Top 15 Underpriced Rares from Battle for Zendikar
So a new Standard is here and, with it, a whole new meta. Cards that were stand out bombs have dropped and previously unplayable jank has now nosed its way into the scene. The exact shape of the top tier decks will not be fully known until after the Pro Tour, but for now we can take a few things for granted.
- Hangarback Walker is still going to be good and in a lot of decks. By a lot I mean all.
- Seige Rhino is going to be in even more decks than it was before.
It’s obvious why Hangarback Walker will be good, it’s flexible, colourless and an enduring threat, but why are we going to see more Siege Rhinos? Well the answer lies in the mana bases. These new fetchable dual lands make four colour decks a realistic choice for deck builders. These four colour decks should be slow to get going and the traditional choice for early rotation, the aggro deck, should have kept this greedy strategy at bay. The fact that it didn’t is down to… yep Hangarback Walker. The circle is now complete and we should bow down to our four colour overlords.
I am only slightly joking. I do think there are much faster aggro decks out there, but they haven’t been figured out yet. I also happen to think that at some point the Eldrazi will make their titanous presence felt in Standard, but these are discussions for another day. I’d like to take the space afforded me in this column to talk about FNM. Rotation affects FNM much differently than it does the big Opens and the GPs. Sure, there will be players who have their playsets sorted week one, but there will be many more players scratching around for trades and running part-built playable decks.
We will see a much higher variety of cards on a Friday night than we will during Twitch coverage of the Pro Tour. And so we should; the game is enjoyed by many more players than those who aspire to be pros. This is a game for all sorts. With that in mind I’m going to look at a few of the rare level cards that I expect you will see at FNM. I’m also going to have one eye on prices because cards that win Pro Tours cost big bucks and cards that win FNM are always the same cards.
Top 15 Underpriced Rares from Battle for Zendikar
Let’s be honest, 6 mana is a lot and how many times after you play this are you going to hit your land drops? But when you do and start mowing down your opponent’s board you are going to feel great. Especially the evolving wilds into mountain turn. It’s a 4/4 flyer for 6 so it’s not a great deal but sometimes a 4/4 flyer will win you a game.
When this enters that battlefield it exiles all creatures with power 5 or greater. Trust me on this, Eldrazi are going to be stomping all over your FNM and if you playing a deck with creatures that are unaffected by this then it makes sense to run a couple in your sideboard.
And speaking of Eldrazi…
This was also the release promo, which means there are lots about. Whilst it might go unplayed at the Pro Tour, this seems like the kinda card that players on a ramp to my giant Eldrazi strategy might play as their mid game.
Remember Reaper of the Wild? That was the sort of card that players who were on Green Black rock strategies were running because they could get ahold of Siege Rhinos. Well this fella will go straight into those decks. If you have the Scions to spare, the activated ability make blocking awkward. It’s not super efficient but then again nothing matches up against the Rhino very well.
In this new Standard, for 10 mana you can cast Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger. The trouble with that is you need to have the money to buy the card. Mythics, especially ones that are used as one of the faces of the set, will hold their high price so, if your plan involves getting to 10 mana and casting something devastating, you could do worse than spend £1.49 on Desolation Twin.
We are on 6 mana again; this time we are playing Blue. Drowner of Hope. This card feels like a good deal, with 7 power over three bodies with the ability to punch through. It has all the trapping of a Blue finisher but in its own budget way. However it doesn’t have any way to protect itself like hexproof or self exile to dodge a removal spell. It might turn up at FNM because its a 5/5 in Blue but, as you will see later on, I think there are slightly better budget options.
I don’t like this card. I think the drawback is genuine. It reads like a dash card and I think that means it might end up in a deck that actually doesn’t care that it will be returned to the owners hand in each end step (note it is in each end step). But just because I don’t like the card doesn’t mean it won’t turn up at your FNM. If you are playing against a Red/Black deck you should be on your guard for haste creatures anyway, but slip up and you might find yourself getting lightning axed.
Someone at your FNM is going to do it. You know who they are.
This is the most expensive card on the list at £2.99, and it’s on here because I love it. I really want to play with it and do cool things. Is it going to be a card that we see on the Pro Tour? I doubt it. Are players like me all over the country going to try and make 10 scions and pump them? You betcha. Side note, I got hold of a foil one to go in my cube.
A 5 mana 4/4 is about fair. The ability on this is bonkers. It basically says whenever you cast an instant or sorcery, awaken 3. That is some crazy power levels. I could see this in some sort of Jeskai Control deck. Dies to removal of course but if you ever untap with it you are renting an apartment in value town.
The mysteries of seepers? Languish had a high price nearly as soon as it was spoiled and it’s seen a lot of play. Planar Outburst is only £1.40. I recall End Hostilities starting around the same price and climbing slowly up during standard. I expect this card to been in both GP level and FNM decks. The amount of play it sees will depend on how popular awaken is. At that price though it’s worth picking a few.
Speaking of sweepers, Radiant Flames got a bit of flack when it was spoiled as it’s not as consistent as Anger of the Gods in a format with both. Yes that is a valid point, but in a format with just this… well it has a job to do. Also the ‘drawback’ might very well be a good thing. Flexibility is normally a sign of a good card. Being able to choose whether you deal 1, 2 or 3 damage might actually work in your advantage.
This card currently costs 90p; I think it would be a bargain for twice that price. In the middle of the last Standard I was playing a Sultai Control deck. It ran only four counterspells and was permanent heavy. I don’t think this is a one for one replacement for card draw in that deck, I’m just saying that scy 3 or 4 then draw 3 is pretty good. Any more scy than that and you are in Dig Through Time territory. If you don’t have Digs and you want to have card selection and draw well, this is a fair card to run at FNM.
I think this card is top level FNM material. Sometimes it’s just a 3/2 for 3 mana and that’s just okay, but if you can get the balance right between ingest and processors this card is a solid gold winner. I expect a lot of brewers to be looking at this card and feeling that there is a deck here.
Allies. I expect there to be hundreds of different builds for allies. There are a few big money cards here, including Gideon and Drana. Budget FNM decks will more likely run those cards in 1 ofs and the majority of the cards will be the cheaper ones. Veteran Warleader (99p) will be in those decks. It’s not great but it will do work. Angelic Captain will be a curve topper in the aggressive Red White strategies or Hero of Goma Fada could be there. Lantern Scout will make racing difficult as only one decent attack with a few allies puts you way out in front in a damage race. All of these allies are less than £2 and we all know that FNM players will play tribal decks, even when they are terrible. I don’t expect allies to be terrible so watch out.
Remember these card evaluations are a bit of fun. If you play at one of those spikey FNMs then look to the Pro Tour for your card evaluations instead, but I know that not every FNM player knows or cares what cards we are supposed to be playing.
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