In a just over two weeks Wizards of the Coast will be releasing the next instalment in their ‘Specialist Draft’ products. These annual sets are designed to provide a fun and interesting limited experience, as well as allow the design team to cut loose and experiment with card types and mechanics that they wouldn’t be able to put into a Standard set. So far, we have manipulated the inner workings of government with Conspiracy and Conspiracy: Take the Crown. We have explored the crazy world of Un-Magic with UnStable. And this year we get to experience a world of gladiatorial combat with Battlebond.
But what is Battlebond? Well, to quote Gavin Verhey “Battlebond is the first set in Magic’s history designed specifically for Two-Headed Giant play! Some sets, like Oath of the Gatewatch, have dabbled with this in the past, but Battlebond takes that to the next level. The new mechanics in Battlebond are unlike anything we’ve ever done in Magic, and they really elevate the promise of Two-Headed Giant to its full potential.”
Many of us where very excited with the prospect of a draft set specifically tailored for Two-Headed Giant. However, as the weeks rolled on we heard very little about the set and we all started to get a little worried. Nothing was coming out of head office as to the content of the set. No lore or character, no explanation about mechanics, not even any art outside of the packaging. Was the reason Wizards wasn’t telling us more that they were worried it would fail? Was the reception to this ambitious product going to be one of derision? Maybe the recent flood of leaks had spoiled us a little, but there was some genuine concern from the community as to whether Battlebond was going to be a success.
Well on Monday 21st we finally started preview season, and it quickly became apparent that Battlebond was going to silence all its critics. Not only is the set prepared to a great limited environment with mechanics like Assist, but it is also promising to make an impact on Commander, Legacy and maybe even Vintage.
Not only are we set to get some much needed reprinted like Doubling Season, True-Name Nemesis and Seedborn Muse, but we also getting some new eternal playable cards. Spellseeker and Arena Rector are already drawing a lot of attention as some of the most impactful cards to enter Legacy and Vintage formats in a long time. Not to mention the fact that Nic Fit players everywhere are practically giddy with excitement with all the new toys heading there way.
But by far the most jazzed players have to be the Commander crew. With new cards aplenty and the addition of updated Partner with mechanic, this doesn’t feel like a run of the mill Draft set. In fact, the running joke is that this feels more like ‘Commander Masters’, bringing a sort of renaissance to the already popular format.
One of the things I noticed though, was the support of the Warrior creature type in Battlebond. Creatures like Trashing Brute and Rushblade Commander got my brewers senses tingling with the prospect of building a new tribal deck (which I’m sure you know I love to do). Then I saw Najeela, the Blade-Blossom and I nearly lost my mind. Not only was this a five-colour commander for the tribe (something we hadn’t had before), but her abilities where extremely powerful. If you attack with any Warrior, you may have its controller create a 1/1 white Warrior creature token that’s tapped and attacking. You can then play the full WUBRG and untap all attacking creatures to give them trample, lifelink, and have haste until end of turn. But we aren’t even done, because you get an additional combat phase afterwards. That’s right, with enough creatures and mana you can keep attacking and causing havoc for your playgroup. Needless to say, I had to build this deck.
It was fair to say the deck would include a fair number of warriors and warrior support, such as Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale. But want I really wanted to do was to abuse Najeela abilities as much as possible and create a ton of tokens. For that we need to get a lot of warriors onto the battlefield to attack and trigger Najeela multiple times. So, what’s the easiest way to flood the board with warriors? Well, with warrior tokens of course.
There are two ways we can accomplish this. Firstly, with Instants and Sorceries like Secure the Wastes and Take Up Arms that can give us a mini army in one go. Secondly, with creatures that can produce warrior tokens on demand. Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Oketra the True and Rhys the Redeemed are but a few of the creatures that can do this for us, allowing us to build up a sizable force of creatures over the course of the game. Once we have a few warriors on the board Najeela can become a real force to be reckoned with, doubling up our attacking creatures each turn until they overwhelm the battlefield.
But what if you want to win in one turn, and not even give your opponents a chance to untap? Well, we can do that too. Firstly, we need to get five warriors onto the battlefield, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Next, we need to give them vigilantes. We can do this with either Herald of Dromoka, Heliod, God of the Sun or Intangible Virtue if we have a ton of tokens. Then we give them the ability to tap for mana with Song of Freyalise or Cryptolith Rite and all of a sudden you can create infinite 1/1 warriors and have infinite combat steps. You might lose some friends, but you will crush the all your enemies.
The rest of the deck is filled with commander staples like Commander’s Sphere and Sol Ring, as well a tribal support cards like Herald’s Horn, Vanquisher’s Banner, Obsidian Battle-Axe and Coat of Arms. The deck also contains some redundancy piece like Combat Celebrant, Aurelia, the Warleader and Hellkite Charger, to give us more attack steps should Najeela become immobilised. Not to mention the host of warriors we have crammed into the deck. finally, some removal in the form of Decimate, Mortify, Putrefy, Vindicate and Start // Finish to handle our opponent’s threats.
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom
Aven Wind Guide
Herald of Anafenza
Mardu Strike Leader
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Oketra the True
Rhys the Redeemed
Chief of the Edge
Chief of the Scale
Herald of Dromoka
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Daghatar the Adamant
Heliod, God of the Sun
Aurelia, the Warleader
Song of Freyalise
Coat of Arms
Pillar of Origins
Instants and Sorceries (11)
Take Up Arms
Start // Finish
Secure the Wastes
Cavern of Souls
And there you have it, my new warrior deck for Commander. The deck will probably under go some tweaking after further testing, but I believe that it has potential it be a real contender in the format. But what about Battlebond as a limited format. Will warriors reign supreme in Sealed and Draft? We will let you know next week.
— Abbie, Apostle of Karn [MoM] (@MasterOfMagics) May 25, 2018
But what do you think? Is this the kind of deck you want to build? Or are you more interested in some of the new Partner with Legendries to helm your deck? Why not let us know about it in the comments below, and while you’re there subscribe to the site to stay up to date with all the going on’ here at Master of Magics. We will be picking apart all that Battlebond has to offer over the next week or so, so keep your eyes peeled for more deck techs coming soon. But until next time remember, Good Luck and Have Fun.