It’s September already, and with that comes the major fall expansion for Magic: The Gathering. This time around it’s a return to Zendikar, and with Zendikar Rising‘s release coming later this month, I thought I’d take a look at the spoilers and share some of the new cards with you. I formatted this post a little differently in that I’ve highlighted some features of the set, and then otherwise just lumped mythics and rares into categories rather than splitting things up by color. I didn’t bother with uncommons and below, mainly because there wasn’t much of interest there for me, and I’ve only highlighted the mythics/rares that I found to be the most interesting. Lists of the entire set can be found in a multitude of places if you’re interested in looking.
So this is another set that doesn’t have just one “buy-a-box promo,” instead it has a series of box-toppers. That is likely to be the new method going forward, as we haven’t seen a singular promo card for a while now. The proliferation of the collector booster and now with the inclusion of “set boosters” along with the whole draft booster boxes that are what we would consider “normal” seems to be the new norm. It’s confusing for sure, but what I can tell you is this: Draft booster boxes are the standard box buying experience. You’ll get one or two box toppers depending on which option you select. Otherwise you can expect 36 packs of normal and borderless/showcase cards (which is now the norm for sets as well). The Set booster is new with Zendikar Rising but doesn’t change a whole lot. I believe it’s less packs per box, yet there is a slot in each pack that *can* contain a randomly selected card from “the list.” That list is 300 or so cards not part of the normal set, but essentially reprints that could be worth something, or could be lame (like a wayfarer’s bauble). Then there’s collector’s boosters, of which a box contains somewhere in the ballpark of 20 packs. Each pack has more rare slots and foils, also can contain the box toppers, and you’ll get box toppers with the purchase. So basically, if you want to approach this as a normal set, you can ignore all of this and buy a draft booster box. If you want to increase your odds of getting more box toppers or other “cool” cards you can try your luck with the other stuff.
New Commander Decks:
Another new part of this set is the two commander precons that are releasing alongside the standard set. We’ve known this was happening, but were unsure of how it would come about. Now we have some extra details. Both of the decklists can be seen in full here. There are 3 new cards per deck, one of which is the face-card commander in foil. The other two are exclusive to this product, but nothing amazing is coming from it. This means there are a lot more reprints though, which could up the value. Current pricing suggests the lists are worth between $80-100, but we aren’t sure what they’ll sell for. The community seems to think that they’ll be priced lower than traditional commander decks, but we shall see. From what I’ve gathered, there isn’t a lot here to make me want to pick up the decks, but for some it will be a boost to their collections.
The first deck is called Sneak Attack and is a rogue tribal deck. This is actually the first real commander that cares about rogues, and there are quite a few good rogues throughout Magic’s history, most of which are already included in the deck. It looks pretty solid, and could be tweaked to be a mill focused deck as well, if you chose to go that way. The new cards aren’t great but they fit in with the deck.
Land’s Wrath is the other precon, and it does less for me. I’m not really into naya, I don’t like making lands into creatures, and the new cards are kind of meh. Check out the list for yourself to see if it’s for you.
So WotC announced earlier in the year that they would be reprinting fetch lands. Everyone thought the logical place for that was in either Double Masters or Commander Legends, but then they released the list of box toppers, and there ya go. As I explained earlier, you’ll get 1-2 of these cards with a purchase of a box, and then have extra chances at finding them in collector boosters. However, we have like 4 different cycles of lands and a smattering of singular ones so you might not even get a fetch at all. Seems like a lackluster way of reprinting some of the most in-demand cards in the whole game, but I have to admit I REALLY like the artwork for these.
And now onto the better cards in the set. Overall I’m not very hyped for any of these cads, although there are a few I can see as easy additions to some of my decks. There are also a few new legendary creatures that could be fun to build around, but nothing on the hyper competitive side from what I can see.
About the only card legendary card that will likely see play in more competitive formats is the new Tazri, which basically does similar things to old Tazri, and can probably continue on as one of the higher tier generals. I like red creatures here for easy extra combats and mana, while the Ancient Greenwarden is a Crucible of Worlds and a doubler on landfall triggers. The black demon is pretty spicy too, as for only 2 mana you can greatly speed up the game.
I’m really into this new Akiri, and also the new cleric, Orah. Akiri gives much needed card draw in Boros, and as I already run an equipment based deck in Jeskai, this one will slot right in. Extra card draw in those colors is always wanted. Orah is screaming to be made into cleric tribal, and I’ve actually brewed a few lists in Orzhov that featured a bunch of clerics, so I think this needs to happen. It’s likely that an aristocrats strategy will be employed, as you can use Teysa Karlov and sacrifice outlets to create loops with this commander. Start off with a high cmc cleric that dies, and then return another lesser CMC cleric to the battlefield. Rinse and repeat, then use something else that returns the high cmc cleric and bob’s your uncle. I think there can be some exploitative ways to build the deck. Some of the other cards here are interesting too, but those two speak to me the most.
And that’s about all I have for today. Happy pack-cracking when the time comes!