The Exploration of Battle for Zendikar

Posted in Event Coverage on October 11, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

Walking by Daniel Cecchetti's table, the Grand Prix Miami champion looked to be in trouble. His opponent had just resolved Turn Against and used Cecchetti's own creature to knock him down to 2 life. With nothing but a handful of Eldrazi Scion on the battle, Cecchetti certainly looked to be in trouble.

Instead, he calmly untapped and lined his team up to attack. One Swarm Surge and 17 damage later, he had won the game and the match. Swarm Surge may have been the only card in the format that allowed Cecchetti to steal a win there, and it may have seemed like a fortunate draw.

But it was no fluke. Don't worry, Cecchetti had four Swarm Surge in his deck, and thanks to the Eldrazi sorcery and a host of Scions, he was well on his way to Day 2.

“This deck is very good at doing what it does, I'm just not sure what it's doing is any good,” Cecchetti laughed after the match. “I've built a lot of Sealed and Draft decks in this format, and none of them have looked like this.”

Faced with a lack of traditional options, Daniel Cecchetti went off the beaten path with his four-Swarm Surge deck. And, heading into the final round of the day, he was well-rewarded for it.

Faced with mediocre options in other colors and no true bombs in his arsenal, Cecchetti tried a handful of different combinations while building his deck at Grand Prix Madison. And while some of them would likely have won him a few matches, he decided they weren't good enough to give him a great shot at advancing to play on Sunday. So rather than play with a familiar-but-underpowered deck, he tried something that hasn't been done before.

It worked beautifully. Thanks to a pair of Eyeless Watcher, Brood Monitor and a host of other token-producing cards, Cecchetti had no trouble gumming up the board, and thanks to all the Swarm Surge he had the ability to turn those tokens into real threats, a going-wide strategy that makes one-for-one removal spells like Sheer Drop look terrible in comparison.

“I honestly don't know how realistic it is to expect to get this deck in Sealed, but I think it's something that you can do in Draft,” Cecchetti said. “I've lived all day in fear of Rising Miasma and Boiling Earth — and that's what I took a loss to — but other than that people either don't have them or haven't boarded into them.”

While Cecchetti's foray into the unknown has paid off handsomely, he's wasn't the only one to spend their Saturday exploring Zendikar. From four or five-color decks to Allies deck across all spectrums of the color wheel, there's plenty of room to find success off the beaten path in Magic's newest journey.

One of those players was Brian Braun-Duin, who found success with a card previously overlooked: Molten Nursery. The colorless-but-really-red card may require some work to pay off, but when it does it works beautifully. Not only does it shoot down Eldrazi Scions all day long, but it also works to kill one of the format's premier glue cards in Lifespring Druid. Add in the ability to ping players or finish off big creatures post-combat, and Nursery has found itself a niche in Battle for Zendikar Sealed Deck.

One thing is for sure: just a week into the format and with the Pro Tour looming just down the road, there's plenty of territory left unexplored, and the Battle for Zendikar is far from over.

Jeskai — Brian Braun-Duin

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