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How to Best Use Battle for Bretagard in Magic the Gathering

Green and White tokens has long been a popular deck-building strategy in Magic the Gathering. In fact, one of my first ever decks in EDH was Rhys the Redeemed, a Green and White Elf who was perfect to lead a swarming token army to victory. In the Kaldheim set, token lovers gained a new toy to play with the Saga card called Battle for Bretagard. 

This Saga is an Enchantment card that only sticks around for its “chapters” to play out. This mechanic works by putting a Lore counter on it when it enters play, then placing another one on it at the beginning of each of your upkeep steps on your turn. The Saga creates a 1/1 white Human Warrior creature token when it gains its first Lore counter, then a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token with the second counter. On the third chapter, it creates a copy of each artifact and/or creature token you control with different names before sacrificing itself.

Creating tokens and being able to copy them is a good deal for 3 mana, with the potential to put out four bodies all by itself. If you have other tokens already around to copy, the value of this card increases substantially. It seemed obvious that token army lovers in EDH / Commander would happily find a way to slot a copy of Battle for Bretagard into their decks. It seemed possible for it to see competitive play elsewhere, too.

The only downside to Battle for Bretagard is that its effects are spread out over the course of three turns. With many other Saga cards, those effects are often much more potent than simply creating a 1/1 token, and that’s two-thirds of what this Saga does. Of course, the final super “populate” ability can be quite powerful in the right game state, making this a Saga that gets better as the game goes along. 

Sadly, Battle for Bretagard would prove a bit too clunky for Standard play, and it was much too slow for other formats like Modern where much more efficient token creation exists. There are many ways this card could be used and abused for sure, but Battle for Bretagard is a card that requires timing. Of course, to unlock the full potential of this card, your deck really needs to be all in on the token plan. The only downside to that is there are many ways to make a token army disappear in an instant. Still, this card will often leave you with four 1/1 tokens, which is well worth three mana. But, would this Saga ever find a good home? Fortunately, the answer to that question is yes.

What is the Best Deck for Battle for Bretagard?

As an Enchantment that provides value over several turns, Battle for Bretagard was always a card that would see at least some play in Commander. But, it turns out a lot of the most popular token commanders couldn’t really make room for it. While it the Saga certainly is included in some deck lists for token-happy Legendaries like Maja, Bretagard Protector, Rhys the Redeemed, and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, it’s not nearly a staple among any of these Commanders. 

In fact, Battle for Bretagard has found its best home in Saga tribal decks led by Satsuki, the Living Lore. The two-mana Green and White Saga lord includes this particular three-mana Saga in over 80 percent of her decks, according to EDHREC. What makes a token creation card so powerful in a deck full of Enchantments, though?

Because Satsuki is in Green and White, many of the Enchantments, and notably many of the Sagas, create Tokens of some kind or another. Satsuki has a powerful tap ability that puts an additional lore counter on each Saga you control, speeding up the potency of their effects. Also, whenever she dies, Satsuki lets you put a Saga from either your side of the battlefield or your graveyard back into your hand. Thanks to being able to copy both creature and artifact tokens, you’ll likely be reusing Battle for Bretagard many times.

It doesn’t hurt that the Phyrexia: All Be One set has greatly buffed Proliferate as a core mechanic. Proliferate affects counters of all kinds, and since Sagas function with the use of Lore counters, every Saga can do more all in one turn. Battle for Bretagard is particularly aided by the proliferation of Proliferate cards, as is the Satsuki deck in general. So, it’s not hard to see the Living Lore deck become significantly stronger thanks to that set.

Interestingly, this card hasn’t really gotten much traction outside of Commander. With as many artifact tokens running around the game by 2022, it seemed that only time would be needed for this card to break out. Unfortunately, this Saga has never really reached top level play. It did appear in the occasional Naya Tokens deck list in April 2021 Standard like this one. It’s also popped up in the odd Selesnya Tokens Pioneer deck list

For as good as this card is on paper, it takes three full turns for it to truly matter. But, many new Proliferate cards suddenly make these good, but somewhat clunky Sagas a lot more interesting to brew around. Also, with other artifact tokens becoming popular like Blood, Clues, and even Powerstone tokens in today’s Modern and Pioneer formats, it’s only a matter of time before someone brews up something special with this Saga Enchantment.

How would you play Battle for Bretagard?

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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