First Look: Battle for Zendikar

Recently we had the full spoiler show up for the Zendikar vs. the Eldrazi duel deck. This gives us our first look at six of the cards coming out next month in Battle for Zendikar.

The full list for the duel deck this early wasn’t the only surprise we got. The following was directly from Mark Rosewater’s blogatog:

“homestuck413 asked: First of all love your work. Secondly: Any chance for new full art lands in battle for zendikar or the other 5 fetches?

I’ve been getting these two questions about Battle for Zendikar quite a bit, so I think it’s time I finally answered them.

First, yes, Battle for Zendikar will be the return of full-art lands. I’ve seen them and you’re all in for a real treat.

Second, Battle for Zendikar does have a cool rare cycle of dual lands, but they’re brand new designs and not the Zendikar fetch lands.”

So our good news is that we get new full art lands. The bad news here is that the Zendikar fetch lands will not be reprinted until some later time. Then we got the full spoiler for the duel deck and got to see the 6 BFZ cards that are coming out in it. These cards also showcase some of the mechanics of the set: devoid, ingest, awaken, the return of landfall, and the return of allies.


I really like the look of these cards. Sheer Drop is a great removal spell for limited, that also gives you a creature later in the game (though I certainly expect it to not see play in constructed). Retreat gives you consistent life gain at a much cheaper cost than Primeval Bounty, and the fact that growing creatures can break stalemates is great. Last we have Veteran Warleader. Creatures with this characteristic defining ability (power and toughness equal to the number of creatures you control) are generally not super strong, but that’s usually because even with a huge board you are either already just winning so hard it doesn’t matter or because they get chump blocked for days. Veteran Warleader gets around that in the fact you can give it trample very easily, as well as first strike to make it very difficult to trade.


Here we see that colorless matters, so you can possibly expect Ghostfire Blade to see some play after this set comes out. With ingest being a mechanic it is guaranteed that there will be more creatures that interact with cards that have been exiled. Dominator Drone seems fine as a 3/2 for that also shocks your opponent, though it’s really bad if you don’t get the additional effect. Forerunner of Slaughter is a much better card overall, as a 3/2 for is aggressively costed enough, and the ability to add to that to give it haste is great. This is the second most likely of these six I think to see constructed play. The most likely is obviously Oblivion Sower. A gigantic body for is good, and the fact it will often give you lands is icing on the cake. Opponents must play around this card when making decisions about which cards in their graveyard to delve away, and forcing your opponent to make these choices gives them more opportunity to make a mistake.

Overall I really like the mechanics we’ve seen so far out of the new set. The value of ingest is yet to be fully realized and we’ll have to wait and see the rest of the cards before we can really evaluate that. Awaken is a sweet mechanic flavor wise that has the potential to be super powerful if the developers decide to push it enough. My big piece of speculation here is that, with the return of landfall, we will see the Zendikar fetchlands reprinted before landfall leaves standard (so either the small set after BFZ, the block following, or the block following that).

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.