By Blake Rasmussen
Do you feel that rumbling? That slight shaking in the distance that's growing in intensity every day as September draws near?
Of course you don't. It's a metaphor. A metaphor for the bomb that is Battle for Zendikar and the immense Eldrazi bearing down on all of us.
But there's help coming as well. Zendikar. The plane and its inhabitants aren't the type to take things lying down. They stand up and battle.
And soon you can take part in that fight, even before Battle for Zendikar is released, with the latest entrance in the Duel Decks series—Duel Decks: Zendikar vs. Eldrazi.
You might already know all of this. You might have our latest encounter with the Eldrazi circled on your calendar. You might have already pre-ordered Zendikar vs. Eldrazi. You might have already memorized the text and art of Oblivion Sower and saved a spot for the alternate-art Avenger of Zendikar in your Commander deck.
But what you don't know is what's inside.
Of course, this being a Duel Deck, the best way to see what's contained within is to actually duel—so I took the decks for a spin against two of my colleagues.
First up to the slaughter was Alison Luhrs, Magic Online community manager and professional internet human being, who I forced to take the Zendikar side so that I could battle with the otherworldly, all-consuming Eldrazi. Because I am a cruel overlord.
I was also pretty fortunate to get an opening hand that looked a bit like this.
Most of those cards you might recognize, but let's look a little closer at that Dominator Drone.
That is one relaxed-looking Eldrazi. It also has a couple new keywords. Devoid is pretty simple—it means that the card is colorless (or devoid of color, if you will) in spite of the mana symbol in its upper right corner. It's even got a cool new text box to show it off.
Ingest is an interesting ability, snatching cards from the top of opponents' libraries and sending them to exile. Clearly for nefarious purposes. Purposes that would help me win the first game (that's called foreshadowing, boys and girls).
I cast the drone on turn three to an empty board, as Alison was slightly held back in her development by playing a Stirring Wildwood tapped. Her reaction to the drone was pretty much perfect.
"Ew, gross. Ingest is a mechanic? That's disgusting."
Disgusting indeed, as it exiled two cards over the next two turns, including a Plains. Which is totally relevant.
You see, we already revealed this Eldrazi a while back.
And I just happened to draw the Sower right on time to deploy it on turn six. None of the top four cards were lands, but because it can put any lands from exile into play, I was able to snatch that Plains for my seventh land. That, in turn, allowed me to kick a Heartstabber Mosquito, which took out the last of the pitifully insignificant Zendikari troops that stood in my way.
The beatdown was pretty quick after that, thanks in part to Oblivion Sower having haste. How, you ask?
That guy right there is the Forerunner of Slaughter. As you can see, devoid isn't just there for flavor reasons. The Forerunner of Slaughter interacts pretty favorably with devoid creatures and naturally colorless creatures. There might even be other cards in the set with similar abilities. . .
But not in this deck.
After the thorough evisceration of Alison, I called on Sean Gibbons, another person of the internet and community manager extraordinaire. Reluctantly, I handed over the Eldrazi deck to get a taste of the other side.
Would you trust this man with an Eldrazi?
Things went quite well at first. I ran him over in a quick Game 1, using Oust to keep the way clear for my Veteran Warleader. I didn't even need the sweet five-mana sorcery in my hand.
Why am I being cagey about a five mana sorcery? More on that in a moment.
The second game started well again for the good guys. First, I got to drop one of his creatures off a cliff. . .
Actually, the cliff itself did much of the dropping. Awaken is an ability that lets you pay a different cost to animate a land, turning it into a 0/0 and adding +1/+1 counters. The land is literally fighting back and, in this case, dropping a Bloodthrone Vampire on its stupid head.
After that, things looked even better for the Zendikari once my five-mana sorcery fetched up the face card of my deck.
That's right, Primal Command is contained within—and it has new art! Unfortunately, that play didn't do me much good. I missed land drops for a while, which kept my Avenger from growing any of his Plant buddies. Eventually, Marsh Casualties killed most of my team, including all of my Plants. A few turns later, this happened:
"That makes me feel like an Eldrazi," Sean said, enjoying it a little too much if you ask me.
More alternate art, more of a beating. A turn or two later, I died horribly to an Artisan of Kozilek and the Oblivion Sower it brought back with it. I was defeated.
There was one other card that never quite made it on the battlefield, although since I never got past seven lands, I'm not sure it could have saved me.
You too can fight for—or against—the survival of Zendikar on August 28. For the full decklists, check below.