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Battle for Zendikar Spoilers - Limited Review for September 10


Allies and Eldrazi. Vampires and Elementals. Zendikar is coming back in full form and I have a ton of new cards to talk about. I'll be reviewing these cards from the standpoint of how well I expect them to perform in Limited. We can't rate the cards completely accurately without knowing the entire set, but we can evaluate the cards in an "average" limited format.

You can find all the latest spoilers on the Battle for Zendikar page. Please note that if I haven't yet reviewed a card, it's probably because the official English spoiler for it has not been released yet.

Grading scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Dragonlord Atarka, Tragic Arrogance)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Death Wind, Blessed Spirits)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Screamreach Brawler, Aspiring Aeronaut)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Blessed Reincarnation, Gather the Pack)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Keeper of the Lens, Jace's Sanctum)

White

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Felidar Sovereign is being reprinted, but at Rare instead of Mythic this time around. This huge creature can dominate most board states and demands removal fairly quickly or the game will end — whether that's from your opponent's life total reaching 0 or yours reaching 40, this Cat Beast doesn't really care.

Red

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Turning lands into Shocks is already worth a card as proved recently by Molten Vortex. Akoum Hellkite provides the effect while allowing you to play your lands and attack for 4 damage in the air. The only annoying part is that non-Mountains grant only 1 damage, which kills much fewer targets than 2 damage does. I would try to skew my deck to contain an extra Mountain or two if I was counting on this card as my primary win condition.

Green

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Restock on a stick doesn't really strike me as Mythic, but the choice in rarity could very well have been for Limited considerations. Imagine using a removal spell, casting this huge Elemental, and then getting the spell back. Then you recast the spell, trade off the 5/4 in combat, and get back that same spell again! The value that this offers is huge and it's not something I'd pass over often in draft.

Multicolored

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

This Vampire Ally (the first ever of its kind) is very annoying if left unchecked and will eventually kill your opponent if they don't use a removal spell on it. That's some pretty serious upside on a creature that already passes the Vanilla test. Between this card, the Felidar Sovereign reprint, and Defiant Bloodlord, it's easy to guess that the White-Black theme in this format will be life gain and life drain, but Drana's Emissary is still quite good even if you have no cards that have direct synergy with it.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Casting big Eldrazi like Barrage Tyrant or Drowner of Hope early is quite good and this can even help you cast multiple cheaper spells in the same turn. This also blocks quite well while you're waiting for time to churn out all your colorless creatures. I like the design space this rests in with Goblin Electromancer, and I hope we see that ability branching out of Blue-Red more often in the future.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Incubator Drone for one less mana and sweet Scry upside? I'm in, where do I sign up? In all seriousness, this card is efficient and powerful and helps you draw your mix of lands, cheap spells, and huge Eldrazi all in the right order. I'd definitely want as many of these as possible when playing Black-Green.

$ 0.00$ 0.00

B-

It's an Ally with good combat stats, and the rest is just gravy. You need at least six other Allies in your deck to have an even chance at seeing one in the top four cards, but an Ally-heavy deck shouldn't have trouble meeting that requirement. The unfortunate part is that the draw is not free. You put the cards on top and still have to draw them one at a time. Note however, that you aren't forced to keep all of them. If there's an Ally you don't want to cast at the moment, you can ship it to the bottom of your deck with the other non-Ally cards.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Resolute Blademaster is basically Tajuru Warcaller. Double strike is generally going to be better than a +2/+2 pump since most creatures have two or more power, but the trade-off of having to pay two colors of mana keeps this at the same rating as its Green counterpart. All these Rally triggers that can be used as combat tricks make me really eager to see a Blue Ally with Flash printed at Common.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

I miss Icefeather Aven already. The times when you get lucky and Converge this into a 3/3 on turn three are going to feel absolutely incredible, but don't expect them to happen too often. Also note that this has the sweet Engineered Explosives weirdness of having X in the casting cost and not using that value anywhere in the rules text.

Colorless

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Let me introduce the Rare version of the Common Kozilek's Channeler: Conduit of Ruin. For the double jump in rarity, we get the following changes:

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

  • Costs one more mana and gets +1/+1
  • Doesn't need to tap to help pay for a spell, but can't cast noncreature spells
  • Ensures you draw you one of your best cards the next turn

This Eldrazi is a one card combo of finding your win condition and helping you cast it. As such, I love it. I'd probably run this with only one card to tutor for, but I'd vastly prefer having two targets to ensure I get value out of it.

$ 0.00$ 0.00

B-

A colorless Skysnare Spider is already in first-pick territory since it lets you take a good card without committing to a specific color that you might abandon later. While most of the time I'd prefer the Spider's Reach, this set may be slow enough that the recursion is better. Just remember that you'll have to find another answer for snagging flyers out of the air. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This creature hands-down wins this week's competition of That's What I Call a Mythic. Its evasive ability kicks in the turn it enters play, it randomly shuts off half the spells in your opponent's hand, and it basically demands to be blocked (by an odd converted mana cost creature) each time it attacks. I really like from a gameplay and flavor standpoint that Eldrazi Scion tokens aren't willing to block one of their leaders. If your opponent wants to chump block (and they will want to), they'll have to use a real card to do it.

Lands

 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Lifelink is a keyword sometimes underrated in Limited. When many games come down to a damage race, it's helpful to have some incidental life gain to stay ahead of your opponent and Shambling Vent offers just such an opportunity. If you want to build a really great creature, Awaken this land and put three or four +1/+1 counters on it. Good luck to anyone who has to face down that.

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C-

The cost of playing a colorless land is already not small, but it gets even more difficult in a set where Converge is a keyword. Speeding up the casting of huge Eldrazi by a whole turn is a big deal though so I'd be happy to run one of these in a deck with two or more 8+ mana colorless threats. 

Conclusion

We're about a third of the way through the set and I can't wait to see what else it has to offer. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited review throughout the next five weekdays of spoilers before the full set reveal on September 18. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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