Zendikar Card Review Batch 01 (111/249)

Welcome to another preview season, those joyful times when we Magic players experience the christmas-like joy of opening presents four times a year or so. We here at power9pro can hardly wait to try this new set, as it already looks to be bomber. Here is the first batch of cards… there’s 111 spoiled so far, but we won’t be dealing with the 4 basic lands of each color, so you do the math… there’s a boatload of cards in this initial bunch. When possible, our reviews here are gut-reaction type first impressions, though in this case, we’ve seen a few cards already… we couldn’t resist! This time around, James will be joining me. I’ll be posting all my reactions, and when he feels like it, James will throw in his two cents. As usual, my focus will be on Legacy, EDH, and limited. James will speak to other constructed formats.

Please chime in in the comments section, as we love to hear about how much you think our evaluations are right-on or suck-the-big-one! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Celestial Mantle – 3WWW
Enchantment – Aura (Rare)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.
Whenever enchanted creature deals combat damage to a player, double its controller’s life total.
Illus. Steve Argyle
#6/249

Joe

This should definitely have a place in my Ghost Council of Orzhova EDH deck, as tallowisp searches this up nicely. Also, in EDH this clearly has a bigger effect since players start at 40. For 6 mana, you’re pulling your pants down for a 241 in other formats, but if you’re reasonably sure you can connect, i.e., you have an evasive creature, then it seems worth the risk as you’ll likely win on the back of this in such cases.

James

So far as limited, this is way beyond a “just a bomb.” WotC went plaid here–please tell me y’all know this from spaceballs (am I aging myself here?)

I don’t see much room for this in a constructed play, especially not in a meta with such life gaining bombs as Baneslayer Angel and Wall of Reverence.

Day of Judgment – 2WW
Sorcery (Rare)
Destroy all creatures.

“I have seen planes leveled and all life rendered to dust. It brought no pleasure, even to a heart as dark as mine.”
-Sorin Markov

Illus. Kev Walker
#9/249


Joe
I have mixed feelings about this. For one thing, it seems to signal the eternal demise of wrath of god. For another, this lacks the “cannot regenerate” clause of its obvious fore-bearer. Still, a global sweeper is a global sweeper. This still kills progenitus! I’m gonna go out on a very sturdy limb here and predict that this sees much play!
James
Of course it will see play. It’s obviously a powered down version of Wrath but a very good one nonetheless. I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that Wrath is forever condemned to Ext’d, etc though. White has been getting the shiz lately so far as strong removal (Path to Exile for example) so from my perspective dropping Wrath for DoJ is a way of balancing that power boost.

Devout Lightcaster – WWW
Creature – Kor Cleric (Rare)
Protection from black
When Devout Lightcaster enters the battlefield, exile target black permanent.
2/2
Illus. Shelly Wan
#12/249


Joe
I’m a sucker for painters servant, which plays nicely with this fellow. Even without the artifact helper, this has a bit role to play as a decent color hoser. Still, with the servant, this can go fully vindicate-ive and nuke lands and all. If you’re not sure you’re playing a black opponent, this guy becomes a shitty gray ogre. Middling card, I’d say… a role to play, albeit a narrow one.

James

In an environment where Vampires is looking to be a real archetype post-Zen release, this will be an excellent sideboard option. Other than SB, I don’t see much hope for this card seeing a lot of play. It’s not even really THAT great of a card in Limited.

Felidar Sovereign – 4WW
Creature – Cat Beast (Mythic Rare)
Vigilance, lifelink
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 40 or more life, you win the game.
4/6
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
#12/249


Joe
My dork clique had a pseudo-argument about this. I posted to my group asking if they thought this might be banned in EDH, since you start with win-condition life totals… but I didn’t actually think it would be banned. Nobody took the bait, so at least among my dork crew, the consensus is that even in EDH, this guy’s none too scary. He seems pretty ridiculous in a limited match though. I’m still unsure how I feel about mythics in general… they seem to be powerful enough that they grant the lucky ones who crack them in limited events a huge advantage. Meh… he’s mostly a 4/6 vigilance lifelink… the win condition is nice, but it’s a bit of a foregone conclusion most of the time… if you’ve got 40 life, winning is usually just academic from there… usually.

James

Unfortunately any lifegainer’s from here on out are going to be forever compared to Baneslayer Angel which this most certainly is not. It’s nice to plop down and hold off the ground but I’d personally rather drop B.A. a turn earlier and have flying, firststrike & Lifelink. Since it’s NOT B.A., this will be the poor-man’s substitute. That comment sounds harsher than I mean it to (not deleted/revised because it’s prob’ the honest truth). That being said, I think it’s a really well designed card. It’s just unfortunate that it’s printed on the tailcoats of Baneslayer…

Iona, Shield of Emeria – 6WWW
Legendary Creature – Angel (Mythic Rare)
Flying
As Iona, Shield of Emeria enters the battlefield, choose a color.
Your opponents can’t cast spells of the chosen color.
7/7
Illus. Jason Chan
#13/249

Joe

This, on the other hand, seems like a neat General to try in EDH… hoses those mono-color decks nicely. “Got any artifacts, pal?” Also, it plays quite well with my old friend painters servant! A 9-drop is usually a huge mana commitment. You’ll want to make sure your opponent doesn’t have obvious counterspell mana available… but yeah… when this hits the table, things should be looking good for you. I doubt it has much of a place in standard-like formats though, where the CMC hurts a lot.

James

9cc? …’nuff said. With all the un-counterable cards floating in Zendikar, this card at 9cc really, really wants to be uncounterable. Sadly it’s not. My bet is that this doesn’t see play unless the deck build is super creative. It’s just not a Cloudthresher.

Journey to Nowhere – 1W
Enchantment (Common)
When Journey to Nowhere enters the battlefield, exile target creature.
When Journey to Nowhere leaves the battlefield, return the exiled creature to the battlefield under its owner’s control.

Joe
For some reason this seems combo-rific to me, but I’m having trouble figuring out an elegant one. Opalescence and pandemonium with this guy lets you do infinite damage… I think! Can’t you put him into play, then exile himself, which triggers his come-back-into-play ability again? Again, I think so! But this is hardly game breaking. This is pretty much a slight improvement on pacifism I think.

James

I sorta smell a combo with this too…Anyway, Joe, it can’t exile itself because it can only exile a creature. ;) Regardless, this will be a great pick in Limited. Pick it high.

Kabira Evangel – 2W
Creature – Human Cleric Ally (Rare)
Whenever Kabira Evangel or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may choose a color. If you do, Allies you control gain protection from the chosen color until end of turn.
2/3
Illus. Eric Deschamps
#15/249


Joe
Ally is a neat new mechanic they’re introducing in Zendikar. I think it might work out quite well. This guy reminds me a bit of glory. Mistform Wakecaster can make all your dudes Allies. Just sayin’. All in all, this guy’s strictly better than gray ogre even without any other allies in play. His value goes up from there.
James
For limited, this isn’t so hot for a rare since it’s only EoT and I’m not convinced that Allies will be a forceable archetype in limited. Since we’re also losing changelings with Lor-block rotating out, we can’t even build an Ally/Changeling deck. Allies look super fun but at this stage in my review of Zendikar I don’t even see this seeing competitive play. Makes for a great casual build though!

Kazandu Blademaster – WW
Creature – Human Soldier Ally (Uncommon)
First strike, vigilance
Whenever Kazandu Blademaster or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Kazandu Blademaster.
“If you hire a sell-sword, you’d better watch your back. Hire me, and I’ll watch it for you.”
1/1
Illus. Michael Komarck
#16/249


Joe
Well, he’s very much in the white knight lineage, but there hasn’t been a 2-drop 2/2 vigilance first strike, which he essentially is at worst. I think this makes him VERY good. He’s not actually a knight, either. Being a soldier makes him marginally better in some relevant cases. I think he’s got a lot of promise.
James

This one is better than the last Ally. Honor of the Pure loves this guy. I don’t know how viable White Whinnie is going to be but if it’s going to see play as an archteype, this one has to be in there. Vigilance & Firststrike for a 2-drop is very much “not bad.” For limited? That’s questionable. I’ll say it’s “marginal” and at this stage in the spoilers, I say don’t first pick. EDIT: after seeing more of the cards spoiled, I’m liking this Ally more and more. I’m also liking him more and more for constructed.

Kor Sanctifiers – 2W
Creature – Kor Cleric (Common)
Kicker {W} (You may pay an additional {W} as you cast this spell.)
When Kor Sanctifiers enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target artifact or enchantment.
“Why keep such trinkets? They only add weight to your travels.”
2/3
Illus. Dan Scott
#22/249

Joe

Okay, so this guy, unkicked, is better than gray ogre… he’s playable. But his kicker gives you a relatively painless disenchant effect that you can maindeck. I think he’s therefore got the goods, and I expect to see him in limited events for sure.

James

Playable in limited for sure. Beyond that? No.

Luminarch Ascension – 1W
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each opponent’s end step, if you didn’t lose life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Luminarch Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life)
{1}{W}: Put a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only if Luminarch Ascension has four or more quest counters on it.
Illus. Michael Komarck
#25/249

Joe

Whoa… so it’s easy to drop this thing, and by turn 7 or 8, it’s very reasonable to expect it to “go active” in a limited format, especially if you build your deck in a defensive stalling manner. At that point, this is a very effective win condition. Putting out 3-4 flying 4/4 angels per turn at will? WTF? Definitely intriguing. Paired with something like solitary confinement or energy field? Or even constant mists / fog / story circle / etc.? I think it’s going to be brutal. Reminds me of another 2-drop enchantment that made creature tokens and ended up broken as hell… bitterblossom. (Comments section!) Just reminds me of it… I’m not sure it’s the same caliber. I’m just not sure.

James

This is the only Quest-related card I see being remotely playable–though Khalni Heart Expedition looks pretty intereseting… The lack of a limitation on number of Angels you pump out is awesome. I’d grab this in limited without a hesitation and I can definitely see a control deck building with this. It’s a great 2-drop imo.

Pitfall Trap – 2W
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If exactly one creature is attacking, you may pay {W} rather than pay Pitfall Trap’s mana cost.
Destroy target attacking creature without flying.

Joe

This is cheap enough even without the bonus. Strong removal for white. And quite often, people send over their only evasive guy or what have you. This seems like all up-side… I’m failing to see a down-side. Very strong removal, probably a high pick.

James

Bomb removal. Because of the trap mechanic, it could leak over into constructed too…I may be over-valuing Trap but first glance at the trap-related cards, and I’m thinking they’re pretty good.

Steppe Lynx – W
Creature – Cat (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Steppe Lynx gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
0/1

Joe

Hmmm… this is hard to evaluate. In a white weenie strategy, you’re only hoping to make your land drops for the first two or three turns consistently, so I’m tempted to think this is worse, in the long run, than its seeming predecessors like savannah lions. However, this new set has fetch lands, so there will be times when you can fairly easily ensure a double-activation in the early turns. Is turn 2, swing for 4 enough of an incentive? Luckily for me, standard isn’t my area of expertise and I don’t have to conclusively make this tough call. I’m guessing it’s going to fall short, since without a land this does dick.

James

I’d be willing to test this card out. I agree, it’s on the edge. A turn 2 for 4 is pretty good though. With rampant growth it could swing in for 6 on turn 2. Quite a tempo…okay, I’m put on the spot here: I say “no” to constructed. It’s just a totally dead card late game, and that’s why it will suck.

World Queller – 3WW
Creature – Avatar (Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may choose a card type. If you do, each player sacrifices a permanent of that type.
4/4
Illus. James Paick
#39/249

Joe

Reminds me a bit of Braids cabal minion, though the timing is slightly different. For another colorless mana, you essentially get +2/+2, and you get to choose the permanent type. This seems huge to me. You can always choose a type you don’t have if that’s better for you, and you can selectively force opponents to lose their only planeswalker, or their only enchantment, etc. I think, therefore, that this is even better than braids across the board. The only downside is the timing, really. With braids, opponents had to sac right away on their own upkeep. With this guy, he’s got to survive until your own upkeep. Still, this guy seems to me like a clear winner.

James

Bomb. Me-likes. If it weren’t for the “downside” of activating on upkeep, this would be way beyond broken.

Archive Trap – 3UU
Instant – Trap (Rare)
If an opponent searched his or her library this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Archive Trap’s mana cost.
Target opponent puts the top thirteen cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Illus. Jason Felix
#41/249

Joe

Well, the old sanity grinding deck might have liked to have this, but then again maybe not. How often did people search their libraries back then? Now, the rate at which libraries will be searched in a set with five new fetchlands is another story. This might be seen as a subtle hoser for fetchlands, enabling the next generation of grinding style deck. Should be a nice dollar rare with a fun deck to call home.

James

there’s always a mill deck around…do not draft this card; it sucks! ;)

Archmage Ascension – 2U
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each end step, if you drew two or more cards this turn, you may put a quest counter on Archmage Ascension.
As long as Archmage Ascension has six or more quest counters on it, if you would draw a card, you may instead search your library for a card, put that card into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Christopher Moeller
#42/249

Joe

Hmm. Six counters is a lot, though the effect is powerful. Too bad they’re not charge counters, so you could just add a few… oh wait, coretapper only works on artifacts. Yeah, this is too big an investment… your opponent has six turns to figure out how to stop you at best, and meanwhile, this isn’t doing anything for you at all except taking up a slot that a real card with an actual effect might otherwise occupy. This card is pure shit.

James Lame.

Cancel – 1UU
Instant (Common)
Counter target spell.

Joe

This is an awesome spell! Okay, so obviously nothing groundbreaking here. This is the nouveau counterspell, and the forces that be in the universe have decided UU is too cheap, and “forever hence shall ye pay 1 more, I say!” Run of the mill shit. Definitely a fun part of the many many limited formats it’s been a part of. Watch out when someone leaves 1UU open, people. It’s tell-tale.

James

Other than Aaron F. (of WotC) spouting out some stats on this seeing play in MODO, I don’t see this being construction worthy. Counter magic looks like it’s taking a break after the long run of Cryptic Command.

Ior Ruin Expedition – 1U
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Ior Ruin Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Ior Ruin Expedition and sacrifice it: Draw two cards.

Joe

I’m immediately comparing this to standstill in my mind. Then I read again and realize I’m mixing up the three counters and the two cards… or rather, I thought it was three of each at first, counters and cards drawn. At any rate, this is more like couriers capsule, not standstill… it’s probably slightly more efficient that capsule, though capsule didn’t present opponents with such a window to disrupt the cards, and once you had 4 mana, there wasn’t much they could do to stop you… in this case you’ll always be waiting for the cards, even with the presence of fetchlands. I think it’s probably sub-par as card drawing goes.

James

Underpowered for any format. Pass.

Lorthos, the Tidemaker – 5UUU
Legendary Creature – Octopus (Mythic Rare)
Whenever Lorthos, the Tidemaker attacks, you may pay {8}. If you do, tap up to eight permanents. Those permanents don’t untap during their controllers’ next untap steps.
When Lorthos emerges from his deepwater realm, the tide bows to his will and the coastline cowers in his presence.
8/8
Illus. Kekai Kotaki
#53/249

Joe

I wrote an article about this bad boy recently. Hooray for Vorthos… er… I mean Lorthos! Octo-card!

James

See Joe’s post on this. I don’t really have a comment.

Lullmage Mentor – 1UU
Creature – Merfolk Wizard (Rare)
Whenever a spell or ability you control counters a spell, you may put a 1/1 blue Merfolk creature token onto the battlefield.
Tap seven untapped Merfolk you control: Counter target spell.
“Many voices are needed to quiet this land.”
2/2
Illus. Jaime Jones
#54/249

Joe

Consider patron wizard. He seems like a more efficient way to counter a spell with a 3-drop and a bunch of dorks. But merfolk are a quick tribe, and it’s a shame Lorwyn is leaving, because stonybrook schoolmaster and summon the school might like to speak to this gentle-merman. Since other counters give you tokens too, I think this guy might be enough on his own in constructed, but I don’t see how you’ll ever have enough counters and/or merfolk to get it all rolling with limited.

James

I’m not seeing anything in this. SEVEN? merfolk? give me a break.

Mindbreak Trap – 2UU
Instant – Trap (Mythic Rare)
If an opponent cast three or more spells this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Mindbreak Trap’s mana cost.
Exile any number of target spells.

“Life is a maze. This is one of its dead ends.”
- Noyan Dar, Tazeem lullmage

Illus. Christopher Moeller
#57/249

Joe

This seems almost designed to hose old combo decks, especially storm decks. In limited, this is the saddest mythic rare to see. You’ll never have a stack with three spells, let alone three from one player, and in limited it’s likely the first two spells were creatures, so this is a free counter of the third creature maybe once in a blue moon, but usually it’s a 4 mana uber-counter. Sad, sad times.
James

Storm & TEPS are getting raped from what I understand. I’ve read a little about Dragonstorm being remotely viable, in which case (and ONLY if it’s THE dominant deck in Ext’d) it’d be a great SB card for any deck @ zero cc. That’s what makes me think this is an awesome card but falling prey to “wrong place at the wrong time.” I mean, seriously? Exile any number of spells? Nice…well, close but no cigar.

Quest for Ancient Secrets – U
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, you may put a quest counter on Quest for Ancient Secrets.
Remove five quest counters from Quest for Ancient Secrets and sacrifice it: Target player shuffles his or her graveyard into his or her library.
Illus. Mike Bierek
#59/249

Joe

What a truly, masterfully bad, horrible remake of feldons cane. It’s like feldon’s cane knocked up tormods crypt not knowing they were estranged brother and sister, and their poor baby was named Quest for Ancient Secrets. Someone seriously peed in this gene pool. Poor kid got mom’s targetability, but dad’s doofus ability, and is just kinda slow in general.

James

” ” Did you catch my comment there? ;)

Roil Elemental – 3UUU
Creature – Elemental (Rare)
Flying
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain control of target creature for as long as you control Roil Elemental.
3/2
Illus. Raymond Swanland
#62/249

Joe

GTFOH! Thank god it’s a vulnerable 2 toughness 6-drop. This is a beast. As a turn seven surprise when you’re holding that fetchland you’d been sandbagging? Drop Roil Elemental, then a fetchland and have some “uh, double-up, uh uh” control magic action like Sir Mix-a-Lot would do. Still, seems like “Shock it” is a pretty inevitable kind of response. But this is hardly an argument against it… like they all said about tarmogoyf, right? “Dies to everything”. This guy costs 6, dies to everything, and if they don’t have an answer, wins the game fairly well against creature strategies. I remember playing 6-drop 3/3 fliers in ravnica block in the form of conclave equenaut… okay, so it had convoke. Still, this guy steals shit, c’mon!

James

Hello! doesn’t say anything about EOT. Just make sure you can protect Roil Elemental and you have yourself a Vedalken Shackles on steroids. No joke, imo. This one is just waiting to be abused. Finally a U worth considering for a deck! Expensive though…

Sea Gate Loremaster – 4U
Creature – Merfolk Wizard Ally (Rare)
{T}: Draw a card for each Ally you control.

“He’s a living library. He remembers everything our band of explorers has seen, and we can use that to our advantage.”
- Zahr Gada, Halimar expedition leader

1/3
Illus. Dave Kendall
#63/249

Joe

Worst case, he’s similar to urza’s blueprints or something, but more vulnerable as a creature… more like archivist I suppose. Best case, he’s arcanis the omnipotent and beyond! I think he’s got the goods.

James

“not bad”…I guess…”meh”

Spell Pierce – U
Instant (Common)
Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {2}.

Joe

Should be quite huge in constructed. I’m guessing it’ll be at least as popular as force spike, maybe as much as spell snare. It’s definitely destined to be in the counterspell arsenal from this point forward. I predict lots of play. This will cause many frowns in the near future.

James

Cheap for sure at 1cc and great for hitting a planeswalker. This might actually be a viable SB for U.

Sphinx of Lost Truths – 3UU
Creature – Sphinx (Rare)
Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell)
Flying
When Sphinx of Lost Truths enters the battlefield, draw three cards. Then if it wasn’t kicked, discard three cards.
3/5
Illus. Shelly Wan
#69/249

Joe

Super duper in limited even without the selection boost thing… just a 5-drop 3/5 flyer. The rest is gravy. It’s some very tasty gravy too! This guy is a bomb for sure. Late game he’s a sick flyer and a recharge of your hand. Very strong.

James

I’d def’ play this in limited. It’s great for fixing your hand. I can also see this being useful in constructed though only marginally. Man, at this point in the review, I’m thinking U TOTALLY SUCKS.

Whiplash Trap – 3UU
Instant – Trap (Common)
If an opponent had two or more creatures enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {U} rather than pay Whiplash Trap’s mana cost.
Return two target creatures to their owners’ hands.
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Joe

This could actually stall someone pretty effectively, though the effect seems more impressive on U than it should I think… by virtue of the fact that two creatures entered the battlefield, the opponent is well established in mana, so it seems to follow that you’re only likely to set them back a turn, just like unsummon earlier on. You could, I suppose, return two more expensive creatures that were summoned earlier one at a time… their turn 3 and 4 plays before dropping two guys on turn 5, perhaps. All of this is within the realm of the U version. As 3UU, this is still rather good. The effect is very strong, I just don’t think it’s likely to be as awesome on turn 2 bouncing two 1-drop 1/1s… it’s better at their EOT on turn 6, bouncing their turn 5 and 6 plays and clearing the way for an attack. Strong bounce spell here.

James

Now we’re talking. Hmm, [reviewing my comments] seems like the U commons are all way more likely to see play than the uncommons/rares. I must be taking crazy pills or something. This card just screams flexibility to me. Again, I’m thinking the Trap mechanic is way powerful and having more than one way of playing a card (esp’ at different cc’s) represents great potential imo.

Windrider Eel – 3U
Creature – Fish (Common)
Flying
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Windrider Eel gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
“The best spot to hook one is right behind the gills” – Rana Cloudwake, Kor skyfisher
2/2
Illus. Austin Hsu
#78/249

Joe

In the past, 4-drop 2/2 flyers were pretty good in limited. This guy’s occasionally approximately air elemental better, and with fetchlands, occasionally insane flying roar of the wurm tokens. I giv the nod of approval.

James

Great for limited. This is a great card to pick highly. Evasion, built-in pump. What’s not to like? So far as constructed? Nah…

Bala Ged Thief – 3B
Creature – Human Rogue Ally (Rare)
Whenever Bala Ged Thief or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, target player reveals a number of cards from his or her hand equal to the number of Allies you control. You choose one of them. That player discards that card.
2/2
Illus. Matt Cavotta
#79/249

Joe

Not terrible even if he triggers for himself and never does anything else. I’m a fan of making people discard their last spell in limited. Good players will try to sandbag a land for this kind of thing. I think this thief is solid, and I’d be taking her and hoping for allies.dec in a draft. Not sure what an ally constructed deck looks like, but I’m guessing it doesn’t look anything like this card.

James

This is awesome for limited. It’s removal and a beating stick all in one. The cost seems right imo.

Blood Tribute – 4BB
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker – Tap an untapped Vampire you control. (You may tap a Vampire you control in addition to any other costs as you cast this spell.)
Target player loses half his or her life, rounded up. If Blood Tribute was kicked, you gain life equal to the life lost this way.
Illus. Alex Horley-Orlandelli
#81/249

Joe

Nice ass! Not bad for EDH, where you can see a 40-point life swing. Probably decent in constructed, but it has the built in paradox of being a late game mana cost for an effect that gets worse as the game progresses.

James

Beat it…come on everyone just beat it. Doh, I meant Kick it. ;)

Bloodghast – BB
Creature – Vampire Spirit (Rare)
Bloodghast can’t block.
Bloodghast has haste as long as an opponent has 10 life or less.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may return Bloodghast from your graveyard to the battlefield.
2/1
Illus. Daarken
#83/249

Joe

Amazing. Definitely going in the ghost council of orzhova edh deck. Seems quite strong to me in limited and constructed both, though not being a blocker definitely rains on the parade a bit. Still, in the context of the constructed deck he’s likely in, this guy is probably a superb enabler, assuming somehing cares about a vampire coming into play. In limited, he never fucking dies! Keep sending him, you’ll get him back free of charge. Seems no joke to me.

James

Hmmm, this guy is marginal. The Landfall-grave digger is pretty slick but a 2/1 is nothing to write home about. Late pick in limited and just pass it by for constructed. why block w/ a 2/1 anyway? he’s meant to be agro and the landfall-grave-dig ability re-enforces that motif. still, i’m not sure it’s got the goods for constructed. Mono-Black Aggro may be viable but so far as two drops go, I’d rather play B/G and use putrid leech & have access to maelstrom pulse

Gatekeeper of Malakir – BB
Creature – Vampire Warrior (Uncommon)
Kicker {B} (You may pay an additional {B} as you cast this spell.)
When Gatekeeper of Malakir enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, target player sacrifices a creature.
“You may enter the city – once the toll is paid.”
2/2
Illus. Karl Kopinski

Joe

Sweet bear. Triple black to kick hurts, as does double black for a 2/2. Still, cruel edict really rocks.

James

NOW we’re talking. Sick. Don’t pass this card up in a draft and I’d keep an eye on this for constructed.

Guul Draz Specter – 2BB
Creature – Specter (Rare)
Flying
Guul Draz Specter gets +3/+3 as long as an opponent has no cards in hand.
Whenever Guul Draz Specter deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card.
2/2
Illus. Mark Tedin

Joe

Pretty slow, and unlikely to do 5 to anyone who doesn’t want him to. Modern specters are too polite. That thug hypnotic specter never let any succas pick the card they want to discard, he just reached over and took one. “And what, son?” Still, the whole 4-drop 2/2 thing applies here. He’s pretty awesome.

James

Move over Hippie, there’s a new sherif in town. Seems a bit costly at 4cc (for Constructed) but it’s worth it. Damn worth it.

Halo Hunter – 2BBB
Creature – Demon (Rare)
Intimidate (This creature can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.)
When Halo Hunter enters the battlefield, destroy target Angel.
6/3
Illus. Chris Rahn
#96/249

Joe

Myr can’t be intimidated, didn’t you know? Big fat fliers are always nice. Killing an angel is nice sometimes, I won’t lie. Just not as often as a big fat flier is awesome, which is pretty much always, especially for 5 mana.

James

So is this what R&D had in mind when they made the Baneslayer Angel have protection from demons and dragons? Wtf? Anyway, at least it can zoom on by the B.A. without any problems. The twist on ‘Fear’ is nice too. I don’t like it only having a x/3 butt.

Hideous End – 1BB
Instant (Common)
Destroy target nonblack creature. Its controller loses 2 life.

“A little dark magic won’t stop me. The worse the curse, the better the prize.”
- Radavi, Joraga relic-hunter, last words

Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Joe

Cool. Removal = very important. This will see plenty of play. Terror + shock, kinda. Solid.

James

Super well designed card. This is great. I’d run it in Limited and Constructed. It’s right inline with Blightening, taking a card & doing damage. Sweet. Very playable in limited (obviously) and will peak its head into constructed decks, though it’s long term viablity isn’t something I’m convinced of. It does do exactly what B wants to do: kill creatures and suck life.

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet – 5BB
Legendary Creature – Vampire Warrior (Mythic Rare)
{B}{B}{B}, {T}: Destroy target creature. If that creature is put into a graveyard this way, put a black Vampire creature token onto the battlefield. Its power is equal to that creature’s power and its toughness is equal to that creature’s toughness.
5/5
Illus. Todd Lockwood
#99/249

Joe

For 7 mana, he doesn’t do much for a constructed deck to want him, that’s my guess. In limited he’s broken as hell, there’s no doubt. A fabulous specimen of a bomb.

James
The tapping is what makes me think it doesn’t have the goods. Still, it’s pretty freaking impressive but at 7cc? I just can’t commit. Personally, I don’t like big-mana decks because they’re so vulnerable to counters and quick-spot removals. The meta is shifting and we may be looking at bigger mana decks. I just think about other “high” costing creatures: Captain of the Watch, Cloud thresher & Broodmate Dragon. Those cards are just _better_ imo…For a Mythic Rare I do’nt see this peaking above $3

Mind Sludge – 4B
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Target player discards a card for each Swamp you control.

Joe

It’s been a part of MBC in the past. Nothing like a cheaper mindtwist, right? You’re always taking their whole hand with this. It’s part of the incentive toward MBC in my mind… the inevitable destruction. Should see play, could be in constructed. In limited, where it’s likely a 2-color deck or so, it’s still not bad if they discard 2-3 cards.

James
I actually think this is a splashable card in Jund-esque/ R-B decks. How many swamps mid-to-late game do you really need to empty your opponent’s hand? 3? Definitely very good for MBC; I can also see this being pretty good in limited when you’re heading toward late game and your opponent is about to drop a hefty 6cc on you. Oops, not any more.

Needlebite Trap – 5BB
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent gained life this turn, you may pay {B} rather than pay Needlebite Trap’s mana cost.
Target player loses 5 life and you gain 5 life.
The traps around the vampire city of Malakir hint at the thirst of its inhabitants.
Illus. Daarken
#105/249

Joe

In limited, you might really play it for 7, and it will win a lot of games that way. It’s not badly priced at 7 either. It’s essentially an easier, instant-speed drain life for 5. I could definitely see maindecking it in limited. In constructed, it’s only good for B, so it’s probably only a sideboard card if a life-gaining deck is popular.

James
This is an unbelievably good card. I expect this card to see play as it completely nullifies most instances of life-gain. I’m hard pressed to think of an instance where a player gains more than 5 life in a turn. Baneslayer Angel may be the pet card right now but it’s just met an instant that completely wastes a turn, and it only cost 1 cc. Damn.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen – 3BB
Legendary Creature – Demon (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player lose 3 life. If you do, put three +1/+1 counters on Ob Nixilis, the Fallen.
3/3
Illus. Jason Felix
#107/249

Joe

This guy might not be a terrible General, though for monoblack, maga traitor to mortals or kiku nights flower still seem better. Still, this guy comes down early and hits very hard. Think about swinging turn 6 for 9 after your opponent losing 6 life to your fetchland. That’s well within the realm of “insane” for a spell with sengir vampire‘s casting cost. Obviously a bomb in limited… this is the kind of mythic rare you hope for.

James
Absolutely playable. Now we’re looking at a really good spell for Jund, R/B & MBC. Please note, we’re not talking EOT; we’re talking counters. At 5cc, I don’t see this making Ext’d (at least not next month) but this is absolutely a playable for Type2. Get ‘em while you can boys (and gals), this is a no-joke demon.

Quest for the Gravelord – B
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Gravelord.
Remove three quest counters from Quest for the Gravelord and sacrifice it: Put a 5/5 black Zombie Giant creature token onto the battlefield.
Illus. Chris Rahn

Joe

Now here’s a quest I can get behind. You don’t lose much other than the card if they kill this thing, because it only cost you B. They likley had to spend more to remove it. The quest counters aren’t necessarily trivial to add, but they’ll arrive in due time in a limited game. And thn, you get a nice 5/5 for your low investment. I like it. Sems to go really well with any kind of sweeper removal. I think this has lots of potential to shine.

James
I don’t really agree with Joe on this one. Maybe I’m just comparing it to the Angel-creator a little too much. I don’t see how it’s balanced that we have to sac the enchantment. I’d rather see a limitation such as “Only play this ability once per turn.” Still as a one-drop there’s not much wrong with it. I don’t think this will see play.

Sorin Markov – 3BBB
Planeswalker – Sorin (Mythic Rare)
[+2]: Sorin Markov deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you gain 2 life.
[-3]: Target opponent’s life total becomes 10.
[-7]: You control target player’s next turn.
4
Illus. Michael Comarck
#111/249

Joe

I wrote an article about this guy when he was first “decided.” Clearly an insane bomb in limited, assuming you can support black. I finally got a glimpse of the full frame art for this guy, courtesy of my dork pal who disagreed vehemently with me on the topic of this artwork:

youdecide_01_gx21iyxpel

I must admit that the artwork may not be quite as bad as I claimed in the post, but I’m still depressed that this is what a lot of players consider the pinnacle of magic artwork… that this style is all the rage. I guess I’m just an old school Amy Weber style guy. Fay Jones for life!! They should have made this guy into a vampire token instead.

James
@ the art, this looks like a rip off of a True Blood character. Maybe I just worked with too many Scandinavians to really get behind the art on this one. He’s “aight”. So far as the abilities go, I believe this is a very good planeswalker. I have no qualms about paying 5cc to make my opponent’s life total become 10. Bloodsucking from there is great. We haven’t even seen all the B but I do see MBC becoming more and more viable. Control focused on discard and removal transitioning into Sorin here could be very difficult for decks to deal with. All in all, I think this card is strictly balanced and I don’t anticipate a metoric rise in value like we saw with Sarkan Vol and Elspeth

Soul Stair Expedition – B
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Soul Stair Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Soul Stair Expedition and sacrifice it: Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.
Illus. Anthony Francisco
#112/249

Joe

Not bad. It’s the same price as raise dead, and in exchange for being slower, it does double duty. I’m okay with this in limited. It’s definitely a shittier card the longer the game goes, as you may wait a while before you can use this once you’ve run out your hand. Sandbagging lands is going to be a big skill-test in this set, I predict.

James
Take off the training wheels and use your lands to bluff. Is that basically the lesson WotC trying to teach with a few of these landfall cards? This one in particular is really nice and it’s way better than the Quest of the Gravelord. This is a great mid-draft pick and will fill in your one-drops nicely. So far as constructed is concerned, maybe two in your decks is enough. This card will do WONDERS for making unearth viable as an archetype and that’s where I’d keep an eye on this card appearing–that and Jund-style decks running Bloodbraid Elf.

Vampire Lacerator – B
Creature – Vampire Warrior (Common)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life unless an opponent has 10 or less life.
The lacerators cut themselves before each hunt. They must feed before the sun rises or bleed to death.
2/2
Illus. Steve Argyle
#115/249

Joe

Sick! This guy is huge for the vampire deck. He’s Isamaru, vampire of konda! The drawback is really low, I think. Even if you always took 1 on upkeep, he might be worth it. The fact that it’s only temporary pain is great. In limited, he’s awesome on turn 1, and still relevant later. Seems like you could do some real damage if you drafted multiples of these cheap vampires after cracking one of the better rare ones.

James
Bingo. Here we have a must-include for the MB decks. Very aggressive. Limited: Very playable Constructed: Playable

Vampire Nighthawk – 1BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman (Uncommon)
Flying
Deathtouch (Creatures dealt damage by this creature are destroyed. You can divide this creature’s combat damage among any of the creatures blocking or blocked by it.)
Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.)
2/3
Illus. Jason Chan
#116/249

Joe

There’s nothing wrong with this guy and everything right. Gray ogre never had it so good. A superb creature, and surely a high pick for black.

James
Just gets better and better for Mono-black. This is a first pick for limited. The x/3 but is big enough to hold off the ground (and remove creatures). Your opponent won’t attack into him so if you’re swinging on T4 the life swing is 4. Has everyone see the skyrocketing price of Vampire Nocturnes? Vampire.dec will be interesting to see if it’s just a quick fad or a here-to-stay trend.

Chandra Ablaze – 4RR
Planeswalker – Chandra (Mythic Rare)
[+1]: Discard a card. If a red card is discarded this way, Chandra Ablaze deals 4 damage to target creature or player.
[-2]: Each player discards his or her hand, then draws three cards.
[-7]: Cast any number of target red instant and/or sorcery cards from your graveyard without paying their mana cost.
5
Illus. Steve Argyle
#120/249

Joe

What an interesting inferno of abilities. Turns your red cards into free flame javelins, refills hands (worst of the three for its symmetry), and goes yawgmoths will styl on your burn spells three turns down the line. Seems just fine to me. Six is a lot, but so is 4 damage! Obviously insane in limited, but I’m not sure it’s going to cut the mustard in constructed. Burn decks want to be about done by turn 6, not just deploying their bomb.

James
This card is stupidly good and I’m not thinking Limited here. I’m talking constructed. It’s absolutely okay to play this turn 6. By that point in the game, the red mage has cast MOST of his/her instants and sorceries–and being mono-red they are ALL red. Turn 8 = GG. If Chandra Ablaze makes it to prime-time, expect to bring in the Mindbreak Trap (see above). Since it’s an activated ability, the “number of cast spells” all go on the stack–and you have your opportunity to negate & exile all of them. Again, with a trap cost of ZERO, any and all decks can run Mindbreak. It’s just going to be a very, very narrow SB choice so make absolutely sure that Chandra is in the meta before tromping off and throwing it in your SB. Anyway, back to Chandra: she’s very playable. Play her in your Mono-red decks! :)

Demolish – 3R
Sorcery (Common)
Destroy target artifact or land.

Joe

An oldie but goodie. Has its place… in your sideboard.

James
…if there… ;)

Electropotence – 2R
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay {2}{R}. If you do, that creature deals damage equal to its power to target creature or player.
Where life and force collide
Illus. Christopher Moeller

Joe

Time has not been kind to pandemonium, alas. At least in this version, only you get to trigger it, but this still seems steep. There’s probably going to be an attempt to break this, maybe along with that new pacifism thing we saw above? I dunno… this is killer in limited though, as reusable burn or removal typically is.

James
Maybe in a Jund deck? Decks playing Bloodbraid will test this out for sure. It’s just too efficient to ignore and the 3-drop slot isn’t going to be too hot with the loss of Boggart Gang-bang. Er, I mean Boggart Ram-Gang .

Elemental Appeal – RRRR
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {5} (You may pay an additional {5} as you cast this spell)
Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with trample and haste onto the battlefield. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If Elemental Appeal was kicked, that creature gets +7/+0 until end of turn.
Illus. Anthony Francisco

Joe

Ball lightning seems to have aged a little better, but the original is still better imo. 9 mana is a lot for a 14/1 that dies to prodigal pyromancer. The 7/1 is still good as non-morphing blistering firecat. Good for a burst of damage when opponents are wide open for it. Terrible when they’re prepared. I think it gets playing in limited only when you’re way deep in red (thank you, Dr. Obvious). Constructed might have a place for him.

James
Marginally playble; certainly nothing to write home about. Looks like we’d be paying 4cc for 3-4 damage and that SUCKs for red decks. I take it back, it’s not playable.

Geyser Glider – 3RR
Creature – Elemental Beast (Uncommon)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Geyser Glider gains flying until end of turn.

“Quit pontificating, mage. The last thing we want to do is give it more hot air.”
-Tala Vertan, Makindi shieldmate

4/4
Illus. Warren Mahy

Joe

Air Elemental for red is a big deal, even if he’s lazy and only flies when the weather is just right. This guy’s going to be a red limited deck’s backbone in lots of cases. Superb for a 5-drop in a color often lacking evasive guys.

James
Great for limited. 5cc for a 4/4 isn’t even all that bad in limited and this one can get flying “every other turn or so”. Not bad. I’m not sure about constructed though. Mono-Red doesn’t really want more than 5 or 6 lands in play. But, again, I have the feeling that the mana curve is shifting slowly upward with this set so it’s not THAT bad in constructed. I just expect to see it win a ton of games in limited and then be generally absent in constructed. This is early-pick worthy for sure. Getting two in a limited deck would be devastating…there aren’t many creatures with butts over x/3 in this set so he’ll dominate in limited.

Goblin Bushwhacker – R
Creature – Goblin Warrior (Common)
Kicker – {R} (You may pay an additional {R} as you cast this spell.)
When Goblin Bushwhacker enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, creatures you control get +1/+0 and gain haste until end of turn.

1/1

Joe

Not bad for a rush aggro kind of deck. A mini trumpet blast with a 1/1 attached. 1-drop 1/1s are usually avoided in limited unless they do something special… this guy might be special enough.

James
Where’s the haste? That’s what would make this card very playable. Now it’s just a filler-card. Drafting I would pick this mid-to late and be pretty happy but I wouldn’t want more than 2 in my deck. It’s just too mediocre. I wouldn’t even look at this as a one-drop. It’s a two drop that you want to play before an alpha strike. I see this being a splash card in limited (i.e. for splashing red) and being completely forgotten about in constructed.

Goblin Guide – R
Creature – Goblin Scout (Rare)
Haste
Whenever Goblin Guide attacks, defending player reveals the top card of his or her library. If it’s a land card, that player puts it into his or her hand.
“I’ve been all over this world. I even remember some of those places.”
2/2
Illus. Warren Mahy

Joe

This is a very powerful jackal pup kind of guy. The drawback gives you a clue about what’s coming up, reminiscent of orcish spy and pals. Seems more impressive in constructed where you can drop him turn 1 regularly. I wonder if the bonus cards will prove to be an acceptable downside or not. In limited, he’s kind of on the fence in my mind. I hate handing this kind of card advantage to an opponent, so my curve had better be quite aggressive for me to run him. Luckily, as a suicide attacker, your opponent might actually want to take 2 and hope to see some bonus land.

James
Hmm, this is going to be hotly debated I expect. On the play, dropping turn 1 & attacking potentially gives your opponent an 8th card in the opening hand. However, there aren’t THAT many things a person can do turn one so ultimately that 8th card will be discarded. Also, we could view the “sneak peek” as providing us more information than the opponent will EVER want to reveal. On the play, you don’t necessarily even know what your opponent is playing–they haven’t had a chance to show us yet. Getting a peek at a card will provide you a ton of information on how to adjust your plays for the rest of the game. Actually, now that I thought about it on “out loud and on paper” with y’all, I’m not seeing the potential draw as a downside at all. This card is a bomb and will absolutely see play, replacing Mogg Fanatic and even sorta-kinda Figure of Destiny. A very, very very good goblin.

Goblin Ruinblaster – 2R
Creature – Goblin Shaman (Uncommon)
Haste
Kicker – {R}
When Goblin Ruinblaster enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target nonbasic land.
2/1

Joe

Hmm. Well, this could have a place in older formats, but I think there are better, more efficient options there. It’s not bad as a hasty ogre, and the CiP LD thing will be decent at times, though usually irrelevant for limited. Hasty 2/1 for 2R… doesn’t seem terrible.

James
Great card. 3cc is perfect. Bloodbraids will hit this bad boy, so kick it and destroy their dual lands. This card is horrible for limited though; just pass it. (But make sure you have 4x for your red decks).

Kazuul Warlord – 4R
Creature – Minotaur Warrior Ally (Rare)
Whenever Kazuul Warlord or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on each Ally creature you control.
On expeditions, minotaurs are worth their weight in gold. Fortunately for the paymasters, most minotaurs don’t know how much they weigh.
3/3
Illus. Kev Walker

Joe

All by his lonesome, that he’s a 4/4 for 4R means he’s fomori nomad good, and strictly better than berserkers of blood ridge. The fact that he will often boost and be boosted by other allies makes this guy bomb-level good. With more than two other allies in your deck, I’d say this guy’s huge. Without a single other ally, he’s merely highly playable.

James
I’m so on the fence with Allies and I don’t see a very viable ally deck occurring. Though, I have to admit, if you have just even one other ally on the board (or one in hand) this is a very good card. Play him in limited and then test the waters in constructed. “Marginal”

Lavaball Trap – 6RR
Instant – Trap (Rare)
If an opponent had two or more lands enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {3}{R}{R} rather than pay Lavaball Trap’s mana cost.
Destroy two target lands. Lavaball Trap deals 4 damage to each creature.
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Joe

This seems most relevant as a trap, since by the time you have 8 mana, the two lands will likely be irrelevant, and there’s a good chance it won’t even kill all the creatures your opponent controls at that point. As a trap, it’s clearly designed to punish use of the new fetch lands. This seems like a big enough cost though to somewhat telegraph itself in constructed. Opponent has 3RR up? Maybe I’ll wait to break that fetch land I just dropped until my opponent’s turn! Thumbs down for me. Easily avoided any time you know it’s coming… probably unlikely to matter in all other cases.

James
Ummm, as a giant pyroclasm + land destruction for 8 cc I say “no” but for 5cc I say yes. Since fetch lands will without a doubt see play, I can see this being playable. It’s just so damn situational that I’m not convinced I would ever play it. I guess that means my verdict is “no.”

Murasa Pyromancer – 4RR
Creature – Human Shaman Ally (Uncommon)
Whenever Murasa Pyromancer or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Murasa Pyromancer deal damage to target creature equal to the number of Allies you control.
Fire is my accomplice. For enough coin, it can be yours as well.
3/2
Illus. Kekai Kotaki

Joe

This is one ally that surely shines in an ally-heavy deck, but sucks pretty bad on his own. I wouldn’t run him as my only ally. He’s a pretty bad sparkmage apprentice variant then. But again, with 3+ other allies, I’d give him a shot.

James
Maybe playble in limited if you’re getting a lot of allies. Otherwise, just forget it. If it read “to creature or player” I’d say yeah but as it is, no. …or if it had flash. Alas, neither is the case…

Plated Geopede – 1R
Creature – Insect (Common)
First strike
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Plated Geopede gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

“Kor armorers buy the scales and claws. Elf oracles buy the rest.”
- Nablas, North Hada trapper

1/1
Illus. Eric Deschamps

Joe

I like the fetchland in combat tricks he enables, but he’s kinda tiny for 2 mana. I think a density of landfall effects would still be pretty devastating though, so he’d likely be included in such a deck. If you crack a fetchland and raredraft it, as I plan to do until I have playsets, then landfall, and this guy, don’t seem like bad things to pursue for that deck.

James
For a common, this isn’t that bad. Don’t load up on them because w/out the haste he’s UBER vulnerable but certainly playble as a 3/3 firststrike. I don’t see this being good in constructed. It’s def’ worth testing out in a draft though.

Warren Instigator – RR
Creature – Goblin Berserker (Mythic Rare)
Double Strike
Whenever Warren Instigator deals damage to an opponent, you may put a Goblin creature card from your hand onto the battlefield.
1/1
Illus. Andrew Robinson

Joe

Goblin Lackey redux, this time with doublestrike! It’s pretty well a bargain to get doublestrike for R more than the original. On the other hand, a huge part of the original was the turn 1 play. I still have to believe this will be a chase rare, a huge player in goblin decks across all formats, and essentially Lackeys 5-8 whenever both are legal and you’re playing gobbos. Alas, goblin warchief wont help him come down sooner. I’m only marginally into him in limited, but I wouldn’t complain to open him, since I’ll likely have paid for my entry fee just from the card pool. Personally, I think he’s better than goblin scout.

James
Very good in constructed but horrible in limited. It’s likely to eat any removal your opponent has (in constructed) so that bodes well for the real bomb in a goblin deck: Siege-gang Commander. Personally I don’t see much wrong with dropping this guy on turn 2 and getting 1/2 your hand into play on turn 3. Massive pressure that’s for sure.

Baloth Woodcrasher – 4GG
Creature – Beast (Uncommon)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Baloth Woodcrasher gets +4/+4 and gains trample until end of turn.
Its insatiable hunger quickly depletes a region of prey. It must migrate from place to place to feed its massive bulk.
4/4
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
#157/249

Joe

He’s pretty much an 8/8 trample for 6, on average. Might occasionally be a 12/12 though. And in green you can always harrow (see below!) after dropping a land, and he’d then be 16/16. Make your land drop for the turn a fetch and he’s the magical 20/20. So anyway, clearly he has the potential to go large. I’m gonna go ahead and say this is probably a very high pick green uncommon. Even if he’s only 8/8 and trample a third of the time, and 4/4 vanilla the rest, he’s still fine for 6 CMC.

James
Great card! Don’t pass him up in limited. As for constructed…meh. He’s certainly no Broodmate Dragon…and def’ not Terra Stomper (see below).

Beast Hunt – 3G
Sorcery (Common)
Reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all creature cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.

“Surely we could tame something besides hurdas and pillarfield oxen!”
- Sheyda, Ondu gamekeeper

Illus. Kieran Yanner

Joe

It’s no gift of the gargantuan, but it’s still decent selection. This is how green card draw has gone since the wacky days of harmonize. Not my kind of card, but I think it’s playable.

James
I’d play one or two in a creature heavy limited deck but the downside is losing a land (or two!) to the graveyard and that land can mean the likelihood of us losing a LOT of tempo. As for constructed? Nah….

Gigantiform – 3GG
Enchantment – Aura (Rare)
Kicker {4}
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature is 8/8 and has trample.
When Gigantiform enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, you may search your library for a card named Gigantiform, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Justin Sweet
#162/249

Joe

When will this ever be kicked in constructed? This is gimmicky trash. In limited, the non-kicked use is fine (and you’ll essentially never have two anyway), turning some dork into a big beater. Might even be rightly considered a bomb. But it’s an invitation to a bitch slap in constructed.

James
It’s okay in limited as it will turn your pitiful x/2 into something worth having but it screams “2 4 1 me please!” I would pick this kinda late. The trample is appealing but I’m not sure it’s enough to justify the card.

Harrow – 2G
Instant
As an additional cost to cast Harrow, sacrifice a land.
Search your library for up to two basic land cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

Joe

First Tempest, then Invasion both proved how incredibly good this spell is. Neither set had landfall. This is going to be huge. It’s what they call an enabler. This will see play as a 4-of in multiple tournament viable constructed decks. It’s also an incredible fixer for limited. Go go Harrow!

James
Jesus. Ridiculously good. Makes turn 4 a 6 drop. Jesus. This card will see play…lots of play, like that trashy girl at the bar you see hanging around a different guy (or gal) every week.

Khalni Heart Expedition – 1G
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Khalni Heart Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Khalni Heart Expedition and sacrifice it: Search your library for up to two basic land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
Illus. Jason Chan

Joe

Whoa mamma. So you drop this turn 2. Turn 3 you drop a land, then cast harrow, then sacrifice this thing. Now you’ve got 6 lands in play on turn 3, having searched for 4 of them, and any landfallers you have just got activated 5 times. Killer. This is also going to be huge, I suspect. Probably a tournament 4-of as well. Very solid in limited. Probably a necessity for decks with more than 2 colors.

James
I’d rather just play Rampant Growth. I’m not as excited about this as Joe is. It’s just not that great…in constructed. In limited it’s great. Thins out your deck, fetches your color-fix–albeit kinda slowly. I mean, aside from the ideal scenario of Heart Expedition to Harrow, it’s going to take 3 turns to activate. Again, I’d rather just play rampant growth.

Nissa Revane – 2GG
Planeswalker – Nissa (Mythic Rare)
[+1] Search your library for a card named Nissa’s Chosen and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
[+1] You gain 2 life for each Elf you control.
[-7] Search your library for any number of Elf creature cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
2
Illus. Jaime Jones

Joe

Nissa’s Chosen (see below) is a common, so you know whoever cracks this in pack 1 is going to end up with a few. Without many elves though, this planeswalker isn’t even particularly playable. Seems like a constructed deck will form around her though… we’ll see if it has the goods. I’m guessing it’ll be a contender. Such a vulnerable planeswalker though.

James
This has to be the Single Worst Planeswalker Ever Nuf said. It’s so stupid it’s hard to believe. I don’t even see an elf deck forming around this. What would be the point? If you like Nissa’s Chosen, just play 4x Nissa’s Chosen and forget the planeswalker ‘ho–and last I checked (disclaimer, I haven’t checked–lol!) elfish warrior isn’t played. Would it be played if it was put back in the library? Probably not. SUPER LAME!!!!

Nissa’s Chosen – GG
Creature – Elf Warrior (Common)
If Nissa’s Chosen would be put into a graveyard from the battlefield, put it on the bottom of its owner’s library instead.
2/3
Illus. Jaime Jones

Joe

Elvish warrior without the mythic planeswalker. Close to a bomb common with her. Playable either way.

James
Playable in limited certainly but not outside that.

Oracle of Mul Daya – 3G
Creature – Elf Shaman (Rare)
You can play one additional land on each of your turns.
Play with the top card of your library revealed.
You may play the top card of your library if it’s a land card.
2/2
Illus. Vance Kovacs
#172/249

Joe

Another landfall enabler, but slightly weird. I think I’ll always try to play her though, maybe even as a lone green splash, if only for the land-from-the-top thing. I like it. Kind of a future sight / azusa lost but seeking mashup.

James
Now here’s something interesting. Playing a land off the top is awesome. It might be worth revealing the “non-land” under the land. Still, 4cc for an extra land isn’t really all that great if you don’t have anything to play into. Against a control deck, this is horrible card. You’re basically revealing whether the opponent should tap out for creatures or “hang back” to counter. At 3cc I might think otherwise but at 4? (I’m shaking my head “no”).

Oran-Rief Survivalist – 1G
Creature – Human Warrior Ally (Common)
Whenever Oran-Rief Survivalist or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Oran-Rief Survivalist.
“I’m strong enough to survive alone. I’m smart enough to want companions at my side.”
1/1
Illus. Kev Walker

Joe

Grizzly bear is playable. It only gets better from there. Solid for sure.

James
Playable for allies. R/G allies might be a good deck for limited but I’m pretty sure it’s not worth playing in constructed.

Predatory Urge – 3G
Enchantment – Aura (Rare)
Enchant creature.
Enchanted creature has “{T}: This creature deals damage equal to its power to target creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to this creature.”
Illus. Scott Chou

Joe

Decent reusable removal if you get some kind of wall or whatnot. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about really. Should have a place in 40-card maindecks though.

James
$0.50 rare.

Rampaging Baloths – 4gg
Creature – Beast (Mythic Rare)
Trample
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a 4/4 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

When the land is angry, so are they.
- Nissa Revane

6/6
Illus. Eric Deschamps
#176/249

Joe

Bombastic in limited. If you play him and never drop another land, he’s still worth it. Since you’ll usually get 2-4 more 4/4s out of the deal, he’s clearly a bomb. Mythic gods, smile on me!

James
This might see play in constructed. Putting 4/4 ‘s into play for the cost of playing land is nothing to ignore.

River Boa – 1G
Creature – Snake (Common)
Islandwalk
{G}: Regenerate River Boa.
2/1

Joe

Oldie and very goodie. This is an easy card to underestimate. This guy’s very strong.

James
Excellent in limited. Very excellent.

Scute Mob – G
Creature – Insect (Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control five or more lands, put four +1/+1 counters on Scute Mob.

“Survival rule 781: There are always more scute bugs.”
- Zurdi, goblin shortcutter

1/1
Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
#182/249

Joe

Wow. This is a very solid 1-drop. This will quickly go berserk for you if it lives past turn 5! I’m on board. Not sure I’d consider it a bomb, but it’s quite solid.

James
I wouldn’t play this as a “one drop” for sure. It will eat your removal and if it doesn’t get removed quickly, your opponent will lose very quickly. It’s as good as ‘Goyf. This will see heavy constructed play.

Scythe Tiger – G
Creature – Cat (Common)
Shroud
When Scythe Tiger enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you sacrifice a land.
3/2

Joe

Rogue elephant, the second. I like the shroud thing. This has been a mainstay of budget legacy and even vintage stompy decks, which might now have 8 such one-drop 3 power dorks. It’s pretty risky though in limited. I’d be a little frightened to drop him turn 1 with 40 cards, but with risk comes reward, right? Grizzly bear is frown town for him though. Plus, with shroud, you can’t equip him or anything. Lukewarm.

James
I think this could be good in a tron-style deck that runs Crucible of Worlds. as a 2/3 it’d be no-question good in limited but at x/2 it’s pretty risky.

Terra Stomper – 3GGG
Creature – Beast (Rare)
Terra Stomper can’t be countered.
Trample
Sometimes violent earthquakes, hurtling boulders, and unseasonable dust storms are wrongly attributed to the Roil.
8/8
Illus. Goran Josic
#187/249

Joe

Holy smokes. 8/8 trample uncounterable. For 6? Yikes! This’ll likely see some tournament play, and is going to make people do whatever they can to get into green. I like him a lot. I’m calling this a bomb.

James
Very powerful. This is the sort of thing you want to play Harrow on turn 3 for. Man…turn4 this puppy and your opp’ is probably taking a small dump in his pants. The argument “it can be easily removed” is applicable to so many damn creatures, please don’t make that your comment. This card is stupidly good. It’s significantly more than just efficient.

Turntimber Ranger – 3GG
Creature – Elf Druid Ally (Rare)
Whenever Turntimber Ranger or another Ally enters the battlefield, you may put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token onto the battlefield. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on Turntimber Ranger.
2/2
Illus. Wayne Reynolds

Joe

What’s with wayne reynolds and this pose? goldmeadow stalwart invented the look, and this ranger is just a copycat! This is a sick bomb of an ally though. 5 power and toughness for 5 mana, but in two creatures is sick on its own, but with the potential for more, it’s off the charts. This guy’s yet another bomb rare for limited.

James
This is the kind of ally that makes me think allies just might–JUST MIGHT–have something for constructed. Again, so far as allies, I’m thinking R/G–potentially R/G/w but that’s pushing it. The comparison card for this is Broodmate imo. “But that costs more and you get two 4/4′s!” Yeah, yeah but this guy could easily pump out 2 or 3 2/2′s and becomes a 4/4 or 5/5–especially if your other ally is the minotaur. Worth watching and def’ worth experimenting with.

Vines of Vastwood – G
Instant (Common)
Kicker – {G} (You may pay an additional {G} as you cast this spell)
Target creature can’t be the target of spells of abilities your opponents control until end of turn. If Vines of Vastwood was kicked, that creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

Joe

Saweet common, this. Such a trivial kicker, it will rarely go unkicked. Very very good. A nice combat trick and/or removal-counterspell. Awesome card.

JamesPick this up in limited. NEVER EVER pass it. lol. I also think this would be worth examining in constructed. It can save your creature from “cheap removal” (such as the Terra Stomper) and create massive pressure. I wouldn’t underestimate this card at all–as though that weren’t clear already. ;)

Blade of the Bloodchief – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Rare)
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on equipped creature. If equipped creature is a Vampire, put two +1/+1 counters on it instead.
Equip {1}
Illus. Jung Park
#196/249

Joe

Oh my. This should be quite the beating. The counters are on the dude, not the blade… (Doc Obv. strikes again). I love it. I can’t see ever benching this in limited. Not ever.

James
I’ve seen some people bashing this card on twitter but personally I think it’s great. I’d run 2x in a vampire deck.

Carnage Altar – 2
Artifact (Uncommon)
3, Sacrifice a creature: Draw a card.
Illus. James Paick

Joe

Superb. Another card I can’t see myself leaving in my 40-card deck sideboard for any reason. Why not draw cards as creatures die? This would have been even more insane pre-M10 combat damage rules changes. It’s still solid. Makes removal from your opponents hurt a lot less.

James
The only concern I have with this card is the total cost. If you don’t have fatties to stall the ground and you’re just holding back mana open to activate this, then you’re losing and no amount of draw is going to help. This card is decent but not superb.

Eldrazi Monument – 5
Artifact (Mythic Rare)
Creatures you control get +1/+1, have flying, and are indestructible.
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature. If you can’t, sacrifice Eldrazi Monument.

“Gods don’t die. They merely slumber.”
-Ayli, Kamsa cleric

Illus. Mark Tedin
#199/249

Joe

That’s some mythic stuff right there. Indestructible and flying are both fantastic. Sacrificing can be difficult sometimes, but if you have any kind of token production, you’re golden. I like it. Shouldn’t be too hard to justify it in most sealed pools you open containing it. In draft, well… hope you get it early I guess? I dunno. Doesn’t seem intuitively to fit in draft as easily… if it comes pack three, you might just not have the right deck for it, I think. Interesting one. I doubt it’ll make the grade in constructed.

James
I’m not sure. It looks hawt but the question is, “Is getting in a couple of more points of damage per turn worth creating an infinite attrition situation?” Probably not.

Eternity Vessel – 6
Artifact (Mythic Rare)
Eternity Vessel enters the battlefield with X charge counters on it, where X is your life total.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have your life total become equal to the number of charge counters on Eternity Vessel.
Illus. John Avon
#200/249

Joe

Well, clearly your opponent must deal with this before they can do much else. As such, I consider it a highly worthwhile card. Coretapper has a crush on this thing. Probably shit for constructed, but in EDH it might have a place here or there. Arcum dagsson probably has better things to grab. I dunno. Anyone? Buhler?

James
Very interesting no doubt. But construction worthy? Probably not. The landfall issue isn’t great if you’re already losing and looking to stall. It sorta reminds me oLichs Mirror

Akoum Refuge
Land (Uncommon)
Akoum Refuge enters the battlefield tapped.
When Akoum Refuge enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {B} or {R} to your mana pool.

Joe

I’ll only review this first one, but understand that it’s a cycle. They seem fine to me for limited, but in constructed there are doubtlessly better options available.

James
It’s better than the tri-lands from shards if you’re only in two colors (lol–obviously!) but beyond that I don’t see much here. Maybe a poor-man’s substitute for the new dual lands?

Arid Mesa
Land (Rare)
{T}, Pay 1 Life, Sacrifice Arid Mesa: Search your library for a Mountain or Plains card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
Illus. Raymond Swanland
#211/249

Joe

Likewise, this cycle will be represented by the following comment: Whoop, there it is!

James
Get ‘em while you can boys. These cards will see $25++ very quickly–probably more considering the price of Onslaught fetchers.

Crypt of Agadeem

Land (Rare)
Crypt of Agadeem enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.
{2}, {T}: Add {B} to your mana pool for each black creature card in your graveyard.

Joe

You need three black creatures in your yard before you break even on mana. With four, you gain one mana, and so on. Seems weak to me. Quite weak.

James
Pass.

Emeria, The Sky Ruin
Land (Rare)
Emeria, the Sky Ruin enters the battlefield tapped.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control seven or more plains, return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
{T}: Add {W} to you mana pool.

Joe

Awesome. More for constructed than limited, where seven plains ain’t gonna happen that often. Seven plains plus this guy is also quite late for constructed though. Probably not that awesome after all.

James
Borderline. I’d put one or two into a mono-white deck. Never more than that though.

Teetering Peaks
Land (Common)
Teetering Peaks enters the battlefield tapped.
When Teetering Peaks enters the battlefield, target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
{T}: Add {R} to your mana pool.
Illus. Fred Fields

Joe

I don’t think +2/+0 is worth cip tapped.

James
I think this isn’t so bad. It’s a free pump. Great in limited if you’re only splashing for red–and are in B or U–where there were a few evasive guys. I’m a sucker for “free abilities” though.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Land (Rare)
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle enters the battlefield tapped.
Whenever a Mountain enters the battlefield under your control, if you control at least five other Mountains, you may have Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deal 3 damage to target creature or player.
{T}: Add {R} to your mana pool.
Illus. Kieran Yanner
#228/249

Joe

Unless harrow + khalni heart expedition are way better than I think they are, then needing 7, 8, 9 lands in play is just too slow for these kinds of marginal effects. Pass.

James
I think this might be okay in a mono-red deck. It’s just not clear [to me] what the optimal time to play this is. Turn 1? Certainly if you don’t have a Goblin Guide in hand (see above) but turn 4 isn’t so bad because mono-red SHOULD have plenty to play at 3cc. Getting 3 damage in for just playing a mountain really isn’t that bad–not at all–and that 3 damage is uncountable. “sweet” I def’ think this is worth testing out.

6 thoughts on “Zendikar Card Review Batch 01 (111/249)”

  1. Nice Review guys, I liked the double perspectives on the cards. Nothing I didn’t agree with for the most part, although I did pick up a set of Sanguine Bonds cheap just in case a deck gets made with them and Eternity Vessel.

    And yes, I’m happy I got my playset of nocturnuses early :).

  2. Pingback: MTGBattlefield
  3. Also,

    @James: Kazandu Blademaster puts a counter on himself when he comes into play… er… enters the battlefield…

    @James: Seagate Loremaster = “meh”? Just shy of Archivist at worst, but potentially better than Arcanis? Seems like meh is underestimating?

    Damn… this was a long post! Only got through your black comments. McLovin’ it.

  4. oh, right opalescence! duh!
    @ Loremaster; thinking back to my comments, i think i was just thinking limited in which i was thinking 5cc for an x/3 but & a draw in two turns (after you cast, then through the end of your opponent’s next end step) in which it seems pretty ‘meh’ to me.
    for constructed, which i should have addressed, he’s potentially playable. i just see merfolk losing a few key cards (such as stoneybrook banneret & wake thrasher) leading me to think he doesn’t have the goods–this is of course on the back of my belief that i don’t see much potential for x/U allies..
    @kazadnu. yeah, i saw that i put 1/1. that was just a mental fart because i was pretty aware of it etb as a 2/2…”duh” to me again.

  5. @ James did you not realize Harrow requires a land sacrifice? It only nets you one additional land, so it wouldn’t give you 6 on turn 4..

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