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Decks Inspired by Battle for Zendikar

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It’s spoiler time, and you know what that means: a lot of news cards that lead to a lot of new decks. Sometimes, a card from the way-back machine hits a perfect note with cards that are newly printed and gives you a great deck idea. Often, these cards slot into archetypes or push them into different directions.

There are a vast majority of cards out there in Magic Land to work alongside the latest entrants from Battle for Zendikar. Some of the new mechanics and cards are pretty insular—they really only work well with a subset of cards, at least most of the time, such as the Allies. It’s hard to build an Ally deck that doesn’t include a lot of Allies. The same is true of Slivers. That’s okay; it can still be a popular theme.

Other mechanics are more open-ended. Landfall may require me to have a land hit the battlefield in order for me to do something, but since virtually every deck I run has lands, it’s a mechanic that has space to live and breathe.

Today, I want to look at a few decks that were inspired by one or more cards from the Battle for Zendikar set. These are casual-oriented decks that are intended as ideas for fleshing out decks of your own. Feel encouraged to modify them as you see fit.

Converge is the latest in a long line of five-color-friendly mechanics and concepts. From domain and sunburst to converge, we are in a good place to harness the power of five. Now, domain isn’t going to work here because I don’t have a lot of ways of putting basic or special lands into play with the right land type. Instead, we’re going to focus on sunburst and converge, which only care about mana color.

Birds of Paradise
At first, our deck is going to have a few green-centric ways to make mana, such as Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid. These are great early drops that accelerate and smooth your mana at the same time, and they will ensure you gain the additional converge and sunburst bonuses even if you don’t have the right lands.

We have sunburst classics like Etched Oracle and Opaline Bracers in the deck. The first is a great way to play a creature and sacrifice it for some cards as needed. There are a variety of ways to harness the Oracle, from blocking and then sacrificing to drawing cards instead of losing your guy to mass removal. Meanwhile, the Bracers have enough heft to seriously change battle.

Now look at some of the converge fun-times we have as well. The best is Bring to Light, which will search your library for something good. I have a few fun fetchables at each casting cost based on your needs. Want to destroy something? Check out Maelstrom Pulse (I ran it over Vindicate since it should prove easier to hard cast with only one splash mana instead of two). It’ll handle many issues you run into. Want to drop a powerful creature instead? Is Etched Monstrosity powerful enough for you? It should be! That thing is nasty-good. And you can pull off some -1/-1 counters to make it even bigger and draw some cards at the same time. Bring to Light can fetch it all day long. And check out spells like All Suns' Dawn at the 5-cost spot if you prefer some recursion.

I fleshed the deck out with a few tricks. Bringer of the Blue Dawn, with its alternate cost, can come down quick and powerful, smashing foes with alacrity while drawing you some serious goods. And Llanowar Empath is an ideal early drop, giving you some scry into a creature as well as a cheap body to give you another creature while also giving your deck some more reliability. If you need the right color of mana, it’ll help, and if there’s something on top that you were about to draw that sucks, you can toss it to the bottom of your deck.

This deck was inspired by the Herald of Kozilek. Since creatures being played as morphs are colorless, it reduces their costs as well and is essentially a Dream Chisel on a stick for that deck. I felt that this was a good time for a morph deck since we just had the morph mechanics from Tarkir, and now we can layer in the colorless bonuses from Herald of Kozilek.

Willbender
So after I tossed in the Chisel, the Herald, and Qarsi Deceiver, every other card in this deck has morph. That’s a pretty intriguing way to make a fun deck.

I chose to emphasize creatures that are tricks. Take Willbender, a classic morph card if ever there was one. You can unmorph it to redirect something (either a spell or an ability) to another place, thereby ensuring some fun at the table. It has a long-established history of pushing tables around.

Instead of big beaters, we have a lot of other tricks. Want to steal a creature? Jeering Instigator takes one for the turn, and Chromeshell Crab swaps your worst creature for an opponent’s best. You can counter spells, Clone creatures, and more. We have a lot of tricks for you to choose from. Shoot, you can even Shock a creature with Skirk Marauder if you want.

With all of these creatures turning over, check out Ixidor, Reality Sculptor. He can morph a creature for just 3 mana, reducing the costs on some creatures considerably while also pumping your face-down team. Meanwhile, you can morph Weaver of Lies or Master of the Veil to turn some of the best tricks back down in order to load them up again. Don’t forget to turn back down your Weaver with a Master (or vice versa) to keep going! It’s going to be a load of fun!

As you can see, this deck wants a lot of mana, so the reduced costs and such are helpful. I also tossed in some lands that’ll help a bit—I hope. And that’s a five color deck!

Scalpelexis
While the ingest keyword exiles cards from an opponent’s graveyards in order to do stuff, we have had the ability to exile stuff for a while now. Check out something like Oona, Queen of the Fae. She’ll exile cards and make the occasional Faerie token at the same time. She slides into an ingest shell quite nicely—as does the king, Scalpelexis.

But now that we can use these exiled cards, we can make fodder for our various Eldrazi-laden effects. A card like Oblivion Sower can arrive, send some of these exiled goodies to an opponent’s graveyard, and then pack a nice punch with the added lands. You can toss out Dominator Drone, flash out Dominator Drone to counter stuff, and more.

The deck builds upon itself quite nicely. You can exile cards while you draw them with Fathom Feeder. Ulamog’s Nullifer will probably steal some life when it arrives, and it has ingest for when you smack someone. I also added an exile theme elsewhere. Why not run Eradicate and take care of an opposing creature permanently as well as all of its friends? And if you like, you can put them back with Blight Herder or something. I pushed this theme with Lobotomy.

I also added a bit of a Jester's Cap concept with Sadistic Sacrament. You could include anything from Denying Wind to Extract, but I chose to keep it simple. And after all of that, I tossed in Recoil in order to open up lanes of attack—or to prevent something from becoming too much of a threat right now.

Extract, ingest, consume. Repeat.

For a long time, we’ve seen control decks that try to minimize on creatures in order to restrict a deck that damages creatures generally. That way, a deck that runs Damnation will ensure that it can destroy more opposing creatures than its own. However, since Winds of Rath in Tempest destroyed all non-enchanted creatures, there have been Wrath of God variants that kept some things alive, and people built around them. We can add a Wrath variant that only takes out nontoken creatures so you can put it into a token deck (Hour of Reckoning) or a Languish so you can play stuff with a big enough defense to not be killed.

Nissa, Worldwaker
This deck is simply the latest iteration of that concept. Every single creature that it runs is a land, so nothing could die to Planar Outburst. Meanwhile, you can make lands creatures by playing spells such as Verdant Touch, Wake their World with Nissa, or play a spell with the alternate awaken cost. These will join the Stirring Wildwood as a land-esque creature.

The result is a deck in which every creature is a land. This has some benefits, your Planar Outburst for one. You may also be surprised at what cannot kill any of your creatures—there are many removal spells that have nonland clauses in them, such as Utter End, Abrupt Decay, Banishing Light, Unexpectedly Absent, and Maelstrom Pulse. You’ll find that your creatures are surprisingly agile at dodging removal.

That’s why I included Oblivion Stone. It only destroys nonland cards, so you don’t have to bother with putting fate counters on your things if you want to keep them around. You can just pop it and go.

Similarly, most modern bounce spells read nonland to prevent tempo issues, so cards like Repeal and Cyclonic Rift will do nothing against your creatures.

There’s also some danger to this strategy as well. Basic creature removal is now land removal, and your foe can toss out a Lightning Bolt or Terminate to take you down. I added a few fun tricks to fight against this in the form of Wrap in Vigor. You could also toss in Rootborn Defenses if you want. I also added in a pair of Veilstone Amulets. You cast a spell, and your stuff can’t be targeted by your foes. This will help keep your opponents from coming your way overly much.

Finally, I rounded out the deck with the expected cards, such as some extra removal and land-fetching. I also decided to go with twenty-eight lands as well, for what is probably an obvious reason.

 


 

So we have knocked down four decks for your tastes, and we’ve looked at ingest, converge, colorless, and awaken, so four major mechanics from the set are used in an historical context along older cards as well. And the results should prove to be fun, not just for these decks, but for Battle for Zendikar generally!


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