The Math of The Brothers’ War

Here we are, everyone, another installment of ‘How rare is rarer than mythic rare’ and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of these numbers. Things aren’t as insanely rare as they used to be, and yet they are still going to require a lot of packs to get what we want.

This set has TWO subsets of cards we care about: the Transformers subset and the Retro Artifact set. Each of those sets has chase versions too! There’s a lot to keep track of, but luckily, I’ve gotten good at parsing small details and figuring out some approximate drop rates for these cards.

So let’s dive into the odds and the math and the likelihood of getting the cards you want!

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Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Brother Vs Brother 2: The Rebrothering


I hope I did a good job conveying that this week’s article has something to do with last week’s article, which you have of course read. If not, do read it because the tips in there will apply a ton still and some of the lessons in there are ones I’d prefer not to have to repeat. If you read last week’s article, perhaps you know that last week I discussed Urza and Mishra decks as potential sources for specs. I want to make sure you read last week’s article, because this week I am going to discuss Urza and Mishra decks are potential sources for specs and I want to make it clear that last week I was discussing Urza and Mishra cards that are different from the Urza and Mishra cards I’m discussing today and I’m just so, so tired. Over at EDHREC, somehow in our set review we remembered the main set, the EDH decks, but forgot the EDH-only cards in Set and Collector Boosters. Like, I get that it was my job to check that, and I shouldn’t be copping to it publicly but yeah, I didn’t remember to tell every single one of my writers they needed to check 5 different spoilers to make sure they reviewed every “White” card in the set, I guess I must be the one who’s doing it wrong. So yeah, I have amped up my griping about how many new products there are, but you can’t tell me this is healthy or sustainable.

EDHREC decided to make a change to the dropdown on the site.

Going to only 5 sets didn’t, and I am not making this up, give people a chance to see the set on the list of newest sets after the product was released. The schedule is a lot. I’m not talking about this because it makes me feel a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety about the future of the game that has been my entire career focus for a decade. That’s all true, but that’s not why I mention it. I mention it because I have to type something before I show you data so I can cut it off at the paywall until Thursday and I thought what better than to show off the new site dropdown and remind people that, yes, I did talk about Urza and Mishra last week, but it’s cool that I’m going to talk about Urza and Mishra this week because they’re completely different Urza and Mishra and I guess I wanted to let everyone know I thought that sentence could serve as a punchline if you’re properly primed. Are you good and ready to get some finance advice? I’m about to shut the curtain to first class if anyone wants to become a Pro Trader real quick so they don’t have to wait 48 hours for all of this hot finance info in a world where in 48 hours from now Warhamer 40K might get bumped off our “new sets” dropdown. Commander 2023 will be spoiled 48 hours from now, get with it.

OK, now that I’ve said both that all of my finance info from last week is still good and actionable and also that you can’t wait 48 hours for the tips in this article, it’s time to give you some data so you don’t send me dog shit in the mail because I made you read the last 2 paragraphs and your time is more valuable than mine is. I already knew that, I was just talking about how I don’t think I will have a job in a year.

You know who WILL have a job in a year? Whoever designed this Urza.

My thought process when I saw Sai, Master Thopterist and its price was “Man, would Sai be $5 if it hadn’t gotten reprinted? I should check that other guy…. what’s his name? You know, from Kaladesh? Padma something? You know what, I wouldn’t even know what to google, I’ll just look at the rest of the annnnnd there he is.”

I said “he” in the last paragraph but I actually have no idea what Padeem’s deal is, but it’s a good Magic card to have, I think. And yes, the answer to my Sai question is “maybe it would have hit $5 and maybe stayed there” based on Padeem’s graph.

These cards are nearly identical in how much they are played. If you look at Sai, you can either say “Well, I guess Padeem is an identical spec so instead of being sad Sai got a reprint, I have a spec to buy still” or say “So I could lose half my money overnight if this gets reprinted?” I think Padeem isn’t getting reprinted soon and I think it’s going to be a $5 card minimum when we get like 40 Artifact sets next year. Padeem only has to dodge reprints in the first half of the year for you to cash out until your spec was free and you doubled your investment and you can play Powerball with the rest of those Kadeems that won’t even be worthless but will apparently be $1.50.

The reprinting of Archmage in Jumpstart made the graph do this. It seems to me like the price reacted like it was predicated on scarcity-based demand, not demand-based scarcity like we like. But, like, if this hit $15 based on demand from basically just Breya for a while, a Jumpstart-worth of new copies can keep it from hitting $20 ever but I don’t know if you can’t triple up at a $2.50 buy-in on TCG Player right now. This could eat a reprint, though, because they love to forget about a card for like a decade, realize it’s expensive and then print it like 5 times. I hope that doesn’t happen here, this card sees some play.

I think these inclusion numbers are a little skewed and when Breya fever was at its pitch, these were played more than they are now, the tail-end of Emry and Urza, Grand Artificer decks being in the EDHREC database. I am pitching “all of EDHREC data ever” as a perk for people who subscribe to the EDHREC patreon and if that can happen, the value of the site for finance goes up even more. But I suspect that if you read my articles, you’re just listening to a butcher tell you about his special signature sausage spice blend and you literally couldn’t care less about how much star anise I use (just a leeeeeetle smidgen) and you want to just buy a sausage and get out of here. If you dabble in sausagenanigans (my Mom is a chef and that’s literally what it’s called I think), though, seeing cards trend in usage over time would be very valuable.

If I had a sweet tweet or excerpt from an article where I said to get this when it was a buck, I’d post it right here but I don’t have one. This is a $7 card masquerading as a nearly bulk rare because the set it was in was unhinged. This is much better than the other Sieges but people who don’t play a ton of EDH and some people who do play a ton of EDH don’t know this at a glance from the others. This is a buy imo.

I meant it, different Urza and Mishra. I feel like I’m trapped under an avalanche of cardboard.

I am so charmed by this card that I hadn’t read before just now because I literally just can’t keep up, that maybe I’m overvaluing how good it will be based on just this one deck, but I think that most Red-based Artifact decks make tokens and getting free value every turn seems really solid for a buck for a good-looking Extended Art card. I like this and I don’t want to say “I wish I had said to buy this at a buck and didn’t” because I’m saying it now, which means…I am probably wrong about this card… I don’t think I am, if you do, buy accordingly.

I forgot to tell you to buy the dip, but it seems like there was no dip to buy. This is a $10 card if it’s not reprinted.

I usually do 5 picks but then it will be uneven between Urza and Mishra and also this article was a lot of non-finance so I’ll give you a bonus pic but I’m not going to talk about it, I’m going to end the article here and just like post a pic of the graph of a card I like. Or do I dislike it? No lol, it would be messed up to do that. Here’s a spec based on Mishra I like. Probably.

5 Premium Magic Cards Every Commander Player Should Own Under $20

Bolas’s Citadel Old Border Promo Foil – $5

Bolas’s Citadel is in 105k decks on EDHREC, and 12% of all black decks, marking it as a super staple of the format. As a WPN wide distribution promo this version of Bolas’s Citadel has plenty of copies lingering in the secondary market, which is doing a great job of keeping it’s price in check . The old border treatment is very interesting when paired with a colored casting cost artifact and the mystical art of the citadel looks good in the frame. Add in the classic foil WoTC swoosh and you’ve got a solid version of one of the most powerful black cards in the format. 

Double Masters 2×2 Borderless Foil Bounce Lands – $15/set of 10

Providing ramp in multi color EDH decks and the ability to trigger Landfall or abuse CIP effects on your lands, the gorgeous new borderless bounce lands from Double Masters 2022 are super cheap at $2 or less per foil copy and a great edition to any Commander collection with full sets running for just $15. 

MSCHF x Secret Lair Swords to Plowshares – $16

Despite Swords to Plowshares being the 3rd most popular EDH card of the last 2 years according to EDHREC, it hasn’t received that many premium versions that really draw the eye. The MSCHF x Secret Lair may push the definition of budget given a 5x multiplier vs. regular copies, but it is very unlikely to catch a reprint and should age well as copies steadily drain out of the resale market. If you’re playing white in Commander, you are playing this card, so you’ll never be without a place to rock this unique treatment as your deck collection grows.

Arcane Signet Dan Frazier x Secret Lair: $18

There have been plenty of Arcane Signets printed over the last few years, and there will be plenty more in years to come, but the Dan Frazier x Secret Lair version stands head and shoulders above the rest. During the inventory rush when this drop arrived in vendor hands months ago copies could be had for $10-14, but this retro art style by the artist who handled the P9 Moxen is still a solid deal at $18 for the regular version and even $30 for the foil etched. As the second most played card in the format this will be a coveted collectible for years to come.

Secret Lair Blasphemous Act Borderless: $15

The most played sweeper in Commander is easily Blasphemous Act with the card appearing in 30% of all red decks. By far the coolest version of this perennial red staple is the Secret Lair borderless version featuring a homage to horror exploitation films of the 1970s. With massive eye appeal and ultra low chance of reprint, this sexy sweeper wil draw comments at every table you wipe with it.

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The Mythics of The Brothers’ War

The Brothers’ War has been completely previewed, and this looks like another awesome set, with themes and toys for Commander and Constructed alike. Next week I’ll be able to tell you the exact math for the most chase cards, but this week I just want to focus on some of the mythics and their preorder prices.

For each of these cards, I’m giving you the preorder price, but I want to be clear that 99% of preorder prices are a mistake and you should avoid them. For every Ledger Shredder that went from super cheap to super pricey, there’s fifty cards that start super high and drop like a rock. Even the ones that I think will eventually be good, I’m hesitant to order now because of the odds that it drops.

Arcane Proxy – $7 – I think that people are too in love with the Snapcaster comparisons. Snapcaster is a busted card, far too good and flexible. Proxy (what a time for a card with the name Proxy to come along!) allows you to cast the spell without paying, and that’s a fair trade to give up Flash for. 

The interaction I’m most excited for is putting this into the Crashing Footfalls decks in Modern. Arcane Proxy allows you to cast spells with no mana cost, rebuying the Footfalls and importantly, won’t interfere with the Cascade chain that got you the first casting. That’s an exciting interaction, but not one that will go too far. Standard is going to be pretty sick of this card, paying 1UU for a 2/1 and getting a second bite at a removal spell or some card advantage. I don’t think the price is going to rise right away, but instead drop down at first, then start climbing slowly. The Esper decks all over Worlds would definitely play 1-2 of these.

Awaken the Woods – $30 – This price is far too high, though you can name your busted combo with it. Clearly everything Landfall wants this card, big mana decks are happy to cast this at X = 4 just to start jamming ten-drops, and this card invariably warps future discussion over lands all entering the battlefield at once. That said, I adore this, I have at least two Commander decks that will want copies, but there’s no way on earth I’m paying $30 per copy. We are going to be patient on this card, let its price head downward, and then grab a stack in about six months when it’ll be at or near its lowest point. 

To be clear, I think this is a Commander/Cube card all the way. Standard has too many counterspells to make this work the risk, and other formats are just going to laugh.

Cityscape Leveler – $7

The first of many Powerstone payoffs we’re going to see in the next year or so, this card can get you value even if it’s countered or killed. Sure, eight mana to destroy a permanent and give a Powerstone is not a great deal, but you’re going to unearth it for value. I both hate and appreciate that this says ‘nonland’ permanent. I don’t want this blowing up lands when reanimation tricks have this attacking super early, but I also don’t like missing with such a trigger.

It’s starting out at a not-expensive price, and I fully expect it to go lower. Eight mana cards are rarely worth a lot of money.

Phyrexian Fleshgorger – $20

With the prevalence of Infernal Grasp, killing this and being down 5 life is an intimidating thought. I like that this ward ability scales if you change its power, but the three-mana version is just about the perfect aggro card: wins races, needs more than one answer, and is good both early and late. This is another fun reanimation target, as well as something that Powerstones jump for. 

This would need to be a playset in a whole lot of Standard decks to keep a $20 price tag, though. I expect it’ll have a decent price, just not this high.

Portal to Phyrexia – $17

I can’t wait to see the decks playing this alongside Goblin Engineer and Daretti, Scrap Savant. There’s all sorts of good payoffs for artifacts, but this will catch you up like nothing else. Not only does it immediately even the playing field when you cheat it back into play, it’ll steal their stuff and reanimate it all for you. If you can consistently cycle artifacts back and forth from the graveyard to play, this is among the best things you can be doing. 

Still, the pool of decks that can use this is a small one. Yes, it’s a Powerstone payoff but those decks aren’t going to want a ton of these either. I will be shocked if this stays over $10.

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor – $17 – Super overpriced right now, but has good applications in an aggressive deck, as this effect snowballs quickly. One drop, two drop, this, trade one and draw a card…you’re going to get ahead quickly if they don’t have a good answer.

This is an adorable effect in Commander too, actively encouraging your tablemates to attack each other and get some cards. The seven-mana ability takes a lot to trigger but it’s nice to have such an effect if you find you’ve been drawing too many cards. 

All told, this is a good card, but not $17 good. More like $5-$10 good, tops.

Clay Champion – $5 – this might be the most underpriced choice right now, as Mono-Green is in a good position for Standard and a very good position in Pioneer. This is an 8/8 for 4 mana if you spend GGGG, a feat only really possible in the Forest-only decks. If you’re activating Castle Garenbrig, this will be an 11/11 using that six mana.

The white mana ability is interesting but not going to move the needle. I think this has a chance to go up, because the mono-green decks will play a LOT of this card, and that might be enough to bump it up a few dollars.

Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim – $15 – What I like about this card is how well it plays with a blue deck’s philosophy. It’s quite simple to imagine a blue deck that plays a couple of these, just to churn out a token per turn. Every card drawn gets you a counter, and with your natural draw, that means one spell per cycle for an extra card. The tokens get counters, which get out of hand FAST if you’ve ever played with Lorescale Coatl and the like. 

I like this version of Teferi a lot, but at five mana he’ll need some help in Standard and I’m not sure this is good enough for most superfriends decks. I expect his price to tumble by at least half.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.