Commander may be the non-tournament experience of choice for the overwhelming majority of Magic: The Gathering fans, but when I’m in the mood to sling some spells for funsies, The Battle Box is my go-to format. It makes a lot of sense, considering I did invent the format to suit the specific interests of my friends and myself!

The Commander deck series may be tailored for the Commander crowd but these editions typically include cards that are unique and have interesting play design, which port well into my Battle Box stack.

History 101: Battle Box/Danger Room

For those of you unfamilar to the The Battle Box but are interested in learning more about the format:

My original primer on Danger Room rules.

Doug Linn’s Danger Room primer.

Ben Stark’s Battle Box primer.

There is a little bit of confusion about Danger Room/Battle Box and why it has different names. I came up with the format several years ago and was playing with with my friends. At GenCon 2014 I was hanging out with David Williams and played a bunch of games with him. He was really excited about the format and told Ben Stark and crew about the format. Ben also enjoyed the format and wrote about it.

At the time I was calling the format “The Danger Room,” which was a reference to the X-Men’s training facility from the comics. Ben et al. didn’t know what to call it and started calling it The Battle Box, which in all fairness is a better name that aptly describes the essence of the format. It is a box of battling!

One of the things that I strongly encourage is that you customize your own “big stack” of cards. Make it your own and play with the cards that you and your friends enjoy. With that being said, I have my own Battle Box (the first and original Battle Box!) that I update and fine tune with each new set release. I call my particular stack “The Danger Room” as an homage to the origin of the format.

As many of you have noted, the last Danger Room card selection article didn’t include a master list of the stack and so this time I’ll be including my full up-to-date stack with additions from the Commander 2017 lists.

The Impact of Commander 2017 in Battle Box

The newest Commander set adds some pretty exciting new cards to the mix, and one of the most important aspects of having an awesome Battle Box stack is creating balance among the cards. You need some focus on having a baseline power level. For example, if you are going to include cards like Umezawa’s Jitte (which I don’t), the overall power level of the spells needs to be extremely high.

I tend to avoid cards that quickly run away with the game if they go unanswered for a turn or two. I don’t have Titans or planeswalkers for this reason. I like to think of my stack as playing with a deck full of Limited first picks, but not ridiculous bombs. To put it in perspective, my stack would be cards that are top tier Draft picks in Limited that are worse than Glorybringer.

A little too first-pick-y.

I’m always happy to try out new powerful cards, but I’m not shy about cutting cards that always run away with the game, or cards that just feel consistently weak.

Let’s get to the cards that I’m excited to try out:

Let me Axe you a question: How many Axes are too many axes?

I love this card from a design perspective: An equipment that makes more copies of itself? Sick.

Artifacts are difficult-to-find includes because the Battle Box has access to perfect mana at all times, which means that being colorless isn’t the upside that it is in Constructed Magic.

With that being said, equipment cards are among the most interesting artifacts in the Danger Room.

As far as mono-colored spells, white is the big winner from Commander 2017.

Cat scratch fever.

Tribal Cats—who would have thought?

These cards are the epitome of what I enjoy in my stack. Both have good stats for their mana cost and impactful abilities. I didn’t like Notion Thief because the card was too much of a blowout, but having a draw spell against Alms Collector is more reasonable and the 3/4 flash body can do some work inside of combat.

Stalking Leonin is kind of like a slowtrip Flametongue Kavu. The biggest downside is that everybody will make the same joke about “I wonder which player I’m secretly going to choose…” in 1v1 duels. I do play a fair amount of this format in multiplayer, and so the ability will be fun in those scenarios.

You’re so Vein—you probably think this song is about you…

I have reservations that this card may just be too powerful. I’ve included Noxious Gearhulk, and that card feels powerful but not backbreaking. Patron might be better than Gearhulk by a big enough margin that it will need to be cut.

The card is a significant upgrade to Dark Hatchling, which is already a pretty decent card in the stack. I’m going to give it a whirl with the understanding that if it runs away with too many games, it’ll need to go.

The purr-fect answer to artifacts and enchantments…

Qasali Slingers is a neat card. It’s like a Harmonic Sliver, but for Cats. I like having answers to artifacts and enchantments in the Danger Room because they are quite powerful but they really need to be tacked onto something useful. Too many Disenchants=too many situationally dead cards.

I like the reach ability on the card as well. I think it is one of the better Disenchant creatures available, all things considered.

On to the multicolored cards:

Why wouldn’t U/W have the best 1-8-7 creature spell?

Azorious has it all. The rich get richer.

This card is insane. It’s like a Control Magic that can’t be disenchanted that also captures the ETB triggers. It’s pretty darn spicy.

I don’t think I need to explain why this card is great and I think it flirts with the power level limits of my stack, but I’m going to give it a go. One of my rules is that I like the “best” or “most powerful” cards in my stack to be cards that don’t get to see play in other Constructed formats. Great cards that need a place to shine… if the most broken cards in your format are Fractured Identity and Dragonlair Spider, well, sounds like a pretty fun format to me!

In Multiplayer Danger Room, this card also hits that angle really well. I prefer Battle Box Multiplayer to Commander because it feels like old-school multiplayer before everybody’s Commander decks were just ramp, combo, and Time Walks (all things you cannot do in Battle Box!).

Bringing that Old-School Dominaria flavor back!

G/W is by far the hardest guild to include new cards for because the competition is so high. With that being said, I had to find room for this card because it is so sweet and unique. It’s a great version of one of the classic characters from Magic lore.

It also perfectly hits the power level that I want in Danger Room. Goodbye Loxodon Smiter, you will be missed.

The Mardu Boba Fett.

As I was looking through the Shard and wedge-colored cards, I was kind of disappointed that most of them had “command zone” related abilities. Obviously, the Danger Room doesn’t use the Command Zone, so many of these sweet cards are simply not options for my format.

With that being said, Mathas, Fiend Seeker slots perfectly into my game! It also worked out perfectly that Mardu needed a nice third card to round out the line-up. Ponyback Brigade was not exactly an exciting card.

The flavor of this card is also sweet. It puts a bounty on the head of one of the opponent’s creatures that rewards you for killing it down the line. Menace is also a keyword ability that I’ve come to love and makes for interesting game play.

O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami W/U/B/R/G

O-no, it’s O-Kagachi!

For the most part I have a strict rule about cutting a card to add a card. But I’m making an exception in the case of O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami. I decided that I wasn’t going to cut my only other W/U/B/R/G spell (Fusion Elemental) and would just add a second creature to that category.

There is also a fair chance that I’ll have to cut this amazing Dragon for power level reasons. I feel like I’m on the fence about adding this card because it is so sweet and epic.

A 5-color Spirit Dragon? Come on! How can I not at least try this bad boy out? If it is too much, I’ll cut it next time around but I’m at least going to take it for a test flight!

I’m excited to get my hands on these new Commander cards.. What do you all think? Did I miss any cards that you think are great? Do you disagree with any of my picks? Are Cats OP? Will O-Kagachi be an unbeatable hologram Danger Room end boss? Let me know in the comments!

DeMars Danger Room/Sorted Card List

Artifacts

Basilisk Collar
Bloodforged Battle-Axe
Conqueror’s Flail
Crystal Shard
Duplicant
Engineered Explosives
Etched Oracle
Filigree Familiar
Fleetwheel Cruiser
Hangarback Walker
Icy Manipulator
Juggernaut
Lightning Greaves
Living Wall
Loxodon Warhammer
Mask of Memory
Mirror Universe
Nihil Spellbomb
Peace Strider
Perilous Vault
Pierce Strider
Power Matrix
Runechanter’s Pike
Scrapheap Scrounger
Serrated Arrows
Smuggler’s Copter
Spellskite
Sylvok Lifestaff
Tawnos’s Coffin
Treasure Keeper
Trip Noose
Triskelion
Triskelavus
Walking Ballista
Whispersilk Cloak

White

Adorned Pouncer
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
Dusk // Dawn
End Hostilities
Exalted Angel
Final Judgment
Flickerwisp
Fumigate*
Galepowder Mage
Geist-Honored Monk
Glorious Anthem
Glory-Bound Initiate
Hallow
Hallowed Burial
Hidden Dragonslayer
Imposing Sovereign
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Karmic Guide
Kirtar’s Wrath
Kor Sanctifiers
Lingering Souls
Mardu Woe-Reaper
Momentary Blink
Mother of Runes
Phyrexian Rebirth
Reciprocate
Regal Caracal
Restoration Angel
Rhox Faithmender
Righteous Confluence
Rout
Sacred Cat
Scout’s Warning
Selfless Spirit*
Selfless Squire
Shrieking Grotesque
Soldier of the Pantheon
Soulfire Grand Master
Spear of Heliod
Spectral Lynx
Sunscape Battlemage
Sunscourge Champion
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
Thraben Inspector
Trueheart Duelist
Valorous Stance
Wall of Omens
Wing Shards
Wrath of God

Blue

Aeon Chronicler
Allied Strategies
Ancestral Vision
Angler Drake
Bonded Fetch
Braingeyser
Careful Consideration
Censor
Cephalid Sage
Champion of Wits
Circular Logic
Complicate
Concentrate
Control Magic
Counterspell
Deep Analysis
Delver of Secrets
Disallow
Dispel
Dismiss
Dungeon Geists
Envelop
Evasive Action
Exclude
Fact or Fiction
False Summoning
Flashfreeze
Hydroblast
Jace’s Phantasm
Jilt
Jolting Merfolk
Looter il-Kor
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Man-o’-War
Merfolk Looter
Miscalculation
Mulldrifter
Negate
Neutralizing Blast
Nimble Obstructionist
Old Man of the Sea
Opportunity
Persuasion
Phantasmal Image
Probe
Psionic Blast
Power Sink
Remand
Remove Soul
Repulse
Scour the Laboratory*
Serendib Efreet
Snapcaster Mage
Steal Artifact
Stolen Identity
Stratus Dancer
Sun Ce, Young Conquerer
Syncopate
Talrand’s Invocation
Tidings
Unsubstantiate*
Unsummon
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Whirler Rogue
Willbender
Wonder

Black

Ammit Eternal
Animate Dead
Bane of the Living
Big Game Hunter
Bloodsoaked Champion
Bone Shredder
Chainer’s Edict
Coffin Queen
Collective Brutality*
Consuming Vapors
Crypt Angel
Dakmor Lancer
Damnation
Dance of the Dead
Dark Banishing
Dark Hatchling
Despise
Dismember
Distress
Doom Blade
Doomfall
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Dread Wanderer
Duress
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
Lay Bare the Heart
Lifebane Zombie
Murderous Cut
Nekrataal
Noxious Gearhulk
Night’s Whisper
Ophiomancer
Ostracize
Phyrexian Gargantua
Phyrexian Rager
Rend Flesh
Ritual of the Machine
Royal Assassin
Sever the Bloodline
Shriekmaw
Skeletal Scrying
Skeletal Vampire
Skinrender
Smother
Patron of the Vein
Sudden Death
Terror
Thoughtseize
Tragic Slip
Transgress the Mind
Unburial Rites
Undying Evil
Unearth
Vampire Nighthawk
Withered Wretch
Wretched Confluence

Red

Abbot of Keral Keep
Abrade
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Anger
Arc Lightning
Barbed Lightning
Beetleback Chief
Burst Lightning
Carbonize
Chain Lightning
Collective Defiance*
Conquering Manticore
Cunning Sparkmage
Deem Worthy
Desolation Giant
Disintegrate
Dualcaster Mage
Earthshaker Khenra
Faithless Looting
Feldon of the Third Path
Fiery Confluence
Fire Imp
Fireball
Firebolt
Flames of the Firebrand
Flame Slash
Flametongue Kavu
Flamewake Phoenix
Fledgling Dragon
Forked Bolt
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Grim Lavamancer
Heart-Piercer Manticore
Hordeling Outburst
Hound of Griselbrand
Hungry Flames
Incendiary Flow*
Incinerate
Kird Ape
Krenko, Mob Boss
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Strike
Mindclaw Shaman
Mountain Yeti
Pardic Arsonist*
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pia Nalaar*
Pillar of Flame
Punishing Fire
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Roast
Searing Spear
Siege-Gang Commander
Slice and Dice
Starstorm
Sweltering Suns
Temur Battle Rage
Thunderbreak Regent
Thunderscape Battlemage
Tribal Flames
Vulshok Sorcerer
Warfire Javelineer
Young Pyromancer
Zurgo Bellstriker

Green

Ana Battlemage
Arborback Stomper*
Autumn’s Veil
Basking Rootwalla
Benefactor’s Draught
Berserk
Blastoderm
Blossoming Defense*
Boon Satyr
Briarhorn
Call of the Herd
Caller of the Claw
Deathmist Raptor
Den Protector
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Flinthoof Boar
Forgotten Ancient
Gaea’s Might
Genesis Hydra
Giant Growth
Gnaw to the Bone
Harmonize
Hooded Hydra
Imperious Perfect
Indrik Stomphowler
Kessig Prowler*
Loam Dryad
Majestic Myriarch
Manglehorn
Master of the Wild Hunt
Mitotic Slime
Moment’s Peace
Noose Constrictor*
Obstinate Baloth
Ohran Viper
Patagia Viper
Pelakka Wurm
Phantom Centaur
Polukranos, World Eater
Predator’s Strike
Qasali Slingers
Rancor
Ranger’s Guile
Reclamation Sage
Regrowth
Resilient Khenra
Ridgescale Tusker
River Boa
Scavenging Ooze
Skyshroud Elite
Somberwald Stag
Spider Spawning
Stingerfling Spider
Storm Seeker
Thrill of the Hunt
Thornscape Apprentice
Thornscape Battlemage
Thragtusk
Vengevine
Wall of Blossoms
Wild Mongrel
Wild Nacatl
Withstand Death
Wolfir Avenger

Azorius

Absorb
Azorius Guildmage
Cloudblazer*
Fractured Identity
Hindering Light
Ojutai’s Command
Ordered Migration
Reflector Mage
Supreme Verdict
Wall of Denial

Boros

Basandra, Battle Seraph
Boros Charm
Boros Guildmage
Boros Reckoner
Bull Cerodon
Foundry Champion
Lightning Helix
Spitemare
Warleader’s Helix
Weapon Trainer

Dimir

Baleful Strix
Consign // Oblivion
Countersquall
Dragonlord Silumgar
Far // Away
Psychatog
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Soul Manipulation
Spite // Malice
Woodlot Crawler

Golgari (G/B)

Abrupt Decay
Baloth Null
Consume Strength
Dreg Mangler
Gleancrawler
Golgari Guildmage
Maelstrom Pulse
Obelisk Spider
Pernicious Deed
Putrefy

Gruul (R/G)

Assault // Battery
Bloodbraid Elf
Dragonlair Spider
Fires of Yavimaya
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Ground Assault
Heaven // Earth
Khenra Charioteer
Huntmaster of the Fells
Vithian Renegades

Izzet (U/R)

Counterflux
Dack’s Duplicate
Electrolyze
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
Fire // Ice
Izzet Charm
Maverick Thopterist
Prophetic Bolt
Swerve
Turn // Burn

Orzhov (B/W)

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Blind Hunter
Castigate
Death Grasp
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Mortify
Orzhov Pontiff
Sin Collector
Start // Finish
Zealous Persecution

Rakdos (R/B)

Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Claim // Fame
Cut // Ribbons
Kolaghan’s Command
Murderous Redcap
Olivia, Mobilized for War
Rakdos Charm
Terminate
Unlicensed Disintegration

Selesnya (G/W)

Advent of the Wurm
Dromoka’s Command
Elderwood Scion
Enlisted Wurm
Kitchen Finks
Loxodon Hierarch
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Mystic Enforcer
Selesnya Charm
Voice of Resurgence

Simic (U/G)

Aether Mutation
Ethereal Ambush
Icefeather Aven
Horizon Chimera
Jungle Barrier
Mystic Snake
Plaxcaster Frogling
River Hoopoe
Shardless Agent
Simic Charm

Shards and Wedges (3 of Each Color Combination)

Abzan

Abzan Charm
Anafenza, the Foremost
Doran, the Siege Tower

Bant

Bant Charm
Rhox War Monk
Rubinia Soulsinger

Esper

Dromar’s Charm
Esper Charm
Punish Ignorance

Grixis

Gwendlyn Di Corci
Slave of Bolas
Tetsuo Umezawa

Jeskai

Lightning Angel
Mantis Rider
Sage of the Inward Eye

Jund

Adun Oakenshield
Jund Charm
Sprouting Thrinax

Mardu

Crackling Doom
Mardu Charm
Mathas, Fiend Seeker

Naya

Fiery Justice
Marath, Will of the Wild
Woolly Thoctar

Sultai

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Sultai Charm
The Mimeoplasm

Temur

Savage Knuckleblade
Temur Ascendancy
Temur Charm

5-Color

Fusion Elemental
O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami