Magic: The Gathering’s 68th expansion, Battle for Zendikar crashes into card and hobby shops Friday at midnight, which means that Saturday morning belongs to the cardboard junkies. The set brings us back to the magic-rich plain of Zendikar, which means a return to fun with land drops and gorgeous full-art cards. But, more importantly, it means Eldrazi, those giant monsters of ancient and awesome power, rearing their bone-plated and be-tentacled heads over the battlefield. Or looking ferocious while sitting in your hand because you can’t play their exorbitant casting costs. Either way, the sacrifice-everything-good-in-the-world Annihilator ability has been killed, so these Cthulhu knockoffs might actually be fun to play with this time around.
Things to know before you stare down the otherworldly horrors:
New Mulligan Rule is Go
Introduced at the Pro Tour, the so-called Vancouver Mulligan makes having a crappy opening hand a little less punishing. You mulligan like normal until you’re satisfied with the cards in your hand — or you can’t bear to mull to four — and then, if you have less than seven cards in hand, you get to scry one before the first player takes a turn. (Scry, in case you’d forgotten, lets you look at the top of the card in your deck, pray it’s the land you need, and either keep it there or place it on the bottom of your deck.)
There Will Be Reprints
Battle For Zendikar marks the first of the two-set blocks, rather than the three-set narrative arcs that have been Magic’s staple since 1997’s Mirage. This will lead to tighter, two-set draft pools and more complex Standard card pools as an additional expansion comes out each year. It eliminates the core set, so we’ll see more reprints — even at mythic, that most exalted of rarities saved for new cards that set the theme, add narrative wrinkles, or blow up the metagame and therefore cost too much money, causing you to question why you got into this filthy habit in the first place.
Said battle for Zendikar will also wrap up a bit quicker than usual, too, concluding with Oath of the Gatewatch in January. A modest prediction: The good guys win, Magic fairly recently having explored an ambiguous victory in Return to Ravnica and bad dudes win scenario with the Scars of Mirrodin block.
You Have a Slim Chance of Cracking a Dual Land
Dual lands will pop up every so often in a pack — and by every so often, just a bit more frequently than a foil mythic (the exact odds are tough to pin down, but about 1 in 216 packs). They’re foil, full-art, and 25 all told; should you open one over the weekend, you are both lucky and in luck — you can play them in your sealed or draft deck (but you can’t bring them, it seems, to the constructed Standard table).
Good luck, and may the most hideous abomination win!