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Ranking the Mythics of Zendikar

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Zendikar felt like a revolution when it came out. After years of growing complexity turning players away, it felt like a much more back to basics approach for many. It brought numerous beloved mechanics like Landfall and Allies to the game, as well as the iconic adventurous Dungeons & Dragons inspired world that they would later release an actual setting guide for. The ever-popular set features a whole slew of new mythics to talk about and today, I'm ranking them all. Ready to take the plunge? Let's go questing!

15. Chandra Ablaze

Chandra Ablaze

There's a part of me that really wants to put Chandra Ablaze higher because when you read the card, it feels like a puzzle. There has to be something you can do with it, right? Unfortunately, no, not really. In order to maybe deal damage, you have to discard a Red card - one you'd probably otherwise just throw at whatever your target was already. Then there's the wheel effect which is more like a minor wheel effect and likely isn't as helpful as you'd hope it might be, and good luck getting to that ultimate. I found a total of five lists on mtgtop8.com that ever played her in Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. The card looked sketchy back in 2009 and since then has been totally outclassed by several Chandras that have come since.

14. Eternity Vessel

Eternity Vessel

Resetting your life total perpetually has its merits, but can be really difficult to maintain - especially given the cost. The problem is, by the time you're able to cast this card, your life total has likely been pretty heavily depleted. This might be more reasonable in something like Commander, but actual commander damage laughs at the notion. For the mana, you could be doing so much more than this, and while there is promise here, it isn't nearly enough.

13. Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet

Kalitas is a really cool card. Who doesn't love repeatable removal? And then you get a creature yourself out of the deal as well? He even got more love for his turn in Oath of the Gatewatch seeing lots of competitive play. This version being seven mana puts it way out of playability, though, and the card doing nothing when it enters the battlefield hinders its utility. What's more, the fact that you have to tap Kalitas to use his ability - while potent and safe from a game design standpoint - means you don't get to attack with him most of the time. It's a really cool card in theory, but when you actually play it, it ends up feeling clunky and rough.

12. Lorthos, the Tidemaker

Lorthos is quite similar to Kalitas in how it acts as a sort of removal on a giant body. The difference here, though, is that this removal happens when you go in for attacks, making it feel quite a bit more impactful to play by comparison. It's not terribly exciting, but it continues to be a player in super casual Commander games and feels great when you get to pull off that mass tap ability.

11. Rampaging Baloths

Time has made Rampaging Baloths truly uninteresting. For years, it's been a mainstay reprint in a whole host of Commander reprint products. It's even gotten downshifted from mythic to rare as time went on. However, the card was worth a solid couple dollars in its early years and was a pretty well liked card in the earlier years of Commander's mainstream popularity. Despite the simplicity, there's still a certain charm in getting a constant stream of 4/4s on the battlefield, and its continued inclusion in products is a testament to that.

10. Nissa Revane

Playing Nissa Revane actually rocks. It's not hard to gain tons of life or else find a small blocker to defend her and yourself. Then there's the ultimate, where you get to go find all the elves you want. I really want to put her higher because of just how potent she is, but there's one problem: she is incredibly narrow. Most planeswalkers have multiple ways to play them, which is part of what makes them so fun. Nissa only goes in one kind of deck: Elves. If you're not playing a dedicated Elves deck, just don't bother. Oh, and a pro tip: if you get to ultimate her, don't find every elf in your deck, or else you'll find a single board wipe will ruin your day.

9. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

The original Ob Nixilis feels like it was priced to be a powerhouse in Standard and Limited. In truth, it wasn't super great in either, barely making an appearance in Standard and being largely outpaced by a blisteringly fast draft format. In spite of this, it still dishes out some real beats in Commander and in Cube and was the first card for a now iconic character of the game. That counts for a lot.

8. Obsidian Fireheart

This one might prove to be a controversial choice, but I'm standing by it. Obsidian Fireheart has one of the lowest overall EDHREC.com ranks on this list and doesn't see play in really any format. It wasn't even that great in Standard! The reason I place it highly here is because I feel like if anything the card feels underrated. The stats are good and the ability is unique. What's more, if the Fireheart dies, the lands with blaze counters continue dealing damage each turn, allowing you to chip away at life totals with ease. It's a solid choice that deserves more love and does something a bit more interesting than many of the cards on the lower half of this list.

7. Felidar Sovereign

Much like another card we'll see later on, Felidar Sovereign frequently felt like "this could be rare." The idea was that Wizards wanted to put cool alternate win conditions in at mythic because of how unique and cool they are. That's great in most cases, but with Felidar Sovereign there's just not much outside of that. It even ended up at rare when it was later reprinted in Battle for Zendikar! Still, there's no denying just how impactful this card is in Commander. There, your life total starts at 40, so if you never drop a life point and play this, it becomes comically easy to win the game soon after. It's a bit boring, but it's both loved and hated in equal measure among casuals everywhere and for good reason.

6. Warren Instigator

You know what card has made waves in Eternal formats over the years? A little card known as Goblin Lackey in dedicated Goblins decks. So, when you take two Goblin Lackeys and stick them together onto a single card, it has to be good, right? Well, Warren Instigator ended up being a bit overhyped, but as time would go on, the card continues to show that it has a home with diehard goblin lovers. Every so often you'll see players finding ways to utilize it in competitive formats, albeit only for a few weeks. Still, its a really cool mythic if ever there was one.

5. Sorin Markov

The original Sorin was an absolute house. He would see minor competitive play, but he really shined in Commander. The reason is simple: you could cast him and immediately take an opponent's life total to 10. When the format starts players off at 40 life, even just a one-shot use with him dying afterward can turn the tide of an entire game. Couple that with an additional draining ability and a legendary Mindslaver ultimate and you have a truly iconic card.

4. Eldrazi Monument

When Zendikar first came out, the Eldrazi hardly showed up at all. In fact, this was the only card in the set that mentioned them. For all we knew, they could've just been some random bit of backdrop worldbuilding. No one at the time expected what we'd see a few months later with Rise of the Eldrazi. That didn't matter, though, because Eldrazi Monument ended up becoming a Commander powerhouse. A high mana cost and required sacrifices make it a hard sell for competitive environments, but in Commander, both of those are inconsequential. Losing a creature a turn - likely a small token you're repeatedly generating - is a small price to pay for evasion and indestructibility, something just about any Commander player will love.

3. Mindbreak Trap

Mindbreak Trap

If I asked you what the most expensive Modern-legal card is, what would you say? Your average player would probably jump to something like Chalice of the Void or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse - both of which command prices over $60 each. It turns out the real answer is Mindbreak Trap, a card that sees practically no Modern play whatsoever. While it might not be useful there, it is a big deal in Commander as a free counterspell and also sees plenty of play in formats like Legacy and Vintage as a way for non-Blue decks to be able to shut down shenanigans. It's much more of a strong workhorse card compared to most of what's on this list, but there's no doubt it's a mighty one.

2. Iona, Shield of Emeria

If you've never run afoul of Iona, Shield of Emeria, be grateful for it. Nowadays, she's a lot more rare to run into given her removal from the MTGO Vintage Cube and ban in Commander. She's not even seeing much play in Legacy Reanimator where she was once a staple. When she would come down, the game would frequently just end on the spot, shutting players out of whatever color they were playing. This made Iona truly terrifying and one of the best things you could be doing if you could get her into play within the couple of years following her release.

1. Lotus Cobra

Lotus Cobra feels almost like a bad choice. The card was lambasted over its mythic status with many players saying it felt more rare than mythic and that it was only given that rarity to make it more of a chase playable. This was reflected in later printings where it ended up as just a rare in both Iconic Masters and Zendikar Rising. In spite of this, there's no doubt it has staying power. In its original Standard, it pushed many competitive decks of the era, and when it was later reprinted, it enabled the busted Omnath deck that got its namesake - Omnath, Locus of Creation - banned from Standard. While its competitive pedigree comes and goes, it remains an absolute constant in formats like Commander and Cube and is well deserving of the top spot here.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

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