• March 3, 2024

In the early 2000s my brother Austin and I would sit across the table locked in battle. Each one of us would cast spells and summon creatures to defeat the planeswalker on the opposite side of the battlefield. Nothing says “I love you, bro” more than “I cast a lightning bolt, you take 3 damage, and I win.”

Those were enjoyable and memorable moments I shared with my brother during our youth as we played countless games of Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game created by Dr. Richard Garfield. We spent hours upon hours shuffling up and competing against each other that we can’t tell you how many cards have come and gone in our quest for victory. Card shops in Glorietta and Megamall knew that once we step inside, it was time to bring out the binders and the box of booster packs. Every other weekend was the time to reload our ammo for the battles to come.

Speaking of battles, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic released The Brothers’ War in November 2022. The Brothers’ War was the set release centering around one of Magic lore’s most important events.

The story of the Brothers’ War takes place in the plane of Dominaria. In the present day, Dominaria is under siege from the forces of New Phyrexia. Teferi, our protagonist, needs to find a way to resist the impending invasion. In order to do this, he travels 4000 years in the past to understand what happened in the war between brothers Urza and Mishra.

Urza and Mishra were two of the most brilliant artificers of their time. They pushed the envelope of what machines can do. In The Brothers’ War, their conflict begins when they discover two halves of an ancient powerstone. In their attempts to get the other half, they created machines of mass destruction whose ceaseless skirmishes took their toll on the land and its non-machine inhabitants.

In the penultimate battle, Urza discovered that Mishra had been corrupted by the Phyrexians. Urza then prepares to detonate an ancient artifact, the Gologothian Sylex, to end the war. The blast decimates the island of Argoth in the east and sends the planet into an ice age.

Unlocking the secrets of the Sylex

When we first received news of the release of the set, we were sent a box with a puzzle inside. It turns out that Wizards wanted to give us a hint on what Teferi discovered in his quest to understand the Sylex.

Upon opening the box, we found a wooden puzzle and a flashlight. If we were able to form a shadow of the Sylex by placing its shards in the right order, the corresponding code would shed light on the message that Teferi himself deciphered. Once each piece was in place, it was clear that Teferi and his allies must End The War.

Since its release, The Brothers’ War has been received well. Some players enjoyed the release of old cards with new styles, as each booster pack contained classic-looking “brown border” artifact cards. The gameplay from the set was also welcomed as the returning mechanics and characters gave The Brothers’ War a familiar feel.

Sticking to the theme of technological advancement, fans of the Transformers cartoons in the ’80s looked forward to what Wizards calls Universes Beyond, where they’re able to incorporate characters from other franchises into the Magic multiverse. It was interesting to see how they’d transpose the personas of Optimus Prime, Megatron, and other Transformers into card form. These special edition cards can be found in random booster packs from the Brothers’ War set.

Love and war

Magic has meant a lot to me and my brother, especially during the pandemic. When we weren’t able to go out of the house, we rediscovered our passion for the game, which we stopped playing once adulthood came around. It was just as fun as how we remembered it to be.

While we may have been duking it out in imaginary battle, the games we played were still time spent with a friend who also happened to be related by blood. During our games, we’d catch up on what’s been happening in each other’s life. We would talk about old friends, sports, work, and everything in-between.

Urza and his brother Mishra may have ended things on a bad note—there were explosions involved—but that doesn’t mean they have always disliked each other. While the set may have been called The Brothers’ War, what it highlights the most is the depth of the relationship between the two brothers. In my case, there have been no explosions between me and my brother—so far.

Until next time, GG.

Words and photos Alexis Torres

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