Zendikar Card Review Batch 02 (170 / 249)

Welcome to batch two of the Zendikar preview season. We’ve got ~59 new cards or so to review today. As usual, these are knee-jerk reactions, in most cases, and we try to keep these reviews as much of a first impression as possible. With the exception of Lotus Cobra, previewed by our pal Mike Flores, we haven’t seen any of today’s cards yet.

I’ll (Joe) be reviewing everything from a limited standpoint with occasional comments geared towards legacy and EDH, while James will default into evaluating the cards for constructed, particularly upcoming standard and block formats, though the latter is trickier than the former given the limited number of block cards known to date.

Enjoy, and please chime in in the comments section! That’s what it’s there for.

Brave the Elements – W
Instant (Uncommon)
Choose a color. White creatures you control gain protection from the chosen color until end if turn.

JOE

Neat little trick… should make for some favorable combat outcomes. This can be devastating soft-removal for a base-white archetype. Dr. Obvious says, “This card increases in value in direct proportion to the number of white creatures you have on board.” Thank you, Dr. Obvious.

JAMES
This is a pretty good card actually. –potentially not as good as the green version of this cycle (see below) but definitely a good card because it will hose your opponents’ attempts at 2 for 1′ing you. I’m thinking Volcanic Fallout for example, which is easily one of the best two-for-one’rs in Type2 right now. It’s also great for an alpha strike, if you’ve got lethal on board but some pesky blockers, here’s your chance to walk right on by and bash your opponent’s face in. The question becomes is this better than Harms Way? Probably; it just doesn’t have the advantage of redirecting that damage. It’s going to come down to testing so my recommendation is to test this card versus Harm’s Way.

Conqueror’s Pledge – 2WWW
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {6}
Put six 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield. If Conqueror’s Pledge was kicked, put twelve 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield instead.

JOE

Hmmm… you might occasionally play it for 5, in which case it’s a fair deal. You’ll likely never see 11 mana, so that’s slightly irrelevant. But as far as token-barfer cards, this is a good one. I’m guessing there are way better versions for constructed, such as martial coup.
JAMES
This seems pretty playable to me. At 5cc this is better than martial coup–martial coup is awesome at 7cc but because of that high cc, it’s more of a 2x. Well, I’m concluding this off experience with windswept heights which is rotating out so m.coup may get the bump. However, on a straight cc analysis, this is better than coup. At two more cc than spectral procession you get three more creatures so on a mana-efficiency level, this is a slight bump in efficiency. When B/W tokens was bashing face across the world, there were instances where Spectral Procession was played at 4cc, making this actually a bit more stable in the sense that you have two more turns to hit your third plains. The kicker does seem unlikely–and in all probability we’d probably rather see martial coup for 11 than Conqueror’s Pledge at 11 because you get the Wrath of God/Day of Judgment affect. Unfortunately it’s not as good as Cloudgoat Ranger which provides “that bigger body” as well as evasion. Tapping out on turn 5 to get Volcanic Fallout would be a kick to the nuts so it’s a tough call. I’ll probably sleeve this up post-Lorwyn in my G/W tokens…which very well may become mono-white. (Sigil Captain and even more so Dauntless Escort are very good).

Emeria Angel – 2WW
Creature – Angel (Rare)
Flying
Landfall—Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control,
you may put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying into the battlefield.
3/3

JOE

Check out that foily promo goodness… Look ma, no textbox! This is a Super-bomb in limited, and would be highly awesome even if all it did was fly, cost 4, and have 3 power and toughness. Barfing out other fliers makes this celestial being a killer. Incredible. Looks constructed worthy to me as well, but that’s not my forte. Hill giant is solid. Flying hill giant is superb. Flying bird-barfer hill giant is bombastic-fantastic with a Jamaican accent like Shaggy.

JAMES
This is definitely worth toying with. The cc at 4 may make it a bit tough to fit–for example, would we rather play the bird-producing angel or would we rather drop an Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Ajani Goldmane? Planeswalkers are pretty much self-contained entities making for fairly ideal on-curve plays. That being said, you’re well rewarded for playing this angel. I mean, what deck doesn’t want to play a fifth land? (besides burn decks which don’t count in this instance). I don’t see 5 Color Control sticking around in the same structure (losing Cryptic Command and Broken Ambitions really are too much) so we can’t even compare this to Baneslayer Angel as a potentially “earlier play.” The only control deck that comes to mind that as far as I’m aware isn’t getting completely gutted is the Grixis-Control deck which wouldn’t be running this. So it comes down to the MWC, White-Winnie & mid-range. As a mid-range deck, we can evaluate this on a comparative level with Knight of the Watch which w/ the landfall ability on Emeria Angel will produce the same number of 1/1s as the 7cc Knight (just one at a time rather than all at once). Under that analysis, this would be far more efficient. It’s a question of “flying” vs “vigilance”–flying is pretty much 10x better than vigilance imo. That all being said, this card seems playable.

Kor Cartographer – 3W
Creature – Kor Scout (Common)
When Kor Cartographer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a Plains card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
2/2

JOE

Well, a 4-drop doesn’t work too well as a fixer, so this is more of a mid-to-late accellerant. Not bad in that role, but a little pricey for a 2/2. I’m on the fence. I’d probably run him with enough early landfall cards that I want to double up on turn 4.

JAMES
If landfall is going to be as good as I think it probably will be, then this will play a marginal role. Due to the “get a plains” nature, I’m not sure it’s going to see play outside mono-white in Type2–if a player is dabbling in G which has lots of land-searchers, then Harrow is a better option. It is pretty pricey so I’m on the fence. Getting an extra land can be pretty dang helpful…

Creature – Kor Soldier (Common)
Flying
When Kor Skyfisher enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner’s hand.
2/3

JOE

Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Okay, well, this is pretty snazzy… it’s only rarely going to be the ideal turn 2 drop though… but it’s awesome when you have a fair number of CiP abilities to abuse (see cartographer above). This lets you get double mileage out of CiP shennanigans, and leaves you with a highly respectable 2/3 flier, all for a piddly 1W. Very sweet common here. Soldier too!

JAMES
For a two drop this is certainly a pretty aggressive card but at this point I can only compare it to filling in a slot occupied by Honor of the Pure and Kazandu Blademaster (see our other post for a breakdown). Keeping my comparison cards in mind, if an ally deck is viable then this card will be the linchpin triggering all kinds of madness. And it’d be some serious madness but as a shenanigan-enabler, I would run it at 3x (hoping to draw into it mid-to late game…not in my opening hand). I’d expect an ally deck in Block but not so much in Type2; this card could end up being very interesting.

Narrow Escape – 2W
Instant (Common)
Return target permanent you control to its owner’s hand. You gain 4 life.
“Let’s get out of here”
#27/249

JOE

Love it. This card sure weeps for the recent M10 rules changes though! “Damage on the stack…” er… not so much. But still a nice way to softly counter some removal! I’m confused by the flavor though… why the 4 life if it was a narrow escape? This is more like “Narrow Escape turned Awesome Boon….” like someone running away and tripping over a pot of gold or something… I dunno. I’d probably leave this one out of the deck if I could, as countering removal is kind of narrow. Lots of time this will be a do-nothing spell.

JAMES
I’m not so hot on this. Good game trick for limited where savign a creature from the graveyard and gaining 4 life might be viable. For constructed, I don’t see much room for this. [card]Brave the Elements[card] (above) seems 10x better to me, costing 2cc less and potentially saving the whole team.

Shepherd of the Lost – 4W
Creature – Angel (Uncommon)
Flying, first strike, vigilance
3/3
#34/249

JOE

Awesome in limited. Simply awesome. This is highly playable, highly splashable. Great body, attacks and blocks, and all with first strike. Awesome fiver.

JAMES
Great for limited and then not so hot otherwise. As an uncommon it’s a rockstar in limited! At 5cc [card]Baneslayer Angel[card] is better for constructed. Like I said in the last batch of reviews, forever will B.A. be the benchmark…

Hedron Crab – U
Creature – Crab (Uncommon)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
0/2

JOE

This is the waiting line for tryouts for the next sanity grinding combo deck. I have no clue whether he’ll make the cut there, but for limited, mill strategies are always about that critical mass. If you can land two or three of this guy (probably not) along with enough other mill cards (who knows?), then this could be viable. Otherwise, it’s a 15th pick kind of card.
JAMES
I don’t play mill and I’ve never lost to a mill deck…

Into the Roil – 1U
Instant (Common)
Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell.)
Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.

JOE

Love it. Should see play in limited, and maybe even that mill deck the crab above is trying out for? I dunno. The cantrip part is a little pricey, but it’s still going to be kicked a lot. This is a very decent soft removal spell.
JAMES
Tempo play in limited but I don’t see anything coming from this in constructed. Am I missing something?

Kraken Hatchling – U
Creature – Kraken (Common)
“Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth.”
0/4
#50/249

JOE

I, Joe Klesert, do hereby swear never to play this card in any limited event, so help me God.
JAMES
LMAO. Really? A 0/4 wall is pretty okay in limited. It just doesn’t do anything in constructed. Or? Anyway, it for sure is marginally playable in limited for a slow-roll U/x deck that needs to stall the ground out to build up a threat. I mean, we play 1/4′s in limited for the sole purpose of stalling, so this at 1cc isn’t SOOOO bad. (Just don’t run more than 2 or you’ll be shitting 0/4′s for dinner).

Living Tsunami – 2UU
Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Living Tsunami unless you return a land you control to its owner’s hand.
4/4

JOE

At least they didn’t call it “Tsunami Elemental” as they might have in the past. This is a huge enabler whose “drawback” is pretty much a pure upside. If you have no landfall cards, this is still a pretty decent deal. You get an undercosted air elemental, and if they stop it on the board, you just sac it the next upkeep. If you have landfall guys in play before him, he guarantees their activation every turn, which ain’t bad. In either case he’s playable, and with the right landfall cards, he’s outstanding. The only real risk is when you play him on-curve and never really get to access your 5-and-up-drops, so be somewhat weary… but I suspect this won’t be much of a problem.

JAMES
Well there. This will see play. So much landfall (such as Lotus Cobra–man, I’ve just been itching to get my way down to green) in Zendikar that not playing a [card]Air Elemental[card] that enables Landfall AND cost one less seems silly to me. This is an almost drawback free 4/4 with flying for 4cc. (Drawback free because of landfall y’all!)

Merfolk Wayfinder – 2U
Creature – Merfolk Scout (Uncommon)
Flying
When Merfolk Wayfinder enters the battlefield, reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all Island cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
1/2

JOE

Hmm… funky. Flying 1/2 makes him decently costed. The benefit here is stocking yourself with Islands. This is a hard call in limited where you seldom run mono-colored decks. He’ll probably whiff a lot, but he’s still decent when you draw him early. I’m thinking he’s playable, but I’d want to be somewhat invested in a skies type flying archetype to run him.

JAMES
I don’t see this making the cut in constructed unless there’s a mono-U developing that I’ve completely missed.

Reckless Scholar – 2U
Creature – Human Wizard (Common)
{T}: Target player draws a card, then discards a card.
2/1
#60/249

JOE

Not such a bad re-make of merfolk looter, since you get another point of power for your 1. Targeting other players probably won’t matter much… maybe the mill deck wants that, I dunno. I’d run this guy for sure though. Quite playable. Selection when you need it and a non-irrelevant body when you don’t.
JAMES
x/1′s don’t seem good enough. I mean, it’s not like it can block and then EOT draw a card. I’d rather have a 0/3 than a 2/1…Anyway, for the total cost this seems too expensive to see the light of day in constructed.

Rite Of Replication – 2UU
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {5} (You may pay an additional {5} as you cast this spell.)
Put a token that is a copy of target creature onto the battlefield. If Rite Of Replication was kicked, instead put five of those tokens onto the battlefield.
Illus. Matt Cavotta
#61/249

JOE

What in the holy hell!? Okay, with no kicker, this is a decent Clone remake, which makes it pretty solid. WITH kicker… this is ridiculous. I’m immediately thinking about lotus cobra here (see below)… you should be able to kick it without TOO much trouble with mr. snakey pants on board… and what would the world look like with 6 copies of Señor Snake? Holy crap!? Anyway, weirdness aside, this will be a middle-range rare, never going above $2-3 I’m guessing, but it’ll have these weird side uses. EDH decks would like to make 5 darksteel colossus tokens, for instance.
JAMES
This card is waiting to be broken. 9cc for 5 copies of say Baneslayer Angel or (even more devastating, auto-scoop styles) Broodmate Dragon is stupid.

Tempest Owl – 1U
Creature – Bird (Common)
Kicker {4}{U} (You may pay an additional {4}{U} as you cast this spell.)
Flying
When Tempest Owl enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, tap up to three target permanents.
1/2

JOE

Think of it mainly as a 2-drop 1/2 flier for limited. You’ll eventually be able to use him to tap remaining fliers or reach blockers for the alpha strike… that adds value. He’s playable in a skies archetype as a 2-drop 1/2 flier though. Decent early, decent late. Only disappointing right in the middle game period.. turn 4 or 5, for instance. Nice one.

JAMES
I’m not so hot on this one (thinking constructed). Tapping me down three permenants would be bomb-alicious if this had flash. Without it’s just a one-turn stall and you’re not going to get much from a 1/2…

Trapfinder’s Trick – 1U
Sorcery (Common)
Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all Trap cards.
#73/249

JOE

Hard to evaluate, but not impossible… I think even if there were four or five devastating traps, this is sideboard material for constructed AT BEST. But there’s likely only one or two awesome traps, and I think it’ll never be played. It’s so damn narrow. I doubt I will ever play this card.

JAMES
Unless trap all of a sudden becomes the shit, this isn’t anything to bother with. end line.

Trapmaker’s Snare – 1U
Instant (Uncommon)
Search your library for a Trap card, reveal it, and put it into your hand.
Then shuffle your libary.
#74/249

JOE

Now this, on the other hand, I can almost guarantee I’ll play, though not necessarily in limited. If you have some bomby trap card, sure. It’s very marginal in limited, but may well see play in constructed formats. If there’s any decent traps, EDH likes this, as it’s easy to transmute for with muddle the mixture or fetch with merchant scroll, making the trap quite tutorable, if it’s compelling enough. Tutors are usually pretty good, and as Dr. Obvious might say, they’re better the more awesome targets they have.
JAMES
Not sure it would be worth losing a slot just to fetch my trap-cards. Depends on which trap we’re talking here. [card]Mindbreak Trap[card] (see other post) has a ton of potential and being able to nab it “when you need it” and then play it for zero (otherwise, why are you playing it?) is pretty sweet. But I’m not sure there are any other trap cards I’m just dying to play–plus that assumes your at least splashing U. Splashing U for access to trap cards on demand seems pretty weak sauce.

̠ther Figment Р1U
Creature – Illusion (Uncommon)
Kicker {3}
Æther Figment is unblockable.
If Æther Figment was kicked, it enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it.
1/1
Black(25)

JOE

2-drop 1/1 unblockable… I’m probably not playing it without some kind of equipment. 5-drop 3/3 unblockable… I’d get behind that! Especially so splashable. In the end, he’s playable, but will likely be dropped turn 5 more than turn 2, outside of equipment.dec.
JAMES
Not bad for limited. I don’t think it has the goods for constructed play. 5cc for the 3/3 is just a bit too pricey.

Bloodchief Ascension – B
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each player’s end step, if an opponent lost 2 or more life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Bloodchief Ascension.
Whenever a card is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, if Bloodchief Ascension has three or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 2 life. If you do, you gain 2 life.

JOE

Seems easy to enable it, and then the effect is immense. I’m ready to call this a bomb rare one-drop enchantment. They either answer it, or eventually take TONS of damage from it. It’s trivial to drop it, and doesn’t require you to do anything you wouldn’t already be doing in order to enable it. It does require you to have enough guys in the red zone though, so keep that in mind… this can’t take a creature slot or anything. I’m going to try to play this when I can though. Cards that cost 1 and potentially create 4, 6, 8, 10 point lifeswings and beyond… I’m down with that. I really am. Even with a 3-4 turn delay in the mix.

JAMES
Damn. This is stupidly good for a one-drop. It will see constructed play and it’s great for a R/B deck.

Desecrated Earth – 4B
Sorcery (Common)
Destroy target land. Its controller discards a card.
#86/249

JOE

Harsh but expensive. Probably sideboard for pesky nonbasic lands. It’s too expensive to be effective as an LD spell and only makes them discard one card, limiting its effectiveness there as well. People will probably sandbag lands more often in the landfall block I’m guessing.
JAMES
I don’t see this having the goods for constructed play. Not with cards likes Blightening or the new Hideous End.

Disfigure – B
Instant (Common)
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

JOE

Nothing wrong with this cheap removal spell. Weakness, eat your heart out.

JAMES
One cc less than Nameless Inversion and the lack of ‘changeling’ make me doubtful this will be in constructed play.

Feast of Blood – 1B
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Cast Feast of Blood only if you control two or more Vampires.
Destroy target creature. You gain 4 life.
#88/249

JOE

Only awesome in one archetype, which should make this uncommon even more available for that particular archetype… this should be awesome whenever you can cast it.
JAMES
Amazing for the new vampire deck developing for Type 2. I mean seirously? Target creature? nothing about “non-black” or “tapped”–excellent. And you gain life off it? Sheesh. Seems like B might be the new life-gain deck (versus W & G as most recently seen).

Giant Scorpion – 2B
Creature – Scorpion (Common)
Deathtouch
1/3

JOE

1/3 isn’t very giant, but I guess it IS a scorpion we’re talking about. 1/3 deathtouch is worth every bit of 2B in my book. Playable. Deadly recluse is this guy’s pimp though. “Scorpion betta have my money!”

JAMES
It’s not going to make the cut w/ these stats. Not sure why B would play this over some of the amazing vampires we’ve seen so far.

Ravenous Trap – 2BB
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent had three or more cards put into his or her graveyard from anywhere this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Ravenous Trap’s mana cost.
Exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.

JOE

Meh. Not a lot of uses for this. Sideboard… this is more of a constructed card / something to hose dredge.

JAMES
I don’t see it; not even sure what the point is. If we’re talking extended, then we have Tormods crypt. In standard, there might be a use for it but getting an opponent to drop 3 cards in one turn is tough and then we’re assuming that the graveyard has something worth exiling…unearth? Meh, not for me.

Sadistic Sacrament – BBB
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {7} (You may pay an additional {7} as you cast this spell.)
Search target player’s library for up to three cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his or her library. If Sadistic Sacrament was kicked, instead search that player’s library for up to fifteen cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his of her library.

JOE

If you ever reach 10 mana, chances are that the 15 cards you milled will win you the game. However, that rarely happens, and grabbing 3 cards doesn’t do much other than take away their bombs, two out of the three of which they likely wouldn’t have seen anyway… plus, they’re still going to see SOMETHING when they otherwise would have drawn the cards you took… so this ends up being a do-nothing kind of card in limited. Avoid it, unless you’re certain you can ramp to the 10-mana version, and you’re mill.dec anyway.

JAMES
This is sorta interesting and it goes back to my theory (last post) that we’re seeing a gentle shift toward bigger and bigger mana curves. Hitting someone on turn 10-12 with this will be pretty devastating. It’s something I can see being a 2x. That being said, MonoB is shaping up to equal “Vampires” and not so much discard/control, so I’m not sure it’s worth toying with this at all. I personally think that Thought Hemorrhage is better. This might have a home in extended decks where hosing a combo-linchpin can mean “auto scoop”. Tron losing academy ruins or crucible of worlds, or heritage druid in elves! for example.

Vampire Hexmage – BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman (Uncommon)
First strike
Sacrifice Vampire Hexmage: Remove all counters from target permanent.
2/1
#114/249

JOE

Okay, so this is going to inevitably have some kind of weird combo to it… Dark Depths comes to mind, for instance… I think we can actually be 99% certain that dark depths / vampire hexmage will see play in extended, in fact.20/20 indestructible on turn 3? You better counter the hexmage if you see him in extended. You heard it here first people! I think it’s going to have some other uses I’m not thinking of right now, but it’s probably just expedition / quest protection before then… It’s way playable as a mini-black knight in any case, plus it’s a vampire. It’s playable.

JAMES
Joe is onto something w/ Extended liking this deck. It just says “counters” so you could conceivably drop it, and then sac it to remove all counters from a planeswalker. That’s pretty vicious in itself.

Vampire’s Bite – B
Instant (Common)
Kicker {2}{B} (You may pay an additional {2}{B} as you cast this spell.)
Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. If Vampire’s Bite was kicked, that creature gains lifelink until end of turn.
#117/249
Red(23)

JOE

Decent combat trick. Lifelink is gravy, so kick it if you have nothing better to do, since why not?

JAMES
Not much to say here…

Burst Lightning – R
Instant (Common)
Kicker {4} (You may pay an additional {4} as you cast this spell.)
Burst Lightning deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If Burst Lightning was kicked, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.

JOE

Strictly better than shock = playable in limited. Most likely playable in constructed as well.

JAMES
It’s filling the slot for Lightening Bolt and fighting for Magma Spray‘s so I’m not sure how to figure this one. Magma spray is slightly better for kiling creatures since it exiles the creature. That being said, it will hit players, filling in the Tarfire slot. Ultimately Tarfire proved slightly more played than Magma Spray simply because you could hit players (and helping Aunties Hovel enter the battlefield “untapped”). Keeping that in mind and the new awesomeness of Chandra Ablaze, I can see this making the cut.

Goblin War-Paint – 1R
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has haste.
“Survival rule 223: Don’t eat the paint.”
- Zurdi, goblin shortcutter
#129/249

JOE

On an aura, haste is a complete waste of time. If you’re using this for granting a creature haste, you’ve essentially failed the skill test this card presents. It ought to be evaluated solely on the basis of a +2/+2. I think it’s clearly not worth the 241 exposure.

JAMES
Well, dropping this late game on a top-decked creature isn’t THAT horrible. Agreed, it’s a +2/+2 though. Anyway, I don’t anticipate this making any splashes in our lifetimes.

Hellkite Charger – 4RR
Creature – Dragon (Rare)
Flying, haste
Whenever Hellkite Charger attacks, you may pay {5}{R}{R}. If you do, untap all creatures you control and after this phase, there is an additional combat phase.
5/5

JOE

Bomb rare. Very very good. Incidentally, in some formats, this may present quirky / possibly casual decks that use lots of mana creatures to create an infinite combat phase recursion. Fun stuff. Two birds of paradise, two llanowar elves, a priest of titania, and a partridge in a pear tree?

JAMES
Pretty sexy dragon here. Costs one more than Demigod of Revenge but since it’s just double RR, I can see this going in a mono-red. Getting even just one extra attack phase is pretty nuts. I’m asking myself if I would rather play Chandra Ablaze at 6cc and discard a Burst Lightening for 4 damage rather than the 5 hasty…and I’m not sure. There’s also Bogardan Hellkite and Flameblast Dragon. Flameblast is qualitatively worse since it would do less damage (Haste is no joke on this Dragon Charger). Hellkite acts as a sweeper…this card is worth testing with.

Punishing Fire – 1R
Instant (Uncommon)
Punishing Fire deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Whenever an opponent gains life, you may pay {R}. If you do, return Punishing Fire from your graveyard to your hand.

JOE

This looks somewhat promising, though it’s best against crap like angels feather that gain one life at a time. You shouldn’t need help beating people who play that mess. Against the 5 life gain of baneslayer angel, for example, this doesn’t do much other than use your mana up slightly delaying the inevitable. Still, it’s another burn spell that’s passable, and will occasionally do double duty against random lifegaining vampires and what have you. If you see an opponent attacking with a lifelink creature, remember that, mana allowing, you can use this to nuke a 4 toughness guy.

JAMES
Wow. Pretty impressive instant. Being able to return the card to your hand (and immediately play it) seems very sweet. Since red decks have a problem holding on to cards and then quickly going into top-deck mode, I’d wager this sees lots of tourney play. I like this for a B/R deck running Needlebite Trap. Two mana for 7 damage to an opponent and 5 lifegain back to “me” is impressive. Being able to hit a creature with this will be relevant.

Pyromancer Ascension – 1R
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell that has the same name as a card in your graveyard, you may put a quest counter on Pyromancer Ascension.
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell while Pyromancer Ascension has two or more quest counters on it, you may copy that spell. You may choose new targets for that copy.
Illus. Kev Walker

JOE

I’m not sure whether a card with retrace (flame jab) will trigger this when played from the graveyard without another copy in the yard… if so, that may be a weird burn variant for extended. However, in limited, this will never be enabled. In constructed, once it’s online, it’s pretty nice. The rebirth of lightning bolt has me hoping that a standard burn deck is viable. We’ll see. Pass this in draft though… it ain’t gonna happen.

JAMES
Wow, I like this card. I’m worried it might be a stretch but the potential is pretty impressive.

Quest for Pure Flame – R
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a source you control deals damage to an opponent. you may put a quest counter on Quest for Pure Flame.
Remove four quest counters from Quest for Pure Flame and sacrifice it: Until end of turn, if a source you control would deal damage to a creature of player, it deals double that damage to that creature or player instead.
#144/249

JOE

Hmmm. This might be acceptable in the right limited deck. If fireball were in my pool, for example, I’d run this guy for sure, as it makes the end game fireball win come that much faster. Four counters shouldn’t be difficult with this lax a condition. Interesting card. Even if confined to combat, this could be worthwhile.

JAMES
My primary concern with all these quest cards is the “tempo.” They all seem slow–though I am a fan of Luminarch Ascension and “sorta” fan of Khalni Heart Expedition. This one in a red deck seems particuarly underpowered. It’s essentially activated on turn 6 since it’s not likely that you’ll have enough mana on turn 5 to cast a 4th burn spell and justifiably sac it. Maybe…I mean, if you can keep Chandra on the table and discard a card for 4, with Quest for the Pure Flame activated, you’re doing 8 damage. On turn 7 that could mean end of the game. There’s just a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in that plan. I don’t really like hopeful-wishful playing…

Ruinous Minotaur – 1RR
Creature – Minotaur (Common)
Whenever Ruminous Minotaur deals damage to an opponent, sacrifice a land.
5/2

JOE

Weak. Not interested. This is only imaginable way late game, at which time the CC doesn’t matter and a 5/2 kinda sucks… unless it follows a sweeper… but no… this sucks.

JAMES
Wtf? Why would I want to sac a land? 4 damage on turn 4 isn’t worth it.

Runeflare Trap – 4RR
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent drew three or more cards this turn, you may pay {R} rather then pay Runeflare Trap’s mana cost.
Runeflare Trap deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player.

JOE

Hmm. I’m guessing this will have some play in some older formats for use against combo decks perhaps? But in limited, this is a 6 mana shock, pretty much. Nobody’s drawing three cards in limited, and even if they did, they’re still probably only at 4 cards in hand. This only hits players. I’m gonna pass on this one.

JAMES
I could see this in extended. I could see it being really good in extended. I’m such a fan-boy for the Trap ability…Anyway, there probably is enough draw from cards like Esper Charm to justify a SB slot for this. I’m just not sure that we’ll be seeing a lot of esper charms or draw-go oriented decks in this meta so I would wait on it for a while. So far as in extended, this seems like a partially viable SB choice. Ben Lundquist in last week’s online workshop warned us players going into big tournies to be VERY careful of narrow SB choices. He was answering a question about PT Austin next month and had that new extended meta in mind when he was discussion. Still, I think the advice to be wary of narrow SB choices is a good one. Final answer for playbility: marginal to really really good, depending on how the meta shapes up over the next few weeks.

Tuktuk Grunts – 4R
Creature – Goblin Warrior Ally (Common)
Haste
Whenever Tuktuk Grunts or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Tuktuk Grunts.
2/2
#152/249

JOE

This is a supporting role ally. On his own, as your only ally, he’s a hasty 3/3 for 5. Not exactly stellar. With 5 or more other allies, he’s just fine, but not the show stopper. He’s the supporting cast.

JAMES
Weird that this costs so much more for essentially a WORSE version of the same card: Kazandu Blademaster (the double Wcc, first strike, vigilance 1/1–2/2 counting his own counters). For haste? really? This card sucks. wtf.

Zektar Shrine Expedition – 1R
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Zektar Shrine Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Zektar Shrine Expedition and sacrifice it: Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with haste and trample onto the battlefield. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the end step.
Green(29)

JOE

So it’s a delayed elemental appeal. Not terrible. It does give your opponent to get his ducks in a row though. Most people won’t be taking 7 from this. As such, I’d rather not play it.

JAMES
I think all these quest cards are marginal. I don’t like this one. Too slow.

Baloth Cage Trap – 3GG
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent had an artifact enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {1}{G} rather then pay Baloth Cage Trap’s mana cost.
Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

JOE

This one, I can get behind. 5 for a 4/4 isn’t terrible at all, and it’s an instant! This will ruin combats for a lot of opponents. And randomly, it’ll cost you 1G. Strong card here. This should be thought of as in-combat removal for green.

JAMES
Not bad. I’m wondering if this will go for extended where we ALWAYS see affinity. And why wouldn’t we? Arcbound Ravanger is still broken as all hell. I definitely like the appeal of playing a 4/4 EOT–or at the beginning of the end of turn. (lol; some of the language changes always tickle me). For standard, I have seen a few pretty fun artifact, esper-bant-esque decks and this would be a good fit. It’s just not a great card to have on turns 2 through 4 where G wants to be pumping out a) lands or b) fatties. That makes me think it’s on the fence. I’m sure it’s worth testing though. Again, I’m leaning more toward extended.

Beastmaster Ascension – 2G
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever a creature you control attacks, you may put a quest counter on Beastmaster Ascension.
As long as Beastmaster Ascension has seven or more quest counters on it, creatures you control get +5/+5

JOE

I’d say this is playable in limited. All you have to do is attack… this should be online by turn 5 or 6 in the typical green aggro deck. And the benefit is so huge. I’d almost call it a bomb, but as an enchantment that doesn’t help you with an empty board, it’s still kind of conditional.

JAMES
Assuming you play this on turn 3, this doesn’t seem so bad. It doesn’t even need to be in a mono-G deck. All those token creators (see white above) would love to have a playmate like this. Again, I’m not completely sold on the tempo-related viablity of the quest cards. This one seems pretty decent though.

Cobra Trap – 4GG
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent countered a noncreature spell this turn, you may pay {G} rather than pay Cobra Trap’s casting cost.
Put four 1/1 green Snake creature tokens onto the battlefield.

JOE

Well, this should be seen much as Baloth Cage Trap above. Solid as a removal spell for limited… probably even better than Baloth Cage. And this will more likely see its trap cost as well. Very cool.

JAMES
Bummer the snakes don’t have deathtouch. I like this for when my planeswalker is countered but it’s not a good “on curve” spell–meaning on curve I’m playing Garruk Wildspeaker and have no mana left. Now I have to wait a turn? I say this isn’t good enough.

Frontier Guide – 1G
Creature – Elf Scout (Uncommon)
{3}{G}, {T}: Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.
1/1

JOE

Another landfall enabler, this one is decent as a fixer, though not as an accelerant. He can’t help your two-land stall hands. I’d still run him though, if I needed help finding my splash color.

JAMES
Not so bad. But not good. Too slow. I wonder why it’s not 2, G {T} rather than 3…it’s not an on-curve play.

Grazing Gladehart – 2G
Creature – Antelope (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain 2 life.
2/2
#163/249

JOE

Pretty solid. Gray ogre with free life gain works for me.

JAMES
Not much here for me.

Greenweaver Druid – 2G
Creature – Elf (Uncommon)
{T}: Add {G}{G} to your mana pool.
1/1
#164/249

JOE

Fyndhorn elder, huh? Well, sure, I guess. He’s worth it.

JAMES
Not so shabby but I think the timing is way off. He costs a lot more than Noble Heirarch and isn’t even remotely as good as Lotus Cobra so I say this guy doesn’t see the light of day so far as constructed goes.

Lotus Cobra – 1G
Creature – Snake (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
Its scales contain the essence of thousands of lotus blooms.
2/1
Illus. Chippy
#168/249

JOE

Mike Flores hit the nail on the head in his article previewing Lotus Cobra. There’s a reason playsets are going for $90+ on ebay already. This card will define formats. Definitely more of a constructed card, but I can’t see any reason not to maindeck this guy and never look back in limited. He’s a bear, after all, and there’s no such thing as mana burn. Whatchoo talkin’ bout, mana burn? If you open this, rejoice in your monetary boon and be happy with your karma.

JAMES
Yeah, anything I say here is just superfluous. Get your playsets ASAP. Never trade this card away. Yes, it IS that good. Stop doubting it. You will wish to god you have this card. It’s the most amazingness printed in a long while.

Mold Shambler – 3G
Creature – Fungus Beast (Common)
Kicker {1}{G}
When Mold Shambler enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target noncreature permanent.
3/3
#169/249

JOE

Hill Giant at worst makes him playable. The kicker is a total boon, and will often save the day. This should be a cornerstone common for green, and a somewhat high pick I’m guessing.

JAMES
This card is actually kind of interesting to me. I just wonder if 6cc is enough to justify destroying a planeswalker. And I think it is. With a 3/3 body, it looks pretty playable as a SB selection.

Primal Bellow – G
Instant (Common)
Target creature gets +1+1 until end of turn for each Forest you control.

JOE

Wow, this definitely sees play in older formats. Elfball can sneak a win here or there with this thing. In limited, as long as green’s a main color and not a splash, this is an excellent trick.

JAMES
Great trick. Doubles as removal for when an opponent calls your bluff–and can act like a bluff. It’s clearly better than [card]Giant Growth[card] after T3. That being said, not many decks play giant growth. I think there’s a better green card: Vines of Vastwood (see here)

Summoning Trap – 4GG
Instant – Trap (Rare)
If a creature you cast this turn was countered by a spell or ability an opponent controlled, you may pay {0} rather then pay Summoning Trap’s casting cost.
Look at the top seven cards of your library. You may put a creature card from among them onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

JOE

I like this! You’ll almost always hit a creature. If they just countered your guy, great! But even if not, you may as well pay the 6 and try your luck at EOT. Cool card.

JAMES
Jesus. This is a REALLY good trap. Great, you countered by Broodmate? NP, I’ll just grab another one for free…don’t mind if I doooo! ;-) I’d expect to see this in Extended & potentially Standard as a SB.

Turntimber Basilisk – 1GG
Creature – Basilisk (Uncommon)
Deathtouch
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target target creature block Turntimber Basilisk this turn if able.
2/1
#190/249

JOE

Nifty. This guy’s kind of like a removal creature that can’t hit guys with a tap ability. But he loves opposing creatures with vigilance! He’s alright, but I’m not infatuated here. Decent stuff, nothing spectacular.

JAMES
Undecided here. It’s removal for a color that doesn’t really have much removal and a 2 powered “semi-evasion” creature (because who wants to trade w/ a deathtouch?). BUT it cost 3 and takes a turn to get going. I’m not sure the tempo is fast enough.

Zendikar Farguide – 4G
Creature – Elemental (Common)
Forestwalk
3/3

JOE

Weak. Side it in against forests. Not much else to say.

JAMES
next!

Adventuring Gear – 2
Artifact – Equipment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, equipped creature gets +2+2 until end of turn.
Equip {1}
#195/249

JOE

Nothing wrong with this equipment! Should be good for +2/+2 a lot of the time, and +4/+4 every once in a while. The only problem is the creature gets jack on the opponent’s turn, so don’t go picking this high… it will make the cut sometimes though.

JAMES
Not bad for limited. Cost is pretty good and you “only” have to play a land to make ti worth while. I wouldn’t really want more than one but I certainly won’t start moaning if my opponent drops this one me. I don’t believe this will ever be played in constructed.

Blazing Torch – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature can’t be blocked by Vampires or Zombies.
Equipped creature has: “{T}, Sacrifice Blazing Torch: Blazing Torch deals 2 damage to target creature or player.”
Equip {1}

JOE

An expensive shock sometimes, but still good because it’s colorless. Against zombies and vampires, it’s got the fear factor, so that’s a bonus too. Not bad. Removal is very important in limited.

JAMES
Nah, it’s just not good enough.

Hedron Scrabbler – 2
Artifact Creature – Construct (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hedron Scrabbler gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
1/1
#204/249

JOE

No thanks.

JAMES
Me either.

Stonework Puma – 3
Artifact Creature – Cat Ally (Common)
These PUMAs would never settle for being third in line.
2/2
#207/249

JOE

No thanks, unless I already have 2-3 allies with rocking abilities. Actually… he IS gray ogre, so I guess sometimes I might pick him in hopes of good allies to come.

JAMES
Not playable.

Trailblazer’s Boots – 2
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature has nonbasic landwalk.
Equip {2}
#208/249

JOE

Nice. Might have a place in a number of EDH decks I can think of. In limited, this will be more of a sideboard card though, since most opponents will not have much in the way of nonbasics, and this does nothing in such cases.

JAMES
This isn’t the worst equipment ever. Non-basics are everywhere in every constructed envrionment. It’s not Loxodon Warhammer or Behemoth Sledge though so I don’t think it will be played.

Trusty Machete – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature gets +2/+1.
Equip {2}
“Until the expedition is done, that blade is your guardian, your liberation and your best friend all rolled into one”
- Yon Basrel, Oran-Rief survivalist
#209/249
Land(18)

JOE

I love the name! The effect is just fine too. Good old trusty machete. Reminiscent of bonesplitter. Probably better.

JAMES
Nope, also not going to make the cut in my book.

Kabira Crossroads
Land (Common)
Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield tapped.
When Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
{T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.

JOE

Weak… no thanks.

JAMES
editing from a mis-read. this isn’t the dual land cycle!

Magosi, the Waterveil
Land (Rare)
Magosi, the Waterveil enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.
{U}, {T}: Put an eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn.
{T}, Remove an eon counter from Magosi, the Waterveil and return it to its owners hand: Take an extra turn after this one.

JOE

Nope… not interested in a fixed time vault. In Magic, the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” gets turned on its head to become “unless it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

JAMES
Huh? I don’t think so…

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Land (Rare)
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
{T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on each green creature that entered the battlefield this turn.
Illus. Mike Bierek
#221/249

JOE

This one’s probably worth it.

JAMES
Pretty interesting. I’d toy with 2x in testing. Getting +1/+1 on tokens (see above) seems pretty viable.

Piranha Marsh
Land (Common)
Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield tapped.
When Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield, target player loses 1 life.
{T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.

JOE

Again, I’m not interested in such piddly effects. CiP tapped is worth more than 1 life.

JAMES
…Yeah, the “gain 2 life” is enough for a dual but having opponents lose a mere one life for a ETBT seems weak…

10 thoughts on “Zendikar Card Review Batch 02 (170 / 249)”

  1. Umm…I think James may have misread the cards at certain points. For example, Piranha Marsh and Kabira Crossroads are not dual lands. Also, the 2/2 Ally with haste is in effect a 3/3, an thus not strictly worse than the white version that was mentioned. He;s worse, just not strictly so.

    I’ve got 4 boxes of Zendikar coming, and I really hope that a few Lotus Cobra’s show up.

    Also, I think that trusty Machete is great in limited. After all, wasn’t Vulshok Morningstar?

    Oran Reif also seems really good, interested to see what decks can use it.

    Also, Dryad Arbor would totally make this set nuts.

  2. Look again at Magosi, the Waterveil. It is probably going to be one of the biggest sleepers in the set. Give them an extra turn when they have nothing going on and then take your turn when you need it most at next to zero cost.

  3. @dillon: nope, not seeing it. You say, “Give them an extra turn when they have nothing going on and then take your turn when you need it most at next to zero cost.” This is wishful thinking. A more accurate example is: “Hand them the tempo and be behind until you re-take the lost turn”… OR … “Skip a turn, handing them two turns to draw LD or Vampire Hexmage, and lose the game.”

    I’m fairly certain that your evaluation of Magosi is flawed and your conclusion about the card is wrong. It’s a CiP tapped land that does nothing. It’s a skill tester. Don’t fail the test!

  4. @Zak: why use two cards to do what time warp does all on its own? You can do it on turn 4 rather than turn 5, I guess… but why?! You still don’t get the free turn until turn 5. Bah. Magosi is pure shit. Fertilize your lawn with it, but please don’t play it.

  5. Oh, I never said I would play it. Without some other way to add eon counters, the card really doesn’t help at all, and actually wrecks your tempo. Definitely not constructed worthy.

  6. I have been playing with Magosi recently and I haven’t been using it’s ability as much as I would have liked. My deck is usually behind until the turn I play Time Warp, so giving them that extra turn is tough. If you are running counterspells, giving them that extra turn when they aren’t attacking but just building, is fine.

    @Joe: The skill comes in when you find the right moment to use it, you don’t just immediately do it when they are in prime position or your resources are dried up.

    I am still testing the card, it has potential, and until someone finds it, it will just be “a CiP tapped land that does nothing” in a lot of people’s eyes.

  7. @dillon: Respectfully, I disagree. I’m quite certain your finger is on the pulse of modern constructed formats, whereas mine is picking the nose of EDH and such, so in general I’m inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. So I think it’s worth debating, and I’m willing to try to see your side of this, it’s just that presently, I can’t see it.

    I want to try to understand what we’re gaining from this card. Let’s assume you’ve chosen the “right moment” and you’ve skipped a turn when your opponent does nothing but develop mana… “draw, land, go” for both turns. Furthermore, let’s presume (and this is the big one for me, but let’s assume this anyway) that they were unable in those two turns, to do anything about magosi, and it’s still in play at the end… now you’ve untapped with an Eon counter on magosi.

    Presumably, the benefit here comes from the fact that now, if you can get them to tap down at EOT, you can take two turns in which they’re unable to respond, rather than one, right?

    Usually the game as a steady ebb and flow… you take a turn, they take a turn, back and forth. But now you can capitalize on a moment of weakness… you can extend your window of action… you pinched off the hose, water built up, and now, when you release it, you can splash ‘em good!

    I mean, I’m not blind to this particular appeal, but if that’s the only purpose, I guess I just think that it’s a fragile limb on which to build… it’s hard to assume, when crafting your deck, that you will consistently get to this position. And this difficulty comes from two aspects of the ideal magosi sequence: first, you can’t always be certain that they’ll do nothing but develop mana on their skipped turns… you might have to blow the extra turn right away just to catch back up on tempo. Second, if they somehow bounce magosi in the interim two turns, you’ve lost the game, plain and simple.

    So you’re gambling a little on them just using their own bonus turn to wreck you, and you’re betting the farm on their not having bounce or LD or vampire hexmage.

    Am I missing anything that makes magosi appealing, or do I have the appeal basically right?

    I just don’t think magosi is something you can count on… if you don’t fear the bounce = loss part, doesn’t it still seem a bit random? I mean, using capricious efreet would be better than braids cabal minion… better than smokestack, if you could guarantee your luck every time… if you knew you’d nuke one of your choice of two permanents… Magosi has the same “wishful thinking” randomness to it, I think. You’re hoping they don’t get too much tempo, and praying they don’t have bounce.

    Finally, assuming I’m dead wrong, and magosi does provide benefits, the card can’t really ever get a foothold in the metagame, so long as any LD or bounce spells exist, right? It’s the easiest card to hate of all time, since pretty much every deck can muster a way to turn LD / boomerang into the same thing PLUS time walk against the deck, which effectively means the card can’t ever be adopted beyond its first successful forray into the metagame.

    So if you’re right, and I’m wrong, then you’ll want to be the very first dude to run the deck. The card will still end up being “fixed time vault” and will never go above $2… this is my prediction. I could be horribly wrong, but I really think I’m horribly right.

  8. At Magosi’s worse it is an enter the battlefield tapped land that produces a blue mana. At it’s best you will put yourself into a position to win the game with an extra turn or set up a great position with counter spells or answers in your hand. Just don’t play it poorly and you will be fine. I don’t mind it being a 1 dollar-bin rare. You should just be prepared for worse case scenario from their extra turn, and if that is something you cannot deal with, then don’t use Magosi’s ability. The card takes confidence and intelligence to use it at it’s peak potential.

  9. @dillon: “The card takes confidence and intelligence to use it at it’s peak potential.”

    Give me a break, dillon. I mean, I can SORT OF buy the argument that setting up a double-turn can give you marginal advantages, but saying a card takes confidence and intelligence to use sounds pretty arrogant, for one thing, and doesn’t actually say much for another. You can say the exact same thing about counterspell or lightning bolt or time walk or… or.. or..

    I still don’t buy it with this card.

    “… be prepared for worse (sic.) case scenario from their extra turn, and if that is something you cannot deal with, then don’t use Magosi’s ability.”

    So in other words, against anyone who might have a way to mess with the land during the two-turn window you’ve handed your opponent, this is just a crappy CiP tapped non-basic land that produces U?

    You still haven’t explained why generating your own two-turn window is so appealing, let alone worth running such a poor mana source against the half of the field who can muster removal for it.

    Can you please describe in detail the ideal “great position with counter spells or answers in your hand” that you hope to set up with Magosi? Let’s start there. You explain the best case scenario. We’re all clear on the worst case scenario, and we all agree that in the worst case, this card is strictly worse than an island, because in the worst case, you can’t dare to use the ability anyway.

    So tell me the best case and save the intelligence / confidence rubbish. That’s no kind of argument.

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