Previewing Rushing-Tide Zubera

Let The Tide Rush In

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The letter I!'ll tell you, when Betrayers came out with no zuberas, I began to feel a bit…well, betrayed. After all, with a full cycle of five zuberas in Champions, this new creature type had some interesting potential. But of course, Wizards can't follow up on every "interesting" start, and so zuberas (whom so many fondly call "zebras") looked like they would die off completely.

Well, not quite yet.

So That's It?

My readers depend on my honesty, and I'll give it to them this week, as in every week. When I first looked at Rushing-Tide Zubera, my reaction was, "so that's it?!" After all, it doesn't have "epic" or "legend" written on it.

Then I thought about it a little, and I understood.

The central lesson today is much more useful than a whiz-bang card. The central lesson today is about understanding subtlety in your Magic game. Subtlety wins you games. It draws you cards, deals damage, and outlasts the opposition. The best multiplayer decks do have a whiz-bang card here and there. But they spend the first three or four turns building to that point, and supporting the player to the point where something more flashy can happen.

Rushing-Tide Zubera, by that standard, is one of the best support cards you'll see in multiplayer decks, for years to come. Don't build a deck around it. Put four copies into that other deck that's looking for something solid around turn four.

Once you understand why that works, you'll understand Magic a great deal more. And you'll also understand why Wizards – and this writer – is excited about this preview card.

All that said, I'm still gonna try to build a deck around it!

Its Modest Charms

While it doesn't enjoy the cool "for every zubera" phrase the smaller Champions zubera have, Rushing-Tide Zubera (or, as I prefer to call him, "RiTZ"), does have some modest charms.

1) Efficiency. Hill Giant size is workable in virtually any casual, non-sanctioned format. (For those of you who still react to cards I preview in tournament terms: you're slower than a one-land hand.) That's good news for players like us, because it means three or four years from now, you're going to see a card that would be a GREAT pillar for a red-blue deck. It'll do four damage to everything on the ground, and maybe do one or two other cool things. So you'll go to a database like Gatherer and enter the search phrase "4 or more damage", and lo and behold! Rushing-Tide Zubera will come up…and it won't be a 1/1 for six mana, so you'll actually be able to consider it.

2) Fearlessness. Because good things can happen when he dies, you can attack and/or block with him to your heart's content. RiTZ will trade with 80 percent of the creatures a casual board puts out in the first four turns. In this sense, RiTZ is a "rattlesnake" card – not in a pushy and obvious way, but in a more subtle and interesting way.

3) That extra Ancestral Recall. A boost of three cards can mean a lot of things. Of course the new set of options is always nice. But in addition, several Saviors cards operate off the size of your hand. Even in Limited environments such as Emperor draft, you should be able to make some interesting things happen at instant speed.

How Will We Use It?

The primary hope with a Rushing-Tide Zubera is that you will find a way for it to take four damage. Of course, your entire deck should not revolve around this. (After all, if all you want is three cards for four mana, try Concentrate.) It may be most helpful for you to see this new zubera as complementary to what you were already hoping your zubera deck would do.

So universal red damage is probably the best bet – an Earthquake will, after all, take several other creatures with it. Anything that does four or more damage to the board – a Crater Hellion, an Inferno, or even a Hurricane if you've got a crafty enough deck. (Yes, this last would require giving the RiTZ flying.)

Pumping your RiTZ is also a nice way to help ensure that when it dies, it will not be because of a Lightning Bolt (which someone will find funny) or another RiTZ caught in a Spinal Embrace (which I will find funny). A 4/4 or 6/6 doesn't die to three damage. It dies to four (or six) damage. That meets the necessary requirements. My favorite idea for pump is equipment or enchantments that build off of your hand size – see the suggested deck below for one such idea.


Main Deck

60 cards

Shivan Oasis
Shivan Reef
Yavimaya Coast

24 lands

4  Burning-Eye Zubera
Dripping-Tongue Zubera
Ember-Fist Zubera
Floating-Dream Zubera
2  Jiwari, the Earth Aflame
4  Rushing Tide Zubera

22 creatures

Breath of Darigaaz
Empyrial Plate
Howling Mine
Prophetic Bolt
Uncontrollable Anger

14 other spells

Why didn't I include your favorite card in this deck? Because I don't like it. Also, I don't build these decks as final versions of anything. They're starting points.

Whether pumped or not, you can also simply use the RiTZ as an aggressive attacker, or decent defender, and hope it all works out for the extra cards. There's nothing wrong with that – and in fact, a lot wrong with depending too much on those three extra cards…

What Foils It?

Rushing-Tide Zubera is a blue Hill Giant when…

  • it meets a Hill Giant on the battlefield;
  • your opponents use Pestilence;
  • your opponents use Mutilate;
  • your opponents use Terminate;
  • your opponents use any sort of black removal whatsoever, with the possible exception of Evincar's Justice;
  • your opponents counter it, with a bored expression on their face;
  • your opponents use Recoil on it, laughing maniacally;
  • your opponents use Repulse on it, laughing slightly less maniacally;
  • your opponents use Swords to Plowshares on it, sniveling the way white mages always do about not wanting to take any damage from anything, ever.

So yes, it turns rather plain rather quickly in some situations. But here's the deal: no card is invincible. No card gives opponents absolutely no wiggle room. Heck, the last three strategies work pretty darn well against decks that depend on a fast Darksteel Colossus! Cut the poor Rushing-Tide Zubera a little slack.

Anthony cannot provide deck help. He's in a floating dream about the rushing tides of Cape Cod, where he grew up.

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