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Zendikar Rising Set Review – Green
It’s So Much Fun Being Green
Welcome back to the EDHREC set review for Zendikar Rising, where we’re moving into the green section of the color pie. Since we last saw Zendikar, the plane is slowly healing after the Eldrazi devastation. Powerful forces are waking and being influenced by Nahiri and Nissa as they fight over their visions for the people and lands of their home plane. There’s a lot here for Commander players, especially land-based decks, so let’s gather our party and see what treasures there are to be found.
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Speaking of land-based decks, is a powerful new option for existing Landfall decks that’ll carve out plenty of space for itself as a commander, as well. can make use of a lot of the cards that form the core of or decks. , , and are powerful anthems for land creatures. It also fits nicely into , where you can now sacrifice creatures to generate Elementals. Ashaya will also be a powerful new addition for multicolor decks, letting your creatures trigger powerful Landfall engines like , , and . Decks built around , such as or , will also have a much easier time getting seven lands with different names, especially if you’re working on a budget.
Ashaya also combos with several cards on her own, most notably . With in play, can return itself to your hand to untap another creature, which can then tap to recast the Ranger. This will generate infinite creature casts and Landfall triggers, and it can also generate infinite mana if your other creature taps for two or more mana (I’m looking at you, ).
Decks like and that include will make great use of as well. might also be worth considering in an deck, since you can easily untap all your creatures as lands while stymieing combat for your opponents.
Even commanders like that don’t necessarily play Lands Matter strategies can make use of the extra mana that comes from small utility creatures in the same way that makes all your Wizards much better by adding an extra ability. and also take advantage of the increased number of lands you will control. Ashaya also makes board wipes like one-sided while shutting off opposing s, so also seems like a natural home for this new Elemental.
Playing lands out of your graveyard is a powerful effect. Getting to reuseto ensure that you have the right color of mana every turn, or taking advantage of or multiple times just feels good. takes this already powerful ability and makes it twice as effective by doubling any Landfall triggers you happen to be getting along the way. That’s two 5/5 tokens with , two mana generated with , and two cards drawn with . Perhaps the commander best situated to take advantage of is . These two cards work together to triple all of your Landfall abilities. If only Yarok had access to red so you could deal nine damage per with .
Valakut isn’t the only red card that benefits from double Landfall either.only needs two extra combats to potentially knock a player out, and gets you there with one land. They both even have the same total power and toughness, so can grab you one when you cast the other. Play this with , for easy access to trample, or , to take advantage of other big creatures and haste.
It’s also worth noting thatonly doubles the triggers of permanents that you control. This means that your friend’s deck won’t get twice as powerful if you play the Greenwarden. The same applies for the new , so you won’t have to bounce two lands with it in play. If you control the and , however, your opponents will have to bounce two lands for every extra land they put into play. Simic decks don’t need the help keeping up, but it is technically a thing you can do.
I’m still not sure what the best way to evaluate the new Modal Double-Faced Cards is. On its own merits,isn’t great, but it’s not bad, either. It has a much lower ceiling than spells like or even , which show up in roughly 13,000 and 3,500 decks, respectively, but it also has a higher floor. In a or deck, this will reliably find a big creature to put into play for less mana than would require to hit the same creature. The new land-spells actually seem perfect for , since you can still play with Nikya in play. And if Nikya gets destroyed, is a great way to get you back in the game.
If you’ve ever sat down opposite a, you’ll know exactly how quickly self-replicating creatures can get out of hand. s will grow even faster, as they rely on lands entering play rather than dealing combat damage. If you have five lands in play, your land for turn will make a copy of . Your seventh land then creates two more, and your eighth leaves you with a total of eight on the field. This can happen in one turn with in play, and things get really out of hand with . can make great use of , or a and deck focused around blinking .
brings us up to 32 Ooze type creatures in Magic, and one step closer to an actual Ooze tribal deck. Outside of Ooze tribal, is great for aggressive decks focused around +1/+1 counters, like and . This effect gets more powerful the more creatures you control with counters, so it could also find a home with or .
Inscription of Abundance
isn’t as flexible as other popular modal spells like or , but it still has some niche applications that could make it worth considering. Having Kicker makes it a consideration for , especially since it can put counters on Hallar without being kicked for a bigger payoff later on. If you do choose to kick , it’s almost always worth it to use all three effects. You’ll put the counters on your creature first, so you’ll get to gain two extra life and make your creature punch up when it fights. If you’re already playing for creature removal, consider adding this in as well. Here’s lookin’ at you, .
There isn’t a ton of direct support for the new Party mechanic in green, but I thinkcould find a place in the right Party-themed Commander deck. It doesn’t do much on the field, but can come down early and won’t make you a threat at the table. Having the option to kick the spell later on to find another Cleric, Warrior, Rogue, Wizard, or Elf in the top six cards of your library isn’t terrible, either.
Uncommons and Commons
Bala Ged Recovery & Khalni Ambush
Spells that are also lands continue to confuse me, at least in the context of Commander. With access to all of the best ramp and fixing tools in Magic, is it worth playinginstead of ? Having extra options is never a bad thing, and having the option to play a land is always a good thing. Without having played with any of these cards yet, I wouldn’t recommend swapping out a land for either of these spells, but if you want either effect, it’s probably worth it to slot or in alongside or , respectively. Also keep in mind that you can play the land side of these spells from your graveyard with . The best place to try out these cards is likely in land-focused decks or in where you can expect to make full use of either side any time you draw them.
Token decks that play with +1/+1 counters are getting a lot of new toys in Zendikar Rising, andstands among the best of them. The Hornbeetle doesn’t only care about token decks, since it will create just as many Insect tokens if you go tall with +1/+1 counters, too. This makes it perfect for decks, where it creates a huge field of fodder when you cast your commander to serve as blockers, or future food for Thromok’s Devour ability. And, of course, any deck running will probably want to play as well. I’m thinking , , or even to complement the large Hydras that that deck can produce.
is a pretty darn good spell. is almost a functional reprint of that is, in most cases, going to feel worse. This is mostly because the lands from enter the battlefield tapped, although casting it as an instant can make that a non-factor. In return, sacrificing a land isn’t an additional cost for Rebirth. This makes copying it worse, since you’ll end up having to sacrifice two lands instead of just one. It does mean you won’t have to sacrifice a land if it gets countered, like you would with , and you can technically cast it with no lands in play, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to engineer that situation.
will shine exactly where shines: triggering extra Landfall effects for the likes of , , , and , and sacrificing things for , , , and .
We just gotin Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, so Wizards really seems to like four-mana spells that ramp you two lands. and both take a step up from by having extra utility late in the game. , in particular, rewards you for ramping fast by putting two +1/+1 counters on each creature you control if you Kick it. This is a pretty significant buff that, while not as effective as , could push you up to lethal damage if you have enough creatures. is particularly well-situated to take advantage of this spell early or late game. Oh, and and the new are quite excited, too.
At the Root of the Matter
Thanks for joining me on this adventure through the green dungeon of Zendikar Rising. Which cards are you most excited about in this set? Did I miss any fun cards, or am I wrong in my analysis of any of these cards? Let me know in the comments below!