Hi Commander players! Today I’m spotlighting a card from 2019 that lost no time in becoming a Commander Staple. I’m talking about War of the Spark’s uncommon powerhouse, Emergence Zone!
Not every Staple has to have been first printed in 1993, like Sol Ring. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t consider this card much of a Staple. Then I played with it. It took a single activation, resulting in me erasing an Alpha Strike on me with a board wipe, to be completely hooked. I realized I’d seen it a lot on tables, too. To any doubters, I simply ask you to give it a try.
Emergence Zone is now on the short list of lands I will consider for every deck I build going forward. For starters, it enters untapped and produces mana. Those are not givens, and while some Staple lands enter tapped and some produce no mana, Emergence Zone emerges without such drawbacks.
The big draw for Emergence Zone is obviously the ability to cast things at instant speed, also known as flash. That opens up an enormous wealth of strategic options, as well as complicating things greatly for opponents. First of all, like I’ve done, you can cast important spells in situations they normally can’t be cast. My board wipe was a sorcery, and would not have saved me otherwise. Being able to respond to dangerous situations, especially those that spring up out of nowhere, is big time game.
Another common use of instant-speed spells is to cast them on someone’s endstep for value. If you play a ton of powerful stuff on the end step of the player directly before you, you limit how much opponents can interact with it, while still being able to untap with it on your turn. Emergence Zone is a single use card, so this has to be done with caution, but a single action can be game-altering. That spell you cast on endstep, then untap to attack for lethal with might even be your Commander.
Emergence Zone enables mindgames. Having it sit there with mana up to crack and then play spells is a legitimate threat. Some decks will be broken by a surprise, instant-speed board wipe. Can they take that risk? Even attacking into a nasty blocker cast at instant speed can change a game dramatically, so giving your opponents food for thought can be their own undoing.
Emergence Zone also applies for the entire turn. You can crack it during your upkeep, and cast a spell with flash, then let your opponents forget about it, and then cast something really nasty during combat. Again, since the ability involves sacrificing the land, it’s tough to use it as any kind of bluff, but that option is there too. Cards that recur lands aren’t super-prevalent, but several have been printed recently, and can bring Emergence Zone back again and again.
Why wouldn’t you play Emergence Zone? Well, you can argue that you have a Commander like Yeva, Nature’s Herald that already does this for you, or you have the right colours to run Alchemist’s Refuge.
That’s great, but Yeva only does creatures (and might not be on board anyway), and redundancy on your flash lands is a good idea. What about Leyline of Anticipation, or Veldalken Orrery? Flash all the time. Orrery, like Emergence Zone, can even be played in any deck.
Great cards, but both offer limited utility outside of giving your spells flash. They can’t be a functioning part of your manabase the way Emergence Zone can, even though it’s effectively one-use in terms of flash. The opportunity cost of playing the Zone is minimal. Mostly. When it comes to 4 and 5 colour mana bases (and maybe a few 3s), there’s minimal room for lands that don’t produce coloured mana. It’s perfectly reasonable that other Staple lands, or niche lands that best fit your strategy, will beat Emergence Zone out.
Emergence Zone is currently inexpensive and in print. Non foil copies are well under a dollar. However, foils are not widely available. $5 US is probably where things would start, but I don’t think this card is a secret at all. If you opened one, lucky you, otherwise hope for another printing soon to increase the supply of foils. While Emergence Zone is kind of Plane-specific and a big part of the story, I can see it included in plenty of supplementary products like Masters sets, Commander precons, and even Core sets. That might not mean foils, but it should keep the card cheap, and could mean promo-framing or different artwork options.
In summation, giving your non-instant-speed spells flash drastically increases their strategic value. Emergence Zone can enable a powerful play or plays, all while being a useful land that can go in any deck. It can even force opponents to play around the threat of using it. While it may only be one use, you can make that one use count. Thanks for reading!