The new MTG Battle card type has some extremely powerful-looking cards coming out as a part of March of the Machine! Invasion of Ikoria is potentially a 3-4 mana 8/8 that can assign combat damage as though it isn’t blocked, Alara’s invasion offers a ludicrous amount of value when it enters the battlefield and after its flipped, and a ton of insane Mythic Rare Battle cards like Invasion of Shandalar looks absolutely incredible in any non-cEDH Green Commander deck. With the power level of Battle cards looking enticing, cards that synergize well with Battles may see more play than anyone expected. Here are some older cards getting attention for their new MTG Battle synergies!
What are MTG Battle Cards?
Before we get into things, Battle cards are a very new MTG card type just revealed this week. As a result, many may not know what a Battle is or how it works. We already have an article that details all of the revealed mechanics for March of the Machine, but here’s a quick explainer for the sake of this article.
Siege Battle cards are the only ones that have been revealed at this point in time. These cards enter the battlefield under your control, and you assign an opponent to defend it. If you choose, you can attack the Battle with creatures, and your chosen opponent can use their creatures to defend it. In 1v1 formats, you only have one player to choose to defend, but in games of Commander, you can choose any one opponent. Additionally, all other players are capable of attacking the Siege, creating some interesting political bargains.
The goal of the attackers is to remove the Defense Counters found on the bottom left corner of the card and defeat the Battle. Like Loyalty counters for Planeswalkers, these are like a toughness total that doesn’t regenerate at the end step. Once all of the Defense Counters have been removed from the Battle, it is considered defeated. At which point, the owner of the card may cast the transformed (other side) card from exile for free. In the example above, you get a very big 8/8 for defeating Invasion of Ikoria. Even if another player defeats your Battle, you still get to cast the flipped side of it.
Why Does This Matter?
The new Invasion of Ikoria card looks fantastic, but are Battle cards consistently powerful enough that you want to be going out of your way to exploit the mechanic? This insane new five-colored Battle card is capable of doing just about everything. When the card enters the battlefield, you exile cards from the top of your library until you exile two nonland cards with mana value four or less. You can cast one for free while putting the other in your hand. This suggests that you may be able to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter, with this ability because Valki has a mana value of two. This seems to read similarly to Bring to Light, which is also capable of doing this.
Past that point, defeating this Battle successfully does an absolutely ridiculous amount of stuff. Awaken the Maelstrom draws you two cards, allows you to cheat an artifact from your hand onto the battlefield, make a copy of a permanent, distribute three +1/+1 counters onto your creatures, and blow up something your opponent controls. This means that you could cheat out the Standard legal Portal to Phyrexia and copy it, making your opponent sacrifice six creatures and resurrecting two on each of your upkeeps. That’s a pretty ridiculous payoff for an MTG Battle card.
Cards That Remove Counters
Perhaps the most apparent cards that synergize well with MTG Battles are ones that remove counters from permanents. Because Defense Counters are used to mark a Battle’s ‘health,’ cards capable of removing permanents can flip Battle cards immediately. The combo for Invasion of Ikoria that is interesting Modern players involves a Vampire Hexmage that you can immediately use to flip the Battle. Using the above Invasion of Ikoria’s, enter the battlefield ability with X as two can immediately find this card, allowing you to get a four mana 8/8. This is accomplished by sacrificing the Vampire Hexmage and removing all of the Defense Counters on Invasion of Ikoria.
Regarding financial implications for this card, the Hexmage has seen a massive increase in interest the past few days, but that has not translated into a big price spike. Premium versions of this card are starting to move, so if you want a foil Vampire Hexmage, you may want to get on that ASAP. Otherwise, the card only seems to be increasing to a little over a dollar for normal near-mint variants. Still, the card is seeing much interest, with multiple players buying multiple playsets.
More than one card is proficient at removing counters from permanents! Hex Parasite is a popular option that can remove as many counters from a permanent as you have mana to spend. You don’t need to sacrifice Hex Parasite to remove the counters, which means that this card can stick around as an enabler that can flip your Battle cards! As a small bonus, Hex Parasite is also a powerful utility tool that you can find with Urza’s Saga.
Unlike Vampire Hexmage, Hex Parasite is starting to see an increase in price because of its implications for Battle cards. Hex Parasite’s prices are still pretty inconsistent, according to TCGplayer, but the card seems to be going for $5-8 at the moment in non-foil iterations, where it was going for only $3-4 before Battle cards were revealed. Foil copies of the card have also seen a $3 increase. Notably, Hex Parasite currently only has one printing from New Phyrexia at the moment, so if it does see some competitive play, expect this card to skyrocket.
There are some other counter removal cards that may synergize well with Battles. Aether Snap can remove all counters from permanents, flipping your Battles while killing Planeswalkers. This is probably better in a game of Commander than 1v1 play. Thief of Blood can do a similar thing in a Commander environment.
Similar to Chain of Vapor‘s interaction with Professor Onyx (but much weaker), you can cast any number of Chain Lightning as long as they target your stuff (and you have the mana). For reference, combat damage from creatures is not the only way you can reduce Defense Counters from Battle cards. As long as a spell dealing damage specifies that the card can deal damage to any target, you can also direct that damage at Battle cards.
Even though your opponents have to defend your Battle cards, you still control them. This means that you have the ability to recast your Chain Lightnings after they hit your Battle cards. Sure, you need to keep spending mana to do this, but the nice thing about Chain Lightning, unlike the other cards on this list, is it’s good without Battle synergies. This sorcery-speed Lightning Bolt can simply take something out on your opponent’s board at worst. They can copy it, but they need open red mana to do that.