Battle for Zendikar Intro Decks Review, All 5!
With each new Magic: The Gathering set my kids get really excited, I mean we all get excited for all the lovely new cards and the draft format and all of those great things but my kids know that they will get to play in the House Championship.
The what now?
Since Dragons Maze we have bought the Intro Decks and done battle. With each set since then the format has evolved. At first it was me and my son playing a best of 5 with a deck each then it changed to 2 matches where we played the 2 decks each. Back then we got to choose our preferred colors drafting the boxes in turn.
Then my daughter wanted to get involved, so we went back to choosing our decks again, if there is a lady as the face card it doesn’t matter what the mana colors are my daughter wants to play that one.
That was funny when it was Dragons of Tarkir because dragons look like dragons to me but she was able to spot the lady dragons from the men dragons. I’m not sure how useful a talent that will be in the future.
The thing about Intro Decks is they aren’t really aimed at me, I’m already in deep with the game I check the spoilers daily and sort my pre-orders out weeks before the set is released, I get a box to draft with my friends. I don’t need to be introduced to the game.
My son is also a avid player and he can tell the decks are slightly under powered. Which would be a problem if I was planning on taking one of these decks to the Pro Tour but I’m not I’m planning on playing the decks against each other and with that in mind its easy to see the power of each of these decks is is fine.
I know when I crack open these decks and play them at my kitchen table with my kids that no one is going to be playing a deck that completely smooshes the others. It’s worth mentioning that each of these decks only has a couple of rares in them, a drawback to players looking to get their hands on valuable cards to trade but a pretty sound decision form Wizards of the Coast. Due to their new world order strategy the levels of complexity found on common and uncommon cards is much reduced, meaning that newer players will be able to get to grips with these decks quicker and then move on up to the Event Deck of venture down to FNM to start their journey proper.
Let’s have a quick look at the decks.
Each deck has a shiny foil face card which matches up with the set mechanics Rallying Cry has Hero of Goma Fada this is an Ally and the deck is a Rally deck based in white red. traditionally an aggressive pairing.
Swarming Instinct puts Drowner of Hope front and centre and has a clear game plan of making lots of Eldrazi Scions that you can sack for mana to then play a huge Edlrazi titan and crush your opponent.
Call of Blood is the first deck of this cycle to feature one of the colour iconic creature. This one is a Vampire in the shape of Defiant Bloodlord a 4 power 5 toughness flying game winner if ever I saw one. The deck is in black and white and has a life gain theme to it. Lifegain is something newer player are drawn to but in general it’s not always a great strategy. Having played Battle for Zendikar limited I can say life gain is actually a fairly strong plan., maybe weaker in constructed formats but not too weak so as not to run it at your FNM.
Eldrazi Assault is the red black deck. This has another Eldrazi as the face card, Barrage Tyrant and is on the damage plan. It also has a colourless theme which ties into the deviod mechanic from this set.
The last deck Zendikar Rage is the second to feature an iconic creature, Oran-Rief Hydra. This deck is the landfall set, most of the creatures get bigger just by playing a land. If I had to pick a deck to recommend to new players I think this one would be my pick but I don’t get first pick as it goes in the reverse order based on how we ranked the last time we played.
My wife didn’t play last time so she has first pick, she is not a Magic player and in general she sees this as something that just fills the house up but she’s a nice person and agreed to play to make up the numbers. She picked the Hero of Goma Fada deck, her choice was in no way tactical, she judged a deck by its face card. Its a bold strategy, so lets see how it works out for her.
Next up its me, as came third out of three last time out do to mana issues. This causes my kids no end of amusement, they love it when I lose. This time I’m all about putting right what once went wrong.
My daughter is the second from lst to pick after losing out in the finals last time out. With no obvious war princess available she want big numbers. A 4/5 flyer will have to do, a decision that sits well with her when I tell her that the Vampires on Zendikar are led by a powerful lady vamp.
The boy is last, he told me that he would have picked the deck I picked but I can’t be sure if this is true or he’s getting in my head early. In the end he went for the Drowner of Hope, deck he said out of all the cards this one is the closest to being a constructed playable card.
The final deck along with all the boosters would be the prize pool, split between the two finalists.
Pairing were sorted, unfortunately for me I was drawn against my son in the semi-finals, the landfall deck is quick out of the blocks and game 1 was over by turn 5.
Games 2 and 3 were a sad tale of a greedy keep and never hitting landfall after turn 3. I was knocked out and with it my chance to sit aloft of the family until Oath of the Gatewatch arrives in the new year.
The other semi was my wife verse my daughter, she had a bit of an issue with being photographed so in the photo’s she is played by Jessica the Doll.
My wife was on the rally deck she isn’t a regular Magic player but the deck seemed really good, at points it was hard for her to spot the Rally triggers and these games aren’t friendly enough for triggers to be pointed out.
My daughter was ruthless, at one point her life total was over 35 and she was hoping to top deck the Felidar Sovereign alas that never came to be as she one through damage 2 turns after that. I think it’s awesome that an alternate win card is in a set of decks like these and I hope that players that are introduced to things like this early on can be open to the alternative wins in regular games of Magic.
So the final was between the 2 children, I offered my wife a 3rd place play off but she declined when she found out there were no prizes.
The 2 grindier decks made it to the final, it was 1-1 after the first 2. Drana’s Emissary being the MVP for my daughters black white deck.
Game 3 ended after my son played the Bane of Bala Ged it is the only card like it in the set, it has a form of annihilator on it, it says.
“Whenever Bane of Bala Ged attacks, defending player exiles two permanents he or she controls.”
It is a feel-bad card. Its strange to see it here in the Intro Decks as the original Annihilator mechanic didn’t come back because it was rather unpopular.
Anyway that did not sour our afternoon of Magic and even though my son was the winner he agreed to share his packs with his sister and they opened them together.
The intro decks are a great way into Magic, they are slightly underpowered in terms of what’s going on at your FNM but then everybody has to start somewhere.
Community Question: What Battle for Zendikar Intro Deck did you buy?
Thanks for reading,