Two-Headed Giant Takes Center Stage in Battlebond, the Latest 'Magic: The Gathering' Set

Magic: The Gathering isn't just one card game. There are numerous ways to play, including drafts, Commander and more. The latest set, Battlebond, focuses on one of the most underserved play styles: Two-Headed Giant.

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Battlebond is a sports-themed Magic: The Gathering set that is all about teaming up with a friend to take down foes Wizards of the Coast

What Is Two-Headed Giant?

Two-Headed Giant is a format where two players team up to take on another team of two. Teammates share a health pool, work together on attacks and defense and share information in the hope of coming out on top. While the mode has been around for ages, there has never been a Magic set dedicated to the multiplayer mode. Until now, that is.

Senior Magic Designer Gavin Verhey talked with Newsweek about Battlebond, the cards he's most excited about and why he thinks Battlebond can bring in non- Magic players or lapsed fans.

"Two-Headed Giant has been a format that exists and people like, but we've never really ever promoted it at this level," Verhey said. "What we like to do is find things that people are talking about, take it and enhance it. Two-Headed Giant is something that people really, really like. We get feedback all the time saying, 'I had a blast at my pre-release event playing Two-Headed Giant. I wish there was more like this.' Battlebond is a chance to make that a reality."

For fans of Magic lore, Battlebond takes place in a new plane. This new area, Kylem, is in the middle of a popular tournament, fittingly featuring teams of two fighting against each other. "We wanted to fuse Two-Headed Giant flavor with a world to give players something extra to latch onto," said Verhey. "The area you'll be seeing in Battlebond is a stadium called Valor's Reach, which is a place where people from all across the planes flock to to see epic battles."

While that sounds dangerous, these fights are more about style over domination. It's almost like pro wrestling. "There's a winner at the end, but it's more who can win with the most flair," said Verhey. This same air of clean-spirited competition is evident elsewhere as well. "You have goblin vendors, people cheering in the crowd, it's really fun to see the flavor we've infused into this set," he said.

Fumble is one of many sports-themed cards found in Battlebond Wizards of the Coast

This setting also inspired Verhey and the design team to theme many of the new cards around sports, both of the traditional and electronic variety. There are some overt references to popular pastimes with cards like "Fumble" and "Game Plan," and others are more of a reference to esports. "Last One Standing" seems like a nod to the popular battle royale genre, while "Unleash Demon Mode" is said to be inspired by a video game character tapping into an ultimate move.

Oh, hey, looks like I still have one in my stack of Battlebond playtest cards I kept! Anyway, Yichao's idea was that moment when you're playing a video game and you unleash some super move that enhances their character. Comes through pretty well! Enjoy!#wotcstaff #mtgbattle

— Gavin Verhey (@GavinVerhey) May 23, 2018

One card that straddles the line between traditional sports and esports is "Play of the Game." Verhey explained this is a board sweeper that exiles everything in play, except land. "It's something you can look at at the end of the round and say 'yeah, that was the play of the game,'" he said.

Play of the Game lives up to its name in Battlebond Wizards of the Coast

In addition to the sports theme, Verhey and the Battlebond team wanted to include an idea of "twosiness" to accompany the Two-Headed Giant focus. "A creature might have two heads, or some card does something in twos," he explained. "Doubling Season is a great example of something that doubles, and our new art really reinforces that twosiness."

Because Battlebond is all about Two-Headed Giant play, Verhey wants players to experience those exhilarating moments when teamwork makes the dream work. "There's a card in the set called Fertile Ground, that's a simple reprint that you can put on a land, and whenever that land taps for mana, you can add an additional mana," he explained. "On your team's second turn, you can cast that spell onto your teammate's mana, which allows them to summon a three-mana spell or creature a turn early. It feels like an alley-oop in basketball."

The team hopes this spirit of camaraderie will bring in new players, or reignite a love for Magic from fans who might have taken a break from the game. "There's a lot to take in at once playing Magic, so sitting down next to someone and having the opportunity to play with them helps to take away that intimidation," said Verhey.

The full reveal of cards in Battlebond can be found on the Magic website. Cards will become available starting on June 8.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of Two-Headed Giant? Will you pick up some Battlebond cards this June? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.