Battle Boxing with New Rivals

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.

Adding 19

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.

Divination has been a mainstay in my stack up until recently. Divination that upgrades to Concentrate works for me. Another great ascend card I’m sure will make the grade for years to come.

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.

Kind of a bad Snapcaster Mage that exiles a card from the opponent’s graveyard. It’s also just a cheap creature you can play. I love the idea of using this on turn 3 to steal a Duress!

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!

8. Storm Fleet Sprinter
7. Raging Regisaur
6. Dire Fleet Daredevil
5. Elenda, the Dusk Rose
4. Tendershoot Dryad
3. Skymarcher Aspirant
2. Ravenous Chupacabra
1. Warkite Marauder

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

Artifacts (30)

Awakened Amalgam

Basilisk Collar

Bloodforged Battle-Axe

Conqueror’s Flail

Crystal Shard


Engineered Explosives

Etched Oracle

Filigree Familiar

Fleetwheel Cruiser

Hangarback Walker

Icy Manipulator

Lightning Greaves

Living Wall

Loxodon Warhammer

Mask of Memory

Nihil Spellbomb

Peace Strider

Perilous Vault

Pierce Strider

Power Matrix

Runechanter’s Pike

Scrapheap Scrounger

Serrated Arrows

Smuggler’s Copter


Trip Noose


Walking Ballista

Sylvok Lifestaff

White (70)

Adanto Vanguard

Adorned Pouncer

Aerial Responder

Akroma’s Vengeance

Angel of Finality

Angel of Sanctions

Austere Command

Azorius Herald

Belfry Spirit

Blade Splicer

Cloudgoat Ranger

Collective Effort

Commander Eesha

Dawn Charm

Day of Judgment

Declaration in Stone

Dismantling Blow

Dragon Hunter

Dusk // Dawn

End Hostilities

Exalted Angel

Final Judgment



Geist-Honored Monk

Glorious Anthem

Glory-Bound Initiate


Hallowed Burial

Hidden Dragonslayer

Imperial Aerosaur

Imposing Sovereign

Inspiring Cleric

Isamaru, Hound of Konda

Karmic Guide

Kinjalli’s Sunwing

Kirtar’s Wrath

Lingering Souls

Mardu Woe-Reaper

Martyr of Dusk

Moment of Triumph

Momentary Blink

Mother of Runes

Phyrexian Rebirth


Regal Caracal

Restoration Angel

Righteous Confluence


Sacred Cat

Scout’s Warning

Selfless Spirit

Selfless Squire

Shrieking Grotesque

Skymarcher Aspirant

Soldier of the Pantheon

Soulfire Grand Master

Spear of Heliod

Spectral Lynx

Sunscape Battlemage

Sunscourge Champion

Suture Priest

Swords to Plowshares


Thraben Inspector

Trueheart Duelist

Valorous Stance

Wall of Omens

Wing Shards

Wrath of God

Blue (70)

Aeon Chronicler

Allied Strategies

Ancestral Vision

Angler Drake

Blue Elemental Blast

Bonded Fetch


Careful Consideration


Cephalid Sage

Champion of Wits

Chart a Course

Circular Logic



Control Magic


Deep Analysis

Delver of Secrets




Dungeon Geists


Evasive Action


Fact or Fiction

False Summoning


Harbinger of the Tides


Jace’s Phantasm


Jolting Merfolk

Looter il-Kor

Lu Xun, Scholar General


Merfolk Looter




Nimble Obstructionist

Neutralizing Blast

One With the Wind



Phantasmal Image

Power Sink



Remove Soul


Secrets of the Golden City

Serendib Efreet

Slippery Scoundrel

Snapcaster Mage

Steal Artifact

Stolen Identity

Stratus Dancer

Sun Ce, Young Conquerer


Talrand’s Invocation




Vesuvan Shapeshifter

Warkite Marauder

Whirler Rogue



Black (70)


Bane of the Living

Big Game Hunter

Bloodsoaked Champion

Bone Shredder

Chainer’s Edict

Coffin Queen

Collective Brutality

Consuming Vapors

Crypt Angel

Dakmor Lancer


Dance of the Dead

Dark Banishing

Dark Hatchling




Doom Blade


Drana, Liberator of Malakir

Dread Wanderer


Dusk Legion Zealot

Entomber Exarch


Fatal Push

Flesh Carver

Ghastly Demise

Go for the Throat

Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Grim Haruspex

Gurmag Angler

Inquisition of Kozilek

Keening Banshee

Kokusho, the Evening Star

Lay Bare the Heart

Lifebane Zombie

Moment of Craving

Murderous Cut


Never // Return

Noxious Gearhulk

Night’s Whisper




Phyrexian Gargantua

Phyrexian Rager

Ravenous Chupacabra

Rend Flesh

Ritual of the Machine

Sever the Bloodline


Skeletal Scrying

Skeletal Vampire




Stir the Sands

Sudden Death


Tragic Slip

Transgress the Mind

Unburial Rites

Undying Evil


Vampire Nighthawk

Withered Wretch

Wretched Confluence

Red (70)

Abbot of Keral Keep



Ahn-Crop Crasher

Arc Lightning

Barbed Lightning

Beetleback Chief

Brute Force

Burst Lightning


Chain Lightning

Collective Defiance

Conquering Manticore

Cunning Sparkmage

Deem Worthy

Desolation Giant

Dire Fleet Daredevil


Dualcaster Mage

Earthshaker Khenra

Faithless Looting

Feldon of the Third Path

Fiery Confluence

Fire Imp



Flames of the Firebrand

Flame Slash

Flametongue Kavu

Fledgling Dragon

Forked Bolt

Frenzied Fugue

Goblin Dark-Dwellers

Goblin Trailblazer

Grim Lavamancer

Hordeling Outburst

Hound of Griselbrand

Hungry Flames

Incendiary Flow


Kird Ape

Krenko, Mob Boss

Lightning Bolt

Lightning Strike

Mindclaw Shaman

Pardic Arsonist

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

Pia Nalaar

Pillar of Flame

Punishing Fire


Rampaging Ferocidon

Red Elemental Blast

Resounding Thunder


Searing Spear


Shower of Coals

Siege-Gang Commander

Slice and Dice


Smoldering Werewolf

Temur Battle Rage

Thunderbreak Regent

Thunderscape Battlemage

Tribal Flames

Vulshok Sorcerer

Warfire Javelineer

Young Pyromancer

Zurgo Bellstriker

Green (70)

Ana Battlemage

Arborback Stomper

Autumn’s Veil

Basking Rootwalla

Benefactor’s Draught



Blossoming Defense


Call of the Herd

Caller of the Claw

Deathmist Raptor

Deathgorge Scavenger

Den Protector

Earl of Squirrel

Elvish Visionary

Eternal Witness

Flinthoof Boar

Forgotten Ancient

Gaea’s Might

Genesis Hydra

Giant Growth


Hooded Hydra

Imperious Perfect

Jungleborn Pioneer

Kessig Prowler

Loaming Shaman

Majestic Myriarch


Master of the Wild Hunt

Mitotic Slime

Moment’s Peace

Mouth // Feed

Noose Constrictor

Obstinate Baloth

Ohran Viper

Patagia Viper

Pelakka Wurm

Phantom Centaur

Polukranos, World Eater

Predator’s Strike

Qasali Slingers


Ranger’s Guile

Reclamation Sage


Resilient Khenra

Ridgescale Tusker

Ripjaw Raptor

River Boa

Scavenging Ooze

Seed Guardian

Skyshroud Elite

Skyshroud War Beast
Somberwald Stag

Spider Spawning

Stingerfling Spider

Sunblade Elf

Tendershoot Dryad

Thornscape Apprentice

Thornscape Battlemage


Thrashing Brontodon


Wall of Blossoms

Wild Mongrel

Wild Nacatl

Withstand Death

Wolfir Avenger

Multicolor 2-Color Guild Spells (100)

Azorius (U/W) – (10)


Azorius Guildmage


Hindering Light

Ojutai’s Command

Ordered Migration

Reflector Mage

Spell Queller

Supreme Verdict

Wall of Denial

Boros (R/W) – (10)

Basandra, Battle Seraph

Boros Charm

Boros Guildmage

Boros Reckoner

Bull Cerodon

Foundry Champion

Lightning Helix

Sky Terror

Relentless Raptor

Warleader’s Helix

Dimir (U/B) – (10)

Baleful Strix


Dragonlord Silumgar

Far // Away

Hostage Taker


Shadowmage Infiltrator

Soul Manipulation

Spite // Malice

Woodlot Crawler

Golgari (B/G) – 10

Abrupt Decay

Baloth Null

Consume Strength

Dreg Mangler


Golgari Guildmage

Maelstrom Pulse

Obelisk Spider

Pernicious Deed


Gruul (R/G) – 10

Assault // Battery

Bloodbraid Elf

Dragonlair Spider

Fires of Yavimaya

Ghor-Clan Rampager

Ground Assault

Huntmaster of the Fells

Khenra Charioteer

Raging Regisaur

Wort, the Raidmother

Izzet (U/R) – 10


Dack’s Duplicate


Etherium-Horn Sorcerer

Fire // Ice

Izzet Charm

Prophetic Prism

Storm Fleet Sprinter


Turn // Burn

Orzhov (B/W) – 10

Blind Hunter


Death Grasp

Elenda, The Dusk Rose

Ghost Council of Orzhova

Karlov of the Ghost Council


Orzhov Pontiff

Sin Collector

Zealous Persecution

Rakdos (R/B) – 10

Bituminous Blast


Claim // Fame

Cut // Ribbons

Kolaghan’s Command

Murderous Redcap

Olivia, Mobilized for War

Rakdos Charm


Unlicensed Disintegration

Selesnya (W/G) – 10

Advent of the Wurm

Dromoka’s Command

Elderwood Scion

Enlisted Wurm

Kitchen Finks

Loxodon Hierarch

Loxodon Smiter

Mystic Enforcer

Selesnya Charm

Voice of Resurgence

Simic (U/G) – 10

Aether Mutation

Ethereal Ambush

Icefeather Aven

Horizon Chimera

Jungle Barrier

Mystic Snake

Plaxcaster Frogling

River Hoopoe

Shardless Agent

Simic Charm

Multicolor, Shards, Wedges, and 5-Color – 31

Abzan (G/W/B) – 3

Abzan Charm

Anafenza, the Foremost

Doran, the Siege Tower

Bant (W/U/G) – 3

Bant Charm

Rhox War Monk

Rubinia Soulsinger

Esper (U/W/B) – 3

Dromar’s Charm

Punish Ignorance

Trial // Error

Grixis (U/R/B) – 3

Dark Intimations

Gwendlyn Di Corci

Slave of Bolas

Jeskai (U/W/R) – 3

Lightning Angel

Mantis Rider

Sage of the Inward Eye

Jund (R/B/G) – 3

Darigaaz’s Charm

Jund Charm

Sprouting Thrinax

Mardu (B/W/R) – 3

Crackling Doom

Mardu Charm

Ponyback Brigade

Naya (R/W/G) – 3

Fiery Justice

Marath, Will of the Wild

Woolly Thoctar

Sultai (B/U/G) – 3

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

Sultai Charm

The Mimeoplasm

Temur (R/U/G) – 3

Savage Knuckleblade

Temur Ascendancy

Temur Charm

Five-Color – 1

Fusion Elemental

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.

Until next time, always remember, Urborg Volcano into Elfhame Palace is OP!

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