Top 9 Battles That Can Flip Battles

(Invasion of Zendikar | Art by Diego Gisbert)

Flip, Flop

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Invasion of Regatha is the only battle that can deal damage specifically to other battles?)

I'll admit, when battles first were revealed, I was a bit of an old man about it. I didn't like that it was yet more double-sided cards that contained multiple paragraphs. I didn't like that it was yet another card that you'd see folks craning their necks about across the draft table. I didn't like that it was a whole new card type that in no way felt that it needed to be a whole new card type.

You can imagine, then, when I went into my LGS and someone proudly sat across the table from me declaring they'd built five-color battles, that I was more than a little dubious. Fast forward an hour, though, and I have to say, it was one of the more enjoyable games I've had in a long time. So I figured, why not feature the decklist?

Oops, All Battles!

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Commander (1)
Battles (36)
Sorceries (1)
Artifacts (2)
Creatures (12)
Lands (35)
Instants (9)
Enchantments (4)

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As you can see, there's not too much that's groundbreaking about this list. It simply takes all 36 battles that have currently been printed and shoves them in a decklist. What surprised me about it, however, was that it managed to flip those battles with really only battles to work with. As such, I wanted to feature those battles that can help you out with your battle synergy, for all those other folks out there planning on going full battle.

Top 9 Battles That Can Flip Battles

Okay, so we do have one slight issue that would usually be a deal-breaker: With the limited amount of battles we've seen, all printed in a single set, there aren't actually ten battles that can directly help you flip battles over. While there are some that can indirectly help by either buffing creatures or removing other creatures to help you swing through, that seemed like a slippery slope that ended with me just listing the top battles. Speaking of...

Top 10 Battles That Can't Help You Flip Battles (At Least, Not Before They Flip Themselves)

  1. Invasion of Zendikar
  2. Invasion of Fiora
  3. Invasion of Kaldheim
  4. Invasion of Amonkhet
  5. Invasion of Gobakhan
  6. Invasion of New Capenna
  7. Invasion of Shandalar
  8. Invasion of Tolvada
  9. Invasion of Arcavios
  10. Invasion of Alara

The large caveat on our top ten here has me thinking that further explanation is necessary to explain exactly what I mean by battles that can flip battles. First off, if you haven't run into this new card type, their specific conceit is that they are "defended" by a player of your choice. You can then attack the battle instead of that player, in the same way you would attack a planeswalker. When you do, it removes defense counters from the battle, exiling it when it's defeated to then have its backside be cast.

So, if we're looking to flip a battle, there's essentially two ways to do it: Attack it with creatures, or deal damage directly to it. Which makes our criteria this week easy enough, we're looking for battles that can either deal damage to other battles directly, create tokens, or go find creatures to attack battles with. Let's take a look at our first ever top nine!

Criteria: Battles which can either find or create creatures, deal damage, or buff existing creatures. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

9. Invasion of Ulgrotha

(1,642 Inclusions, 0% of 1,230,621 Decks)

There are some of these battles that are pushed, and feel it. Invasion of Ulgrotha is not that. Five mana for a three damage drain is not awe-inspiring, nor is Grandmother Ravi Sengir being a worse Sengir Vampire when you put in the work to flip it. In short, if you're not trying to do exactly this thing we're trying to do in making battles flip with more battles, you're probably never playing this card. Here's hoping Granny Sengir gets done justice in another set someday.

8. Invasion of Kaladesh

(2,255 Inclusions, 0% of 551,090 Decks)

Likewise, two mana for a 1/1 Thopter comes in much better packages. I am a bit more enthusiastic about our flip side here, however, given that you've only put in two mana and attacking for four into getting a huge flying threat. Not every artifact deck is going to come hunting this thing down, but if your battle deck has a lot of mana rocks, then this is probably worth looking into.

7. Invasion of Belenon

(2,728 Inclusions, 0% of 1,114,383 Decks)

Now we're starting to see some intent, here at number seven. Three mana for a 2/2 with vigilance isn't mind blowing, but you'd take it in draft. That flipping into an anthem, though? That's something that token decks will use, as will battle decks. Give this uncommon a shot, you might be impressed.

6. Invasion of Regatha

(4,068 Inclusions, 0% of 1,132,635 Decks)

"Deals four damage to another target battle" seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered here. For those interested, Invasion of Regatha will flip 20 of the 36 current battles out there outright, which is a heck of a sales pitch when it comes to battle decks. Hitting a utility creature on top of that just makes this a heck of a deal, as is it flipping into a huge creature that will make your other burn better. This feels like the first slam dunk of the list, and I'm sure those hits are only gonna keep on coming.

5. Invasion of Theros

(6,122 Inclusions, 1% of 527,418 Decks)

For battle decks, Invasion of Theros is more of a conundrum to solve than anything else: What Gods, Demigods, or auras help out the battle plan, as it were? Our decklist at the top goes and finds Iroas, God of Victory, which is a fine piece for both getting in on your battles and also pivoting to actually attacking players, but surely there's gotta be other options, right?

Top 10 Gods, Demigods, or Auras

  1. Wild Growth
  2. Animate Dead
  3. Kenrith's Transformation
  4. Utopia Sprawl
  5. Birgi, God of Storytelling
  6. Darksteel Mutation
  7. Rancor
  8. Purphoros, God of the Forge
  9. All That Glitters
  10. Kaya's Ghostform

All right, so there's some meat on this bone. If you're a high-powered deck, it's even conceivable that you'd grab this as a tutor for the likes of the Animate Dead half of the Worldgorger Dragon combo, or for the crazy engine that is Birgi.

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Failing that, however, it also looks like the more indirect plan of toolboxing is available, to go grab removal. While Darksteel Mutation or Imprisoned in the Moon are probably your primary contenders there, there's lots of other options to choose from, as well.

As for Demigods? The pickings are slim. I can't think of a battle deck that wants any of the cycle from Theros Beyond Death, and no matter how much battles feel like enchantments, Anikthea, Hand of Erebos won't do anything for them.

That said, the primary place we're seeing and will continue to see Invasion of Theros? Enchantress decks looking for both a tutor and another enchantress, all in the same package. Carry on, enchantment fans!

4. Invasion of New Phyrexia

(6,741 Inclusions, 1% of 509,962 Decks)

As with all X spells, Invasion of New Phyrexia starts off with you wondering if it's even worth it, then becomes better and better the more mana you put in. At two mana for nothing but something you're going to have to swing in for six on, not even a Teferi can save this. At three mana for a 2/2 with a planeswalker attached, we're starting to be a bit interested. At four mana and on, this thing just pays dividends. Vigilance is a seriously underrated keyword, and you get to choose between immediately pumping them or removing a problem across the board as soon as you flip the battle. This thing is only going to see more play as we go along, whether it be battle decks or otherwise.

3. Invasion of Tarkir

(7,980 Inclusions, 1% of 1,181,375 Decks)

So why is a patently worse battle further up the list? Well, two reasons: One, it's monocolor, and therefore easier to squeeze into more decks. Two, it's for Dragon decks. You know, the most popular creature type in the game?

No matter how much you may roll your eyes, though, Invasion of Tarkir does shine in those Dragon brews. Solid removal for two mana at any point of the game, flipping into a flample Dragon that makes every Dragon you control into a Shock on a stick, including Defiant Thundermaw itself. Look for this thing to be seeing a lot more play as Dragon decks figure out this is one of the best "Dragons" they can play.

2. Invasion of Segovia

(14,130 Inclusions, 1% of 1,182,716 Decks)

That said, Invasion of Segovia is actually my favorite battle to date. The aesthetics are amazing if you know the joke of Segovia being tiny world, it gets even better with the inside joke of 1/1 Krakens with trample, and then once you flip it for a measly four damage it has a huge ability on your tiny Serpent. "Noncreature spells you cast have convoke" already had everyone doing backflips, then "untap four creatures every turn" just came along and had them considering adding a series of back handsprings. Battle decks wanting this is just the start of the list. Untap decks want this, as do Token Storm decks, regular token decks, and Sea Creature decks. Honestly, the only people sad here are those that wanted Caetus as their commander, and I think I for one would allow this nonsense via Rule Zero. How about you?

1. Invasion of Ikoria

(51,876 Inclusions, 5% of 1,084,483 Decks)

With that said, cEDH gets bigger and bigger every day, and beyond that, people love a tutor. Sometimes it feels like Invasion of Ikoria's backside might as well be blank, which makes it being a battle feel a bit disingenuous, but there's no disputing that it's a great effect. It's worst mode is grabbing Dryad Arbor for the same mana as a Rampant Growth. From there, things just get nuts as a cavalcade of combo options become available at each mana value, even if you just stick to monogreen:

Only got three mana to spare? Grab that Quirion Ranger to make your Ashaya provide infinite ETBs, Landfall, and Storm count.

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Got four mana? Go get more with a Devoted Druid that'll go infinite if you look at it wrong.

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Five or six? Hey, that's either half of Scurry Oak and Ivy Lane Denizen!

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That's literally just scratching the surface with bad mono-green combos. cEDH lists optimizing this and taking advantage of it being an ETB take it a step further, to the point that eventually this might actually be notorious enough that it will get you targeted, even if you're just doing silly toolbox things. So beware!

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions? You know we didn't even make it to the full ten, right?

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion…), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

I mentioned in the intro that I originally bristled at the idea of battles. For me, this seems to be happening more and more often as I become an old dude into Magic, with mechanic after mechanic getting us further and further from "reading the card explains the card", and us now needing paragraphs on both sides of them to fully explain what's going on. Still, like most mechanics, I've come around on them, so...

And finally, what is your favorite battle? Does it help flip itself, or other battles?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that flips itself. (I'm almost certain I've done this gag before, which tells you how nuts things may or may not have gotten when it comes to new cards.)

Read more:

Achievement Unlocked - Building a Deck Around Battles

Top 10 Outlaws


Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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