It’s only been a few hours after Phyrexia: All Will Be One was spoiled, and we already have another huge leak. Many MTG players have been heavily anticipating the new Legendary MTG Atraxa card since its artwork was spoiled in MTG’s official spoiler season kickoff. An unofficial leak has surfaced of the latest MTG Atraxa, and while the card looks as exciting as everyone hoped, it also came with the suggestion of a new card type: Battle cards.
This is an unofficial leak, so keep in mind that there is a possibility that this card is fake. Since this is an unofficial leak, we will also give an obligatory spoiler warning for those of you who want to wait for official spoilers. If you’re more interested in these, we have a lot of new cards to look at!
EDIT: Author from the future here, this card has now been officially spoiled by Wizards of the Coast, and confirms the existence of the new Battle card type. We still, unfortunately, do not really know what these are.
MTG Atraxa, Grand Unifier
It did not take long for this Atraxa leak to spread all over Reddit. Notably, the leak has this card titled Atraxa, the Unifier, but according to some quick Google translate, it may also read as Atraxa, Grand Unifier.
Firstly, this Atraxa leak is not in English. Fortunately, a translation was offered by a Redditor by the name of ZolthuxReborn, who also happens to be the Redditor who posted this leak. The translation reads as such:
“Flying, vigilance, deathtouch, lifelink
When etb, reveal the top 10 cards of your library. For each card type, you may put one card of that type into your hand. Put the rest at the bottom in any order (the card types are Artifacts, Battle, Creature, Enchantment, instant, Land, Planeswalker, and Sorcery).”
Franchised players may notice that Atraxa’s new ability shares similarities with another Legendary Creature that has a lot of colors: Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Both of these cards offer a major refresh of your hand when they enter the battlefield. The biggest differences between Atraxa and Niv are the creature’s body and mana value. Both Atraxa and Niv-Mizzet are fliers, but Atraxa comes with Deathtouch, Vigilance, Lifelink, and a slightly bigger body as well. This makes MTG Atraxa a much more threatening creature than Niv-Mizzet.
Unfortunately, this upgrade doesn’t come for free. MTG Atraxa costs seven mana to cast, which means she is both a more expensive creature and cannot be cast with Bring to Light, one of the most commonly played cards alongside Niv-Mizzet. While Atraxa should see some Commander play and maybe some Pioneer play in Enigmatic Incarnation builds (I doubt it, but we’ll see), I do not think the card will be warping any formats. It does have potential, though.
For reference, Atraxa allows you to look at the top ten cards of your library and add a card of each type. The card types are, as listed on Atraxa, Artifacts, Battle, Creature, Enchantment, instant, Land, Planeswalker, and Sorcery. Interestingly, Tribal cards are not noted here but are presumably included in Atraxa’s ability. The new Battle card type, however, is what really caused this Atraxa leak to blow up.
Read More: MTG Players up in Arms Over ”Ruined” Story
What are Battle Cards?
The bigger story here is the new Battle card type highlighted by Atraxa’s rules text. As this is a leak, we currently have no idea what a Battle card is or if it’s even real, but that didn’t stop Redditors from speculating what it could be.
The most common speculation at this point is that a Battle card functions similarly to an old mechanic that Mark Rosewater talked about in the past. He wanted to introduce this new mechanic in War of the Spark. Between all the Planeswalkers and the similar cards spoiled/leaked (Niv-Mizzet and Atraxa, for example), there may be a lot of similarities between the two sets design-wise. One Redditor talks about the mechanic as described by MTG designer Mark Rosewater:
“Holy sh*t, maybe they finally got a way to make the “struggle” or whatever it’s called mechanic from WAR to work. Battle would definitely make sense as a card type using that mechanic.
For those who don’t know, MaRo has talked about this mechanic a couple of times that he (I think) designed for WAR. If I remember correctly, it would create a sort of ongoing “tug of war”, where you’re trying to achieve certain things to make progress in the war, your opponent could do things to push back, etc. Then presumably it would reward you for winning it or reaching certain milestones.
It’s been a while since I listened to the episode where he talks about it, so it’s a bit fuzzy, I’d appreciate if someone was able to tell me what episode that was so I can relisten. I really liked that mechanic idea and have been hoping they’d fit it into a set at some point, and it would definitely make sense here.” – Kopekemaster
What is Skirmish?
The failed mechanic that this Redditor is referring to was called Skirmish. According to this speculation, Battle cards could be a sort of World effect that rewards players for achieving various objectives. This quote was taken from Rosewater’s article on the failed mechanic a few years ago:
“The idea behind skirmish was that we wanted there to be a battle between you and your opponent. This battle would be overlaid onto the game and would generate effects that affected the game. The second technology that skirmish used was first seen on the Monarch token in Conspiracy: Take the Crown. This uses an external card as a game piece that outlines its own rules. The cards that generate the Monarch token don’t tell you what to do, it just generates the game component which then explains itself. Skirmish would do the same thing, which was to generate a Skirmish token, meaning any card with the skirmish mechanic would have “create a Skirmish if one hasn’t been created yet.”” – Mark Rosewater
This could change how MTG players approach their games, depending on how much these rewards affect the outcome. A new card type like this fits into all of the hype being generated by Wizards of the Coast, ‘changing Magic forever in 2023.’ Notably, this has also been referenced in the Reddit and by various other content creators interested in Atraxa’s leak.
Will Skirmish Return as Battle?
Redditors were quick to run with the idea of Skirmish, with a few tweaks, being the new Battle cards introduced to MTG. They were also quick to note that the Skirmish mechanic seems to have inspired some other new MTG mechanics created since Rosewater released this article:
“Sounds like skirmishes probably inspired multiple things:
- Venture into the dungeon – Side gamepiece you progress
- Initiative – Side game piece you “tug-o-war” other players with
- Battles (maybe?) – This new card type.” – Breaking-Away
Whatever the new Battle card ends up being, if it’s not spoiled as a part of Phyrexia: All Will be One, it is likely the significant design change we will see in March of the Machines. We already have all of the Rare cards leaked to us, so it’s unlikely that Battle cards are something we’ll see in Phyrexia: All Will Be One. We’ll have to wait and see what this exciting foreshadowing ends up becoming.