What I Learned From Drafting Battlebond

May 24, 2018 | 4 min to read

Roscoe Wetlaufer, Wizards of the Coast

Once a year, we get to break the rules a little.

We call them "draft innovation SKUs"—annual booster products that get permission to do things other draft formats can't. The draft innovation SKU for 2018 comes on June 6: Battlebond.

I got a chance to play Battlebond back in February. It was a blast. The set overdelivers on fun and it could be a game-changer for your community.

Here's what I took away from my draft:

Social is the sell.

Sets like these tend to focus more heavily on the social experience. Unstable and Conspiracy are examples.

But when I cracked my first Battlebond pack, it was clear that, while this set is definitely about the social experience, it's a different experience than those others.

The social appeal of Unstable or Conspiracy is in the idiosyncrasies—startling mechanics that create a spectacle both in-game and out. With Battlebond, the social appeal is in the collaboration. It's all about the pleasure of working with a teammate, devising a plan, talking through decisions.

When we sat down to draft Battlebond, that collaborative spirit took over the room. Friends chatted over draft picks. Experienced players broke down key concepts. Teams joked about how terrible their decks were going to be. Each time I huddled with my teammate, Jordan, we came back to the game with a plan and big smiles on our faces.

Battlebond creates that social energy—and it's infectious.

Battlebond is an invitation to in-store play.

To get the most out of the set, I'd recommend pairing your regulars with intermediate players. Brand new players should start with a Planeswalker Deck, but for an intermediate player, one with at-home experience but little exposure to in-store play, Battlebond is perfect.

Having a teammate sitting alongside you means a helping hand whenever you need one. You can get a gut check on which card to pick in draft, or whether to keep a hand. Both teammates play crucial roles, cover for each other's weaknesses, and build consensus.

Those little moments of agreement—especially when they pan out in-game—can really showcase the joy of in-store play. Face-to-face interaction, play experiences made richer because they're shared.

Two-Headed Giant doubles the depth.

Two-Headed Giant drafts bring a depth I never expected.

Take the "partners-with" mechanic. During the first pack of the draft, Jordan and I picked Blaring Recruit and Blaring Captain. These partner cards seemed strong, and we were building at least one deck focused on the Warrior creature type.

Then, during the third pack, we had the option to pick Proud Mentor and Impetuous Protégé, another "partners-with" pair. However, we also wanted to draft Stolen Strategy, a powerful card we couldn't ignore.

Then it dawned on us: what if we picked only one half of the partner set?

The other half is much less desirable on its own, and might make it back around. Giddy with our new strategy, we picked Stolen Strategy and Proud Mentor. With the pack halfway around the table, another team even jokingly bemoaned that someone had broken up a partner set. Two picks later, Impetuous Protégé came back to us.

Battlebond brings plenty of "aha!" moments like that to the table, and you get to share them with a friend. I loved figuring out how to turn a pool of cards into two decks, untapping my teammate's lands. . .and finally finding the format where True-Name Nemesis doesn't dominate.

With two months until Core Set 2019, I strongly recommend using Battlebond to pad your Dominaria season, fire some extra drafts, and move some extra product. Place or boost your preorder today.

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