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Battle for Zendikar Spoilers - Limited Review for September 14


Welcome to the beginning of the end. It's the last week of spoilers, and I'm still excited. I'll be reviewing the newest Battle for Zendikar 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)

Blue

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

In a two-color deck it would take some luck to find a target you're happy to spend five mana to steal, but there are creatures that fit the bill such as Drana's Emissary or a Dragonmaster Outcast. I would want to be splashing/playing at least three colors before I really wanted to play this card. If you can get Converge kicked up to four, this card becomes an A-; but I doubt Battle for Zendikar will have enough fixing to make that work consistently. This effect is strong enough when it works to warrant building your deck around, so consider this one of the actual payoff cards for the Converge archetype.

Keep in mind that this can be effectively countered by a pump spell, so you'll want to be very careful and cast this at a time that it's likely to work.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

F

If you consistently have four colors of mana but not five, Prism Array is unplayable. It's a more expensive Tumble Magnet which is not something you want to be playing.

If you have five colors of mana (an extremely difficult feat), this card becomes only ok. Crystal Ball was a good card in Limited, but this costs a whole turn to cast and a whole turn each time you want to activate it. Five creature taps may keep you alive while the Scry digs you toward the other Converge cards in your deck, but it's still a ton to pay for that effect.

Red

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Dragonmaster Outcast is pretty useless early and could die to a random Radiant Flames, so think of it more like a 6-drop and hold it in your hand until you get to six lands. The variance on this creature is high: a continual source of Dragons is pretty incredible, but a 1/1 dies to almost any removal spell. Demanding removal or winning you the game is exactly what I want my expensive spells to do. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

F

Say hello to the most situational of sideboard cards. If your opponent shows you multiple copies of the same man-land (e.g. Lumbering Falls or Shambling Vent), you might want to bring this in. Alternatively, you can use this to take out your opponent's foil Expedition if they won't stop bragging about it. I don't recommend this use. 

Multicolored

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

A multicolored 4/4 for five mana doesn't really pass the Vanilla test, but its Ally subtype and land animation ability makes it a very powerful creature. With 1-2 triggers, Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper could create 7-10 power attacking the turn after it hits the battlefield. While 3/3's aren't huge, getting them for free is great; I would definitely try to fit an extra instant or sorcery in my deck to try to turn this effect on. 

Colorless

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Colorless Wildcall is extremely efficient. In Limited this fills any hole in your curve and can be a threat late in the game. 

Picking a colorless (non-Devoid) card is a great start to a draft since you know it can fit into any deck you end up in. It's a great feeling to be able to read the signals you see instead of just hoping that your first color picked is open.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Smite the Monstrous now smites all of the monstrous. When you can be fairly certain that many opponents will be ramping into large threats, a card like this is invaluable. Aligned Hedron Network deserves a maindeck slot when playing a fast, aggressive deck (perhaps full of Allies) that breaks the symmetry of this card. When either player is just as likely to be the one putting big creatures on the battlefield, it does a lot less work.

Lands

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

This is a nice utility land in any 5+ Ally deck regardless of the number of colors it's running. It is somewhat awkward that it goes great in a 4-5 color Ally deck but doesn't work with the Converge spells you'd also want in a 4-5 color deck — but hey, one card can't do everything.

The bounce ability is a great bonus whether you use it to make your opponent's removal worse or buyback a round of Rally triggers. It also incentivizes killing dangerous Allies at sorcery speed when you know or suspect that your opponent has Ally Encampment in their deck since playing this land doesn't use the stack and could foil your plans. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

This land is similar to Shrine of the Forsaken Gods in that it's a colorless utility land that doesn't benefit you until you reach a very late point in the game. The benefit of tutoring up a secondary threat is generally gong to far outweigh an additional mana so I'd take a Sanctum over a Shrine every time.

Conclusion

If you aren't hyped for Zendikar yet, keep looking out. We have only four days until the full set reveal, but we're still less than half of the way through the set. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited review until September 18 when the full spoiler article goes up.

Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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