Magic: the Battle for Zendikar continues…

Magic: the Battle for Zendikar continues...

Steele Giles, Staff Writer

The battle for the existence of a world kicked off this weekend with Magic: The Gathering’s prerelease event for Battle for Zendikar allowing players access to the set a week early.

Each set of Magic cards tells a story, and this set is no different, returning players to the world of Zendikar for the first time in six years. When we last saw the world it was in the process of being destroyed by massive, inscrutable creatures from beyond reality known as the Eldrazi following the destruction of their prison.

As one would expect, the people of Zendikar were disorganized, panicking, and generally hinder­ing each other’s efforts to fight the invasion. Now that we’ve returned to the world, we see that they have begun to pull together.

This is reflected in a card me­chanic (a rule special to the set that makes the cards behave uniquely un­der certain circumstances) specific to Zendikar: Rally. Cards with Rally effects dispense special bonuses whenever a creature with the ally type en­ters the field. Per­sonal ex­perience with the mechanic at the pre­release shows that while this sounds un­derwhelming, in a deck built to use it, Rally can be terrifying.

Another Zendikar-specific me­chanic players haven’t seen in a long time is Landfall, which works similarly to Rally in that it activates whenever a player plays a land card. Unlike Rally, it is rare for a player to activate a Landfall effect more than once a turn due to rules dictating that a player may only play one land a turn under normal circumstances. That said, Landfall effects tend to be a bit more potent than Rally ones to make up for it.

Two new mechanics/keywords were introduced in this set, both applying to the Eldrazi cards exclu­sively: Ingest, which forces a player to remove the top card of their deck from the game if the creature with it hits them for combat damage, and Devoid, which causes the creature with it to be treated as colorless in spite of requiring specific colors of mana to cast.

Reception of the set on the in­ternet was mixed, to say the least. While the Magic community is not exactly famed for being an easily pleased bunch, it seemed to divide into about three camps: those who bought the hype/were genuinely enthusiastic to return to Zendikar, those who thought that the people in charge of Magic had de­signed the lowest-power set yet (specifically calling out the lack of support for a very specific deck archetype), and the people who didn’t really care but were glad that the Eldrazi’s old keyword, Annihilator, hadn’t made a comeback. Annihilator made old Eldrazi decks oppressive to play against on the best of days, since it forces a player to destroy things they control every time something with Annihilator attacked them.

One thing many may find humor­ous is that the people of Zendikar may have discovered the Eldrazi’s greatest weakness: rope. As one ex­amines the art of many of the cards in the set, they will notice that if it doesn’t prominently feature an El­drazi, it will have copious amounts of rope being used in one manner or another; be it to rappel down a cliff, to tie down one of the monsters to facilitate easier stabbing, or to pull an ally to safety. Rope may be the downfall of the world-devouring monsters from between worlds.

If one is looking to get started in Magic: The Gathering, now would hardly be the worst time to do it. You’d be joining in an intense set with some of the most enthusiastic players in the world. I’d say that Battle for Zendikar is definitely worth the time and money.