Zendikar Rising has finally finished previewing.
I've spent most of spoiler season getting ready for this weekend's Mythic Invitational, but I took some time to check out the new cards. Here are five underrated cards I'm looking forward to playing!
For two mana, you're getting a 3/1 creature that, of course, cannot block.
If Skyclave Shade is anything like Scrapheap Scrounger, it's going to dominate some formats. I'm happy to go out on a limb and say Skyclave Shade will be even better than Scrapheap Scrounger at times.
Attached is a landfall trigger allowing you to cast Skyclave Shade from your graveyard at sorcery speed. And this is where Skyclave Shade gets powerful.
For an additional three mana, it enters with two counters on it. Combining this ability with the landfall trigger is a great way for aggro decks to fight through flooding.
The downside to this card is you're only able to return it during your turn, so it's not as good against wraths and still requires you to commit to the board.
Skyclave Shade is going to slot into most aggressive black decks, and will even shine in two-colored aggro decks. We'll see this card played in Standard, Historic and even Pioneer.
Every spoiler season a card lands on my timeline I have to read a few times before I'm sure I've read it correctly. In Zendikar Rising, this card is Nullpriest of Oblivion.
All these cards need to be evaluated with and without the kicker cost. And while Nullpriest of Oblivion's kicker cost is insanely good, getting a menacing lifelinker for two mana seems like a great worst-case scenario for the card.
But if you've got some more mana lying around, you can reanimate a creature from your graveyard onto the battlefield.
So for six mana you get a two-mana 2/1 creature with menace and lifelink, plus whatever humongous monster you pull out of your graveyard.
In Standard, here's a short list of cards I'm going to bring back to life:
Giving control decks a cheap body with lifelink as an alternative to the six-mana counterpart is a great feature of this card. And giving aggressive decks a cheap body with incredible late game potential makes Nullpriest of Oblivion a potential staple in many formats.
Nullpriest of Oblivion is obviously going to be a good card in Standard. I believe it'll also see play in Historic and Pioneer (where a Vampire deck already exists). The format Nullpriest of Oblivion will shine brightest in is Commander, where most life gain and graveyard decks are going to want a copy.
You all remember Carnage Tyrant, I'm guessing? It really made use of the "tyrant" part of its name whenever I saw it in play, and I'm getting huge Carnage Tyrant vibes from this new creature.
Carnage Baloth, sorry Cragplate Baloth, looks like a massive "screw you" to the control decks relying on countermagic and one-for-one removal to deal with opposing threats.
While its seven mana cost may seem hefty now that we're losing Nissa, Who Shakes the World, green ramp decks will love this creature. Since most green decks play ramp spells anyway, Cragplate Baloth will easily slot into most. The decks that will capitalize the most on it are those playing Cultivate, Hour of Promise and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.
For an additional three mana, this bad boy comes in with four(!) counters on it. And while I'm sad it doesn't have trample, I think this is how the designers balanced this card.
Additionally, it's not difficult to give your creatures trample, not that it's necessary to make this card good.
Cragplate Baloth is going to be a great replacement for Shifting Ceratops.
For two mana, this card says each opponent mills eight cards. Which is rather quaint, but something we see often.
Skipping to the good part, Maddening Cacophony's kicker costs an additional four mana, and if you choose to kick it, each opponent mills half their library rounded up.
Like most mill cards, Maddening Cacophony is going to be great in Limited.
Maddening Cacophony will be average by itself in Constructed formats. However, when combined with a card like Jumpstart's Bruvac the Grandiloquent the card becomes a pretty busted combo.
With Bruvac the Grandiloquent, instead of milling half the deck they instead mill their entire library. And while they'll have to fail to draw a card for you to win, it's still pretty impressive.
This is one of the more exciting things to be done in Historic, but this card has a real home in Commander mill decks.
Earlier, I mentioned a card still needs to be playable without its kicker cost. While I'm not thrilled to be playing a two-mana card that has each opponent mill eight, Maddening Cacophony's potential in non-Standard formats makes it too good to pass up.
Angel of Destiny costs us five mana and provides an entire wall of text.
With 2 power and 6 toughness, this flying and double striking angel won't have much of a problem surviving combat.
The second line of text reads, "Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, you and that player gain that much life."
The final line of text says if you have 15 life more than you started with, each player it attacked loses the game.
This card may not have lifelink, but it kind of does. Unfortunately, it basically says you don't deal any damage to your opponent either. But when paired with cards like Aurelia, the Warleader or Tainted Remedy in Commander, the path to victory becomes clearer.
Angel of Destiny doesn't exactly provide an easy win for players, but I'm very interested to see if it's worth playing in existing life gain decks or decks looking to have multiple combat steps.
I'm so excited for Arena's pre-release weekend and all the Limited fun I'll get to have. I also think it's awesome D&D is finally getting an official shout out in Zendikar Rising, and I hope we get to see more of it in the future!