Battlebonding in Vintage and Legacy
Hey all, this is Jarvis Yu, Massdrop East Silver Pro, back to talk to you about an unexpected subject: how Battlebond (a multiplayer set) is going to affect Vintage and Legacy.
When Battlebond was first spoiled, to quote Gavin Verhey: 'Battlebond is the first set in Magic's history designed specifically for Two-Headed Giant play!'
Despite that tagline, there's quite a few exciting spoilers I'd like to go over that have Eternal implications. There’s a few conditions I look for in evaluating new cards for older formats:
a) Does it provide a unique effect? b) Does it provide a similar effect to an existing card but for a lower cost? c) Does it hose a current deck?
Arena Rector certainly fits a) here. This card harkens back to Academy Rector (exact same manacost, very similarly worded ability), but requires a different setup than Academy Rector-based decks.
I envision an Esper Control style of deck in Legacy (with Cabal Therapy / Phyrexian Tower / Swords to Plowshares, and some cantrips to tie the entire deck together). Casting Supreme Verdict also does the job in a pinch, and additionally, you don't need to be all-in on this plan since you can have the backup plan of hardcasting most of your Planeswalkers.
Here's my first sketch:
Text link here: (Academy Rector is a proxy for Arena Rector in the above screenshot.)
I chose not to go overboard on Planeswalkers. Often Rectoring up Ugin or Jace should be good enough in most scenarios, and I'd like the option of being able to hardcast my expensive walkers in a protracted game (i.e. no Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, or Nicol Bolas, God-Pharoah).
Other options that may make sense are Gideon Jura (makes Supreme Verdict significantly better by forcing people to overextend into it), Sorin, Grim Nemesis, and Elspeth Sun’s Champion (three creatures makes sweepers a lot better for you).
An existing deck that could take advantage of this card includes Nic Fit (Cabal Therapy / Veteran Explorer-based ramp deck), since those cards naturally synergize with hardcasting your expensive Planeswalkers as well.
Another exciting card:

Wizards of the Coast went on record as viewing Imperial Recruiter / Recruiter of the Guard as a cycle. Spellseeker, on the surface, looks similar to those two, but it's a card after Brian Braun-Duin's own heart. It certainly checks off the box of having a unique effect. Being able to Seek Channel into your hand reminds me a lot of the old ‘Omniscience-Oath’ deck in Vintage.


Text decklist here: (Merchant of Secrets is a proxy for Spellseeker)
This is a barebones draft of what is possible, but the general idea is to assemble Channel / Emrakul or Show and Tell / Omniscience into either Living Wish for Emrakul or Emrakul or Spellseeker into Living Wish into Emrakul. I’ve chosen to eschew the Oath of Druids package since I’m not fond of splash hate (Grafdigger’s Cage). People do play Containment Priest, but Show and Tell into Omniscience allows you to avoid that, and Channel also avoids Containment Priest.
Spellseeker synergizes well with flicker effects, which leads me to Restoration Angel and Mana Drain in Vintage:
Text decklist: (Merchant of Secrets is the proxy for Spellseeker.)
This is a rough draft inspired by previous iterations of the deck known as ‘Blue Angels’ once popularized by Craig Berry and Rich Shay, but it looks like a solid starting point to me.
Other cards you can include to search for with Spellseeker are the following:
Balance (great versus Shops, not great versus most opposing Blue decks) Chain of Vapor Disenchant Revoke Existence Abeyance
Orim’s Chant
Enlightened Tutor (along with Moat / Humility / Energy Flux)
Other homes in Vintage for Spellseeker include Paradoxical Outcome (it’s a nice value play to find Ancestral Recall or a cantrip to assemble critical mass for Paradoxical Outcome).
Spellseeker also seems like a natural fit in Food Chain and Aluren (another value guy, can go grab Cabal Therapy/Brainstorm/Ponder/Gitaxian Probe/Abrupt Decay).
Another standout card for specifically Oath of Druids is:
It doesn’t seem like too much of a reach to see that naming artifact ends the game versus Shops decks assuming their board isn’t too developed, and naming other types is very board/context dependent but seems like an extremely powerful effect. It could replace the second copy of Inferno Titan you typically see in the Oath of Druids deck, or you could side into multiple copies of this card to ensure you Oath into it.
This card is certainly way more aggressively costed than its Morphling cousins. Frankly, I believe it won’t see that much play given that it must compete with Monastery Mentor in Legacy, and Vintage isn’t really about racing, and the WW mana requirement is restrictive for Vintage. A natural fit would seem to be Death and Taxes, but it is not tutorable by Recruiter of the Guard, and b) the number of colorless lands in Death and Taxes means adding another WW spell is asking for trouble.
I would be stunned if this card were good, but I wouldn’t put it past Matt Nass to make it work. It is similar to Lich’s Mirror, but it doesn’t reverse your board.
Battlebond is going to reshape the Eternal formats. Is there anything I missed? Sound off in the comments!

Previous Articles · Meet the Massdrop Teams: · *2nd* at Pro Tour Ixalan: · Unclaimed Creature Types: · Why I Never Drop From Tournaments: · The Art of Sideboard Construction - Sultai Energy: · A Commoner’s View on Pauper: · Blue Moon Beach Control: · Top 5 Modern Decks: · Storm in Vintage Cube: · An Early Look at Rivals for Standard: · A Standard Approach to Evaluating New Cards: · Drafting Rivals of Ixalan: · Team Sealed Secrets: · Steal My Standard Ideas: · Vexing Devil. Any Questions?: · Team Massdrop Rivals of Ixalan Limited Primer: · Gestation of RG Eldrazi: · Top Tim Tournament Training Tips: · What Makes Someone Bogle?: · A Pauper Adventure: · Blue Moon at GP Phoenix: · Brawling into Dominaria: · Looking at The Current Lands(cape) of Legacy · Deconstructing Dominaria Limited: · Diving into Dominaria Standard: · What are your.. drives?: · Top 10 Cards for Dominaria Modern: · Brewing Standard with Dominaria: · Dominaria Team Sealed: A Case Study:
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