Ultimate Sacrifice – Battle for Zendikar Event Deck Review
With every new set, Wizards of the Coast release an Event Deck. These Event Decks are designed for relatively new players looking to make inroads into competitive play by providing a 60 card deck with 15 card sideboard designed to put up a fight at local FNMs and Game Day.
But before we start.
The Elrazi are here!…
The deck is designed to be played straight out of the box at a more competitive environment than the Intro decks, and as such includes 10 rares compared to the former’s 2, as well as numerous playsets to aid deck consistency.
Ultimate Sacrifice is the Battle for Zendikar Event Deck and features an array of green and black cards with a sacrifice theme. Notably it is the first Event Deck to contain mythic rares (Whisperwood Elemental and Warden of the First Tree.) Previously, Event Decks only contained regular rares, so the precedent set by Ultimate Sacrifice bodes well for the inclusion of even more powerful cards in future Event Decks and Clash Packs.
3 Caustic Caterpillar
4 Jaddi Offshoot
3 Cranial Archive
2 Ultimate Price
The core of the deck is the synergy the creatures have with sacrifice effects. Multiple creatures have the ability to create Eldrazi Scions, which are naturally sacrificed to make mana. Meanwhile other creatures, such as Hangarback Walker and Whisperwood Elemental produce more creatures when sacrificed, turning their death into additional advantage. As well as creatures that provide value upon death, there are numerous creatures that benefit from other creatures dying. Zulaport Cutthroat drains the opponent’s life, Catacomb Sifter scrys while Grim Haruspex and Smothering Abomination draw cards. The synergy between the two types of creatures is rounded out with some additional sacrifice outlets, such as Evolutionary Leap, and powerful game ending cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Warden of the First Tree.
The deck is capable of aggressive draws, curving Blisterpod into Catacomb Sifter culminating in a turn 4 Whisperwood Elemental or Smothering Abomination. Draws where Ultimate Sacrifice is able to deploy a Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat also threaten to end games quickly, similar to Tom Martell’s Pro Tour winning Aristocrats deck from Innistrad/Return to Ravnica Standard. The two copies of Rogue’s Passage provide reach to get through the final points of damage if the opponent is able to deploy sufficient blockers.
The deck’s natural gameplan however, is to grind out incremental value from so many of the cards being two-for-ones. The deck’s creatures are difficult to deal with efficiently, given that so many of them provide an additional advantage upon death. This leads to opponents trading one-for-one with the bigger card (killing sifter, leaving the scion) which results in them either falling behind on mana or cards. From there it is often a case of finishing them off with whatever cards you have remaining.
Ultimate Sacrifice also has numerous spot removal spells in case the opponent plays threats that must be dealt with. Both Murderous Cut and Bone Splinters can be cast for one mana, allowing greater mana efficiency.
Playing with the deck, Corpseweft is weak, underperforms and would be better served as another Evolutionary Leap as a sacrifice outlet that provides card advantage, while not removing cards that could be delved to Murderous Cut or Tasigur, the Golden Fang. I was also unsure about the Jaddi Offshoots in the sideboard, but after playing against mono-red decks (who no longer have a reliable 3 damage burn spell) the card proved its worth tremendously, acting similarly to Nyx-Fleece Ram in old Standard.
In the past, criticisms have been levied at Event Decks for containing bulk rares and uncommons and commons from the previous set rather than the new one. In creating the decklist for Ultimate Sacrifice, Wizards have clearly taken into account these criticisms as none of them could be attributed to this event deck. Of the 10 rares, 8 are from Khans block or Origins and 7 of those (not Corpseweft) have seen play in high level tournament Magic in Standard. Hangarback Walker and Tasigur, the Golden Fang are also played in older non-rotating formats.
The remaining two rares are from Battle for Zendikar and while Brood Butcher doesn’t look hugely impactful, Smothering Abomination has the potential to be a very powerful enabler. The ability to draw cards whenever you sacrifice a creature can provide incremental value in a deck with Eldrazi Scions as well as having the potential to be a broken combo enabler in a different shell.
Ultimate Sacrifice also contains playsets of numerous new cards from Battle for Zendikar, including Blisterpod, a new take on fan-favourite Tukatung Thallid. The most exciting playset in the deck however, is Catacomb Sifter. Catacomb Sifter was picked out by Patrick Chapin as the sleeper of the set (Top Level Podcast, Sept 25), due to its synergy with both ramp and midrange strategies, as well as the pure value of 3 power 4 toughness and relevant abilities for just 3 mana.
Included in the already great value of the deck is a deckbox and spindown lifecounter as well as an insert to help teach you about some of the intricacies of the deck’s strategies. It may be the best Event Deck released in the last few years, if not ever (the original Event Deck included a Verdant Catacombs). At only £24.99, the Battle for Zendikar Event Deck is an excellent purchase for both seasoned veterans and aspiring competitive players alike, thanks to its well-designed, powerful and surprisingly valuable contents.
Ultimate Sacrifice goes on sale October 2nd, 2015 – ready for you to dominate new Standard with.
Thanks for ready and I hope you enjoy the deck. Please let me know what you think of it in the comments.