Zendikar Rising brings new creatures and tools to the Commander (EDH) format. Between 20 mythic rares and double-faced lands, there is a lot to like about the latest Standard set. One of the hottest new cards, if not "the" EDH card of the set, is Lithoform Engine.
This card is the Swiss Army knife that every EDH player always wanted. A colorless artifact that copies practically anything is sure to make a splash on the EDH tables. While Lithoform Engine is an easy inclusion in multiple decks, other cards are a bit narrower in use.
Not every card can be as versatile as Lithoform Engine, but there are other cards in Zendikar Rising that could become EDH all-stars. Specifically, three of the mythic rares in Zendikar Rising caught my eye with the potential to shine in EDH. Let's explore the playability and synergies of Sea Gate Restoration, Moraug, Fury of Akoum, and Leyline Tyrant.
Sea Gate Restoration // Sea Gate, Reborn
In Zendikar Rising, each color has a new double-faced mythic rare. Sea Gate Restoration is one of the seven-mana spells in this cycle. At first glance, this card is a seven-mana sorcery that draws cards and offers no maximum hand size for the rest of the game.
You may find yourself thinking this card will get played as a land more often than not. If that is the case, why bother playing a double-faced card with an expensive front side? I challenge you to think outside the box on how to maximize the potential Sea Gate Restoration.
I want to play Sea Gate Restoration in a Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow EDH deck. Triggering Yuriko's ability and revealing Sea Gate Restoration sounds incredible. I like Sea Gate Restoration over some of the blue and black split cards found in Yuriko decklists. Also, it may be more practical to include Sea Gate Restoration over other high casting cost cards like In Garruk's Wake and Coastal Breach.
Another reason to include Sea Gate Restoration in a deck is to play it at a reduced casting cost. The first commander that may come to mind is Mizzix of the Izmagnus. Experience counters can reduce Sea Gate Restoration to as low as three blue mana. Mizzix takes advantage of the lasting effect of no maximum hand size too.
Saheeli, the Gifted is another Izzet commander that synergizes with Sea Gate Restoration. Planeswalker commanders are fun, more so when they can reduce the casting cost of powerful spells. Mono-blue commanders like Kefnet the Mindful and God-Eternal Kefnet could take advantage of Sea Gate Restoration.
But instead of lowering the casting cost of Sea Gate Restoration, why not just cast it for free?
Now we are talking about maximizing real value. Narset, Enlightened Master, is a top candidate for unleashing the power of Sea Gate Restoration. Revealing Sea Gate Restoration off an attack by Narset, Enlightened Master seems like an excellent way to get ahead on card advantage. Saving seven mana to draw cards and enable a permanent effect is impressive.
Speaking of card advantage, Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign also can cast Sea Gate Restoration for free. Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign wants to play Sea Gate Restoration for the same reasons as Narset, Enlightened Master. If you're going to make things interesting, try using Golos, Tireless Pilgrim ability to cast Sea Gate Restoration. Triple blue and seven colorless mana is no sweat for Golos.
As a side note, I would include also Emeria's Call in Narset, Enlightened Master, Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign, and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim decks. The front side of Emeria's Call and the backside land option is too strong to ignore.
Another interesting mythic rare in Zendikar Rising is Moraug, Fury of Akoum. I am a sucker for red cards with powerful effects in EDH. Sequencing combat steps with Moraug, Fury of Akoum may be confusing the first time or two.
The release notes for Zendikar Rising provide helpful tips for amplifying Moraug, Fury of Akoum landfall ability. Players should play lands ideally during their second main phase to gain extra combat phases. You can stack multiple combat phases by repeatedly triggering Moraug's landfall ability. Do not forget that creatures get +1 power for each time they attack during the turn. Triggering multiple combat phases can lead to exciting results when paired with the right cards and commanders.
A prominent home for Moraug, Fury of Akoum is in an aggressive landfall deck. Omnath, Locus of Rage could use Moraug, Fury of Akoum to initiate multiple combat steps with large Elemental creature tokens. Both cards have powerful landfall abilities to trigger in tandem.
Lord Windgrace is also a fine commander choice as he can trigger up to four combat steps (with fetch lands) using his -3 planeswalker ability. Other red and green commanders may have their eye on Moraug, Fury of Akoum.
Everyone's favorite buy-a-box promo, Zilortha, Strength Incarnate, is an excellent complement to Moraug, Fury of Akoum. The additional +1 power per attack strengthens the static ability on Zilortha, Strength Incarnate. Aggressive Gruul decks typically run cards that grant creatures haste like Rhythm of the Wild and Fires of Yavimaya. Haste offers an added benefit of attacking with Moraug the turn it enters the battlefield, along with his Gruul friends.
Besides being BFF with Godzilla himself, Moraug, Fury of Akoum, enjoys spending time on the battlefield with Radha. All three versions of Radha want to attack multiple times per turn. Grand Warlord Radha can produce a considerable amount of mana, depending on the number of creatures attacking. The upside of Grand Warlord Radha's ability is that the mana may be spent in the second main phase to cast spells and trigger landfall.
The static ability of Radha, Heart of Keld synergizes with hitting Moraug, Fury of Akoum's landfall triggers. Together, the two can create dynamic combat phases. Radha, Heart of Keld activated ability may lead to devastating results with multiple combats per turn. She can effectively kill an opponent with commander damage. However, this strategy does require considerable mana and setup to execute.
Lastly, Radha, Heir to Keld enjoys attacking and producing mana. When attacking, Radha, Heir to Keld, adds two red mana per combat that disappears when the combat phase ends. While she is probably the weakest of the three Radha in terms of power level, she is a potential inclusion in the 99 of a Gruul EDH deck. Her floor as a two-mana Elf Warrior that taps for green mana is useful.
When it comes to other red commanders, look no further than Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. Moraug, Fury of Akoum, is a Warrior creature type that complements Najeela's activated ability. Doubling the number of Warriors attacking each combat, along with growing their power, is quite scary. It is even more frightening if those warriors have trample, haste, and lifelink. While six mana is on the high end for an aggressive deck, Moraug, Fury of Akoum may be worth it.
Another commander worth mentioning is Aurelia, the Warleader. You can easily have three or four (using fetch lands) combat phases a turn. This amount of combat phases and increasing power from Moraug, Fury of Akoum, could kill multiple opponents in one turn.
Outside of commanders, Moraug, Fury of Akoum synergies with a few artifacts. Storm Cauldron allows each player to play an additional land during their turn. However, it does have a drawback of returning any land tapped for mana to their owner's hand. Since Moraug, Fury of Akoum's ability does not require tapping lands, Storm Cauldron may be a useful addition to a deck.
An artifact that should get played with Moraug, Fury of Akoum, is Crucible of Worlds. This colorless card is a staple in landfall decks. Playing fetch lands and Crucible of Worlds will make Moraug, Fury of Akoum, even more powerful. A nice benefit of Storm Cauldron and Crucible of Worlds is that colorless artifacts can go in any color EDH deck, including one featuring Moraug, Fury of Akoum as the commander.
One additional interaction with Moraug, Fury of Akoum worth mentioning is with Scapeshift. This four-mana green spell can trigger a mind-boggling amount of combat phases. Since each land sacrificed by Scapeshift provides one landfall trigger, it is not hard to earn many additional combat phases. A resolved Scapeshift may end the game with Moraug, Fury of Akoum on the battlefield. To add even more potential damage, consider running Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in a deck with Scapeshift and Moraug, Fury of Akoum.
The third mythic rare of interest from Zendikar Rising is Leyline Tyrant. Essentially, Leyline Tyrant is a red version of Omnath, Locus of Mana. One differentiating factor is the triggered ability when Leyline Tyrant dies. The opportunity to turn unspent mana into direct damage is appealing. Likely the biggest drawback of Leyline Tyrant is its lack of legendary typing. Leyline Tyrant cannot enter from the command zone or get tutored by cards such as Sisay, Weatherlight Captain and Time of Need. As a combo piece, Leyline Tyrant is not the most accessible card to find in the 99. However, Sarkhan's Triumph is one solution for finding Leyline Tyrant.
Speaking of Dragons, Leyline Tyrant fits well in multiple Dragon-themed EDH decks, including Lathliss, Dragon Queen and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. Leyline Tyrant may replace a slot taken by one of the five or more casting cost Dragons played in EDH. The total mana accumulated off Leyline Tyrant can help ramp out higher casting cost spells. Beyond casting Dragons, there is another commander that enjoys using extra mana to significant effect.
The most synergistic commander with Leyline Tyrant is likely Neheb, the Eternal. Neheb generates one red mana at the beginning of your postcombat main phase for each 1 life opponents have lost during the turn. Instead of using or losing the mana by the end of turn, it can build up over time thanks to Leyline Tyrant. Also, Leyline Tyrant serves as a flying attacker to help generate mana. You could spend the accumulated mana on an opponent's turn to cast instants or activate abilities as well.
Not to be outclassed, Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion, is a worthy commander for Leyline Tyrant. Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion wants to churn through cards and create tons of mana to cast them. The nice part about Dreadhorde Champion's ability is that it only takes one combat damage to get the ball rolling. Leyline Tyrant continues the fun by floating mana until the opportune time. You can save up mana until drawing the correct card that may shift the game in your favor.
A clear synergy with Leyline Tyrant is the enchantment Braid of Fire. The drawback of Braid of Fire is that mana gets generated only during your upkeep step. After the upkeep step ends, mana from Braid of Fire goes away. However, Leyline Tyrant allows mana from Braid of Fire to flow through multiple steps and phases.
While the interaction between Braid of Fire and Leyline Tyrant is powerful, it requires both cards played together. Players should think about how to increase each card's value when they are on the battlefield separately. Running the combo makes the most sense with a red commander that has a mana sink ability. Prime candidates to consider are Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, and Ashling the Pilgrim. These commanders' activated abilities allow you cash in extra mana at any point in time. No matter how you use Leyline Tyrant, it will be a surefire hit with red commanders.
The interactions and synergies described above are not all-encompassing. For example, you may find other commanders that pair well with the combo of Leyline Tyrant and Braid of Fire. Once players get their hands on Sea Gate Restoration, Leyline Tyrant, and Moraug, Fury of Akoum, I believe new interactions will emerge. I encourage you to try these cards with your favorite commanders and discover other potential synergies.