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Battle for Zendikar Spoilers - Limited Review for September 15


Six more lands, the completion of the Retreat cycle, and a beautiful pile of powerful Rares and Mythics. Today was a good day for spoilers. 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-

Silence the Believers was a great card and this is a cheaper (albeit sorcery speed) version that also hits artifacts and enchantments. The only unfortunate part is that your opponent gets all their cards back if they manage to destroy Quarantine Field with a random Felidar Cub. I have good news though: there's a solution to that.

Read Blight Herder and Mist Intruder for a moment and you'll probably realize something sweet: Eldrazi Processors can use any cards exiled, not just ones eaten by Ingest. That means you can use your Quarantine Field to pick off two creatures, funnel those creatures into their owner's graveyard to fuel your Processors, and leave your Quarantine Field on the table where it will no longer be dangerous to you if it gets removed. This applies to other cards like Stasis Snare as well so be looking out for this interaction.

Blue

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C-

Essence Scatter is a good Limited card. Unfortunately, this is not Essence Scatter.

Feeding Processors by exiling is a nice touch, but being unable to counter the really big creatures in the set makes this counterspell more likely to fail when it is needed the most. I do like it a little bit better on the draw since you'll usually counter your opponent's 3-drop with your 2-drop, but the possibility of drawing this late game or having your opponent cast a noncreature spell on turn three makes this more hit-or-miss than I would like.

$ 0.00$ 0.00

D+

This is a bad Monastery Siege in terms of card filtering and the tap option is less useful than usual since Blue creatures often have evasion anyway. The untap option is a little bit interesting and the versatility seems alluring, but overall the power level is too low to make this worth a card in my book. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Foresee is back. Even only putting 1-2 irrelevant cards on the bottom of the library is going to feel great. If you have a large Eldrazi or other threat out, this approaches Dig Through Time levels of card selection. Like Dragonlord's Prerogative in Dragons of Tarkir, I expect this to easily be first pickable for its power to enable late game plays.

Black

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

This is a worse Read the Bones in all decks except those with the best fixing, but the fact that's it's never much worse than Sign in Blood keeps it playable. Since this is more of a value card, I'd rather pick this up after I'm already drafting a Converge deck and not as a signal that I should be. 

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C-

Comparing this to Retreat to Kazandu, +1/+0 and Deathtouch probably beats +1/+1 when attacking; however, the Green version grants counters which are permanent and can turn a creature into a bigger threat over time. Additionally, draining your opponent for one life is generally better than gaining two. 

I probably wouldn't be unhappy to start with a copy of this in an aggressive deck, especially if I was playing a number of smaller creatures that could benefit from getting Deathtouch.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

It looks like Silumgar Butcher got a whole lot cheaper and got bumped up two notches in rarity as a result. While this card is still good later in the game, it's especially strong if cast turn three with the Last Gasp effect. With enough cheap Eldrazi Processors like this, I could see Mist Intruder's stock increase in value.

While Mist Intruder's combat stats are definitely lacking, it might end up filling the role that Thrummingbird filled in the Graft deck. The subpar stats might be overlooked since all that matters is the combat damage trigger. 

Red

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D

Like Impact TremorsGoblinslide, and Ghirapur Aether Grid, this is one enchantment that doesn't interest me much. Molten Nursery is unfortunately worse than each of its cousins I named:

While I anticipate that a few brave souls will make this card work in Limited, I don't expect any of those souls to be me.

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C-

Although making a creature unable to block is usually just worse than getting to tap or untap a creature, Red decks are more aggressive than Blue decks and can make better use of this effect. +2/+0 also outclasses Scry 1 so I think this Red iteration beats the Blue one. Like Retreat to Hagra, I think I'd start out playing this in a fast deck but not pick it over efficient creatures. 

Green

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This is a Converge card I can really support. In a simple 2-color deck, this is still an efficient threat. If you splash a color or two, you might just get rewarded. I'm still waiting to see the multicolor fixing to enable the really bizarre 5-color decks. Until I see it, I'm going to stick to my guns and not pretend it will be easy to consistently Converge for three or more.

Multicolored

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This creature does fine even with no Allies to help it and can become insane with a little nudge. It doesn't block with impunity since it has only three toughness, but this Angel's main function is just to get in for damage; I think it will do pretty good at its job.

Vorthoses, add Angel to the list along with Vampire, Elf, Goblin, and Merfolk of non-Human Allies we've seen so far in Battle for Zendikar.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Sprinting Warbrute has been reimagined as a Rare. Dust Stalker does have the benefit of Devoid synergies and also has staying power in the right deck, but this card is also multicolor so it's a little more awkward to pick up early in draft. 

Colorless

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Yes, this card is expensive. But if Blastfire Bolt, Sip of Hemlock, Rite of the Serpent, or Desert Twister have taught us anything, it will still see Limited play. Seven mana is a lot more than six, but getting instant-speed ingest-fueling removal to any threat — creature or not, Indestructible or not — is a fine deal for many decks.

I wouldn't suggest playing more than 1-2 of these, but in the land of Eldrazi, overcosted unconditional removal is king.

Lands

 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Zendikar is the plane of lands and the cards revealed have done a great job of communicating that. Sandstone Bridge and Looming Spires are great in aggressive decks, and Skyline Cascade can save a slower deck from taking a few points of damage. Mortuary Mire is a nice way to keep your hand full of action and Fertile Thicket allows you to keep land-light hands instead of mulliganing.

While aggressive decks have to be careful with how many come-into-play-tapped lands they can play, I will probably play all of the Mortuary Mires or Fertile Thickets I can in two-color decks featuring Black or Green respectively.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Call me crazy, but all these Eldrazi lands are pretty much the same. Each of Spawning Bed, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and Sanctum of Ugin:

  • Produce one colorless mana
  • Have one other ability
  • Their ability becomes available when you reach seven lands/mana

Spawning Bed is my favorite of the three since it helps you when you're behind. If you're stuck with absolutely nothing to cast, this land can give you some chump blockers or a way to ramp up in mana during your next turn.

Conclusion

We've seen a lot of Battle for Zendikar, but we're still looking for a few things: Converge support, at least a few more big Eldrazi, and the rest of the gorgeous Expedition full arts to be revealed. Join us for more spoilers and more Limited review for these last few days of anticipation. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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