It’s time to put a wrap on my Battle for Zendikar breakdown by taking a look at the gold cards and color pairings. If you missed any portions of
this series, you can see white here, blue and blackhere, red and greenhere, and colorless and lands here. Now let’s get to it!
As mentioned in the white section, U/W is a pretty traditional Skies deck in this format. A lot of this is because the two colors are really mechanically
disjointed. No Rally creatures in blue, no Eldrazi in white does that. Barring a ton of fliers, there is a pretty solid tempo game that can be played that
uses Coralhelm Guide as lategame reach. The tempo deck also really wants Ondu Greathorn as it curves really well into the blue awaken spells, which is nice
because that card is going to go around late.
Benthic Infiltrator is a card to watch for this archetype. Blockers that can chip shot in with the air force are always nice to pick up.
This is also one of the most likely decks in the format to only want seventeen land. While you do want to awaken your spells, you don’t have a real high
end to reach for and are light on landfall.
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper is obviously great. Roil Spout is good, but shockingly replaceable. Again, the whole having two common Man-o’-Wars makes the
Vedalken Dismisser version of the same effect less exciting. That all said, there are so few exile effects in white that Murk Strider is not going to be
playable most of the time.
U/B is the dedicated Processor deck with six common ingest creatures and three common Processors. You are looking to connect early to play an on-curve Murk
Strider and keep bashing, so Dominator Drone is a bit worse of an enabler than the others, as it has to connect on turn 4 through the blocker you would
presumably want to bounce. I’m not excited to Grave Birthing to enable Processors here as the ones I care about are more tempo plays that curve poorly off
a three mana 1/1.
This deck has an end game available of Oracle of Dust activations to find a breakthrough card, but I have no idea what that card is. Is Swarm Surge really
the best available? I guess if you have a lot of Eldrazi Skyspawner and Incubator Drones it probably is, but that deck is also less likely to have a ton of
ingest to get to the Looter end game.
Your Eldrazi answers are not direct. None of your removal handles an 8/9.You are either leaning on discard spells to choke your opponent’s resources so
they can’t play an eight-drop or trying to tempo out the monsters with Man-o’-Wars.
All of the U/B multicolored cards are great. Ulamog’s Nullifier is pretty narrow to the archetype so you can get it later, but slam the rare and mythic if
you see them.
R/B’s built in archetype is the devoid aggro deck. The secret sub-archetype is just high power low drops. That means Outnumber and Sure Strike are
important to help you keep up tempo and generate scenarios where your three mana 3/X and 4/X creatures connect.
There’s a real glut at three mana in this deck. Realize that you are likely to cut most of the Valakut Invokers you draft in a good deck.
Rolling Thunder and Stonefury are a bit worse here, as your curve is lower to the ground and you can’t get the most out of them. Of course, Rolling Thunder
is still great because it goes to the face for a ton.
Neither of the multicolored cards are really high picks. Both are obviously good, but it’s not out of the question to see one a few picks into the draft
and get rewarded.
G/R is the landfall deck. Or really the fuller curve Dinosaurs-style deck, with the fat starting on turn 3 with Valakut Predator. Don’t overrate Makindi
Sliderunner; it positions you to race awkwardly with clunky threats in a format high on tempo spells.
This is the deck for both Valakut Invoker and Oran-Rief Invoker. And by that, I mean they are reasonable filler here as opposed to mediocre filler
elsewhere. When your deck wants to play Natural Connection as a combat trick on top of eighteen lands, you’re going to end up with a lot of extra mana to
spend on stupid stuff like eight mana Lightning Bolts. Unnatural Aggression is also better in the “my creatures are stupid big on curve” deck.
Again, there is a glut at four mana here. Stick to the ones with four power to keep up the wall of beats and you should be fine.
Every green deck wants a splash, and this deck probably wants to splash blue for the common awaken spells. Bouncing a creature to clear a path for the back
to back 4/Xs you played hits real hard. Your opponents having less bounce spells is also good for the deck that is most vulnerable to them.
Grove Rumbler is a real draw into the color pair at a real great rate, but I’m not taking Omnath, Locus of Rage early. It wins the game about the same as
any seven drop at the cost of being really hard to splash into other green archetypes.
White and green don’t have a lot of sizing overlap, or really overlap at all. The multicolored cards point towards Allies, but again there aren’t a lot of
good incentives to be that archetype. Are you building to your six-drop Tajuru Beastmaster then unloading all the Allies without Rally you played on curve?
Wait, that’s not how it works.
I honestly see G/W more as a shell for a deck with many more colors. Green is the base for fixing and you end up heavier white than the other splashes
because all three white removal spells are great there. Your next splash is probably blue for Wave-Wing Elemental and Cloud Manta as finishers, but it can
really be whatever you have good cards in.
It’s also possible this is a dedicated Inspired Charge deck with a weaker but wider white creature base plus Call the Scions, Eyeless Watcher, and generic
bodies in green. Or more accurately, the “I opened Tajuru Warcaller and just Overrunning three creatures isn’t enough for me.”
An Allies deck that actually makes sense!
Well, kinda. There are a lot more payoffs, but they are all uncommon. With the more aggressive creature size slant in red, both Kor Entanglers and Kor
Bladewhirl get much better than they were in G/W and their triggers do more on curve.
So what do you do the games or drafts where the rally creatures don’t show up? Dorks and tricks like any other R/W deck. Remember that red has a ton of
fours, so the white ones are pushed down the pick order and that both colors have a lot of good removal so you can be a little pickier once you set up your
first couple answers.
I’m reserving judgment on Munda, Ambush Leader for now. It’s reasonably efficient, so at worst it is playable when you are on color, but I’m not sure how
good it is even at the high end. Angelic Captain on the other hand is just a big flier, and Resolute Blademaster is another version of Tajuru Warcaller,
which is always good.
U/R is an offshoot of the R/B deck and U/B decks. There isn’t a big difference between the obvious overlapping portions in each of those decks and what
goes on here. The deck is solid if unexciting. Outnumber is even better because of the two Scion token generating blue commons, Murk Strider is worse,
which is fine because, again, red’s four-drop glut.
Herald of Kozilek is going to come late, as it is just a 2/4. Brutal Expulsion will also come later than you expect just because both halves look low
impact enough to slide through under the basis of it being a commitment. It is, but G/R decks probably want it just as much as U/R.
G/U appears at first glance to be the most complete archetype. You have both halves of the Spawn token equation to ramp into Eldrazi while advancing your
board and get to draft all the Clutch of Currents that would punish that plan. The way a fully converged Brilliant Spectrum off the green fixing fits into
the ramp plan is also really nice, as is how splash removal fixes the inherent lack of answers in G/U. There are even multiple good payoff rares for the
converge plan in blue and cute payoffs like Ruination Guide pumping all the green Scion makers.
The punishment is mediocre multicolored cards. Bring to Light is not good and Kiora, Master of the Depths is the worst planeswalker in the set (Read: Kiora
is just regular good and not unbeatable, run a victory lap when you open it good). At least your uncommon is a strong on curve flier, which makes up some
of it. Oh well, you will just have to settle with having a well-supported archetype.
G/B’s big draw is that it has the best secondary uses for Spawn tokens of any deck. You not only have Spawn Surge, but Eyeless Watcher makes Voracious Null
huge. It’s like you sacrificed all the tokens to play an Eldrazi, except you didn’t! Or you just Vampiric Rites and combo chain off with Spawn.
The problem is that black and green both lack high end common power. You are leaning real hard on the Eldrazi for finishers and really need splash removal
for opposing Eldrazi. Bone Splinters can only carry so much weight. I would suggest finding Smite the Monstrous or opening Sheer Drop and splashing white.
I find it hard to imagine I would pass Brood Butcher. It’s so easy to splash and very powerful. Catacomb Sifter is a card I expect to be overdrafted at
first, but settle in to the role of the card you see a bit later that tells you G/B is specifically open. It’s still mostly an Incubator Drone.
Are you Allies? Are you lifegain? I have no idea and I have no idea if the payoff for either is even worth it.
Instead, just focus on how you can build a solid curve backed by the good white combat tricks that will come around to you late. And how this color combo
can easily fall into a deck full of a lot of mediocre cards and how you should be really sure it is open before you commit to it. This is another seventeen
land deck, again, because it looks a lot like a normal spells and creatures and lands deck.
I have no expectation of getting back rally creatures with March from the Tomb. I just want to get back eight mana worth of creatures and multiple cards
for five mana, and even that isn’t super exciting. Drana’s Emissary is more of a draw as a high powered low-drop.
Takeaway from The Full Set
Green and blue are the real Eldrazi colors. Mardu color decks are more likely to want seventeen lands and zero giant aliens than two or more. Green and
blue decks will lean towards more mana and more eight-drops.
White feels like the worst color. It’s shallow and avoids a lot of the synergy the other colors are built around. It also has the best first picks.
Play two colors unless you play green. If you play green, you are likely splashing one or two colors.
Decks will be more creature-heavy than usual due to awaken.
There is a wide range of what you can do in the format. While it is closer to Rise of the Eldrazi in scale than Zendikar, don’t think you
will get away with the nonsense that format allowed. Battle for Zendikar is still rooted in creature combat. The format is more about synergy
packets of a few cards that work well together than true linear decks.