Battle – MTG Mechanics Explained

Card KingdomStrategy

Battle is a new card type in Magic, something that hasn’t happened since Planeswalkers came out in Lorwyn. For now, every Battle that’s coming out in March of the Machine has the subtype Siege. In the future, different subtypes could work differently, but we’ll cross that bridge later. For now, here’s what we’re working with. 

Invasion of Zendikar

All Siege battles are double faced cards. When cast, they enter the battlefield with their battle side face up, and its controller chooses an opponent to be that battle’s protector. As it enters the battlefield, it gets a number of defense counters equal to the number on the lower right part of the card.  

Any player other than the battle’s protector may have creatures attack that battle in combat, and the protector can assign blockers for that battle. Battles can also be damaged by non-combat damage that can be targeted at battles, either specifically or if the spell or ability can be sent at “any target.”  

When damage is dealt to a battle in any way, it loses that many defense counters. When the last defense counter is removed, the battle is defeated and its transform ability triggers. As that trigger resolves, the battle is exiled and then the back face is cast without paying any mana cost — which is handy as the back sides don’t have mana costs, anyway. 

Awakened Skyclave

Got all that? There are a few little notes, but nothing much more: 

  • You can never choose yourself to be the protector of a battle you’re casting. 
  • The back sides of battle cards work the same way as other double-face cards. They share the front side’s total mana cost, and when not on the battlefield, they only have the characteristics of the front side. So, no casting Eladamri’s Call to find the creature side of a battle card. 
  • You are specifically casting the back side of a battle when it transforms, after the trigger to transform it once it is defeated resolves. This means it can be countered like any other spell. 

New card types are rare in Magic, and Wizards has left a lot of design space open for future battles to be different than Sieges if they want. How often battles appear remains to be seen.  

Most Magic sets and stories involve some kind of fighting, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean every set will always get some. But the possibilities are wide open, and it will be exciting to see how this new card type is used. 

If you want to get into the fray and pick up some battle cards of your own, you can preorder March of the Machine at today!