During the weekend, Wizards decided to give Magic the Gathering fans a look at what’s to come in the new set, The Battle of Zendikar. If you’ve been playing Magic for a while, you’ve been waiting for this moment since the title of the block was released back in 2009 and led to the set, Rise of the Eldrazi. Rise of the Eldrazi was a set that featured these huge ancient titans trapped in Zendikar called the Eldrazi; they were an extremely devastating breed since they featured a creature ability called annihilator that forces you to sacrifice a set number of permanents when an Eldrazi attacks. So, even if you blocked it, you’re still losing some permanents. That said, the Zendikar we’re visiting will be completely different than that which we’ve previously seen, given that the lore in Khans block changed the face of Magic completely (after Sarkhan changed the history of the planes to free Ugin).
Lore aside, the mechanics that were shown in the preview were really exciting, so lets jump into our favorites!
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
There are two Planeswalker mechanics we absolutely love and this card has both of them. Emblem effects are great since there is currently no way to remove them, and we love low cost “ultimates.” In a pinch you can activate the ultimate, blow up Gideon, and have +1/+1 for all your creatures for the rest of the game. He also has a no cost ability that gives you a 2/2 token! The icing on the cake is that this is a 4 drop card. Turn four and you’re spitting out 2/2 knights until you decide to blow up and turn them into 3/3 Knights. Don’t forget he can turn into a 5/5 and punch your opponent in the face.
We’re always a fan of 2 drop fliers, but this card goes the extra mile. Remember when we talked about how Sphinx’s Tutelage will probably build into a great mill deck? Well this card is also going into that deck. If you run a full play set against a deck with no flying blockers, you can mill your opponent up to four cards more. The card also introduces a new feature called Devoid. While it costs a blue mana to cast this card, it has no color because it’s devoid of color. This is great in preventing color targeting cards, but prevents you from using cards that get powered up from colored cards.
Landfall is back! Landfall is a creature ability that triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield. This is an extremely powerful mechanic for a green deck. Green decks have a multitude of ways to add land to the battlefield, which makes running a green landfall deck the best choice. This card gets +1/+1 whenever a land enters the battlefield, but if it’s a forest it doubles the effect. As if that wasn’t good enough, it also has trample, so if you don’t deal with the card right away, you’ll be getting smacked through your blocks.
Radiant Flames may not look like much at first—only being able to deal three damage at most—but it’s great if you look at all the token creation held within the set. If you’re looking down at an army of 2/2 tokens, and you don’t have nearly enough creatures to block it, you can radiant flames all the tokens and go in for the kill. This does require you to have more than one type of mana in your deck though, so this card really isn’t useful in a mono red deck.
Hero of Goma Fada
The knight decks are coming back with a vengeance! This only strengthens the knight cards released in the Origins set. This new Rally ability activates whenever an ally creature enters the battlefield—and Gideon creates 2/2 knight allies. This makes this card a great combo with Gideon. You can swing in at no risk every turn using this card’s ability with Gideons token creation. The only thing we need now is a card that gives all knights vigilance and we’re set!
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Ulamog, you’ve changed! While we can’t confirm that the annihilator ability is gone, we can confirm that Ulamog no longer has it. Ulamog is still indestructible, but no longer returns to your library when sent to the graveyard. Old Ulamog would destroy a target permanent upon entering the field, but new Ulamog (aka Newlamog) exiles two. It seems like this version of the card has a slight twist, but is still the same scary Eldrazi at heart. This is another card that mills—making it seem like another great one for that vicious mill deck we’re building. 20 cards is a third of your opponent’s 60 card deck, and if you’ve been milling regularly, that’s probably game.
It seems like Wizards has brought back the Eldrazi with a vengeance! Which cards are your favorites? What were you favorite cards from the original Zendikar block? How’s your mill deck coming along? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!
Feature Image and Photo Credit: Wizards of the Coast