The Lands of Battle for Zendikar

by Joel Larsson on 11 September 2015, Friday

Joel Larsson



When the lands of the old Zendikar block came out, they were an instant hit! I believe the same thing goes for our newly previewed ones! If you haven't seen them yet, here they are!


Prairie Stream Sunken Hollow Smoldering Marsh Cinder Glade Canopy Vista




Impact on Standard


These lands are amazing for Standard, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind when constructing your deck around them.


The first thing to consider is that they are allied-colored and have the corresponding land types, such as Plains and Island for Prairie Stream, Island and Swamp for Sunken Hollow, Swamp and Mountain for Smoldering Marsh, Mountain and Forest for Cinder Glade and Forest and Plains for Canopy Vista.



This means that the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands can look for them, as well as any other cards that allow you to search for these land types.


Windswept Heath


Prairie Stream Cinder Glade Canopy Vista Forest Plains


With a single Windswept Heath, you're now able to fetch Prairie Stream, Cinder Glade or Canopy Vista, in addition to Forest and Plains.


This makes the mana better in Standard than it has ever been for a long, long time!


As spoilers of the new set are slowly being released, remember to look out for such cards, since they might be more valuable than expected. For example, Knight of the White Orchid gets a big boost and can tutor up not only a basic Plains, but also Prairie Stream or Canopy Vista!


Knight of the White Orchid




Sequencing the BFZ Duals


a) Opening With Them


There are some things to think about when trying to sequence the new duals correctly. I know that Rakshasa Deathdealer has reducing in popularity because of Hangarback Walker, but let's just use the below cards as an illustration.


Windswept Heath Swamp Rakshasa Deathdealer Anafenza, the Foremost Abzan Charm


For example, if you fetch a Canopy Vista on turn one (tapped) to cast Rakasha Deathdealer on turn two with a basic Swamp, it will make it much harder to cast Anafenza, the Foremost or Abzan Charm on turn three.


Why? Because if you draw or already have another Canopy Vista as your third land, it will come into play tapped, just like any other Scryland or Sandsteppe Citadel. This doesn't allow you to curve out as you would have wanted.


b) Opening with Two Basics


Island Swamp Sunken Hollow


Another way of sequencing is to lead with two basic lands. That way, we can fetch or play as many untapped duals as we would want. This means that, when it comes to constructing our deck, as in Modern, we want a higher number of fetchlands than of the new dual lands so we don't draw too many to make their drawback a problem.




The Two-Colored Decks

Since we want to be able to fetch as many types of basic lands with our fetchlands as possible to be able to play the new dual lands untapped, without getting the same basic land twice, here are more things to consider.


Two-color allied-color decks will have better mana than two-color enemy-colored decks.

This means that the White-Green, Blue-White, Blue-Black Black-Red and Red Green decks will have a lot better mana than the White-Black, Blue-Red, Black-Green, White-Red and Blue-Green decks, because they will have both the cycle of BFZ dual lands as well as the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands.


For example, if you're a White-Green Aggro or Midrange deck, you mana base will look something like this:

If you're counting, this deck with 24 lands effectively gives you 18 of each white sources and green sources, which is a lot!


Atarka's Command


It gets even better if you're close to being mono-colored and simply splashing another color. The first deck that comes to mind is Atarka Red.



Mana Confluence Forest Temple of Abandon


Atarka Red players were forced to play Mana Confluence, an awkward Forest as well as a Temple of Abandon. With the coming days of luxurious manabases, you can play something like this instead:



This allows you to splash Atarka's Command and Become Immense with ease! As a reference, here is a decklist for Atarka Red post-rotation. Look out for a similar version of Lightning Strike, because that's exactly what this deck wants!


Joel Larsson's Atarka Red

Standard by




The Shards Have It Good!




Firstly, thanks Maro for these helpful gifs!

The three-color combinations of allied colors are called shards. For example, White Blue and Black has been called Esper ever since the days of Shards of Alara. Here is the list for your reference:


  • Esper (White Blue Black)
  • Grixis (Blue Black Red)
  • Jund (Black Red Green)
  • Naya (Red Green White)
  • Bant (Green White Blue)


These three-color shards will also have very good mana, because it has a combination of 8 fetches and 8 BFZ Duals.


For example, the Esper player has access to 4 Flooded Strand and 4 Polluted Delta to ensure that you'll be able to hit a healthy number of basics by turn three. After that, all your Prairie Streams and Sunken Hollows are untapped!


For example, if the Jund player casts Rakshasa Deathdealer on turn two with a basic Forest and Swamp, he will be able to crack either Bloodstained Mire or Wooded Foothills to cast Deathmist Raptor, Kolaghan's Command OR Ruinous Path!


Deathmist Raptor Kolaghan's Command Ruinous Path

All possible plays, even after a second turn Rakshasa Deathdealer!


Do you want to be able to cast Jace, Vryn's Prodigy on turn two, Nissa, Vastood Seer on turn three and Archangel of Tithes on turn four? No problem!


Island Plains

Canopy Vista Prairie Stream




The Wedges, Not So Much...




The three-color combinations of two allied colors and their enemy color are called shards. For example White Green Black has been called Abzan ever since the release of Khans of Tarkir. For your reference, here are the list of wedges:


  • Jeskai (White Blue Red)
  • Sultai (Blue Black Green)
  • Mardu (Black Red White)
  • Temur (Red Green Blue)
  • Abzan (Green White Black)

The new Khans of Tarkir wedges, however, don't have the same luxury as the Shards of Alara shards. They have their trilands, which helps, but each color combination only gets on fetchland and one BFZ dual. Since you only have one fetchland, our new dual will have to come into play tapped more often, since we usually want to play a triland on turn one anyway. If we open with Sandsteppe Citadel, our Canopy Vista won't be untapped until at least turn 4!




Things are also not looking good when you factor in the enemy-colored painlands. If we start with one or two painlands as well, don't expect your BFZ duals to be untapped any time soon!


While these scenarios sound terrible for the wedge players, what is the upside of playing these three-color combinations? Well, you get access to the load of three-color goodies printed in Khans of Tarkir, such as Siege Rhino, Savage Knuckleblade and Mantis Rider!




The New Manlands!


Mishra's Factory Faerie Conclave Raging Ravine Mutavault Inkmoth Nexus


It was recently announced that manlands would once again be part of Zendikar. Manlands have had a long history of success in every format they were legal in, ranging from Mishra's Factory, Faerie Conclave, Raging Ravine, MutavaultInkmoth Nexus and everything in between.


Depending on the manland, they have enjoyed success in different kinds of decks. Mutavault was widely played, even outside of tribal decks. They were seen in mono-colored decks and even control decks. Raging Ravine put Jund on another level and Inkmoth Nexus has helped a lot of players kill people on turn two!


Lumbering Falls


Since allied-colored manlands were printed in Worldwake, it was not a huge surprise to see enemy-colored ones being printed. Rumors say that they will be spread out over the next two sets, but at least we have seen Lumbering Falls and Shambling Vent!


The Worldwake manlands mainly went into midrange and control decks, with the exception of Lavaclaw Reaches which was good enough to be played as a finisher for Black-Red Vampires in old Standard.


One of the reasons that manlands only went into midrange and control decks, is because the midrange and control decks can afford time to play a tapped land to fix their mana, since they have powerful effects to get back their lost tempo.


For example, the White-Blue Control player can afford to play two Celestial Colonnades and then reset the board with a Day of Judgment later and still have two win conditions on the board. In particular, Lumbering Falls seems like a fairly scary land to play against control, especially if you don't have Foul-Tongue Invocation at the ready!


Courser of Kruphix Temple of Malady


Before the manlands were spoiled, I was skeptical that the midrange or control green decks would be able to survive the new Standard. In our current metagame, we have Courser of Kruphix and Scrylands to filter the green player's draws, meaning they could play a high number of lands to cast their powerful spells, and yet don't get flooded out as often.


I also have a suspicion that the wedges which get a good manland will be heavily favored over those who don't, to the extent that those without will likely fall off the Standard metagame before Oath of the Gatewatch is released.






I really look forward to the new Standard format, both as a player and a deckbuilder. I love new formats to delve into and in this format, it might be even more important to choose whether to go for power or consistency. Will you go for one of the new wedges and for power or will you go for a two colored or an old wedge for consistency? Maybe you will even go for all of the colors and cast anything you like! Whatever you choose, know what there is to choose from and what limitation each choice contains.


Until next time,

Yours truly,


Joel Larsson


Cards in the Articles

Articles you might be also interested

Jason Chung kicks off his first article by sharing his homework for upcoming Limited events!
Park Jun Young discusses what is probably the best Control deck in Standard.
Joel Larsson, one of the top drafters on the Pro Tour, gives you a rundown on how to draft BFZ!

Copyright © 2002 - 2018