I hope that you are having an awesome day today! This is a sequel to last week's Top Ten cards from Zendikar Rising, which you can grab here. But the problem is? There are so many great new and enhanced cards running around that we can easily make another Top Ten List that looks at even more great cards from the set.
Therefore, let's do it again! Let's take another deep dive into ten(ish) cards that I love from Zendikar Rising!
Honorable Mention #1 - Cleansing Wildfire
This card already existed at 3 mana with Geomancer's Gambit. But the reduced cost at 2 mana is incredible. And it doesn't have the modern Red land destruction restriction of only hitting a nonbasic land. It's a free card because it's a cantrip. It's Red mana ramp as you can turn it on yourself. Playing a Gruul deck and you need Green for your ramp spells? No problem! Destroy target land you control, fetch a Forest, and then draw a card. You traded the Wildfire and land for a land and a drawn card - card equilibrium. Oh and trigger landfall while you did that! Playing in a color that's not Green, like Grixis, and need some color fixing? No problem! Does your foe have an annoying land out that you want to end? No problem! You can destroy that Volrath's Stronghold or Academy Ruins or Maze of Ith quite ably and then they get a basic land. You spent a card and got one back, as did your foe, so it's card equilibrium. It's both an answer for the most overabused card type at the kitchen table and a ramp spell for yourself, which ever you need. And at 2 mana? You cannot ask for more than that!
Honorable Mention #2 - Springmantle Cleric
Springmantle Cleric is a powerful card for decks that have many colors of mana, and especially a five-color brew. If you are color hosed, then you'll always be a 3/4 since Green was used to cast it. This could be a 7/8 with all five colors used. That's pretty good for a five-drop. Its ability reminds me of sunburst creatures like Skyreach Manta that was up to 5/5 flying for 5 mana, but often was less as your mana wasn't on point. Another example is Emblazoned Golem from Apocalypse. That dork was a generic 1/2 but could be as big as 6/7 with the right mana for its kicker. The Cleric is better than the Golem as it will never cost more than 5 mana, has a bigger base size, and will always get at least one counter on it. Don't sleep on Springmantle Cleric.
Now let's turn to the Top Ten proper!
10. Thieving Skydiver
If there is nothing to steal, then Thieving Skydiver is a solid on-curve flyer for 2 mana. However, in Commander there is always a mana rock or something to snag in the early game. For example, for 3 mana you can steal a Sol Ring. Unlike other creature-based effects (like Sower of Temptation), this one won't end after the dork leaves play either, that Ring is yours. You get a two-drop mana rock for 4 mana and so forth, as well as many other cards from Mind's Eye to Lightning Greaves to artifact dorks. Note that you can steal a zero-costed artifact like an artifact land or Mana Crypt, but your kicker will need to be 1. The result is a powerful card that should always have a steal-able option; but, if not, it remains very playable.
9. Tazri, Beacon of Unity
Did you know that General Tazri leads more than 1000 decks registered over at EDHREC.com? It's true! I suspect that our new Tazri will have even more since it isn't locked into Allies. These creature types have existed for a long, long time. You can lead a five color Warrior deck, Cleric deck, Wizard deck, Rogue deck, or another Ally deck. You can also run a five-color full party deck using the full party cards from Zendikar Rising. These six options available give new Tazri more potential than old Tazri. There were only two blocks of Allies for General Tazri to harness and it was still pretty popular so I cannot imagine the potential of the Beacon of Unity. Also note that new Tazri has card advantage on its activated ability rather than just pumping them up, which is something that appeals to Commander players more. It's arguably better leading an Ally deck. Tazri Take Two will get played. A lot.
8. Ruin Crab
This is so much better than Hedron Crab in most cases at the casual table! Compare the two. Let's look at how!
- It's bigger. Size matters for 1-drops and the early 0/2 doesn't block a lot and live. The occasional grounded 1/x creature would be stopped but those are few and far between in Commander and other casual formats. But here the size matters more as you can stop 2/x dorks ad infinitum as well. That's good for the Ruin Crab!
- It doesn't target. Note that Hedron Crab targets so if a foe has hexproof and cannot be targeted, then it won't work. However here it doesn't target so being target proof won't matter.
- It works on multiple opponents. If you are playing Commander or other multiplayer formats, then you hit every one of your foes. That's good stuff for your time and consideration!
Now note that you cannot target yourself with the landfall, so you lose that option if you were using it alongside graveyard synergies like reanimation or needing threshold or fueling flashback. Outside of that loss, Ruin Crab is a big improvement over Hedron Crab and don't sleep on it!
7. Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Do you like card advantage in your Selesnya decks? I do! This bad boy will search up two lands for you on arrival. Now sure, they won't be any basic land nor will they be dual lands. But that's okay! Two lands on arrival plus the body make this a three for one and that's real value at a Mulldrifter level of quality! In fact I like Yasharn's power so much that I already built an EDH deck for you earlier this week. Check it out!
6. Angel of Destiny
Angel of Destiny changes how combat math and life math work. That's pretty cool. It gives life rather that death and could invite attacks! It's like bargaining over who gets attacked by an Ophidian as zero damage is dealt and the attacker draws a card and you invite them to help make friends. In Commander you'll need 55 life to kill others which is very doable. It's sort of a reverse Test of Endurance where you kill someone when you have a high life rather than winning with high life.
Oh, and I love Angel of Destiny in Boros builds with a lot of Relentless Assault effects. You can attack and kill one player, and then untap and swing and kill another, and so forth, around the table. I really have a high opinion of this new alternate losing condition.
All right now it's time to see what cracked my top five!
5. Myriad Construct
A four-mana 4/4 is already okay in your build as it's on curve and can be cast no matter which colors are out there. You can self-target it with spells when it might be dying to combat damage or something and then make four 1/1s. Note that the spell won't resolve if Myriad Construct is its only target like Giant Growth or similar instant effects (since the Construct dies before the resolution of the spell, the thing will make 4 counters not 7 from a Giant Growth barring anything else). But at the seven-mana mark this thing can end games in multiplayer formats like Commander. If everyone has 50% of their land base nonbasics, then in a 4-player game this could easily have 10 or 12 total counters on it! And if going tall won't work as they control something like Maze of Ith or Fog Bank then when you target it it'll go wide with that instant army of player-slaying force instead. Even in a 40-life format that'll win you the game! Don't sleep on it. By the by, this is a perfect adjunct to a certain popular Boros leader with a lot of self-targeted action.... (Feather, the Redeemed)
4. Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients
We have a lot of equipment in casual land. The Sword of X and Y cycle (like Sword of Light and Shadow)? Umezawa's Jitte? Tatsumasa, The Dragon's Fang? Hammer of Nazahn? Skullclamp? Batterskull? Blade of Selves? Sword of the Animist? Lightning Greaves? Swiftfoot Boots? Whispersilk Cloak? Basilisk Collar? Bloodforged Battle-Axe? Sword of Vengeance? Embercleave? Maul of the Skyclaves? Loxodon Warhammer? Godsend? Nim Deathmantle? Shadowspear? Quietus Spike? Sunforger?
This really works well with a few equipment. Skullclamp kills the token and makes Nahiri's +1 into draw two cards. It's also amazing in a high equip cost card as you are saving a lot of mana then. The best example of this is likely Colossus Hammer that can win the game in a few hits with a 1/1 Warrior token. But others like Blackblade Reforged suggest themselves to me. Enjoy Nahiri!
3. Scale the Heights
Explore effects have broken Standard multiple times and Growth Spiral was just banned! And now we have a three-mana Explore that does some other things as well. Put a +1/+1 counter on a dork to impact the battlefield? Give you a bit of life? Unlike Explore, which can feel a bit like a cycled card in the mid or late game, this one can do something pertinent and impact the game while also drawing you a card. Scale the Heights is incredible card quality and does a lot of fun things. There are times when this will wind up being better than Explore, namely mid and late game. Or in a +1/+1 counters-matter build.
2. Crawling Barrens
I love Crawling Barrens! Why?
- Creature Counts - Creature lands are ways to increase your creature count without sacrificing cards to do so. An Izzet instant and sorcery matters build may only run a small number of creature spells, but you can supplement your low creature count with creature lands.
- Odd Builds - There are several odd builds and cards like Aether Flash and Tainted Aether that this avoids. Decks that punish creatures for arriving to the battlefield can lean on this instead.
- Avoid Removal - Many creature removal spells like Utter End work on any non-land permanent. As cards like Crawling Barrens are lands, they cannot be targeted by a lot of commonly played removal.
- Mana Sink - But the best reason? They are amazing mana sinks! This is arguably the best mana sink in any land as it won't tap the land like Urza's Factory so you can keep using it. You put multiple activations and over time grow a big dork from your land. Are you in a topdeck war and just top decked another land? No worries you can tap your lands twice and get a 4/4 from Crawling Barrens and swing on a naked board. Are you in a ramp build and need a place to put your extra mana reliably? No worries!
1. Maddening Cacophony
This card reminds me of a powerful card at the kitchen table: Traumatize. Since it'll mill half of a library, it's commonly played as a win-con in control or milling decks. Milling is harder to pull off in Commander where you have 100 cards to fight against and just one Traumatize. Well, now you have two! And if your foe has a small library and half is less than 8 you can mill 8 instead! Either way it's good and it works as a strong card. Traumatize is played in 4828 decks in EDHREC.com which is so common that's it's in 2% of all decks! Maddening Cacophony is going to have a similar cachet to play into and I expect many copies as well!
And there you have it! What did you think of my follow up Top Ten list? Anything in here that you are excited to play with or that I missed in my lists? Just let me know!