Last updated on April 26, 2023

Invasion of Tarkir - Defiant Thundermaw - Illustration by Darren Tan

Invasion of Tarkir / Defiant Thundermaw | Illustration by Darren Tan

16 years have passed since the introduction of planeswalkers as a card type in Magic. And now, on the game’s 30th anniversary, we’re getting an all-new card type: battle.

Battle cards have a pretty daunting task before them: to do something that no other already-existing card type already does. And I do think they’ve managed to do that pretty well.

This introduction to battles is interesting because we only have a single subtype, with the promise that we’ll see more in the future. These are sieges, the first subtype of battles we’ve gotten so far. So let’s go ahead and see what they’re all about!

How Do Siege Cards Work?

Invasion of Shandalar - Illustration by Adam Paquette

Invasion of Shandalar | Illustration by Adam Paquette

As you cast a siege card, you have to choose an opponent to defend it. The card enters with a number of defense counters, and then you and any other players who aren’t the defender can attack the siege card to remove those counters. Once all the counters are gone the battle is exiled and returns to the battlefield transformed.

A detail that’s worth specifying is that, when a siege transforms, it’s exiled and then cast transformed from exile. So unlike cards like werewolves, these cards trigger leaving and entering the battlefield effects, as well as those that care about actually casting certain spells.

The History of Siege Cards in MTG

Siege cards, the first subtype of the new battle card type, are being introduced in March of the Machine. Invasion of Zendikar was the first to be spoiled but was quickly followed by another 35 siege battles, each one representing each of the planes being invaded by the Phyrexians.

MaRo has stated that battles in general will be considered deciduous. This means that they’re a card type that won’t necessarily show up in every set (which would be evergreen), but that they’ll show up occasionally and be more of a tool that’s always available for the design team.

When Do You Transform Siege Cards?

Siege cards transform when all their defense counters have been removed. Those counters can be removed by combat damage, spells that have battles as a valid target, and effects that remove counters from a target.

Who Can Attack Siege Cards?

Sieges can be attacked by any player that isn’t that battle’s chosen defender.

Who Controls Transformed Sieges?

Sieges are owned and controlled by the same player, i.e., the player that casts the card. The player defending them is only chosen as a defender, but they don’t get control of the card. So when a siege is defeated and transforms, it returns to the battlefield under its owner’s control.

Are Siege Cards Good?

I think sieges are really fun, and a pretty good design. I do think they probably suffer from a lack of interaction beyond that of their owner and defender. There isn’t much reason for other opponents to do anything with sieges other than maybe destroy or exile them if the transformed side can be a threat later. Hopefully this will change with time.

Gallery and List of Siege Cards

Best Siege Cards

Invasion of Shandalar / Leyline Surge

Invasion of Shandalar’s effect is a decent enough recursion spell. But you can cheat any one permanent in your hand onto the battlefield every turn if you manage to transform it (and keep Leyline Surge from being destroyed), which can be absurdly good.

Invasion of Ikoria / Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria

Green Sun's Zenith isn’t a massive staple just because. Invasion of Ikoria has the same effect for only a single extra green mana, with the added benefit of being able to transform into Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, which can allow you to defeat your opponents way more quickly.

Invasion of Tarkir / Defiant Thundermaw

Invasion of Tarkir is a great addition to any dragon tribal deck. The transformed side, Defiant Thundermaw, is possibly the best part of this card, with an effect very similar to that of Tarkir’s Dragonlords that trigger any time a dragon attacks.

Wrap Up

Invasion of New Phyrexia - Illustration by Chris Rallis

Invasion of New Phyrexia | Illustration by Chris Rallis

I personally really like sieges. I think they add an interesting interaction to the game and, much like planeswalkers, they won’t be excessively pervasive to the point that we’ll need to modify almost everything about how we play. There are tons of decks in every format that just don’t play planeswalkers or have any responses designed exclusively for them, and I think sieges (and battles in general) will be pretty much the same.

But enough about me. What do you think about sieges? What other battle subtypes do you think we’ll get in the future? Which is your favorite siege card? Leave a comment below letting me know. And don’t forget to visit the official Draftsim Discord where you can find and join an amazing community of MTG fans.

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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  • Avatar
    Ivar April 12, 2023 7:08 am

    Is the converted mana cost of the flipside ZERO, when the last counter is removed and you can cast it from exile?

    • Nikki
      Nikki May 1, 2023 1:42 pm

      The mana cost of the backside of a double-faced card is based on the front side of the card. The same goes for battles, so even after it’s defeated and then cast from exile, the backside has the mana cost of its front battle side.

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