Darigaaz, the Igniter | Illustration by Mark Zug
The story of March of the Machines has brought the horrors of New Phyrexia to the Multiverse. But it’s far from the first time Phyrexia has posed a threat. Before New Phyrexia and the modern age of Magic, Yawgmoth’s original Phyrexians threatened the safety of the Multiverse and especially Dominaria.
Dominaria was the birthplace of Yawgmoth and often a place he sought to capture, especially when faced with the man who would become his greatest foe: Urza. Urza once invaded Phyrexia and destroyed several of the plane’s spheres, leaving Yawgmoth no choice but to retaliate. And so we enter Invasion.
Invasion Basic Information
Atalya, Samite Master | Illustration by Rebecca Guay
|Number of Cards||350|
|Rarities||110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, 20 basic lands|
|Mechanics||Domain, divvy, kicker, split cards|
|Prerelease||September 23, 2000|
|Release date||October 2, 2000|
About the Set: The Story
Might Weaver | Illustration by Larry Elmore
The story of Invasion begins with Phyrexia invading Dominaria. Portals open across the plane, allowing Phyrexia to pour into Dominaria. We open with the crew of the Weatherlight over Benalia. The sudden battle levels Benalia City and the crew fights and loses to Tsabo Tavoc, the Phyrexian leading the invasion. The battle leaves one of the Weatherlight’s crew, Hanna, mortally wounded and infected by the Phyrexian Plague.
The invasion of Llanowar involves portals dropping plague bombs instead of shock troops from their portals. The elves of Llanowar take refuge in the Dreaming Caves, led there by Liin Sivvi and Eladamri.
Meanwhile, Urza and Barrin lead an assault on the Caves of Koilos, the location of the only permanent portal connecting Dominaria and Phyrexia. Tavoc has claimed the caves as her base and proves to be an even match for Urza’s forces, leaving them in a siege.
Yavimaya is the only area of Dominaria to fend for itself well. The emergence of the highly adaptable kavu and the strength of the nature spirit Multani are enough to fight off the Phyrexian invaders. Even more importantly, Yavimaya’s magic turns the slain invaders into woodsmen who fight against the invaders.
The planeswalker Teferi battles Phyrexians in his home country of Zhalfir. With Urza’s help, Teferi closes the portals over Zhalfir. This produces a backlash of energy Teferi uses to power a spell that phases Zhalfir and part of Shiv out of the time stream to protect it from Phyrexia. This angers Urza, who wants to use every resource to fight Phyrexia and doesn’t see fleeing as the answer to their problems.
As for the Weatherlight crew, they’ve been journeying with the Blind Seer, a mysterious traveler who joined them at Benalia City before its destruction. He directs them to Llanowar, where they close the portals dropping plague bombs before using the ship to planeshift to Rath, the plane from which Phyrexia is launching their invasion.
The crew captures several Phyrexians, and the ship’s doctor, Orim, uses their immunity to the Phyrexian plague to engineer an immunization. This inoculates the crew but can’t cure Hanna’s infection. The crew joins with Eladamri and attempts to use the powers of the Dreaming Halls to heal Hanna, but that fails as well.
The defenses of Dominaria also falter. At the Caves of Koilos, one of Urza’s two generals is captured by Tavoc. At the same time, Barrin fights back invaders in Urborg. His forces are nearly destroyed until a necromancer’s army saves them.
The crew of the Weatherlight brings Eladamri to Koilos to take the position of the fallen general. The other general, Agnate, forces Eladamri to a duel to prove he’s worthy of leading them. Eladamri wins and becomes the second general. While they duel, Hanna passes away from her injuries and the plague.
On Tolaria, Urza summons eight planeswalkers to aid Dominaria’s defense by piloting his Titan Engines to turn the tides of the battle at Koilos. He plans to have the planeswalkers train to use the engines within a fast-time bubble on the island, but their presence attracts Phyrexians, forcing them to go to Koilos.
At the Caves, Urza recalls his forces from Urborg to aid in the final battle. Barrin leaves the front to try to convince Urza to leave forces at Urborg, but Urza is willing to sacrifice Urborg to win the battle at Koilos. When Barrin asks after his daughter, Urza reveals Hanna died several weeks prior, and he hadn’t told Barrin so that he’d remain focused on defending Urborg.
In a rage, Barrin returns to Tolaria and unleashes a devastating obliterating spell that levels the island, creating a funeral pyre in memory of the family he lost.
The final battle ensues, with the coalition forces invading the Caves alongside Urza’s Titan Engines. The crew of the Weatherlight infiltrates the Caves to shut down the portal while the rest of their forces serve as a distraction. There they face off with Tavoc, who nearly overcomes the crew when she takes control of Gerrard’s mind.
Karn forsakes his vow of pacifism and attacks Tavoc, distracting her long enough for Gerrard to be freed from her mind control. The pair attack the Phyrexian, leaving her mortally wounded before she flees into the portal. They close the portal to Phyrexia, stopping reinforcements from coming and destroying the Phyrexians who remained trapped on Dominaria.
The coalition celebrates its victory, but it’s short-lived. They only have a few days of reprieve before the entire plane of Rath begins merging with Dominaria, transporting thousands of Phyrexian troops with it.
While it wasn’t officially named within Invasion, domain was first introduced in this set. Domain is a mechanic that cares about the number of basic land types among lands you control, usually getting stronger the more of those types you have. It’s a mechanic that’s been used a few times since Invasion, including Dominaria United most recently.
One of the most iconic domain cards from Invasion is Tribal Flames, a powerful burn spell that still sees play today in the domain deck in Modern.
There are 11 domain cards in Invasion.
The divvy spells make you or an opponent separate a certain kind of card into two piles, then the player who didn’t sort the cards chooses something to happen to one of those piles. The most iconic divvy spell is Cube and Commander staple Fact or Fiction.
There are six divvy cards in Invasion.
Kicker is another classic mechanic introduced in Invasion that we’ve seen time and time again, and the most recent iteration is also Dominaria United. Kicker gives you an extra cost you can pay while casting the spell. If you pay the kicker cost, the spell gives you an extra ability.
One of the most iconic kicker cards is Urza's Rage, a powerful burn spell in its respective format, even if time hasn’t treated it well.
There are 35 kicker cards in Invasion.
Invasion was the first set to introduce split cards to Magic. The split cards have two sides, either of which can be cast by paying their mana cost, and they’re always instants or sorceries. Split cards have appeared in several sets since Invasion and have had several iterations, like Dragon’s Maze’s fuse cards and the aftermath cards in Amonkhet.
A card that demonstrates this mechanic’s flexibility well is Spite // Malice, a card that either counters noncreature spells or destroys a creature, allowing you to adapt to the threats your opponent plays on the fly.
There are five split cards in Invasion.
Primeval Dragons Cycle
This cycle introduced the primeval dragons to the Magic story, dragons who once ruled Dominaria as gods before being sealed away. Each dragon is a 6/6 legendary creature with flying. They each have abilities that trigger when they deal combat damage, giving you the option to pay three mana and select a color to get a powerful effect.
The Leech cycle is notable for being rather bad, but it’s an interesting design space. Each of these cards is very aggressively costed for their era in Magic. To offset such cheap costs, each Leech makes spells you cast of their respective color more expensive. It shows how older Magic sets cared about the strength of their creatures.
It also creates an interesting contrast to modern design philosophy when you compare cards like Alabaster Leech and Jade Leech to cards like Staunch Shieldmate and Elder Gargaroth.
Weatherlight Crew Cards
- Captain Sisay
- Phyrexian Altar
- Empress Galina
- Aura Shards
- Saproling Symbiosis
- Elvish Champion
- Collective Restraint
The Invasion booster pack has 15 cards in it including:
- 1 rare
- 3 uncommons
- 11 commons
- 1 basic land
An Invasion booster box contains 36 booster packs.
One of the four Invasion theme decks, Blowout is an aggressive Rakdos () midrange deck with an abundance of removal and disruption to go alongside aggressive creatures to close out the game.
Dismissal is a Dimir () control deck with a suite of kicker cards to go with its theme. It uses cheap disruptive cards early to affect the opponent’s game plan and reach the late game, getting the most value out of its expensive kicker spells along the way.
Heavy Duty is a purely aggressive deck that wants to end things quickly beneath a slew of aggressive creatures. It backs those creatures up with a handful of combat tricks and auras to obliterate your opponents before they can mount a defense.
Spectrum is a 5-color theme deck that’s heavily green-based, relying on green cards for fixing to enable its domain-based strategies. It’s also got several cards with protection from a variety of colors to account for any colors your opponents might play.
Treva, the Renewer | Illustration by Ciruelo
The Phyrexians have a long and storied tradition of attacking Dominaria and trying to compleate the plane and kill Urza. Invasion was the first set of the Invasion block and kicked off the story of their greatest attempt to take over Dominaria yet.
It would also be their last attempt, as the block’s story concludes with their annihilation. Invasion did a fantastic job setting the stage for that story, and the set also introduced some iconic Magic mechanics we still use today.
What’s your favorite part of the Invasion story? What’s your favorite card from the set? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!
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