A new Magic release is obviously an exciting time for fans of the game. Not only will a new format make waves and shake up the real Constructed and Limited tournament formats, but it impacts the fun, casual ones as well.
In my opinion, there is no format more fun than The Battle Box. It’s like Magic in a can. A stack of cards that can be pulled out anytime, anywhere, and immediately lead to fun and interesting games of Magic.
No drafting or deck building necessary. All you need is a Battle Box, a friend, and you are ready to play some of the most fun and interesting Magic possible!
If you are not familiar with the format, here is a primer I wrote almost 4 years ago now.
Battle Box will never replace Cube Drafting as the casual format of choice. It’s a solid second place. If your playgroup already has a “Cube guy or girl,” it doesn’t make much sense to build a second Cube. What does make a lot of sense is building a Battle Box. It’s a great activity for in-between rounds at an event or just for fun while hanging out.
When I first came up with the format I called it “The Danger Room” after the simulated battle program that the X-Men use to train. I recognized that the format was fun, but also that it was a great way to practice playing Magic in the abstract sense. It teaches a player how to value different kinds of resources on different kinds of boards.
The name of the format has since changed from The Danger Room to the Battle Box, but I still call my Battle Box “The Danger Room.”
One of the cool things about building your own Battle Box is that it gives you a lot of control over the types of games you’ll play. Cube designers enjoy the same dynamic of choosing which cards will be included and shaping the types of games you and your friends most enjoy.
I like my stack to play out between an insanely good Draft deck and a Constructed deck. I like a lot of back and forth and some grind, but I try to keep people honest with good aggressive threats.
Customize your list. I know a lot of people use my list because it’s pretty solid if you enjoy the same kinds of games that I do. I spend a truly wasteful amount of mental energy thinking about card selections. It’s a fun format. Play what you think is fun and cut what you think isn’t.
My list stays consistent in size, which means that if I want to add something, I also need to cut something. The cuts go deep this month because Rivals of Ixalan is loaded with cards that I’m excited to bring into the mix. But more on that in a moment…
The other big piece of Battle-Box-related news I need to get to regards the Old-School Battle Box.
I’m still really into the Old-School version of the format where every card in the stack must have been printed in Ice Age or older sets. I scavenged my original Danger Room for cards to put together the Old-School Battle Box.
When it came time to restore The Danger Room to working order, I realized a couple of things. First, that I didn’t want to buy a second copy of a lot of the old cards that cost large amounts of money.
Secondly, I realized that a lot of these Old School cards were in the Danger Room largely because of nostalgia reasons. One of the major motivations to create the format in the first place was to create a format where I could continue to play with many of my favorite cards that had long since rotated out of Constructed tournament relevance.
The Old-School Battle Box is the perfect place for these cards, which makes me finally feel comfortable with cutting them. With that in mind, I’ve made serious revisions to my stack.
Old-School Battle Box Rivals of Ixalan: No Updates with RIX!
Not a lot of old-school cards in Rivals. Hah. But there are a ton of gems for The Danger Room.
I ended up adding a whopping 19 cards to my Danger Room this time around. I’m pretty sure that is the largest haul from a single set to date!
Also, as a quick note, many of the serious Battle Boxers noticed that I made a mistake in my last posted Danger Room list where I left out the Commander 2017 cards during my Ixalan update. The mistake has been corrected and the list is now complete and accurate.
19 is a great number. Steve Yzerman is great. I was pretty shocked that I was able to add so many cards to my stack this time around. It just so happens that there are a lot of really neat cards that fall into the range of power level I enjoy.
Artifacts are a challenge in a format where color-fixing is constant. You can almost always find a better creature if you are willing to pay a color mana cost (and it won’t die to Shatter!). I’m always thrilled to try out artifact creatures that feel unique and have a shot.
Awakened Amalgam is a lot better in Danger Room than any other format since you get 10 lands with all different names for free!
Martyr of Dusk is a great little 2-drop. It can be aggressive or help you stabilize on defense, and lets you overcommit to the board against a potential sweeper.
It’s a solid value-rate 2-drop that I’m happy to have in the stack.
My stack is very tempo-oriented. There is a lot of grind but most people die with 4+ cards in their hand.
Life gain and combat tricks are both tricky to add to the stack because they are kind of fringe effects where a player doesn’t want to draw too many of either one in a situation where it doesn’t matter. Moment of Triumph is a good enough combat trick with life gain tacked on that I believe it will be a solid Battle Box staple in aggressive stacks like mine.
I love this card for Battle Box. It’s a Savannah Lions that gains evasion as the game goes long (which it typically will).
I love ascend for Battle Box even though I didn’t find many cards with the mechanic that I wanted to add. Most of the cards were just a little too weak.
Skymarcher, on the other hand, hits the mark perfectly.
The Scoundrel barely made the cut, and to be honest a big part of that was my own curiosity about ascend and how relevant it will be. It’s hard for me to identify exactly how good or bad the card is, but a 2/2 hexproof, unblockable in the late game for 2U is pretty insane (especially with equipment).
One of my favorite cards in the set!
The card is really good and slots perfectly into Danger Room. A bonafide staple for sure.
I’m not going to pass up an Elvish Visionary even if it has a little drawback. I wish this card was a Phyrexian Duckling or Puppy to go with Phyrexian Rager and Gargantuan.
My stack has gone really aggressive with the past few sets and I’m currently trying to balance that out a little bit. I mentioned earlier that I was trying to get some incidental life gain tacked onto cards when I was discussing Moment of Triumph. The same idea applies to Moment of Craving. Cheap removal with some life gain tacked on to help out against really aggressive draws.
The Chupacabra tribe really needed a boost, and here we are…
Obviously, this card was designed for Battle Box. Well, probably not, but there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted it in my stack. Obvious auto-include.
Not flashy, but I upgraded Deranged Whelp into a Goblin since there are a handful of “Goblins-matter” cards.
I haven’t looked through the Un-spoilers in search of cards yet, but I cracked a foil, thought it was great, and decided to add it.
The card is really powerful. Squirrellink is OP. If the card makes greater than 1/3 of opponents whimper in sadness, it won’t be back next time around.
I love tokens. In fact, I have every unique token that a card in my stack can produce (there are a lot of different tokens). I couldn’t pass up the chance to add hexproof Merfolk tokens that come attached to a very good card.
There is a very good chance that this card will be too busted. I say that based on the fact that Whisperwood Elemental was one of the few cards I enjoyed but had to ban for power level reasons, and this card feels similar.
With that being said, it is much easier to kill a 2/2 than a 4/4, so maybe this is the right rate for a card like this.
Great rate. Dinosaur. Obv.
Another cool Dinosaur I was stoked to add. I feel like the card will play well but the drawback might be too high. I’m going to give it a whirl and see how it plays here.
It feels like Gruul always gets the most terrible multicolored cards. In my stack, Gruul are obviously the weakest guild. Everybody else gets the goods and Gruul gets ham sandwhiches.
Not in Rivals! As Greg Orange would say, “That card is niiiice…”
I love gold cards in the Danger Room. It’s finally getting to the point where I would consider increasing the size of my stack because there is so much competition between gold cards. The next time around I may have 12 of each guild cards because it is getting harder and harder to make cuts.
Haste plus unblockable is unique, and I wanted it in there.
Last, but clearly not least…
Obviously, a very powerful card that is on the edge of being obnoxious. I just have a feeling that the card will play well in the stack. She is very easy to defeat before she gets too out of hand, and again a great life gain card for a stack that is slanted toward aggro.
Whew, 19! It’s going to be hard to narrow them down into a Top 8 “Rivals cards I’m most excited to add to my Danger Room.” OK, it won’t be that hard and here it is:
Top 8 Rivals Cards I’m Most Excited to Add
Honorable Mentions: Martyr of Dusk, Moment of Craving, and Moment of Triumph for being good utility cards that add a little much needed life gain to my aggressive stack. But the Top 8 is all about the flashy cards that I want to draw and cast!
Last but not least, as per usual I’ve included the complete Danger Room card list. It’s kind of long, but don’t forget to scroll to the bottom and give me a like and/or a comment if you enjoyed the article!
Danger Room Card List – Rivals of Ixalan
Artifact and Mono-Color Spells – 380
Multicolor 2-Color Guild Spells (100)
Azorius (U/W) – (10)
Boros (R/W) – (10)
Dimir (U/B) – (10)
Golgari (B/G) – 10
Gruul (R/G) – 10
Izzet (U/R) – 10
Orzhov (B/W) – 10
Rakdos (R/B) – 10
Selesnya (W/G) – 10
Simic (U/G) – 10
Multicolor, Shards, Wedges, and 5-Color – 31
Abzan (G/W/B) – 3
Bant (W/U/G) – 3
Esper (U/W/B) – 3
Grixis (U/R/B) – 3
Jeskai (U/W/R) – 3
Jund (R/B/G) – 3
Mardu (B/W/R) – 3
Naya (R/W/G) – 3
Sultai (B/U/G) – 3
Temur (R/U/G) – 3
Five-Color – 1
Whew, that was a lot of work but worth it because my Danger Room is ready to be played, which is the whole point of the format.
Did I miss anything? Are there any that my fellow Battle Boxers strongly disagree with? Let me know in the comments.