Revisiting Siege Battle Cards in Standard

ChrisCee August 4, 2023 6 min
Revisiting Siege Battle Cards in Standard

The first wave of Battle cards in March of the Machine had mixed reviews. On the one hand, those that do prove to be useful to the meta did showcase its strengths and future potential. However, a large portion of them either remain unused, or failed to meet their intended design. Of course, due to the inherent nature of designing TCGs, deliberate duds are to be expeected. But it is still quite a waste to see theoretically decent cards like Invasion of Shandalar // Leyline Surgeimage never see the light of the day in Standard.

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Still, this doesn’t mean that Standard was not changed by their existence. Putting aside those that penetrated the meta like Invasion of Gobakhan // Lightshield Arrayimage and Invasion of Zendikar // Awakened Skyclaveimage, cards like Invasion of Tarkir // Defiant Thundermawimage and Invasion of Tolvada // The Broken Skyimage enjoy occasional use in lower tier (but fairly competitive) decks, while Invasion of Amonkhet // Lazotep Convertimage and Invasion of Segovia // Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segoviaimage are fully utilized in more niche brews.

For many players, the simple case is that the whole board dynamic of battle cards doesn’t seem to be that refined just yet. Remember the “why couldn’t it be an enchantment” argument back when Lorwyn first introduced planeswalkers? The argument is something similar, but quite worse. Their design basically allows for very low-tier cards devoid of any prestige of what they are supposed to be depicted in the lore.


Janky? Sure. But very spicy when done right.

On the flip side, the nature of defense counters being the opponent’s investment does give us a good number of interesting new interactions. Resolving effects related to battle card mechanics yet again shape the decision-making of both players, and some of the notable ones include:

  • Battle cards still count toward your Devotion count (not applicable in Standard at the moment)
  • Because the battle card is recast when transformed, it triggers effects like Prowess, gets locked/fizzled with cards like Phyrexian Censorimage, and could also potentially fizzle when faced with Tax effects (remains exiled forever if you can’t pay for Thalia, for instance).
  • Cards like Storm the Festivalimage could cheat battle cards into play.
  • You can copy particular types of spells that the battle cards would transform into (as they resolve)
  • Activating or triggering Proliferate effects in MTG Arena automatically adds defense counters to your opponent’s battles.

For me personally, at least, battle cards became quite interesting precisely because of their weirdly incomplete status at the moment. I’m pretty sure we’ve still yet to see their full interactive potential. But for now, we should see what innovations players have come up with builds focused on them over the last few months.

Direct Support Siege Battle Decks

The most straightforward way to focus on battle cards is to just use cards that interact directly with them effectively. Rampaging Raptorimage is a rather deceptive card for this purpose. Because it is most often simply used to curve out using battles with four or fewer defense counters. However, because it has trample, the second effect becomes surprisingly good even if quite expensive. Many opponents kind of just overlook this ability as well, expecting something else to come out of the available untapped mana.


Hitting planeswalkers with this cute dino also comes up way more than you think.

Of course, pushing against faster decks will largely depend on your available removal arsenal for the first three turns. So when using battle cards for this build, you do need to consider if holding back to cast something else on the same turn is worth it, or just tap out until the fifth turn (if you are confident enough of not being held back considerably).

This specific deck focuses on Grixis colors. With a fair amount of resource juggling, the immediate conclusion is to mainly use Invasion of Amonkhet // Lazotep Convertimage and Invasion of Tarkir // Defiant Thundermawimage. Raptor pushes for a single-hit transformation on more preferable board states, while Tarkir and Render Inertimage deal with more complicated damage management.

Lastly, a good mix of bait cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypseimage gives you pressure alternatives on that critical fourth turn. A thematic mismatch for the more purists out there, sure. But it is a balanced sacrifice. You can also swap out some of the Cut Downs and Go for the Throats in favor of using burn spells instead, for more flipping versatility. (Or just go Jund, gaining access to ramp as well.)

Gameplay Video

(via Sloth)

Featured Cards:


Grixis Dinosaur Battles

Main 60 cards (26 distinct)
Other (11)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (16)
Creature (9)
Land (24)
Side 15 cards (9 distinct)

Timed Combat Siege Battle Decks

Twisting the switch a little bit to Esper colors, battles can also be just as much of an asset whenever they are treated as incidental advantages. Meaning, you never cast the battles to flip them asap, but only when the situation is at its most optimal. A long-term, well-timed investment, if you will, rather than ignoring the back side completely for the entire game. Of course, there will be instances where things can get a little too late. And so the need to tweak that "perfect timing" with the usual control toolset, plus a healthy prediction of what card will hurt your battles the most for a particular matchup. (Thalia against Mono-White Soldiers, Spell Pierceimage against Mono-Blue Tempo, etc.)


Vigilance wins the day? If you survive the first four turns, maybe.

As for battle flipping and defense, cards like Sunfallimage, The Wandering Emperorimage, and Wedding Announcement // Wedding Festivityimage become your default sources. Invasion of New Phyrexia // Teferi Akosa of Zhalfirimage is also included in this, of course, being one of the battle cards that can flip itself. Unlike the Grixis version though, not a single copy of Mirreximage was not included here.

Then, we have Invasion of Dominaria // Serra Faithkeeperimage, Render Inertimage, and Raffine's Towerimage, which are your cantrip/cycling sources. They seem wonky on the surface, but they actually work kind of well, in a non-meta way, of course. About 90% of the time, you won't be flipping that battle very soon, but the option transform Render Inert into "draw a card, cast a Serra Angelimage for 2B" can be a clutch in tighter situations.

Invasion of Innistrad // Deluge of the Deadimage isn’t the best removal in terms of mana value. But it bypasses a lot of other things that could normally evade removal spells. Much like Rampaging Raptorimage for the Grixis build, the activated ability for its transformed side (whenever applicable) could also assist in the objectives of other cards in this deck.

Gameplay Video

(via Sloth)

Featured Cards:


Esper Legendary Battle


Overlapping Ramp Siege Battle Decks

But, perhaps the best synergy yet for Battle cards, at least for the ones we have right now, is the one that is focused on themselves. In MTG interaction terms, this particular build focuses on five colors, and is centered on ramping plus getting into each color consistently by turn five. The ultimate objective? Drop Invasion of Alara // Awaken the Maelstromimage as fast as possible, and flip it immediately, hopefully during the same turn, or at least the very next turn.

While there are a plethora of different choices to bring out, you need to focus on playing more battles for free. Invasion of Tarkir // Defiant Thundermawimage, in particular, hits Alara just enough so that one Render Inertimage immediately flips the battle. What permanent do you put to play or copy with it, you ask? Why more battles of course!


Should work on future battle cards as well!

This particular build also showcases the funky purpose of Storm the Festivalimage to bring those Alaras into play along with more battles. Well… the chance of whiffing is still there, of course. But even if you can’t get into Alara or any battle cards, other solid choices are still available, such as Topiary Stomperimage and Timeless Lotusimage (which is also a spicy target for Awaken the Maelstrom).

Oh and, need I remind you that Moonveil Regentimage will allow you completely replenish your hand with Invasion of Alara? Better yet if any of the two were thrown into the battlefield for free!

For something even spicier, you may add a copy of Chandra, Hope's Beaconimage, so that when you resolve the transformed Invasion of Alara // Awaken the Maelstromimage, you get double the effect! She can even shoot two battles for you at the same time. Her addition could make things a bit jankier, though, in a build that is already not the best choice for players on their climb toward Mythic.

Want to build the deck just around Invasion of Alara // Awaken the Maelstromimage? You can try this one instead.

Gameplay Video

(via LegenVD)

Featured Cards:


Invasion of Alara Battles

About ChrisCee:

A witness since the time the benevolent silver planeswalker first left Dominaria, ChrisCee has since went back and forth on a number of plane-shattering incidents to oversee the current state of the Multiverse.

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