A new Phyrexian spoiler has been shared for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering set, and the fine print alludes to an unfamiliar type of MTG card. Shared on January 18 by a source the official MTG site only calls “Wizards Fan Email”, the Phyrexian angel, Atraxa, Grand Unifier has an enters-the-battlefield ability that lets you draw ten cards and add one of each card type you draw to your hand. ‘Battle’ is listed as an example of a card type.
At this stage, no one is sure what a ‘Battle’ card will be. That hasn’t stopped the internet from speculating hard, though. The most popular theory seems to be that Battle is a revamped version of Skirmish, a mechanic that was dreamt up (and later abandoned) as a design for the War of the Spark set.
From reading the description shared by head MTG designer Mark Rosewater in 2019, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Skirmish was designed to suit the flavour of War of the Spark, an “event set” focused on telling the story of a great battle. Phyrexia: All Will Be One, with plenty of its MTG planeswalkers already confirmed for compleation ahead of their big face-off with the machines, fits a similar description. It’d be a ripe stage for Skirmish to make its comeback on.
Rosewater says the mechanic would have generated Skirmish tokens, cards that existed outside of the usual battlefield and had a “game board” you’d need to advance across to win the mini-battle. Effects from the Skirmish would have an impact on the rest of your Magic game. It’s sounding a little like the Dungeon cards found in Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
When it’s not name-dropping a sneaky new mechanic, Atraxa, Grand Unifier is plugging plenty of its own keywords. The seven-mana, 7/7 legendary creature has flying, vigilance, deathtouch, and lifelink to complement its wordy card-draw ability.
We’ll have to wait until the Phyrexia: All Will Be One release date to uncover more of the Battle mystery. Even then, there may not be any Battle cards in the set; if there aren’t, the MTG Lord of the Rings release date could be another good bet. Either way, there are plenty of reasons to keep a close eye on the MTG 2023 release schedule.