I'll admit, I've not been one to keep track of the overall story told within the Magic: The Gathering universe, but it seems to be a focus Wizards of the Cost has been pushing for some time now. I read the very first published book (to my knowledge), which featured a protagonist by the name of Garth. I remember his name (I hope that's right...), there were specific schools/houses of magic he was infiltrating, and that I really liked it. I also recall attempting to get through the second book, which seemed completely unrelated, and being unable to do so. That's when I stopped following along, for the most part.
So when it comes to returning to Zendikar (returning to previous planes highlighted in the series is apparently the new trend, and a highly successful one at that!) I have little to no idea as to WTF is exactly going on. Someone unintentionally released some all-powerful, all-consuming Ancient One like entities called the Eldrazi who are hell bent on annihilating everything we love and hold dear in the wake of their destruction... NBD!
I'm sure someone else can (and will) correct me where I'm wrong and in-turn set the record straight, filling in everyone a bit more properly. I would like that and appreciate being in the know myself. One thing I do know, however, is that the Battle for Zendikar spoilers are upon us and whether the forces of good or evil prevail, chances are your wallet won't survive!
Something Devoid This Way Ingests
This time around the Eldrazi bring about some new mechanics to play with: Devoid and Ingest. Devoid, which states simply that the creatures bearing this attribute are colorless, is creating quite the speculation run at some recently released cards. I can understand why, and it's very temping to partake in (I dabble in speculating and MTGFinance, but it's mostly from a far far distance) but I know I haven't crept into the selling/trading aspect of speculating; one of the most important parts. I just keep all the pretties for myself! Until they are worth pennies once again and forgotten to time...
If the Eldrazi are opposed to using invisible swords over their bare hands to obliterate their enemies, I'm sure this guy isn't:
Ingest seems like an interesting mechanic, but not exactly powerful. Exiling is a lot more permanent than Milling cards, but at one a piece it seems pretty non-threatening. Now if there was a modifier attached to it, dictating variable quantities of cards getting exiles, I'd find it more appealing. Maybe this does exist and I just haven't seen the spoiler yet, though!
If a Land Falls on the Battlefield and No One Is Around, Does It Trigger Anything?!
Gah! That was terrible, I know! But deal with it, it's all I got...
So the Landfall mechanic — abilities that trigger when a land comes into play under your control — has once again returned and it has many excited, both on a financial and non-financial fronts. I just think it was a fun, popular mechanic. This time around they are adding a few twists to how it works. For example, some enchantments with Landfall are modular (a term I wasn't previously familiar with), which triggers a choice of abilities when a land enters the battlefield. I'm looking forward to the rest of this assumed cycle of enchantments to be revealed. I'm really hoping the red enchantment will offer some damage dealing as an option.
This isn't the sole evolution of Landfall. For some cards bearing the mechanic, there is a bonus effect depending on if the land entering the battlefield is of a specific type (Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, Swamp). So far an Island and Forest version has been spoiled.
These changes may not seem like much, but I feel it adds a little spice to an old mechanic.
Whether some of these cards may have potential to see standard play, or play in other formats, a few are definitely already proudly flying their Commander banner! These are the ones speculators are touting for foil purchases.
I can't disagree.
The Landfall mechanic itself has spurred some speculating on cards released in Magic Origins, which hinted that it would be coming back, and beyond. I like the two main prospects: Animist's Awakening and Sword of the Animist. I'm too gun-shy to pull the trigger on paper versions, but I did buy a handful on Magic Online. Not sure if that's the best move, but unlike with paper, I have no problems with selling via Magic Online. The drawbacks being payoffs aren't readily available in cash, and generally online pricing is fairly lower than paper. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are few and far inbetween. If I were going to be buying foil versions, however, I'd only do so in paper. Foils online barely go for more than their regular counterparts.
In fact, come to think of it, when Landfall was first announced in the original Zendikar block, it was the first time I actually took to speculating. My cards of choice were Knight of the Reliquary (.25/1) and Scapeshift (.10/1) regular/foils. To this day, whenever Landfall is mentioned I can't help but think of Scapeshift. It was my first real foray into MTG speculating and thankfully it was a successful one. Even if I did miss the original spike of those cards, Scapeshift rebounded from it's plummet just in time for me to unload almost all of my stock from anywhere between 25-35 tix each. Foils would barely move. With these new cards with Landfall, some featuring powerful abilities, it makes me wonder if Scapeshift may rebound again and/or be reprinted back into Standard.
Either way, playing lands becomes a bit more versatile and fun this Fall! Speaking of lands...
It Takes Two
Now for some of the biggest news of the upcoming Battle for Zendikar set! The lands themselves! Early reports were that a new cycle of Dual Lands would be produced, which sent people into a temporary tizzy. Many believed that the enemy Fetch Lands, introduced in the original ZEN block, would be making a reappearance. They weren't in Modern Masters and the friendlies were just printed in Standard. I imagine people were selling them off on the assumption they would be in this block. Soon after the announcement, prices began to spike on said Fetch Lands. Everyone eagerly awaited news of these new dual lands...
This weekend, via PAX Prime, we finally got a peek at what this new cycle consists of:
There they are in all of their... subdued, arguably playable... beauty! A key factor is that they each are two land types, similar to Shock Lands, meaning you can dig for them with Fetch Lands! I like them, and I feel they will see Standard play, but I'm not sure about other formats. From what I've been reading on social media is that many Modern decks, for example, that use Fetch Lands, play with two to four Basic Lands, so the feasibility that the Tango Lands will come into play untapped isn't very high. This is a turn off to many and rightly so. Time will tell!
Back to Basics
Another exciting announcement was the return of Full Art Basic Lands! Not only that, but there will be different art featured. Everyone believed that the full art lands would make a return, but I, for one, was worried they would be lazy and just reprint the same cards from the original ZEN block. I wasn't collecting Magic back in the ZEN block days, so some of this is new to me. I thought full art cards were available only in Fat Packs, but I very well may be mistaken. Perhaps there were some inserted into booster packs. Or maybe only foil versions of the Full Art Basic Lands were? Anyone that knows, please, I welcome some highlighting on this. I'm a little in the dark...
I'd really like to get my hands on these (doesn't everyone?), more so the foils!
Another confusing topic I've heard discussed is Zendikar Treasures, implying that special cards were distributed throughout ZEN booster packs. I'm not sure what that is/was exactly, but it's being cited in comparison to one of the most controversial reveals yet from Battle for Zendikar...
Why Did It Have to Be Mythic?!
What are Expedition Lands you ask? Well, let's take a look, shall we?
Soooooooo yep. Despite the assumption of a specific cycle of cards not being reprinted in Battle for Zendikar, there is proof that they indeed are. But the surprises were still coming as not only was an enemy Fetch Land spoiled, but also an enemy Shock Land? And then the friendly Shock Land?! Wait, and they are mythic rarity?! What the shitballs is going on?!
It turns out Wizards of the Coast is keeping with their Zendikar Treasures theme from the original block (which I know absolutely nothing about) and inserting special promotional mythic foil reprints of popular land cards in alternate full art form! Between the two blocks there will be 45 promotional Expedition Land cards. 25 in Battle for Zendikar, 20 in the following set. Knowing the 5 new Tango Lands will be among them, and the currently revealed cards, it seems obvious that the entire Fetch Land and Shock Land cycles will be featured in Battle for Zendikar.
Some speculate that those two cycles will be featured in the following set, as well, sans the Tango Lands. Or could they release enemy Tango Lands? Enemy Fast Lands? Man Lands? Who's to say? Whatever the case, this reveal has sparked debates within MTGFinance and among the playerbase at large. Some fear that the rebounding prices on the original Fetch Lands and Shock Lands will be hurt. Others claim this is just a cash grab by WotC as it doesn't effectively add any decent supply of cards into circulation for Modern, and will hurt the overall pricing of other rares and mythics in the set.
From what I garnished, these cards are only available in foil, and are only marginally more available than foil mythics (which was cited at being 1 per case of booster boxes). I've never actually known the actual odds/ratio of foil mythics, but if true, this would place 1 (maybe 2) Expedition Land for every case of booster boxes. I agree with those stating that given the rarity these cards are being printed at, that it should have almost none, if any, affect on their original counterparts. Nor should this campaign cheapen the value of other chase rares and mythics being released in the set.
What about the price of the Expedition Lands themselves, though? Honestly, I can only imagine they will cost a ridiculous amount of money. Even for the less sought after Fetch Lands like Arid Mesa. I can't lie, I'm really excited about these, but I realize the odds of ever collecting full playsets is a lost cause. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll own one at some point. Maybe three...
LGSs are already jacking up prices on sealed product, though, and hopefully this is very temporary and/or minimal. Knowing the value of what these cards will be going for, it seems hard for companies to avoid being enticed into gouging their customers, akin to what happens with the less abundant From the Vault series.
Tango & Cash
I had to mention this reference, because I loved it.
With the new land cycle dubbed Tango, it's possible to open a booster with not only a Tango Land, but with an Expedition Land, and if it's one thing that's completely clear to everyone, it's that Expedition Lands equal Cash!
Before you break the bank, though, just remember that the odds are forever not in your favor if you believe you will be buying case loads of Battle for Zendikar booster boxes and striking gold with multiple copies of each Expedition Land. You won't be throwing a fat stack of them up in the air screaming "Make It Rain!" anytime in the near future. Or ever. It's more likely the only raining that will occur in that scenario is the tears falling over Tiny Timmy or Sweet Sally, as they sleep in their cribs, after you've blown through their entire college savings on Magic: The Gathering cards...
Then again... this seems like a legit scenario for almost anyone addicted to Cardboard Crack on the daily... So fuck it, right?!
The Battle for Zendikar begins!! Well... on Oct 2, 2015 that is...
Are you familiar with the Magic storylines up to this point? Are you excited for the release of Battle for Zendikar? Were you around during the original ZEN set? What do you think of the Landfall and Devoid mechanics?
What's your opinion of the new Tango duel lands? Will they see play outside of Standard? What is/was your initial reaction when learning about Expedition Lands? Do you think they threaten the value of the originals and/or other cards within the set?
What's your favorite spoiler so far from BFZ?