Magic: The Gathering’s latest set, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, takes inspiration from Wizards of the Coast’s tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons for more than just its namesake, as The Initiative is coming to MTG as a new mechanic.
As a brand new mechanic, The Initiative may take some getting used to when it appears in Commander games. Thankfully, we have put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know about The Initiative.
What is The Initiative in Magic: The Gathering?
The Initiative is a brand new player designation mechanic released in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. It has a lot of similarities to Monarch from Conspiracy: Take the Crown. When a player takes The Initiative, and at the beginning of their upkeep, if they have The Initiative, they will “venture into the Undercity.”
What is The Undercity in Magic: The Gathering?
The Undercity is a new Dungeon that can only be accessed by taking and holding The Initiative. Made out of five layers of rooms, the Undercity is a very powerful and versatile Dungeon that is helpful in a wide range of situations. With the ability to tutor a land, put two +1/+1 tokens on a creature, goad a creature, and draw a card, the Undercity has an application for almost every occasion.
The final room in the Undercity dungeon is, as usual, the most powerful. “Throne of the Dead Three” has a player reveal the top ten cards of their library before choosing a creature from among them. This creature is put directly onto the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. The creature also gains hexproof until that player’s next turn.
What are the rules for The Initiative in Magic: The Gathering?
The Initiative does not exist at the start of any Commander game. Instead, a player must first play a card that reads “take the initiative.” Like Monarch in Conspiracy: Take the Crown, The Initiative is a status another player can take through combat damage. The Initiative can also be taken by any player who plays a card that reads “take the initiative.” Only one player may have The Initiative at any time.
If a player gains The Initiative but has already entered into a Dungeon other than the Undercity, when The Initiative triggers, that player will move deeper into their current Dungeon instead.
Alongside taking The Initiative through combat damage, a player may gain The Initiative by having the player with The Initiative leave the game. When this happens, the player whose turn it is takes The Initiative. If that player also leaves the game simultaneously, The Initiative is taken by the next player in the turn order.
To help keep track of which players have The Initiative, Wizards of the Coast has included a unique marker in some booster packs of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. This marker can be used to indicate which player has The Initiative.
How to use The Initiative in Magic: The Gathering
With various effects to be gained from venturing into the Undercity, The Initiative is a status you’ll want to keep hold of. This means you’ll want a robust defensive board that can outlast your opponents until you can reach the “Throne of the Dead Three” room.
Alongside the powerful effects of the Undercity Dungeon, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate also features several cards that benefit from you holding The Initiative. While not the most powerful cards in the set, Feywild Caretaker, Passageway Seer, and Rasaad yn Bashir will all give you more value from holding The Initiative.