The full release of spoilers has had time to simmer, so let’s take a look at a handful of cards coming out in the new set that could provide some spice for the Modern and Commander formats.
And, of course, my love for the dinosaurs is going to come out in this, so…
Zacama, Primal Calamity
The first big card is the title contender for Gishath over control of Naya dinosaurs in EDH. So how does it compare? I agree with most that this card hardly holds a candle, but only because it lacks the tribal assistance that Gishath offers. This card does have the nice feature of untapping all lands. So imagine the combination of things you can do when you have the mana to play it. 9/9 with Vigilance, Reach, Trample, destroy an artifact, destroy an enchantment, deal 3 damage to a creature. That’s a 9/9 with Vigilance, Reach, Trample and essentially 3 removal for 9 mana. It’s not that bad…but I still prefer Gishath as a Commander.
The value of this card is primarily going to come from how it compares to cards it shares a likeness with: Giant Adephage, Spawnwrithe, and Sprouting Phytohydra. The toughness of Spawnwrithe and Phytohydra don’t compare. Phytohydra is primarily a replenishing wall and nothing more. Spawnwrithe is a cheaper CMC version of Adephage, and they don’t get their clones unless they deal combat damage to a player. And there’s your reason why Polyraptor is so expensive to play, even though it lacks the Trample and power/toughness of Adephage. You are in full control of how many clones you can get with Polyraptor because it’s damage is not combat specific, and it’s damage dealt to it, not by it, which allows you to control the damage output to Polyraptor. Rivals of Ixalan alone supplies a TON of minute damage options to trigger Polyraptor countless times. And don’t forget…1 becomes 2…2 becomes 4…4 becomes 8…it’s a raptor army pretty quick!
This transform land is nastier than I thought. I saw the 5 CMC for the ability, which would need to then trigger 3 times, to flip the card into the land? I really just ignored the card after that. But…of course it costs 5! You’re exiling a creature, which has no path to return like most White enchantments of a similar ilk! And then, once you’ve exiled 3 creatures, you can cast them for yourself when it becomes a land! It looks pointless in Standard, and even most Modern concepts I can think of, but it looks pretty brutal in EDH.
Etali, Primal Storm
And now it’s time to discuss the card that a lot of people are talking about. While the Standard and Modern formats love the potential of Ghalta, EDH is paying all of its attention to Etali, which offers a fun Commander option for mono red. I love these kinds of cards because I love decks that play differently every time you play them. And when your Commander’s primary use is to play your opponent’s cards, the deck will never play the same way twice! This guy pairs well with Grenzo, Havoc Raiser and other chaotic red cards for goofing around with your opponent’s spells. Is there enough to synergize around Etali in mono red EDH? Maybe not. But at 6 CMC, the possibilities for him in Casual Modern aren’t completely out.