Duel Deck: Zendikar vs Eldrazi Review and Unboxing, by Kayure Patel

Duel Deck: Zendikar vs Eldrazi Review and Unboxing by Kayure Patel

Duel Deck: Zendikar vs Eldrazi Review and Unboxing

Duels Decks are a product released by Wizards which contain two pre-constructed casual decks, specifically designed to be played against one another to create close and exciting matches. The Zendikar vs. Eldrazi deck focuses on the two warring factions in the upcoming Battle for Zendikar expansion set. The Duel Deck will be released on Friday 28th August and can be purchased with a minimal amount of clicking.

Zendikar vs Eldrazi was one of the most interesting FA Cup 4th Round draws

Thousands of years ago, the Eldrazi invaded the plane of Zendikar seeking to devour the plane’s mana to sate their hunger. The Eldrazi’s plan was thwarted when the Titans were imprisoned by three powerful planeswalkers, Sorin, Ugin and Nahiri. However, since then the Eldrazi Titans have been released from their hedron prison and have resumed their destruction of Zendikar. The upcoming expansion, Battle for Zendikar, will therefore focus on the, err Battle for Zendikar, as Planeswalkers, Zendikari natives and even the plane itself attempt to fight the Eldrazi hordes.

The decks come with a deckbox and a spindown

The Zendikar deck is a Green/White deck with subthemes of Allies, Landfall and Level Up creatures. Allies are a returning theme from the original Zendikar set and are creatures which provide bonuses whenever you play other Allies. The Duel Deck showcases [card]Veteran Warleader[/card] from the new set, a 3 mana creature which has power and toughness equal to the number of creatures you control. What sets this apart from previous incarnations of this effect is that tapping another Ally you control provides the Warleader with first strike, vigilance or trample.

Veteran Warleader (Pre-order)
The Duel Deck showcases Veteran Warleader from the new set.

During battles between the two decks, this ability was often a deciding factor in who was victorious, with first strike and trample being the most powerful options. This was especially the case given the Eldrazi deck’s lack of removal, allowing the Veteran to get large quickly. Speaking of getting large quickly, the Landfall theme is personified by the other haymaker in the deck, cube and commander staple, [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card]. This 7 mana 5/5 brings an army of plant tokens with him that threaten to get bigger every time a land enters the battlefield under your control.

Avenger of Zendikar - Foil (Pre-order)
Hopefully the army of plants can get the hedron out of his head

The two remaining cards from the new set in the deck are [card]Sheer Drop[/card] and [card]Retreat to Kazandu[/card]. Sheer Drop is a 3 mana instant that destroys a tapped creature. While an instant speed [card]Assassinate[/card] is nothing ground-breaking, it features a new keyword, Awaken. If you cast [card]Sheer Drop[/card] for its Awaken cost, in addition to destroying a tapped creature, it turns one of your lands into a 0/0 creature and puts 3 +1/+1 counters on it. Any mechanic that gives a player a choice of how to use cards has the potential to be powerful, so it will be interesting to see how other cards in Battle for Zendikar use the keyword.

Zendikar, despite its troubles, had a price decrease on women’s hosiery
Zendikar, despite its troubles, had a price decrease on women’s hosiery. Image credit: Wizards of the Coasts

[card]Retreat to Kazandu[/card] is the latest in an increasingly long line of enchantments that provides an effect when you have a land enter the battlefield. In M14 [card]Primeval Bounty[/card] was absurdly powerful. In Born of the Gods, [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] established itself as a format staple. In Magic Origins, Zendikar’s [card]Roil[/card] was so valueless we wrote “[card]Nissa Worldwaker[/card]” on it when proxying Standard decks. Unfortunately for [card]Retreat to Kazandu[/card], it seems destined to follow its most recent predecessor by having “[card]Nissa, Vastwood Seer[/card]” written on it.

Hopefully when we get to Kazandu we find a different card
Hopefully when we get to Kazandu we find a different card

Zendikar Decklist

Creature (23)

[deck]1 Scute Mob
2 Caravan Escort
1 Beastbreaker of Bala Ged
1 Knight of Cliffhaven
1 Frontier Guide
1 Affa Guard Hound
1 Turntimber Basilisk
1 Tajuru Archer
1 Daggerback Basilisk
1 Stonework Puma
1 Veteran Warleader
1 Grazing Gladehart
1 Joraga Bard
1 Ondu Giant
1 Makindi Griffin
1 Wildheart Invoker
2 Graypelt Hunter
1 Kabira Vindicator
2 Territorial Baloth
1 Avenger of Zendikar[/deck]

Sorcery (2)

[deck]1 Oust
1 Primal Command[/deck]

Instant (5)

[deck]2 Sheer Drop
1 Groundswell
1 Repel the Darkness
1 Harrow[/deck]

Artifact (2)

[deck]1 Explorer’s Scope
1 Seer’s Sundial[/deck]

Enchantment (2)

[deck]1 Retreat to Kazandu
1 Khalni Heart Expedition[/deck]

Land (26)

[deck]2 Graypelt Refuge
1 Stirring Wildwood
2 Turntimber Grove
2 Evolving Wilds
9 Plains
10 Forest[/deck]

The Eldrazi deck is a Red/Black Eldrazi deck with a sacrifice subtheme. This harks back to the original Zendikar where the black tribe was Vampires, though unlike the Allies of the Zendikar deck there is no new spoiler card for the tribe. There is however, a spoiler card for the deck’s other tribe, [card]Oblivion Sower[/card] of the Eldrazi. The newest Eldrazi doesn’t have the Annihilator mechanic of the originals, but it is still an enormous monster, a 6 mana 5/8. As you cast [card]Oblivion Sower[/card], it exiles the top of an opponent’s library and puts all land cards from their exile zone into play under your control. Thematically it fits with the Eldrazi stealing the mana from the world of Zendikar, without being as horrendous to play against as Annihilator was.

Each deck also comes with the requisite tokens
Each deck also comes with the requisite tokens

The other huge Eldrazi in the deck are [card]Artisan of Kozilek[/card], [card]Ulamog’s Crusher[/card] and the $14 Mythic rare [card]It that Betrays[/card]. The first reprint of the latter since Rise of the Eldrazi is excellent news for collectors as with more of him in circulation his price should drop (though multiple [card]It that Betrays[/card] is probably bad for Zendikari natives). These huge alien beasts can be cast earlier than their mana cost would suggest due to the abundance of Eldrazi spawn creators in the deck, as they can be sacrificed to create a colourless mana. The Eldrazi Spawn are also excellent with the deck’s sacrifice theme and can win the game on the spot in combination with [card]Butcher of Malakir[/card].

Where are your Thraben Purebloods now?
Where are your Thraben Purebloods now?

The deck also features two new, smaller Eldrazi – [card]Dominator Drone[/card] and [card]Forerunner of Slaughter[/card], each of which showcase one of Battle for Zendikar’s new mechanics. Devoid creatures have no colour, despite having colour requirements in their mana cost and Ingest exiles the top cards of an opponent’s library upon dealing damage (a combo with [card]Oblivion Sower[/card]…). The deck also contains an abundance of removal spells, including several that are excellent in conjunction with large Eldrazi. [card]Consume the Meek[/card] kills all creatures with converted mana cost 3 or less, at instant speed and [/card]Induce Despair[card] gets more powerful depending on how large the creatures in your hand are.

Eldrazi Decklist

Creature (22)

[deck]1 Butcher of Malakir
2 Runed Servitor
1 Bloodthrone Vampire
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Cadaver Imp
1 Forerunner of Slaughter
2 Dominator Drone
1 Torch Slinger
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Magmaw
1 Bloodrite Invoker
2 Heartstabber Mosquito
3 Emrakul’s Hatcher
1 Oblivion Sower
1 Ulamog’s Crusher
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 It That Betrays[/deck]

Sorcery (7)

[deck]1 Hellion Eruption
2 Forked Bolt
1 Marsh Casualties
2 Read the Bones
1 Corpsehatch[/deck]

Instant (3)

[deck]1 Induce Despair
1 Smother
1 Consume the Meek[/deck]

Artifact (2)

[deck]2 Mind Stone[/deck]

Land (26)

[deck]2 Rocky Tar Pit
1 Eldrazi Temple
3 Akoum Refuge
7 Mountain
13 Swamp[/deck]

As well as being fun to battle against each other, the decks each contain six rare cards, as well as numerous reprints of older cards. These are great for collectors, especially with occasional cube inclusions such as [card]Rocky Tar Pit[/card] seeing print in the modern border for the first time ever. This Duel Deck is also one of the first since Izzet vs. Golgari that contains large numbers of Modern and Legacy playable cards. [card]Forked Bolt[/card], [card]Stirring Wildwood[/card], [card]Primal Command[/card] and even [card]Marsh Casualties[/card] have seen increased play lately and their secondary market prices have slowly risen as a result.

The alternate art cards in Duel Decks since Elspeth vs. Kiora have also significantly improved. In Zendikar vs. Eldrazi, notably [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card], [card]Primal Command[/card] and [card]Consume the Meek[/card] look incredible and are worthy additions to any collection.

Choose two: Look nice; be pretty; have good art; gain 7 life
Choose two: Look nice; be pretty; have good art; gain 7 life. Image credit: Wizards of the Coasts

The decks contain some nice cards with excellent casual appeal and reprints for collectors. Another lesson learned from previous decks is that there is less aggressive reprinting of new cards – in the past large proportions of the decks have been comprised of cards released in the last 18 months. However, Zendikar vs. Eldrazi has a good mix of cards from across the history of Magic, though there are a large amount from Zendikar block, but this is to be expected given the theme.

The decks are evenly matched, though the Zendikar deck can often struggle if the Eldrazi are ever able to land one of the huge Annihilating threats as it is very difficult for the Zendikar deck to remove them without Annihilator first triggering. Overall, Zendikar vs. Eldrazi has excellent value contained within it and is a good way to introduce players to battling one another with premade decks and the inclusion of key eternal format spells, such as [card]Forked Bolt[/card] and [card]Stirring Wildwood[/card], provide even veteran players something to look forward to.

Interested in winning your own copy of the Zendikar vs. Eldrazi duel deck? We have TWO to give away!

Win a Free Zendikar vs Eldrazi Duel Deck x 2!

Win a Free Zendikar vs Eldrazi Duel Deck x 2!

This Freebie is for a chance to win a free Win a Free Zendikar vs Eldrazi Duel Deck!

  • How to win:
    1. We will select and time and date between now and 5th September 2015.
    2. Leave a comment in the comment area above.
    3. The last comment nearest to the time and date selected above will win a free Zendikar vs Eldrazi Duel Deck.
    4. We will select a winner from the comments on this page as well as on our Facebook thread here. So there will be 2 x Zendikar vs Eldrazi Duel Deck given away for free, one to each winner.
    • The winner will be picked between now and September 5th 2015.
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Thanks for reading,


Kayure Patel
Duel Deck: Zendikar vs Eldrazi

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