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Zendikar Rising Limited Set Review: Blue and Black

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Check out the other entries here!

White | Red and Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Land

Welcome back to our Limited Set review for Zendikar Rising. As a Limited player there is nothing more fun than exploring a new set, so I can't wait to take a look at these new cards!

This article is the second of four, and in it I will be evaluating every Blue and Black card and scoring them on a scale of 1-5. These ratings are purely based on Limited formats and have no bearing on Constructed play. I would also like to note these ratings are based on how I believe the card will perform in an AVERAGE Sealed or Draft deck. Often this means a lower score for cards with great potential in a highly synergistic deck.

Rating - Explanation

1 - Ideally not making the cut in any of my Limited decks.

2 - Not good, but a necessity for curve filling and smoothing out draws.

3 - Value cards I am happy to fill my deck with.

4 - Cards to get excited about and Premium Removal.

5 - Reserved for cards that will win the game if left unanswered.

Blue

Anticognition
Anticognition - 2 - Typically this type of counter is a really poor draw in the mid to late game, but the last clause helps with the overall playability by giving it late game relevance. Not great in Limited, but playable.
Beyeen Veil
Beyeen Veil - 2 - The ability on this card is not very good, but it can be played for free in place of an Island if you do not already have too many tapped lands. A bad ability is better than an Island late game when land is the last thing you need.
Bubble Snare
Bubble Snare - 3.5 - Blue lockdown enchantments are always playable. The ability to get a mana discount on an already tapped creature is extremely helpful. This allows you to stop a threat and develop your board in the same turn.
Cascade Seer
Cascade Seer - 2 - Filler at best. If a deck can consistently have one other party member on board I am okay filling my curve with this card. Added value if you have any Wizard trigger cards.
Charix, the Raging Isle
Charix, the Raging Isle - 4 - Charix is extremely hard to remove. Most spells won't do enough damage, and unconditional removal will cost too much. This crab is a big threat in a format with very few bombs.
Chilling Trap
Chilling Trap - 2 - Many cards trigger when casting an instant or sorcery, and the cheap mana cost makes this something to consider. Decks without Wizards will not want to run this card.
Cleric of Chill Depths
Cleric of Chill Depths - 2.5 - The ability is fine, but nothing to be excited about. It is the only Blue Cleric, so if finding party members is important this is a fine card to run. Its large butt and ability also work well with slower or bomb oriented decks.
Concerted Defense
Concerted Defense - 1 - Even with a few party members this is not the sort of counter I am interested in playing. More of a Constructed card.
Confounding Conundrum
Confounding Conundrum - 1 - Not a Limited playable card.
Coralhelm Chronicler
Coralhelm Chronicler - 1/3 - Great in a deck with a lot of kicker cards, but the average deck is not interested in this overpriced 2/2. If the deck has a few Wizard payoffs you can consider adding this card without a lot of kicker spells.
Cunning Geysermage
Cunning Geysermage - 3 - Bounce spells are always nice to help out tempo an opponent. Getting to add a body to the board with it is great. This card is also a party member and works nicely with the Wizard subtheme in the set.
Deliberate
Deliberate - 1 - There is a deck that wants to cast a lot of spells to trigger the abilities of creatures on board, but the average deck does not want to run this spell.
Expedition Diviner
Expedition Diviner - 3.5 - A 3/2 flier can be a big threat if not dealt with. This creature is also a party member and a great card to have in the Wizard subtheme deck.
Field Research
Field Research - 3 - This is just Divination with upside. Any Blue deck is happy to run this spell.
Glacial Grasp
Glacial Grasp - 2.5 - This spell does a lot of stuff. Individually each ability is not very impactful, but together you are getting a fair amount of value. Tempo or bomb heavy decks are happy to run this spell.
Glasspool Mimic
Glasspool Mimic - 4 - The mana cost is actually really cheap for the ability. I love that it doubles as a land and can be put into your deck for free. It also works really well in the Rogue subtheme in the set.
Inscription of Insight
Inscription of Insight - 4 - All of the options on this spell are very reasonable for the mana cost if you have to use it early. If given the chance to wait and cast it for the kicker cost you will be getting a lot of value out of one spell.
Into the Roil
Into the Roil - 3.5 - Bounce spells are always great. Two-mana at instant speed makes me very happy. The ability to dump extra mana into the kicker to draw a card adds a ton of value.
Jace, Mirror Mage
Jace, Mirror Mage - 4 - A bit of an odd Planeswalker to evaluate. Minimal impact when played, but over a long period of time Jace will generate a lot of value. Make sure you play this on a stalled board or when you are ahead as it can't protect itself. This does very little if you are behind.
Jwari Disruption
Jwari Disruption - 2 - Not the type of counterspell I am interested in running, but it's free. If the deck does not have too many other tapped lands you can consider playing this over an Island.
Living Tempest
Living Tempest - 2 - A bit expensive for what you get. I can see playing this in a deck with a lot of counter magic, but in general I am not happy to run this in most decks.
Lullmage's Domination
Lullmage's Domination - 3.5 - More expensive than the typical steal enchantment we normally see for Limited. It is interesting that it is a sorcery and not an enchantment. This means that an opponent will need a bounce spell to get their creature back rather than also being able to destroy the enchantment.
Maddening Cacophony
Maddening Cacophony - 1 - Even though there is a mill subtheme in the set, it isn't going to be easy to assemble. Some decks will want an opponent to have 8 cards in the graveyard, but those decks are not great. Not likely to draft this card often.
Master of Winds
Master of Winds - 4 - Even if you cannot trigger the ability often this is still worth getting. It is a good size evasive creature that also fits into the party or Wizard themed decks. Every Blue deck is happy to add this.
Merfolk Falconer
Merfolk Falconer - 3.5 - This is actually a huge creature for the mana cost. It fits into the general party theme and Wizard subtheme... I love everything about this card.
Merfolk Windrobber
Merfolk Windrobber - 2 - The average deck will not want to waste a slot to play this card. If you have a few Ruin Crabs or Rogue synergies this might be a consideration.
Negate
Negate - 1 - Always looking to pick these up late for the sideboard, but I doubt this will ever make the original 40 card deck.
Nimble Trapfinder
Nimble Trapfinder - 3 - If getting a full party is an option this card is actually nuts, but even without it you can expect to get in a lot of damage with this card. The deep Wizard subtheme in the set will allow you to trigger unblockable quite often.
Risen Riptide
Risen Riptide - 1/4 - This is good in exactly one deck. Without at least 6+ kicker spells I would not consider running this at all. If you decide to take this card make sure you build around it.
Roost of Drakes
Roost of Drakes - 2/4 - 4 mana for a 2/2 flier is a bit expensive, but the bonus for other kicker spells is really good. Decks with as few as 3 kicker spells are happy to play this card.
Ruin Crab
Ruin Crab - 2.5 - Early defence for slower decks. Playing this early will really shorten an opponent's clock to kill you. Milling 3 cards per turn for a few turns is kind of a lot. If you play this on turn one and make your fifth land drop you are milling 12 cards. That is a huge percentage of your opponent's deck and can steal a win in a longer game.
Sea Gate Restoration
Sea Gate Restoration - 2 - This card is a bit too expensive for Limited, but it doubles as an Island so it's free. I would play this if I didn't have too many other tapped lands.
Sea Gate Stormcaller
Sea Gate Stormcaller - 2 - The overall ability isn't too exciting. It is unlikely a deck will have enough high value <= 2 mana cost spells to get good value out of this card. Into the Roil would be ideal staying within Blue. It is also a Wizard which fits well into many of the themes in the set. Overall this card has a very low floor and a high ceiling in Limited.
Seafloor Stalker
Seafloor Stalker - 3 - The ability counts the creature itself, so it only costs 4 mana at most. I think the ability is really good and can help finish games. It also works really well in the Rogue subtheme seen throughout the set.
Shell Shield
Shell Shield - 2 - The hexproof ability is a nice bonus to have in any deck. It is also possible to want this card if you have any kicker payoffs - the kicker is so cheap. This is a fine trick but will end up getting cut more often than not.
Silundi Vision
Silundi Vision - 2 - The cards ability is not very good, but it is free to put in place of an Island. If the deck doesn't have too many tapped lands you can put this in risk free and help smooth out late game draws.
Skyclave Plunder
Skyclave Plunder - 3 - At its worst this is a 5-mana draw three. That's fine. Getting to scry a few extra lands to the bottom in the process will generate a lot of value very quickly. Definitely happy to play this in any Blue deck.
Skyclave Squid
Skyclave Squid - 2 - The stats are good for the mana cost, but it is not super powerful. This 2-drop will probably trade up, but that's about all it will do.
Sure-Footed Infiltrator
Sure-Footed Infiltrator - 3.5 - The ability is great and this card raises the value of all other Rogues. So much card advantage if you can get it going. Ideal in Blue/Black decks to get the most out of the Rogue ability.
Tazeem Roilmage
Tazeem Roilmage - 3.5 - Getting spells back is always a great ability. Ideally, I will never cast this card for two. Getting removal back from the graveyard is just so powerful!
Thieving Skydiver
Thieving Skydiver - 3 - Two-power fliers for 2 mana are never bad. The format has a few equipment to steal, but this is worth running even if that is unlikely.
Umara Wizard
Umara Wizard - 3 - Triggering Umara's flying ability is reasonably easy to do. This is a solid threat that can be played for free in place of an Island to help smooth late game draws. It is also a party member and works with the Wizard subtheme.
Windrider Wizard
Windrider Wizard - 3.5 - The stats for the mana cost are fine, but the text box really shines on this card. This creature has it all - Party and Wizard subthemes, evasion, card advantage.
Zulaport Duelist
Zulaport Duelist - 1 - Similar ability to Faerie Duelist but so much worse. If you need party members or specifically Rogues you can consider running this card, but it is just too low impact if not.

Top 3 Blue Commons

  1. Bubble Snare
  2. Into the Roil
  3. Tazeem Roilmage

Black

Acquisitions Expert
Acquisitions Expert - 3 - While this may not always hit a key card, it is a guaranteed 2 for 1 unless their hand is empty. Always happy to play a cheap body with a relevant creature type and solid ability.
Agadeem's Awakening
Agadeem's Awakening - 4.5 - This is a late game bomb that will end the game if you can cast X at 3 or 4, and it removes the typical downside of late-game only cards by also being a land if needed.
Blackbloom Rogue
Blackbloom Rogue - 3.5 - A 2/3 menace for 3 is playable on its own, though not exciting. Here we have those stats on a card that can also be played as a land, with a relevant creature type in the Rogue theme and can become a 5/3 menace in the late game which makes this a well above average card.
Blood Beckoning
Blood Beckoning - 2.5 - Raise Dead is playable. Getting back 2 creatures for 4 mana is a fair amount of value...having the flexibility to be either option in just one card is pretty solid. This will also help trigger party and subtheme abilities additional times.
Blood Price
Blood Price - 2 - This is a fine card to play as it is a 2 for 1 but at sorcery speed and at 4 mana and 2 life it is a bit more expensive than I want for this effect. Very playable, but keep an eye out for something with better value.
Bloodchief's Thirst
Bloodchief's Thirst - 4 - One of the better cheap and flexible removal spells we've seen in a while. You can kill a cheap creature for 1 mana and kill anything for 4 mana. The only downside is that it's a sorcery and that's minor for how good it is.
Coveted Prize
Coveted Prize - 1 - Tutor cards are never great in Limited. Even if you have a Bomb worth finding you are just as likely to draw the bomb 1st and have this dead card after. If the deck has 3+ bombs you can start to consider this card, but if you have 3+ big bombs... You won't need it!
Deadly Alliance
Deadly Alliance - 4 - Instant speed removal that will likely cost 4-mana...maybe less... SIGN ME UP.
Demon's Disciple
Demon's Disciple - 2 - Not an exciting card unless you can generate a few cheap tokens. If you decide to cut this card make sure to keep it in mind for the sideboard against decks that have only a few tall creatures.
Drana, the Last Bloodchief
Drana, the Last Bloodchief - 5 - Attacking with Drana just one time can be absolutely game breaking. She is a huge flier for a cheap mana cost that gains a ton of value the longer she stays on the board.
Drana's Silencer
Drana's Silencer - 1.5 - This ability can be good, but it is far too unreliable for me to want it in most decks. Even though he himself is a party member, it is still too unpredictable. I would only consider this if the deck had 10+ other party members.
Dreadwurm
Dreadwurm - 2.5 - After hitting 5 mana it is unlikely you will hit landfall every turn, but even hitting it 1 of 2 or 1 of 3 turns can lead to some difficult turns for an opponent. The wurm is large and will force chump blocks.
Expedition Skulker
Expedition Skulker - 2.5 - Bears are always fine (2/2s for 2-mana), and this one has a lot of upside. Deathtouch allows it to trade up and it works in both the general party and Rogue subthemes.
Feed the Swarm
Feed the Swarm - 3 - The mana cost is really low to kill any creature. The sorcery speed and loss of life make it unavailable in some situations. This will make the cut in most decks, but make sure to be careful when you choose to use it.
Ghastly Gloomhunter
Ghastly Gloomhunter - 2.5 - Playing this as a 1/1 early is fine, and kicking it is fine, even if a bit expensive for what you get. Ideally this card pairs with other cards to get added value. This includes lifegain or kicker triggers.
Guul Draz Mucklord
Guul Draz Mucklord - 1.5 - The base stats are not great, and the ability is also below average, but sometimes you just need to fill a curve. Avoid using this if possible and find a bad party member instead.
Hagra Constrictor
Hagra Constrictor - 2 - It is a bit overpriced for what the card is on its own. This can be playable in a Black/Green deck where it is easy to find other creatures or spells that add counters. The average deck won't want to play this card.
Hagra Mauling
Hagra Mauling - 4 - This is a great removal spell. It is unconditional and instant speed. I doubt I will ever play this as a land.
Highborn Vampire
Highborn Vampire - 2 - Filler at best, but it is the only Warrior in Black, so might be worth picking up if you ever want to fill a party.
Inscription of Ruin
Inscription of Ruin - 4 - All three options on their own are fine, and worth playing most of the time (maybe not the second one). Getting to pick based on what you need at the moment is really nice. Late game, getting to pick all three is amazing and can totally change the game. Happy to play this in any deck.
Lithoform Blight
Lithoform Blight - 1 - Not a playable Limited card. No pack three bomb would convince me to want to play this card.
Malakir Blood-Priest
Malakir Blood-Priest - 2.5 - This card is not going to do enough work on its own unless the deck is consistently putting 3-4 party members on the board. I do like that it will gain life and help enable those decks as well as trigger any of the Cleric themed cards. Worth running in most decks.
Malakir Rebirth
Malakir Rebirth - 2.5 - This works nicely with ETB effects and large bombs. It's free to play in place of a Swamp, so there is no reason not to run it.
Marauding Blight-Priest
Marauding Blight-Priest - 2.5 - The base stats for the mana makes this card fine filler. Just a few lifegain triggers in a deck will make this worth playing.
Mind Carver
Mind Carver - 1.5 - The effect is too small to want to play in most decks. If the deck has some evasive creatures and a few Ruin Crabs it would be worth adding. In general, this will not make the cut.
Mind Drain
Mind Drain - 2 - Typically Mind Rot cards are kept in my sideboard. Drawing them late when an opponent has no cards in hand always feels so bad. This card however has a few extra perks making it worth running. It triggers lifegain abilities and helps get 8 cards into an opponent's graveyard. Something to consider.
Nighthawk Scavenger
Nighthawk Scavenger - 4 - The card checks all the boxes. It has a ton of abilities and even helps fill the party. This might not win games quickly, but it makes an opponent's life really difficult.
Nimana Skitter-Sneak
Nimana Skitter-Sneak - 2 - Not a great card, but sometimes a deck just needs bodies. It is a Rogue so it is possible that it makes the cut because it will help other cards. Sometimes a slightly weaker card is better if it synergizes well with the rest of the deck.
Nimana Skydancer
Nimana Skydancer - 2.5 - A reasonably sized evasive creature that fills a party and works with the Rogue subtheme.
Nullpriest of Oblivion
Nullpriest of Oblivion - 4.5 - The creature itself is powerful - party, Cleric, cheap, multiple abilities. Even after all these great abilities it still adds more power to the board for a really cheap cost. The only reason this isn't a 5 is there needs to be a reasonably decent creature in the graveyard to get full insane value.
Oblivion's Hunger
Oblivion's Hunger - 1.5 - A deck would have to be filled with counter effects and creatures for this card to be any good. There is also a chance you might want this if the deck has multiple game winning bombs, but it is unlikely.
Pelakka Predation
Pelakka Predation - 1.5 - Even though this can be played in place of a Swamp the ability isn't what a deck wants. It comes into play tapped early, and late, when Swamps are not wanted, its ability is often dead as well.
Scion of the Swarm
Scion of the Swarm - 1/3 - Most decks do not want this card. It is a bit expensive for the card itself. Cards like Ghastly Gloomhunter can make this playable. A deck needs at least 3 cards that can continuously gain life (not one time effects). White would be a good color pair for this card.
Scourge of the Skyclaves
Scourge of the Skyclaves - 3 - Even though this creature only costs 2-mana it is a very late game creature. It's great for the mana cost, but often by the time it gets large it will be overkill, or simply too late to save you.
Shadow Stinger
Shadow Stinger - 3 - Rogues are easy enough to find so this will block the ground really nicely. It also fills a party and triggers other Rogue themed cards. Pay attention to the mill ability as well - three cards can add up fast in Limited.
Shadows' Verdict
Shadows' Verdict - 2 - This card is too situational to make the maindeck, but I like having it in the sideboard. Some decks will be absolutely obliterated by this card.
Skyclave Shade
Skyclave Shade - 4 - This card isn't going to win the game on its own, but it does give a fair amount of card advantage over the length of a game. Later in the game it also comes back bigger once you have the mana to play the kicker. Don't be afraid to trade this off aggressively to make sure you can bring it back as much as possible.
Skyclave Shadowcat
Skyclave Shadowcat - 3 - Shadowcat adds a lot of value to the board. He allows you to get value out of creatures that might die anyway, and he draws extra cards if the deck has any counter synergy. Cards like Subtle Strike become way better with Shadowcat on board.
Soul Shatter
Soul Shatter - 3.5 - Forcing an opponent to sacrifice the highest CMC card means it is effective more often when compared to cards like Pharika's Libation. Not worth splashing, but this will make the cut in any Black deck.
Subtle Strike
Subtle Strike - 3 - A combat trick that can potentially generate a 2-for-1 and leave behind value with a counter is always a solid playable at 2 mana. It does require some setup to take full advantage but you can usually at least get a 1-for-1 and have some value left over.
Taborax, Hope's Demise
Taborax, Hope's Demise - 4.5 - Taborax has it all. He is cheap, evasive, gets bigger, wins races, and can even help with card advantage. This is no reason not to play this when given the chance.
Thwart the Grave
Thwart the Grave - 3.5 - Putting creatures from the graveyard onto the battlefield is kind of nuts. It is not unreasonable to expect to pay 5 or even 4 mana for this spell, and it adds a ton of value to the board. The only reason I did not rate this higher is because it relies on creatures actually being in the graveyard, making it a dead card some of the time.
Vanquish the Weak
Vanquish the Weak - 3 - Always happy to play these spells. The format does have a lot of impactful creatures that are small. This will also be great to break up parties at instant speed.
Zof Consumption
Zof Consumption - 2 - Playing this for free in place of a Swamp is fine. The spell is not exciting, but it's better than drawing a land late game.

Top 3 Black Commons

  1. Deadly Alliance
  2. Vanquish the Weak
  3. Feed the Swarm

Looking at Blue and Black today has gotten me really excited to draft some really fun Rogue decks. The format seems low to the ground and scrapy - just the way I like to play Limited! Can't wait to see what is in the rest of the set!

These articles are used for draft ratings on Untapped.gg, and because of this we will be updating them periodically with new information and insight. Comments and discussions help me improve the articles and provide the best information for both other readers and Untapped.gg. So please feel free to comment below and give me your thoughts.

See you tomorrow for Red and Green!

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