Dungeons return in MTG Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate with new Initiative mechanic

Take the initiative and brace for impact.

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is bringing Initiative, a core Dungeons & Dragons mechanic, to Magic: The Gathering by combining two of the game’s more unique mechanics.

Initiative is a new mechanic in Battle for Baldur’s Gate that introduces a new dungeon for players to explore and a twist on the Monarch from Conspiracy: Take the Crown.

If a player takes the initiative, they venture into Undercity. This is a new dungeon exclusive to Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Players can only enter Undercity by taking the initiative. Cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms that venture into a dungeon can progress the player through Undercity only if they’re already in the dungeon. 

If a player is in one of the three dungeons from Forgotten Realms, then taking the initiative will progress them through the current dungeon they’re already in.

When a player has the initiative, at the beginning of their upkeep, they venture into the Undercity or progress into the next room of whatever dungeon they’re already in. Whenever one or more creatures a player controls deal damage to the player with initiative, that player takes the initiative.

Screengrab via Twitch.tv/magic

This mechanic is like Monarch because it encourages players to attack each other to gain extra value. The Undercity dungeon has nine rooms in it.

There are some lower-rarity options to take the initiative in Battle for Baldur’s Gate. Aarakocra Sneak and Passageway Seer are cards that take the initiative when they enter the battlefield. Passageway Seer gets a +1/+1 counter at the beginning of your end step if you have the initiative.

An uncommon creature was revealed that could be a solid commander in Limited. The U/B Creature sits within the established Undercity colors and rewards players for completing the dungeon.

Rilsa Rael, Kingpin

Image via WotC
  • Mana value: 3UB
  • Type: Legendary Creature Human Rogue
  • Rarity: Uncommon
  • Stats: 2/5
  • Keyword: Deathtouch
  • First ability: When Rilsa Rael, Kingpin enters the battlefield, you take the initiative.
  • Second ability: Whenever you attack, target attacking Creature gains deathtouch until end of turn. If you’ve completed a dungeon, that Creature also gets +5/+0 and gains first strike and menace until end of turn.

Rilsa is an example of an uncommon payoff for building a deck that wants to venture into Undercity and complete the dungeon as fast as possible. Rilsa turns a creature into a threat that demands an answer and will trade two-for-one in combat because of the stat boost and deathtouch and first strike combination it provides. 

As an uncommon, there will be better options for a commander. But control-minded players may look at Rilsa as a solid pickup if no other options present themselves.

In Battle for Baldur’s Gate Draft, it’s important to look for cards like Rilsa that are payoffs for completing a dungeon. Generally, these cards will provide powerful effects that make it worth putting a target on you by taking the initiative to progress through Undercity.


Take the initiative and fight to keep it when Battle for Baldur’s Gate releases worldwide on June 10.

All images via WotC.