What’s the 75% review of a 2-Headed Giant set look like? 150% of the fun of a normal set if you ask me. As an EDH-playing, 2HG-loving, Finance-advice-dispensing Magic player, Battlebond is literally all of the things I want in one $4 MSRP booster pack set. Fun to draft, compatible with EDH, and bound to bring down prices of some very expensive EDH staples. Wizards hit a Home Run with this set. It’s a Field Goal. It’s a game-winning, halfcourt, 3-pointer at the buzzer. It’s a . . . hockey thing (there is no hockey equivalent, really. Short-handed goal? Expansion team on the verge of winning the cup in its first season? Ovechkin finally beating the stupid Penguins for once? A Gordie Howe Hattrick? Battlebond is all of these things). Speaking of a Gordie Howe hattrick, this set is a Jason Alt hattrick since it’s 2HG, EDH and reprints all in one set. Hot damn. I can’t wait to tell you all about what I like in this set!
Since I always do my set reviews differently, and since this set is very different from anything else that has come out before, I think what I will do is discuss impactful new cards, talk about the implications of some of the reprints where necessary and if a reprinted Legendary creature makes me think of a deck idea, I’ll mention that, too. I’m just going to talk about the cards I think matter from either a 75% or “you should buy these when they’re cheap because they’re going to go back up in price eventually” standpoint and if you don’t like that, don’t worry, my next set review will probably be completely different. Without further ado, let’s get cracking on the 75% Battlebond set review!
Regna, the Redeemer — Regna is up first because the partnered creatures are special and get to be before the cards organized alphabetically. That’s fine with me! I like the “partner with” mechanic a lot! Not only are we getting more partners pairs, but we don’t have to worry about them making a mistake and giving us a creature that is completely broken with Tymna or Thrasios or Vial Smasher, forcing either a ban or a bunch of boring games. The partners only pair with each other,which is very cool. This means they’re very good in Battlebond and function as normal partners in EDH which is such good integration of the mechanics that I’m really in awe. On to Regna herself.
Regna and Krav are VERY expensive, mana-wise and while I think a deck combining the two could be very good, I don’t know if we want to be paying the mana to summon these. I think Krav is very good in the 99 of a lot of decks, as is Regna. Regna stands out in a deck with Anointed Procession, Soul Warden effects, Helm of the Host, etc. You can even jam Regna and Krav in your existing Kaalia of the Vast deck you’re bored with to get it going again. I like Regna, I like the mechanic, and I could see building around either or both of these and having a solid 75% deck.
Sylvia Brightspear — Demons pair with Angels, Knights pair with Dragons, Red pairs with White — this set is full of surprises. Designed to have two allied-colored decks paired together for the most part, Battlebond gives us enemy color pairing for Commander which is fine. However, a Knight and a Dragon like Khorvath puts us in which is Boros, which is Boreos . . . unless we can avoid having another boring, combat-matters deck. This pairing forces us into a Knights and Dragons deck, and while these give significant bonuses to those tribes, you can’t play a lot of the best Knights in Magic without access to Green. You’re still just a boring combat deck, and you’re a clunky one at that. I think these creatures are also very expensive. I might jam Syvlia in an existing The Ur-Dragon deck but I’m not jazzed to build around her. Cool concept, though.
Arena Rector — This is the kind of non-Reserved-List-violating functional reprint I can get behind. Borrowing the mechanic from Academy Rector, Arena Rector is a great inclusion in certain decks. You can set yourself up to get card advantage after you wrath, you can find a sac outlet and use Rector as a Sidisi-esque tutor, you can even run it as a chump blocker that has the threat of you going and grabbing a Karn, Ugin or Elspeth, Sun's Champion to get them back for attacking you. This card should hold some value, especially in foil, and it’s the kind of narrow, face-up tutor that I advocate for in a 75% deck. Remember, your tutors should be toolbox cards, not effective second copies of a single card. If you can grab the right Planeswalker for the situation you’re in, this card is bound to be very valuable. I love me some Pattern of Rebirth, and every time that effect is on a creature, I’m intrigued. This card is very good.
Brightling — I don’t expect this to be very good. People mostly run Morphling in decks like Experiment Kraj and Mairsil, the Pretender for the abilities it grants other creatures and I don’t expect this to get any more play than Morphling and Torchling did before Mairsil was printed, which was basically none.
Play of the Game — This is a bad-looking card that may be a good 75% card in disguise. It’s fair since it hits you too, and you can have another player (but just one) help you pay for the spell if you really need to team up and bring down someone who is too far ahead and is about to win. This is also basically a Shahrazad and that’s annoying, so be careful with this. I think the potential political applications of this card warrant some testing rather than just dismissing this as an expensive, annoying card. This could be worth it.
Together Forever — With the myriad ways in Commander to put counters on creatures, this could be a way to keep your important creatures around, set up a Wrath that will fill your hand with ETB creatures or keep you from having to pay Commander Tax. There are lots of ways to benefit from a card like this and I like it a lot. Anafenza, the Foremost and other Abzan decks can put counters on creatures easily, Atraxa decks could benefit from this, and this is good with Bant as well — Jenara, Asura of War wants this for sure. Keeping the mana up can be tricky and double White may be hard to come by early in a three color deck, but this card is solid. This doesn’t specify what kind of counter, so you can even rebuy your creatures killed by Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and The Scorpion God decks. I love this card.
Kor Spiritdancer — This likely becomes very near bulk, and with its applications in Uril, the Miststalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons, and other Voltron decks, I might grab these at their floor and hold onto 4 or 5 for future Voltron decks you may want to build. I don’t know if the price will recover much, though.
Land Tax — A reprint at mythic means this price is likely to recover a bit, so if you have been wanting some of these for a deck (and if you’re in White, why wouldn’t you play this?) grab them when Battlebond supply is at its peak rather than waiting until you build the deck it might go in. You may end up paying more if you wait a year or two after Battlebond comes out.
Mangara of Corondor — I’m likely snagging some foils of these with the new Legendary border. Mangara decks can be a lot of fun and Helm of the Host made me re-interested in Mangara. I used to run the Mangara/Karakas combo in Legacy Death and Taxes, and it was potent. While we have way more targets than in Legacy and we have fewer (a maximum of 0, in fact) copies of Karakas in our decks, we can still do dumb things with cards like Erratic Portal, Cloudshift and Anointed Procession for our Helm tokens. I may build around Mangara in a future article, but you should toy around with it yourself.
Will Kenrith — As in “Will Kenrith get run” and my suspicion is that no, they won’t. The ultimate abilities on Will and Rowan are pretty saucy, and six mana isn’t too much to spend on a good Planeswalker, but it may be too much to spend twice on your commander. The emblems are powerful, but you shouldn’t evaluate a Planeswalker based on their ultimate and that makes me think Will and Rowan are a bit too expensive to build around. However, both seem to fit decently enough into a Superfriends build, so maybe think about them there. Will reduces the cost of other Planeswakers and draws cards and Rowan can double their activations and can Anger of the Gods their tapped stuff.
Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom — People have already decided they want to be flipping coins. If you saw my tweet last week, you bought Krark's Thumb when it was still only $2 or so and you may have noticed Frenetic Efreet is on the Reserved List and bought that, too. Basically any card that references flipping a coin is moving up in price because people are excited to build this deck. I can’t tell people they’re wrong. Good luck finding a win condition in the deck, but if you have a few, you’ll draw enough extra cards to find it pretty easily. This deck looks fun.
Toothy, Imaginary Friend — A Pir/Toothy deck looks sort of like every other Simic deck. It’s sort of boring to have Lorescale Coatl and Hardened Scales be your commander if you ask me. I wish Simic had gotten something new, but since Simic already gets everything it wants every set, I still wish Boros had gotten something new more. I have enough Simic decks not to build this, but I may try to find an angle to write an article about Pir and Toothy.
Fumble — Most Voltron decks have a Swiftfoot Boots or Hexproof creature in the mix, but if you do hit something with this, it’s going to be some pretty insane value. I like this card a lot and I’ll be testing it to see if it warrants inclusion. What could be more 75% than using their equipment and auras?
Spellseeker — This has myriad applications. I’m not sure how many of those are specific to Commander. I think it might underwhelm a bit in this format, but I think there are bound to be a lot of great options. If you are using this as a second copy of Dramatic Reversal, your deck might not be 75%, but I think this can have more interesting applications than that and I look forward to jamming this.
Zndrsplt's Judgment — I like this card a lot more than some of the other ones in the cycle. I think this scales from Battlebond to Commander better than the others and it really benefits people to be on your good side. I like this.
Sower of Temptation — One of the most 75% creatures ever printed is about to get a whole lot more affordable. Printed at non-mythic, this is a card I think can recover some of its value but will plummet and I recommend scooping these. More formats than just Commander want this card and that makes it a good buy. Stealing their creatures is a great way to make sure your deck scales to their power level and Sower of Temptation is a great way to steal creatures.
Krav, the Unredeemed — I mostly covered this before, but this is a better inclusion in the 99 than a commander, I think. I like the ability a lot and Golgari decks will, too.
Virtus the Veiled — This is a pretty nasty way to hurt someone. I like this a lot more in a deck with Tetsuko Umezawa than with Gorm the Great. I could see Virtus in a lot of decks that run cards like Whispersilk Cloak, Rogue's Passage, and the like. If only Virtus were a Rogue rather than an assassin . . .
Archfiend of Despair — This is very expensive but very worth it. If some of the Angels and Demons in this set made you want to dust off your Kaalia deck, this probably goes in. Any way you can cheat a creature into play, really, will benefit from a ridiculous, punishing card like this. I like Hell's Caretaker as a sort of Black Elvish Piper, for example. This card should do some real work in Commander.
Stunning Reversal — I love cards like this. Teferi's Protection is getting a lot of play and it can save your bacon if you need to buy some time to assemble your own combo and it can save you from getting KO’d by their combo. I expect to see this wipe a lot of smiles off of a lot of faces. Drawing seven and living to fight another day means you may be able to combo back in response and I love that.
Thrilling Encore — This is too expensive. If we’re paying this much mana, I don’t want to have to keep it up at all times and rely on someone else to wipe the board. I will keep my Rise of the Dark Realms, thank you. That said, if you can rely on someone else to Wrath, this is going to win games for you. I hate keeping five up, but I think this can win games applied properly. I love the effect, I just wish it were easier to use.
Diabolic Intent —This is a great reprint, but I’m not sure the price will recover that much. This just may be affordable forever, and that’s fine by me since I sell way more copies of a $4 card than I do copies of a $20 one.
Rowan Kenrith — As before, I like these in Superfriends but not necessarily in a Will/Rowan deck.
Khorvath Brightflame - I’m really “meh” on the idea of a Red Dragon at the helm of a Knight deck.
Bonus Round — Wow, this is really ridiculous. You cast this, cast a Seething Song and dump your whole hand, only pausing to refill it with doubled Blue spells. Spellslinger decks rejoice! Mizzix and company are going to want this and it may even have applicability in Legacy.
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom — This may be the most interesting commander in the entire set! There are a million ways to build a Warriors deck, your five color deck isn’t useless with a dead commander the way Jodah decks are, and this may make the Crystal Quarries that Jodah players are insisting they don’t need go up, finally. I’m brewing with this creature already — stay tuned next week.
Stolen Strategy — 75% theory says we use their stuff to scale the power level of our deck to the power level of theirs and if we can steal stuff, why not steal their strategy, too? I like this card a lot more than a lot of my friends, but that’s OK. I liked Sunbird's Invocation more than they did, too. Steal opponent’s mana rocks and use them to cast more of their spells! What’s not to love?
War's Toll — I like this reprinting just because I feel like not many people were aware of this card and now that more people are, I hope it sees more play.
Bramble Sovereign — I like this effect a lot in Red and I can’t wait to give it a try in Green. Suddenly Trostani can make another Eternal Witness, another Voice of Resurgence, another Craterhoof Behemoth . . . the list goes on. With lots of ways to make extra tokens, turning one utility creature into a ton seems amazing. I think this will do a lot of work.
Generous Patron — I wonder how generous people will think you are when you put this in your Hapatra deck.
Pir's Whim — This is a very political card. It’s a little expensive at four mana if you want to use it as a ramp spell for yourself; but, on turn four, you should have quite a few artifacts you want to get rid of and you may make a friend by letting people ramp rather than be set back. I think this scales to Commander from Battlebond very well and I like this effect a lot. Political cards are very useful in a 75% deck where you may need some help surviving.
Doubling Season — YES! What a reprint. A case doesn’t need to be made for this card going in decks, but as popular as it is and the fact that it’s being reprinted at mythic means its price should recover faster than people expect. Don’t sleep on these; get your copies as soon as supply peaks.
Greater Good — This set is just crammed full of great reprints. This won’t recover its value as quickly or as easily as Doubling Season and this could be just a couple of bucks for a while, which is great since this was priced out of people’s decks for a long time. If you never had a chance to play with this, tons of decks use it to great effect.
Seedborn Muse — Most of the good Green stuff is just necessary reprints. I’m super fine with that! These got expensive because people wanted to replace their banned Prophet of Kruphix and the low supply made the price stick. I still think this is worth playing, however, and now it will be much more accessible.
Vigor — This isn’t played as much in Commander as I thought it was and a lot of its high price was stickiness based on how much it used to get played. That said, Vigor is still very good and it’s about to be in boosters that cost $4 and that’s great for getting it in the hands of players.
Archon of Valor's Reach — Mayael decks want this, right off the top of my head, as well as Gaddock Teeg, Dromoka, etc. Hatebears are cool but HateArchons are cool, too. This is a great addition to a lot of strategies that try to slow opponents down and you can shut off entire decks. Copy this with Helm of the Host for maximum effect.
Last One Standing — This is a very bad Wrath, but I love it. I like chaotic effects and this is a cheap wrath because it may leave an opponent with a very good creature. It may also leave you with the only creature, or an ally. It may also pair nicely with a Threaten effect. I think 75% decks are a good place to try powerful but unpredictable effects and this one is both and I love it to pieces.
Sentinel Tower - Yikes. Spellslinger decks got another powerful card in the same vein as Aetherflux Reservoir. This also dings them for countering you spells. Storm is pretty tough to pull off in Commander, but this will help a lot. I think this is a great, but narrow card and I’m not sure how 75% it is.
Mind's Eye — I think this benefits from being grandfathered in to EDH like Solemn Simulacrum and Duplicant. I don’t think it’s as good as it used to be in the format, but having it be a bulk rare could help the decks that don’t draw enough cards because they’re Red, White, or both.
Land Cycle — These are so good. People are griping that you can’t fetch them and, while that’s valid, they might be too good if you could. As it stands, these are perfectly good in Commander. I run Temples and sometimes even Sejiri Refuge-type lands and having a dual-colored land come in untapped is very good in Commander. I expect these to be highly sought but very fair.
That does it for me. Is there anything interesting to you that I omitted? Let me know in the comments section. This set is shaping up to be on that’s fun to draft, useful to buy, and which has a great mix of high-impact reprints and solid new cards. All in all, this set was a huge success on paper and we’ll see if there are enough boxes to keep up with demand. I have a feeling we’re going to see the release staggered like Unstable which should keep appetites whetted for longer than normal and should help the set sell better than Conspiracy sets did. Got a request for which deck I should brew next week? Leave it in the comments. As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!