The Bonds After Battlebond

Posted in Card Preview on May 22, 2018

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

You won. It's over. Victory was claimed. After drafting your way through packs, building decks together, and defeating all opponents, you and your partner are triumphant.

The battle was glorious—and rewarding.

Now what do you do with all these cards?

There are plenty of new and exciting things to try, but teaming up for Two-Headed Giant fun is just the beginning of what you can do with Battlebond.

Standard. Modern. More.

If you played in a Dominaria Prerelease and cracked packs afterwards, you probably heard about Standard. It's one of the biggest ways to play Magic, and something you can count on seeing weekly at just about every local game store you can find. Maybe you saw the Masters 25 drafting and heard someone say "I need this for Modern"—another format you can play at stores all the time.

That anniversary set also reached back beyond both Standard and Modern card legality—which is where Battlebond gets to shine, too. Magic's long history is full of powerful cards fitting for formats from a table among friends to Commander at a Grand Prix, like this potent enchantment:

We haven't seen Land Tax in a long time, but it's an incredible way to make mana happen.

You'll draft this in Battlebond to fix mana and hit a land drop every turn. Land Tax looks at all opponents to check whether you can search up basic lands. If either of the opposing heads in Two-Headed Giant has more lands in play than you, you get to go digging. Setting up the perfect basic lands to cast your most powerful (and expensive) spells gives your team an edge against any adversaries.

It also ensures you can catch up on lands if you fell behind, a handy trick to keep things fair for you.

After drafting, you'll use this in Commander and "lands matter" decks. Land Tax is awesome in a format like Commander, where finding mana and hitting your land drops add up over the longer games. Like with Two-Headed Giant, having multiple opponents means you have multiple chances that someone else has pulled ahead in the land count—giving you the basic lands you need to keep going.

Similarly, if building 60-card "anything goes" decks with friends is something you enjoy, then Land Tax is a perfect enchantment when you build around lands. It turns out when you want to always have a land to play, your deck that asks you to play a land every turn gets better. (Weird!)

The beauty of a set like Battlebond isn't just the unique experience—Two-Headed Giant drafting is quite different than what most of us have done before—but also that it brings a wide range of cards and options to use afterward. Taking the leap into another format (or even just a step into more Two-Headed Giant) begins with finding something that interests you.

Take, for example, this stadium standout you can draft:

We haven't seen Tidespout Tyrant since our first trip to Ravnica, before Return to Ravnica, but it's good to see it again here.

You'll draft Tidespout Tyrant when you're already solidly in blue. The ability to turn every spell into a bonus Boomerang (real Boomerang, that can return even lands to their owners' hands) is a great way to end games. Attached to a solid 5/5 body, casting a spell to clear the way and attack is an obvious battlefield decision.

What's harder is ensuring you have both the triple-blue mana and eight mana in total to cast it. In Two-Headed Giant, you need to cooperate with your partner. Having a plan to play a longer game with their help—you play early defense, I'll go over the top—means setting up something this big is possible.

After drafting, you'll build a combo deck to totally break bouncing permanents. Let's say you have a Zacama, Primal Calamity and Tidespout Tyrant hanging around. Cast anything—maybe just Divination—to draw some cards and return Zacama to hand. If you have plenty of lands in play, which you will if you have both Zacama and our Tyrant hanging about, then you can tap all of them to replay Zacama and net whatever extra mana you make.

  • Zacama, Primal Calamity
  • Tidespout Tyrant
  • Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
  • Lifecrafter's Bestiary
  • Unifying Theory

Have another spell? Make more mana. Throw in a Capsize paying buyback to really break things up. (Don't actually do this, but you can see where this is going.)

Of course, not every deck or draft calls for going big. What if there was a card that was always a "copy" of the next best card in your deck? There's one diabolic way to do it:

Diabolic Intent is another card from Magic's past returned—and this time it doesn't come with the touch of Nicol Bolas.

You'll draft Diabolic Intent because it's absolutely bonkers. With a few token-making cards, any tiny creatures too small for combat, or even a now-useless creature locked down under an enchantment or tap effect works: sacrifice it away, then go find exactly what you want from your deck. While it's probably not the best idea to just splash it as your only black card, it's a choice that's totally powerful to make.

Drawing a key removal spell or a finisher (see Tidespout Tyrant for details) can make all the difference, so a card that's just as good as drawing anything works.

After drafting, you'll still slam it into any deck you can. Diabolic Intent was an homage to Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor, two of Magic's most powerful ways to "tutor" for a card you want. Whether it's more Two-Headed Giant, Commander, or something else entirely, any time you can use a card like Diabolic Intent it's probably a strong choice to do so. There's a lot to be said for the (planned) randomness and excitement of Commander's variety of cards, but when you need to pull out the stops, it's a tutor effect like this you'll go to.

  • Diabolic Intent
  • Enlightened Tutor
  • Mystical Tutor
  • Gamble
  • Bring to Light

An extra way to get your most powerful card is never an unwelcome addition when you're building a strong deck.

Double Trouble

Opportunities to try new strategies and see cards you've never seen before abound in Battlebond. As long as you have a trusty partner at your side, there's nothing to be afraid of—before and after drafting.

Toothy, Imaginary Friend | Art by: Zoltan Boros

May you become champion wherever you compete.

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