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Battle for Zendikar Tips and Tricks

Before I get into Constructed Set Reviews (which are coming), here are some quick takeaways from the prerelease and my first couple drafts. I’ve enjoyed Battle for Zendikar Limited so far, and look forward to continue exploring it.

In no particular order:

  • 18 land will be the default. Landfall, awaken, and big spells push you in that direction, and even 19 won’t be uncommon (especially with Blighted lands that sacrifice for value).
  • Awaken spells can target the same land, making it larger and larger. This ties up fewer of your lands for actual spellcasting.
  • Awaken spells are awesome, but you don’t want tons of them. They tend to be expensive to cast for full effect, and you eventually will feel the pain if your lands keep dying in combat. There’s no limit on awesome ones like Clutch of Currents or Coastal Discovery, but that means fewer slots for others.
  • The Vancouver (scry) mulligan rule is in effect now. If you mulligan, once you keep your hand, you get to scry 1. Don’t forget, and I’d even go so far as to remind your opponent in these first couple weeks, especially at less competitive events. It’s hard to get used to rules changes like this, and helping people remember is a good thing.
  • As for the strategic implications of the new mulligan rule: You should be more willing to mulligan borderline hands on 7, and more willing to keep borderline hands on 6 or fewer cards. I mulligan most 1-landers on 7 and keep most on 6, to give you a baseline.
  • I talk about the processor/ingest interactions a lot in my reviews, but a summary of numbers I like to start with: 2-3 good processors and 4-5+ ways to exile cards. You can play strong cards like Wasteland Strangler with just 1-2 ways to enable it, but the ideal ratio is closer to what I said above. I also wouldn’t play Mist Intruder until you do have 3 or more good processors, as it’s not enough of a card on its own. That being said, it has impressed me in the deck that wants it, so I’m pretty sure it lives up to its promise as a processor enabler.
  • Friends don’t let friends play Kitesail Scout.
  • Speaking of friends, I love seeing how my friends would have built my deck, and vice versa. It gives you more experience building Sealed decks, and is a way to make sure you are all on the right track or haven’t missed anything (or at the very least, get to discuss why opinions differ).
  • There are a lot of high-quality bounce spells in the format. Don’t sacrifice a ton of Eldrazi Scions to ramp something out against blue mages unless you don’t have much of a choice.
  • Despite the high-quality bounce, removal is not actually that great, and much of it is sorcery speed. You can usually use combat tricks on your turn without much fear of things going wrong.
  • Rating aside, if you get Part the Waterveil, it’s mandatory that you play it (for value).
  • Vile Aggregate is very good. This is one of the better uncommons in the set, and it won’t be rare for it to be a 3/5 or larger very early. It even enables processors, for additional value.
  • The converge deck seems ambitious. It’s unlikely this is the direction you should go (for win percentage—if you will have more fun, go for it). I haven’t found that the color-fixing is good enough to really justify converging. There are some decks where it’ll be great, but the baseline for the format will be two colors.
  • The three common/uncommon equipment cards aren’t great, and people tend to play equipment more often than they should. I’d avoid them.

This is just a small set of impressions to start, but hopefully it helps as we continue to try and figure out this format. What were other people’s experiences? Are there any cards that really over/underperformed?

Discussion

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