Magic The Gathering’s Battle for Zendikar Spoilers: Multiple Cycles of LandsPresent in Set

Pory is here with spoiler new on the new Battle for Zendikar set coming soon from Wizards of the Coast.


(Author’s note: This ar­ti­cle con­tains spoil­ers for the up­com­ing set in the Magic: The Gathering card game.  If you wish to re­main un­spoiled on cards, please do not con­tin­ue reading)

Ask any good Magic: The Gathering play­er what the most im­por­tant cards in their deck are and with­out any doubt their an­swer will be “lands.”  As lands pro­duce mana, the cost re­quired to play the cards in your deck, hav­ing the right num­ber and type of lands present in your deck is some­thing that of­ten re­quires al­most as much thought as putting the rest of the deck to­geth­er – if not more.

As de­tails of new sets are tan­ta­liz­ing, ag­o­niz­ing­ly leaked to the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, the new cy­cle of dual lands – lands that, for a price, can be tapped for mul­ti­ple col­ors of mana – are ea­ger­ly dis­sect­ed for their vi­a­bil­i­ty in Magic’s var­i­ous con­struct­ed for­mats.  And as, his­tor­i­cal­ly, the Zendikar world con­tained some of the most use­ful lands, a re­turn to this par­tic­u­lar plane in Battle for Zendikar sparked count­less dis­cus­sion on what lands would be present, or if any reprints would be seen in the set (as was the case with the Khans of Tarkir set).

Basic Terminology

For the sake of clar­i­ty, the au­thor as­sumes that the read­er is rel­a­tive­ly new to Magic and isn’t aware of for­mats be­yond Draft or Standard.  If the read­er is, then this sec­tion is en­tire­ly skipable, un­less you need a re­fresh­er on land types.

Basic lands: Lands that can be tapped for only one col­or of mana, and have no ad­di­tion­al ef­fects or costs to gen­er­ate mana.  These are your Plains, Islands, Swamps, Mountains, and Forests, and un­like the oth­er types of land that fol­low, you have no lim­i­ta­tions on the num­ber you can have present in your deck.

Dual lands: Historically, this refers to the orig­i­nal ten land cy­cle present in Magic’s first few sets, but has be­come a catch-all for any two-color gen­er­at­ing land.  Dual lands are sub­di­vid­ed into two groups based on what col­ors they can be tapped to pro­duce; “Allied” lands are lands that, when look­ing at a spe­cif­ic col­or on the Magic mana col­or pie, tap for both one col­or (such as white) and the col­or im­me­di­ate­ly to that col­ors left or right (blue or green in this case).  “Enemy” lands are those that tap for one col­or and a col­or that isn’t ad­ja­cent to that col­or (such as white and black, or white and red).

Shock lands: The name for the land cy­cle in the Return to Ravnica block, these lands en­ter the bat­tle­field tapped un­less you pay 2 life.  Despite the re­quire­ment to sac­ri­fice life in or­der to be able to im­me­di­ate­ly us­able, these lands see a lot of play due to the next land type.

Fetch lands: Originally print­ed in the Onslaught set, and re­turn­ing in Khans of Tarkir, these lands don’t tap for mana – in­stead, by sac­ri­fic­ing them and a sin­gle point of life, you can search your li­brary for ei­ther of the ba­sic land types list­ed on the card and put it onto the bat­tle­field.  Thus, the rea­son that shock lands see so much use de­spite the draw­back is be­cause they are le­gal tar­gets for a fetch – a card like Steam Vents is list­ed as Land – Island Mountain, mean­ing it can be tar­get­ed by any fetch land with ei­ther Island or Mountain in its search parameters.


Battle for Zendikar: New land cycle

On August 29, Wizards of the Coast start­ed leak­ing spoil­ers for Battle for Zendikar (re­lease date October 2) fol­low­ing cov­er­age of the an­nu­al World Championship event.  Spoilers have in­clud­ed some very in­ter­est­ing cards that may see cov­er­age in lat­er ar­ti­cles, but as al­ways the lands take precdence.

Magic’s newest land cy­cle has yet to be named, but con­sists of five al­lied dual lands that en­ter the bat­tle­field tapped, un­less you con­trol two or more ba­sic land cards.

These five cards – Prairie Stream, Sunken Hollow, Smoldering Marsh, Cinder Glade, and Canopy Vista – can all be tar­get­ed by fetch lands, due to be­ing list­ed as Plains Island, or Mountain Forest.

As the Zendikar world is also well-known for its full art lands – art­work that en­com­pass­es the en­tire­ty of the card, rather than half – full-art vari­ants of the cards will also be printed.

Eagle-eyed ob­servers will note that the set sym­bol and rar­i­ty col­or of these full-art vari­ants are dif­fer­ent than the reg­u­lar cards above, and that’s be­cause tonight more than one land cy­cle was announced.


Battle for Zendikar: Zendikar Expeditions

Zendikar Expeditions is a set of rough­ly 20 land cards that will be avail­able in packs as “pre­mi­um” (also known as “foil”) myth­ic rare cards.  These cards can be played in Limited for­mats, if some­one hap­pens to pull one, but are not le­gal in the Standard for­mat.  However, they will be le­gal in for­mats where they al­ready are le­gal – such as Modern.  They have a rar­i­ty slight­ly more com­mon than the cur­rent rar­i­ty for foil myth­ic rare cards, but oth­er than the two cards spoiled tonight – Steam Vents and Arid Mesa – we haven’t seen any of the oth­er cards from the cy­cles that will be print­ed in Zendikar Expeditions, al­though Mark Rosewater con­firmed that the Zendikar Expeditions will con­tained the full cy­cles of shock lands and fetch lands.

Curiously, this fol­lows only weeks af­ter Rosewater an­nounced that that the Enemy-colored fetch­lands from the orig­i­nal Zendikar set wouldn’t be reprint­ed in Battle for Zendikar.  This new mini-set of dual lands from past sets may be a way for the Magic team to please both those want­i­ng to see less ex­pen­sive ver­sions of high­ly sought-after cards, as well as new con­tri­bu­tions to the avail­able land-base.

While Rosewater’s an­nounce­ment led to a mi­nor pan­ic in the sec­ondary cart mar­ket, dri­ving prices up on the Zendikar fetch­lands, it’s un­like­ly that the Zendikar Expeditions cards will have any no­tice­able ef­fect on the prices af­ter the spike, due to the rar­i­ty of the cards.

Looking forward

The Zendikar Expedition is an in­ter­est­ing con­cept, but one that will most­ly like­ly not be reused when the block is fin­ished.  Thematically (and me­chan­i­cal­ly), the Zendikar plane in Magic is one that is high­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with land.  It would make no sense to con­tin­ue the prac­tice in fu­ture blocks that don’t have such strong ties to land – es­pe­cial­ly if the block doesn’t re­turn to a plane pre­vi­ous­ly vis­it­ed, but in­stead fo­cus­es around a new storyline.

Interestingly enough, whether the Zendikar Expedition mini-set of 20 cards is some­thing that only the Battle for Zendikar set will have, or if the sec­ond half of the block will have a mini-set as well is an un­known quan­ti­ty.  If the sec­ond half of the block gets a mini-set like this, play­ers may be able to have ac­cess to a num­ber of hard-to-acquire lands for use in the Modern for­mat.  However, as stat­ed above, the im­pact these spe­cial reprints will have on the sec­ondary card mar­ket is low – es­pe­cial­ly if enough Battle for Zendikar prod­ucts are opened, lead­ing to a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion as with the Onslaught fetch lands in the Khans of Tarkir set.

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