Zendikar Rising Mechanics Have Arrived

From landfall and kicker to party and modal double-faced cards, check out all the mechanics in new set.

Zendikar Rising preview season is here and with it comes the unveiling of the set’s mechanics. With a trip back to the plane of Zendikar there are some returning fan-favorite mechanics and some new ones. Let’s start with the new stuff!


The first new mechanic plays into wanting to assemble a traditional adventuring party: a Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard. Creatures fill those roles with their creature types and each creature can fill a maximum of one role. The number of creatures in your party is how many of the roles you can fill with a creature you control. This number will range from zero to four. Spells and other cards can benefit from having a partial to full party and some cards specifically have bonuses if you have a full party.

Modal Double-Faced Cards

A new take on an old favorite, modal double-faced cards are cards that give you a choice when playing them. Valakut Awakening is a double-faced card that allows the owner to pick whether they want a land or an instant when they play it. Notably these cards do not transform, so they play more like split cards. When Valakut Awakening is in your hand, deck, or graveyard it is considered an instant. Only when Valakut Stoneforge is on the battlefield is it considered a land card.

The other modal double-faced cards previewed so far are the rare dual lands, called Pathways. The set has six different cards that offer a different color of mana on each side that enter the battlefield untapped. Color combinations included are: Blue/Black, Blue/Red, Red/Green, Green/White, White/Black, and Red/White.

Each draft booster pack will contain one modal double-faced card.


Kicker is a classic mechanic making its return in Zendikar Rising. While previewed on Jace, Mirror Mage last week, we got to see a couple other cards, including a powerful removal spell with options — Bloodchief’s Thirst. Kicker is an optional additional cost paid when the spell is cast. When you pay the kicker cost you get an extra benefit whether it be more flexibility, a bigger creature, a stronger pump spell, or even an extra copy of a planeswalker.


The other returning mechanic is landfall, back for a third time in a Zendikar-based set. In a set all about land, it is only fitting that lands off the top of the deck are almost always good, whether they let you cast spells or make your cards on the battlefield significantly better. Simply put, put a land on the battlefield and enjoy the rewards. Zendikar Rising has moved landfall from just creatures, instants, and sorceries to include it on a planeswalker.

Flashy mythic rares like Nissa of Shadowed Boughs and Omnath, Locus of Creation show how powerful and diverse the mechanic can be. Meanwhile, the reprinting of Lotus Cobra brings back one of the most iconic landfall creatures in the game.

Read the original Zendikar Rising Mechanics article.