For the first time since Lorwyn introduced planeswalker cards to the game, a new type of card is making its way to Magic: The Gathering. Battle cards are double-faced cards which have an effect when they enter the battlefield, and then transform when conditions are met.

Originally teased on the reminder text of Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s Atraxa, Grand Unifier, battle cards showcase New Phyrexia’s invasion forces as they attack various planes of the Multiverse. In March of the Machine, all battle cards have a siege subtyping, with the odds being good we’ll see more subtypes in future sets. Battle cards are also unique in that they are the only regular-sized Magic card played horizontally rather than vertically.

Battles feel a little bit like a mash-up of a planeswalker and enchantment cards. They enter the battlefield with defense counters equal to the number in the bottom right corner of the card. These counters represent how much damage it takes to defeat. Any damage dealt to a battle card removes these counters, and once they are all gone your battle will transform into a spell or permanent.

Battle cards with the siege subtyping require you to pick an opponent to be the battle’s protector while you and other players can attack it. Battle cards cast themselves when they transform, giving your opponents another opportunity to interact with the spell. Now with the basics of battle cards out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best Battle cards coming in March of the Machine!

Invasion of Karsus

First up is the extremely straight forward burn battle card, the Invasion of Karsus. This battle has an enter the battlefield trigger which deals three damage to each creature and planeswalker in play. While sitting at four mana, one more than average for cards with this type of effect, it is relatively easy to transform at only four defense counters.

Once flipped, it becomes Refraction Elemental, a red creature which deals two damage to each opponent when you cast any spell. You can use Refraction Elemental to start chipping away your opponent’s life total with every spell you cast.

Invasion of Zendikar

The Invasion of Zendikar is a (probably better) version of Explosive Vegetation. At four mana, this battle card lets you search your deck for up to two basic lands and put them onto the battlefield tapped.

It only takes dealing three damage to transform it into the Awakened Skyclave which will be pretty easy to do in green. Once flipped, the Awakened Skyclave becomes a 4/4 creature with haste and vigilance, capable of swinging in or helping to ramp you in your second main phase.

Invasion of New Phyrexia

The only battle card to flip the stakes on Elesh Norn and her armies, the Invasion of New Phyrexia is a fairly efficient token generator, partially in a control deck with other ways to clear the board. Paying a white, a blue and X mana, you create X 2/2 Knight tokens with vigilance, scaling better with the more mana you have access to.

Once transformed this battle becomes Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir, a knight-based planeswalker, giving a unique twist to the temporal spellcaster. Teferi still draws you cards with his plus ability, but then also gives you an emblem to boost your Knight creatures. Teferi’s final ability lets you tap creatures you control to tuck a nonland permanent with mana value equal to or less than the number of creatures you tapped back into an opponent’s library.

Invasion of Ravnica

A bit of an oddball card compared to every other battle released in March of the Machine, Invasion of Ravnica is a colorless card which exiles any target nonland permanent that is not exactly two colors. Odds are pretty good you’ll be able to hit something in play which falls into this category, making it a solid removal spell.

Flipping after four counters have been removed transforms it into Guildpack Paragon, a 5/5 creature which digs through your deck when you cast a spell that is two colors. You can only get a card that is also only two colors, but in a deck crafted to capitalize on this restriction, it won’t be hard to hit at all.

Invasion of Ravnica

Despite being much harder to cast than most other battle cards, the Invasion of Alara does a ton of work for five mana. When Invasion of Alara enters the battlefield, you trigger a sort of mini-cascade effect, getting two cards with mana value of four or less. You then get to cast one for free and draw the extra.

Awaken the Maelstrom is a massive spell which rewards the mana fixing needed to play Invasion of Alara. When this spell resolves, you get to do five actions, each one representative of each color of magic. There’s card advantage, clone effects, a free artifact spell casting, +1/+1 counters, and a hard permanent destruction.

Invasion of Gobakhan

Sitting at two mana, Invasion of Gobakhan is one of the cheapest battle cards in March of the Machine. When it enters the battlefield, you look at an opponent’s hand, exiling a card from it and making its owner pay two more mana to cast it.

With the low defense counter of three, it will easily flip into the Lightshield Array enchantment. This enchantment gives each creature that attacked during your turn a +1/+1 counter at your end step. In a pinch, you can use its secondary ability to sacrifice it to give your creatures hexproof and indestructible to dodge any upcoming board wipes.

Invasion of Ixalan

Another two mana battle card, the Invasion of Ixalan is a green Impulse, digging through the top five cards of your library to find a permanent card to add to your hand. This type of digging can help keep your spells on curve and your lands on track.

Once it flips, you get to cast Belligerent Regisaur, a 4/3 Dinosaur which gains indestructible when you cast any spell. You can use Belligerent Regisaur to punch through our opponent’s creatures early in the game while helping your draws take you to the end game.

Invasion of Shandalar

A very efficient way to refill your hand with cards you’ve already cast, Invasion of Shandalar returns up to three permanent cards from your graveyard back to your hand. Whether you’re bringing back a fetch land or a combo piece which got disrupted, you can still cast it again next turn.

When all four counters are removed, it becomes Leyline Surge, an enchantment which lets you play cards for free. Cards put into play this way are not cast, so you can get around any sort of counterspells your opponent might be holding up.

Invasion of Fiora

One of the best battle cards coming in March of the Machine is the Invasion of Fiora. This six-mana battle card can take out all legendary creatures or all nonlegedary creatures instead. Flipping this invasion isn’t particularly hard, since it will only take four mana to flip it to Marchesa, Resolute Monarch.

Now as a creature, Marchesa removes all counters from up to one target permanent when it attacks, potentially giving you another fully reduced battle card for your trouble. It also comes with a pseudo-monarch ability built into it, drawing you a card if you can skip taking damage since your last turn.

Players immediately looked for ways to break this green enchantment and it didn’t take long for them to find some way to optimize it. With an X in its mana value, Invasion of Ikoria lets you tutor for a creature spell from across your deck and graveyard and put it directly into play.

One of the best things you can do with this Invasion is to grab a Vampire Hexmage to remove all counters from any permanent, making it capable to flip this battle card as soon as it pulled the two. With all counters gone, you get Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, a massive legendary creature which gives your creatures the ability to assign combat damage as if they weren’t actually blocked. Which is perfect for an 8/8 bomb that can come out as early as turn four.

Ryan Hay (he/him) has been writing about Magic: The Gathering and video games for years, and loves absolutely terrible games. Send him your bad game takes over on Twitter where he won’t stop talking about Lord of the Rings.

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