Battle for Zendikar Event Deck Review

The Battle for Zendikar Event Deck – called Ultimate Sacrifice – dropped with the release of the new set with the intention of giving players interested in standard a possible starting point to work from.  In the past, the event decks have typically been decent.  Not always top tier and not always full of value, but certainly under the category of at least “good”.

Does the Battle for Zendikar event deck follow suit?  Is it a good value for your money?  Is it at all competitive or even fun to play?

First, lets look at the cards in the deck:

Creature (26)
4 Blisterpod
1 Warden of the First Tree
2 Sultai Emissary
2 Zulaport Cutthroat
4 Rot Shambler
1 Grim Haruspex
2 Nantuko Husk
4 Catacomb Sifter
1 Eyeless Watcher
1 Smothering Abomination
1 Whisperwood Elemental
1 Brood Butcher
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Hangarback Walker


Sorcery (4)
4 Bone Splinters

Instant (2)
2 Murderous Cut

Enchantment (4)
2 Vampiric Rites
1 Evolutionary Leap
1 Corpseweft

Land (24)
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Jungle Hollow
1 Llanowar Wastes
2 Rogue’s Passage
6 Swamp
7 Forest

Sideboard (15)
3 Duress
3 Caustic Caterpillar
4 Jaddi Offshoot
3 Cranial Archive
2 Ultimate Price

The card list contains a variety of fairly solid blue and red cards from across the current standard format (Khans of Tarkir through to Battle for Zendikar).  Before anyone gets too excited, the land cards are not full art.  Unlike the intro decks, the event decks always contain a larger selection of rares and even mythics.  There’s no exception this time around.  For mythics, we get Warden of the First Tree and Whisperwood Elemental and both are pretty solid in terms of usefulness.  You also get Grim Haruspex, Smothering Abomination, Brood Butcher, Tasigur the Golden Fang, Hangarback Walker, Evolutionary Leap, Llanowar Wastes and Corpseweft as your rares.

How much value are you getting in the event deck? 

If dollar value is your chief concern, then there is certainly value to be had in the event deck.  Hangerback Walker alone is currently priced at $16USD on StarCityGames and combined the mythics and rares in this deck — even a solid week and a half after release — are worth more than the price you will pay.  So in terms of dollar value, the event deck is a pretty good investment.

Is it competitive?  Is it fun?

We had a low turnout for our last Standard FNM but I did get to match the deck against three other standard decks.  Admittedly none of them were top tier, but the Ultimate Sacrifice event deck held its own fairly well — moreso than expected actually.  Out of three matches, it tied twice and went to a draw on the third.  On Gameday, the deck faltered somewhat.  While it remained strong, it couldn’t quite hold up to many of the more honed competitive decks.  That said, the deck is fun.  It’s very interactive and engaging to play with multiple possible win conditions.  It also does a very good job highlighting how the Eldrazi spawn and cards that use the sacrifice mechanic can play together.  If nothing else, it does a great job sparking the imagination and leaves plenty of room for growth and creativity.  Everything in the deck plays well with everything else.  You sack creatures to power spells or other creatures and play effect that trigger when your other creatures die.  It provides you with a wide field of bodies that will cause all kinds of frustration for your opponent, even when they do manage to kill them.  If your graveyard does end up full, you can use it to fuel Murderous Cut or help you cast Tasigur.

Watch out for sweeper effects though.  Languish and Rising Miasma, for example, could set you back severely.  The sideboard does give you some options to deal with that threat though in the form of Duress.   Otherwise, you may want to tread carefully if you know your opponent might have board wipes in hand that could leave the battlefield lopsided in his favor.

Should you get it?

If you are looking for an event deck and you need some of the included cards, then definitly pick it up.  It’s a great starting point for a deck and it is fun to boot.  There is value to be had here and a number of the cards included can easily be used in a variety of other decks. If nothing else, it is worth the price and in a pinch it should make for some fun times at an FNM.  As an intro deck for a new player, the mechanics at play here are pretty involved, but again, the deck is pretty powerful and gives new players a good strong start to their collection.

Greg Grondin
Gregory Grondin is a full time Systems Analyst working for Mariner Innovations. He also works as a weight loss consultant for Weight Watchers and is part owner of Heroes' Beacon. You can follow his web comic series at

Greg is a fan of gaming and comics in general and an avid collector of Transformers figures.