By Alex McLaughlin
So we are fresh into a new set, one filled with so much it’s really hard to process this much awesome. I personally think this set is on the power level of the Urza Saga, which if any of you who are reading this are familiar with the set know how much it impacted the game. So let’s start off with the most obvious thing we are all chirping about…
1. Enemy-colored Fetchlands
At long last we have the other half of that oh-so-loved cycle from Onslaught. Both seasoned veterans and new players alike can appreciate the importance of a good land base, and these lands provide not only the land you need but act as what I call “hollow” cards, which means essentially that you are running a smaller deck because it automatically replaces itself with a land from your deck.
This also makes it so you don’t have to run as many copies of different land cards to cover a multicolored deck, making turn one plays of mono-color cards easier. If only to get these lands you should get Zendikar, especially since they are twice as common as the original fetches with the new Mythic card rarity.
Oh the Twilight jokes that were said at the release events about the “vampire” players. Joking aside however Vampires in Zendikar do so much more than many of the vamps we’ve seen in the past, and across all the rarities. In the commons we got Vampire Lacerator and Guul Draz Vampire, two extremely potent cards for the low mana cost of a single black mana.
At uncommon we have 4 heavy hitters, three of which are dudes and the last is the most awesome “tribal” removal I’ve ever seen.Vampire Nighthawk and Gatekeeper of Malakir do what black wants to do, force someone to make a bad decision. Vampire Hexmage is the best answer I’ve seen yet to deal with planeswalkers as well as being a first striker. Lastly, Feast of Blood is great removal for the Vampire tribe since it not only nukes any creature but also gains you life. There will rarely be a time in a dedicated Vampire deck where you could not cast it. The all-star of the Vampires however has to be Malakir Bloodwitch, which is immune to a lot of removal because:
- It’s black so most of its own removal can’t hit it
- It’s pro-white so no Path or Oblivion Ring, and
- It has four toughness, so burn is usually a 2 for 1 situation in your favor.
All that, combined with 4 power, a triggered effect that brings the end game that much closer and all at the easily attained cost of 3bb is everything this tribe needs to be top dog.
When the Trap card type was first revealed many players tried to say that this was Wizards trying to be more like a certain anime-inspired card game. I disagreed from the beginning and have been proven right. Traps in this set function no differently than any other spell you could cast, but with some very potent results if the trap’s “snare” cost is reached.
Three really come to mind when I think about the strength of Traps: Mindbreak Trap, Summoner’s Trap and Needlebite Trap. Mindbreak Trap is THE solution to storm and cascade. Even decks that can’t run blue could effectively run this in the board just to deal with those decks. Not only that but it can deal with uncounterable things like Great Sable Stag and Volcanic Fallout. Summoner’s Trap is green’s revenge for all the years that blue has been keeping it down, both digging and putting a dude into play at a reasonable cost to begin with but with an alternate cost that makes the blue mage think twice about countering.
Needlebite Trap just oozes with flavor and with power. An instant speed ten point swing for a converted cost of 7 is ok, but if your opponent gains even 1 life then you can punish them severely for practically no drawback. With the amount of lifelink that is running around I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card in the sideboard or main deck of any black mage’s arsenal.
The return of this mechanic is a godsend in the current meta, where it’s either the aggro deck wins right away or the control deck wins after a long while. By giving a deck the flexibility of having one card hitting two spots on the mana curve you give yourself more options thus it allows the control player to have some aggression while allowing the aggro player a chance to combat back with a powerful play. So lace up those cleats, let’s get to kickin’!
Probably one of the best mechanics I have had a chance to experience. Landfall rewards you for doing what practically every deck has to do; play lands. It’s that simple. Play lands, make profit. There are creatures that benefit from it, enchantments that help you for doing it and even equipment that makes dudes bigger just play dropping a land into play. Combined with the fetches and the next reason in the list Landfall will definitely rock the formats old and new.
Come back next time for Part 2!