Alongside the much-anticipated release of The Brothers’ War, Wizards of the Coast also released two Commander decks. Unlike the real Brothers’ War, Mishra seems to have won this round, as the Mishra’s Burnished Banner Commander deck looks absolutely amazing. We reviewed that deck earlier this week. That said, Urza’s Iron Alliance also offers some good value. The main thing that this deck provides over Mishra’s deck is a very different play style. While Mishra cares more about noncreature artifacts and interactions between Mishra’s ability and other cards, Urza wants to create a massive army and turn sideways. There are a lot of Commander players who love to create a bunch of big tokens and unleash massive havoc during combat, so if you’re interested in something like this, here is a review of what to expect with the Urza’s Stalwart Alliance Commander deck!
Urza’s Iron Alliance – Strategy
Urza’s Iron Alliance is interested in making a bunch of artifact creatures, buffing them, and swinging out! The Commander screams the “Affinity” archetype commonly seen at top tables throughout history, and any who’re interested in dumping a bunch of artifacts in one turn will really like how this deck plays. Urza may look like an expensive Commander, but due to the Affinity for artifact text on the card, you’re commonly casting this card for just three mana. Even with the Commander tax, it’s pretty easy to recast this card for three mana.
Alongside Affinity, Urza provides two more Affinity-related payoffs. The first allows your artifact creatures to swing in without fear, as Menace makes them a lot more difficult to block. The second ability creates artifact creatures for you to swing in with in classic fashion. As has been made obvious with the dominance of Urza’s Saga in older formats, creating Urza’s signature Constructs is an incredibly powerful option that will scale much faster than you may expect.
Most Valuable Reprints
While the value doesn’t quite compare to that of Mishra’s Burnished Banner, Urza’s Iron Alliance still offers about $82 in value, excluding new cards, according to MTGgoldfish. Considering the deck is going for about $40, the value here is pretty good! There are a lot more $1-$2 reprints in this deck than Mishra’s, but the bigger reprints go for a bit less. These are staples that are good to have in your repertoire, however, so if you’re planning on picking these up anyway, doing so with this deck is a great way to do it.
Relic of Progenitus is one of MTG’s best graveyard hate options. Not only does it allow you to exile each player’s graveyard simultaneously, but you get to replace the Relic as well. The first ability doesn’t come up as much in Commander, but it can be quite annoying in Modern, which is why this card currently has about a $6.50 price tag. This is an incredibly popular card to get an old-bordered treatment, and competitive players are all over it. Urza’s Iron Alliance doesn’t really care about its graveyard either, allowing you access to a fantastic piece of hate for virtually no downside!
Relic of Progenitus is seeing a slight dip in price, but sales are currently all over the place for this card. Chances are that this Relic of Progenitus will retain a good amount of its value.
Skullclamp is an incredibly popular Commander option, and it’s finally getting old-bordered treatment! This is fantastic in a creature-based deck since it enables that you will always have something to do after losing your board. This card tends to float around the $5 mark, but this particular version, likely due to recently hitting the marketplace, has experienced a fast drop to $4.
Shimmer Dragon was initially released as a part of the Faerie Schemes Brawl deck from Throne of Eldraine. This is the only printing for a card with a powerful ability, so its price tag is a bit understandable. Since scarcity is a big reason for this card’s price, expect its reprinting to drop the price a fair bit.
Shimmer Dragon started at $6, but the card currently sells for $3.60ish. Even though the card is tanking in price, expect Shimmer Dragon to be a reliable source of card advantage since granting it Hexproof is a relatively easy thing to do.
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Thought Vessel is a mana rock that is desirable in any deck where you can reliably happen upon card advantage. Both Shimmer Dragon and Skullclamp have this in spades, so its inclusion here makes a lot of sense.
Starting at $5, this card quickly dropped to $2.50. That said, unlike other cards on this list, Thought Vessel is currently experiencing a lot of interest. While it’s not quite enough to call it a buyout, I would expect this card to rebound in the near future.
Seat of the Synod is the last reprint in this deck that started at a considerable value. Do keep in mind that there are still multiple other $2 reprints in the deck, like Bident of Thassa (featuring a cool new artwork), Sphinx’s Revelation, Angel of Ruins, Swords to Plowshares and Etched Champion.
The artwork on this card is incredible. Seat of the Synod offers a land that boosts your Affinity count – which is incredibly valuable in a deck with a lot of Affinity in it. This cycle of lands have not had a reprint in a little while, and Seat of the Synod is, by far, the most expensive among them. This is normal for the Island variant of lands like this. Vault of Whispers and Ancient Den are also in this deck but are worth a bit less. This is mainly due to reprints that they saw that the Seat of the Synod didn’t. Vault of Whispers was seen amongst the Warhammer Commander decks, and Ancient Den already has an old-bordered version released in Time Spiral Remastered.
Urza’s Iron Alliance Upgrades
The best upgrades for Urza’s Iron Alliance, outside of the obvious Mana Crypt, Jeweled Lotus, and such, are still pretty expensive. Some of these are rather obvious, but they have been made more accessible with some limited printings in The Brothers’ War. Here are some recommendations for upgrades for the Urza’s Iron Alliance deck (most of which are pretty affordable)!
Urza’s Saga is pretty expensive for the budget player, but it’s a really safe investment to make as far as MTG goes. The card currently defines the Modern format, is an incredibly popular Vintage option, and sees Legacy play. If you want a good upgrade for the deck that remains in-theme, this is the one to go for.
Urza’s Saga enables a bunch of different things. Like your Commander, this card is capable of creating Constructs, adding to your Affinity count. The card also turns into a tutor for a cheap artifact on the third turn you have it, further adding to your Affinity count. This allows you to search for a wide range of unique cards that could address the board, like the Relic of Progenitus you’ll already find in the base deck.
Urza, Prince of Kroog, is another obvious upgrade that is a fantastic choice for its current price point. The card is worth less than a dollar right now and offers a buff to, what should be, the majority of your board. You can even invest extra mana into it, creating copies of the Constructs being created by your Commander. This bypasses the restriction on Urza, Prince of Kroog’s ability since Constructs gain additional stats from other artifacts you control. This is an incredible amount of power for four mana and a dollar bill. As pictured above, there is an old-bordered version of this card in the works, but it is not currently available.
Since this deck has a major Affinity theme, it makes sense to include some of the best payoffs available for the archetype. We already have Thought Monitor in the starting deck, but Thoughtcast is a cheap addition that should be able to generate card advantage for cheap. Ironically, you can find a copy of Thoughtcast in the Mishra’s Burnished Banner preconstructed deck, allowing you to keep the old-bordered theme with this upgrade if desired.
Keeping along with the course of themes, we have an incredibly thematic card that has an old border treatment, fits the deck’s gameplan to a tee, and even represents yet another iteration of your namesake Commander. The only downside is that Urza, Lord High Artificer is incredibly expensive. If you happen to have one of these kicking around (like I do), this is a great way to get some use out of it. Otherwise, you may be able to spend your money smarter upgrading this deck. If you were looking to grab a copy of this anyway, the card is a fantastic upgrade to the Urza’s Iron Alliance Commander deck.
Another card printed in the main set for The Brothers’ War, Precursor Golem is an easy way to create a board presence while adding a huge boost to your Affinity count. The downside here is Precursor Golems’ ability can be a bit of a liability if you have more Golems in your EDH deck. There are a couple in the prebuilt deck, so the downside does apply. If your opponents happen to target Precursor Golem with a removal spell, it will copy the spell and remove all your Golems. That said, there is the hilarious interaction with March of Progress. Targeting Precursor Golem with it will result in you copying all of your golems! You can overload it instead, but hey, it’s worth mentioning. This is a cheap card that could lead to some fun interactions, but include it at your own risk.
You’re casting enough artifact cards in this deck that Powerstones are probably worthwhile. These will also help your Affinity cost and grow your Constructs, so this may be the first time in a while that Karn is a decent choice. The minus and the ultimate are still pretty bad, but the plus is, honestly, strong enough that it may not matter. If you have absolutely nothing to do, Karn’s minus ability can use the Power Stones he creates to find something a bit more practical.
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Dig Through Time is an auto-include in most of my Blue Commander decks. This card is incredibly cheap and is an absolutely fantastic card advantage tool in a deck that doesn’t care about its graveyard too much. There is an affordable old-bordered promotional version of this card if you’re willing to pay a few extra bucks to stay in-theme. The same goes for Treasure Cruise, but there’s no premium on the old-bordered version.
Unlike the Mishra Meld cards, the Urza Meld cards are a pretty strong inclusion in their EDH deck equivalent. The Mightstone and Weakstone are incredibly flexible while also offering some ramp into later turns. Urza, Lord Protector discounts almost every card in the deck while providing the very exciting scenario of creating the Meld Planeswalker! Making this work, especially when neither of the Meld cards are your Commander, is an event within itself that should be the equivalent of winning the game.
Vedalken Archmage is a rather cheap card that will draw a card off of most things you cast in this deck. The body isn’t threatening, but this card is more likely to tank a removal spell than your actual threats since players are (rightfully) wary of card advantage.
Anointed Procession allows your Urza Commander to create two Constructs every turn instead of one. This, for obvious reasons, is capable of scaling incredibly quickly since Constructs care about how many other artifacts you have in play.
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What Should I Take Out?
Honestly, many of the new cards aren’t helping with the gameplan put forth by your Commander. As exciting as they are, cards like Wreck Hunter and Scholar of New Horizons should be among the first to go. Hexavus, while completing an exciting cycle between years of releases, does not offer a great payoff for a six-mana investment. Chrome Courier can probably become something more impactful relatively easily, and Darksteel Juggernaut, while being a ruthless force of destruction, should be replaced with something that can create multiple threats instead. I would try to create as many Constructs as possible while amassing a multitude of effects that want to create a lot of threats. That said, whatever you choose to do with this go-wide deck, there are many ways to have fun! You can find a sample decklist for the prebuilt deck here.