Welcome to The Brothers' War Prerelease Primer!
It's time to prepare your mechs and get ready for one of the most well-known battles in Magic history! Prereleases are some of my favorite Magic events, and perfect whether you're brand new to the game or a seasoned veteran. They're the celebration of a new set, and an excellent place to come play your first-ever Magic event. With The Brothers' War having its Prerelease November 11–17, it's a great time to come and check it out!
If you want to learn about how to play Magic, I recommend some of these resources:
Additionally, if you're looking for a store to play in, I always recommend our handy store locator. Just type in your location, and it'll display the stores near you.
Once you've found a spot, be sure to contact them about preregistering. Prereleases are popular events, and you'll want to make sure you have a seat at the table.
If you prefer to get this information in a visual format, I have a companion video to this article you can check out over on Good Morning Magic:
But what makes a Prerelease so awesome? Why should you trek out to one? Let's dig in a bit!
Preparing for the Prerelease
There's nothing like handling fresh cards from a new set—and that's exactly what you get to do at a Prerelease. Everyone's on equal footing: nobody has these cards before the Prerelease, and it's your first chance to explore and see how they all work together.
The energy in the room of a Prerelease is palpable. Relaxed and fun as people open their cards, exclaim about the cool things they've found, and get to discover cool combinations for the very first time.
One of the really great things about the Prerelease is that it's a great environment for helping you through your first event. Even if you're brand new, people will be there in the store to support you and help you have a fantastic experience.
And what's going on in this set? Well, we're traveling back in time to one of the most iconic storylines in all of Magic: The Gathering—the Brothers' War. The feuding brothers Urza and Mishra pit themselves and their artifact armies against one another to see who will come out on top. It's a battle for the ages!
So, do you need to bring a deck from home? Nope! For a Prerelease, you will play a format called Sealed Deck. It's straightforward: you're going to open six packs of The Brothers' War and build a deck right then and there with the contents. So, it really is all about the new set and what's inside. You'll want to look everything over, from the commons to the rares, to find the best deck to build.
How exactly does this work out? Let me walk you through it.
The Sealed Deal
When you sit down on Prerelease day, you're going to get handed a Prerelease Pack. You'll either get an Urza one:
Or a Mishra one!
Now, there's no gameplay difference between what you open—no extra themed cards or the like. There are some fun cosmetic ones to keep an eye out for, but don't stress it too much.
While there are many things in here, like a spindown d20 for tracking your life total and a fun little insert with some information and tips, the most important things are going to be these six Draft Boosters:
You're going to open them all and end up with a stack of cards. There will also be a stamped Prerelease card inside you can play, too—make sure to pull that one out. Then you're going to build a deck.
How do you even start?
Well, first thing's first, you should know what you're trying to do. In Sealed Deck, you're building a 40-card deck—not 60 or 100. And you can get as many additional basic lands as you want from your store.
A good rule of thumb is to play 17 lands. So, all things said and done, you're only looking to play about 23 nonland cards from the cards you open. That's your goal: identify the 23 cards to play.
Okay, sounds a bit easier. How do you go about that?
The first thing I'd do is sort your cards by color. Make eight piles: one for each color, one for any multicolor cards, one for your artifacts, and one for your lands. As you're going through, you'll have a chance to read through the cards and see what interests you.
You will probably want to whittle it down to two colors. You can sometimes "splash" a third, playing two colors as your base and a couple powerful cards or additional costs of another color, but I'd really focus on the two colors you want here. You can select them in any ways you want—maybe you just like those colors—but three things to keep an eye out for are:
- Any strong rares in those colors that you're excited to play
- A lot of removal cards (Cards that destroy or otherwise deal with your opponent's creatures.)
- Evasion (A lot of Sealed Deck games are won with flying creatures or hard-to-block cards.)
Additionally, one other huge element to look out for are good synergies and multicolor cards. Every two-color pairing in The Brothers' War has a theme, and knowing what those are can clue you in to which colors to play.
Once you've chosen your colors, it's important to think about your mana curve. This helps to ensure that you have creatures at every turn of the game to cast. If everything costs six mana, you're going to be way behind on playing creatures, and if everything costs two mana, you're going to get outclassed in the late game.
Here's how to check your mana curve. First, lay your creatures out in mana-cost order from left to right. So, all creatures that cost one mana, then all creatures that cost two, and so on. Only lay out noncreatures here if they're cards you are planning to play as soon as you have that much mana—for example, you might play an Equipment on turn two, so that counts as a two-drop, but you're probably not playing a removal spell on turn two.
This can get a little tricky in The Brothers' War because of the prototype mechanic. Here's an example of a card with prototype:
These can be played for a cheaper mana cost as a smaller creature or for the full mana cost to get the big version. In general, I'd use the cheaper cost to prioritize these on your mana curve as that's the earliest you can access them. That said, use your best judgment. For example, if you don't expect to prototype something in your deck, then prioritize it by its full mana cost.
As a general rule for Limited—and this is just a guideline—I'd look to play about this many cards at each point of the mana curve:
- 1 Mana: 0–2
- 2 Mana: 4–6
- 3 Mana: 3–5
- 4 Mana: 2–4
- 5 Mana 1–3
- 6+ Mana: 0–2
Once you have those figured out, go ahead and add in your noncreature spells. You will probably want to play all your removal spells to deal with your opponents' creatures. Beyond that, it's nice to have ways to pump up your creatures at instant speed and ways to draw cards. But you can season to taste depending on what you think might work well in your deck.
And there you have it! When you're finished, you should have a 40-card deck. You can play more than 40 cards, but I would strongly advise against it: every card you play beyond 40 just worsens the odds of drawing your best cards.
So, that's how you build a sealed deck. But what are the mechanics you can expect? Let me run you through them.
Mechanics of The Brothers' War
The Brothers' War is full of mechanics, old and new, from the returning unearth mechanic to the brand-new prototype mechanic.
It even has this wild mechanic called meld where you take two cards and, once you have them both in the game, you can combine them to create one gigantic card! Check out Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and Weakstone:
For a detailed look at mechanics and how they work, check out Matt Tabak's article The Brothers' War Mechanics.
An Epic Prerelease
The Prerelease is just around the corner, November 11–17. Check in with your local game store, take a look at the set over in The Brothers' War Card Image Gallery, and prepare yourself for a good time.
Oh, and one more thing—you can also preorder booster display boxes to pick up at your Prerelease as well. So, if you want to take some of The Brothers' War home with you, be sure to talk with your local store about grabbing one of those, too.
I hope this helped you on your Prerelease journey! And as always, if you have any questions at all, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube—I always appreciate hearing what people have to say.
Enjoy this blast from the past, and have fun!