All MTG Brothers’ War mechanics, new and returning

Tap into the power of new and returning Magic mechanics.

Image via WotC

Wizards of the Coast is bringing back two major mechanics from Magic: The Gathering’s past while also introducing two new mechanics within The Brothers’ War Standard-legal set. 

The war started by the brothers Urza and Mishra was an epic one, showcasing giant Artifact mechs powered by Powerstones. The mechanics within The Brothers’ War (BRO) symbolize the scale and power of the battle that ravaged the plane of Dominaria, from reanimating Artifacts and tapping into a Powerstone’s power to larger-than-life creatures and war machines that have an optional casting cost.

Here are all of the MTG mechanics within The Brothers’ War set. 

Returning MTG mechanics in Brothers’ War

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There are two major returning mechanics within BRO: Unearth and Meld. The set contains minor returning mechanics as well, like Ward, which received a slight upgrade. 


The Unearth mechanic was first used in the Shards of Alara set, and more recently within Warhammer 40,000. Unearth synergizes with the overall theme of BRO of digging up the past since the mechanic allows players to return an Artifact from the graveyard to the battlefield.

  • Unearth: Pay Unearth mana cost—Return this card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains Haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step or if it would leave the battlefield. 

Getting Unearth cards into a player’s graveyard is a theme within The Brothers’ War set, and unlike previous versions of the mechanic, there are non-creature cards within BRO that have Unearth. Unearth is activated at Sorcery speed, not Instant. Only Artifacts have the Unearth mechanic. And Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa can give all Artifacts in the graveyard Unearth.

Unearth tips

Upon returning an Unearth MTG card from the graveyard, only the mechanic is on the stack, not the card itself. This prevents opponents from countering the Unearth card while returning to the battlefield. But an opponent can remove the Unearth card from the graveyard while the Unearth cost is on the stack.

Removing an Unearth permanent from the battlefield for any reason exiles it. If a player intentionally exiles an Unearth permanent with a spell that has Blink or Flicker, it returns to the battlefield with no relation to its previous version—meaning it’s no longer the Unearth version of the permanent, just the normal version.


Tapping into a mechanic that once portrayed the power and size of the Eldrazi in Eldritch Moon, Meld returns to MTG in The Brothers’ War. To activate the Meld mechanic, players must meet the specifications mentioned on a pair of Magic cards. The two cards then flip over and become one giant creature. There are a total of three Meld pairs within the BRO set. 

With Titania, Gaea Incarnate, for example, both Titania, Voice of Gaea, and the land Argoth, Sanctum of Nature must be on the battlefield at the same time to Meld. Each card features half of Titania, Gaea Incarnate on its back side. Upon Melding together, the two cards create one giant card and creature. 

Meld tips

Upon Melding together, the Melded card is no longer tied to its partial versions. Having counters or Auras on the partial cards prior to Melding has no effect on the Melded permanent. A Meld card in any Magic zone other than the battlefield has the characteristics of its partial halves on the front side. And while on the battlefield, it only has characteristics of the backside.

A Melded permanent has a color indicator next to the type description. Its mana value is the sum of its front-face mana values. Cloned Melded permanents have a mana value of zero since the clone doesn’t have a frontside. Blinking or Flickering a Melded permanent causes it to separate back into two separate cards with the frontside taking priority.


Ward is a returning MTG mechanic that protects individual cards from becoming the target of a spell or ability that an opponent controls. To break a Ward, a player typically pays an additional mana cost.

Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa

Within BRO, the design team evolved the Ward mechanic through Mishra, Tamer of Mak Fawa. The legendary Artificer gives Ward to all permanents under your control and the cost to an opponent is sacrificing a permanent. 

Stun counters

First introduced through Dominaria United (DMU), Stun counters return in BRO. A permanent that has multiple stun counters on it can only have one removed each time the permanent would become untapped.

Involuntary Cooldown

Any abilities that trigger upon a permanent untapping won’t trigger if a Stun counter is removed instead.

New MTG mechanics in Brothers’ War

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The BRO set contains two new Magic mechanics: Powerstones and Prototype. Both thematically fit into the set and will likely see plenty of Limited, and even Constructed, gameplay. 


Phyrexian Fleshgorger

The Prototype mechanic is new to MTG, providing players with an alternative way to get giant mechs and war machines onto the battlefield. Within the BRO set, there are multiple Artifact creatures that have big stats and a pricey mana cost to play them. Prototype brings these creatures into play at a lower mana cost with reduced stats. 

  • Prototype: You may cast this spell with different mana cost, color, and size. It keeps its abilities and types. 

An Artifact creature called Phyrexian Fleshgorger, for example, has a mana cost of seven (colorless) and 7/5 stats with Menace and Lifelink. Players can cast the Wurm for 1BB instead, with 3/3 stats in addition to still having Menace and Lifelink.

Prototype tips

All Magic cards in BRO that have the Prototype mechanic can either be colorless or have a color identity on the stack/battlefield depending on the cost mode cast. The Prototype creature is colorless in all other zones. Any Prototype creature that enters the battlefield without getting cast, through means like Blink or Flicker, enters as its larger colorless form.

Casting a Prototype from the graveyard allows players to choose whether they cast it as colorless or with a color identity for its alternative cost. And copying a permanent with Prototype will copy the version that is on the stack/battlefield. A Phyrexian Fleshgorger cast with its Prototype cost when copied creates the 3/3 version and not the colorless version.

Powerstone tokens 

Without Powerstones, there is no Brothers’ War. A Powerstone in BRO is a token Artifact. These tokens are created in a variety of ways.

  • Powerstone token: Tap to add colorless mana—This mana can’t be spent to cast a non-Artifact spell. 

Players can tap a Powerstone token to add one colorless mana to the mana pool. That mana can’t be used to cast spells that aren’t Artifacts, but it can get used toward a creature’s activated ability. 

All images via WotC.

Update Nov. 5 at 9am CT: Following the end of BRO spoiler season, all mechanics were updated, and Stun counters were added.