Are you ready for adventure? Our third trek into Zendikar is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole new draft set to master! In my Limited series I will be reviewing the newly spoiled cards before we get a chance to play with them, and giving each card a rating on a scale of 1-5 based on how playable I predict them to be in Limited, with a 1 being unplayable, 2 being not often desired, 3 being well-rounded filler, 4 being high picks/game winners, and a 5 being a top pick no matter what. Each piece of the color pie will get its own article, so keep an eye out! Keep in mind that all opinions and card ratings in this article are my own, and I am looking forward to reflecting on my early predictions in future installments. In this article we will be starting with the White cards from Zendikar Rising.
Not off to an exciting start here. 3 mana and a lot of setup to get +4/+4 for two creatures at best. Party focused and only pumping up two creatures means decks that don't center around the new Party mechanic won't have much of a reason to play this card.
Rating: 2.0, just a party trick
Angel of Destiny
Evasion on a big body is appealing but without protection this card may just gain some life. Remember the opponent won't lose life from combat damage while this card is in play. Early lifegain creatures will likely make all the difference.
Rating: 3.5, early lifegain or bust
Pretty average stats and a pre-combat boost is alright for a common and I expect it to be decent filler when more creatures are needed.
Archon of Emeria
I expect this card to get lots of value when it hits the battlefield, and it could slow the opponent enough for an easy win if they can't answer it quickly. Instants for protection during the opponent's turn will be this card's best friends.
Archpriest of Iona
Vanilla 1/2 on its own, scaling up to a potential 5/3 flier with a full party. Decent 1-drop and early pick for Party focused decks.
Rating: 3.5, start the party early
Not as efficient as other recent standalone 4-drop Limited token generators, but potentially very good with other cards that gain life.
This little mouse showed up expecting fetch lands and found none. Most often an anthem on a body, best combo'd with Vastwood Surge.
Decent early attacker and cheap warrior for the party.
Decent combat trick for go-wide strategies. Likely to win several games out of nowhere.
Back again with another reprint, likely aimed more towards the standard crowd. In a set with few enchantments this is likely just a trick for removing equipment from play.
It counts itself as a warrior and is therefore a 2/2 minimum, but likely an uncommon payoff for Party decks. Looking forward to finding out how often it will enter play as a 4/4.
Undoubtedly a great early creature for the Black/White Cleric deck in Limited. Lifelink will be relevant with Clerics and other strategies.
Rating: 3.0, better than the average bear
An extra card for each player isn't ideal, but the extra gas might be what White go-wide decks might need.
One of the most standout White uncommon creatures to me, getting it into play early will gradually result in a more serious threat with each passing turn. Likely loses value the later it enters play.
Strictly better version of Retreat to Emeria which saw play during Battle for Zendikar block, this card is a bomb. Building an army off of land drops while playing all the other spells will get out of hand quickly. With minimal enchantment removal in the set this card will be hard to answer.
Journey to Oblivion
At face value it is a very mediocre removal spell, and with a full Party it becomes very strong. The difficulty of assembling a full party in limited will be the deciding factor.
Seems like a win-more card that doesn't do much on an empty board but can speed up the game if supported by a full Party.
White Weenie decks love cheap and evasive creatures. Can help secure the win if kicked, but will likely be played early as a persistent attacker.
Probably the most attractive creature for Equipment focused decks. With most equipment attaching to creatures for free, granting double strike to the team sounds like great value.
Decent stats for a blocker and consistent value in Clerics/Life-gain-matters decks. Likely filler in most other decks.
Likely an irrelevant effect, but still decent stats. If lucky enough to draft multiples it is almost certainly better to play all copies main deck and not worry about bringing one in from outside the game.
Which will the opponent care about more, the giant creature that keeps getting bigger, or the cleric that keeps adding to the power and toughness of one creature each turn? I suspect that will be a common conundrum in Limited, and I can't wait. Even without any other creatures in play, this card gradually becomes a more serious threat.
Reasonable power and toughness with a free tapping ability almost every turn seems decent. Not the finisher I would hope for, but I wouldn't underestimate it.
Maul of the Skyclaves
An equipment that equips for free when it enters play is no joke as shown by Embercleave, and this equipment will make a real threat out of any creature it equips to.
It may have better stats as a blocker than it does as an attacker, but either way, it's very vanilla.
One of the set's best removal spells in White, and it's common! Slightly more expensive than Pacifism because it does more.
Easier to power up than Makeshift Battalion which saw regular play in Limited. With the same cost and stats, it will surely be a welcome addition in Warrior heavy decks.
Not always a great removal spell, and likely best used to remove a large attacker with a full party. As a potential dead card, I don't expect to prioritize this in draft.
It's been a while since I first started playing Magic in Khans, and I've finally come to terms with the fact that this is actually not the most amazing White card for buying time in Limited. It's not a terrible cantrip, but I expect it to only fill a slot when I need to find my main 40.
Similar to Fearless Fledgling, I expect this to be one of the strongest commons in White in the set. If there's an easy way to give it trample, I predict I will always be happy to draft this card.
Not a bad way to equip an equipment for free if it targets a Warrior, and there are a lot of Warriors in the set. If Warriors and Equipment are acquired early I imagine the late draft picks will be spent looking for this card.
Sea Gate Banneret
Pretty lackluster, but could really round out a White Weenies deck towards the end of the draft. I expect this to be one of the last cards drafted every time.
Shepherd of Heroes
Another payoff for assembling the Party, gaining life is nice but I think it will be best remembered as an effective attacker.
It would be one thing if this had Hexproof, but with such low stats it will almost certainly be a flashier version of Beast Within. Sure turning a Leyline Tyrant into a vanilla 4/4 is welcome, but likely not always meaningful.
One of the best payoffs for a full Party in White. It will certainly be hard to stop a Party on the attack with this card leading the charge.
Smite the Monstrous
A reprint from the last visit to Zendikar, this card was a great answer to monstrous Eldrazi. If +1/+1 Counters proves to be a common archetype I predict this card will be more valuable. At Instant it is still a decent trick for White decks.
An enabler for land shenanigans and appropriate stats for the mana cost means I expect this card to be a more sought after common in draft.
Tazri, Beacon of Unity
Becoming cheaper for each creature in the party is cool, and can potentially be curved into on turn 3. The ability to search for more creatures is nice, but for 8 mana at most, only adding up to 2 creatures to hand seems underwhelming.
Modal Double-Faced Cards (MDFC's)
I won't be surprised if I never cast this card in Limited and instead just play it for the land side. If I do get to draft it, I will surely be on the lookout for cards that can bounce lands back to hand to return the card to hand in the late game and cast the spell side to win.
The best removal spell in a go-wide style deck, or a land when needed. Not unplayable in other styles of decks, and the variety available as a land/spell make this card very appealing.
Great example of variety for different situations. When behind, having the land option will be nice. When ahead, the team boost effect will be welcome.
Very expensive, and most useful as a late game topdeck when behind with 8 open mana. Not likely to be played in draft.
A great option for protecting those game-winning creatures or getting the upper hand in combat. I expect to hold this card rather than play the land more often unless desperate for land drops.
Land or one time minor life gain, your pick. Most useful in Cleric decks.
Those are all the mono White cards in Zendikar Rising! There are themes in the color that I'm excited to play, and I'm very curious to see how the white cards interact with cards of different colors in the set. Thank you for reading my first article in this series, and please check back for the next installment: Zendikar Rising - Limited Set Review - Blue! Thank you to The Lotus Council for the opportunity to create MTG content! Stay tuned for more Deck Techs and be sure to follow The Lotus Council as well as my Twitter and Twitch accounts for future content!