Zendikar Rising EDH/Commander Review: The Lands are back in town

Zendikar Rising has a theme of “lands matter” much like Theros had “enchantments matter”. So there’s a number of creatures with landfall abilities that will probably make a splash in commander, especially in less competitive games.

Potential Commanders

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Tazri, Beacon of Unity represents a possible new 5 color commander, Wizards seems to have a fondness for white creatures with every other color in their identity, since there are now two Tazri’s and Kenrith all operating in this fashion. Tazri potentially is a powerful mid/late game draw engine for either a party or ally deck, but short of some combos like Intruder Alarm/Aluren these decks will tend to be fairly clunky and slow unless some really powerful party cards come out. In any case given the requirements of a singleton deck it’s unlikely that Tazri, Beacon of Unity will end up as a particularly powerful commander, but I think this card will see play, and possibly show up in the 99 or at the helm of some “party” tribal type decks, or potentially as the leader of class-based tribal decks, there are a number of strong Warriors, Wizards, Clerics, and Rogues.

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Omnath is back with one more color, card draw as an ETB, and an ability that does something each time it triggers each turn, to me the deck that you build off this is pretty obvious: landfall effects, creatures that have etbs, and bounces.  Since Omnath’s ability is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd type ability, if you bounce him it resets.

Orah, Skyclave Hierophant
Potentially could be a good cleric commander, assuming there are enough new good clerics to combo with the old ones to do interesting things.  There are some really strong clerics, this would probably function as a kind of “good” tribal deck.  However both black and white have a number of overlapping themes of life gain and life loss, life gain on creatures entering, and life loss caused to opponents by creatures dying, and Orah could serve as an engine to cycle cards through the yard repeatedly.

Anowon, the Ruin Thief
The sneak attack deck is pretty lacking in a number of ways, but WoTC commander pre-cons seem determined to be bad, and to push players to play durdle battlecruiser decks.  There are many strong rogues, and many with flash and equivalent abilities, but the deck lacks the ramp necessary to get some rogues out and hitting.  The interactive archetype of rogues is definitely worth exploring, and this deck probably serves as an okay entry point, but it’s a slow mostly non-interactive deck.

Anowon himself could probably helm a fairly decent deck, his ability triggers for each rogue and for each damage dealth, and many rogues have evasion abilities or abilities that trigger on dealing combat damage.  At 4 CMC though he’s a bit slow compared to stronger commanders.  Whispersteel dagger itself isn’t a terrible card, but at 3 CMC and 3 equip it’s fairly slow.  Enigma Thief is just overcosted.

Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor
This card is just kind of insulting, in my opinion.  In almost every way it’s just a worse version of Omnath, Locus of the roilTrove Warden is the real prize here, with a powerful exile and return from landfall ability that will combo particularly well with bounce spells and crack lands.  Geode Rager is just overcost.

Verazol, the Split Current
The wording of Verazol’s +1/+1’s counters screams commander tax, but there simply aren’t enough good kicker cards in simic colors.  Lacking the obvious partner ability that should be there, I simply think Verazol won’t go the distance.

Akiri, Fearless Voyager
It seems like Wizard is continually pushing the idea of Boros commander decks regardless of the Rules Committees bizarre take that they simply shouldn’t be good.  Would combo really well with Feather, the Redeemed, and Sunforger


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Landfall Cards

Ancient Greenwarden
Already dubbed Landmonicon, this card is both a land panharmonicon and a crucible of worlds in one. Sadly it’s a 7 CMC creature, but even so I think there’s a home for it in landfall decks.

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
This card is potentially nuts, instantly turning all your creatures into lands.  It’s also highly dangerous, something that destroys all lands or all forests will really ruin your day.  But creatures of the / variety, tracing their lineage all the way back to Dakkon Blackblade can instantly get very large.

Moraug, Fury of Akoum
At 6 cmc this is an expensive card, but having at least one extra combat phase each turn is potentially huge, especially with a free untap of all creatures (including those that didn’t attack). Unfortunately, that new combat phases do not generate additional main phases, so you cannot use these and creatures that tap to put lands into play to make infinite combats.

Felidar Retreat
Generating tokens off landfall is powerful. Full stop.

Scute Swarm
This can potentially go totally berserk in a landfall deck. To the tune of your 8th land potentially generating 8 tokens. Comboed with cards like impact tremors or purphors this is potentially a win con in decks that are slamming down land.

Spitfire Lagac
In a landfall environment this can do a lot of damage over time.

Murasa Rootgrazer
Crazy in a landfall focused set

Non-Landfall Cards

Drama, the Last BloodChief
This is a medium-range beater that reanimates with each attack, but since your opponent gets to choose what you reanimate it’s probably difficult to get the full effect out of Drana. However since Drana can only reanimate non-legendaries, you can potentially stack your deck with legendary creatures to limit your opponents’ selection of what to reanimate.

Glasspool Mimic
Another low CMC clone. Obviously playable and good in decks that center around creature-based triggers.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Jace, Mirror Mage
It’s a Jace card. Of course, it will see play. Splashing down something that lets you scry multiple times a turn with crack lands being printed. Sacrificial card draw when you need a combo piece is also a possibility, especially as a way of throwing away the token. This card will also generate a second copy and token copy when paired with Verazol, the Split Current.

Sea Gate Stormcaller is a dangerous copier because it’s an on cast trigger, meaning you can drop Sea Gate Stormcaller to force through a spell, because if your opponents want to counter it they’ll have to counter both copies. I’d expect this to see play especially to get off spells like silence or veil of autumn. It’s also an ETB trigger so you could potentially blink it to double the effects, and many of the stronger tutors cost 2 CMC or less.

Leyline Tyrant combos particularly well with many of the Nehebs, and has an ability that normally only belongs to green. A 4/4 flyer for 4 isn’t bad if your meta plays planeswalkers.

Nimble Trapfinder
Could easily see play in a Tazri Party deck.

Archon of Emeria
This is yet another rule of law effect, coming in at 3 CMC, and also taps opponents your opponents non basics as they enter, further solidifying whites status as the Stax color.

Inscription of Ruin
A toolboxy reanimator spell that late game can generate good value.

Legion Angel
Cast this card and immediately start an argument with people who don’t really understand the commander rules.

Zareth San, the Trickster
This is apparently a rogue with the ninjitsu ability, except its not ninjitsu and it doesn’t have the game-breaking aspects of ninjitsu, but while it feels like a commander, Zareth doesn’t have the ability to use his Roguejitsu from the commander zone.  Nonetheless, the idea of miling your opponents and turning their yards into a resource is an appealing one.

Confounding Conundrum
Potentially slows down land decks and can combo with mana breach effects as well as shutting down crack lands. Since it’s essentially a cantrip, has some playability in enchantress type decks or decks that want to bounce lots of lands.

Valakut Exploration
Card advantage that dumps to your GY for damage to all opponents. Very playable.

Soul Shatter
Strong card. Will often kill 2-3 commanders at instant speed, forcing a sacrifice, given that many decks struggle to get out their commander and then combo off around them, this represents a strong control/value card.

Rolling Vortex
Shuts down certain storm type decks, which is a lot of competitive decks.

Maddening Cacophony
Combos with Syr Konrad guy to potentially end the game

Valakut Awakening
Strong card combined with a land when needed, lets you select cards in hand and create draws, which sometimes you want arbitrarily for triggers

Thieving Skydiver
Virtually guaranteed to let you steal a sol ring or mana crypt or mox given their prevalence in EDH

Skyclave Apparition
Incredible “exile target permanent” and eventually get an X/X, incredible for taking out combo pieces. Very Toolboxy. Also you can just use it to blow up 0 cost artifacts.

Fireblade Charger
Potentially playable in a sacrifice Rakdos or Mardu deck, also a decent goblin all around

Demon’s Disciple
“When this enters play, each player sacrifices a creature” is always potentially playable. 3/1 is a weird stat block

Lithoform Blight
This card makes no sense, and I maintain it should have another ability, if it enchants an opponents land then that land becomes a swamp. As it is it’s a weird card that manafixes for you and can power things that require non-colored mana.

Definitely a playable small creature board clear, but falls under the 3 damage bar which tends to clear out a lot of commanders. But if you want to protect your own commander can be used with 3 toughness commanders.

Rockslide Sorcerer
There’s a deck around this type of effect, but it’s not very good.  Probably the most likely combo you can pull off with this is via nukes and Feather, the redeemed.

Lullmage’s Domination
This is potentially quite a strong way to steal commanders, many of which are low CMC.

Bloodchiefs thirst
Potentially playable creature control given the low cmc of so many strong utility creatures in EDH

Maurauding Blight-Priest
This is a creature version of Sanguine Bond, and is half of a game-winning combo.

Feed the Swarm
This card breaks the color pie, but in EDH all kinds of weird color pie breaking cards exist, and there’s generally better enchantment control, though this is very toolboxy, which is valuable.

Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate
This sac ability can potentially protect a combo, also her trigger does not require anything to attack and it can shut down something on board that is preventing you from going off.

Phylath, World Sculptor
High CMC landfall trigger that can create fairly big creatures fairly fast once it starts rolling.

Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Yet another strong stax card, with white and green, that fetches 2 lands in addition to blocking crack lands from being used as well as shutting down some common combo pieces (like Razaketh and Altars, Bolas Citadel) At 4 CMC a bit pricy but guarantees land drops and slows down the board usefully.

Forsaken Monument
Will be hugely beneficial for Eldrazi tribal type decks or Artifact creature decks

Lithform Engine
Expect to see this card everywhere, it’s powerful and toolboxy and not overly costed.

Spare Supplies
These essentially double cantrip type artifacts are quite nice, and this one has it’s own sacrifice ability built-in (which is potentially worse but even so.)

Crawling Barrens
If there is inexplicably room in your deck for colorless mana this is a useful mana dump for grindy games. Note that counters, such as +1/+1 counters stick around even if the card isn’t a creature.

Charix, the Raging Isle
There has to be something you can do with a creature with 17 toughness at 4 cmc. The only obvious thing is to play it in defender decks with Arcades the Strategist at the helm. Killing someone with a giant crab with doublestrike is pretty legendary.  Sadly Arcades himself won’t get you there, but there are cards that cause your creatures to deal damage equal to their toughness, such as Assault Formation and High Alert.


Closing Thoughts

All in all, there are several good cards for Commander in the set, though in general, I think they’re overcosted compared to existing analogs. Sadly, as an eternal format Commander is virtually trapped in the realm of some of the stronger cards that were printed once upon a time.

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