Last week the Magic world got its collective first look at the second Commander Legends, Battle for Baldur’s Gate. While the set will debut on May 16 with previews running through May 23, WeeklyMTG and the accompanying article provide a few tasty tidbits about the contents of the set. Let’s dive in.
First up, The Battlebond Lands – an allied cycle of dual lands that enter the battlefield untapped if you have more than one opponent – will be returning. As a Commander player, this rules. These lands are fantastic inclusions in all manner of 100-card decks and reprinting them here will make them far more accessible. As popular as Battlebond was, it pales compared to Commander Legends, which means getting your hands on this cycle should be far easier this time around.
Some iconic spells from Magic’s past are going to be getting the Showcase Spellbook treatment first seen in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. We got a look at two – Fireball and Lightning Bolt – and while they may not be Commander staples, it is awesome to see this look coming back. While it is not for me, per se, I cannot deny how evocative this frame is of role playing game sourcebooks and gives players another way to express themselves during deck construction.
Battle for Baldur’s Gate also heralds the return of planeswalkers that can be your commander. Eric Levine has a first pass at the revealed Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes here. I think giving players more options for Commanders is awesome, but I am always wary of planeswalkers in the command zone. While they come with some inherent risk, they can be very powerful especially if your regular playgroup consistently undervalues planeswalkers (not that I’m complaining – I’ve untapped with Liliana, Dreadhorde General more times than can be reasonably expected).
Some of the returning mechanics include venturing into the dungeon – with new dungeons – and die rolling. Again, neither of these speak to me, but I am happy they exist. Die rolling adds a fun wrinkle to more social Commander games and inject a bit more chaos into games. Venture, if done at the right power level, can provide a powerful incentive, if the payoffs are present.
What about the draft experience? Some of the product descriptions for the set have included references to Background cards that impact your Commander. To say this gives me some pause would be an understatement. Without knowing more it is hard to speculate, but already rumors are flying that this might add colors to your deck, a la The Prismatic Piper. If this turns out to be the case it would remove one of the things I really enjoy about Commander and that is the restriction. As much as I would have loved to run Thopter Foundry in my Silas Renn deck (no partner) back in the day, there was something I enjoyed about the fact that I could not. All that being said, I want to see what these cards are before making any sweeping declarations.
The last bit of news in this release was about the return of CommandFests. It is fantastic to see Wizards putting an emphasis back on the gathering aspect of Magic but I desperately want them to do this safely. Despite the trends where I live (New York City, United States), COVID is still very much a thing for people like me (immunocompromised) and my kid (too young to get vaccinated). I want little more than to go to a convention and grab games with friends old and new, but I want it to be safe. While the return of large in-person play opportunities feels great, I don’t want it to turn into a source of regret.
But that’s just one writer’s thoughts. What do you think of the announcement? What do you think Backgrounds will do?