Welcome back, Lore Seekers! Last time, we covered the Flavor Gems of March of the Machine and the Legends of March of the Machine, but there is STILL MORE TO COVER. Today we're going to talk about Magic's new card type: Battles! I had to separate this out into its own article to cover it properly! I'll be going in set order, below.
Invasion of Ravnica by Leon Tukker
Invasion of Ravnica shows us Realmbreaker's portals and branches coming from below, a cute nod and reminder that Ravnica is an ecumenopolis and 'ground level' in the Tenth District is actually the top of a mountain. It also nods to how badly the Goglari, denizens of the Undercity, are going to be hit by the invasion. Meanwhile, Guildpact Paragon appears to be wielding a Glaive of the Guildpact and also has Seal of the Guildpact emblazoned on its chest. Cute callbacks!
Invasion of Belenon brings us back to Belenon, a plane from Planechase 2012 that we know next to nothing about, other than there were two very different locations called Windriddle Palaces and Edge of Malacol there. Belenon War Anthem shows us that there are also aven, rhox, and loxodon there... but still not too much more!
Invasion of Dominaria is a return to the original Magic setting. We were just there in Dominaria United so there isn't a ton of Dominaria in this set. Serra Faithkeeper is a cool reference, as the flavor text shows there are still Serra Angels around that fought off the Phyrexian incursion into Serra's Realm, were evacuated to Dominaria during the Planar Collapse, and fought in the original Phyrexian Invasion!
Invasion of Gobakhan shows off the home plane of Teyo, the Shieldmage (first introduced in the War of the Spark novels) as the Shieldmage Order tries to defend the plane against the Phyrexians. Likely they don't have to do much other than let the plane's diamondstorms (which is what the shieldmages usually protect people against) rip the Phyrexians apart! On the reverse side we see Lightshield Array, which features what appears to be Teyo in the background!
Invasion of Theros is pretty depressing one, where we see Therans tearing each other part. The reverse, Ephara, Ever-Sheltering, shows us Meletis, the last bastion of civilization on the planet and flavor text that implies all the mono-colored gods have been compleated.
Invasion of Arcavios features the core five student characters making their way past a completed Biblioplex and phyrexian professors to cast the Invocation of the Founders, which will set things right. Quint's spark ignites in this moment, although we don't see a planeswalker card for him yet.
Invasion of Kamigawa shows the hi-tech futurists fighting back against the Phyrexians, with Rooftop Saboteurs showing that even in the months since Jin-Gitaxias left, countermeasures have already been developed.
Invasion of Segovia and Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segovia are references to the joke of Segovian Leviathan, where Segovia was determined to be a lilliputian plane to explain why a leviathan had stats of a 3/3. Caetus is just a continuation of that joke, with the sea tyrant of segovia merely wrapping around a Phyrexian leg.
Invasion of Vryn by Leon Tukker
Invasion of Vryn is Jace's homeworld full of Mage Rings, originally introduced in Planechase 2012 but not expanded on until Magic Origins. Overloaded Mage-Ring features flavor text of Jace's father. Invasion of Eldraine features the Wilds fighting back in Prickle Faeries after the five courts of the realm have fallen.
Invasion of Fiora features the queen herself, Marchesa, Resolute Monarch. The former queenpin of crime proves she's no pushover by marshaling the city of Paliano's forces against the Phyrexians.
Invasion of Innistrad shows that once again, the dead save the day in Deluge of the Dead. Although the front face shows the humans and monsters once more fighting side by side, it's the zombies on Innistrad that are resistant to Phyresis, making them the front line in the invasion.
Invasion of Ulgrotha references the setting of Homelands, Magic's original gothic horror plane. Sengir, the Dark Baron departed the plane through the mysterious Dwarven Gate during the Mending, but it appears Grandmother Ravi Sengir stayed behind. Ravi was a planeswalker who rang the Apocalypse Chime, destroying most of the plane. Only a small radius around the Dwarven Gate survived thanks to mana coming in from another plane. Ravi took the name Grandmother Sengir, and used her dark magic to help the Baron (who was actually a childhood friend, unbeknownst to either).
Invasion of Kaldheim shows the Kaldheimr taking the drastic action of burning the World Tree in Pyre of the World Tree in an effort to keep it out of Phyrexian hands.
Invasion of Karsus references a Planechase promo card, Mirrored Depths. Refraction Elemental is a reference to that name. We know almost nothing else about the plane than what is on those cards.
Invasion of Mercadia by Cristi Balanescu
Invasion of Mercadia references the plane from Mercadian Masques, a topsy-turvey world where intelligent goblins controlled everything and were secretly working for Phyrexia. Kyren Flamewright is a reference to those goblins, and his flavor text references Squee, Goblin Nabob in a totally accurately remembered kind of way. I also love seeing the Kyren Battle Squadron ships and the Rishidan Airships again, and a Dragon Engine that may or may not be Ramos, Dragon Engine.
Invasion of Regatha takes place on the plane introduced in the novel The Purifying Fire, as the place where Chandra's former home of Keral Keep is located. Disciples of the Inferno are showing that although Jaya may be gone, her fire is not.
Invasion of Tarkir shows us dragonriders. Dragonriders! Defiant Thundermaw shows the dragons pushing back against their completed brood.
Invasion of Ikoria gives us Kaiju battles, with Magic's own queen of the monsters stomping in with Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria. Zilortha, Strength Incarnate had two different pieces of art, but the only version to ever make it to print was the Godzilla Series version. This is the first time we're seeing Zilortha in print (outside of my book, Legends - A Visual History).
Invasion of Ixalan shows off the Sun Empire versus Phyrexians, but the Phyrexians aren't quite ready for the ferocity of the Belligerent Regisaur.
Invasion of Muraganda shows us Dinosaurs that aren't faring as well, and the Primordial Plasm that is. Muraganda is a prehistoric plane that was originally shown in the set Future Sight, in the future shifted Muraganda Petroglyphs, and we've had only a dribble of cards hailing from the plane ever since. "No Abilities" was a key point of the Petroglyphs, and this card references that.
Invasion of Shandalar shows us the wild magic plane of Shandalar again. Leyline Surge is a direct art reference to Eloren Wilds, a card from the original Planechase. Shandalar is originally from a Microprose game made in the 90's, but its map was procedurally generated. "Eloren" and "Wilds" were a possible combination you could get, hence the name.
Invasion of Zendikar shows us the Zendikari coming together to fight the completed Skyclave. Awakened Skyclave shows us the plane itself awakening to fight back. Invasion of Alara shows warriors from all five shards coming together to fight the invaders, and Awaken the Maelstrom references the last time the plane had an all-out war.
Invasion of Amonkhet shows us Hazoret, God of Zeal fighting alongside The Scarab God and The Locust God to reclaim Naktamun. Lazotep Convert is a Phyrexian being Eternalized. Amusingly, there's another card in the set that shows us a compleated mummy of some sort, meaning they're stealing each other's undead armies back and forth.
Invasion of Azgol by Joshua Raphael
Invasion of Azgol references yet another Planechase 2012 plane, meaning we have virtually no lore on it other than what's on these cards. Lair of the Ashen Idol is some sort of volcano god, and Ashen Reaper is its servant.
Invasion of Ergamon references Truga Jungle, but the name of this plane has actually been around about as long as Dominaria, as it's mentioned in 1994's Roreca's Tale, the first Magic story that was printed in a player's guide. Truga Cliffcharger is a reference to the planechase card.
Invasion of Kaladesh shows an aerial battle for the city, but the real flavor here is Aetherwing, Golden-Scale Flagship, Saheeli's tribute to her girlfriend, Huatli. Invasion of Kylem shows off the tag team nature of the short lived draft setting from Battlebond in Valor's Reach Tag Team.
Invasion of Lorwyn goes back to a long-asked for plane, and while we don't see much new, we see the elves are still ready to slay eyeblights in Winnowing Forces.
Invasion of Moag references a plane mentioned offhandedly in the novel Planeswalker, where Urza once tried to drum up an army to fight Phyrexians. It doesn't go well. Bloomwielder Dryads to the planechase card Fields of Summer.
Invasion of New Capenna has one of my favorite names in the set, the Holy Frazzle-Cannon. Invasion of New Phyrexia flips the invasion concept on its head by having New Phyrexia being the one invaded, led by Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir.
Invasion of Pyrulea is a reference to a plane visited very briefly in the novel The Thran. It's an inverted world that functions like a dyson sphere. It has a lot of giant plants. Gargantuan Slabhorn is just a big animal that lives there.
Invasion of Tolvada is Kaya's home plane and was also introduced in the War of the Spark novels. The Broken Sky is all we really knew about it, but we didn't know much about what it meant other than it was a threat to the plane.
Invasion of Xerex is another card from a Planechase Promo, this one Stairs to Infinity, which is meant to evoke the art of M.C. Escher in the mind-bending way the images appear to be three dimensional but only actually work in two dimensions. Vertex Paladin's geometric symbol is the same, and impossible shape.
And that's all for Battles! I'm sure I missed some details but I'm way over word count now! Next time I'll be talking about Aftermath, and then more Flavor Builds for Commander, and maybe even an updated guide on where to start Magic Story!