18, May, 22

Is This Baldur's Gate Mechanic Just a Better Version of MTG's Monarch?

Article at a Glance

Commander games can get political. And they become even more so when you throw in a mechanic like monarch, which pits players against each other in a mini-game of King of the Hill. But starting with Battle for Baldur’s Gate, Commander’s political landscape gets even more Machiavellian once you factor in the new mechanic, initiative.

Taking the Initiative

Taking The Initiative works similarly to taking The Monarch. If you hit a player who currently has The Initiative, you steal it.

But what do you get for having The Initiative? Being the Monarch lets you draw cards. Is there anything better than that?

As seen on the token for The Initiative, its payoff is very different from The Monarch. Instead of drawing cards, you venture into a specific dungeon called Undercity. And unlike The Monarch, which triggers during your end step, The Initiative triggers whenever you take the initiative and in your upkeep!

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Adventures in the Forgotten Realms first introduced us to the dungeon mechanic and gave us three unique dungeons to venture through. Undercity works differently from the original dungeons in that you can only venture into it via The Initiative.

Undercity | Wizards of the Coast

Of course, the most fun thing to look at when evaluating a dungeon is its final, most powerful room, and Undercity’s is definitely worth the effort of venturing toward. Throne of the Dead Three lets you look through a massive chunk of your library for a creature and put it directly onto the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters; it even gives that creature hexproof for a turn!

But Undercity’s rooms leading up to Throne of the Dead Three are fun too and have diverse abilities. You can buff your creatures, goad opposing creatures, make Treasure, create Skeletons, and draw a card.

Sure, drawing a card with The Monarch is always good. But Undercity provides a versatile set of abilities that can be helpful in a wide range of situations.

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Initiating The Initiative

The only way to venture into Undercity is by taking The Initiative. Thankfully, there are plenty of cards in Battle for Baldur’s Gate designed to do just that.

In addition to taking the initiative, white Plume Adventure is like a Drumbellower that can untap your creatures on your opponents’ turns.

If you want to build an entire Commander deck around The Initiative and Undercity, Rilsa Rael can lead the way. She takes the initiative when she enters play and helps you take it back in case it gets stolen from you.

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