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Tag Team Takedown: Inside "Battlebond"



Battlebond, Owned by Wizards of the Coast © All Rights Reserved.

With a new set unfolding already, after the juggernaut that was Dominaria, I feel like there is one thing I can honestly say. I like Gavin Verhey. See, there's a guy behind the design teams that knows what people want, and understands to give people exactly that. Not only delivering a new casual game with a unique edge, he's also managed to give us reprints. Not just reprints of any card, but cards that actually need the reprint. Earlier in the year, with the first announcements of this set, and new formats such as Brawl, I couldn't help but first feel like we were being tossed cheap money grabs. However, I have to say, I was wrong. If Gavin's name is behind it, i'm all for it.

Over the past 9 months that this site has been online, I've managed to discuss several "Masters" sets, and I didn't say anything negative about them. At the time, my only focus revolved around PDH, so despite the overall flops that they were, the fact that there was some delivery to the format made it worthwhile. However, looking back at what those sets were meant to do, it's not hard to see they were failures. I did not spend a single dollar on Masters sets, because they simply were just not worth it.

I doubt I am the only one to hear sets like Conspiracy to be referred to as a "Commander Starter Pack," and in no way is that an insult. People want proper entries into formats that don't cost them between $500 -$1000, and they want to enjoy the game while they're at it. Battlebond has managed to bring things desperately needed, while bringing something brand new, and I feel Battlebond has earned its right to sit at such a prestige tier. I've missed several prereleases over the past year, but here is one I will regret missing.

The New Commanders

Most of us remember the Commander 2016 spoiler season, and being shocked by the new "Partners" mechanic, adding more flavor to EDH, and us PDH guys have been dying to get a taste of it for ourselves. Miraculously, such prayers have been answered, and Partners has entered the format!

Now don't completely lose your mind yet. There is a catch. We have Partners now, but there are restrictions. Creatures are intended to be paired with a specific partner. At first, this bummed me out, but it does'nt take away from everything. For the first time with Battlebond, we have been given 5 new pairs for Partner commanders, Let's take a look.

Battlebond is pushing a sub-theme of tribal Warriors, and this pair enforces that theme. I hadn't before considered a tribal warriors deck, but after looking through commons, there are actually quite a few warriors in this color identity. Both creatures are a bit weak for the cost, so this deck would require equipment at the least.

Aside from incredibly cool artwork, it is nice to see both Chakram Retriever and Chakram Slinger are both boltproof. Again, the cmc for both creatures is a bit high, and the engine is not easy to continue, with colors that do not tend to ramp. With that said, the ability to repeatedly hit a single target is valuable. This deck would interest me most in a 1 v 1 setting, and I am looking forward to seeing this pair in action.

At first, I didn't like this pair. It felt limited, with so many cards acting so similar to Proud Mentor. It didn't feel special. Impetuous Protege at first appeared to be a creature at the mercy of your opponents. Then I remembered one of my favorite white creatures in the format, Dawnglare Invoker. Although not quite flexible, this is a deck that actually has the potential to be an absolute banger of a deck. Casual? Maybe so. However, this thing will be a lot of fun, and it just might be my next brew.

Of our 5 new partners, Lore Weaver and Ley Weaver are the pair that I can't seem to appreciate. Although I do like Ley Weaver, and it does tend to synergize with its partner, I can't help but feel that this is just too expensive for card draw, given the combined colors with ramp and card draw. I appreciate the interaction here, but feel you are better off with any other Simic Commander, such as Shapers of Nature.

This pair, like we have seen above, caters to one strategy, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. A great color pairing, and the creatures themselves support the strategy. I feel that Soulblade Renewer brings less to the mix than its partner, but will not be useless. These creatures are expensive to cast, and easy to remove. However, with green in the mix, this downside can be offset.

With our partners out of the way, let us take a brief look at individual commanders being added to the mix. 3 of the 4 below are brand new to the game, but we have Feral Hydra returning with a rarity change, entering the PDH legality. I really like this creature, but it does have a very narrow build behind it. The others, however, are a bit more colorful.

Although all interesting, the star of the show here has to be Azra Oddsmaker. Introducing the new creature type to the format, this new weapon creates a new means of not only card draw, but a chance to utilize graveyard / madness related abilities. Talking last week about zombies, this is a really cool way to create something new, in regards to graveyard and discard utility. With all of the above general commanders out of the way, it's time to talk about two-headed giant.

All About the Team

After looking through this set, I can't help but feel disappointed about missing this pre-release (Downside to living in China). Each year, my favorite summer event was the two-headed giant pre-release, giving me some of the best games I have ever had. To see some of these cards dedicated to this is just fantastic. Although these cards all have rules text in regards to "Teams," they do not present cases such that they would be unplayable in a normal game.

Two-Headed Giant is a realm that has yet to really be explored, so at this time, there is little that I can say. However, here is to hoping some of these new pieces create some ideas. I intend to explore this realm of game play soon, and I will begin my research with these "team" cards. Some of these cards are actually not bad for standard games, but others, such as Nimbus Champion, would be less than satisfactory by itself.

One final mechanic, featured below, is one that I feel I would need to try to have a better sense of how well it functions in PDH. Assist allows a teammate to pay a portion of the cost for you, but I cannot yet help but feel that there are better spells, that are much cheaper. However, I will accept that I may be incorrect, and I myself intend to test these cards out myself in a two-headed giant setting.

 

I will repeat myself, that I am still new to what two-headed giant has to offer to PDH, but it is without a doubt, that there is potential, and much to explore. Until then, the introduction of partners has given us plenty, and now we can embrace our new format feature. Once again, I am proud to say that I love the work that Gavin is doing, and I can't wait to see more work that he brings us in the future. Cheers to the future of casual play.

-Kyle

@PDH_Homebase

#TwoHeaded #Giant #NewSet #2018 #Partners #Teams

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