Legends of Zendikar Rising: Set Review Part 1
Zendikar Rising is almost upon us, and with new sets come new brews! Today, I'm going over the legendary creatures from Zendikar Rising, and perhaps help you with building your next Commander deck. In these next few articles, you'll learn where to go with building them and their overall power level. There will also be a rating as to how much someone can expect to see this card in the format. The higher the score, the more of a staple you can expect this to be in Commander. Today, we’ll be going over the Mono-Coloured options before we touch on the much longer list of multicoloured cards.
Tazri, Beacon of Unity
While it’s hard to call Tazri, Beacon of Unity a Mono-White card, it is the only Mono-White card in its casting cost for the set. Tazri, Beacon of Unity stands to be the most recent five-colour Commander printed, but unfortunately looks to be one of the weaker ones for the time being. A 4/6 for five mana or less at a starting point isn’t a terrible start to the card. However, it lacks a major upside that other five-colour Commanders do. Even if this card just put the creatures onto the battlefield, the power level would be drastically different. Instead, this card is a rather large mana sink for some card advantage that is still random. Unless you’re running extremely minimal ramp and lands, your odds of hitting more than one card off of this isn’t going to be particularly high and it’s going to feel worse than missing on your Collected Company or See the Unwritten.
Tazri, Beacon of Unity fails to support the creature-based decks it wishes to be built around. With the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons set, this card could see a turn around with the proper support cards. Although, I would expect to see a new Commander printed for this mechanic by then (and likely more powerful). For now, you’re better off sticking with General Tazri for your Food Chain shenanigans.
Charix, the Raging Isle
While Charix, the Raging Isle is a giant enemy crab that will hit for MASSIVE DAMAGE, this card is probably one of the worst Mono-Blue Commanders you can pick. A huge 0/17 that can at best turn into a 16/1 without Trample remains an incredibly questionable card outside of being included in your next Arcades, the Strategist. Charix would probably see more play if it had Defender, but it is an abysmal Commander. The evasion it offers in the form of taxation is a nice addon, but it can’t save the cards mediocrity. This card wants to get in unblockable damage and you’ll be making so much of your deck around protecting Charix and making sure it doesn’t get blocked.
I expect to see this card played as a silly Commander or in a potential Crab/Leviathan tribal deck. Unless you’re looking for your next joke Commander I suggest you look basically anywhere else.
Drana, the Last Bloodchief
While not the powerhouse we once had in Sheoldred, Whispering One, Drana, the Last Bloodchief proves to be a worthwhile addition to Mono-Black decks going forward. A five mana 4/4 that reanimates the worst card in your graveyard seems like a worthwhile addition to most Black decks. This is also a huge upgrade for Vampire tribal decks like Edgar Markov since they don’t care about the legendary clause. This is certainly a card we can expect to see even in the 99 of decks like Karador, Ghost Chieftain, but I wouldn’t expect to see many decks with this as their Commander. As mentioned before, you’d rather be playing Sheoldred, over Drana, the Last Bloodchief due to the choice Sheoldred allows and the fact that it removes your opponent's creatures.
This new Drana looks to be a solid upgrade for midrange decks but doesn’t allow for the control elements that Sheoldred, Whispering One does. I would also expect to see this become a budget alternative to Sheoldred for many lists.
Taborax, Hope’s Demise
While I'm sure there are plenty of players that are dying to see a new Cleric matters Commander, Taborax, Hope's Demise just isn’t quite it. It’s not a bad card as it does grow rapidly and offers you card advantage as a Cleric payoff, but it doesn’t usurp Athreos, God of Passage or really any of the other options for Cleric decks. Taborax does however make it so a Mono-Black Shadowborn Apostle deck is feasible, although not necessarily at peak performance. This card remains at a relatively high score due to this, but I don’t expect to see it in the Command Zone often. There is an argument for adding this card to another deck if you need an additional wincon.
Moraug, Fury of Akoum
Don’t expect Moruag, Fury of Akoum to be in the Command Zone, but expect this card to absolutely destroy you when they Chord of Calling for it. Green/Red/X decks will be playing this card non-stop. It makes every late-game Rampant Growth, Cultivate, Solemn Simulacrum and general land drop astronomically more powerful and demands removal. Enough fetch lands with this card will just spell game over in a Landfall deck. As well, the fact that your entire team will become larger with each attack gives it almost a mini Craterhoof Behemoth type of effect with enough attack phases. It’s doubtful many Mono-Red decks will be playing this outside of Etali, Primal Storm, but this card should strike fear in most players.
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild has a powerful effect for Mono-Green that will certainly make your Elves cry in anguish as your opponent Armageddon’s you back to the stone age. It’s certainly a fine card for ramping, but not having Trample seems like a huge oversight. As mentioned before, this will likely be a potential upgrade for Elves decks and Green weenie decks that would like to play large X spells like Genesis Wave, but the payoff isn’t as substantial as a lot of players would like to think. The fact that this card won’t do much more than being blocked by your opponent’s Bitterblossom token every turn seems like a lot of do nothing. I expect Ashaya to be played in the 99 of land matters Mono-Green or Green/X decks.
Well, that’s it for today. Only six 'Mono’-Coloured Commanders in this set with only two of them seeming particularly good. A disappointing outcome for a new set but perhaps the multicoloured options will be a touch better? Join me next time as we go over the first half of the multicoloured cards!