Magic: the Gathering‘s newest set, Battle For Zendikar, is officially in stores. Returning to the Eldrazi-troubled plane, we find the titan Ulamog and his hungry brood calcifying continents, uniting the once-warring natives under a single flag. Mechanically, Landfall and the Ally creature type return to face the threat, joined this time by the new Awaken, Rally, and Converge; on the Eldrazi side, we see colored casting costs (undone by Devoid), the exile-based Ingest attempt at softening Annihilator, and a Processor creature type which retrieves exiled cards for value.
Overall, Battle For Zendikar isn’t the finest haul, but here are the top eight inclusions you’ll want to pick up.
- The Tango Lands
Like an inversion of the “Fast Lands” from Scars of Mirrodin, BFZ’s new duals earned the “Tango” moniker from that dusty adage “It takes two to tango.” Having the basic land types makes them fetchable, which we’ve only seen before on Ravnica’s “Shock Lands.” The Tangos aren’t blowing any minds, but they’re welcome additions to the game’s library.
- Scour From Existence
Players of the Commander/EDH format, which restricts decks to the color(s) in their commander’s cost, will lament red and black’s lack of answers to certain card types: namely, red can’t handle enchantments, and black can’t handle enchantments and artifacts. Scour From Existence might cost 7 mana, but its instant speed, exiling effect, and ability to hit any permanent bolster black and red’s quiver.
- Emeria Shepherd
Landfall is a strong mechanic, since it basically triggers every turn your deck isn’t choking, and this is perhaps the most profound effect we’ve seen it wield. Everyone loves both land ramp and reanimation, so who isn’t excited when they come on the same card? (If you’re playing green and white, run with this with Sakura-Tribe Elder to put every Plains from your deck into play).
- Zulaport Cutthroat
Blood Artist is the crown prince of black sacrifice decks, but in multiplayer formats, where such decks see the most play, only hitting one opponent delays victory. Enter Zulaport Cutthroat, who offers a more symmetrical effect. Sure, he only triggers when your dudes die, but the decks that would run him make sure that’s happening. (See also Smothering Abomination for a sac-to-draw engine that, unlike others, triggers off tokens.)
- Bring to Light
As if Standard needed a way to cheat Siege Rhino into play, Bring to Light arrives to reward your greedy mana base, tutoring and casting for “free” in one abusable swoop. The power of Converge scales with the number of colors in your deck, so this card’s viability depends each format’s available mana. In casual, look for this in 5-color Commander lists – particularly Slivers.
- Retreat to Coralhelm
Combo players rejoice! New tech has arrived for untap shenanigans. This card spiked Knight of the Reliquary‘s price, since together they can grab all of your lands and swing for lethal, made even better by lands with protection abilities like Sejiri Steppe. Brewers in the Modern format have been hard at work for weeks.
- Ob Nixilis Reignited
Let’s be real – this card is boring as hell – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerhouse. As a planeswalker, its non-ult abilities – i.e. the ones you’re likely to cast – are what matter the most, and these two are basically black’s flagship moves. Paying 1 life to draw card is an awesome deal, and you can never have enough Murder. Ob Nixilis needs third-party protection, but over time he should generate killer advantage.
- Sire of Stagnation
Introducing our winner: Consecrated Sphinx‘s Eldrazi sibling. Inverting Landfall’s logic, Sire of Stagnation produces reliable, dramatic value from your opponents’ basic performance, melting down their deck and admitting you to yours. Every single blue and black Commander deck should at least test this card out. Keep it alive and you’ll either bloom with card advantage or force your opponents to miss land precious drops – either way, it’s tyranny.
That’s my list, but perhaps you disagree! Am I a monster for omitting the Zendikar Expeditions? Voice your consternation – or resounding approval – in the comments below.
Image credits: www.mythicspoiler.com