Zendikar Rising is here to party. The upcoming Magic: The Gathering set has a decidedly strong D&D vibe, establishing warriors, wizards, clerics and classic D&D classes as creature types that can really bring pain to the battlefield. But how exactly are you supposed to make that work in a deck?
To unpack that a little more, we’ve got five exclusive cards from the Zendikar Rising set. The cards will all play into Zendikar‘s new party mechanic, where players get additional buffs or triggers that pop depending on how many likeminded creatures you control are on the board.
One example of this might be with the Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients planeswalker. As shown off in the video below, Nahiri can pull out any Warrior or Equipment card from the top 6 cards of your library. Another example is the incredibly annoying Acquisitions Expert, a 1/2 card that lets you reveal your opponents hand equal to the number of creatures in your party. And then you get to discard one of those cards.
So if you have one Wizard, Cleric, Warrior and Rogue in play, then your opponent has to reveal four cards, and you get to dump whatever you like. Not bad for a 1B uncommon.
So that’s an idea of how the party mechanic works in practice. But what are the new cards to reveal? They are, as follows: Relic Robber, Angelheart Protector, Fissure Wizard, and Highborn Vampire.
Starting with Highborn Vampire, Mines says the Vampire Warrior is another one in the long line of MTG‘s 4 mana 3/3 creatures. ” Often they’ll have some form of evasion, many 4 mana creatures lately have had either menace or trample at this cost,” Mines said.
“Highborn Vampire has gone in the other direction and added an additional power. While this will still trade with the same creatures your normal 3/3’s would be blocked by if you can keep the board clear this will give you some upside. While not exciting this will be a fine 23rd card in your black draft decks.”
In other words, you wouldn’t be unhappy to see Highborn Vampire in a booster draft or some other limited form — it’s not flashy, and certainly not the first card you’d play, but it’s definitely a solid body that can beef out a deck.
Next cab off the rank, Fissure Wizard, is another card that Mines figures will be a draft staple. It’s a 1R 2/1 creature that lets its owner effectively cycle a card.
“Most red draft decks will be playing low land counts so this allows to either be able to filter way additional lands in the early game (or when you draw this on turn 5) or to search for your 3rd land in the early game,” Mines said. “This is another creature that while not a standout, will probably make most aggressive red draft decks.”
Angelheart Protector is much more threatening, being a 2W 3/2 Human Cleric that grants indestructible to any creature until the end of turn. The indestructibility is what makes it really stand out, and Mines said it can make for an exceptionally powerful 3rd turn in limited formats.
“Adding an ability to one puts the value of [3 mana 3/2 creatures] quite drastically,” the former Team Australian captain explained. “This is something that I’ll probably gladly play in my aggressive white draft decks. Playing this precombat and being able to attack with your two drop with impunity while still being able to commit to the board is a powerful 3rd turn.”
But Relic Robber is the most interesting card out of the lot, taking red decks in a totally new direction. “Red decks don’t normally have access to [this power] at this low of a mana cost,” Mines said, noting that repeatable damage is often something that only comes into play when Awakened Inferno or Chandra comes into play.
Here’s the full card text:
Haste: Whenever Relic Robber deals combat damage to a player, that player creates a 0/1 colorless Goblin Construct artifact creature token with “This creature can’t block” and “At the beginning of your upkeep, this creature deals 1 damage to you.”
“This is an aggressive threat that puts your opponent on the backfoot as soon as it connects. The token will stay around until they either have to waste a removal spell on it or it kills them,” he said, noting that the permanence of the artifact creatures (and the 1 damage they do each turn) stacks.
“I’d imagine several games will play out with playing this on turn 3 and just killing your opponents creatures each turn with your under costed burn spells. They will eventually deal with this and die to the tokens you’ve given them. A very powerful effect!”
The Zendikar Rising set launches physically and digitally on September 25. It’s also not the only time Magic will dabble with D&D, with Wizards announcing today a Forgotten Realms-themed set will launch in the third quarter of 2021.