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September 11, 2015

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Daily Dose of Battle for Zendikar – Watch out Kiora, he’s Unshackled!

Welcome all to another edition of the Daily Dose for Battle for Zendikar, where today we will be talking about the remaining two planeswalkers running around Zendikar. They have been revealed to be Kiora and Ob Nixilis. We last saw Kiora in Born of the Gods and although we’ve seen Ob Nixilis in creature form a few times (Including in Magic 2015 and in the original Zendikar block), the only time we’ve seen him in Planeswalker form was in the Commander 2014 decks last year. Now they are both on Zendikar along with Gideon ready to fight the battle.
Let’s first take a look at Kiora, Master of the Depths!

Kiora, Master of the Depths

Kiora, the Crashing Wave was always a favorite of mine in the Theros block and they’ve done a good job in creating the feel that if you liked Kiora, the Crashing Wave, you will like Kiora, Master of the Depths.
First off it has the same casting cost of 4 mana, but a higher staring loyalty point of 4. Let’s take a look at her abilities:
+1: “Untap up to one target creature and up to one target land.” Although this is not as powerful as being able to fog one of your opponent’s permanents, it still does provide protection for Kiora. Being able to attack and then untap a creature to block after you cast Kiora is a great way to get in damage and prevent damage. Later in the game, the untap one land ability will not be as relevant, however you could still to untap a “Creature” land or a color you need for a follow-up spell.
-2: “Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put a creature card and/or a land from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.” Now this is a significant improvement over Kiora’s previous draw ability. No it won’t allow you to ramp and put a second land into play. Yes, it is -2 instead of -1. The two reasons which makes this superior is that in most cases you will be getting 2 cards from each activation, both a creature and a land. Secondly, the remaining cards go into your graveyard, which will allow you to do all sorts of crazy Sultai graveyard shenanigans.

-8: Win the game. This ultimate not only allows you to fight anytime you have a creature enter the battlefield, it gives you three 8/8 Octopus creatures. Good game everyone, the Octopi have arrived!

Now on to the oh so powerful, Ob Nixilis Reignited.

Ob Nixilis Reignited

In my opinion, when you start to get planeswalkers into the 5-mana and above category, it needs to have two things going for it: Card advantage and Battlefield advantage. I believe that Ob Nixilis Reignited hits both of those marks. Let’s take a look at his abilities:

+1: “You draw a card and you lost 1 life.” Ob Nixilis continues the tradition of 5-mana planeswalkers like Jace, Memory Adept and Sarkhan Unbroken that have a plus ability which allows you to draw a card without the restriction found in cards like Domri Rade and Narset Transcendent. Losing a life is a partial restriction, but you wouldn’t expect anything else from a black planeswalker, right? Card advantage, check!

-3: “Destroy target creature.” It’s nice to see that your Ob Nixilis will survive (at 2 loyalty) if you want to use it as a 5-mana destroy creature spell, which sometimes you will need to. Although it is nice to have a planeswalker that can defend itself, ideally you only want to be using this ability if you are behind on the battlefield. Most times you want to be drawing cards, but it is nice to know that clearing a creature is an option. Ob Nixilis continues the tradition of planeswalkers needing to have a 5-mana cost to be able to destroy creatures (c[]Vraska, the Unseen[/c], Gideon Jura). Battlefield advantage, check!

-8: “Target opponent gets an emblem with ‘Whenever a player draws a card, you lose 2 life.’” So if drawing 3 extra cards to get to 8 loyalty hasn’t already won you the game, why not make it so your opponent loses 2 life every turn. That’s right, not just during their draw phase, but your draw phase as well and during any extra cards you draw from Ob Nixilis’s +1 ability. Have a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy on the battlefield, make them take 2 damage per activation!

So that’s been a look at two of the powerful planeswalkers from Battle for Zendikar. Thanks again for reading another edition of the Daily Dose of Battle for Zendikar and I look forward to seeing you again soon for some more preview action!