The Warhammer 40K Commander decks and Unfinity are out, the first round of Brothers’ War announcement and previews have had a minute to percolate, so now it’s time for some specific predictions about the upcoming, time-traveling set. We covered a lot of the information already out there last week, and I’ve given some loose predictions about some specific characters already (although that goes beyond just this upcoming set), but now we’re drilling down enough to be proven demonstrably wrong very soon!
Here are five predictions, in no particular order, that will 100% happen in The Brothers’ War. No way this could possibly backfire, right?
1. No Infect
If Infect is ever coming back, this current storyline seems like the place, doesn’t it? And I do still think it might — but I’m thinking that will be saved for the next set, Phyrexia: All Will Be One.
I think this is mostly due to the Magic timeline (not the timeline of the Magic story, but of the actual game). Old-school, pre-Scars of Mirrodin block Phyrexians didn’t have Infect, even if they technically had that same sort of ability in the fiction.
I’m thinking we’ll see a lot of callbacks, updates and straight-up reprints of older Phyrexian monsters here, and while that could include giving some of them Infect, I think that would just crowd a set that’s already going to have a lot going on. There are already some big swings happening in this set (Meld cards, anyone?), and Infect has a history of being divisive. Odds are Wizards of the Coast will want to hold that silver bullet back, for now.
2. At least one “Legacy” character goes back to the future
We’ve seen a bunch of characters from Magic’s past shown off already, from lore heavy hitters like Urza, Mishra and Gix to less fleshed-out characters like Ashnod and Queen Kayla bin-Kroog. Now, a lot of these characters that have mostly lived in flavor text or as references on other cards are something of a blank slate. We know they exist and that they played a part in the Brothers’ War, but not much else.
This also means, canonically speaking, a lot of them just disappear after the war, either because they died in the conflict or sometime later. As a result, there could be a number of folks who can engage in a good amount of time travel shenanigans without actually causing much havoc at all to the larger story of Magic.
Imagine Hurkyll wandering the next Inventors’ Fair of Kaladesh, or Ashnod seeing how scared everyone is of her altar in Commander (I kid, I kid). This overarching Phyrexian storyline has also shown that Magic isn’t shying away from losing some characters, so a chance to pick up a character or two along the way who comes with a premade backstory seems rather tidy, doesn’t it?
3. One Modern character gets left behind
Speaking of losing characters, you don’t want the same thing to happen over and over again in a story. We’ve had one planeswalker die so far (rest in peace, Jaya) and two get turned Phyrexian in the last few sets (sorry Tamiyo and Ajani). Assuming the stakes continue to get higher and higher, there’s a good shot that at least one of the characters following Teferi into the past (assuming any others do) will be making their final stand during this set.
In the interest of variety, I think that character, whoever they are (though it better not be Saheeli… YOU LISTENING, WOTC?) won’t get killed or turned. Instead, they will be left behind.
Immediately after The Brothers’ War, Dominaria falls into an ice age (you know, like the set Ice Age), which does not seem like a fun and relaxing experience. That certainly sets up enough tragedy. That also gives us the possibility of getting wacky with some time loops.
Like, what if it turns out Jodah somehow becomes Lim-Dûl? That’s a particularly weird example if you’re up on your old-school MTG lore, but that’s kind of the point. Let’s make our tragedy convoluted!
4. No major retcons, but a slew of smaller ones.
The introduction of time travel into an already long-running story has the potential to really throw a wrench in the works if not handled carefully. And after all, I just literally suggested something that’s basically daring for that to happen.
That is why (outside of these other predictions) I don’t think we’ll see a major upheaval of old Magic lore. There’s not going to be a major timeline shift that rewrites everything that happened after the Brothers’ War.
That kind of move would essentially invalidate the story of every set since…Antiquities, I guess? It would completely destabilize the timeline, causing all sorts of problems and contradictions that would need to be addressed immediately. And that’s not going to happen.
4b. If Prediction 4 is wrong, then Time Spiral 2 is on the way.
There’s just no way, right? The first Time Spiral block was not the most successful at the time, being seen as a turn-off for new players due to its extreme complexity. While there’s a lot of beloved cards from across the span of Time Spiral, Planar Chaos and Future Sight, the nostalgia for the set comes mostly from crusty old die-hards like myself.
I can’t see any real attempt at a second Time Spiral-esque set or block not being a disappointment to someone out of the gate. While not every set is going to be a grand slam, I can fully understand not wanting to make and market a full set that already has so much baggage attached before anything is even put on paper.
Which is just more of a justification for why I think prediction four is correct and no big, plot-hole-tearing events are on the horizon in The Brothers’ War. BUT, if I’m wrong about that, then I’m hedging my bet with this little addendum here.
That said, here’s something I want to have happen that would cause a bunch of major plot holes.
5. Urza starts his turn into becoming a full villain.
Look, I know I’ve been banging this drum for a while now, but c’mon — it just fits so nicely. Any dive into Urza’s story that goes more than surface deep immediately uncovers a whole lot of dirt.
Urza wasn’t a nice person, to say the least. He is directly and obliquely responsible for a lot of terrible things. And at the end of the Brothers’ War, Urza is filled with a vast new power he’s not fully able to control yet, flush with conflicting feelings of triumph (he did just win the largest war in Dominaria’s history up to that point) and despair (he had to kill his brother to do so and a loooooot of other people important to him died along the way).
I can see a storyline where Urza somehow learns about his future and all the twists and turns it takes. He’s smart enough to know that messing with the timeline too much could be catastrophic, but arrogant enough not to care (or to at least think that he knows better).
He then ends up following Teferi to the future — something he wasn’t capable of before (then again, Teferi hadn’t ever opened up a door he could study this closely before). As a pre-Mending planeswalker, Urza is magnitudes more powerful than any present-day planeswalker, immediately making him an existential threat to anyone, anywhere.
Unlike the Phyrexians, who had to jump through a lot of hoops (and over a Planar Bridge) to make it between planes, Urza can just planeswalk. A pre-Mending planeswalker would be such an interesting villain. After all, Nicol Bolas’s entire arc as the main villain of Magic largely revolved around his efforts to regain that power, and Urza could show us just how threatening Bolas could have become.
Now, this would obviously cause some plot holes, since if Urza is in the future, what happens to everything he does after the Brothers’ Was in the past? I can think of a few ways around this, or at least plot devices that allow for it to happen temporarily, but I’ll save those predictions for if and/or when Urza does go villainous or Wizards of the Coast decides to hire me to be on their story team.
And there we go — five and a half predictions that I am fully 100% confident in and that can be fully proven incorrect in just a couple/few weeks’ time. There’s no way I will ever regret any of this. And even if I am wrong on some of these, it’s not like people will find me on Twitter (@fridaynightmeh) and yell at me about it. The internet is a nice place for reasonable people, right?
Chris is the Associate Media Producer at Card Kingdom. He would like to apologize to his son for not holding onto more cards from when he first started playing, as that likely would have paid for college. He enjoys pretty much all formats of Magic, but usually ends up playing decks that make other people dislike playing those formats with him.