It's that time again, dear readers. It's been almost 2 months since the Zendikar pre-release, and since that time we've had two 5Ks, a Pro Tour LCQ, and a World Championship. It's about time we hop in the not-so-way-back machine and take another look at the Zendikar set review. Some of the premonitions are almost prophetic in nature, while others fell sharply off the mark.
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
What We Said: "There are some mighty fine green creatures, but Green doesn't want to sacrifice its mana development for what will amount to a minor boost. It's got potential, but in most cases, Green decks can't afford the ETB tapped penalty alongside the fact that it can't add counters and make mana in the same turn. Low-end."
Whiff! Starting it off with a stinker, Oran-Rief's bonus is not minor, nor is the tapped penalty really something that makes decks like Jund too unhappy. Oran-Rief is a power card whose potential is shining across multiple formats.
What We Said: "Let's call Lotus Cobra what it really is - a pseudo-bear that accelerates your mana a little. Making it Mythic was a cruel joke, and 30 dollars is entirely too much for our serpentine sidekick. He's more of a 15-20 dollar card. If a combo deck that can abuse the Cobra is found in some form or another, it could justify its current price tag. Unless that happens, the Cobra is supremely over-hyped."
Bingo. Cobra sits at $20 right now, which is about where it belongs. If you bought at 30, shame on you.
What We Said: "At worst, she's a 2/3 for 2GG if she dies to say, a Bolt or Pulse. That alone will keep her viable. The fact that she can pump out non-token creatures that live through fallout is very cool, and her second ability can get out of hand quickly. It's unlikely that an Elf Planeswalker will ever be worth less than 10 dollars, and that's where Nissa belongs. She could go as high as 20 but it would take inclusion in a tier 1 Standard deck for that to happen. Planeswalkers are usually predictable and stable in value so use them as currency to get the sleepers you NEED.
If you traded her any time before the last 2 weeks, you probably got a good deal. If you picked her up when you heard the rumblings of the Elf deck on Magic Online, you probably got a GREAT deal. Could have been more specific, but the dollar amounts are spot-on here.
What We Said: "We discussed this earlier, but it bears repeating. This card is the stone cold NUTS. A 2/2 haste for 2 is always "good enough", and the card is designed in such a way as to ensure that the opponent is likely dead before the drawback matters. Path to Exile put the land INTO PLAY and it's good enough. This card is probably one of the best in the set, if not one of the best in the format, and it should be worth WELL over the 5 dollars for which it's pre-selling."
Goblin Guide is in fact the nuts. If you ordered Guides at first mention, they would have cost you about $3.25 each. That's pretty good. The drawback, however hard to measure, is irrelevant when your deck's only goal is to vomit out 20 damage. Bingo again.
What We Said: "Simply fantastic flavor, and we predict that the art is going to be mouth-wateringly awesome too. Sadly, he's the Ron to Broodmate Dragon's Fred and George Weasley, so he won't see competitive play. Feel free to Live the Dream in casual or EDH though."
Always striving to make one "art" call each review, this one missed its mark. The art does not really seem to fit a "hellkite" or a "charger". Chillax Drake might have been more appropriate.
What We Said: "Oh. Baby. Anyone who doesn't think this card is at least "very good" doesn't understand the concept of incremental advantage. Combining this card with Goblin Guide, Volcanic Fallout, Sign in Blood, Blightning, Lightning Bolt, and the other all-stars of the Jund shard leads to a punishingly aggressive deck with serious staying power. The truth of this card is that if they do not deal with it, they lose to it. It's status as a 1-drop means that your opponent will likely spend an entire turn casting something like Maelstrom Pulse while you continue to beat down. The bottom line is, Bloodchief Ascension has the power to be a format-defining card and they're criminally underpriced just about everywhere. Get on board sooner rather than later."
Ouch. Now, we're only one set into Bloodchief Ascension's tour of Standard so it's far too early to call it a "former prospect", but the call here missed the mark worse than any other. The card is a low-end rare at the moment, but it still has potential. Unfortunately, potential doesn't win games.
What We Said: "The fact that it can't block makes it a totally different card than something like Nether Spirit. It just might not be "good enough" in the current Standard format, where 2/2s with Haste cost a single red mana, but it has the potential to be strong. Keep a close eye out to see if decks start using these, and acquire your playset at the first sign."
Missed that it would see use in older formats. Major oversight. Not a blown call but should have been a much more decisive "get them while they're cheap" card.
What We Said: "It stops Banefire, Fallout, and Enlisted Ultimatum. It can stop storm combo in all formats. It's sometimes even free in Standard. This card is important, and will unfortunately clock in around 15-20 dollars. This should NOT have been Mythic. That was a major mistake. Be that as it may, get a set and sit on them, and mortgage your house for a foil copy. Vintage players might be interested in such an item."
Yuck. Had the rancid state of control been apparent at time of writing, this would not have seen press. Mindbreak Trap is down to $8, and not seeing any play in Standard. Another blown call.
What We Said: "Now here's a constructed-worthy card. If she survives a few turns, she can start to take over the board. The fact that she doesn't take a dirt nap when Fallout shows up is very important, and a 3/3 flier for 4 is never "bad". Should start at 5, and has the chance to head higher if a G/W landfall deck with Knight of the Reliquary comes to be."
Don't cry, baby. We believed in you before Worlds too! Cheap token generators are rarely bad, especially those with evasion. She's making a surge right now on the back of multiple white-based decks using a few copies and has already made a torrid run on MTGO.
Iona, Shield of Emeria
What We Said: "Overrated like crazy. It's a heck of an ability against a mono color deck, but with mana bases being so good, why play mono? It seems like a nice reanimation target until you realize how little reanimation there is these days. It's a legendary angel, so it'll probably hover between 8 and 10 dollars even if no one plays it. Remember Jenara, Asura of War? Same deal."
Nailed the price, but the Standard-centric nature of the site once again rears its ugly head. Perhaps this site needs a dedicated Extended and Legacy Consultant. She's busting skulls in dredge decks everywhere but Standard but the bottom line is, if you expected $8-10, you would have been right regardless.
That's a few more poor calls than normal, but the majority of calls were accurate. Ensuring that bulk rares are properly identified is very important, and calling out overhype is equally so. In that regard, the Zendikar review was a success. Calling a tournament staple "bulk" is much more dangerous than calling a tournament staple a $5 playable. Bloodchief Ascension stands as the worst call of the set, but has almost 2 years to redeem itself as a card (our pride, however, has been sucked dry). Goblin Guide and Lotus Cobra were probably the two best, as Guide was an easy opportunity to do
uble or triple up and Lotus Cobra saved you 10 dollars a piece if you followed the guide. Overall, it could have been a bit better but since the majority of the important calls were accurate, it can be pronounced a successful review.