Magic: The Gathering is a game chock full of weird worlds. Some of them, like Innistrad, are full of vampires and werewolves. Others, like Mirrodin, are full of living machines. But one of the most exciting is Zendikar, a world of adventure, that Magic last returned to in 2015. On September 25, the game is returning there with the new set Zendikar Rising, and I’ve got a spicy preview card for you to show off some of the cool things that are going to happen there.
First, a story. The world has never tried to kill me, or at least not in any particular way other than than how it is trying to kill us all. I’ve never been out for a stroll in a wonderful field and had an ensorcelment happen to me in which the very earth itself rose up in humanoid form and tried to crush me like that rock monster in Galaxy Quest. This, my friends, is the thrill of fiction: in fantasy, we can think about rocks, dirt, grasses, trees, flowers, or any other naturally-occurring thing killing us.
This is at the heart of the world of Zendikar, because it’s a place of danger and excitement. It contains hidden shrines and trapped eldritch creatures deep beneath the surface. It also has a thing called the Roil, a magical force that shapes and reshapes the world at will. When the Roil gets going, anything could happen. This river could become a mountain. This cliff could become a seaside paradise. That pile of rocks could become the murderous creature from the previous paragraph. It’s unpredictable, and the Magic cards that come out of sets on Zendikar all have that kind of vibe. Unreal transformation is happening all the time there, and the cards communicate that.
So with that in mind, let me introduce Ancient Greenwarden:
To put it lightly, this big elemental is a powerhouse. From a gameplay perspective, he does it all. He allows you to play lands from your graveyard like Crucible of Worlds, and he allows the special Zendikar mechanic of landfall trigger multiple times. I don’t know if this card immediately goes into all decks or anything, but it’s a special card that you could build around and get some really cool effects in both the upcoming Standard format and some of the more recent eternal formats like Historic and Pioneer. I’m not sure what hijinks people can get up to, but with Crucible of Worlds, Ramunap Excavator, and Ancient Greenwarden, you can get a neat graveyard-land-playing stew going.
I’m looking forward to losing some matches trying to make this card work in weird and baroque ways, but I’m probably always going to feel safe playing him due to his high power and toughness. And you know what? He’s got reach, so he can swat enemies out of the sky like King Kong. I think it’s a cool card.