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Zendikar logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description a closed Hedron
Design Mark Rosewater (lead),
Doug Beyer,
Graeme Hopkins,
Kenneth Nagle,
Matt Place
Development Henry Stern (lead),
Aaron Forsythe,
Mark Globus,
Erik Lauer,
Devin Low,
Matt Place,
Mike Turian,
Steve Warner
Art direction Jeremy Jarvis
Release date October 2, 2009
Plane Zendikar
Themes and mechanics Lands, Quests, Traps
Keywords/​ability words Landfall, Kicker
Set size 249
(101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 20 basic lands)
Expansion code ZEN[1]
Development codename Live
Zendikar block
Zendikar Worldwake Rise of the Eldrazi
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Masters Edition III Zendikar Duel Decks: Garruk vs. Liliana
This page is about the set. For the plane, see Zendikar (plane). For other uses, see Zendikar (disambiguation).

Zendikar is the fiftieth Magic expansion and was released in October 2009 as the first set in the Zendikar block.[2] Prerelease events were held September 26–27, 2009.[3] Release events were held October 2–4, 2009. Zendikar Game Day was held on October 31, 2009.

Set details[ | ]

Zendikar contains 249 cards (101 Common, 60 Uncommon, 53 Rare, 15 Mythic, 20 Basic Lands), including randomly inserted premium versions of all cards in the set. The expansion symbol of the set is a closed hedron.

Zendikar is the "land set"; it is centered around lands and players' interaction with lands.[4][5] Besides Landfall and enemy fetch lands, the set features special full-art basic lands similar to those that appeared in Unglued and Unhinged. The lands have a regular name box but the mana symbol of the text box and the type line are conflated into one at the bottom of the card. The box is the normal height of the type box but dents outwards for the mana symbol in the middle. To the left of the symbol are the words "Basic Land" while on the right is the type of the land and the expansion symbol. These special lands appear in booster packs and fat packs. Intro packs on the other hand have normal-styled lands as they have appeared in most large expansions. These have the same collector numbers, but with an added letter "a". There are four individual arts for each land and both sets of lands feature the same artwork.[6][7][8][9][10] Full art basic lands function the same way as any other basic lands, since each land with a basic land type intrinsically has the mana ability associated with that type. The set features new planeswalkers, including Nissa Revane, who was previously featured in Duels of the Planeswalkers.[11]

Storyline[ | ]

“  Deadly Perils, Priceless Treasures.  ”

Zendikar is based on the plane of the same name which had not been featured previously in Magic, but had been alluded to within the Planeswalker novel of The Purifying Fire. It is a plane of adventure, with many treasures, and potent mana supplies, but mana on this plane works differently than in the rest of the multiverse.[12][13] The plane is littered with large, floating polyhedron-shaped stones called hedrons, prominently featured in the artwork. Little is known of these Hedrons as not even the people native to the plane know about their purpose. The floating stones however are also an indicator of the fact that gravity is different on Zendikar than on other planes.[14][15]

Zendikar is populated by Goblins, Elves and Vampires among others. Zendikar is also the home plane of the Kor and is predominately featured as the race for white in the set. It is revealed that their appearance on Rath and other planes is due to abductions from Zendikar.[14]

Webcomic[ | ]

Main article: Magic Story

Journey to the Eye is a webcomic about Chandra and Sarkhan Vol. It was published in three parts in September and October 2009.

Title Author Release Date Setting (plane) Featuring
Journey to the Eye, Part 1 Brady Dommermuth 2009-09-17 Zendikar Chandra, Sachir, Urdom, Mira and Tau, Ilvoro, Gurgel Brothers, Anowon
Journey to the Eye, Part 2 Brady Dommermuth 2009-09-24 Zendikar Sarkhan
Journey to the Eye, Part 3 Brady Dommermuth 2009-10-01 Zendikar Chandra, Anowon, Sabra, Sarkhan

"Priceless Treasures"[ | ]

Main article: Priceless Treasures

As a promotion to further the theme of the set, Wizards randomly inserted cards from older sets into Zendikar boosters replacing the basic land slot.

These cards are mostly from Beta, Unlimited, Antiquities, some of them are signed cards. Cards from the Reserved List are not excluded as these cards are not reprints but are existing copies from the old print run and therefore do not violate the policy. However, due to legal issues, ante-related cards do not appear as Priceless Treasures (Chaos Orb and Shahrazad, both banned in Vintage, did appear however).

Priceless Treasures include reserved cards like Power Nine-members and dual lands, cards not on the reserved list but not reprinted otherwise by then like Sol Ring are also included. Despite appearing in the boosters, cards from Priceless Treasures are excluded in limited play, nor did they become legal in Standard, Extended, or Modern.

Marketing[ | ]

ZEN 6-card booster

Zendikar 6-card booster

Zendikar was sold in 16-card booster packs, 6-card boosters, 5 intro packs [16] and a fat pack.[17] It was the first large exansion to be sold without tournament packs. The regular boosters featured art from Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, Vampire Lacerator, Nissa Revane, Chandra Ablaze and Sorin Markov.[18] The 6-card booster featured Nissa Revane. The Zendikar block was accompanied by only one novel: Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum by Robert B. Wintermute.

Prerelease events were held September 26–27, 2009. Release events were held October 2–4, 2009. Zendikar Game Day was held on October 31, 2009. The promotional cards given to participants at the prerelease are Rampaging Baloths, highlighting landfall, with alternate artwork, and the Celestine Reef plane card for use with the Planechase set.[19] The release card for the launch party was Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, which rewards you for playing multiple mountains. The promotional cards given to Game Day Event participants were a full-art Nissa's Chosen, and winners received a foil full-art Emeria Angel.[20] The Buy-a-Box card was Day of Judgment.

Regular boosters of Zendikar come with a bonus sixteenth card that is either a "tips & tricks card" or a creature token from Zendikar. One face of the Zendikar bonus card has one of five different rules tips or is one of eleven different creature tokens. The other face has one of 13 advertisements for organized play programs, Worldwake, Duels of the Planeswalkers for Xbox Live, Magic Online, fat packs, A Planeswalker's Guide to Alara and Ultra Pro products for Magic.

Tips & Tricks[ | ]

The tips & tricks cards are

Tokens[ | ]

The Zendikar tokens in numerical order are:[21]

Mechanics[ | ]

The ability word Landfall signals triggered abilities upon lands entering the battlefield under a player's control.[23][24] The set also prints a cycle of enemy-colored fetch lands which support the set in color fixing and give additional landfall triggers.

The set features three new Planeswalkers in Sorin Markov, Chandra Ablaze and Nissa Revane and a new subtype for Instant called "Trap". Trap cards have alternate costs if specific events happen, like an opponent putting two creatures onto the battlefield in the same turn.[25] There are also cards representing small Quests. These are enchantments that gain Quest counters in specific events. After building up counters on them they yield rewards.

The keyword Kicker returns.[26] It also features the new keyword Intimidate which functions like and replaces fear as it makes a creature with intimidate unblockable except for artifact creatures and creatures that share a color with the intimidating creature.

Another new mechanic is centered around the new creature type Ally.[27][28][29] A group of creatures with that type have abilities that trigger upon them or another Ally entering play and are either dependent on or beneficial to Allies in play the same player controls.

Bloodied is a vampire theme in the set, where the creature will be boosted if the opponent is at 10 life or below, thematically generating the concept of a hunter encouraged by wounded prey.

Cycles[ | ]

Zendikar has 13 cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Expeditions Sunspring Expedition Ior Ruin Expedition Soul Stair Expedition Zektar Shrine Expedition Khalni Heart Expedition
Each of these common enchantments bears the word "Expedition" in its name, gains a quest counter from Landfall and has an activated ability for removing three counters and sacrificing the Expedition.
Quests Quest for the Holy Relic Quest for Ancient Secrets Quest for the Gravelord Quest for Pure Flame Quest for the Gemblades
Each of these uncommon enchantments bears the word "Quest" in its name, gain quest counters from specific events and a certain number of counters can be removed and the enchantment can be sacrificed for an effect.
Ascension Luminarch Ascension Archmage Ascension Bloodchief Ascension Pyromancer Ascension Beastmaster Ascension
Each of these rare enchantments gains quest counters should specific events occur and another ability is enabled after a threshold of counters is reached. All of them also have "Ascension" in their name.
Common kicker instants Bold Defense Into the Roil Vampire's Bite Burst Lightning Vines of Vastwood
Each of these common instants has a kicker cost.
Strong kicker cycle Conqueror's Pledge Rite of Replication Sadistic Sacrament Elemental Appeal Gigantiform
Each of these rare cards has a big effect that becomes a giant effect for a big colorless kicker-cost.
Landfall pump creatures Steppe Lynx Windrider Eel Hagra Crocodile Plated Geopede Territorial Baloth
Each of these common creatures gain +2/+2 as their Landfall ability. There is also equipment that has the same function as this cycle: Adventuring Gear.
One mana spell lands Kabira Crossroads Soaring Seacliff Piranha Marsh Teetering Peaks Turntimber Grove
Each of these common lands enters the battlefield tapped, taps for an appropriate colored mana, and then has a one mana spell effect in that color as an "enters the battlefield" trigger.[30]
Rare spell lands Emeria, the Sky Ruin Magosi, the Waterveil Crypt of Agadeem Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Each of these lands enters the battlefield tapped and taps for one mana of a color. They also have an additional ability and each is named after a specific place on Zendikar, though they are not legendary.
Common "growing" Allies Makindi Shieldmate Umara Raptor Nimana Sell-Sword Tuktuk Grunts Oran-Rief Survivalist
Each of these common creatures has "When this card or another Ally comes into play under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature."
Uncommon Allies Kazandu Blademaster Seascape Aerialist Hagra Diabolist Murasa Pyromancer Tajuru Archer
Each of these uncommon creatures has an Ally-based ability.
Rare Allies Kabira Evangel Sea Gate Loremaster Bala Ged Thief Kazuul Warlord Turntimber Ranger
Each of these Rare Ally creatures has a powerful Ally ability.
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
Refuge land cycle Sejiri Refuge Jwar Isle Refuge Akoum Refuge Kazandu Refuge Graypelt Refuge
Five lands that enter the battlefield tapped and tapped for one of two allied colors. They are functional reprints of taplands except they additionally gain 1 life when they enter the battlefield.
Cycle name {W}{B} {U}{R} {B}{G} {R}{W} {G}{U}
Enemy color fetch lands Marsh Flats Scalding Tarn Verdant Catacombs Arid Mesa Misty Rainforest
Each of these rare lands can be sacrificed along with a payment of 1 life to search for one of two basic land types.

Mega Cycles[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Planeswalkers Gideon Jura (Rise of the Eldrazi) Jace, the Mind Sculptor (Worldwake) Sorin Markov (Zendikar) Chandra Ablaze (Zendikar) Nissa Revane (Zendikar)
Five monocolored planeswalkers, each with their part of the Zendikar storyline.

Pairs[ | ]

Zendikar has one mega matched pair with future set Worldwake.

Matched Pairs Description
Marsh Threader (Worldwake)
Cliff Threader (Zendikar)
2/1 Kor Scouts with Landwalk.

Reprinted cards[ | ]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Zendikar:

Functional reprints[ | ]

Zendikar has 5 functional reprints:

Colorshifted[ | ]

Notable cards[ | ]

  • The cycle of enemy fetch lands see significant play in all formats.
  • Vampire Hexmage was half of the powerful Extended combo (the other half being Dark Depths), also played in Standard vampire decks.
  • Bloodghast is another Vampire that saw widespread tournament play due to easy recursion from the graveyard, e.g. to fuel Dread Return.
  • Halo Hunter is a demon that kills angels but was widely panned by the Magic community for the fact that it was foiled by the trinket protection text on Baneslayer Angel, a card which haunted the Standard tournament scene at the time.
  • Lorthos, the Tidemaker is a legendary Octopus that takes the theme as far as it gets, with converted casting cost and power/toughness all being 8, and an ability which costs another {8} to tap eight permanents. There are eight instances of eight on this card.[31]
  • Warren Instigator is closely related to the powerful Goblin Lackey, a card that was once banned in Extended. However, while Warren Instigator can put two Goblins into play on the same turn, the larger costs proved him to be slower and thus less dangerous.
  • Goblin Guide's potential as a turn-one play made him a popular choice in Burn decks despite the downside of drawing the opponent an occasional land.
  • Felidar Sovereign is an alternate-win card.
  • Lotus Cobra was heavily played both times it has been legal in Standard, providing mana fixing and ramp especially in conjunction with fetchlands or land ramp.
  • Oracle of Mul Daya was a key part of Standard ramp decks.
  • Spell Pierce is an efficient counterspell that's especially potent out of the sideboard which has seen heavy play in every single format.
  • Emeria, the Sky Ruin is a land with significant upside, providing repeatable recursion in the late game, seeing play in variants of the Martyr Proc Modern deck.
  • Vampire Nighthawk is an efficient, simple creature with three evergreen keyword abilities that saw play in black decks throughout its legality in Standard.
  • Mindbreak Trap is a heavily played sideboard card in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage, where it can stop combo decks for free.
  • Day of Judgement was the Wrath of choice in Standard while it was legal, being a near functional reprint of Wrath of God
  • Archive Trap and Hedron Crab has been played substantially in Modern decks aiming to mill out the opponent, and the latter has also been played in graveyard decks that can mill themselves with it for value.
  • Vines of Vastwood is an efficient pump spell that has been played in Modern, Legacy, and Pauper Infect decks. Its unique wording also notably can prevent spells an opponent cast on their creatures, as opposed to most recent spells that grant Hexproof.
  • Goblin Bushwhacker is the namesake of the "8-whack" deck archetype as well as offshoots like Boros Convoke and Kuldrotha Red in numerous formats like Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper, which aim to fill the board with numerous creatures and then cast a Bushwhacker to pump them all for a lethal swing.
  • Journey to Nowhere is unusually efficient for an Oblivion Ring effect, saw substantial play in Standard, and remains one of the best removal spells in Pauper. It also is a variant without a straight templating reprint a la Banishing Light, as the templating change came about at the same time in which two-mana removal was developed to be more restrictive.
  • Pyromancer Ascension is a powerful card for spell-based combo decks in Modern such as Landless Belcher, Izzet Phoenix, and Storm.
  • Mindless Null is an infamously weak creature with a notable origin; according to Mark Rosewater, it was originally intended to cost two mana, but after a designer accidentally wrote it down as costing three mana, its new cost was kept as a joke. [32]

Banned and restricted cards[ | ]

  • Punishing Fire has been banned in Modern since December 2011 for its anti-aggro loop with Grove of the Burnwillows, despite the format speeding up dramatically since.
  • Expedition Map's ability to cheaply fetch any land, including nonbasics, has made it a crucial element in Tron decks in Modern. It was so strong in Pauper Tron decks that it was banned in 2020, although it was unbanned in 2022 after other bans targeted Tron effectively.
  • Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is a key part of numerous land combo decks like Scapeshift in Extended and was a finisher in ramp decks in Standard. It was so strong in Extended that it was preemptively banned when the Modern format was created, but it was eventually unbanned in 2012 and has gone on to heavy play in Scapeshift and Amulet Titan decks.
  • Spreading Seas appears to be a very inconspicuous card, but saw widespread tournament play due to its ability to significantly limit the color capabilities of multicolored decks which emerged from the previous Alara block, and later was able to deal with non-basic lands from Zendikar block such as Manlands that followed in Worldwake or cards such as Eye of Ugin. It was so powerful as to be preemptively banned in the Historic format when it was printed in Wilds of Eldraine's Enchanting Tales bonus sheet.
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria was played as both lock and finisher mostly in Legacy, but also in Standard and Modern in reanimator decks. Its strength as a lock piece has led to it being banned in the casual Commander format, where splashing is functionally not legal.

Intro packs[ | ]

Main article: Zendikar/Intro packs

The intro packs are:[16][33]

Intro pack name Colors Included Foil rare
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Kor Armory W Armament Master
Rise of the Vampires B Malakir Bloodwitch
The Adventurers R G Turntimber Ranger
Pumped Up U R Hellkite Charger
Unstable Terrain U G Sphinx of Jwar Isle

References[ | ]

  1. Product info
  2. Wizards of the Coast (March 25, 2009). "Announcing Zendikar". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Tim Willoughby (September 21, 2009). "Zendikar Prerelease Primer". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (September 07, 2009). "Achieving Zendikar, Part I". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (September 14, 2009). "Achieving Zendikar, Part II". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Magic Arcana (August 10, 2009). "Zendikar Plains". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Magic Arcana (August 11, 2009). "Zendikar Islands". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Magic Arcana (August 12, 2009). "Zendikar Swamps". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana (August 13, 2009). "Zendikar Mountains". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Magic Arcana (August 14, 2009). "Zendikar Forests (and Wallpaper of the Week!)". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Doug Beyer (September 07, 2009). "Zendikar, the Lethal Landscape". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Explore the Planes: Zendikar
  13. A Planeswalker's Guide to Zendikar
  14. a b At the Gathering- In the Near Future, Jeff Phillips,, August 28th, 2009
  15. Jeremy Jarvis (September 14, 2009). "The Look of Zendikar". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. a b Magic Arcana (August 19, 2009). "Zendikar Intro Packs". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Magic Arcana (August 26, 2009). "Zendikar Fat Pack". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Magic Arcana (August 17, 2009). "Zendikar Booster Packs". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Magic Arcana (September 16, 2009). "Zendikar Prerelease Promos". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Magic Arcana (October 26, 2009). "Zendikar Game Day Promos". Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Magic Arcana (September 23, 2009). "Zendikar Tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Magic Arcana (January 20, 2010). "Summoning an Illusion". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Tom LaPille (September 25, 2009). "Making Landfall, Part I". Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Tom LaPille (October 09, 2009). "Making Landfall, Part II". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Tom LaPille (September 11, 2009). "You Just Fell For The Trap". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Mark Rosewater (September 21, 2009). "Achieving Zendikar, Part III". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater (November 02, 2009). "True Allies". Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Matt Place (October 05, 2009). "Multiclassing in Magic R&D". Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Tom LaPille (November 06, 2009). "Know Your Allies". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Tom LaPille (September 18, 2009). "This Land Is Your Land". Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Mark Rosewater (October 12, 2009). "Zendikar Talk". Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Mark Rosewater (October 19, 2009). "Care for a Bite?". Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Magic Arcana (September 30, 2009). "Zendikar Intro Pack Contents". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]