What I like about Battle for Zendikar

nde bannerAs a follow-up on my gloomy post about Battle for Zendikar, I thought I’d go over the things I actually do like about the new set. Not everything is awful, not even when one of the most interesting worlds in Magic has been overrun by otherworldly alien creatures.

omnath,locusofrage.full#1: Landfall is interesting, and likely better.
Landfall is a baller mechanic for Magic in general, and one I think deserve to be evergreen more than for example Prowess. Magic has always had its mana system, and while I like it overall, nobody can argue that it sucks losing to mana screws or mana floods. Landfall solves the latter in a rather elegant way.

In the first Zendikar block, however, Landfall was something of a menace (pun unintended). Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede combined their powers to create one of the fastest limited formats ever – to the point that taking a Welkin Tern or even a Cliff Threader or a Surrakar Marauder over an obvious bomb in a more orthodox format, say a Rampaging Baloths was often the correct call.

In this format, so far, we’ve seen much more reserved Landfall threats – Makindi Sliderunner, Snapping Gnarlid, and Scythe Leopard have a more reasonable growth, and the rest of the threats on common and uncommon are of higher casting costs. The only really crazy Landfall threat on the uncommon rarity is Grove Rumbler, and it’s multicolour after all.

All in all, I expect Battle for Zendikar’s limited format to contain elements from Zendikar for sure, but with a page from Rise of the Eldrazi as well, which seems positive. It should be noted that Landfall is more or less an exclusively offensive ability, which might make for a faster-than-usual limited environment after all.

clutchofcurrents.full#2. Landfall works well with Awaken.
Original Zendikar had Kicker, and Worldwake had Multikicker to function as mana sinks in the limited environment. Useful tools for when decks sometimes wants to run more than 17 lands to fuel Landfall.

Awaken could be considered a variant of kicker in some aspects, even though the kicked version of the spells all have the same bonus effects – animating a land and adding some counters to it, or sometimes just adding counters to an already awakend land.

This ought to work well with Landfall as well, in that it both serves to have some spells with two configurations (although some Awaken costs are a bit high, and other spells are virtually unplayable without Awaken) – suitable for when you have more lands in play than usual.

#3. (Some) instant speed ramp.
The ramp isn’t very rampy in Battle for Zendikar, as I’ve stated before – but the ones there are are pretty decent. Natural Connection costs three and a card, but is an Instant, which means you could activate Landfall out of nowhere in instant speed. Evolving Wilds is slow mana fixing, but does the same thing, even if the opponent can see it coming. Lastly, Blighted Woodland can create three (!) Landfall triggers on its own in a single turn! The good thing about these is that Evolving Wilds is likely the only high-ish pick for people, so if you’re deep in powerful Landfall triggers, it’s likely that some of the common fixing will come around late in a draft.

#4. The Eldrazi mechanics convey meaning well.salvagedrone.full
I’ve stated before that I don’t like the Eldrazi much before – but I will say that R&D has done a great job with the mechanics. During the spoiler weeks, I caught myself saying “Huh, that’s… weird. But maybe that’s the point” on more than one occasion. Ingest and Devoid feels like alien mechanics to me, and even though they serve a bad villain, they’re doing it well.

What do you like about Battle for Zendikar? Leave a comment!

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1 Comment

  1. psykopatmullvad

     /  October 4, 2015

    I really like Landfall the most. Awaken is second i guess and Devoid third. Something like that.

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