At first glance, Nissa’s Renewal from Magic the Gathering’s Battle for Zendikar set appears to be a worse version of the popular ramp card, Boundless Realms. It could also be a slightly better Nissa’s Expedition or Peregrination. Although Nissa’s Expedition had Convoke on it which could lower its casting cost by tapping creatures you controlled, Nissa’s Renewal gives you three basic lands into play, but tapped, plus 7 life. Is this worth six mana, though?
Having the lifegain effect of Angel’s Mercy attached to a ramp spell isn’t horrible, especially in Limited. It’s certainly good in an environment that rewards Landfall heavily, as was the case with Battle for Zendikar. Were you able to search out any land, this would be too good, since you could just go grab fetchlands.
In Limited, Nissa’s Renewal is certainly fine. It’s more mana ramp than you’ll usually see out of one card. At this point on the mana curve, you’ll also most certainly have Landfall effects already in play. Paying six mana to trigger three instances of Landfall could prove quite relevant. The costing of this card certainly was set with these interactions in mind.
Still, it does feel like six mana is a bit much for a ramp spell. Also, despite it being a sizable amount of lifegain, seven life doesn’t seem like it’s something to care about outside of Limited. Yet, it can’t really be overlooked when considering this card. Indeed, it did see competitive play in Aetherworks Marvel decks in Standard and later in Golgari Control decks in Pioneer. Without a doubt, having a triple Rampant Growth plus 7 life has turned out to be worth it in decks that are happy to grind it out.
Other than those niche cases in competitive play, Nissa’s Renewal continues to see play in Commander where ramp is always relevant. In particular, Omnath, Locus of Rage likes this card for triggering its potent Landfall ability of making 5/5 Elemental creature tokens. Six mana for three 5/5 tokens always seems worth it, so the rest of what the card offers that deck is gravy.
Sure, Nissa’s Renewal is probably a bulk rare for years to come. Popping up in a Zendikar Rising Commander deck has made it even easier to grab today. But, if you’re playing a deck that’s already invested in Landfall in Commander, you might not want to find yourself without this card. It’s also a good card to hold onto if you plan on planning Golgari Control in Pioneer. In any case, this turned out to be a bulk rare worth considering.
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