Battle for Zendikar is almost here and I find it to be one of the most exciting sets of my memory. There are lots of awesome new cards for Standard and it is one of the deepest sets for Modern potential I can remember—ever, really. Maybe I’m overestimating the power, but more importantly there are a number of new ingredients that are occupying my brain and keeping me up at night.
The set is simply exciting.
8 Reasons to Be Excited for Battle for Zendikar
I love lands, I love lands matters, I love epic combos, I love build-around cards, I love good ramp, and I love good fat. This new set has all of that. It’s too much to cover it all here, but I’ll start with 8 reasons to be excited about Battle for Zendikar.
8. New Full Art Basics
Let’s start with the basics. Full art basics! There are 4 new arts for each land, 20 in total. If you’re the type of person who prefers to trick out their deck with full art lands, then the more access to these the better. I’m making a point of collecting these at the prerelease and posting them in my room.
7. Basic Enters-the-Battlefield Lands
Continuing with the love of lands, we have a new cycle of basic-esque lands that enter the battlefield tapped in exchange for an immediate ability. The original printings of versions of these were fairly innocuous, but they turned out to provide some serious usage, all at common.
The new cycle has yet to be tested, but Skyline Cascade stands out to me as ridiculous, and however they play out these are a gift at this rarity. Usually awesome new lands cost an arm and a leg, so it’s exciting to have some affordable toys to play with.
6. New Landfolk
I’ve been specifically waiting for enemy-colored landfolk (creature lands) for YEARS, wondering when they would come out and what they would do. Two of them are now here and they don’t disappoint.
While neither of the lands offer the raw stats of some of the previous Zendikar landfolk, these ones have new abilities never seen before on creature lands. Shambling Vent’s lifelink ability is perfect for any Orzhov deck to drag a game out in the mud, and Lumbering Falls’ hexproof ability makes it a perfect finisher in a Temur control deck that finishes with land hits and burn.
5. Retreat to Coralhelm Combo
I know i’m not the only one who has woken bolt upright in the middle of the night over Retreat to Coralhelm combos in Modern and Standard.
In Modern, Retreat to Coralhelm goes off with Knight of the Reliquary. Grab lands, grow Knight, grab fetchlands, tap their blockers, attack for 20. Simple finish, but the question is how to build the shell.
Retreat to Coralhelm also goes crazy in Standard with Shaman of Forgotten Ways. Turn-3 Shaman, turn-4 Retreat to Coralhelm. Tap for 2, fetchland, untap, tap to 4, fetch, untap, tap to 6, and tap the new land to throw down a 7-drop on the 4th turn. Boom!
The card also scrys in the late game to prevent the flooding that often goes hand-in-hand with ramp decks, giving big scrys for big ramps. The potential for this card is high.
4. Bring to Light Combos
Bring to Light is a card that slides into Modern Scapeshift and is certain to birth some new wonky combo decks. I’ve already gone into detail on Bring to Light elsewhere, and I will continue to do so later as well, but this is a big reason to be excited about Battle for Zendikar.
3. New “Midrange” and Giant Eldrazi
While the new Eldrazi aren’t quite as big as Emrakul, they still offer a lot to be excited about. Notably there is a new “midrange” class of Eldrazi that offer serious bodies and ramp. Blight Herder, Oblivion Sower, and Conduit of Ruin all fit into this category with a kind of Precursor-Golem-meets-ramp feel.
The big Eldrazi are notable as well for the ability to reanimate them. Previously they shuffled into the deck to prevent this, so these offer some brand new options for how to best make use of them.
2. New Basic Land Type Duals
Fetches + fetchable duals are now in Standard for the first time ever and the ramifications of this have yet to be explored. Does anyone know exactly how to build a “perfect” mana base with these and how many colors of spells we can support? We have work to do!
These lands also have potential in Modern, most likely in two-color decks. In 2015 decks usually win on life total and fetch/shocking down to 14 life on turn 2 is pretty awkward. An alternative is exciting.
1. Shock and Fetch Expeditions
Any time you crack a Battle for Zendikar pack there is a small chance you pull a gorgeous super mythic land, which you can keep as a prized possession or sell for a premium to someone (reasonably) hoarding them all.
Each pack cracked of Battle for Zendikar has a little extra excitement.
Reasons to Be Excited
Those are 8 reasons to be excited for Battle of Zendikar. I have more on my list that I will have to save for later. In the meantime I’d love to hear why YOU are excited for Battle for Zendikar!