As a trading card game with nearly 30 years of history behind it, there is no shortage of ways to play Magic: the Gathering. With an aptly sized playgroup around a kitchen table, players have countless MTG formats to choose from. Even if your MTG playgroup doesn’t like the rules of one format, it’s easy enough to make an entirely new one of your own. Unfortunately, while there are innumerable ways to play Magic, not all of them are supported by Wizards. In fact, players are starting to complain that their niche favorite has been swept under the rug.
A Battlebond to Remember
Launching in 2018, Battlebond is perhaps one of the most unique MTG sets ever printed. Built around the Two-Headed Giant format, Battlebond was a draftable set unlike any other in Magic’s history. Rather than playing all on your lonesome, Battlebond had players pairing up with another player to best their opponents in the arenas of Valor’s Reach. This Kylem arena also happens to be where Magic’s latest mobile game, Magic Spellslingers, is set.
With a unique Draft format in which players picked two cards each turn from four packs, Battlebond was a lot to take in. Alongside enforcing a Two-Headed Giant format, the deck seemed stacked against Battlebond’s success. As a result, while it was a fun experiment as 2018’s Innovation Product, Battlebond came and went without much fanfare. Nevertheless, some enjoyed the product and would quite like to see a sequel in the future.
Unfortunately, for those interested players, it appears that Battlebond 2 isn’t in the cards for the foreseeable future. Recently, while discussing recent Innovation Product sets, Magic’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, revealed that Battlebond is perhaps the least likely to see a reprint. In its place, Rosewater claimed that Conspiracy, Archenemy, and Planechase, were all more viable options. Ultimately, Rosewater states this reasoning is because “Two-Headed Giant just isn’t all that popular as a format.”
If You Build It, They Will Come
Despite this damning condemnation from Mark Rosewater, Two-Headed Giant players weren’t happy with this assertion. Instead, in a follow-up Blogatog question, user’s questioned Rosewater’s reasoning. “I loved Battlebond, and I’ve seen nothing but universal acclaim for the set online,” Tumblr user Selein stated. To improve the set’s chances of returning, Selein went on to ask, “can you tell us what players need to do to make Battlebond 2 more likely and successful?” In response, Rosewater merely stated that “I guess seeing more sanctioned Two-Headed Giant tournaments,” might do the trick.
Given it’s no secret that Magic: the Gathering’s future is determined by the success of past products, Two-Headed Giant needing to be more successful to ensure its return isn’t all too surprising. Unfortunately, however, making an MTG format like Two-Headed Giant popular isn’t an easy thing to do. This is especially true if it’s not being supported by Wizards after they’ve deemed it unpopular.
Making a case for Two-Headed Giant events, Blogatog user Ghostlygideon stated that their LGS “used to do 2HG every pre-release and stopped when the move to the Companion app happened because they said it wasn’t supported.” According to Ghostlygideon, “Players want it, it just isn’t on offer so we settle for what is.” Responding to these claims, Rosewater once again played down the popularity of Two-Headed Giant. “It wasn’t put into the Companion app because the sanctioning for it was low enough that it wasn’t chosen. I do think it was popular in specific areas, but that doesn’t mean it was popular overall,” Rosewater stated.
Eventually, Two-Headed Giant did end up on the MTG companion app, allowing easier access to the format. This also gives Wizards of the Coast access to better information about how often the format is played. If those numbers rise high enough, Battlebond 2 might even become a reality.
Welcome to the Arena
While Two-Headed Giant may thankfully be an option on MTG’s companion app, it’s not available where it might matter most; MTG Arena. As potentially the most accessible way to get into Magic, MTG Arena could catapult the success of the Two-Headed Giant format despite its shortcomings. Unfortunately, one significant barrier is in the way of that; MTG Arena doesn’t have multiplayer formats.
Thankfully, that glaring issue appears to be on Wizards of the Coast’s long list of things to do. According to Tumblr user Tlblitz, Wizards of the Coast is currently gauging feedback about multiplayer formats in Arena. “I did just get a survey asking my opinion on Arena, and one of the questions was “what’s your interest level in 2HG on Arena?”, so clearly it’s still on wotc’s radar,” Tlblitz stated. If accurate, this survey could foretell the arrival of multiplayer formats on MTG Arena at long last. This means that four-player Commander matches might finally be something Arena players can enjoy.