We’re back, and this time it’s personnel.
What’s it tell you when the red cards that stand out at me as pickups are reprints? Neither of these cards are bad, not by any means, though Dragonmaster Outcast is just on the cusp of interesting versus great. Like, I might throw the DMO into an otherwise ramp deck as a singleton tool I could tutor up, or a midrangey deck that’s designed to have some late-game oomph, or something like that. Thing is, if I never play with either card, well… I’m not missing that much.
I’ve been told this card can be sacrificed to tutor up Eldrazi, but by gods I’ve never seen it. A neverending chain of 1/1s isn’t the most thrilling force in the world, but there are enough options in green to go wide that can make it worthwhile. I personally like this as a component in Paradox Haze decks, where you want to have as busy an upkeep as possible.
The cheapest of these and the one that’s more generally useful! I like this one with Fertilid.
The Green, Not-Quite-As-Nice Zulaport Cutthroat. Still, the Rot Shambler is cheap and it’s functional. There are a few of this card raound, including Unruly Mob in white, but this is the one that’s in Green, and at this price. You might cut Rot Shamblers early in a deck, but you should at least have had them in there at some point.
You might notice I’m into the utility effects, and this is a really nice one. Brutal Expulsion is a tempo card – as bounce tends to be – but it’s a powerful example of a two-for-one and it’s remarkably choice-heavy. This card has two modes (do one or both) that open up two more modes (return/deal) and then each of those two modes have two more modes (spell/creature and planeswalker/creature). It’s really interesting, and it’s easy to see situations where you’re able to use this to score a really cheeky play.
Basically, think about the number of times your board could be hosed by your opponent having this.
3/4 for 4, benefits from anthem effects, death triggers, brings its own death trigger. I tried to not like it, but it’s hard – this sifter is just really robust and good.
Behold, the Ingest card worth remembering. This little utility creature has just enough stuff going on that I’m happy using it. It’s a deathtouch creature and it’s cheap, so if you’re grinding behind a card like Oversold Cemetary or with a card like Corpse Dance, it can trade upward. It’s a card draw creature you can just pour mana into and at a pinch it can be a win condition for an infinite mana combo.
This is one of the processors I wish was better. Or more specifically, I wish I could find better general-purpose ways to feed it. Still, while Mystic Snake was a good creature for keeping a hold on tempo, the Nullifier flies, meaning that it can give you some reach. I know in my tempo-based aggressive fishy decks, I tend to grind out at around 8ish damage, and that’s when the game stabilises. Fliers like this let me move around stabilisation and it’s such a nice price!
Shame it’s so hard to use.
Shout out to Kiora who is in the two colours with the most useful Proliferate spells, and Doubling Season. I like most Kioras and this is a Kiora. It’s not like she has to do much but advance your mana, protect herself (by untapping a blocker), then explode in a pile of tentacles. I almost don’t like how simple Planeswalkers are, I mean this is just… grossly good.
And lastly, three really nice, robust little colourless lands that are worth having as a one-or-two in your decks that are that colour.
I don’t want to sound like I’m down on Battle For Zendikar. I tried to make sure I only talked about cards I liked, and I am a generally downbeat kind of person who favours slower, grindier decks rather than big and exciting moves or sharp-edged combos. The set was good, the set was fine – but it’s kinda amazing going back and looking at it in hindsight and learning how many cards there were in that set that were just ehhhh. Every set has its duds, but – wow.
Still, there are some prizes when you’re going back to grab some casual cards.