Zendikar Rising Limited Overview

Marcio Carvalho

Marcio Carvalho

Introduction

Hello guys, Marcio here back with another Limited article. In the midst of all the talk concerning the health of the constructed formats, I’ve found myself enjoying Limited more than ever, and sometimes even get called out by my teammates that I should be testing standard instead 😆

Thundering SparkmageFearless FledglingField ResearchBlackbloom Rogue

Zendikar Rising brought an excellent and fun Limited format. Party mechanic has cards that are potentiated by it but are not bad individually. The new modal double-faced spell/land cards have brought a possibility of reducing the variance from the flood (something very common in Limited), so don’t be surprised if you end up with a deck of 12 lands and 6 or 7 of these cards. Landfall’s return also helps you take better advantage of land-drops, and to complete, we have Kicker back, another way to have decent spells in the early game and, at the same time, a good way to use excess mana in the late.

Characteristics of Each Color

Every mechanic is present in all colors, but each color has a highlight mechanic and a most representative creature type.

Emeria Captain

White has good Party cards followed by Landfall and the main creature types are Warriors and Clerics, and you’ll also find a Wizard (《Farsight Adept》) on the white cards but no Rogues.

Tazeem Roilmage

Blue has excellent cards with Kicker, its types are Wizards and Rogues, you’ll even find a Cleric (《Cleric of Chill Depths》), but never a Warrior.

Malakir Blood-Priest

In Black you have good options with Party followed by Kicker, The main types are Clerics and Rogues, black cards have a Warrior (《Highborn Vampire》) but not Wizards.

Grotag Bug-Catcher

Red has honorable mentions in all mechanics, its main types are Warrior and Wizards, there are also red Rogues but there are no Clerics.

Canopy Baloth

Green has as main mechanics Landfall and Kicker and is the only color you will have creatures of all types for your Party. A valid observation is that most creatures with Landfall have no type to contribute to your Party, so be careful when combining these mechanics.

The colors I have had the most success in this early season are blue, followed by black and green.

Makindi StampedePyroclastic HellionKazandu Stomper

Modal Dual Face cards are very good. Cards like 《Pyroclastic Hellion》 and 《Kazandu Stomper》 are good at being able to catch them back in the late game generating real card advantage.

Top Commons

Let’s dive into each color highlighting the top 5 commons on each of them:

White

White is usually an aggressive color in Limited, and in Zendikar it is not different. With the main mechanic being Party you will try to abuse the extra benefits of your spells. Landfall also has good cards like the uncommon 《Fearless Fledgling》 which in turn 2 can create a real snowball. That said let’s check my picks for the best commons on white:

5. 《Practiced Tactics》

Practiced Tactics

You can use it in a race situation as removal or aggressively as a combat trick, dealing twice as much damage as the number of creatures in your Party easily gets you 4 damage for 1 mana, versatile and cheap.

4. 《Tazeem Raptor》

Tazeem Raptor

2/2 with Flying for 3 mana is usually decent in most Limited, and this one comes with a synergistic bonus to the whole format, in the mid/late game you can return a modal double-faced card to your hand, turning a simple ability into a true card advantage, besides its most common use which is to keep the land-drops for your Landfalls.

3. 《Prowling Felidar》

Prowling Felidar

A Landfall creature that grows permanently and has vigilance so you can press and defend.

2. 《Shepherd of Heroes》

Shepherd of Heroes

Here we have a good card, with the central white theme being Party, a creature with flying and good stats and that earns a good amount of life is what you seek to reverse a race.

1. 《Nahiri’s Binding》

Nahiri's Binding

This is the best white card on the set and the only good common removal in the color.

Blue

Blue is the best color of the Set in my opinion. Unlike white in which some commons on the list are fillers, I would be happy to have on my deck any of the blue commons I listed. All are versatile and the color can both race the opponent or comeback from disadvantageous games. These are the reasons to have it as the most solid color of the set…

5. 《Tazeem Roilmage》

Tazeem Roilmage

A 2/1 bear in turn 2 or a 6 mana that returns an instant or sorcery to your hand, can hold the rush or generate advantage. Everything about this card is relevant, being a Wizard, having Kicker, being a two-drop that can trade early…

4. 《Expedition Diviner》

Expedition Diviner

It has been said that Wizards are the main type of blue creatures, and here we have a flyer, with good stats who draws a card if it dies while you control another Wizard.

3. 《Into the Roil》

Into the Roil

An excellent reprint can be used by 2 mana in desperate situations but you will always try to Kick it by earning time without losing cards.

2. 《Cunning Geysermage》

Cunning Geysermage

3 mana 3/2 is the norm in Zendikar, but the possibility of putting a creature on the table while bouncing one from the opponent makes it excellent whether attacking or defending. Here once again the creature type/having Kicker is a plus that can matter on more synergetic decks.

1. 《Bubble Snare》

Bubble Snare

A removal for creatures of any size that can cost 1 doesn’t need many dissertations, and even for 4 mana if the creature is untapped it’s still good and has synergy with color.

Black

Black is another excellent support color, with 3 common removals on the top 5. Its creatures are a bit weaker, but they aren’t very restrictive or dependent on synergies, being easy to combine them with any other color.

5. 《Ghastly Gloomhunter》

Ghastly Gloomhunter

This card has positively impressed me for its flexibility. In turn 2 or 6 is a Flyer that can disrupt the opponent’s accounts and the gain of life has synergy with other cards that match well in this color.

4. 《Malakir Blood-Priest》

Malakir Blood-Priest

A cheap Cleric in your Party draining life, has its value both in the early as a bear draining one, and in the late as a finisher draining 3 or 4 of life on a locked board.

3. 《Feed the Swarm》

Feed the Swarm

A cheap removal for any creature, has its price against the big ones but also has the versatility to be able to destroy a relevant enchantment like 《Journey to Oblivion》, 《Bubble Snare》 or 《Nahiri’s Binding》

2. 《Vanquish the Weak》

Vanquish the Weak

The average size of creatures on this set is around 3, so 《Vanquish the Weak》 becomes 《Murder》 against most decks. Not costing you life and being instant speed helps a lot, and it puts it ahead of 《Feed the Swarm》 despite not being able to remove enchantments.

1. 《Deadly Alliance》

Deadly Alliance

Unconditional instant removal at common is always a high pick, and being able to make it cost as low as 2 or 1 mana (If you are as fortunate as my friend Bernardo Santos) makes this card unbelievable good on any deck.

Red

Red is aggressive as always, with good common removals and the versatility of dealing damage to the opponent. Creatures are nothing to brag about, but can do the trick.

5. 《Fissure Wizard》

Fissure Wizard

We’re still on Zendikar where being on the board early is key to win some games. A bear that recycles a card from your hand and has the Wizard type may also be relevant to your Party.

4. 《Synchronized Spellcraft》

Synchronized Spellcraft

A bit expensive for my taste, however the extra damage to the opponent can help maintain the characteristic color pressure.

3. 《Pyroclastic Hellion》

Pyroclastic Hellion

5 mana 4/5 is no big deal, but the highlight of this card is in its ability to pickup double faced lands that you had to play early. Normally this will be on the top of your curve, so having one less mana the next turn is no big deal, making this the perfect finisher for your red decks.

2. 《Expedition Champion》

Expedition Champion

One of the main types of creatures that are relevant in red is Warrior, and a 3 mana 4/3 fits perfectly on the goal of staying aggressive. Do not underestimate it!

1. 《Roil Eruption》

Roil Eruption

3 damage to any target for 2 mana would already be playable, the possibility of 5 damage in the late game only makes this card one of the best commons red has had on recent years.

Green

The main feature of green are creatures with the best stats, and in Zendikar is no different. Big creatures (or creatures that get bigger with counters really fast) and a more pushed Landfall focus are still not enough to make green higher on my ranks though.

5. 《Territorial Scythecat》

Territorial Scythecat

Creatures that grow with Landfall are already playable. 《Territorial Scythecat》 having trample and growing permanently justifies its position in this list.

4. 《Turntimber Ascetic》

Turntimber Ascetic

Great card that helps you stabilize quite well: 4 toughness is key to stop most aggressive creatures, being a Cleric is a plus that should not be taken for granted.

3. 《Joraga Visionary》

Joraga Visionary

4 mana 3/2 and one more types in your Party without spending a card? The extra draw and reasonable body are enough to make this card very solid.

2. 《Canopy Baloth》

Canopy Baloth

Another 4 drop, this time 4/3, but most of the time will be attacking for 6 and your opponents will have a hard time blocking.

1. 《Rabid Bite》

Rabid Bite

A reprint that will possibly be the best common green in any edition that comes. Green removal that does not risk your creature by fighting (and being surprised by a pump spell that will kill your creature).


Kazandu Stomper

Honorable mention to 《Kazandu Stomper》 who can catch up to 2 double-faced cards back, even if I’m not into casting 6 drops on this format.

2 Color Format

This is a 2 color combination format only in my opinion, and I recommend that you do not try to splash. Mana fixing is almost nonexistent outside of green, and relying on 《Stonework Packbeast》 to splash is a very dangerous choice.

Stonework Packbeast

I’ve seen some players talk about using Double Faced cards to splash other Double Faced cards, going 3 or 4 colors (Hello 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, of course I’m not talking about you), but in my experience, you end up overwhelmed by the more focused 2 color decks. This set rewards you for being attentive to which of the archetypes is open during the draft, and going for it as early as possible.

That said, one of the reasons this format is so good in my opinion is that all 10 color combinations are playable and can produce a competitive deck if you know how to put it together. I’ve had the most success with UG Kicker, BR aggro and WR equipment, but you can try any of the other 7 combinations too: UR Wizards, UW Party, UB Rogues (or mill), WB Clerics, WG and RG Landfall, and BG counters.

Conclusion

That’s it for today, I hope you are having as much fun on this format as I am and I’ll be back soon with more Limited or Standard content!

Marcio Carvalho(Twitter)

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Marcio Carvalho

Marcio Carvalho Portugal’s top pro player. And he is a member of Hareruya Latin. He owns the title Draft Master of season 2015-2016. As shown in his results, he is a limited format specialist. His daily effort toward Magic earned this result, with an episode that he has picked 287 copies of Clutch of Currents in the Battle for Zendikar draft. Read more articles by Marcio Carvalho

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