set, and in card art she’s seen crafting what looks like a version of the Golgothian Sylex. Hmm.
The main factions in The Brothers’ War will presumably be the forces led by the two brothers. They’re not just playing soldiers with robots; Urza controls the coastal kingdom of Yotia, and Mishra the desert empire of Fallaji. Neither faction has really been fleshed out much before, however, always playing second fiddle to the artifacts – relics left over from a fallen kingdom called the Thran Empire. There’s also the shady Brotherhood of Gix, led by Gix, who’s pulling strings behind the scenes and slowly corrupting Mishra.
The Brothers’ War Commander
There will be two Commander decks released alongside The Brothers’ War main set: Mishra’s Burnished Banner, and Urza’s Iron Alliance. Each features one of the two brothers at its helm, in brand new EDH-only cards.
To celebrate the fact that The Brothers’ War revisits a piece of MTG history, Wizards of the Coast has printed the entire deck in its retro frame, with the old border and font.
The full Commander decks will be revealed at Magic 30, on Friday October 28.