Magic: the Gathering - Zendikar Rising

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AngryJellyfish
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Zendikar Rising is due for release on September 25, 2020 (Paper pre-release starts 18th of September; on MTG Arena and Magic Online from the 17th of September). :blow: Pre-order on MTG Arena available... right now, hence my rush to make this.

Spoiler season officially starts during the first week of September, but as usual WotC have given us a taste of what's to come, in the form of two Planeswalkers! There's a handful of unofficial leaks as well - feel free to discuss those here, but in spoiler tags please.

I'll post my thoughts on various cards as and when they're officially revealed. Until then, we can only wait, speculate, and hope that 2021 Standard is less of a mess than this year was! I'm looking forward to experiencing the Zendikar plane for the first time, as I wasn't playing during the years when we previously visited it.
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999tigger
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
Zendikar Rising is due for release on September 25, 2020 (Paper pre-release starts 18th of September; on MTG Arena and Magic Online from the 17th of September). :blow: Pre-order on MTG Arena available... right now, hence my rush to make this.

Spoiler season officially starts during the first week of September, but as usual WotC have given us a taste of what's to come, in the form of two Planeswalkers! There's a handful of unofficial leaks as well - feel free to discuss those here, but in spoiler tags please.

As usual, I'll post my thoughts on various cards as and when they're officially revealed. Until then, we can only wait, speculate, and hope that 2021 Standard is less of a mess than this year! I'm looking forward to experiencing the Zendikar plane for the first time, as I wasn't playing during the years when we previously visited it.
Bemuses me that you are so into it.
Howe many cards do you own and how much have you spend on it?
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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by 999tigger)
Bemuses me that you are so into it.
Howe many cards do you own and how much have you spend on it?
Digitally, 13,773. Not quite that many physical cards I don't think, but certainly in the thousands.

Can be an expensive hobby. Digitally I pre-order all new sets at £50-100 every 3 months, and spend a little extra now and then if I have it spare and want to create a specific deck/enter a specific event. In paper, excluding old purchases while at uni, I only have the one Commander deck, currently estimated at $582.39 (~£441.50).
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Gofre
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
I only have the one Commander deck, currently estimated at $582.39 (~£441.50).
As a Hearthstone player, I forget how large Magic decks can get :ahee:
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999tigger
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
Digitally, 13,773. Not quite that many physical cards I don't think, but certainly in the thousands.

Can be an expensive hobby. Digitally I pre-order all new sets at £50-100 every 3 months, and spend a little extra now and then if I have it spare and want to create a specific deck/enter a specific event. In paper, excluding old purchases while at uni, I only have the one Commander deck, currently estimated at $582.39 (~£441.50).
I like the accuracy.. Hope you are keeping well.
I am now discovering lots of anime runs for a season and goes no further. Veh annoying.
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SnowMiku
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Ah yes, Magic!

I am not a fan of Arena - it's extremely slow and I like doing it in person! Due to obvious reasons I might have to settle for online though.


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Good to see another Boros planeswalker! Nahiri (and Sorin) doesn't get much love
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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by 999tigger)
I like the accuracy.. Hope you are keeping well.
I am now discovering lots of anime runs for a season and goes no further. Veh annoying.
I'm fine thanks, hope things are fine with you as well.

I have a companion program running that keeps track of the stats, so that I don't have to. It also helps remind me that I'm not as bad at the game as I sometimes feel. :laugh:

Anime is very seasonal, and the industry seems to be moving increasingly in a 'run 12 episodes, make a sequel if the DVD sales are good' direction. Longer running shows are very rare at this point, I usually have an all new lineup every 3 months.

(Original post by Gofre)
As a Hearthstone player, I forget how large Magic decks can get :ahee:
Helps that I have a large collection from my university days, I try to build around what I already have.
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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by SnowMiku)
Ah yes, Magic!

I am not a fan of Arena - it's extremely slow and I like doing it in person! Due to obvious reasons I might have to settle for online though.


Spoiler:
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Good to see another Boros planeswalker! Nahiri (and Sorin) doesn't get much love
I've barely played paper Magic in a decade, since leaving uni. :moon: The Commander deck I linked to earlier was pretty much just a fun project I started in January, as I do have friends who play, and I figured I'd rather have a deck I don't use than miss an opportunity to play because I didn't have one.

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I'm also glad to see Nahiri (and judging from her abilities, more playable Equipment cards); War of the Spark and Core Set 2020 gave us a couple of niche playable Sorin Planeswalkers, which I use a lot since I like Vampire tribal
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SnowMiku
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
I've barely played paper Magic in a decade, since leaving uni. :moon: The Commander deck I linked to earlier was pretty much just a fun project I started in January, as I do have friends who play, and I figured I'd rather have a deck I don't use than miss an opportunity to play because I didn't have one.

Spoiler:
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I'm also glad to see Nahiri (and judging from her abilities, more playable Equipment cards); War of the Spark and Core Set 2020 gave us a couple of niche playable Sorin Planeswalkers, which I use a lot since I like Vampire tribal
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Oof, tribal. Nice idea but last time I tried it, I made a 3 colour Elemental deck and got thrashed at the one and only FTM event I've ever attended
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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by SnowMiku)
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Oof, tribal. Nice idea but last time I tried it, I made a 3 colour Elemental deck and got thrashed at the one and only FTM event I've ever attended
Tribal is a viable strategy in Historic, Goblins and Elves have gotten a lot of nice new cards via Jumpstart, and Zombies benefited from Amonkhet Remastered. I can't think of any that would do well in the current Standard, mind. Elementals may actually be the best.
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SnowMiku
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
Tribal is a viable strategy in Historic, Goblins and Elves have gotten a lot of nice new cards via Jumpstart, and Zombies benefited from Amonkhet Remastered. I can't think of any that would do well in the current Standard, mind. Elementals may actually be the best.
If/when I get back into Magic, I'll try and remake it! (With some actual idea of what I'm doing this time) Thanks for the info.
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AngryJellyfish
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Spoilers start this afternoon! Here is WotC's 'Where to Find Previews' index, but I haven't the time or the energy to check out each one individually, so will be relying as usual on Scryfall to gather them together - link to their Zendikar Rising set page.

I should probably comment on the two planeswalkers from last week, before things really get going:

New Nahiri has me excited because I like Equipment cards, and her abilities strongly hint that we'll be seeing more of those in ZNR! Standard hasn't had any good ones in the two years since Arena left beta and I started playing again - and no, I'm not counting Embercleave, since that functions so unlike any other Equipment.

New Jace seems fair and balanced, both at his regular mana cost and if Kicked for the additional 2. Scrying and card draw are powerful, but after last year I've come to expect 3 CMC planeswalkers to shut down the game completely for the opponent, which this guy shouldn't do (not on his own, at least).

Loving the alternate art promo versions, too! :coma:
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AngryJellyfish
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Right, where to begin? :zomg: So many reveals, both for Zendikar Rising, and beyond. I think I'll just focus on this set here, but for anyone curious, all sets due to enter Standard in 2021 have been announced, along with a couple of other supplemental sets.

So, Lands. It seems there are two main rare land cycles, both double sided, but rather than the flip cards we're used to, these are modal - you choose which side you want to play, then don't get the other (at least not without bouncing and playing it again, stuff like that).

The first cycle gives you a choice between a mono-coloured land, or a spell of the same colour. For example, Valakut Awakening is a 2R Instant that lets you refresh your hand. Or, you can play the other side, Valakut Stoneforge, which enters the battlefield tapped and produces red mana.

The other cycle are dual lands, such as Cragcrown Pathway / Timbercrown Pathway, which taps for either red or green depending on which side you choose. Unlike the spell cycle above, these don't come into play tapped... but unlike the soon to be rotating shocklands, you do have to commit to just one colour, which could come back and bite you if you later wind up needing the other.

Next, Planeswalker. Singular. Golgari Nissa of Shameful Bi-Erasure Shadowed Boughs. This was a very early leak, but for those who haven't seen it, her +1 turns a land into a 3/3 creature with haste and menace... until the end of turn, and with no forest mana doubling, so a less broken version of her War of the Spark form. Her ultimate for -5 lets you put a creature into play from your hand or graveyard for free, so long as its CMC is less than or equal to the number of lands you control - 'put into play' as opposed to 'cast' means it avoids counter spells! Also, she has a static Landfall ability, which means she gains 1 loyalty every time you gain a land. Feels like the strongest of ZNR's three Planeswalkers, if only because of all the ramp about.

Speaking of ramp, they printed an anti-ramp card. In blue. :indiff: Confounding Conundrum means that every time an opponent gains a 2nd(+) land in a turn, they must bounce a land back to their hand. They do still gain any landfall triggers, and could bounce tapped lands in order to keep new untapped ones, but it should slow them down nonetheless. All this for only 1U, and it also cantrips for some reason. I can only picture Uro players using it to screw each other over, while white, red and black continue to fall behind. :erm:

Finally for now, Party! :yay: :party: Of the D&D roleplaying variety. A new mechanic that rewards you for controlling a Wizard, a Warrior, a Rogue and a Cleric. For example, Spoils of Adventure costs a huge 4WU, but gains you three life and draws three cards. It also costs 1 less for each member of your party, and would be a real bargain at just WU! More (humanoid) creatures will likely have two creature types than usual as a result, such as 'Elf Rogue' or 'Angel Wizard' - think of them like race and class from D&D.

That's just a small sample of what's been revealed so far. Seems they're keeping the equipment for later. :bebored:
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Quick-use
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What's Magic like? Is it really expensive to get into?

The only card game I've gotten into was Legends of Runeterra and you get soooo many freebies from just playing the game that you don't have to buy any cards at all (if you don't want to).

I wonder what the depth and quality of Magic's game play is. Would love some input! :fluffy:
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AngryJellyfish
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Also, trailer!

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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by Quick-use)
What's Magic like? Is it really expensive to get into?

The only card game I've gotten into was Legends of Runeterra and you get soooo many freebies from just playing the game that you don't have to buy any cards at all (if you don't want to).

I wonder what the depth and quality of Magic's game play is. Would love some input! :fluffy:
It can be expensive in paper if you want a competitive deck, a lot of the best cards are at higher rarity, and quickly shoot up in price. Digitally on MTG Arena, it is technically free to play, and the daily rewards are quite generous - it is certainly possible to do well while playing for free, I've seen a few posts on the Magic Arena subreddit from people who've made it to the top ranks. My main advice would be to spend wildcards on building full decks, not just crafting the best single cards.

Gameplay has been... very rough for the past year, to be completely honest. :laugh: The game design team tried some new things, pushed card power levels to (and beyond) their limits, and it resulted in a number of bans the likes of which haven't been seen in over a decade. But with the release of this thread title's set, Zendikar Rising, some of the biggest surviving offenders will be rotating out, and (so far!) signs are pointing towards 2021 Standard having an overall lower power level. And it certainly has depth, loads of different mechanics and play styles. :yep:
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AngryJellyfish
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Today hasn't featured any massive, groundbreaking revelations, so time to cover the main thing I left out of yesterday's post: Zendikar Rising has Expeditions! (link to the full list on Scryfall)

These are special promo versions of 30 land cards, including some long-awaited reprints of all 10 Fetch lands! Though since they aren't especially easy to get (link to a WotC article explaining where you can find them), the announcement that we'd be getting the 5 enemy coloured fetches at rare, non-promo level in a Modern Horizons 2 product next year is very much welcome.

Other Expedition highlights include Grove of the Burnwillows (I bought one literally a week ago - thankfully, I prefer the original Future Sight border to the new one), Prismatic Vista (hopefully that'll drive down the price of the Modern Horizons version, as I want one of those), the allied colour Bond lands, allied Fast lands, and Strip Mine!
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AngryJellyfish
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Random cards that caught my attention:

Archon of Emeria - 2W for a 2/3 flyer passes the vanilla test for me, but this has two very nice abilities to make it better (or worse, if you're on the receiving end): each player can't cast more than one spell per turn, and non basic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped. Could be good in a UW control deck, where your opponent's one spell of their turn can always be met with a counter spell, but otherwise the two-way first ability might prove too crippling even to justify the nice one-sided land tax. But maybe that's just me being terrible at evaluating cards, people on Reddit are saying this is the best thing White has had in ages. Only time will tell!

Could "Valakut Luxury Tours" (placeholder name) be a viable replacement for the soon to be rotating Light up the Stage? An enchantment with Landfall that exiles the top card of your library when triggered, and you may play that card this turn. If you don't, it gets exiled, and Valakut deals damage to opponents equal to the number of cards exiled that way, then those cards go to your graveyard. On the plus side, its effect is repeatable, and any cards you don't want or can't cast still have some value. On the negative side, you only have the one turn to play the cards from exile if you do want them. (Mono) Red doesn't have many ways of letting you play more than one land per turn (just Sad Robot so far in Standard, I think?), so if you've already played one to trigger it, you'll lose any others.

One thing that Red does do better than ramp is land destruction, and now it can do it for 1R with Cleansing Wildfire! The land's controller does then get to search for a basic land to replace it, and put it into play tapped, but the possibility of destroying duals, triomes or utility lands makes this attractive. There are certainly times where using it on your own land in order to get an additional landfall trigger or fix another colour might be worthwhile - target your own Cascading Cataracts, and you don't even lose a land due to it being indestructible! And although I'm mostly focused on Standard, Historic and Brawl due to playing on Arena, this is a common, so could be a bomb in Pauper, destroying Tron lands. All this, and it cantrips. Nice.
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AngryJellyfish
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We've started getting a few Equipment cards! One of the main downsides this permanent type has had in the past is the separate Equip cost that must be paid after casting, in order to attach them to a creature and benefit from their effects. It says a lot that the only Equipment that's really seen Standard play for the past two years has been Embercleave, which attaches itself to an attacking creature free of charge. Zendikar Rising's answer to this: Equipment now attach themselves free of charge to a creature you control upon entering the battlefield, but this is a one time offer - if that creature dies, you still have to pay to re-equip, and the new Equip costs are pretty steep. Hopefully that'll give this old but popular mechanic the boost it needs in these powerful times!

Maul of the Skyclaves is the only rare one so far. 2W (yep, Zendikar Rising has coloured artifacts!) gives a creature +2/+2, Flying AND First Strike! This combo'd with All that Glitters and Gingerbrute could be nasty. Should you need to pay to equip it, however, that'll cost 2WW. Skyclave Pick-Axe is an Uncommon for a single Green mana which provides no buff to stats on its own, but does come with a Landfall trigger which gives +2/+2 every time a land enters the battlefield under your control - could be powerful in a ramp deck, which probably won't mind the 2G re-equip cost as much. Finally, Mind Carver costs one Black, and buffs for a mere +1/+0 unless your opponent has 8+ cards in their graveyard, in which case it grants +3/+1 instead - pretty meh, could be alright in Limited I guess.

I also meant to make a post last night about the Mythic Land cycle, but forgot. :ahee: As with all non-basic lands in this set, these are double faced, with a Spell on the other side. Unlike the set's other non-dual lands, you may have them enter untapped... if you're willing to take 3 damage. Most of the time, I don't begrudge the 2 life lost in order to play an untapped shock land, but 3 damage for a single colour feels like something you'd resort to in an emergency only. We've only seen two so far (Sea Gate Restoration / Sea Gate, Reborn in Blue + Shatterskull Smashing / Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass in Red), but the Spell sides are both big late game Sorceries. Likely bombs in Limited, but I hope for the sake of my Arena Wildcards that they don't become Constructed staples!
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AngryJellyfish
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Full set has now been revealed. :blow: And it a week's time, it'll be on Arena and Magic: The Gathering Online.

I've neglected this thread a bit compared with previous sets... in all honesty, Zendikar Rising's power level seems (at first glance, at least) to be far lower than the broken, ban and nerf-filled sets of last year. I guess I was waiting for something along the same lines as Oko or Fires of Invention? Still, here's a few new cards of interest, with a focus on what might be playable in Constructed:

Scourge of the Skyclaves' power and toughness are equal to 20 minus the highest life total among players. It costs a mere 1B, but has an additional kicker cost of 4B, which causes each player to lose half their life total (rounded up) if paid. So, very similar to the old Modern staple Death's Shadow! Comes with a lot of risks, for starters you'll have to hit your own life total as well as your opponent's in order to make the most of it - maybe the black Bolt land Agadeem (deem deem), the Undercrypt can help with that. It doesn't have any evasion or protection on its own - enter M21's Demonic Embrace? And while lifelink is likely to be less of a thing in Standard after Ajani's Pridemate and Healer's Hawk rotate, that would be a terrible matchup for the Scourge, especially in Historic.

Leyline Tyrant is a 4/4 flying dragon for 2RR, passing the vanilla test already. Its ability is very unique, providing both ramp and potentially damage - for as long as you control the Tyrant, you don't lose unspent red mana as phases, steps and turns end. Tap all your mountains in your opponent's end steps to build up a huge reservoir, and fire off countless burn spells or big creatures... or just hold onto it, because if the Tyrant dies, you can pay any amount of red mana to deal that much damage to any target. A major threat if not dealt with immediately, and yet, the lack of haste or other immediate payoff makes me wonder if it'll even see play in a colour which aims to have pretty much won by Turn 4.

On a similar note, Moraug, Fury of Akoum is a big, slow 6/6 for 4RR, but with a landfall ability that grants you an EXTRA COMBAT PHASE every time it triggers during one of your main phases (so no surprise combat phases during opponent's turns, unfortunately)! This has been a recurring theme with Warrior cards in recent years, but this is the easiest to trigger that I've seen, and attached to the biggest body. Heck, it also buffs attacking creatures by +1/+0 for each time they've attacked that turn. And if this wasn't enough value, all your creatures untap before each additional attack phase, whether they attacked or not. Fetchlands trigger Moraug twice. Gruul ramp with Azusa or Cultivate would be insane. Splash white for Murasa Rootgrazer to keep bouncing and replaying lands as it untaps. :coma:

Lithoform Engine is a Legendary Artifact that can tap to copy activated & triggered abilities, instants and sorceries, or PERMANENT SPELLS for a cost of 2, 3 or 4 generic mana respectively. It is currently the most expensive card in the set, going by Scryfall preorder figures, though that of course takes into account players of all formats - no doubt tons of EDH decks will want this, and I look forward to messing about with it in Brawl myself, but I'm hoping it'll be too slow for Standard, as is often the case with 4+ drops that do nothing on the turn they enter the battlefield. I have a hard enough time dealing with my opponent's ramp, removal and bomb creatures already, without them being able to duplicate them!

Finally, because I'm about to crash from lack of sleep: Angel of Destiny. Okay, forget what I said earlier about lifelink being dead, it just has a new wincon. At 3WW, the Angel is certainly expensive, but is a 2/6 double striker. Again this card has a unique ability in that it doesn't actually have or grant lifelink, but whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, you both gain that much life (effectively restoring your opponent's life total to what it was before you attacked). However, if you have at least 15 more life than your starting total at the beginning of your end step, each player that Angel of Destiny attacked that turn loses the game, regardless of life total. :zomg: Seems like Scourge of the Skyclaves' arch nemesis, it'll be interesting to see which (if either) comes out on top.
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