The Chinese Zodiac in Magic the Gathering

Happy Lunar New Year everyone! The Chinese Zodiac is a popular part of Chinese Mythology that influences character and story elements in a multitude of games and other forms of entertainment; such as Pokemon, Persona, and Fire Emblem. Magic the gathering also has a slew of cards based off of these mythical animals. For those of you who don’t know, the Chinese Zodiac is a group of animals that are each assigned to an individual year. After twelve years, the cycle resets itself. The animals that are a part of the Chinese Zodiac are: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and the Pig. This year is the year of the Dog, so let’s check out some Chinese Zodiac themed cards!

The Land Walking Ability

Sadly, the Chinese Zodiac cards receive little to no respect. Eleven of the cards have a mediocre ability that may not even come into affect. All of the Zodiac cards have landwalk abilities, which are passive abilities that allow a creature to attack without being blocked if the target has a certain land in play. The only problem is that most of the Zodiac cards have mediocre damage output at best, while also having expensive mana costs for only having a singular ability that only comes into play when you declare attackers and your opponent has a certain land card. The Zodiac cards don’t support each other, or even tribes of the animals they’re based on, so they seldom see any actual play. Their design concept is spot on, the only problem is their shared, gimmicky ability that doesn’t even make an impact half the time.

The Chinese Zodiac Cards

Zodiac Rat: A simple 1/1 with swampwalk isn’t bad for a single black mana. Unlike most of the other cards, Zodiac Rat can somewhat help a rat tribal deck out, especially if said deck is playing Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in order to turn all lands into swamps. This will allow Zodiac Rat to get off a reliable one damage a turn that can slowly build up over time. However, it really should only be played in a rat tribal deck as it’s just about useless when paired up with the other Zodiac creatures despite its increase in price late last year.

Zodiac Ox: Like Zodiac Rat, Zodiac Ox has swampwalk. Unlike Zodiac Rat, it’s green. A simple 3/3 with a landwalking ability that may or may not come into play isn’t worth it. In a green and black deck with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth it could see some use, but overall it’s a bad card.

Zodiac Tiger: For one mana more than Zodiac Ox, Zodiac Tiger gets an extra point in toughness and forestwalk instead of swampwalk. However, just like Zodiac Ox, it isn’t worth playing; especially since there isn’t a card that turns all lands into forests.

Zodiac Rabbit: It’s similar to Zodiac Rat so it has some use in green decks, and a 1/1 for one mana is never bad. It’s not as good as most other low cost green creatures, but it’s not too bad. If green had a card similar to that of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth it would see more play, but sadly that’s not the case.

Zodiac Dragon: The only card without a landwalk ability; however, it’s just as disappointing. Even though Zodiac Dragon can basically revive itself every time it’s destroyed, you still have to pay the nine mana to get it back onto the field.  Nine mana for a 8/8 beater is okay, but you can probably spend your mana on something better.

Zodiac Snake: It has a higher mana cost than Zodiac Rat, while only receiving a point in power and toughness each. So unlike Zodiac Rat, it can’t be cast as easily and doesn’t have the same amount of support that rats do, both of which are not fixed by it being a 2/2. Basically, a worse version of Zodiac Rat.

[mtg_card]Zodiac Horse[/mtg_card]: It’s literally the exact same thing as Zodiac Ox but with islandwalk instead of swampwalk. It’s better to just run Zodiac Ox, as it can receive support from Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; something that Zodiac Horse doesn’t have.

Zodiac Goat: Just like Zodiac Rabbit and Zodiac Rat, it’s a 1/1 with a landwalking ability that matches its color. Just like most of the other Zodiac Cards, its ability will seldom come into play and it’s probably better just to spend your mana on something else.

Zodiac Monkey: A 2/1 for two mana isn’t bad, even though forestwalk isn’t that useful. There are other cards that green can utilize that can generate mana or support your other cards, but Zodiac Monkey isn’t a bad beater.

Zodiac Rooster: It’s just Zodiac Monkey, but with Plainswalk. It isn’t bad if you need an early game beater, but there are other things to spend your mana on.

Zodiac Dog: Just Zodiac Snake but worse, never use it.

Zodiac Pig: Zodiac Pig is a carbon copy of Zodiac Ox, except it’s black with swampwalk. This means it has all the benefits of Ox, while also being able to utilize Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Sadly, it still isn’t a good card, but it isn’t as bad as some of the other Zodiac Cards. Zodiac Pic works much better than Zodiac Ox, however.

In Conclusion

Overall, the Chinese Zodiac cards aren’t very good, even though Zodiac Rat just exploded in price. Unless you want these cards for your collection, don’t buy them. They’re expensive and aren’t useful in most games. As a group they had potential, but little to no thought was put into them. Landwalk is a basic ability that barely adds any flavor to the game. If this group of cards is ever remade into their own tribe, then I really hope that they flourish; but for now they suck at worst and are only mediocre at best.

But how do you feel about the Zodiac cards? Do you feel like they had potential? What do you think of landwalk? Be sure to leave all of your comments, concerns, and suggestions down below. Also, don’t forget to donate to our Patreon!



Sylvan Studies Team

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