Tradition is a quirky thing and the Magic community is always in motion these days. Formats rotate, tournaments change, organized play evolves. But one thing has remained constant for quite some time: the Magic fall set preview show at PAX Prime. While the east-coast convention cousin, PAX East, has hosted a few memorable moments such as the official announcement of Battle for Zendikar and the official announcement of Return to Ravnica  (which literally brought people to tears), PAX Prime is home to the biggest Magic party in the world. This year was no exception as Wizards planned to bring the biggest and most spectacular preview show yet. Today we break down all the action from Saturday night’s show.

Battle for Zendikar

There were a lot of cards spoiled and other details leaked at the BFZ preview show. Below you’ll find a mostly complete run-down of each part of the show along with a grade from the below entirely arbitrary scale of Tuktuks.

  • 1 Tuktuk – This part of the show completely missed the mark and would have been better off left for dead in the depths of some dungeon in the Oran-Rief Jungles
  • 2 Tuktuks – Okay, this wasn’t the absolute worst but it’s still basically a useless goblin and we could do without it
  • 3 Tuktuks – Could be better, could be worse. Slot it into your quirky casual combo deck, or bring it out when playing with your younger siblings
  • 4 Tuktuks – We’ve finally hit on something resonant and Wizards should keep doing more of whatever this is
  • 5 Tuktuks – All hail Tuktuk the Returned!

On to the show!

The Battle for Zendikar Trailer — 3 Tuktuks

The set trailer helps to paint the scene of what a total mess things are on Zendikar. We decided to give it 3 Tuktuks because it didn’t suck, the animation is campy but we love it, and because the voice-over left a lot to be desired. Word of advice for next year, get Morgan Freeman to do the voice-over for these things. Or the girl from In A World…

Celebrity Hosts – Wil Wheaton & Ashly Burch — 3 Tuktuks

I have to admit I didn’t know who Ashly Burch is. According to Wikipedia she’s a voice actress. Hopefully she’s not the voice actress on the trailer above. Anyways, we decided to give this part 3 Tuktuks as well because although Wil and Ashly were clearly winging it at times and ill-prepared and a bit awkward, it was actual geek celebrities bringing you Magic the Gathering news. Let that sink in for a moment and then realize that one day it will be LeBron James up there giving you the latest info on Return to Return to Return to Return to Ravnica.

Doug Beyer and the History of Zendikar — 3 Tuktuks

This part seemed fine. We already know everything there is to know about Zendikar because we’re huge Magic nerds, but I guess this was helpful for someone. Anyone? We love hearing Doug talk about Magic so that’s good enough for 3 Tuktuks.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar — 2 Tuktuks

After opening with a trifecta of 3 Tuktuk ratings we take a step backwards with the unveiling of the new Gideon card.Okay, it’s a four-mana planeswalker that protects itself but there’s really no ultimate ability. It’s somewhat awkward to tick him up and then use the -4 ability. At least the 0 ability is helpful. It’s possible Gideon will become a powerhouse in standard but at first glance we’re not impressed. We give Gideon 2 Tuktuks.

Zendikar Art Book — 5 Tuktuks

But then things jumped right up to 5 Tuktuks when Doug announced the Zendikar art book. Holy moley. Mike Linnemann already ordered a dozen, or so I assume. This is a really sweet project and many years in the making and hopefully a sign of what’s to come. Could you imagine how awesome a Ravnica art book would be? I bet Hasbro’s Board of Directors can imagine it.

Battle for Zendikar in Magic Duels — 1 Tuktuk/5 Tuktuks

I have to admit we were really excited for Magic Duels back at PAX East but somewhere along the way it lost its luster. Oh, probably when we couldn’t play it on our Playstation or Android devices. Oh well. If you play Magic Duels I’m sure this was great news. For everyone else, here’s 1 Tuktuk.

Mark Rosewater Spoiler Time —  4 Tuktuks

No one gets more excited to talk about Magic than Mark. He was even a good sport about Wil Wheaton being Wil Wheaton. Nothing is more impressive than this man’s ability to keep a secret for years and then still be excited to tell the world things he worked on roughly 18 months prior. Mark gets 4 Tuktuks because he’s Mark Rosewater.

Eldrazi Devastator — 3 Tuktuks

We open up with a pretty decent spoiler, earning 3 Tuktuks for delivering an early message that there will be a lot of big creatures and they will be bad-ass.

Kozilek’s Channeler — 2 Tuktuks

We take a step back here, and give this spoiler 2 Tuktuks because let’s be real, no one thought there wouldn’t be any ramp spells in this set. Turn one mana-elf. Turn two Kodama’s Reach equivalent. Drop this guy on turn three and then play the first spoiler. Yeah, we get it. Let’s see something new.

Barrage Tryant (Devoid Mechanic) — 3 Tuktuks

We give 3 Tuktuks to the reveal of Devoid, which is basically the Ghostfire mechanic. Check another box off the Future Sight to-do list. Mark Rosewater thinks that it’s an added bonus that you can combo Barrage Tyrant with morph/manifest. Okay.

Incubator Drone (Eldrazi Scion Mechanic) — 2 Tuktuks

We made Eldrazi Spawn better! Now they have one power! I don’t know how exciting this should really be, hence the 2 Tuktuk award. I think everyone expected Eldrazi Spawn to return, so learning they’re back but slightly different isn’t really that special.

Mist Intruder (Ingest Mechanic) — 4 Tuktuks

4 Tuktuks purely for the amazing use of the full-art frame for blue Devoid cards. Ingest is also cute and this is the start of Mark Rosewater inundating us with the clever interactions the Eldrazi have with exiling cards and then manipulating them.

Titan’s Presence (Colorless Spells) — 3 Tuktuks

Oh good, more exiling. Are people falling asleep yet? I get that it’s new, but it’s not really unexpected. 3 Tuktuks for uncommon spot removal.

Oran-Rief Hydra (Landfall Mechanic) — 3 Tuktuks

We all knew Landfall was coming back and it’s good to see there was still some design space left. Landfall that cares about land time is a nice touch. We give this new Landfall and this new hydra 3 Tuktuks.

Hero of Goma Fada  (Rally Mechanic) — 2 Tuktuks

Allies were another mechanic we expected to return as well but there’s something really underwhelming about Hero of Goma Fada. With triggers this powerful I’m a bit concerned ally tribal won’t be a real thing. I guess we’ll find out, but for now we’re giving this Zendikari only 2 Tuktuks.

Radiant Flames (Converge Mechanic) — 4 Tuktuks

Since the Eldrazi represent the absence of color, or as Doug Beyer explained, they existed before the colors of Magic, it makes sense for the Zendikari to be represented by the alliance of different colors. Prismatic from the original Mirrodin block was a great mechanic, and Domain from Invasion block also helped to portray the flavor of colors allying. It’s interesting to see Prismatic evolve into Converge for spells. We give Wizards 4 Tuktuks for finding more and more design space in multicolor Magic.

Ruinous Path (Awaken Mechanic) — 1 Tuktuk

On the other hand, this spoiler really fell short. Firstly it’s a sorcery-speed version of Hero’s Downfall. While it’s true that many mechanics can be translated to Kicker, this one feels very much like it could have been Kicker 4 – blah blah blah. I’m sure the mechanic is very good, but you know, it’s just not exciting on this card. Only 1 Tuktuk for you, uninspired spoiler.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger — 4 Tuktuks

We had to give Ulamog 4 Tuktuks mostly because it’s a 10/10 for 10 mana who does amazing Eldrazi things. It pales in comparison to the original titans but it’s by no means a slouch. How about turn one Tron land, turn two Tron land and Signet, turn three assemble Tron (lucky you) and play any ramp spell into casting Ulamog on turn four to immediately exile two of your opponent’s lands. Just think about it before you write this one off as constructed unplayable.

Full-Art Basic Lands Return — 3 Tuktuks

We all knew this was coming. 3 Tuktuks because Mark Rosewater spoiled this information on Tumblr already.

New Dual Lands — 4 Tuktuks

Okay, we’ll give you an extra Tuktuk and bring it to 4 Tuktuks for the new dual lands. Actual dual lands. With actual fetches. In standard. It’s gonna be five-color allies and colorless Eldrazi everywhere. Five-color control anyone?

Zendikar Expeditions — 4 Tuktuks

These aren’t going to be for everyone. Yes the text box is kind of awkward. Yes the frame is kind of oddly shaped. But at the end of the day they’re full-art non-basic lands which are likely to be Standard constructed staples. They will be very nice for the people who want them. We give Wizards 4 Tuktuks for dropping this bomb to end the panel.

Full-Art Fetch and Shock Lands — 5 Tuktuks

Oh wait, have 5 Tuktuks for this one. I’m sure my fellow writers will have much more to say about this in the next few weeks, and I will as well I’m sure, but let’s be perfectly honest, Wizards wanted to make a splash at PAX and they sure did.

Wallpaper of the Week

There’s a lot to love about the artwork for Day’s Undoing. What I really enjoy about it is the Stonehenge-esque mysticism around the capped pillars. Okay it’s not part of a circle in a field but it’s still some kind of portal. In this case it’s a portal to the exact same place but at a different time. Who even knows what time that is. Tomorrow? Last week? A hundred years ago? A thousand? We’ve come a long way since the days of Timetwister and it’s nice to see the artwork reflect that.

Grade: B+

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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