Hi everybody, and welcome back to Part 2 of NitWitty’s coverage of Battle for Zendikar. Last time we looked at the set and went through the cards that looked like they would be a lot of fun to play, and this time we’re back looking at the Limited Format all stars of the set. Basically things that look like they might not be super great, but actually play amazing. With that in mind, let’s get to work.
First off we have Kozilek’s Channeler, or if you prefer Kozilek’s Cheerleader. This does a whole lot in a well designed package even if it sort of looks like ass. The trick is that Battle for Zendikar is actually a little slow as far as formats go. Mr. Man here is a 5 mana creature that is going to help you ramp up to more even more mana. Normally that’s terrible, but here it isn’t too bad because the format is full of giant assed things like Desolation Twin. Then on top of that he is really hard to attack into, so this dude puts your threats into play and keeps you from getting smacked around while he does it. Plus in a pinch he’s a 4/4 and can bring some hurt.
Keeping an Eldrazi theme we have Call the Scions which just might be one of my favorite cards in the set, due to the sheer amount of work it does. For 3 mana you get 2/2 worth of creatures, but those aren’t just any creatures, no, they’re Eldrazi Scions. They have the saucy ability to kill themselves for your amusement and to give you extra mana for playing your guys. Consider this sequence which is fully possible. Turn 3 play Call the Scions and turn 4 play your land and then sacrifice the Scions for 2 mana so you have access to 6 mana on turn 4. You know what you can play with 6 mana in this set? Oran-Rief Hydras that’s what. Which is basically an answer or suffer the consequences type of thing. Also, worse case you can leave the Scions in play and they make attacking sort of stupid.
As a quick side note, this entire set is full of monstrous things that you might, from time to time, need to smite. Thankfully there’s exactly a tool for that.
Even though it is a card we talked about last time, Retreat to Emeria is the dog’s bollocks, which is great because it’s fun to play with while laying the smack down. If you’re trying to run any sort of swarm creatures this thing is gross. That +1/+1 to your whole team really adds up and can push through some serious damage. Bonus points if you can pull it with an Evolving Wilds since that will trigger the Landfall twice. But, the real saucy play for this is that first ability – the one that puts an Ally into play. Allies in Battle for Zendikar are, to put it mildly, bonkers. They trigger when they land and whenever another ally comes into play, so this enchantment will trigger those abilities almost constantly and all you have to do is play a land. The other ones are okay role players, but this retreat is nothing but milk money (which is to say – good).
Next up we have a card that just tells your opponent that you’re tired and don’t want to play anymore: Windrider Patrol. That’s because unless your opponent has an immediate reply to this, that Scry ability will mean you can defend it forever. Plus you’re going to bash for 4 each time. It doesn’t help that giant things in this set can’t block fliers for shit, so you put whoever you’re playing on a clock and get to filter for your own answers while you do it. This is just raw brutality, so thumbs up all around.
For red there are a bunch of creatures and I tend to think they are just okay. Or they are rares and I try to avoid telling you about how great the rares are because, well, of course they are. Red is however so full of quality beats we’re going to get 2 for red. First up is Turn Against which has the good fortune to let you steal dudes as a fast effect. That does some wacky things. For example, you can steal a creature that is attacking you. Just hit it with this, untap the creature and proceed to murder whatever else felt compelled to attack with it. Gold star if you can get a 2 for 1 Also, this is a set that has messed up crap like Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger and if you’ve never straight jacked and attacked with your opponent’s 10/10, then you really haven’t lived.
Another quality red card that looks just okay until it’s in your hot little hands is Outnumber. Something that you may not quite realize from just looking at the set is how many creatures will be on the board at once. From Eldrazi Scions to Kor Ally Tokens there’s a very good chance you have at least 3 guys in play and which point you’ve built yourself a Lightning Bolt. Then again, whenever I saw this in play it usually hit for 5+ which is egregious.
Back in the day Blood Artist was pretty good, and Avacyn Restored wasn’t full of creatures whose whole point is to die on command. Battle for Zendikar gives us Zulaport Cutthroat which is really a friend. Worried about attacking? Don’t be because even if they block they still lose some life. It punishes your opponents for letting you ramp and makes them second guess attacking you. Putting him into play is like setting up a lightning rod, which is astounding when you consider the other things in the set. A real treat is getting him on line when you also have Rot Shambler in play. Then you’re getting the +1/+1 counters for feeding your Shambler, life gain and damage from your Cutthroat and if the things getting killed off happened to be Eldrazi Scions in the end you probably got a giant fatty for your effort.
And that is the Battle for Zendikar All Stars and I hoped you enjoyed our coverage. If there’s something I missed, or something you think I’m completely wrong about let me know in the comments. As always, I am pleased to rhetorically box.
Until next time.