I'm excited to finally start talking about Battle for Zendikar. While some of the previewed lands have been spoiled for a little while now, they really are going to make such a significant impact on Standard that I would like to go over just how important they are. I don't think I can remember a set that has had this many different lands that will be played in Constructed. The funny thing is it seems like more and more lands continue to be spoiled!
Canopy Vista, Cinder Glade, Smoldering Marsh, Sunken Hollow, and Prairie Stream
This is the cycle of lands that may very well have the greatest impact on Standard as, remember, Khans of Tarkir is still in the format, which means that fetchlands are legal. These lands, of course, are fetchable! This means that manabases may start to resemble those in Modern as it is now possible to fetch out dual lands. I do believe these lands are slightly less powerful than the Ravnica shocklands, but they are definitely comparable. These lands continue to encourage decks that are multiple colors, and I expect the trend of three color decks to continue. The reason why these lands aren't completely broken is that building a manabase full of the new dual lands and fetchlands means you aren't playing that many basic lands.
I Anticipate that the majority of the time the new dual lands will actually be coming into play tapped, especially in a three color deck. This means that while it is pretty easy to build a good manabase right now, that manabase is likely to be very slow. Remember that the new dual lands only come into play untapped if you control at least two basics. While the new dual lands do have land types which make them fetchable they are not basic lands. Many of the top three color decks in Standard currently play less than six basics. There is going to be a very delicate dynamic of having enough basic lands to have your lands come into play untapped, but also consistently meeting color requirements. I don't expect the three color decks to play too many of these as, for instance, having eight in a deck seems like too many.
My first reaction to finding out that there are going to be manlands in Battle for Zendikar was WOW. Wizards is not only printing fetchable dual lands but they are adding manlands to the mix. The current previewed ones are Lumbering Falls and Shambling Vent. It is good that the new dual lands and the manlands are allied versus non-allied colors, because if they weren't there would be some two color combinations that wouldn't see any play. While only the blue/green and black/white lands have been officially spoiled the rumor is that there will be five manlands that will be split amongst both sets in the Battle for Zendikar block.
The manlands from Worldwake saw a ton of play, and these shouldn't be any different. These lands may be slightly less powerful than the Worldwake ones, but manlands are so unique that it almost always will make sense to include them in a slower controlling deck. The reason being that controlling decks are forced to play more lands than the more aggressive decks. In order to compensate for playing more lands it will become important to play the manlands as they do more than just being a land, and in a way they count as half a spell. Scrylands do a similar thing as they generate a bit more value than just making mana, but the scrylands will no longer be legal. I wouldn't be surprised if, early on, three color control decks attempt to make full use of Lumbering Falls or Shambling Vent.
When looking at the statistics of the lands I believe that Shambling Vents stands out a bit more than Lumbering Falls. When comparing the two manlands Lumbering Falls does have one more point of power, but also costs four to activate rather than three. This leads to the question of how important is having hexproof? If a blue/green-based control deck becomes good than Lumbering Falls can shine as you can't simply kill Lumbering Falls with a removal spell. This means that as one of the only win conditions in your deck Lumbering Falls works well as it is very hard to answer; on the flip side, in a deck with a bunch of other creatures, the activation cost seems overcosted and hexproof isn't as relevant.
Shambling Vent on the other hand is a black/white land which is generally a color combination that is more controlling than blue/green. The activation cost on Shambling Vent is not high either, and the fact that Shambling Vent gains lifelink is crucial. Against aggressive decks having a lifelink creature is one of the most efficient ways of putting a game out of reach. For example, a deck relying on burn to win will always have to be aware of Shambling Vent as it makes it a lot more difficult to win by topdecking burn spells in the later stages of the game. I expect Shambling Vent to see more play than Lumbering Falls, unless blue/green also receives additional tools from Battle for Zendikar. With that said I would love to see a Temur Control deck get some respect.
For those that haven't already been informed there are going to be extremely rare lands in Battle for Zendikar boosters, which will be reprints of the fetchlands. Having already seen the new art for some of these lands they do look very cool, and they are expected to have a very high price tag. These fetchlands will add plenty of popularity to Battle for Zendikar as the idea of cracking a $300 fetchland is pretty nice.
The thing about these new lands though is that you may have opened a Misty Rainforest in a Battle for Zendikar booster but that doesn't mean that the old Zendikar fetchlands are legal even though they are being reprinted; they are in fact not going to be Standard legal. This means that these lands actually have no real effect on Standard but they are still signature cards of the set. I do agree with not making them Standard legal, as it wouldn't be fair to do so because of how rare they are to open. It would be too difficult to get ahold of the old Zendikar fetchlands in order to play Standard.
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
As of now it is unclear to me how much play Shrine of the Forsaken Gods will see, but it seems like it could be very good in a deck relying heavily on big Eldrazi spells. Seven lands is a lot of lands to have in play, but at the same time it takes a lot of lands in order to cast some of the Eldrazi spells. In addition a lot of the cards in Battle for Zendikar have devoid even if they aren't an Eldrazi, which is important to keep in mind with Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. This is not a land that fits into a three color deck as it can only produce colorless mana, but in a big mana deck similar to say Tron in Modern this could become an important land to have access to.
Sanctum of Ugin
Sanctum of Ugin fits into a similar deck as Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. This is a land that can become a huge threat later in the game or is just another land. Even in say Tron in Modern this land doesn't seem bad. Remember that you can search for any colorless creature, it doesn't need to be a huge Eldrazi, but it can be if that's what you are looking for. This makes me think of having a toolbox of colorless creatures and this is one way to search for them. Sanctum of Ugin certainly is the Eye of Ugin of Battle for Zendikar.
Continuing the theme of colorless lands this is another land that could see play. If there is a deck that is only one or two colors and can afford to play colorless lands Spawning Bed may see play. It is not a land that stands out as being super powerful, but remember that Foundry of the Consuls is currently seeing play, and in many ways Spawning Bed is better. Spawning Bed can also be used as another way to ramp into an Eldrazi. I can picture a deck containing Spawning Bed, Sanctum of Ugin, and Shrine of Forsaken Gods being good. The challenge though will be having enough early game cheap threats that are either colorless or easy to cast. In a big mana deck there still needs to be some cheap interaction in order to bridge the game and allow the game to get to the point that a big Eldrazi spell can be cast.
Allies are back! Allies are one of my favorite creature types of all time, and I hope that there will be a Standard Ally deck. This is the land that could help make that a real possibility. Beyond Ally Encampment having obvious synergies with the Allies in Battle for Zendikar, remember that there is already an existing Modern Ally deck. The Modern Ally deck has already been doing well and Ally Encampment slots right into that deck, in addition to potentially adding Allies from Battle for Zendikar. There are Allies in every color so being able to produce any color of mana to play one means playing all five colors is realistic. In addition many Allies have an "enters the battlefield" trigger, so returning them to your hand has added value. This land is exactly what an Allies deck wants from a land. I hope and expect Ally Encampment to make a large impact on multiple formats.
The Full Art Basic Lands
Lastly there are the actual basic lands in the set. It feels like the lands have a ton of hype, and for good reason! The lands in this set are truly unlike any other as it seems like the best and coolest lands from the sets from the last few years are all in Battle for Zendikar, in some form. The full art basic lands have been very successful, and the ones from the original Zendikar and Unhinged are very popular right now. The art of this set is truly remarkable, and I wouldn't be surprised if Battle for Zendikar breaks all records in terms of product sales. The full art lands put the cherry on top of a sundae already filled with lands that just about any magic player is itching to get ahold of.
Thanks for reading,