Last updated on April 6, 2021
Sea of Clouds | Illustration by Florian de Gesincourt
Grab a friend and grab some cards because today we’re taking a look at Magic’s Battlebond expansion! A set that’s built with the two-headed giant and Commander formats in mind. This set brought with it all of the benefits of working as a team and lending a hand to your friends at the table, so let’s take a look at things together, shall we?
WotC loves to step into new design territory when coming up with new Magic sets, and 2018’s Battlebond was no exception. They set out to create a set with mechanics that highlighted playing as a team. That means exactly what you think it means: it was a set meant for the two-headed giant and Commander formats!
While the set was also tailored to the limited scene with some consideration toward draft and sealed, the cards don’t care too much if you’re playing limited or constructed. As long as you’re playing in teams or groups, you’re good to go.
Luxury Suite | Illustration by Jonas De Ro
Battlebond wasn’t released as an expansion that would enter the Standard rotation, so the cards aren’t legal in Standard, Pioneer, or Modern. Reprints that were already in those formats are, of course, an exception. Battlebond’s cards are legal in the Commander, Legacy, and Vintage formats, though.
Tag-team Spell Slinging
Everybody loves flavor with their Magic sets, and Battlebond has you covered even without a large driving narrative. Our setting is the plane of Kylem, a place known for its arena where combatants face off in flashy and spectacular two-on-two combat. They aren’t tasked with killing their opponents, but instead are to defeat their foes with wondrous and flashy spells and tricks. It’s all about the style and teamwork here!
There really isn’t much beyond that, as the plane of Kylem is hardly developed in a narrative sense. It probably won’t show up anywhere else but Battlebond 2, if that ever happens. Any further look into the flavor would be with the mechanics introduced in the set, which we’re just about to explore!
Assist is a mechanic that works exactly as it sounds. It allows another player to help pay for the generic mana cost of a card, allowing a duo of spellcasters to throw down some seriously powerful creatures and spells! Keep in mind that the card’s owner will still have to pay for the colored mana themselves, and that assist only affects generic mana cost.
Partner with [name]
If you enjoyed partner commanders, then you might like this spin on the partner mechanic! While not entirely new, it has a few tricks that the original partner mechanic didn’t have. Aside from being able to use some of the pairs as partners, when you cast one of these two cards from your hand you get to go into your deck and grab that creature’s partner and put it in your hand.
For example, casting Pir, Imaginative Rascal means you get to search your library for Toothy, Imaginary Friend and put it in your hand, or vice versa. All of the partner pairs in Battlebond have mechanics that complement each other, so it’s a really fun mechanic to tinker with both in limited and constructed decks.
This one isn’t new so much as returning to support the flavor of the set. In the spirit of cheering on combatants or aiding an ally, support puts +1/+1 counters on a number of creatures up to the support number. So “support 2” would be a counter on up to two creatures, while “support 6” is counters on up to six creatures.
It’s important to note that you can target any creatures, not just ones you control. This lets you buff your friend’s board in the true spirit of tag-team action!
The “Your Team” Term
The “your team” term comes with Battlebond to add to the spice of the set’s theme. It simply refers to anybody on your team, including yourself. This term is only notable in game modes with teams like two-headed giant. In a game where you aren’t on teams but are still working together with others, the term only refers to you. The effects that come with this term vary, so have fun experimenting with them!
Like with every Magic set, Battlebond came with a couple of card cycles that helped define the set as something more unique than a few mechanics and a new term.
Friend or Foe
The friend or foe cycle introduced the concept of selecting players in the game to have certain effects applied to them depending on whether or not you called them a friend or foe. For example, when using Virtus’s Maneuver, all players you select as “friends” get to return a creature from their graveyard to their hand, while your foes are forced to sacrifice a creature.
While the use of cards like these are pretty obvious in two-headed giant, it’s a ton of fun in Commander to strike deals with your opponents.
While they’re called technically multiplayer lands, a lot of people like to refer to these bad boys as bond lands. They’re dual lands that enter the battlefield untapped in games where you have two or more opponents. This makes them pointless in one-on-one formats while they shine in formats like Commander or two-headed giant.
In Battlebond, each team drafts four packs total, with teams picking two cards at a time before passing the pack on to the next team. Members then decide as a team who plays which cards when building the decks. This is slightly different than traditional two-headed drafting, which involves six packs per team instead of four.
From everything flying around the internet, it’s clear that those with a preference for the social side of Magic had a blast while players who were looking for solid set integrity and certain strategies felt as if the set didn’t do a good job with draft. I think formats like this are going to be hit or miss with a lot of people, and unless you see a super heavily resounding “yes” from the community, you’ll usually see some debate on things here and there.
Bountiful Promenade | Illustration by Jung Park
Products and Where to Buy
As I always do, I recommend looking for any sealed product at your local game store to support them if possible. If you’d rather keep to yourself and order everything online, that’s fine too. Considering this set is from two years ago, online might just be the better option.
As with any set, 15-card packs are the prime source of getting your hands on cards other than just buying singles. You can find packs at online marketplaces like TCGPlayer, Card Kingdom, Amazon, eBay, and more.
Booster boxes are your packets of 36 packs and are for players with a desire to crack packs like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe you’re just searching for the feeling of opening that one card you really want. These boxes also help provide the supplies to run your very own draft or sealed events with friends! Just like packs, you can find booster boxes at online marketplaces like TCGPlayer, Card Kingdom, Amazon, eBay, and more.
If you’re looking to pitch in on a draft, grab a teammate and pick up one of these. They have six packs, which is perfect to fire up a two-headed giant draft as long as your table has their own packs.
- Battlebond Battle Packs are FACTORY SEALED with six Battlebond booster packs.
- In the arena of Valor’s Reach, competitors battle in pairs. RECRUIT A TEAMMATE TO BOOSTER DRAFT with 2–3 Battle Packs and 6–8 players
- Some Battlebond cards PARTNER WITH each other: when you play one of them, your teammate gets to search their deck for the other one. (If a booster pack has one half of the pair, it will also have the other half.)
- STYLE POINTS COUNT. In Valor’s Reach, competitors don’t just want to win—they want to look good doing it.
- Some “Partner with” duos can join forces to lead your Commander deck together.
Spire Garden | Illustration by Darek Zabrocki
Battlebond Card List
All right, here we are. Here’s the complete list of Battlebond cards!
A Round of Applause
Battlebond was definitely a success. Maybe its draft format was a hit or miss with some of the community, but the quality reprints and great additions to the EDH environment are clearly enjoyed. The set succeeded in at least one of its goals if not most or all of them. It was a set meant for a bunch of players in the same game, and the mechanics and cards it brought to the table really shined in those settings.
On the note of reprints, I believe that they’re one the strongest part of the set. There were a few new cards that found homes in multiple decks especially in Commander, but a lot of previously popular cards are sitting comfy in Battlebond card list. The increased availability for some of them was one of the most impactful things to come from the set. Coming in right beside them are the partner cards, especially the legendary ones. Those legendary partner pairs have found numerous homes as commanders in plenty of players’ arsenals.
So, as we wrap things up, what do you think? Do you think we’ll see a Battlebond 2? Do you have any cards from the set, maybe a partner pair or specific spell, that you really love? Is there anything you feel like I didn’t cover here? Feel free to discuss everything in the comments below!
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And finally, thank you for your time. Stay safe, and have a good one. I’ll see you again soon enough!
Azra Oddsmaker | Illustration by Josh Hass
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