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Splitting some Zendikar

September 19, 2009

The Zendikar spoiler is growing bigger and bigger with every day that goes by and boy there are sure some exciting cards been spoiled so far. Today I will dissecting some cards that have been spoiled and I will rating them either Fact or Fiction. Fact can be translated as “roleplayer”, going to see play in format x etc. where Fiction can be worse than you think, won’t see so much play etc. If you didn’t get it from the last sentence, I will not be talking about some obvious hits such as Day of Judgement or Lotus Cobra (check out the spoiler at if you have no clue what cards I mean) or some pretty clear bottom scrape, since I don’t see the point of pointing out something that several people over the weeks now have already stated. Ready? Lets bring on the spoilz!

River Boa
Creature – Snake (C) Reprint
: Regenerate River Boa.

I’m starting with a fine old reprint. River Boa was staple back in the day, nothing crazy but Islandwalk was certainly relevant and the Regenerate part made it hard to kill. You couldn’t “disc” it away etc. Now it’s back and does this card have any game this time around? I would say yes. With what we know so far about the future standard, this card is not that easy to deal with. You can’t Lightning Bolt it, you can’t Doom Blade it and you can’t Wra, sorry, Day of Judgement it away either. I mean, it’s not invincible. There is still Path to Exile and what nod, but still it’s persistent nature is nothing to undervalue. I also see Islandwalk as relevant ability. With the new fetchlands and the M10 duals Standard decks will certainly have more basiclands in them compared with last season and there will always be control decks and control decks tend to play blue… you see where I’m going right?

I think however River Boas playability will be limited to Standard (and Block?). I think it’s too slow for Extended, at least on paper. It’s pretty expensive to play and keep mana open for regenerate compared with Extended where people play 3/3 for a . Islandwalk would certainly be nice against Faeries (or Next Level Blue or what ever it will be called), but I don’t think that will weight up for what it lacks. I don’t see this card making the cut in Extended, but I bet you will see this card popping up in Standard soon.

Rating: Fact

Warren Instigator
Creature – Goblin Berserker (MR)
Double strike
Whenever Warren Instigator deals damage to an opponent, you may put a Goblin creature card onto the battlefield.
“Danger! Danger! Come out of the safety of your holes!”

I said wow when I first this card. I was really thrilled with the opportunity to be able to double lackey someone out. It’s also cool that you can first bring out a Goblin Matron or a Goblin Ringleader and then put down whatever you fetched/drew. But then reality struck. The difference between 1 mana and 2 mana is so freckin huge in Legacy, where (nearly) all crazy goblins is right now stationed at. In Extended a 1/1 with Double Strike for  is not that exciting and there are except Siege-Gang Commander no good goblins in that format. This card might be fine for Standard, but I’m doubtful. 1/1 with Double Strike for  is okay plus for a red creature  and you know… you might get lucky with plucking down a Siege-Gang Commander. Truth be told however, an early Siege-Gang is much more devastating in Legacy or Extended compared to Standard. I think this card was made as a mythic for a reason.

Rating: Fiction

Goblin Guide
Creature – Goblin Scout (R)
Whenever Goblin Guide attacks, defending player reveals the top card of his or her library. If it’s a land card, that player puts it into his or her hand.
“I’ve been all over this world. I even remember some of those places.”

The subject is; how far can we push 1 drops? This is the latest answer from R&D. Goblin Guide takes 1 drops to a new level that we haven’t seen before, a 2 power with haste for 1 single mana. Off course it has some kind of drawback and that is the interesting thing about this card. How much of a drawback is it? Clearly giving your opponent lands (and thus filtering through his/hers deck) is bad, but you do get information about your opponent draws. Also, the philosophy with this card is you beat your opponent down so fast that the card advantage you give him/her won’t matter. Further on if you do that math, you realise that statistically your opponent will wiff more than not. Let me show you.

Say that your opponent has 25 lands in a 60 card deck. That means that deck consist of slightly less than 42% lands. That means (not surprisingly) that your opponent will hit a land in about 2 out of 5 times. So, you are statistically bound to get “lucky” with Goblin Guide.

It’s hard to say how much of an impact that he will make in Standard. It clearly depends if there is a deck (most probably a RDW-style of deck) that can feast on the speed that this guy delivers. In the bigger format I don’t think he will make the cut. There are 1 drops in both Legacy and Extended that outclasses him in my book. But be aware of him for Standard or you might be dead sooner than you can imagine.

Rating: Fact

Oracle of Mul Daya
Creature – Elf Shaman (R)
You may play an additional land on each of your turns.
Play with the top card of your library revealed.
You may play the top card of your library if it’s a land card.

This guy has gotten a lot of hype over the web but I’m sad to say that I can’t agree with the hype. The Exploration-effect is pretty mediocre on turn 4 and forward. The other ability is nice but definitely not game ending. And these two synergistic abilities is slapped onto a 4 mana 2/2. It can be stated again. A 4 mana 2/2. This card reminds me very much of Master Transmuter, a card that has seen very little play in despite it’s potentially bonkers ability. The one thing Oracle of Mul Daya has going for it however is that you can get immediate value of it if you have another land in play when you play it or if you get lucky of the top. Also I’m having trouble of seeing what kind of decks this card would fit onto. It’s too slow for aggro and too 2/2-ish for a control deck. It might fit into a rampish deck, but I’m doubtful.

Rating: Fiction

Luminarch Ascension
Enchantment (R)
At the beginning of each opponent’s end step, if you didn’t lose life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Luminarch Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life)
: Put a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only if Luminarch Ascension has four or more quest counters on it.

In general I think the quests spoiled so far is pretty crappy, but Luminarch Ascension is a light in the darkness. Keeping yourself from taking damage a couple of turns isn’t that hard for a good control deck to accomplish. And even better, it’s easy to avoid taking damage from a control deck. Once you have accomplish that you can pay  at instant speed for a 4/4 flying Angel. Awesome. This card is not crazy good since it need 4 quests counters on it and drawing multiples of it is pretty poopy. But the rewards of this card is high. And I also like that this card doesn’t fit very well with a cascade-theme, which is good for deck diversity for the upcoming Standard.  As I said, not crazy good but a clear roleplayer.

Rating: Fact

That was about it on individual cards but there are a couple of things I would like to say about the set (from we know so far). Quests are very flavourful and all of that, but I think a majority of the ones spoiled so far is pretty crappy. I love traps, they are flavourful and leaves up good design space and they will make limited more interesting. I also like allys for limited, having that theme in Zendikar will give Zendikar another level of play (like slivers or tribal interactions before them). How good they will be for constructed is yet to determine, but thats fine either way. One thing I don’t like about Zendikar is that many potentially staples for constructed has the mythic rarity which will pump the prices on the cards severely. There is a lot of money in the set already with the fetchlands so… it can be an expensive season we are looking for. Nevertheless, Zendikar seems to be an awesome set and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Until next time…

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 15, 2009 21:14

    Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

    – Marc Shaw

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