Battles debuted in March of the Machine as a new and unique card type. As expected, this came with a lot of hype, and Battles certainly delivered. Despite Battles only appearing in this one set so far, they have already begun to make an impact across multiple formats. It’s nice to see a new card type strike a good balance between providing room for innovation without being too powerful or too weak. Battles are super cool, and to showcase their impact on MTG, here are the top 10 best MTG Battle cards!
#10 Invasion of Segovia
While not the flashiest Battle out there, Invasion of Segovia has some good things going for it. First, you get two one-one Creatures right off the bat, which can help attack the Battle down themselves. If you do manage to defeat the Battle, you get a three-power Creature that gives your non-Creature spells Convoke, which in conjunction with the Kraken tokens is a great ability if your deck is built around it. What makes this Battle truly worth it is if you can utilize the Kraken tokens for something bigger, which is exactly what Indomitable Creativity decks can do.
For Creativity decks built around casting the namesake card for X equals two and searching for Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, God of Revels, this Battle provides both targets for Creativity for only three mana. Combine this with the potential to defeat the Battle for additional value and you have a decent card. The reason it is down here at number 10 is that the range of decks that would want this effect is very narrow, and unfortunately Fable of the Mirror-Breaker does a better job in the three-drop slot in those decks. Still, the synergy this card offers warrants an inclusion on this list.
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#9 Invasion of Alara
This Battle card has Commander written all over it. It is both tough to cast and difficult to flip, but the reward is there on both ends. Just for casting this you get to “Cascade” into two cards, one of which you cast and the other you can put into your hand. This is already decent value, but the real treat comes from defeating the battle, which gives five big bonuses including drawing cards and destroying a nonland Permanent. Invasion of Alara is pretty restrictive in its casting cost and is hard to make full use of in other formats, but the payoff is big enough to earn it the number nine spot.
#8 Invasion of Amonkhet
Invasion of Amonkhet is certainly a powerful card. It’s a two-for-one on its front side alone as long as your opponent has cards to discard. The main issue is that it doesn’t add to the board, meaning it doesn’t help you defeat the Battle. If you do manage to defeat the Battle, it transforms into a four-power copy of a Creature in a graveyard, which is a massive swing. Getting to this point is tricky, which makes it hard to find a home.
It’s seen a small amount of play in Pioneer Dimir Rogues, which can use its flying Creatures to defeat the battle. A lot of the cards in the Rogues deck like Drown in the Loch also benefit from opponents having lots of cards in their graveyard, so the Battle forcing each player to mill three cards is a nice bonus. Unfortunately, the three-mana slot is still rich with options, making it difficult for this card to break through.
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#7 Invasion of Regatha
Unlike the other Battles on this list thus far, Invasion of Regatha does almost all its damage when it enters the battlefield. In this way it functions more like a Sorcery than a Battle. While obviously being able to defeat this battle is a nice option to have, the decks that tend to play this card are most interested in the initial four damage dealt to the opponent. Three mana is a lot, but four damage is a large chunk of the opponent’s life total, making it a consideration for burn decks in lower powered formats.
Invasion of Regatha also has the upside of being able to deal one damage to a Creature, and with the prevelance of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in Standard, Invasion of Regatha has some serious potential. There are plenty of burn spells to choose from in Standard, so alas this card is often put on the bench, but it is still a powerful option nonetheless.
#6 Invasion of Ixalan
Invasion of Ixalan functions similarly to Oath of Nissa with upside for the decks that play it. The opportunity cost of playing this card is relatively low at only two mana, and digging five cards deep is a lot. For decks that thrive off of having access to a specific Permanent, such as Mono-Green Devotion with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, this card is a great flex-slot consideration. It also only has four defense, so Old-Growth Troll can take it down in one shot.
In addition, Invasion of Ixalan saw play in the Gruul Midrange Pioneer deck that made top eight of the recent United States Regional Championship, which also has access to efficient four-power Creatures like Bonecrusher Giant. This Battle transforms into a four-power Creature itself too, adding some beef to your side of the board. Not only that, but the Creature gains Indestructible until end of turn whenever you cast a spell, making combat a nightmare for your opponent if you have open mana. This card is excellent, and being down at number six just shows how powerful the next group of Battles are.
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#5 Invasion of New Phyrexia
This card is likely the flashiest of the Battles on this list and has a similar initial effect as White Sun’s Zenith, scaling based on the amount of mana spent to cast it. While Invasion of New Phyrexia has to be cast at Sorcery speed, it has some big additions that make the card fantastic. First, the Creatures it creates have Vigilance, making it quite easy to attack and not fall too far behind. This is especially useful for attacking down the Battle and not falling too far behind on the crackback. Second, if you do manage to defeat the Battle, it transforms into a powerful Planeswalker.
The best decks for this card are those that can generate lots of mana. In Commander, this is often trivial, making this Battle a great addition to most Azorius Commander decks. This is a bit tougher in other formats, especially in Azorius colors. A recent take on UW control featuring Lotus Field had a very strong showing this weekend. The deck utilizes cards like Strict Proctor to bypass Lotus Field’s triggered ability. This gives the deck more mana to work with than a typical Azorius Control deck, which makes it a decent home for Invasion of New Phyrexia as a finisher. The range of decks that can maximize this effect are still narrow, which prevents the card from climbing higher on the list.
#4 Invasion of Zendikar
As a great way for multi-color decks to fix their mana, Invasion of Zendikar slots in nicely into the Five-Color Ramp deck in Standard. Not only does this card allow the ramp deck to find the necessary colors to cast Atraxa, Grand Unifier, but it also ramps you from four mana to six, setting up for an Atraxa the following turn. Fixing colors also maximizes the power of Leyline Binding, a vital piece of interaction for the deck.
Invasion of Zendikar works especially well with Topiary Stomper. As a three defense Battle that helps ramp you to seven lands, it is very common to play Invasion of Zendikar and immediately attack it down with Stomper, providing another four-power Creature once transformed. Invasion of Zendikar may not be as cool as Invasion of New Phyrexia, but it’s importance to this well-established Standard deck gives it the nod.
#3 Invasion of Tarkir
Invasion of Tarkir is an interesting card with homes in Standard and Modern. While it gives the bonus of dealing additional damage by letting you reveal Dragon Creature cards from your hand, the base of dealing two damage to any target and leaving behind a Battle with a potent transformation is plenty good enough to see play in the Standard Mono-Red Aggro deck with zero Dragons. It does its job picking off blockers, and if you manage to defeat the five-defense Battle, you are rewarded with a large Flying Dragon that deals damage whenever it attacks. It pairs quite well with Nahiri’s Warcrafting in Standard, as Warcrafting can defeat the Battle by itself.
Similar to Nahiri’s Warcrafting, Tribal Flames does a great job defeating this Battle in Modern Domain Zoo decks. This deck also has access to five-power two-drops like Territorial Kavu that can attack down the Battle in one hit. As an added bonus, the deck plays Scion of Draco as a Dragon that can be revealed with Invasion of Tarkir to deal extra damage. The competition for slots is higher with Modern’s vast card pool, so it usually only shows up in one or two copies, but the synergy with large Creatures and Tribal Flames is enough to warrant its inclusion.
#2 Invasion of Ikoria
Invasion of Ikoria is most known for its synergy with Vampire Hexmage. Invasion of Ikoria can Tutor for Vampire Hexmage, which can then be sacrificed to remove all the defense counters from the Battle, which transforms into a massive eight-power Dinosaur that can deal combat damage as though it weren’t blocked. This synergy has shown up in Modern Death’s Shadow lists but really makes its presence felt in Legacy alongside Dark Depths. Providing both another way to search for Hexmage as well as another great target for Hexmage’s ability helps make the Depths deck more consistent. While Invasion of Ikoria isn’t utilized in a wide range of decks, its synergy with Vampire Hexmage is so strong that it deserves to be this high on the list.
#1 Invasion of Gobakhan
Plenty of white aggressive decks in Standard and Pioneer make great use of this card. Invasion of Gobakhan is an elite sideboard option against slower strategies and combo decks, especially those with access to board wipes. At minimum, this Battle does its best Elite Spellbinder impression by exiling a card from the opponent’s hand and making it cost two more to cast. This is a great effect for aggressive decks. Taking a combo piece or piece of interaction while keeping the pressure up can be the difference in the game. This battle gives a lot more than just that though.
At three defense, this Battle is quite easy to transform. Unlike many other Battles, this one transforms into an enchantment with two major abilities. First, it puts plus-one plus-one counters on all your Creatures that attacked, further pushing your advantage. Second, it gives the option to Sacrifice the Enchantment to give your Creatures Hexproof and Indestructible, helping make sure you cross the finish line and don’t get blown out by board wipes. At only two mana, this card is such a game changer for aggressive decks in Standard and Pioneer. It’s clear that Battles have made a huge contribution to MTG across multiple formats, and Invasion of Gobakhan currently sits pretty at the top.
No New Battles for Quite Some Time
While the best MTG Battle Cards may continue to change as new meta options make them more or less viable in various formats, we won’t be getting any new Battle cards themselves until 2025. This was revealed when many MTG players were somewhat confused that Battle cards did not show up in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. There were a lot of large-scale Battles in the lore, which would make this card type a good flavor win.
The issue with a new idea like MTG Battle cards is that developers don’t know how they will be received. If the new MTG Battle card type were received poorly, it could have drastically affected Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth sets.
Because of this, MTG developer Mark Rosewater wanted to see how MTG Battle cards would be received before creating any new ones. Now that we all know just how much players love them, it has been announced that, eventually, we will be getting more of these!
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