Invasion of Tarkir | Illustration by Darren Tan
It’s not every day that you get a new card type in Magic, and before battles, the next most recent addition was planeswalkers. And they feel like they’ve been around forever! Although battles are found in all colors, when a card type is called battle, they do feel at home in red’s portion of the color pie.
So what does the color of impulse and emotion bring to the table with battles? Which ones perform the best overall? And how can you best take advantage of this card type?
Well, let’s find out!
What Are Red Battles in MTG?
Invasion of Kaldheim | Illustration by Bryan Sola
Battles in MTG are a permanent type like lands, creatures, artifacts, enchantments and planeswalkers. When they come into the battlefield they have an effect on ETB, 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 either attacking it or dealing damage to it. When it has no counters like this left, it exiles itself, and then you can 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 red so far). Also, we’ve only seen a particular subtype for battles called sieges, so we don’t know how they could look in future or what non-siege battles would involve.
#5. Invasion of Mercadia / Kyren Flamewright
With any list, there needs to be a last-place entry, and Invasion of Mercadia is the entry here. It’s not a bad card, but it’s just not particularly exciting. The front face is essentially Cathartic Reunion which sees some play from time to time as a hand smoother. If you manage to defeat it, you get a pretty good body which can build an army, as well as pump it. Like I said, it’s far from the worst card ever, but there are better battles to pick from!
#4. Invasion of Kaldheim / Pyre of the World Tree
Invasion of Kaldheim is a card oozing with combo potential. I just don’t quite know the home for it yet! The front half can help you dig for your combo pieces while still allowing you to play what you exile from your hand. The back half is more interesting. There’s definitely some kind of storm-like potential in this card, but the main thing holding it back is the relatively high mana value. Four-mana spells need to be very good in storm decks, which is probably the main thing limiting its play for now. Give it time, though. Someone will break it!
#3. Invasion of Regatha / Disciples of the Inferno
The main thing that’s bumping Invasion of Regatha up is the fact that it’s pretty great in a battles deck. It can direct damage at other battles and potentially takes chump blockers away with its ping effect, which allows you to go off with it if built around. If you manage to flip it, it turns into a pretty great beater that can quickly close out a game. I can’t see this seeing play outside of red aggro, and it hasn’t seen too much play yet, but I can see it happening.
#2. Invasion of Karsus / Refraction Elemental
One rule of thumb I have with playable battles is that the front side generally needs to affect the board. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it’s still a good initial indicator. Invasion of Karsus has an effect that definitely affects the board state, in copying some classic spells like Anger of the Gods and Sweltering Suns. It does cost an extra mana to cast, unfortunately, but it also deals damage to planeswalkers, which could come in clutch in some metas. The flip side is pretty good. Not an auto win by itself, but there are worse payoffs, and it does close out the game pretty quickly.
#1. Invasion of Tarkir / Defiant Thundermaw
The top card on our list is, unsurprisingly, the only mythic. Invasion of Tarkir is a great, cheap, burn spell on the front half (if you’re running dragons) with a pretty powerful creature on the back. It has a lot of potential, especially moving into the next phase of the Magic story, which we know will have dragons featuring pretty highly. Although the battle can’t hit itself, it can hit another version of itself played earlier, which could be a good way to get the back side active. Although it hasn’t seen much competitive play yet, I doubt it’ll stay that way forever.
Best Red Battle Payoffs
The cool thing about some of these red battles is that they’re actually payoffs for themselves. Both Invasion of Tarkir and Invasion of Regatha can both damage other battles, which can get you to the flipped side more easily.
Outside of themselves, flicker effects are pretty interesting with any battles. Flickering the front half needs cards that can target any permanent, like Brago, King Eternal. But if you manage to transform it then flicker it, it comes back as the front side, so you get the ETB again. You do then lose the bonus from having the transformed version on the battlefield, but it can still be good to get a second ETB.
Invasion of Mercadia | Illustration by Cristi Balanescu
We’re only just scratching the surface with battles, and Wizards seem to have been pretty careful with them so far (which I’m not complaining about BTW!). Since we’ve only seen siege battles so far, it’ll also be interesting to see what non-siege battles look like.
Red does feel like a great home for battles, with the aggression that the color brings to Magic. What do you think? Do you have any favorite red battles? What space do you want to see battles exploring in future?
Let us know down below in the comments and make sure to check out the official Draftsim Discord!
Until the next article, I hope you win all your battles!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: