As a collectible card game with nearly 30 years of history behind it, there’s no shortage of ways to play Magic: the Gathering. With a suitably sized gaming group around a kitchen table, players have countless MTG formats to choose from. Even if your MTG gaming group doesn’t like the rules of a format, it’s easy enough to create an entirely new one. Unfortunately, while there are countless ways to play Magic, not all of them are supported by Wizards. In fact, players are starting to complain that their favorite slot has been swept under the rug.
A Battlebond to Remember
Launched in 2018, Battlebond is perhaps one of the most unique MTG sets ever printed. Built around the Two-Headed Giant format, Battlebond was a draftable set like no other in Magic history. Rather than playing alone, Battlebond had players paired with another player to beat their opponents in the arenas of Valor’s Reach. This Kylem arena is also the setting for Magic’s latest mobile game, Magic Spellslingers.
With a unique draft format in which players picked two cards each turn from four packs, Battlebond had a lot to take on. Along with enforcing a Two-Headed Giant format, the game seemed stacked against the success of Battlebond. As a result, while a fun experiment as 2018’s innovation product, Battlebond came and went without much fanfare. Nonetheless, some enjoyed the product and would love to see a sequel in the future.
Unfortunately, for interested players, it looks like Battlebond 2 won’t be in the cards for the foreseeable future. Recently, while discussing recent innovative product sets, Magic lead designer Mark Rosewater revealed that Battlebond is perhaps the least likely to see a reprint. In its place, Rose water claimed that Conspiracy, Archenemy, and Planechase were all more viable options. Ultimately, Rosewater states that this reasoning is because “Two-Headed Giant just isn’t very popular as a format.”
If you build it they will come
Despite this damning condemnation from Mark Rosewater, Two-Headed Giant players weren’t happy with the claim. Instead, in a Blogatog follow-up question, the user questioned Rosewater’s reasoning. “I loved Battlebond, and saw nothing but universal praise for the whole thing online,” Tumblr user Selein said. To improve the chances of the set returning, Selein went on to ask, “Can you tell us what players need to do to make Battlebond 2 more likely and successful?” In response, Rosewater simply said that “I guess seeing more sanctioned two-headed giant tournaments” might do the trick.
Given that it’s no secret that the future of Magic: the Gathering is determined by the success of past products, Two-Headed Giant needs to be more successful to ensure its return isn’t too surprising. Unfortunately, popularizing an MTG format like Two-Headed Giant is not an easy thing to do. This is especially true if he is not supported by Wizards after they deemed him unpopular.
In pleading for the Two-Headed Giant events, Blogatog user Ghostlygideon said their LGS “used to do 2HG every pre-release and stopped when the switch to the Companion app ended. product because they said it was not supported”. According to Ghostlygideon, “Players want it, it’s just not offered, so we just stick with what is.” In response to these claims, Rosewater once again downplayed Two-Headed Giant’s popularity. “He wasn’t put in the Companion app because the sanction was low enough that he wasn’t picked. I think it was popular in specific areas, but that doesn’t mean it was was popular overall,” Rosewater said.
Ultimately, Two-Headed Giant ended up on the MTG companion app, allowing easier access to the format. It also allows Wizards of the Coast to access better information about how often the format is played. If those numbers increase enough, Battlebond 2 might even become a reality.
Welcome to the arena
While Two-Headed Giant may thankfully be an option on MTG’s companion app, it’s not available where it matters most; MTG Arena. As potentially the most accessible way to get into Magic, MTG Arena could catapult the success of the Two-Headed Giant format despite its shortcomings. Unfortunately, a major obstacle stands in the way; MTG Arena does not have multiplayer formats.
Luckily, this glaring problem seems to be on Wizards of the Coast’s long to-do list. According to Tumblr user Tbllitz, Wizards of the Coast is currently evaluating feedback on multiplayer formats in Arena. “I just got a poll asking my opinion on Arena, and one of the questions was ‘what is your level of interest in 2HG on Arena? “So clearly it’s still on wotc’s radar,” Tlblitz said. If accurate, this survey could predict the arrival of multiplayer formats on MTG Arena at last. This means four-player Commander matches could finally be something Arena players can enjoy.
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