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Mark Rosewater on creating the new MTG card type Battle

Battles were dreamed up as a way to show off the entire MTG multiverse at war, says Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater.

MTG artwork showing the Phyrexians invading Ikoria

We recently had the chance to ask Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater some questions about March of the Machine, the upcoming MTG set which he has called the most ambitious design he’s ever done.

Undoubtedly, one of the key things that makes March of the Machine so notable, so ambitious, is the inclusion of Battles, Magic’s first new card type since the planeswalker – in fact, its first new card type in almost 16 years.

According to Rosewater, Battles came about as a way to show off the multiverse-spanning scope of the war with the Phyrexians. But he didn’t necessarily start out expecting to invent a brand new type of Magic card.

“I wanted planes to be to March of the Machine what planeswalkers had been to War of the Spark,” Rosewater says, outlining his core vision for the set.

“We began by figuring out if we could represent the larger conflict by just showing pieces of it, but soon realised that if we’re making a set about a war across all of the worlds you’ve ever seen, we needed to show them all.”

“To do this, I felt it was important that we have a card that represented each plane. I didn’t know whether or not it was going to be a new card type or just a new subtype, but I wanted the set to capture the scope of what was going on, and I wanted each plane to get its time to shine as a whole entity on a card.”

In the Commander decks that release alongside March of the Machine, this is done through the return of Planechase, but in the Standard set, Battle cards show off the Phyrexians invading different parts of the multiverse. That includes worlds we’ve only seen little glimpses of in the past, like the non-Euclidean geometry plane of Xerex or the miniature, Lilliputian world of Segovia.

MTG card Invasion of Segovia

Rosewater says: “This set is a love letter to all the fans of the worlds and characters of Magic. Odds are if we’ve ever visited a world, no matter how briefly, it shows up in this set, and while we couldn’t get every Magic character in it (there are a lot!), we got in as many as we could.”

There were also some purely logistical reasons to make a new card type, and have Battles be their own separate thing. “The design we ended up with for battles was different enough from any other card type, that we felt it warranted being a new card type,” Rosewater explains.

“A new card type is allowed to bake rules into the definition of the card type. If we had made Battles a subtype (probably of enchantments) the rules text to define what the card does wouldn’t have fit on the card.”

Stay tuned for our full March of the Machine Q&A with Mark Rosewater!