Zendikar Session Report 5

Green finally hit a bump in the road, but that was counterbalanced by the apparent diversity in deckbuilds embedded in various color combinations. Both Brian and I felt like we could take our decks in multiple directions, and in fact, I did just that over the course of this session. I started out with a pretty standard WU Skies deck with some cancellation and bounce spells to keep threats at bay. This deck was solid, and after three games, I swapped out nine cards to make a Wu Kor/Ally Equipment deck. The new deck ran the risk of being inconsistent, as proven in the first game, when it couldn't really get anything going. But in the second game, I got to mess with all the synergies. One move in particular signified the deck and made it feel completely different from the previous one: at one point, I used Cohort to tap two Allies to grab an Equipment card that I could then attach to the Armament Master, in turn buffing the two Allies, who were also Kor. (I foolishly attacked with the Armament Master on my next turn, allowing Brian to cast an Immolating Glare to remove it from the game, but getting those synergies to work for even one turn made it feel like the set has a lot of nuance baked in.) I feel like this set is quite solid, and I look forward to more plays.

Zendikar Session Report 4

Well, I'm sold. Say what you will about a small sample size, but it's now 4 out of 4 sessions in which the green does wins at least one game. (A second win could happen, pending our tie-breaker.) I think it's fair to say green is perfectly fine in this particular take on Zendikar. I didn't take it too far in the other direction either, as it's lost a game in every session so far as well. In this case, a GW Support deck was going up against a URb Ingest Control deck, which I think most pundits would have said was the best color combination in BFZ. I didn't have a lot going on in the early game, but was usually able to take out an early drop and in both games got out the Dampening Pulse, which helped slow things down, especially since I was facing lots of small to medium creatures. My finisher in both games was Ulamog's Despoiler, and I managed to get it into play both times. In the first game, it was just a little too late, and I couldn't hold off the finishing blow. In the second game, it was onto a clear battlefield, resulting in a victory soon thereafter. This card seems like an exception to the trend of Eldrazi being a step down in this set from how they were (reportedly) in the original--it was a 9/9 for just 6 mana in both games after all--but this guy's that awesome only in this deck. I had to build the whole thing around ingesting; otherwise, it would have been a mediocre 5/5. We've still got one more game to go in this match, but at this point I'm convinced this set is quite balanced for our purposes. The next test will be to test the limits of deck diversity. In this session, I was glad to see the UB deck basically port itself into UR, and GW had a bit of character beyond just being a "beatdown" deck.

Zendikar Session Report 3

Today's matchup between a Bgc Control deck and a WU Skies deck confirmed again that this set does not suffer from its progenitors' weaknesses. The green deck went 2-1, though granted it was mostly a black deck. Eldrazi continue to be strong but not dominant. A couple of mine got bounced before they had much impact, and the totally unfair Desolation Twin actually seems quite fair given it was in my hand just once, and I was at 9 mana when I lost that game. BG, which many complained lacked identity, actually seemed to have a few directions it could go, but who knows if the directions I abandoned would be feasible in a different draft. All in all, this continues to seem like a solid, enjoyable set (for me).

Zendikar Session Report 2

Today's session saw a BR Colorless Midrange deck facing off against a 5CG Converge deck. The latter won 2-1, but one of its victories was extremely close--both players at 3 life going into the final turn and only a late lucky draw keeping the Converge deck alive that long. Both decks probably weren't optimal for their color combinations: BR probably wanted to be more aggressive, while the 5CG wanted to be more controlling. But the fact that they were built to the middle probably made the matches closer and more interesting. This set continues to seem quite "intricate," as building decks--as with the set itself--feels like I'm piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Cards seem to be optimal only in very specific circumstances, and making those circumstances come together tends to be at odds with getting other cards to work optimally. I have been pleased to see the land theme make its way into almost every deck so far, even if only in a minor way. I was even more pleased that a Green-based deck went 2-1 for the second time in a row. Yeah, it's just two sessions, but early indications are that it's far from "unplayable," as it was in Battle for Zendikar.

Zendikar Session Report 1

We tried out a chunk of this set last night, and I was pleased to see the unique feel of Zendikar manifest itself during our matches but without the attendant weaknesses some of these sets were known for. The RG Landfall deck was exemplary here, making great use Zendikar's land-focused mechanics, not only with its laser focus on the landfall mechanic but with its accumulation of cards that searched for lands and got them into play. Going 2-1, it showed that Green was far from "unplayable," as it had been for Battle for Zendikar (BFZ). The UB Ingest deck made a strong showing with close matches, but ultimately came away winless...a minor victory from the standpoint of this cube's design. Many pros had this as one of the top decks in BFZ, so the fact that it lost to a deck with Green in it multiple times said a lot. But the matches weren't lopsided: UB kept things interesting with tons of answers and was able to throw down some badass Eldrazi to finish out games. Unfortunately, RG's consistent landfall triggers made its remaining threats just enough to win, and my deck (WBR) had answers of its own that I saved for just these moments. My WBR deck was an interesting mashup of the RW Go Wide deck baked into this set with a BR Threaten/Sacrifice subtheme I didn't even know was in here. I count that latter point as a win too: getting archetypes for each color pair into this set was an intricate puzzle, and I'm pleased to see some surprises amidst my solution. I found the "design" of this set to be quite interesting, but I was worried play might fall flat. At first blush, I'm glad to see that's not the case. It looks like this set might have a lot packed into it.