Tagged: Battle For Zendikar

BFZ Hindsight – Black, Red, Green, Misc

We’re back, and this time it’s personnel.

Red

Rolling Thunder Dragonmaster Outcast

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.

Green

From Beyond

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.

Retreat to Kazandu

The cheapest of these and the one that’s more generally useful! I like this one with Fertilid.

Rot Shambler

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.

Multi-Colour

Brutal Expulsion

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.

Catacomb Sifter

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.

Fathom Feeder

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.

Ulamog's Nullifier

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.

Oh well!

Kiora, Master of the Depths

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.

Blighted Woodland

Blighted Fen

Blighted Cataract

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.

Wrapup

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.

BFZ Hindsight – Colourless, White, Blue, Black

I want to write about Hour of Devasation, but the card images aren’t up on Deckbox yet so I can’t use my neat little mouseover pop. I would write about Amonkhet cards I like, but they’re mostly going to change based on their interactions with Hour

Hey, who wants a SUPER LATE look at Battle for Zendikar?

Ah, poor BfZ. We’re in this period of New World Order, this post-Metamorphosis era, the followup to the amazing Khans of Tarkir and… another set. It’s the first exception to the rules, like Rise of the Eldrazi before it, the one that was meant to set the new normal and, uh, sort of didn’t, oops. The one that had to live up to Zendikar, a set that was massively popular and had beloved mechanics and also introduced some truly gut-busting problems to the standard environment.

Battle for Zendikar, buddy,

Battle for Zendikar was always going to push uphill both inside and out. It had to live up to something amazing, hold a banner for the new direction of Magic: The Gathering, be approachable for everyone new, satisfy the people who were  established and old and walk in the immediate shadow of KHANS OF TARKIR. And then you had the people inside Wizards who were told ‘hey, you know that stuff you may have been postponing to next set? We can’t do it, because we’re trying to make the sets simpler.’

boy.

What a rough ride.

I’m not saying BFZ is bad. I mean, every Magic Set does better than the last one, more or less, and there are going to be big booms and medium booms and some sets are only going to be small booms and that’s okay. But BFZ is a set I fear is going to be a bit… Kamigawan in hindsight. That’s not a comparison meant to damn it, but think about all those ingesters who really aren’t quite good enough to play outside of their block environment. Think about the processors who are probably only ever going to see niche application if like, Suspend goes bananas. Think about Rally, which doesn’t even really work in Commander.

still.

Still.

There are cards in this set I’m really glad to have, regardless. So let’s talk about them a bit.

Colorless Eldrazi

They come first because that’s where they appear in the Wizards Card Image Gallery.

Endless One

Hi there, Endless One. You’re a kind of embarassingly generic, basic critter, aren’t you? Still, you combine well with any cost reducers (like Animar, Soul of Elements), you’re a bear that does more – I mean, I liked Kavu Titan of all things, and Endless One is a more flexible Titan. That doesn’t trample.

Scour from Existence

Sometimes you just need something gone. If you play a big mana deck that’s full of mana acceleration and slow recursion and you need an ultimate all-purpose tool – and I do – then you might want some Scour Power. Also it’s common. If you put this in your cheapo cube, you will be surprised how often you want just get rid of this thing, please. A favourite in my green recursion decks that pump lands out of the library and wipe things out piece-by-piece, keep it in mind as one of those niche tools. It’ll show up in some sideboard sometime and you’ll be left kinda surprised.

White

Inspired Charge

This just reminds me of Doc a lot.

Planar Outburst

One of my favourite things to keep in my back pocket when I build decks for bigger casual formats is the block-format wraths. Wraths are great, and often you can find corner case wraths that are both really cheap (like, a cent on MTGO) and can suggest an entire deck around them that makes that wrath work. I had fun using Winds of Rath alongside the Ravnica enter-the-battlefield auras, for example. This one’s got a good price and reminds me of Desolation Giant, which was a mediocre 3/3 that could give you a wrath on the back end for 2RRWW. This on the other hand offers you the Wrath up front, at 5, and gives you a 4/4 beater to finish with if you can blow up the world at 8.

I love this card, I love that the first one extends the game so you can get to the second one.

Retreat to Emeria

You want to remember this effect exists if you play with cards like Perilous Forays.

Oh heck I just realised Converge was in this set! Wow, boy, did I forget about that entirely?!

Anyway,

Blue

Coralhelm Guide

Ooo, this is deep in the tank. I’m a fan of blue fishy decks, durdly stuff, and when you design those decks for multiplayer, you actually prefer creatures that have some potential for politics, or some flexible utility. With that in mind, though, this is one of those creatures I don’t think I’d put in a 60 card deck. Good in 40, good in 99, not… good in 60.

Halimar Tidecaller

I like this critter mostly because it can get back a handy pile of utility cards like Clutch of Currents, Encircling Fissure, Ruinous Path, Scatter to the Winds, and Roil Spout. Like, there’s a deck there even if you never plan on using the Awaken for those cards.

Scatter to the Winds

Handy card, not amazing, but handy. If you’re playing in the bigger formats, this can be a second Draining Whelk.

There’s the blue and white done. Yeah, that’s all.

Sorry.

Black

Smothering Abomination

Now this is a bit of a bargain. I’m a big fan of this beefy doofus, with its 4/3 body and its specifically niche card draw rules. There are a few creatures that care about when a critter dies but not so many that care about when you sacrifice. This critter also provides its own sac outlet, and worst case, it cycles (though slowly). I’m almost always trying to find places to make this slow draw engine work.

Don’t forget that it flies! I keep forgetting it flies!

Wasteland Strangler

I miss cards like Nekrataal and Shriekmaw, and that means whenever a new black creature that can kill things is printed, I give it a try. This creature joins Vengeful Rebel as ‘awkward enough to not be that good.’ Still, black at least has the means to exile a lot of cards from an opponent casually, making the Strangler feedable.

Carrier Thrall

I don’t know where this tradition of 2-drop black critters that die and give you a dork came from, but of that genre, This Is One of Them. I really like this one though! He’s a bit fragile but he’s also pretty cheap – later in the game, at this price tag, with the scion, he’s two death triggers for (basically) a single black mana. Death triggers are good, too, because:

Zulaport Cutthroat

Hail the enduring prince! Zulaport Cutthroat is one of my favourite creatures, heck, my favourite cards from this set. I’ve always been a fan of this style of deck, where, once the game is stalled and my opponents have control, turning my losing position into a winning one – cashing in cheap creatures and going over something as fiddly as ‘combat.’ Zulaport Cutthroat can be part of a combo, or it can just fit into other strategies as a way to punish bad blocks or sacrifice fodder.

Such a fan.