There are a few criteria that can be used to determine whether a Battle is good or not.
- 1. How is the effect of its front side costed relative to similar non-battle cards?
Because Battles have the ability to transform, many of them have over costed effects on their front side. For example, Invasion of Eldraine costs one additional mana when compared to Mind Rot and Invasion of Xerex is horribly expensive when compared to Unsummon. Typically battles like this are not worth running.
- 2. Is the reward for flipping it worth the effort?
Flipping a battle can be quite a commitment. Every point of damage you deal to one is a point of damage you could instead be aiming at your opponent. As such, the card on the reverse side needs to be worth the effort that you are putting in to get it. Some Battles simply aren’t worth transforming. Winnowing Forces, the reverse side of Invasion of Lorwyn, is just a big beater with absolutely no form of protection or evasion. It’s probably always worth just damaging your opponent, rather than trying to transform cards like this.
- 3. Do both sides of the card synergize with each other?
Most Battles have a game plan in mind and both of their sides work towards achieving that. Others are just two random effects stapled together. The front side of Invasion of Dominaria provides a bit of life gain and card draw. The reverse side is a Serra Angel with a different name. Although both of these effects are useful, there’s no real synergy between them, beyond the fact that they are both vaguely Control focussed effects. Although this is possibly the least essential of the criteria, it is good when both halves of a Battle come together as something greater than the sum of their parts.
With these criteria in mind, let’s go through a list of the top 10 battles to put into your Commander decks.
10. Invasion of GobakhanInvasion of Gobakhan is a card with a decent front face, but an amazing back face. Invasion of Gobakhan provides the exact same hand-exiling effect as Soul Partition, for the exact same cost. This effect is also present on Creatures like Elite Spellbinder and Anointed Peacekeeper. This is a decent disruption effect in formats like Standard, but isn’t amazing in Commander as it only penalizes a single opponent.
Fortunately, Invasion of Gobakhan is very easy to transform, with only three defense, and its reverse side is a lot more useful. Lightshield Array puts a +1/+1 counter on each of its controller’s creatures during the end step of a turn in which they attacked. The array can also be sacrificed to grant all of its controller’s creatures Hexproof and Indestructible. Decks that want to flood the board with creatures benefit from running Invasion of Gobakhan. They will find it easy to flip this card and the buff and protection effects that it provides will be more useful when spread out over a larger number of Creatures.
9. Invasion of Ixalan
For two mana, Invasion of Ixalan provides a nice cheap way of grabbing a useful card from amongst the top five cards of your deck. Once transformed, it becomes Belligerent Regisaur a 4/3 Trampler that’s hard to remove, as it can make itself Indestructible. While Invasion of Ixalan is not as exciting as some of the cards higher up on this list, it gets its job done nicely and is a useful and functional card.
8. Invasion of Fiora
Although rather costly, at six mana, Invasion of Fiora serves as a pretty good board wipe in Legendary tribal decks like Sisay, Weatherlight Captain or Dihada, Binder of Wills. When Invasion of Fiora is cast, it can either be used to destroy all of the Legendary Creatures in play, or all of the non-Legendary Creatures. In Dihada decks since you will be running few, if any, Creatures that are not Legendary your board will be spared whilst most of your opponents’ creatures (save for their Commanders and any other Legendaries they may be running) will be destroyed. The fact that this board wipe has two modes to choose from makes it more useful. In an emergency situation, if your opponents all have their Commanders out and they are all going off, the “destroy all Legendary Creatures” effect of this card can be activated to disrupt their plans.
The transformed version of this card, Marchesa, Resolute Monarch is also pretty impressive. A 3/6 with Menace and Deathtouch that can draw you cards and remove counters from permanents, enabling you to transform any other Battles in your deck easily.
7. Invasion of Ravnica
Colorless removal spells are very useful, hence Invasion of Ravnica’s placement on this list. Blue and Green can struggle to unconditionally remove opponent’s Creatures, outside of effects like Beast Within and Pongify so Simic decks may appreciate having this card in their arsenal. Invasion of Ravnica’s inability to target dual-colored Creatures is frustrating but not a deal breaker, and this card will typically be more useful than Introducion to Annihilation as it does not provide the opponent with card draw.
Once flipped, Invasion of Ravnica becomes Guildpact Paragon a 5/5 Artifact Creature that allows its controller to dig through the top six cards of their deck for a two-color card whenever they play a two-color card. This card works great when you’re playing a dual-color deck, and also, appropriately enough, when your Commander is Niv-Mizzet Reborn.
6. Invasion of SegoviaInvasion of Segovia is another battle that really needs to transform for you to get the most out of it. It has a very mediocre front side, generating two 1/1s for three mana. Once it has been transformed into Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segovia, however, it becomes very powerful. Caetus grants all non-creature spells in its controller’s deck Convoke and untaps up to four creatures during each of its controller’s end steps. This provides a huge discount on powerful late-game spells like Expropriate and Cyclonic Rift.
The power of this card can be difficult to see by examining it in a vacuum, but in practice, it is incredibly strong. Effects that make it possible to cheat around MTG’s mana system are typically very good.
5. Invasion of TarkirInvasion of Tarkir is a card you only really want in Dragon Tribal decks, but it’s so good in those decks that it deserves a place on this list.
This card’s front side is a burn spell that grows stronger the more Dragons you have in your hand. The value of this ability really depends on when it is drawn. In the early game, when your hand will be loaded full of Dragons as you won’t have enough mana to play them yet, this card can deal a lot of damage for only two mana. Later on, this effect gets gradually less and less useful. All the same, the ability to deal out a bit of damage is always nice.Defiant Thundermaw, the reverse side of this card, is where the real value is. Defiant Thundermaw is a 4/4 flying trampler that causes all attacking Dragons to deal two damage to any target whenever they attack. This is a really powerful effect, especially considering that the damage can be targeted anywhere. You can burn down your opponents’ blockers, or deal the last few points of damage to someone that is barely holding on.
Whether your Commander is Lathliss, Dragon Queen, or The Ur-Dragon, Invasion of Tarkir is definitely a card worth considering.
4. Invasion of Theros
Tutors are always very powerful cards. Invasion of Theros is a slightly niche tutor, but one . For three mana, Invasion of Theros allows its controller to search their deck for an Aura, a God, or a Demi-God. There are several decks that might want this effect. Aura and Enchantment focussed decks are naturally the perfect home for it, alongside God tribal decks built around effects like The World Tree. Decks looking to abuse the infinite combo of Heliod, Sun Crowned, and Walking Ballista can use this card to fetch one of the two combo pieces.Ephara, Ever-Sheltering, the reverse side of this card, is a very powerful addition to Enchantment focussed decks. Ephara provides card draw whenever new Enchantments are played and gains Indestructible and Lifelink whenever at least three other Enchantments are in play.
3. Invasion of Ikoria
As mentioned above, tutors are really good cards. This is especially true when they bring the card they are searching for directly into play, rather than into the hand. Invasion of Ikoria allows its controller to find any non-human Creature from their deck and bring it straight into play, by adding two additional Green mana on top of the card’s regular cost. This is a great way of finding combo pieces, or just grabbing massive threats in the late game.
Once Invasion of Ikoria transforms into Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria any big creatures obtained with its first effect will become even more threatening as they will gain Thorn Elemental’s ability to deal their damage directly to an opponent even when they get blocked. Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria is also an 8/8 themselves, making them one of the biggest Creatures attached to a battle, especially as Invasion of Ikoria can be cast for as low as three mana.
2. Invasion of Alara
In terms of raw power, Invasion of Alara is absolutely the strongest Battle card out there. The fact that it can only go in five color decks is the only thing keeping it from the top spot on this list. Invasion of Alara has a slightly better version of the Cascade mechanic. It exiles cards from the top of your library until you find two cards with a mana value of four or fewer. One of these cards then goes straight into play, while the other goes to your hand. While Invasion of Alara does then need to take a pretty significant amount of damage before it will transform, once it does it provides a massive dose of good stuff.Awaken the Maelstrom, the effect on the reverse side of Invasion of Alara is absolutely great. You get to draw two cards, play an Artifact for free, copy one of your permanents, spread three +1/+1 counters over your creatures, and destroy one of your opponents’ cards. If you’ve got a five-color good stuff deck, perhaps headed by Kenrith, the Returned King, or Garth One-Eye, then Invasion of Alara is certainly a spicy card to include.
1. Invasion of New PhyrexiaInvasion of New Phyrexia is a hugely powerful card. Finale of Glory and White Sun’s Zenith are both pretty strong cards, but In Azorius decks, Invasion of New Phyrexia puts them both to shame. Not only do the tokens generated by Invasion of New Phyrexia have Vigilance, but it also has the ability to transform into a really good Planeswalker. Although this battle has six defense, the huge army of Knights you will have created as you play it should have no trouble tearing it down. Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir, the time mage tucked away underneath Invasion of New Phyrexia, provides not only several strong effects, but also synergizes with all of the Knights generated by the first part of this card. On top of a card draw effect, this new Teferi can generate an emblem that buffs all of his controller’s Knights and has a removal effect that can force opponents to shuffle away their best creatures.
While it is easy to determine what the weakest battles are (nobody will be playing Invasion of Kamigawa outside of Limited any time soon) deciding on the top 10 best Battles is quite tricky. We had to miss out some strong cards like Invasion of Strixhaven and Invasion of Kaldheim. With time and experimentation, the value of these Battle cards will be determined, and some of them may rise to the top as others fade into obscurity. This is a new frontier, and it’s always exciting to test out new card types.