Oh, Battle For Zendikar. Such potential for the most opened set of all time, just for a chance to get those Expedition Lands. It’s very exciting all around, but even more exciting are some of the spoilers we have thus far. There hasn’t been too much in the way of Red, but one card in particular stands out as not just playable, but possibly a defining card for agro.

Zada, the latest in legendary goblins, is a very interesting card that, with so many cheap pump spells, can lead to some major alpha strikes by turn 5. By swarming the field with tiny minions, only to drop Zada and a single pump spell, you are capable of unleashing havoc. Let’s give a small list of pump spells that could make Zada a real contender.

• Titan’s Strength
• Temur Battle Rage
• Defiant Strike
• Feat of Resistance
• Valorous Stance
• Might of the Masses
• Become Immense

Just to name a few currently in standard (not even count other cards in Zendikar). I’m sure already, you’re beside yourself with the explosive power that Zada brings to the table. Now the question becomes, what style of deck is best? From the looks of it, there’s four variants we can try for: Gruul, Boros, Naya, or just go straight up Mono-Red. Why change the course, right?

Still, let’s looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the four combinations:


Mono-Red can be good because of its consistency and more room for direct burn though the likes of Exquisite Firecraft and Wild Slash, when you lose the ability to swarm. That said, doing Hordeling Outburst, and Dragon Fodder is a good way to kick off your game to overwhelm your opponent before the inevitable. Of the list above, only Titan’s Strength stands out as the really good pump spell.


Gruul colors can be good because it’s basically an established archetype already. You swarm the field with 1/1 goblins that, even without Zada on the field, can get buffed by Atarka’s Command and win the game on their own. True, we are losing the likes of Goblin Rabblemaster, but Piledriver is still around and helps lessen the blow.

Additionally, when you do get Zada out, a single Might of the Masses turns your army of say…. five 1/1s into a fearsome, bolstering force of five 6/6s! Even Siege Rhino crumbles to that. Furthermore, this is the only color combination that is getting one of the new 2 Basic Lands Cycles (Tango lands, whatever you want to call them), so that is a plus, especially since the land is fetchable.


Boros colors can be good because of the power White weenies received in Origins, as well as some of the neat ally cards from Zendikar we’ve seen thus far. Both Kytheon, and the new Gideon would be great in a token style weenie deck. The actual pumps you get from White aren’t as good, most to all the good ones only giving +1/+0, but in exchange, they have extraordinary secondary abilities that make white worth it.

My personal favorite is Defiant Strike. +1 damage for each deck and you essentially refill your hand ready for the next assault! Valorous Stance can be crucial vs control decks trying to board wipe you, and Feat of Resistance brings back memories of Brave the Elements during RTR/Theros standard. Alpha striking your opponent for the win! The only problem Boros colors has is a matter of consistent mana. Unlike Gruul, they don’t have a fetchable dual land. They are getting a Manland however, so we’ll see how that looks when it’s revealed.


Naya can be good for all the same reasons listed in the earlier sections, though to a slightly lesser degree since you’re juggling 3 colors and that makes certain cards harder to cast consistently. You can use the Selesnya Tango land to help with some of that consistency, plus you can full on forgo the token strategy and instead just go with beefy creatures, or even better, allies! It is potentially another good home for Collected Company, though Zada is sadly a four converted cost creature, so that is something to consider if you decide to go this route.


Final Thoughts

Zada is probably one of the cards I’m most excited about in Battle for Zendikar. The sheer power she brings is so tantalizing it’s hard to not want to try her out and see what damage she can really do. As for me, which variant do I think is the best? Despite its mana fixing problems, I think Boros has too many good cards to ignore and the injection of life white weenies got in Origins make me think this will be the go to Aggro deck for a while. To leave you, here’s a deck list to give you ideas for this particular color combination:

Boros Zada Tokens

Spells (25)
Defiant Strike
Dragon Fodder
Feat of Resistance
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Hordeling Outburst
Titan’s Strength
Secure the Wastes
Valorous Stance

Creatures (11)
Abbot of Keral Keep
Monastery Swiftspear
Zada, Hedron Grinder
Lands (24)
Battlefield Forge
11 Mountain
RW Manlands