Invasion of Innistrad | Illustration by Alexey Kruglov
Black seems like a pretty good home for battles because it’s the color that cares about death and dying most. But what does black actually bring to the table for battles? And what might eventually come?
Let’s dive in!
What Are Black Battles in MTG?
Invasion of Ulgrotha | Illustration by Viko Menezes
Battles in MTG are a permanent type, like lands, creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers. When they come onto the battlefield, they have an ETB effect, and you also need to choose an opponent to protect it. The number in the bottom right of the battle represents the number of defense counters that the battle starts with. You can reduce these counters by attacking it or dealing damage to it. When it has no defense counters left, it exiles itself to allow you to cast the reverse side.
The reverse side can be pretty diverse and can be any card type, including instants and sorceries (although we only have creatures and enchantments in black so far). Also, we’ve only seen a particular subtype of battles called sieges, so we don’t know how they could look in future or what non-siege battles would involve.
#4. Invasion of Ulgrotha / Grandmother Ravi Sengir
Starting off is this callback to a classic character with Invasion of Ulgrotha. Although I generally like battles that affect the board, which this removal spell can do, 5 mana for 3 damage isn’t a great rate. The back side is also less than exciting despite the great flavor. Nothing wrong with this one. There’s just better stuff going on.
#3. Invasion of Eldraine / Prickle Faeries
Invasion of Eldraine is mainly better because it’s a little cheaper. It was a house in the Limited format, and the back side is a good beater that can quickly pay for itself with the damage you had to point at it in order to cast the back side. It’s still not surprising that this is only an uncommon, but if you played any March of the Machine Limited, you’ll remember the effect of this one.
#2. Invasion of Fiora / Marchesa, Resolute Monarch
I love battles that affect the board, and Invasion of Fiora certainly does that. It’s board wipe that you can potentially even turn into a Plague Wind if you have the right board state, but the back side is also a pretty good creature. Battles like this can even allow you to cast the back side on the turn you play, which is what you want for a 6-mana investment. It’s a powerful effect, held back only by its mana value. Still, what’s 6 mana in a game of Commander?
#1. Invasion of Innistrad / Deluge of the Dead
The top battle in black is Invasion of Innistrad. This is a great one because not only is it a removal spell on the front, but it’s also an instant speed spell. This means that you can flash it in during your opponents end step, remove a blocker, then swing in the following turn to flip it.
It is a decent removal spell, and the back side is a win-the-game card, too. You can create your very own horde of zombies to attack your opponent, all the while adding in a little graveyard hate. This is a neat little package of effects across both sides of the card, and it easily takes the top spot here.
Best Black Battle Payoffs
To make use of the back side of your battles, you need to get rid of the counters, which usually is done via combat. There are some other ways to remove the counters, though, most notably with Render Inert, another March of the Machine card.
Flicker effects are also pretty interesting with battles. You need cards that can flicker any permanent to target the front side, like Brago, King Eternal. If you manage to transform it then flicker it, it comes back as the front side, so you get the ETB again. You then lose the bonus from having the transformed version on the battlefield, but getting a second ETB can still be good.
Invasion of Fiora | Illustration by Joshua Raphael
Battles are a really interesting addition to the Magic landscape, but I’d be shocked if we never saw them again. And that’s good because I’m sure Wizards could put their foot down on the power pedal a little more if they ever return to the card type. Might we even see them in MH3, considering we know that Double Faced cards are going to be included there?
What do you think, though? What do you want to see from the battle card type in future? Or do you not want to see it at all? That’s a fair viewpoint, too, but I’d love to hear your reasoning behind it. Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim’s Discord.
Until next time, I hope you win all your battles.Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: