Hero of Bladehold - Illustration by Austin Hsu

Hero of Bladehold | Illustration by Austin Hsu

Magic has a long history of combat mechanics that can pop off in their Limited environments but don’t really make much of a dent in Constructed formats. Think flanking, for example.

Battle cry, while relatively low powered, transcends that space and has some interesting applications in Constructed formats, especially Commander. Its potential includes a certain Neon Dynasty commander that’s broken into the top 10 most popular. Let’s get into it!

How Does Battle Cry Work?

Signal Pest - Illustration by Mark Zug

Signal Pest | Illustration by Mark Zug

Battle cry is a triggered ability that says, “whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.” It’s a fairly simple combat mechanic so you’d expect it to shine mostly in Limited. And it does, but it has a number of interesting applications outside of that.

The History of Battle Cry in MTG

Battle cry first appeared on seven cards in Mirrodin Besieged in 2011. It has shown up five more times, in Unstable, Modern Horizons, Warhammer 40k Commander, and once each in All Will Be One’s main set and Commander precons. It’s also shown up on an Unfinity sticker sheet. Battle Cry Goblin from Forgotten Realms doesn’t have battle cry, but its activated ability is clearly a riff on the mechanic.

Let’s figure out what to do with this thing, eh?

Does Battle Cry Stack?

Yes, battle cry stacks, in both of the ways you might ask this question. Only that Unfinity sticker can grant a card an additional battle cry ability, but it and any future versions of that effect would stack. If a creature with battle cry gets a sticker, each ability triggers upon attack.

In a more mundane way, if multiple creatures with battle cry attack, each battle cry trigger stacks. So three attacking copies of Signal Pest give a total of +3/+0 to your army. Sort of. The trick is that the battle cry buff doesn’t apply to the creature with battle cry itself, so the rest of your vanilla bears or whatnot get +3/+0 while each Pest only gets +2/+0.

What if the Battle Cry Creature Attacks More Than Once?

Battle cry triggers each time there’s a combat, which is relevant to the many cards that create an additional combat step like Aggravated Assault.

Is Battle Cry a Triggered Ability?

Yes. Battle cry triggers when the creature with battle cry attacks.

Does the +1/+0 Bonus Apply to the Battle Cry Creature?

No. The ability specifies other attacking creatures, which fits the flavor. I let out a bloodcurdling bellow to inspire my allies, but perhaps I don’t always inspire myself because I hear myself do it in every battle?

What if the Battle Cry Creature Leaves the Battlefield?

The battle cry trigger goes on the stack when the creature with battle cry attacks. If my Goblin Wardriver is hit with a Lightning Bolt after attackers are declared, it’s too late. It yelled before it got bolted. When presumably it yelled again, in pain?

Does Battle Cry Work for Teammates in Multiplayer Formats?

Yes. In formats where the teammates share the turn, like Two-Headed Giant, the battle cry effect applies to all attackers. Any attacker owned by any member of the team, all of whom attack at once, get the buff.

Gallery and List of Battle Cry Cards

Space Fungus Snickerdoodle

Best Battle Cry Cards

#5. Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh

Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh

This is funny, but I don’t think Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh will live up to its voltron ancestor’s legacy. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh can just go bonkers, while Rosnakht’s go-wide tendencies don’t seem to fit the reward for targeting it all that easily.

Still, I’m totally dropping this into my Zada, Hedron Grinder deck!

#4. Goblin Wardriver

Goblin Wardriver

Goblin Wardriver is a good rate for a battle cry card since it’s a bear for two mana. Decent in goblin decks and in go wide red decks like Lovisa Coldeyes.

#3. Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold

Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold

Our compleated hero isn’t as powerful as it was in its original form, but Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold can still pull some dirty tricks. All you need is a creature that can hit for four (plus the one from Ria’s battle cry) and you can pull Time Sieve nonsense since the Phyrexian Mites are artifacts.

I don’t think your EDH table will let the turn pass to you again without incident if you just make a stack of Phyrexian Mites and wait to end someone’s game with poison, so using this card for the artifactfall triggers is probably the best choice.

#2. Signal Pest

Signal Pest

The battle cry cards you’ve likely seen the most, this cheap colorless card goes everywhere. Signal Pest has a new best friend in a Jugg-head deck run by Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut, and it’s been a nice juice to token and go wide strategies for years.

It was a wincon in my terrible but fun deck, Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, where it could really accelerate unblockable damage.

#1. Hero of Bladehold

Hero of Bladehold

Left alone, Hero of Bladehold will just build you an army and fling it at people. It’s great with Isshin, Two Heavens as One, which gives you two tokens and two pump triggers. It’s also nice in token builds like Adriana, Captain of the Guard, Commissar Severina Raine, and new powerhouse Mondrak, Glory Dominus.

Wrap Up

Hero of Oxid Ridge - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Hero of Oxid Ridge | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

The bottom line is that I kind of want to play the top five in my Isshin, Two Heavens as One deck. There are certainly way more powerful builds of that deck, but these are pretty budget friendly cards with the exception of Hero of Bladehold. I kind of want to see what stacking that deck with battle cry and myriad cards does.

Lose. I know that’s what you’re thinking it’ll do! But let me have my fun. Three quarters of every EDH table loses every time. Let’s go out in style if we have to go out!

What commanders are you using for these cards I might have missed? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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