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Zendikar Rising Standard Set Review: Black and Multicolor

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Check out the other entries here!

White | Blue | Red and Artifacts | Green and Lands

Yesterday we went over the Blue cards from Zendikar Rising and we had quite a few great ones. Today we will be going over the Black and multicolored cards, but before we begin, let us go over my grating scale.

I will not be going over cards that I believe will not see play in Standard and I will not be going over the Commander cards that will not see Standard play. For example, cards like Paired Tactician and Emeria Captain will be omitted since they are just Limited cards and saying, "This is just a Limited card" repeatedly gets old rather fast. Do not worry though, I will be covering all the rare and mythic cards in the actual Zendikar Rising set. So, if you like a certain rare or mythic, it will be mentioned in the review.

Keep in mind I'm rating all these cards for Standard playability. I will mention Modern applications if I believe the card has some.

Each card will be listed by color, then alphabetically by name.

Each card will be given a rating of 1-5. If a card would receive a 0, meaning it will see no play in that format ever, its rating is left off the list.

Rating | Explanation | Standard Examples

0 - Will never see play in this format (0 ratings are not listed).

1 - Unlikely to see play. (Pursued Whale)

2 - Could see fringe play, or occasional sideboard card. (Squad Commander)

3 - Commonly played, staple in a single deck, or frequent play in several decks. (Angel of Destiny, Skyclave Apparition, Terror of the Peaks)

4 - Format staples. Sees play in multiple decks, one of the best cards in the format. (Emeria's Call, Teferi, Master of Time, Fabled Passage)

5 - Format warping. If you are in these colors, you play that card or keep that card in mind when building decks. (Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon)

Now that we have that out of the way, let's begin!

Black

Acquisitions Expert
Acquisitions Expert - 2.5 - Burglar Rat with some upside! Only downside is the opponent can kill this creature with the ability on the stack and if your party is 0, they will not have to discard anything. However, the upside is huge here allowing you to potentially Thoughtseize your opponent. Great in a party deck or even Modern Humans.
Bloodchief's Thirst
Bloodchief's Thirst - 3 - This card is fine but being Sorcery is a huge drawback. You really want to kill that Lotus Cobra right away and you do not want to tap out on your turn to kill that planeswalker that has already gained card advantage. It will still see play but I wish we would get answers as good as the threats these days.
Coveted Prize
Coveted Prize - 2 - This thing takes so much setup and requires you to play creatures, but the ability is powerful. I'd personally rather have Bring to Light but this is a fun one to try and brew around and I'm sure I will.
Demon's Disciple
Demon's Disciple - 2.5 - A different Plaguecrafter, and I do like how it has the Cleric subtype and that can be abused with other cards that care about Clerics like Taborax or Orah, Skyclave Hierophant.
Drana, the Last Bloodchief
Drana, the Last Blood Chief - 2 - Creatures have come a long way. A 5 mana creature that doesn't affect the battlefield the turn it comes into play is sadly not good enough anymore. Maybe with Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord in Historic but as far as Standard goes, this is a bulk rare.
Feed the Swarm
Feed the Swarm - 3 - Targeted enchantment removal for Black? This will 100% be playable, at the very least in Sideboards. It is just a fantastic way for Black to deal with things like Felidar Retreat.
Inscription of Ruin
Inscription of Ruin - 2.5 - If you are looking for a Mind Rot with upside, then this Inscription is for you! Everything else on the card is overcosted and honestly awfully slow. 3 mana to kill a Lotus Cobra? That means your opponent has untapped with it, it is also sorcery speed. I do not see this one getting a lot of play.
Mind Carver
Mind Carver - 3 - Solid in Dimir Rogues, especially on a Rogue that flies. My only worry/fear is helping your opponent fuel Uro.
Nighthawk Scavenger
Nighthawk Scavenger - 3 - Tarmogoyf has come a long way. Lifelink and Flying on Tarmogoyf is fantastic, especially in older formats. It is also a rogue, so it fits into the ubRogue deck as well.
Nullpriest of Oblivion
Nullpriest of Oblivion - 4 - This card is amazing! On curve it is a solid beater with lifelink and menace. It is also a solid blocker against aggressive decks, trading and gaining you life. Then late game it also reanimates?! Nullpriest of Oblivion should be a staple for as long as it is legal in Standard.
Scourge of the Skyclaves
Scourge of the Skyclaves - 2.5 - Death's Shadow this is not but it's still fine as a way to half your opponent's life total while also providing a big body. In older formats it does not seem too hard to get your opponent down to 16 or so life and then this creature is a 4/4 that just grows. Maybe play one or two in a Death's Shadow deck?
Shadows' Verdict
Shadows' Verdict - 2 - Would have loved to have this card around for Narset, Teferi, and Uro! Thankfully Narset and Teferi have rotated out of Standard and Uro will probably get chopped soon. This card competes with Extinction Event and it is not better main deck (unless metagame changes drastically) but could be a valuable Sideboard card.
Skyclave Shade
Skyclave Shade - 3 - Fixed Bloodghast is not as powerful but it is still a solid value engine. Great way for aggressive and midrange strategies to buyback a creature mid to late game.
Soul Shatter
Soul Shatter - 2.5 - Killing the biggest creature or planeswalker is usually what you want to be doing anyway. Sadly, worse than Hero's Downfall but at least we have something. Really wish Wizards would make the answers to threats stronger.
Taborax, Hope's Demise
Taborax, Hope's Demise - 2 - 3 mana 2/2 flier? So vulnerable and grows very slowly. I don't think Clerics are good enough right now but this could act as a Midnight Reaper in your Cleric deck.

Agadeem's Awakening
Agadeem's Awakening - 4 - This whole cycle is really great, and Agadeem's Awakening is no different. Black is the color of sacrifice and fill its graveyard with creatures, making this card a bomb the later the game goes. In older formats, this card seems fantastic for Death's Shadow decks because both sides are valued there.
Blackbloom Rogue
Blackbloom Rogue - 2.5 - I like having a couple of these in my ub Rogue deck. Late game this creature can be a real menace to deal with. However, I do not want this dual card in any other deck besides Rogues, making it a little narrow.
Hagra Mauling
Hagra Mauling - 3 - Murder or a land? Sign me up. Card seems fantastic for any kind of non-aggressive deck.
Malakir Rebirth
Malakir Rebirth - 3 - This is decent to me, especially since it is an instant. In your Sultai deck you can protect a Lotus Cobra or even Omnath, Locus of Creation and get value. You can also turn it into a cantrip with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.
Pelakka Predation
Pelakka Predation - 2.5 - Three mana is a lot for a conditional discard spell, but it is also a land which is a huge plus to all these cards. Overcosted but I could see some decks running one or two of these.
Zof Consumption
Zof Consumption - 2 - Not a fan of this one. It is just way too slow mana wise and another land that comes into play tapped. I would rather play the other flip lands.

Top 5 Black Cards

  1. Agadeem's Awakening
  2. Hagra Mauling
  3. Bloodchief's Thirst
  4. Feed the Swarm
  5. Nighthawk Scavenger

Two spell lands in the top five again but that is to be expected at this point. Feed the Swarm is an incredibly unique spell for Black to have access to and I am sure we will see it be played, especially since Felidar Retreat appears to be a deck. While Bloodchief's Thirst is not an instant, it is what we have at one mana, so it will see play because we do not have any other choices. It is still a solid card, just wish it could have been an instant.

Moving on, let us go over the Multicolored cards.

Multicolor

Akiri, Fearless Voyager
Akiri, Fearless Voyager - 2.5 - This card is sweet, I just struggle to see a deck like this working well when you can just play Embercleave and kill your opponent. Why durdle with artifacts when you can just kill them?
Brushfire Elemental
Brushfire Elemental - 3 - One of the best aggressive landfall creatures in the set, if Landfall aggro is a thing, you can 100% expect Brushfire Elemental to be part of that deck. It is also a great target for Migratory Greathorn to Mutate onto.
Cleric of Life's Bond
Cleric of Life's Bond - 2.5 - A slower Ajani's Pridemate but it does trigger itself which is nice. On curve this card seems solid, the problem comes when you are playing a 2/2 for 2 mana when Watchwolf is no longer a good creature.
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager - 3 - Fun with Ozolith! This card reminds me of Sprouting Thrinax and would be amazing if Standard was a game of attrition, but it currently feels like a game of hyper aggro or who can do more silly things with Lotus Cobra / Omnath.
Kaza, Roil Chaser
Kaza, Roil Chaser - 2.5 - Cool for Commander but Do not expect this to see play in a ur tempo deck as it does not really apply pressure and is a terrible top deck later in the game. It is a sweet card to brew around and I'm sure I will make a deck around this card at some point.
Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate
Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate - 3 - Full party detain is sweet, but I really like the protection she gives all your creatures from boardwipes. Having a converted mana cost of only three means that she can be a hit off of Collected Company in Historic and wherever Collected Company is legal.
Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients
Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients - 3 - Nahiri is only as good as the equipment we have, and we have some decent equipment already in things like Maul of the Skyclaves. The only problem I see is, will it be worth it to play a bunch of equipment and grind the opponent down with Nahiri and card advantage or just blow them up with an Embercleave? Because Embercleave decks do not really want Nahiri, they are better without her. You can play Embercleave in your Nahiri deck but you will be slower overall. Could be worth it, really depends on how the meta shapes up. From my perspective it just seems like the ramp decks go way over the top, so you really need to go under, and you are better off doing that with a R/x Embercleave deck.
Nissa of Shadowed Boughs
Nissa of Shadowed Boughs - 3.5 - Nissa seems fine but overhyped. This is what a Planeswalker should be like, not like Nissa, who Shakes the World. Nissa is better in a deck that sacrifices creatures instead of just a straight control deck or a Sultai ramp deck. You will need to build around her to fully abuse her.
Omnath, Locus of Creation
Omnath, Locus of Creation - 4 - Never thought I'd be giving a four-color card such a high rating but Omnath is nuts. It replaces itself when you play it, gains you a ton of life, then repays you for the mana you spent on it or nets you mana the following turn, and if that's not enough it will also hit your opponent in the face for 4 and ping all their planeswalkers for 4... So strong and you can build it so many ways. Just start with 4 Uro, 4 Lotus Cobra, 4 Omnath, 4 Fabled Passage and whatever else you want.
Orah, Skyclave Hierophant
Orah, Skyclave Hierophant - 3 - Very powerful Cleric, love the ability on this one as it is very powerful and can create a lot of card advantage. I do not think we have enough cleric support in Standard for this card to be good, but I hope I am wrong. A card you should keep an eye on as new sets are introduced to Standard.
Phylath, World Sculptor
Phylath, World Sculptor - 2.5 - Way worse Avenger of Zendikar overall. I would rather play something else at this converted mana cost like Ancient Greenwarden or something else with landfall. Cute for Commander though!
Soaring Thought-Thief
Soaring Sea-Thief - 3.5 - Rogue lord with flash and flying! Pumps your team, including itself, as evasion and helps mill your opponent in order to turn all your rogue cards on. Works well with Zareth San, the Trickster as well. Automatic 4 off in any rogue deck.
Verazol, the Split Current
Verazol, the Spilt Current - 2 - No Hyrdoid Krasis (thankfully) but a sweet card for Commander. As far as Standard, this one is sweet to build around but ultimately, we do not have good enough spells with kicker to copy. Verazol also does not have trample or flying so it can be chumped blocked all day.
Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Yasharn, Implacable Earth - 3 - Look at this cute boar! Don't you want it as a pet?! Yasharn is card advantage as it draws you two cards, even though they are lands, it is still great since we are in a landfall Standard. The passive ability makes Yasharn an amazing Sideboard card against sacrifice decks. Where were you when Cat Oven was running rampant?
Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats
Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats - 2.5 - This is another legendary creature that seems better as a Commander. I do like how it is rogue but rogue's really wanting to be ub, not rb. There is no Tri land for Grixis and the mana for aggressive decks is not great right now.
Zareth San, the Trickster
Zareth San, the Trickster - 3 - I like Zareth as a top end for ub rogue decks, it is a great way to generate card advantage, especially since ub Rogues encourages you to mill your opponent. Also having flash makes it a great card to flash in after a board wipe.

Top 5 Multicolored Cards

  1. Omnath, Locus of Creation
  2. Nissa of Shadowed Boughs
  3. Soaring Thought-Thief
  4. Brushfire Elemental
  5. Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients

It's still wild to me that Omnath is number one, even though it is a four-color card. The card is just that powerful. It cantrips, pays for itself then generates you mana, gains you life, and kills your opponent and their planeswalkers. Card just does it all. Omnath will absolutely continue to be a huge thing in Standard right alongside Lotus Cobra and Uro. Nissa will take some work but I expect her to be great as well. The Black and multicolored cards shaped up well. Zendikar Rising is looking amazing so far!

Tomorrow we will be going over the Red and artifact cards, make sure to tune in!

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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