Battle for Zendikar Draft Archetypes – Enemy Colors

I’m back, and after a few more drafts under my belt I can confidently say there are some really sweet things going on in BFZ draft! Today I’ll finish the enemy colors, and if you missed it you can read about the allied colors here.


Without access to Eldrazi shenanigans in white, you aren’t going to be getting a ton of payoff from colorless-matters cards like Kozilek’s Sentinels in red. Rather, WR is a focused beatdown deck and has a bunch of great tricks to back that up. Additionally, it features a slew of Allies, and triggering rally on back-to-back turns can really add up.

Key Cards

If you work hard Kor Entanglers can pull off a nice Elite Scaleguard impression, and while it won’t typically be that good that’s still high praise. Sometimes you’ll even be able to double-trigger it in a turn, and 3/4 is even reasonably-sized to rumble alongside the rest of the team. In combination, WR can really keep your opponent on the back foot since you have so many cheap spells and that means there’s going to be a lot more blocking from your opponent.

Both Retreat to Emeria and Tandem Tactics help break through defenses quite nicely. The Retreat is absolutely at its best here since you really get paid for triggering the good rally cards each turn, not to mention a Glorious Anthem helps keep on the pressure if your opponent has a bunch of big toughness creatures holding you down. Tandem Tactics can often get a 2-for-1 but also makes racing much harder. Firing this off for an extra 2 points of damage can be fantastic, but even something like dealing an extra damage to your opponent and having your 2/2 eat a 3/3 is excellent and your opponent really has to respect it at all times since it’s a common.

Lastly, Firemantle Mage has been very impressive every time I’ve seen it. Menace plays extremely well with itself since now a bunch of your team is effectively unblockable. Most likely the Mage requires an immediate answer or induces a race, and both of those can be difficult in the midgame against a WR deck.


The gain life portion of the deck is cute, but doesn’t have to be a key part of your plan. Some cards like Bloodbond Vampire get much better with incidental life gain, but others like Malakir Familiar couldn’t care less. BW functions as a classic midrange deck and looks to capitalize on its strong removal backed by resilient creatures. But it lacks real high-end or the ramp necessary to play its own Eldrazi, so having Eldrazi answers is especially important since games will get to that point. This means prioritizing Smite the Monstrous more highly than normal or grabbing a Bone Splinters as a back-up plan even though the card is marginal in this archetype.

Key Cards

Serene Steward is one of the best payoffs for the life matters deck, and Stone Haven Medic is the best enabler. The 1/3 body on the Medic is a little small for the format but at least it bounces off 2-power creatures and holds back Eldrazi spawn. The 1 life every turn can be pretty annoying for some decks, though the bigger Eldrazi decks can just shrug that off. Because games tend to go a little bit longer with BW, both Retreat to Hagra and Silent Skimmer have extra time to generate damage.

The Retreat is interesting since it lets bad creatures attack into an otherwise unfavorable board, but can become a great recurring threat if you combo it with a life-gain-matters card like Kalastria Nightwatch. I’ve been pretty impressed with Silent Skimmer overall. 4 toughness is a lot for a flier so it should be able to rumble consistently, and while it has no power to take down opposing attackers, it can still block well.


Here we have the Eldrazi Scion payoff colors, but again your GB doesn’t have to be dedicated to this to be good. One problem with sacrificing a bunch of Scions to enable your cards is that you’re losing full-on 1/1 creatures. Instead I’d look out for the potential of that style of deck with the main plan of just taking good green and black cards with the intention of beating your opponent through the classic combination of big creatures backed by removal.

Key Cards

As well as any Eldrazi you can pick up.

If you end up drafting the Scion deck, these are the cards that you’re looking for. Bone Splinters gets a whole lot closer to Terminate when sacrificing a Scion, and Vampiric Rites looks to be a way to churn through your deck while chump blocking on the ground. Meanwhile Zulaport Cutthroat can serve as a win condition, and deters attacks into a swarm of smaller creatures.

Brood Monitor is mentioned here, but it’s just a generally good card. If you get one early you can consider moving down this path, but you by no means have to. Once you do have Scions and a mix of other ramp, the Eldrazi start to look pretty enticing. Whether or not you go all-in on an earlier Eldrazi really depends on what colors your opponent is playing and what spells you’ve seen so far in the match. Blue has enough bounce that sacrificing Scions to power out an Eldrazi in game 1 will prove to be a mistake more often than not. But, if you haven’t seen any bounce spells by game 3 this becomes a much more attractive option.


Similar to GW, UG doesn’t have a clear theme. Its gold uncommon Skyrider Elf points to a converge theme, but converge is narrow and I don’t expect to be able to go deep on it very often. That leaves you with a mix of directions. I think focusing more on converge one draft and then ramp the next due to the cards available will be common for UG, though there is some crossover in those two areas.

Key Cards

This may look like a strange mix of “key cards,” and it is. I listed both Clutch and Brood Monitor because I think you’re only likely to end up in UG simply because both blue and green are open in your seat. This means you’re seeing higher quality cards in those colors than average and you’ll draft based purely on efficiency. This was exactly how UG ended up in Magic Origins and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very similar trajectory this time around.

Lifespring Druid is here due to my hope that a converge strategy is actually playable once in a while. If nothing else, the Druid can still tap for mana and ramp to the Eldrazi. All in all I’m not too hopeful for UG, but time will tell.


I end on what I think looks to be an absolute blast of a deck to draft. There’s more devoid here than you can shake a stick at, and most of the cards in UR are efficient while also being highly synergic. Kozilek’s Sentinel is a reasonable card, but gets a whole lot better when it’s also attacking for 2 every turn. I like that both colors are Eldrazi-centered but happen to have a lot of efficient options as well. Rush of Ice is a completely playable card without really contributing to any theme, as is Valakut Predator.

Key Cards

Certainly UR can care about ingesting and processing, but beating down is something it cares about even more. Most of its devoid creatures are small, but all the synergy adds up, and after dealing the first 10 damage UR has access to both Molten Nursery and Nettle Drone to keep the pressure on even through a stable board. Benthic Infiltrator can help with this plan of small damage as well, and with enough of them, suddenly Cryptic Cruiser and Murk Strider become much better.

Your blue cards will dictate how much your deck ends up caring about processing since red really doesn’t contribute to that at all, but I think UR decks that care very little and decks that care a lot about the mechanic can both be very successful. I will warn you though that having a bunch of Mist Intruders and Benthic Infiltrators in UR without enough processing will make for a very weak deck, so balance your priorities. In UB, that balance happens more naturally since both colors have ingestors and processors, but I think that challenge will make UR a very enjoyable deck to draft.


There are a few highly synergic strategies present in the enemy colors and a couple efficiency decks, but looking at these archetypes has me very excited for BFZ draft. I’m also hoping there are some deeper strategies like 3-5-color UG decks, and that the synergy decks are actually worth drafting around. It’s time to crack open 3 packs of BFZ at a time and get your draft on!


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