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Battle for Zendikar Set Review and Set Redo

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Siege Rhino. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Seeker of the Way. Hordeling Outburst.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Deathmist Raptor. Dromoka’s Command.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Tragic Arrogance. Dragon Fodder.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)

Ruin in Their Wake

Constructed: 2.5

Luckily for me, and even more luckily for readers, Frank Karsten did an excellent job of breaking down the math involved with Ruin in Their Wake. The goal when playing this is to get a Rampant Growth, as a bad Sylvan Scrying is not that appealing.

Here is a table with the probabilities of having a Wastes on turn 2:


For the detailed breakdown, check out Frank’s article.

I agree with Frank: you want about a 70% chance to have a Wastes by turn 2, which is doable once you add in cards like Evolving Wilds, Oath of Nissa, and even Fertile Thicket. A mono-green Eldrazi deck seems like the natural home, and getting to play all the powerful colorless cards with ease is the payoff. That seems plausible to me, and Ruin in Their Wake looks quite playable. Rampant Growth is very good, even a Rampant Growth that takes some work to get.

Stalking Drone

Constructed: 2.0

A 2/2 that can regularly become a 3/4 is a powerful aggro card. The challenge that you need to solve is finding a way to make an aggressive green deck that has access to colorless mana.

Vile Redeemer

Constructed: 2.0

A 3/3 flash for 3 doesn’t go quite as far in Constructed as it does in Limited, but it’s still solid. The colorless ability is a nice bonus as well, though most colorless-based decks have a few big creatures rather than a lot of small ones. If you find a deck that has a high creature count and can reliably pay the colorless kicker on this, it could be a good way to fight removal.

World Breaker

Constructed: 3.0

I really like this card. It’s a mirror-breaker in the Eldrazi decks, it does a great job of winning attrition battles against control decks, and offers a great answer to any artifacts or enchantments your opponent might be playing. The Eldrazi ramp deck also is in need of good 7-drop Eldrazi to trigger Kozilek’s Return, and this fits the bill. It even keeps coming back, making removal largely ineffective. The casting cost is steep enough that I only expect to see this in ramp, but in those decks, World Breaker is a great threat and a great answer.

Bonds of Mortality

Constructed: 2.0

There are likely better answers to Bogles in Modern, but another can’t hurt. Nobody wants that deck to win.

Natural State

Constructed: 2.5

I’d expect to see this more in older formats, because it does a good job of replacing Nature’s Claim in decks that don’t want to give the opponent 4 life. This card is highly efficient and highly contextual, and if it hits the targets it needs to hit, it’s going to be the best deal around.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

Constructed: 3.5

Planeswalkers don’t often show up for 3 mana, and as a result, you should take a very close look at the ones that do. Nissa hits many of the important benchmarks, and does so early and often. She can throw chump blockers in the way of any ground forces, she makes your army much more threatening, and always improves your board presence. Her ultimate is powerful, though likely won’t happen due to how good the -2 is.

That Nissa is a recurring source of creatures is not to be underestimated. There are plenty of decks that just want creatures in play, and many cards take advantage of cannon fodder. Even something as simple as a GW creature deck with Nissa and Gideon providing +1/+1 bonuses sounds great. The sequence of turn-2 creature, turn-3 Nissa +1, turn-4 creature, Nissa -2 sounds very hard to beat. You have three creatures in play and all of them have +1/+1, at an extremely low cost.

Nissa is one of the better cards in the set, and one I’m definitely keeping an eye on.

Oath of Nissa

Constructed: 3.0

Not only do we not see card selection at this rate anymore, green is never the color that gets it. This is very close to a 1-mana Anticipate with minor upside in the right deck, which is a great card. The downside is that Nissa’s Oath can’t find spells, but it’s not that hard to make a deck with 50+ hits, a deck which is now much more consistent. The minor upsides include the actual planeswalker text, filling your graveyard if you draw multiples (due to legendary status), and protection from Dromoka’s Command if you have other enchantments you care about.

Building to take advantage of Nissa’s Oath doesn’t seem very hard, and comes with a substantial reward. It will be interesting to see what form that takes.

Pulse of Murasa

Constructed: 2.0

The 6 life is the most exciting part of this card, and if your deck really wants an anti-red option, this could be a possibility. My first impulse is that it’s too slow, but it might get there if you are bringing back something cheap and good. At worst, Den Protector + this is a loop that gains you a lot of life.

Seed Guardian

Constructed: 2.0

It may seem like a stretch, but this Limited all-star could graduate into the ranks of Constructed. It’s fairly large, and dies into something potentially larger. If your opponent cares about a 3/4 reach, this could force them to use multiple removal spells, which is a win. Even if I haven’t convinced you, I’ve hopefully at least planted the seeds of doubt.

Sylvan Advocate

Constructed: 2.5

Abzan Aggro has played an interesting range of 2-drops this year, and I’d like to advocate for another one. On turn 2 this may be the weakest, but once turn 6 rolls around, this is way better than Snapping Gnarlid and likely better than Heir of the Wilds. The bonus of making your Shambling Vents into 4/5s is not to be underestimated either, which certainly makes this worthy of consideration.

Zendikar Resurgent

Constructed: 2.5

What do you get when you staple a 1-sided Mana Flare and Glimpse of Nature together? If you answered “a card that LSV will overrate,” well, I’m not going to argue with you. All I can say is that I think this card is sweet, and there may be a deck out there that casts this early and wins when it untaps. Elvish Visionary is essentially a 1-mana draw 2, since you just tap one land for it, and you can build up mana and cards until something like The Great Aurora appears.

Top 3 Green Cards

3. Oath of Nissa
2. World Breaker
1. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

All three of these cards are great. Nissa is a flexible and powerful planeswalker, one that many different decks will be glad to add. I could even see her show up in older formats, as the ability to make that many creatures for such a low cost is a great combo with cards like Chord of Calling. World Breaker is another important card for Eldrazi ramp decks, which have gotten a lot of love lately. Lastly, Oath of Nissa is a reward for a deck heavy in creatures and planeswalkers, and will do a lot to improve consistency.

Green did quite well, and brings us to the last couple groups of cards: Gold/Colorless/Artifacts/Lands, which we will see next.