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By: dunkle_stille, Peter Griffin
Oct 16 2009 3:01pm
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Hello all and welcome to my first article, here on Puremtgo and ever! My name is David Kaufmann, but most of you better know me as dunkle_stille. I'm not a native English speaker, so don't wonder if some terms are strange or if the language is not what you are used to. I'll give my best to improve.

A few words about me: I know Magic since a long time and played it casual a few times, but I really got into the game during Shards of Alara Block and with the classic format. So my first steps in a competitive environment were in the classic format, but since then I tried other formats as well.

Right now I work on getting more into the paper scene, I played GP: Prague with shabby results but I'm very optimistic about the next PTQ Season ( for San Diego ) - the reason is Zendikar, which looks like a more balanced and less luck intense format than m10. Until yet, Zendikar is not released on Magic: Online, but I played 2 Sealeds and a few Drafts in the paper world, with good results, so I think I can provide you with usable information about the upcoming limited environment.

As commons define a limited environment, I'll start with them today. Uncommons and Rares will follow during the next week.

So, uhm, Zendikar. Did anyone of you played a few times triple Tempest drafts? That format was, thanks to the sheer number of good early drops with Shadow, damn fast. But there were ways to stop it, thanks to the insane amount of mass removal in the common slot. Zendikar on the other hand plays like Tempest without the mass removal! You don't have any shadow guys, but a very good number of cheap drops, or, to a higher extend, a deep number of cheap drops. 1 mana 2/x and 2 mana 2/x define the format. Just turn your guys sideways each turn, who block first loses usually. That doesn't mean there are no control decks, but they have to rely on uncommons or synergies, and are hard to draft. Even if you get the important cards for control, aggro might still be faster. After my few experiences until yet, each game comes down to a race. This makes, in my opinion, Black, Blue and White to the better colors and Green to the worst. As a result I find myself drafting UB and UW quite constantly. Better don't try a 3c build, unless you get a few Harrow's and / or Allies, you are usually dead at the point where you fixed your mana.

Another point why the format plays so aggressive is landfall - unless you are drafting green, it's only good in offense. But there it makes the games fast! Attacking with a 2/3 2nd turn or a 3/3 3rd turn sounds more like constructed. Sure, the ability is a bit one - sided, but makes flood less worse than in other formats.

Ok, now let's start with a card by card analysis. I hope it's not too long - if you have the feeling it is, please tell me and I'll divide it in 2 parts for future sets.

White:

Bold Defense 2w
Instant     Common
Kicker 3{W}
Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn. If Bold Defense was kicked, instead those creatures get +2/+2 and gain first strike until end of turn.

I was never a fan of Warrior's Honor effects. Most times, they are predictable tricks that at best trade 1:1 for a loss of speed, while rarely finishing the opponent. This time it's even worse, as Zendikar is very fast and blocking is a rare action. You usually want to put more pressure on the board, instead of attacking for 2-3 more in one turn. On an empty board it's a dead topdeck, obv. Don't pick it too high, and don't expect to ever cast its kicker cost, at least not in draft. I would call this a filler.


Caravan Hurda 4w
Creature - Giant     Common
Lifelink
    1/5

A card for 5 mana better wins you the game in Zendikar. This card is an expensive wall that rarely makes a difference. As I said, the format is fast, and 1 point lifelink is not enough. Another filler.

Cliff Treader 1w
Creature - Kor Scout     Common
Mountainwalk
    2/1

A good curve is needed in this format. There are better options available, but this guy will see play in any white deck. There can't be too much 2 drops, and if he gets evasion he is a bomb. Very playable.

Journey to Nowhere 1w
Enchantment     Common
When Journey to Nowhere enters the battlefield, exile target creature.
When Journey to Nowhere leaves the battlefield, return the exiled creature to the battlefield under its owner's control.

One of the best, if not the best common removal in Zendikar. Handles everything except a few Shroud guys and Malakir Bloodwitch. Just watch out that the blue mage doesn't have 2 mana open ;) Definitely a first pick.


Kor Cartographer 3w
Creature - Kor Scout     Common
When Kor Cartographer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a Plains card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
    2/2

4 mana 2/2 is wayyyyy under the curve. If you draft a landfall heavy deck, she's a nice filler. Otherwise, not even that.


Kor Hookmaster 2w
Creature - Kor Soldier     Common
When Kor Hookmaster enters the battlefield, tap target creature an opponent controls. That creature doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step.
    2/2

Do you remember Man'O'War? This girl is even better. Way better, at least in this format. I think she's the best white critter. As I said a few times before, it's all about racing the opponent, and she makes sure you win the race. Another card of first pick quality, get's better the more white you play. Getting her at pick 3/4 is a signal.


Kor Outfitter ww
Creature - Kor Soldier     Common
When Kor Outfitter enters the battlefield, attach target Equipment you control to target creature you control.
    2/2

Another 2 drop. You can never have enough of them. Make sure white is your primary color to cast him in your second turn. Get's better the more equipment you have.


Kor Sanctifiers 2w
Creature - Kor Cleric      Common
Kicker {W} (You may pay an additional {W} as you cast this spell.)
When Kor Sanctifiers enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target artifact or enchantment.
    2/3

Another very important card for any white based deck. As a 2/3 she can block very good, if needed, and attacks even as good. Kicker makes her superb, as there are plenty of nasty equipments and enchantments in this set. Thanks to other white cards, you can even reuse her. A very high pick.


Kor Skyfisher 1w
Creature - Kor Soldier     Common
Flying
When Kor Skyfisher enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner's hand.
    2/3

The card to reuse sanctifiers ;) But honestly he is better if he comes down second turn. Wins races, has the important 3 toughness and reuses cards like the Kor's or Kabira Crossroads cycle. The back of every white deck. Now, you see why I like this color in Zendikar that much, plenty of very good cards!


Makindi Shieldmate 2w
Creature - Kor Soldier Ally     Common
Defender
Whenever Makindi Shieldmate or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Makindi Shieldmate.
    0/3

Not that kind of a great card. Though it has a toughness of 4, I don't like it because it can't attack. Not an important card, but a nice addition to the ally deck. Filler.


Narrow Escape 2w
Instant     Common
Return target permanent you control to its owner's hand. You gain 4 life.

Hm, this card is hard to evaluate. On the one hand another card to reuse comes into play effects, and 4 life is very cool in a race, but on the other hand you want to put more pressure and as a 3 mana trick it's a bit expensive. I only played against and it hard made a difference. I would say something between playable and filler.


Nimbus Wings 1w
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2 and has flying.

No bomb, but better than in other sets, for sure. Nice on landfall guys, but again no high pick. I'll play more non - defenders over it every day, but still playable.


Noble Vestige 2w
Creature - Spirit     Common
Flying
{T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target player this turn.
    1/2

At the prerelease, I thought this guy can prevent damage to creatures, too. Once I found out he doesn't... well, I found out he is just not good. I think I'll play a land over him next time...


Ondu Cleric 1w
Creature - Kor Cleric Ally     Common
When Ondu Cleric or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain 1 life for each Ally you control.
    1/1

A 2 drop with only 1 power? No, thanks. As long as you don't play the ally deck, the life gain hardly makes a difference. Another filler.


Pillarfield Ox 3w
Creature - Ox     Common
    2/4

This guy is ok, no more, no less. 4 toughness sounds nice, but he is a bit expensive at 4 mana. Playable, but nothing I want to see in my decks.


Shieldmate's Blessing w
Instant     Common
Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.

In this fast format, this is a nice trick to have. Cheap, effective, sometimes saves your butt. Very playble.


Steppe Lynx w
Creature - Cat     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Steppe Lynx gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    0/1

Games tend to end fast, creatures tend to be turned sideways each turn. This guy is better than he looks, as he puts early pressure and his ability is usually first useless, when games are over. Most critters are 2/1 or 2/2, so he even can't be blocked effectively. The 1 drop of your dreams. Until people realize how fast the format is, you may get lucky and see him late. The glue for every white deck.


Sunspring Expedition w
Enchantment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Sunspring Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Sunspring Expedition and sacrifice it: You gain 8 life.

You better play 18 or even 19 lands to maximize your landfall guys. The worst of all expeditions. If you want life gain, play Ondu Clerics or Narrow Escape.


Blue:

Caller of Gales u
Creature - Merfolk Wizard     Common
1{U}, {T}: Target creature gains flying until end of turn.
    1/1

Unlike other formats, this time 1 mana 1/1's are playable! Puts early pressure against unprepared decks, trades with plenty of the 2/1's and gives your bigger dudes evasion in the mid game. Right now I see this guy as a last pick every time, but believe me: it will change soon. Of course you don't need him if your deck is full of flyers, but he shines in UG decks.


Cancel 1uu
Instant     Common
Counter target spell.

Sorry Cancel, you are too slow for this format. If you are ahead on the board, Cancel may be playable, but I prefer a bounce or removal spell over it. We'll see you in Sealed sometimes, but not in draft.


Into the Roil 1u
Instant     Common
Kicker 1{U} (You may pay an additional 1{U} as you cast this spell.)
Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.

The dream of every blue mage: Tempo oriented, pseudo removal, trick, flexible, draws a card. One of the best blue commons in this format. Good luck in Constructed!


Ior Ruin Expedition 1u
Enchantment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Ior Ruin Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Ior Ruin Expedition and sacrifice it: Draw two cards.

Too slow and a dead topdeck. Fine card for sealed, but only a filler ( if even that ) for draft.


Kraken Hatchling u
Creature - Kraken     Common
    0/4

This guy is ok. Nothing spectacular, but his fat ass holds of all non - flying drops, and with the right equipment, he even becomes a nice attacker. As I said before, I like guys more that do damage on their own, but I give this one credit. Will mostly see sideboard, but in my opinon,  better than the white giants.

Lethargy Trap 3u
Instant - Trap     Common
If three or more creatures are attacking you, you may pay {U} rather than pay Lethargy Trap's mana cost.
Attacking creatures get -3/-0 until end of turn.

I like this card. Fog effects are not that bad in Zendikar. If you can rely on paying its trap cost, it's great. Otherwise only ok, maybe a bit expensive.


Paralyzing Grasp 2u
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.

The blue assassinate. As removal for blue it's ok in general, but will often only enchant a random 2/2. If you can live with that, it's a card for you. Very effective against green, and one of the few outs against Vampire Nighthawk. I like it.


Reckless Scholar 2u
Creature - Human Wizard     Common
{T}: Target player draws a card, then discards a card.
    2/1

This is not m10, where you have the time to dig for your bombs. I see him as a 3 mana 2/1, and as long as I can get this for 2 mana, I won't take him high. Another problem with him is that, with landfall in the set, you rarely want to discard your lands. Sorry sir, you are a filler.


Shoal Serpent 5u
Creature - Serpent     Common
Defender
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Shoal Serpent loses defender until end of turn.
    5/5

In every other set, a blue fatty that can attack would be hot. In this set, you will rarely reach 6 Mana. If you can draft a control deck he might be good, otherwise not.


Sky Ruin Drake 4u
Creature - Drake     Common
Flying
    2/5

Again, a bit expensive, but evasion makes him playable. Holds off every other common flyer. Still, nothing amazing and no high pick.


Spell Pierce u
Instant     Common
Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays 2.

Hmm, I've never played against or with this card. In theory it looks ok, as leaving U open should not be a big problem and there are enough removal spells. No idea how good it really is, but I guess it's more playable than cancel.


Spreading Seas 1u
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant land
When Spreading Seas enters the battlefield, draw a card.
Enchanted land is an Island.

Better than any alternatives before, at least has the potential of screwing your opponent and draws a card. At least in theory. I think the reality looks more that you timewalked yourself. Better put pressure on the board.


Tempest Owl 1u
Creature - Bird     Common
Kicker 4{U} (You may pay an additional 4{U} as you cast this spell.)
Flying
When Tempest Owl enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, tap up to three target permanents.
    1/2

2 drop + evasion = in the Deck. Not a great card, though. Don't expect to cast it's kicker cost, but if you do, you should win.


Trapfinder's Trick 1u
Sorcery     Common
Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all Trap cards.

Sideboard against the 5+ traps.dec, if it will ever exists.


Umara Raptor 2u
Creature - Bird Ally     Common
Flying
Whenever Umara Raptor or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Umara Raptor.
    1/1

Ah, Wind Drake on steroids. Even if you don't draft allies this guy is great and a high pick. Actually, only one blue critter is better than him...


Welkin Tern 1u
Creature - Bird     Common
Flying
Welkin Tern can only block creatures with flying.
    2/1

And here it is! 2 mana, 2 power, evasion. The heart of every blue deck. Again, a very high pick, if not first pick. Oh btw, this guy has no text than flying - he never blocks any way.


Whiplash Trap 3uu
Instant - Trap     Common
If an opponent had two or more creatures enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {U} rather than pay Whiplash Trap’s mana cost.
Return two target creatures to their owners' hands.

A very good card, though I rarely played it for its trap cost. This shows how a 5 mana card has to look in Zendikar. If you cast this for its trap cost you can't lose, actually.


Windrider Eel 3u
Creature - Fish     Common
Flying
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Windrider Eel gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    2/2

A bit worse than the 2 birds, but only because Zendikar is so fast.   Still a very high pick and a very potent threat.


Black:

Blood Seeker 1b
Creature - Vampire Shaman     Common
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under an opponent's control, you may have that player lose 1 life.
    1/1

I underestimated this guy for the first few times. On the paper he looks like crap, but in reality he plays like a generic 2/1, what is good enough in this format. The best thing about him: Even if he doesn't attack, he puts pressure on the board.


Bog Tatters 4b
Creature - Wraith     Common
Swampwalk
    4/2

Ok in the mirror, but rarely a maindeck candidate. 5 mana 4/2 is terrible in this format.


Crypt Ripper 2bb
Creature - Shade     Common
Haste
{B}: Crypt Ripper gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
    2/2

And this is how a 4 drop has to look. Comes out of nowhere, deals a few damage and gets huge the following turns. The longer the game goes, the better he gets. No first pick, but if you are already in black he becomes one.  One of the best black cards in this set.


Desecrated Earth 4b
Sorcery     Common
Destroy target land. Its controller discards a card.

4 letters: crap. Way too expensive and has the wrong target.


Disfigure b
Instant     Common
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

The so called "black shock", and, if you ask me, one of the best removal spells in this set. Kills a high number of creatures, is cheap and even usable as a combat trick. If you ask me even a bit better than hideous end, because it cost less and kills even black creatures.


Giant Scorpion 2b
Creature - Scorpion     Common
Deathtouch
    1/3

I like this guy. Holds off a wide range of critters and can attack without fear. My favourite "wall" in this set. Helps you to draft a control archetype, if you look for one. A high pick for every archetype.


Grim Discovery 1b
Sorcery     Common
Choose one or both - Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand; and/or return target land card from your graveyard to your hand.

This card is ok. Gets better if you plan on making a control deck, because in an aggro deck you rarely have the time to cast it. If you got a fetchland you can even use it as a 2 for 1, but that will rarely happen.


Guul Draz Vampire b
Creature - Vampire Rogue     Common
As long as an opponent has 10 or less life, Gull Draz Vampire gets +2/+1 and has intimidate. (It can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.)
    1/1

Aggro! Another guy that I underestimated at the beginning. He is needed for black aggro decks to put early pressure, and later becomes an unblockable 3/2. If you plan on playing a heavy black / monoblack aggro, make sure you pick up enough of these guys. Trust me, your opponent is very soon at 10 life or less.


Hagra Crocodile 3b
Creature - Crocodile     Common
Hagra Crocodile can't block.
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hagra Crocodile gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    3/1

A fine end of the curve for black. The shade may be better, but you can't rely on getting enough of them, so the croco will see play in the black decks. Not as amazing as Windrider Eel for Blue, but still competitive. As I said, see this card as the top of your curve. No matter if he deals 3 or 5, he is fine any way.


Heartstabber Mosquito 3b
Creature - Insect     Common
Kicker 2{B} (You may pay an additional 2{B} as you cast this spell.)
Flying
When Heartstabber Mosquito enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target creature.
    2/2

Like the crocodile a fine end of the curve in aggro decks, with applications for control. See tempest owl, don't expect to cast if for 7 mana, at least not often.


Hideous End 1bb
Instant     Common
Destroy target nonblack creature. Its controller loses 2 life.

A very nice removal that has a built-in finisher. Most times I would still pick disfigure over it, because Hideous End is a bit clumsy and doesn't hit the black guys. But it's still removal, not that you think I want to make it bad. But very often you are just more happy with disfigure.


Mindless Null 2b
Creature - Zombie     Common
Mindless Null can't block unless you control a Vampire.
    2/2

After seeing this on the spoiler, I thought "Is Wotc serious?", but after drafting the set a bit, I can say it has it's uses. Blocking is less important in this format, so it's most times a grey ogre which is fine. At the end more like a filler, but still better than it looks on the paper. Better than some white and blue cards, for sure.


Mire Blight b
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant Creature
When enchanted creature is dealt damage, destroy it.

With a pinger / tim in the format, one could think about the card. Sadly, there is no... and most creatures die either way when they're dealt damage. 15th Pick.


Nimana Sell-Sword 3b
Creature - Human Warrior Ally     Common
Whenever Nimana Sell-Sword or another Ally enters the battlefield under
your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Nimana Sell-Sword.
    2/2

Black has many 4 drops, this being one of the best. A hill giant is fine in this format, sadly a bit expensive at 4 mana. At least this guy has the potential to grow to unstoppable size and is an ally. Like the 4 drops before him, no real competition to the shade, except you got 6+ Allies, but another good card for a control like archetype.


Soul Stair Expedition b
Enchantment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Soul Stair Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Soul Stair Expedition and sacrifice it: Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.

Fits the curve very good and makes card advantage. I think this is the best of the common expeditions. No matter whether control or aggro, a very good card.


Surrakar Maurader 1b
Creature - Surrakar     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Surrakar Maurader gains intimidate until end of turn.
    2/1

2/1 unblockable sounds very good. A needed 2 drop for black decks, if not one of the best since a few years ( compare him to other 2 mana 2 power guys in black - commons, of course ). Pick him high.


Vampire Lacerator b
Creature - Vampire Warrior     Common
At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life unless an opponent has 10 or less life.    2/2

The 1 drop of your choice, black mages. If you can put him down turn 1 his drawback is neglectable, as he races so fast. If you get him later, your opponent is either under 10, and, if he is not, well, you are still alive so I don't guess he will have a big impact on your own life total. Like the lynx for white, he is the glue for every black aggro deck.


Vampire's Bite b
Instant     Common
Kicker 2{B} (You may pay an additional 2{B} as you cast this spell.)
Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. If Vampire's Bite was kicked, that creature gains lifelink until end of turn.

See this card as a finisher. If you can't finish your opponent with it, there's rarely a need to play it. Otherwise it was just a 2 for 1 trade... for your opponent. I guess this card is fine, but not needed. But again a card I didn't played with or against.


Red:

Bladetusk Boar 3r
Creature - Boar     Common
Intimidate
    3/2

As any 4 mana guys he should be viewed as the top of a curve. And unblockable 3 damage is very nice end! Very good finisher for any red deck.


Burst Lightning r
Instant     Common
Kicker 4 (You may pay an additional 4 as you cast this spell.)
Burst Lightning deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If Burst Lightning was kicked, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.

For limited the best common in the set and the best first pick. Removal is good, finishers are good, flexibility is good. This card has anything and is even easy to splash. Grab it if you can.


Demolish 3r
Sorcery     Common
Destroy target artifact or land.

Too expensive to have a real impact. Fine Sideboard card for sealed, but nothing more.


Goblin Bushwhacker r
Creature - Goblin Warrior     Common
Kicker - {R} (You may pay an additional {R} as you cast this spell.)
When Goblin Bushwhacker enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, creatures you control get +1/+0 and gain haste until end of turn.
    1/1

Like any other 1 drop, needed to put early pressure on the board. Sometimes he even acts as a finisher. Another flexible red card with constructed applications.


Goblin Shortcutter 1r
Creature - Goblin Scout     Common
When Goblin Shortcutter enters the battlefield, target creature can't block this turn.
    2/1

As I said a few times before, 2 drops are good and needed in this format. If they have an impact on the combat phase, even better. Like Bushwhacker he acts as a finisher sometimes, what is great.


Goblin War Paint 1r
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has haste.

This card shows how auras evolved during the years. Remember how I talked about tempest at the beginning? Giant Strength rarely made the cut in limited (but had its time in constructed, but this is another story) but this time it may - thanks to haste and easier mana costs. Also, +2/+2 is huge in a format full of 2/1-2/2 dorks. Just watch out of your opponent’s removal.


Highland Berserker 1r
Creature - Human Berserker Ally     Common
Whenever Highland Berserker or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Ally creatures you control gain first strike until end of turn.
    2/1

More for the curve, and an Ally, too. His ability is rarely relevant.


Magma Rift 2r
Sorcery     Common
As an additional cost to cast Magma Rift, sacrifice a land.
Magma Rift deals 5 damage to target creature.

Removal, that deals with nearly everything. The drawback is not as bad as it could be, as you rarely need more than 4 mana.


Molten Ravager 2r
Creature - Elemental     Common
{R}: Molten Ravager gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
    0/4

Hm, I don't like this guy, honestly. He is playable in a monored deck, but outside of it, a worse pillarfield ox. In sealed a bit better, but in a draft a low pick and more like a filler.


Plated Geopede 1r
Creature - Insect     Common
First strike
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Plated Geopede gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    1/1

The best red 2 drop / common creature. The more you get the better will your deck be. The only red removal I take over him is burst lightning.


Ruinous Minotaur 1rr
Creature - Minotaur Warrior     Common
Whenever Ruinous Minotaur deals damage to an opponent, sacrifice a land.
    5/2 

This is hard. On the one hand he is great if gets through unblocked, but on the other hand this wall happen rarely as he trades with every other dork. Like magma rift, ignore his drawback - when he gets through, he puts you miles ahead in the race, and decks tend to be fast and cheap. Very cool to combine with the blue nonbasic land, but hard to evaluate. I would like to hear your opinions about him.


Seismic Shudder 1r
Instant     Common
Seismic Shudder deals 1 damage to each creature without flying.

This is a bit ironic - it's a very good card in this format, but not a red deck, as the critters are all x/1. If red is your secondary color, like Ur or Wr, it's a great card and a high pick.


Shatterskull Giant 2rr
Creature - Giant     Common
    4/3

As I said a few times before, creatures for 4 mana are the end of the curve in this format. This one is good, a bit worse than the Boar, but still nice to have. Just watch out not to draft too many 4 drops, as you see there are plenty of them.


Slaughter Cry 2r
Instant     Common
Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn.

A trick that has the potential to finish. Nice addition to every red deck, but give creatures higher priority. If you already have enough and a fine curve, grab some Slaughter Cry's.


Spire Barrage 4r
Sorcery     Common
Spire Barrage deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Mountains you control.

A card that rewards you for playing monored or heavy red. Otherwise the card is too expensive for what it does ( usually around 2-3 damage ). Tends to be late pick. Just watch out not to draft too many flame rifts or Ruinous Minotaurs.


Torch Slinger 2r
Creature - Goblin     Common
Kicker - 1{R}
When Torch Slinger enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, it deals 2 damage to target creature.
    2/2

This was one of the cards that showed me the speed of Zendikar. When I first saw it I thought of it as a worse Flametongue Kavu, but in reality it's a grey ogre that has the potential to become a kavu. In general this card is played for 3 mana. Yes, Zendikar is that fast. But if you can use him for his kicker cost, even better.


Tuktuk Grunts 4r
Creature - Goblin Warrior Ally     Common
Haste
Whenever Tuktuk Grunts or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Tuktuk Grunts.
    2/2

For 5 mana, this guy is nearly too expensive. At least he comes with haste and is Ally. Another card that is either a finisher for aggro decks, or an important piece for Ally - control.


Zektar Shrine Expedition 1r
Enchantment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Zektar Shrine Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Zektar Shrine Expedition and sacrifice it: Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with haste and trample onto the battlefield. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the end step.

Until yet, I'm not sold on the card. It steals your second turn and the effect is too predictable, so your opponent can prepare for it. If I have the choice I won't play it, any other 2 drop is better.


Green:

Beast Hunt 3g
Sorcery     Common
Reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all creature cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.

Too expensive and random. Another card under the category "timewalk your opponent".


Grazing Gladehart 2g
Creature - Antelope     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain 2 life.
    2/2

This card is great. As I said before, games tend to be pure damage races, and the life gain of this wins you every race. Don't underestimate him, like I did various times before.


Harrow 2g
Instant     Common
As an additional cost to cast Harrow, sacrifice a land.
Search your library for up to two basic land cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

Maybe the best green common in this set. It's the cornerstone for every control deck and is even useful in other archetypes, thanks to landfall. This card is just good - manafixing and trick in one card. I didn't play much green until now, but I guess this one is a first pick.


Joraga Bard 3g
Creature - Elf Rogue Ally     Common
Whenever Joraga Bard or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, all Allies you control gain vigilance until end of turn.
    1/4

One of the worse allies, though vigilance can win some races. But unlike other allies, you won't play this alone. If you get enough allies he is great, otherwise only a filler.


Khalni Heart Expedition 1g
Enchantment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Khalni Heart Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Khalni Heart Expedition and sacrifice it: Search your library for up to two basic land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.

A deck that relies heavily on the landfall ability may use this, but for everything else it's not good enough. Not even a reliable fixer, as it needs lands to put counters on it, so it goes off too late.


Mold Shambler 3g
Creature - Fungus Beast     Common
Kicker 1{G}
When Mold Shambler enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target noncreature permanent.
    3/3

Solid creature for every green deck, but nothing amazing. I guess you won't miss it, if you don't pick them. Great card for sealed, though.


Nissa's Chosen gg
Creature - Elf Warrior     Common
If Nissa's Chosen would be put into a graveyard from the battlefield, put it on the bottom of its owner's library instead.
    2/3

If you can cast it reliable on turn 2, it's great as it holds off many creatures and is a needed 2 drop for green decks. Even without Nissa, this is one of the better green commons. Another cornerstone for green - oriented control deck.


Oran-Rief Recluse 2g
Creature - Spider     Common
Kicker 2{G}
Reach
When Oran-Rief Recluse enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target creature with flying.
    1/3

Like any other creature with toughness 3 he holds off the ground ( and the air ) very effective. Another one of the better green commons, as he stalls unless you can cast your fatties. Sometimes he will even deal with one of the flying spoilers, like Vampire Nighthawk or Tsunami Elemental. Pick him high.


Oran-Rief Survivalist 1g
Creature - Human Warrior Ally     Common
Whenever Oran-Rief Survivalist or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Oran-Rief Survivalist.
    1/1

The backbone of each green aggro - and / or ally decks. The best green 2 drop for these archetypes. If he grows during the next turns, you are on a safe way to win.


Relic Crush 4g
Instant     Common
Destroy target artifact or enchantment and up to one other target artifact or enchantment.

Nice Sideboard for Sealed, but too expensive for draft.


Savage Silhouette 2g
Enchantment - Aura     Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2.
1{G}: Regenerate enchanted creature.

Like Goblin War - Paint, you'll need the card sometimes to grow your guys or to hold off the ground. Sadly, it costs one mana more and doesn't grant haste. Another filler that gets better the more you race or the more flyers you draft.


Scythe Tiger g
Creature - Cat     Common
Shroud (This creature can't be the target of spells or abilities.)
When Scythe Tiger enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you sacrifice a land.
    3/2

This guy is just bad, he makes card disadvantage, makes you lose tempo, and trades with nearly every single 2 drop. Don't play it.


Tanglesap 1g
Instant     Common
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures without trample.

Fog effects are not that bad in this format, as you'll find yourself often in a race. In Zendikar, even more than any other format, it just steals games you wouldn't have won otherwise. But don't pick it too high.


Territorial Baloth 4g
Creature - Beast     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Territorial Baloth gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    4/4

Actually ok, but at 5 mana too expensive. Playable in control archetypes, but outside there you are usually dead when this beast enters the battlefield.


Timbermaw Larva 3g
Creature - Beast     Common
Whenever Timbermaw Larva attacks, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each Forest you control.
    2/2

Great finisher, who is usually thicker than anything else, as long he is in attack mode. Sadly he is a disfigure target, but black tends to be over drafted any way.


Vastwood Gorger 5g
Creature - Wurm     Common
    5/6

Again, if you draft control this fatty is ok, otherwise ways to expensive to ever see serious play.


Vines of Vastwood g
Instant     Common
Kicker - {G} (You may pay an additional {G} as you cast this spell)
Target creature can't be the target of spells of abilities your opponents control until end of turn. If Vines of Vastwood was kicked, that creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

A great trick, with many applications. Another one of the better green cards, and as this, a high pick. Don't be too greedy and always try to keep gg open, it's even good when it only grants shroud, and your opponent will just know what you plan.

Zendikar Farguide 4g
Creature - Elemental     Common
Forestwalk
    3/3

In Sealed, where green is heavily played, maindeck material, but in draft just plain bad.


Others:

Adventuring Gear 1
Artifact - Equipment     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, equipped creature gets +2+2 until end of turn.
Equip 1

Great card for every deck. I won't pick it too high, as it tends to be a bad top deck, but otherwise it's very useful.


Expedition Map 1
Artifact     Common
2, {T}, Sacrifice Expedition Map: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

If you give up 1 or  2 turns in the early game, you are going to lose. Might be ok to dig for a fetchland or Soaring Seacliffs, but another card under the category "timewalk for your opponent".


Explorer's Scope 1
Artifact - Equipment     Common
When equipped creature attacks, look at the top card of your library. If it's a land card, you may put it onto the battlefield tapped.
Equip 1

Another card I underestimated pretty much. There is no better way to protect you from flood and use landfall synergies. And it's cheap. The only bad thing is that it doesn't help you out of screw... Just make sure you never play more than one scope, as it's a bad topdeck.


Hedron Scrabbler 2
Artifact Creature - Construct     Common
Landfall - Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hedron Scrabbler gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
    1/1

Generic 2 drop for every deck, what makes it good. Later in the game he can even block intimidate guys, so he will never be useless.


Spidersilk Net 0
Artifact - Equipment     Common
Equipped creature gets +0/+2 and reach.
Equip 2

If you have an equipment theme, this might be a filler, otherwise it's a sideboard card against skies.dec


Stonework Puma 3
Artifact Creature - Cat Ally     Common
    2/2

I feel this guy doesn't get enough credit, but he is the glue that sticks the ally deck together. Even if you don't get enough allies, he is still better than Mindless Null as he block intimidators.


Kabira Crossroads
   
Land     Common
Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield tapped.
When Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
{T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.

Takes a land slot, so it's ok I guess. Cards that grant life for free are never bad in this format.  Just watch out not to play too many of these lands that come into play tapped.


Piranha Marsh
   
Land     Common
Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield tapped.
When Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield, target player loses 1 life.
{T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.

1 life is not that amazing, but it is a land slot.


Soaring Seacliff
   
Land     Common
Soaring Seacliff enters the battlefield tapped.
When Soaring Seacliff enters the battlefield, target creature gains flying until end of turn.
{T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.

This one is great. Granting evasion always is, because this flying guy will win you the race.


Teetering Peaks
   
Land     Common
Teetering Peaks enters the battlefield tapped.
When Teetering Peaks enters the battlefield, target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
{T}: Add {R} to your mana pool.

+2 Power is very good in a race situation, but I guess you already know this.


Turntimber Grove
   
Land     Common
Turntimber Grove enters the battlefield tapped.
When Turntimber Grove enters the battlefield, target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.

Not amazing, but still better than Piranha Marsh as the creature with higher power toughness deals a bit more pressure than 1 life loss. Not a great difference, but a feelable one.


I hope you enjoyed my view about the set, and we'll see us later for the Uncommons and Rares! Until then, good luck and fun on MTGO :)

10 Comments

Errr. anyone else with by pierrebai (not verified) at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 15:40
pierrebai's picture

Errr. anyone else with Zendikar experience? Sounds like every game ends on turn 4. Two ways to improve you article: cut out each and every time you say "this is a fast format" and improve your card layout with some formatting (tabbing, bolding, anything).

I think the author by me, myself and i (not verified) at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 15:56
me, myself and i's picture

I think the author overestimates how fast zendikar is. Aggro is NOT the only way to go, control/removal/mana ramp decks do exist and can be quite good.

nice article dunkle by menace13 at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:38
menace13's picture

good to see you on this site. for those of us that do not know, dunkle is mtgo's resident pox "master" with more top 8's with pox than you can shake a stick at. look forward to seeing a classic article from you in the future!

While I agree with some of by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:44
Paul Leicht's picture
4

While I agree with some of the comments made above I think this is a very detailed article. It might not be 100% accurate but it is good to read what a well respected player thinks of the new format.

zendikar by dunkle_stille at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:57
dunkle_stille's picture

@pierrebai: Thanks for the help! I've never worked with word before, so I have to learn much about formating and so on...

But Zendikar is really that fast. Sure, not everyone drafts aggro, but midrange decks aren't that good. A good drafted ally deck may be midrange, but the rest tends to be very aggressive ( UW, UB, WR, UR after my experience ). Control ( UB, BG ) has a hard time to keep up with this, especially if it has to handle flyer after flyer... Games don't end on Turn 4 usually, but soon after. Well, the format is still young and maybe I'm wrong, but the games I fought ended after a few turns, and I was rarely in the position to play any kicker card with kicker. Time will tell.

@menace13: I plan on doing so, but give it some time... there are also other formats I'd to talk about :)

We've been playing paper by Anonymous (not verified) at Sat, 10/17/2009 - 00:15
Anonymous's picture

We've been playing paper Magic with Zen cards since, well, we have them here already. It's true, Zendikar is quite fast--especially with Landfall Aggro in limited and Vamps / Vamps Burn.

It's not especially viable to draft control because of the limited pieces (spell pierce is nice, and stumbling upon drafting hedron crab+archive trap is wack).

You vastly underestimate by Ankh (not verified) at Sat, 10/17/2009 - 05:23
Ankh's picture

You vastly underestimate kraken spawn. He's a top common for U/x control or evasion decks. With a trusty machette or adventuring gear he becomes a decent attacker. In reality he's the toughest 1 drop in the set to deal with. If you are u/g he is actually what gets you to your 5 And 6 mana game Enders. He also blocks and lives vrs virtually every non evasive threat you could expect to see before attack phase 6

4 fireballs because some by LOurs at Sat, 10/17/2009 - 09:12
LOurs's picture
4

4 fireballs because some pictures would have been better
good article man !

I personally am not a big fan by Lpettro (not verified) at Mon, 10/19/2009 - 10:46
Lpettro's picture

I personally am not a big fan of aggro and have posted my best results with control. With this said, I have to agree with the author that the format is tilted largely toward aggro. For example at first I thought it was crazy to run cards like blood seeker and vampire's bite. Since then I have learned that blood seeker is often quite good and vampire's bite is situationally amazing.

I admire your impact on the classic community David and thanks for the great article. Ausgezeichnet!

While it doesnt seem entirely by mBinkley (not verified) at Tue, 10/20/2009 - 07:34
mBinkley's picture

While it doesnt seem entirely false, I think aggro is being a little overhyped in draft. Everyone and their mother are trying to force B/x aggro like it is the Zen version of Esper. The best part about zendikar limited is that there are very good cards, and more importantly very good commons in every color. People think aggro is the gold standard because alot of those creatures are meant to be truned sideways. If Zendikar went at the light speed its being presented then Into the Roil and Whiplash Trap and Shieldmates Blessing and Kraken Hatchling and Oran-Rief Recluse would be much less playable than you mention they are, and therein lies the rub.