Battlebond: Basically, EDH Masters


Last year was a pretty good time to be playing EDH. Lots of new cards have been released that are specifically tailored for our format, from giant monsters, to big silly spells, and everything in between.

As of Friday, the full spoiler for the multiplayer set Battlebond was released, and everyone has had a chance to brew around the new cards for their EDH decks.

How does this set stack up? Does it continue our run of good to great EDH sets? Let’s take a look!

In 2017, we had some great Magic sets printed for EDH. Aether Revolt had lots of great multiplayer cards in it, like Metallic Mimic, one of the best tribal enablers ever. This was followed by Modern Masters 2017, which had lots of great reprints, driving down the prices of expensive cards. Wizards released the Egypt-themed set Amonkhet, which again, had a ton of great multiplayer cards, like new general Hapatra, Vizier of Poison and Dusk // Dawn. Then came Hour of Devastation, which saw the release of good old Nicol Bolas, who came back to chew bubble gum and kick the good guys’ collective asses. Then we had Commander 2017, which had a strong tribal theme, helping out the various tribes of Magic (but especially Vampires, Dragons, Wizards and Cats).

In Sept, Ixalan continued in this fashion, but upped the ante with a strong tribal set, featuring Merfolk, Vampires, Dinosaurs, and Pirates, all fairly popular choices. This set did have some great tribal enablers, as well as an amazing cycle of transform cards (that I gushed about here). Though considered a weak Magic set overall (and a terrible Limited format), Ixalan was popular with EDH tribal players, and was a great way to close out 2017.

Rivals of Ixalan was not nearly as good (in my opinion), and I was mostly disappointed by it. Unlike Ixalan, it didn’t really bring any universal tribal cards to the table (cards like Vanquisher’s Banner, Unclaimed Territory, or Pillar of Origins, which will be used by any tribe in Magic going forward, and which I thought were quietly some of the best cards in the initial Ixalan set). Still, it did have some fun cards for the tribes in it (Vampires, Merfolk, Dinos, and Pirates), so if you were playing one of those tribes, it wasn’t all bad.

Dominaria came around, and my word, what a set it was for EDH. Chock full of fun cards, awesome new generals, great mechanics, and a fantastic draft environment, this was one of the best sets Magic has ever had, and that’s no hyperbole.

The last year of Magic was, for the most part, full of tons of excellent EDH and multiplayer cards. Could Battlebond continue this?

Just as Conspiracy and Conspiracy: Take the Throne sets did, Battlebond has a ton of fantastic reprints for EDH players, with everything from the pricey Doubling Season, to Mycosynth Lattice, to EDH’s best counterspell Mystic Confluence, to even common mana ramp powerhouse Skyshroud Claim.

All of the reprints in this set are quality, and the main reason this set is being referred to as ‘EDH Masters’. Every reprint is playable somewhere, and I applaud Wizards for their choices in this set.

When these were first spoiled, I immediately had to write about them here, as they are just that damn good in EDH and multiplayer in general. I absolutely cannot wait to add these to my EDH decks, and I look forward with much anticipation to seeing the enemy versions of these.

One of my favorite parts of Commander 2016 was the partner mechanic, which would let you pair two different generals together as your EDH commander. Partner returns in this set, which is exciting, but only in a limited way (each set of partners only pair with a specific legend). I was a little disappointed with Wizards nerfing partner (I was really just hoping for more partners in general, to be honest), but still, I am glad to see the mechanic return.

This, of course, lets me lead right into my favorite pair of these new partners:

Oh my goodness, Wizards finally printed a coin-flip general! As someone who’s had an EDH chaos deck built for a long time now around general Jalum Grifter (list: here) with tons of coin flipping cards, this is amazing to me, and I cannot wait to rebuild the deck as blue-red.

Going U/R even lets the deck play cards like Frenetic Efreet, Squee’s Revenge, and Skyclaw Thrash, which is great.

I’m planning to immediately rebuild the Grifter deck into these guys, and I can’t wait to play them and flip some coins. These guys are great.

The other pair of partner generals that I like from this set are the B/W partners. Black-white is a color combination that I’ve struggled with in EDH, to be honest; my decks have been helmed by multiple different generals, but always end up just degenerating into just being a pile of good cards, with no real theme. My current B/W deck is Triad of Fates, which does have a theme (B/W Flicker effects) but a different problem: the deck sucks. Hence, it was time for a change.

I really like what Regna and Krav bring to the table, and I find it immensely cute that they just so happen to be in the same colors as all the Grave Pact effects. I would imagine the deck’s gameplan is going to be simple enough; get out Krav and Regna, sacrifice some dudes to make Krav huge, and bash. Once you start sacrificing dudes, Regna will always provide you with more, which is great.

These two should be quite potent together, and I look forward to seeing how they play.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here — as the years go on and Wizards keeps printing more creatures with indestructible, any Wrath effect with the word ‘exile’ on it gets more and more powerful, letting you remove those creatures with impunity. We’ve seen a lot of these creatures over the year, from Avacyn, Angel of Hope, to Darksteel Colossus/Blightsteel Colossus, to the Theros and Amonkhet Gods (ie. Heliod, God of the Sun), and if left unchecked, these indestructible creatures always dominate the board.

Play of the Game is the latest Wrath effect that exiles all creatures, but bumps this up a level by hitting all nonland permanents. This is a hugely potent effect, letting you wreck people no matter what they have in play — even through something like a Darksteel Forge, which is excellent.

The cost reduction on this card is just gravy, and lets you practise your table talk. Can you talk someone into helping you wreck the board? I for one look forward to trying.

For now, I’ll just be adding this card into Bruna, Light of Alabaster, but I have my eye on it to add into any of my white decks, it’s quite good.

One thing I’m always on the lookout for with new sets are instants/sorceries with a powerful effect, which can be even more powerful when doubled. This type of card is always worth testing in last year’s EDH Battle Royale championship deck, Wort, the Raidmother, who copies spells with impunity, and I think these two spells are definitely worth trying.

Pir’s Whim is just an excellent ramp spell (a pseudo-Tempt with Discovery, since it fetches you any land); it adds to this, however, by also Disenchanting opposing artifacts/enchantments. Since Wort can double both of these effects, I definitely want to give this a try.

Bonus Round is one of those cards that seems too good, and only testing will tell if it is or not. It gives you a free copy of everything for the rest of the turn (and worth mentioning, you can copy the Bonus Round itself for even more free copies!) This is an insanely powerful effect, and should lead to some ridiculous turns for the reigning champ.

I like both these cards, and look forward to seeing them in action.

So that’s a quick look at the cards that I really like from Battlebond for EDH! I think that overall, this set is a very good one; it has lots of needed reprints, fun new generals, and powerful multiplayer cards.

My one complaint with this set is just that it doesn’t follow the Conspiracy model of having cards that care about your drafting. I was waiting to build my ‘multiplayer matters’ Cube until this set was fully spoiled; now, I find that very little from this set will be added, which is unfortunate. Still, this is a minor complaint for what is a very good set.

I’ll be looking forward to playing some 2HG once this set drops, and I urge everyone else to try it out too!


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