The plane of Zendikar was first featured in 2009/2010 with the sets Zendikar, Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi. This plane first became famous for its strange territory and the powerful effects provided by those lands, which seemed to have developed a life of their own. There was another plot twist waiting for us though, which made Zendikar famous for something different than wild mana as well. During the third set of the block we learned that there was something evil trapped inside the plane, which was causing the wild reactions of the land. Giant ancient colourless titans had been imprisoned within Zendikar, and through a series of events masterminded by the Planeswalker Nicol Bolas the Eldrazi were set free. The third set of the block Rise of the Eldrazi was all about the world reacting to the presence of these strange and dangerous creatures. After thousands of years of imprisonment, the unfathomable Eldrazi were finally free and we could only imagine the amount of devastation they would cause on Zendikar and beyond!
When we last visited Zendikar, the monstrous Eldrazi titans had just been released from their prisons, and the Planeswalker Gideon Jura was leaving the plane to seek reinforcements. Now, Gideon returns only to find Zendikar on the brink of annihilation, with the Eldrazi titan Ulamog destroying everything in its path! With Zendikar's future hanging by a thread, a group of Planeswalkers joins the Zendikari people, who are fighting side by side with the land itself, trying to defend against the insurmountable alien threat. Will they be able to contain the Eldrazi? So far it doesn't look like they will, as “Team Tentacle” has proven to be quite dominant in the first phase of their invasion...
Let's see how the special mechanics used in Battle for Zendikar reflect the various elements of this epic story.
The land of Zendikar has always played an important role in its own defence. Some instants and sorceries in Battle for Zendikar feature Awaken x, an ability that lets you animate your lands to join the fight. You can choose to cast a spell for its awaken cost instead of its ordinary cost. If you do, you'll also choose a land you control as a target of the spell. When the spell resolves, in addition to the first effect of the spell, the land you chose as the target will become a 0/0 Elemental creature with haste that's still a land. You'll also put a number of +1/+1 counters on the land equal to the x in the Awaken x part of the card.
Given the transcendental threat, the survivors have to settle their differences and work together if they want to survive. Creatures from various humanoid tribes are featuring the Ally creature subtype again. Some of them trigger their positive effects every time another ally joins your cause, which is illustrated by the ability word Rally.
These new types of collaboration between the different peoples of Zendikar can also be seen in some of the new Converge spells. These spells get more powerful for each different colour of mana that is spent to cast them.
Unsurprisingly Landfall is still an important feature of Zendikar. There is just the minor twist that some cards reward you with an even better landfall trigger if the entering land has a specific land type.
A card with Devoid is colourless, even though it has coloured mana in its mana cost. This mechanic is visualized by a special frame and is only used on Eldrazi cards. It is meant to convey the alien nature and ancientness of the Eldrazi, who can dissolve even the coloured mana system itself.
Ingest is a pretty straightforward ability. If a creature with ingest deals combat damage to a player, the top card of that player's library gets exiled.
Some Eldrazi creatures in this set come with the additional creature type Processor. Every one of them has an ability that allows you to put your opponent's exiled cards into their graveyard for some beneficial effect. That way you get to process the ingested cards into something much more valuable, at least from an Eldrazi point of view. We might not understand their horrible plan, but the Eldrazi definitely work together in their quest to transform every part of existence into something entirely different.
Eldrazi Scions are the next evolutionary phase of the Eldrazi Spawn. They're created by Eldrazi-themed spells in a variety of ways. No matter how they're created, all Eldrazi Scions have the ability "Sacrifice this creature: Add 1 to your mana pool." This is a mana ability that doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to, just like tapping a land. And perhaps more importantly, Eldrazi Scions are 1/1, so this time around even those small creatures can hurt you a little before they help summoning the giant Eldrazi that can devour you as a whole.
While the biggest Eldrazi are colourless again, they also brought some ancient spells with them, which are instants that do not have any colour requirements to cast.
Zendikar has also been famous for its full art basic lands, which will return in Battle for Zendikar together with extremely rare full art versions of some of Magic's most desirable special lands.
For the first time there will be also be an art-book for the block called The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Zendikar. The secrets of Zendikar, its peoples, continents, and creatures are ready for you to discover in this 244-page book featuring the art of Magic: The Gathering.