You Lika The Juice? – Zendikar: My Quest Has Begun!

Read Bennie Smith every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Friday, October 2nd – Count me amongst the barbarian hordes who’re deeply disappointed at Lotus Cobra’s mythic rarity. I just traded two of the new fetchlands for one Cobra, and based on initial pricing it’s close to an even trade. That’s just ludicrous. Lotus Cobra is a good card, but it’s on par with one fetchland at the most.

My plans for today’s column didn’t pan out like I’d hoped. With R&D’s Ken Nagle flying in for Richmond’s Zendikar prerelease, and with him being a casual and multiplayer enthusiast, I was hoping at a bare minimum to get with him and jot down deck lists for a few of what he brought to gunsling with—including an EDH deck! I also had a few questions to ask… unfortunately for me, the general awesomeness of Zendikar plus the late-breaking news of “hidden treasures” inserted in some lucky few booster packs had the prerelease rocking and rolling with a lot of players. I was working the Admin table, signing people up and collecting fees, so by the time we pushed people through numerous flights, 2 Headed Giant, and lots of drafts, Ken had already left to catch a plane back home.

Fortunately for me, there’s still plenty to talk about from Zendikar! And things to show as well thanks to Abe Corson and other Star City staff who are technologically endowed with picture-devices. We opened two hidden treasures.

Sliver Queeeeen!

The first was Sliver Queen, opened during one of the early flights.


When opening prize packs from one of the last flights, a Plateau was opened.

Misty Rainfooooooooorest!

While not technically a hidden repack, I think most people would count a foil Misty Rainforest quite the treasure!

Ken Naaaagle!

Ken Naaaaaaaaaaaaaagle!

I’m not sure what the other WotC gunslingers were wearing, but Ken Nagle showed up with a very on-theme safari outfit and numerous decks, giving away Zendikar packs if he lost… and giving away M10 packs if he won! Talk about win-win!

Evan Errrrrrrrwin!

The Magic Show’s Evan Erwin was Ken’s wingman at the gunslinger table.

I had someone ask if I liked working Admin for the prerelease events, or if I’d rather be out amongst the players cracking packs and playing. It’s a tough question, especially with a set as cool as Zendikar and the chance of opening a Mox or Lotus. In general, playing Magic trumps working any day of the week. However, working the Admin table lets me interact with a wider swath of Magic players than I otherwise would, and I get a chance to hear a lot of people weigh in with their opinions on the newest set. That’s actually a lot of fun. The general buzz was very positive on the new set; I think there were only two people who came up and said they were unhappy with Zendikar sealed. Most everyone liked the choice of Rampaging Baloths as the prerelease card, both the casual crowd and the spikier players.

After flight 1 had kicked off its first round near the Admin desk, I overheard a player say, “My quest has begun!” I love the flavor of Zendikar and how it lets people make such proclamations. The adventurer-themed equipment is like catnip for old D&D players like myself. Blazing Torch has got to be one of the coolest-flavored pieces of equipment ever. I’m picturing an adventurer waving a torch in front of him while vampires and zombies cringe and skitter away from the light, and eventually being thrown in the face of some monster that promptly bursts into flames, dying. With the Vampire tribe being pushed hard in Zendikar, I wouldn’t be surprised if we all end up with a couple Blazing Torches in our decks.

Count me amongst the barbarian hordes who’re deeply disappointed at Lotus Cobra’s mythic rarity. I just traded two of the new fetchlands for one Cobra, and based on initial pricing it’s close to an even trade. That’s just ludicrous. Lotus Cobra is a good card, but it’s on par with one fetchland at the most. I’m pretty sure once everything shakes out we’re probably going to be playing River Boa more than Lotus Cobra. Unfortunately, the Cobra is good enough that, if you want to play Green in Standard and be competitive, you’re going to want a playset of Lotus Cobra. It’s like Baneslayer Angel; after opening nearly two boxes of Magic 2010 and not cracking a single Baneslayer, I’d stubbornly decided I’d just not play with Baneslayer Angel. Unfortunately, as I’ve been putting together various decks with White in them, I’ve quickly realized they are much less powerful than they should be because I don’t have Baneslayer. While I’m not a Pro Tour player, I do have a competitive streak and when I play in tournaments I want to do well in them. I eventually decided that I’d need a playset of Baneslayers to be competitive in the coming Standard; unfortunately, nobody is willing to trade them. I even offered to throw in a box of Girl Scout cookies from my stash. So with each paycheck I’ve resolved to grit my teeth and purchase a Baneslayer.

Lotus Cobra being mythic irritates me because it’s nowhere near as powerful as Baneslayer, but it’s going to be just as difficult to get a playset and if you’re serious about building competitive green decks you’re very likely going to need a playset. Yes, I know it’s not supposed to be cheap to be a competitive Magic player, and Wizards is the business of making money, but making Lotus Cobra a mythic instead of a regular rare is a sucker punch to the Magic community and seriously mars what is otherwise an awesome set.

Speaking of the Cobra, there are a couple of cards with ridiculous synergy that beg to be built around. Here are the core cards:

4 Khalni Heart Expedition
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Harrow

Just add in some Fetchlands and powerful landfall cards and it seems to me you’re well on your way to something awesome. So what do we add to the mix?

My first instinct is Black. We get a Fetchland, Leech, Pulse, and this guy:

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen – 3BB
Legendary Creature – Demon (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player lose 3 life. If you do, put three +1/+1 counters on Ob Nixilis, the Fallen.

It’s taken a little while for buzz to build on him, but I think most people have come around to his power by now. I’m glad I preordered him early since he’s more than doubled in price!

So for the deck, maybe go ahead and splash Red for Bloodbraid Elf and Lightning Bolt to get a landfall Jund like this:

This looks brutal! While it looks like I’m a bit heavy on the five drops, I actually look at Ob Nixilis as a six-drop since I’d want to play him on the same turn I can also play a land.

I’m a big fan of Malakir Bloodwitch as well, she seems nearly a perfect creature for the metagame – being a protection from white flier means she’s perfect for blocking Baneslayer Angel, and she dodges nearly all of the popular removal being played – Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, and Doomblade.

Here’s what my current Green/White landfall deck looks like:

I’m a little dubious on the Oracle, but it seems like it could be good in a deck like this despite being a 2/2 for four. I also figure Knight of the Reliquary could trade in Forests for Plains to eventually activate Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Dauntless Escort steps up to protect against mass removal or simply to keep Baneslayer Angel in play and being generally ridiculous.

When I first saw Eldrazi Monument, I knew it was a gift from the heavens for Green decks. Indestructibility, flying, +1/+1? Lord, what an amazing package of abilities. The only trick is to keep a steady flow of sacrificial lambs available, but luckily Green has a fair number of those. Nissa Revane and Nissa’s Chosen can certainly keep things rolling, as can Master of the Wild Hunt, Ant Queen, and the amazing Rampaging Baloths.

I have a nit to pick with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. Why does it not have the “you control” clause that tends to make a significant difference between a really great card and one that’s not so great? I love Oran-Rief, but I find it incredibly annoying that if you’re playing against a similar deck that can conceivably create Green creatures at instant speed (Rampaging Baloths, Summoning Trap) it makes things tricky if you want to try and boost your own critters. None of the other rare monocolor lands have the potential of helping your opponent… I certainly hope this doesn’t mark an unwelcome return of Green’s “sharing” theme!

I’m really looking forward to getting the cards to build these decks and test them out for an upcoming FNM.

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to present a new EDH deck, one built around the recently un-banned Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary. Rofellos was banned when I first started playing EDH, so I’d never given him a try and was eager to do so.

It was interesting trying to decide what approach was best to take for Rofellos. Obviously, being guaranteed to cast Rofellos on turn 2 (provided you’re playing a high enough density of Forest) means that your deck’s mana curve can start at four and go rapidly up the scale to silly, mana-hog levels.

There are also quite a few ways to “go infinite” with him; with enough Forests in play, Umbral Mantle, Sword of the Paruns, and Staff of Domination can all give you an arbitrarily large amount of mana.

Now, you know I’m not big on combo kills, so I was in a bit of a bind. Cutting out the infinite mana combos would certainly hamstring the deck’s power. I decided not to have any infinite table kills to sink the mana into, no Rocket Launcher or Helix Pinnacle; instead, I would use the infinite mana in order to play numerous gigantic “haymaker” style spells. I’d also add some funky old artifacts that tend to be mana hogs and end up getting cut from most of my EDH decks.

Here’s what I ended up building:

1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Dark Depths
1 Arena
1 Rancor
1 Exploration
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Gaea’s Touch
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Eternal Witness
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Umbral Mantle
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Staff of Domination
1 Forcefield
1 Sword of the Paruns
1 Tower of Fortunes
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Greater Good
1 Harmonize
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Masked Admirers
1 Drumhunter
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Seedguide Ash
1 Genesis
1 Tornado
1 Weatherseed Treefolk
1 Spectral Force
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Kodama of the North Tree
1 Silklash Spider
1 Forethought Amulet
1 That Which Was Taken
1 Ring of Immortals
1 Al-abara’s Carpet
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Minion Reflector
1 Memory Jar
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Gaea’s Liege
1 Child of Gaea
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Force of Nature
1 Lurking Predators
1 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
1 Paleoloth
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 Mindslaver
1 Planar Portal
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Tornado Elemental
1 Regal Force
1 Mossbridge Troll
1 Panglacial Wurm
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Verdant Force
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Myojin of Life’s Web
1 Vitalizing Wind
1 Feral Hydra
1 Chord of Calling
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
32 Forest

I decided to have few non-Forest lands in the deck because I figured I’d draw them all early and screw up my Rofellos plans.

I got to play a quick 1-on-1 game after my duties were ended at the Zendikar prerelease, and stomped Emerson who stalled a bit on mana. I ended things by playing Myojin, popping a Memory Jar, and dropping about five gigantic fatties.

Two other guys popped by and expressed interest in playing though they didn’t have any decks. Luckily, I had two other decks with me—my Doran deck, and my new Rafiq of the Many. Emerson let one dude play his deck (Child of Alara as the general) and he played my Doran deck. He came out swinging with a turn 1 Slagwurm Armor, turn 3 Doran, and then smacked me for 11 points of general damage. I was a little slow and had nothing but Rofellos in play, and Emerson could have forced me to chump, but showed me some mercy (being as it was my deck). Meanwhile, Rafiq had a Cold-Eyed Selkie out along with his general, and was Islandwalking on Child of Alara and drawing 4 extra cards a turn. Things quickly built up into a battle between Rafiq and Rofellos, but I got Spearbreaker Behemoth out to protect my huge monsters, and started making tokens with my shiny, foil prerelease Rampaging Baloths, so when I drew Vitalizing Winds I knew it was a good time to take down the two new players, and Emerson scooped because it was late.

Speaking of EDH, I’ve decided to try something that I’m hoping might be well received by the EDH community – an EDH Deck Clinic, where readers can email me their EDH decks and I will give my thoughts on how to improve the deck. To preserve my sanity in sorting through huge deck lists, there needs to be some ground rules for your deck to be considered for the Clinic:

1. Let me know a brief description of why you chose your general, what you’re trying to accomplish with your deck, and why you feel it’s not as good as you’d like it to be. At most a paragraph or two.

2. You need to list the deck like I present EDH deck lists: quantity of card first (typically 1 except for basic lands), one card per line.

3. Spell-check your submission before sending it. If it takes an hour to edit your submission it’s not going to make the cut no matter how cool the deck is. This includes proper capitalization of cards.

4. Give me a brief idea what sort of EDH players you play with, what sort of cards are cool or uncool with them. Are they much more casual or more cutthroat? This will obviously influence what sort of cards you want to have in your deck.

5. Include your first name and what city you play in.

If there is a decent response, I’m hoping to do this regularly.

Before I wrap for this week, I did want to mention that Richmond wasn’t done with hidden treasures for the weekend!

Word of Commaaaaaaaaand!

Mid-Atlantic Regionals champ and local constructed terror Michael Rooks shows off a Word of Command opened up during Sunday’s prerelease at Richmond Comix!

That’s it for now, join me next week as I explore the impact of Zendikar on Elder Dragon Highlander.

Take care!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com