As I briefly mentioned in my interview up on the site, I am a really big fan of drafting Blue-White in Zendikar Worldwake draft. This is a big change from straight Zendikar drafts where I thought Blue-White control was virtually unplayable. Traditionally speaking, I am the kind of player who likes Blue cards, and I have played with Islands a lot more than Mountains in my life. That said, I felt like Zendikar didn’t offer the proper tools for drafting a control deck.
To try and draft control, you basically had to draft flyers and walls. That sounds ok, but the problem is if you drew 2 walls and a flyer then they could kill your flyer and beat you eventually with whatever late game they have or guys your walls couldn’t stop. Worldwake provides Blue-White with one important thing that it hasn’t had in common form in quite a while: good card drawing. Mysteries of the Deep gives you a common that cannot be killed and basically wins you the game. Now its fine to draft a strategy based on counters and walls without opening Sphinx of Jwar Isle, because as long as you can pick up 1 or 2 Mysteries of the Deep you can basically win the games with card advantage and there is very little to nothing most opposing Zendikar draft decks will be able to do about it.
This really changes how you draft your deck. Before I get into which commons you take over which commons in Worldwake when drafting Blue-White control, I want to talk about which commons are important for the deck from Zendikar. Since you have already been playing Zendikar for 3 months I am not going to go super in depth on each card, but I am going to talk about how card values change based on the concepts that go along with drafting this type of deck. For Worldwake I am going to do more of a card by card analysis of how each of the Blue and White commons fit into this deck. A lot of the cards that you might have previously been taking early may have gotten a little worse when talking specifically about this dedicated control deck. A prime example would be Welkin Tern. While still perfectly playable it was generally considered the best Blue common. In the deck I am talking about in this article, you need ways to win but you don’t need cheap evasion creatures. I definitely take Umara Raptor, Windrider Eel, and Into the Roil over it pretty much every time when drafting this archetype, but more surprisingly, a lot of the time I even take Reckless Scholar or Whiplash Trap over it. You have to keep in mind the whole time you are drafting that you aren’t drafting a deck designed to race. You’re drafting a deck designed to take control of the game and win with whatever card advantage or flyers you want to win with. Sometimes you will get an aggressive draw and race someone but that’s not what you are designing your deck to do, during the draft.
Since you are now playing for the long game the counterspells all move up in value. Summoner’s Bane and Cancel are both nice spells to have in this deck. I don’t take them over the good Blue commons I listed above, but they definitely move from barely playable to perfectly fine in your deck. As I already mentioned, the Scholar moves up a lot because it’s ability to turn all your lands into spells basically serves as a win condition for this style of deck. On the White side, the cards that become better are the useful solutions to problems your opponents might present. While already pretty good, Kor Sanctifiers is practically a must-have for this archetype. Obviously Journey is still far and away the best White common, but after that I look to the Kor Sanctifiers even over Kor Skyfisher most of the time, although the Skyfisher is still very good and becomes the next best common for the deck. Steppe Lynx moves way down because you aren’t really ever looking to be attacking on the ground.
For that reason pretty much all the White ground creatures that don’t destroy an artifact or enchantment when they come into play are considerably worse than they would be in say, a Red-White aggressive strategy. Narrow Escape is pretty sweet and the White traps are much better in this deck than they are in an aggressive White deck. Arrow Volley Trap moves from basically unplayable to quite good and Pitfall Trap goes from ok to awesome. That brings us to Worldwake.
Battle Hurda – This guy is fine but I am never very excited by getting these. You generally have more powerful late game than other decks and there are more powerful things to do with 5+ mana then a 3/3 firststrike.
Fledgling Griffin – What a bear should look like in this deck. It has the ability to attack in the air when you have gummed up the ground and it’s a nice 2/2 for 2 that’s easy to cast. It’s nothing special and not important for you to draft early but you will play it in your deck.
Guardian Zendikon – A four mana 2/6 wall wouldn’t be too great even if this guy didn’t have the drawback of dying to bounce spells and enchantment kill. Most of the Zendikons are good because they effectively have haste, defender removes the ability to attack. Sometimes I board this guy in against midsize Green decks without too much evasion but I almost never start it.
Iona’s Judgment – This card is really important. It isn’t overly powerful but it provides an answer to your opponents intimidate creatures and bomb rares. It is perfectly fine to first pick this card when you’re drafting uw control.
Join the Ranks – Obviously this card value is going to change too much based on your ally count for me to really give this any kind of rating. If you have a couple growers it is a pretty sick card.
Kitesail Apprentice – Much like Join the Ranks, this cards value depends on how many equipment you have. You definitely don’t over prioritize the equipment, so more often than not this guy won’t make your deck but if you happened to get 3+ good equipment than by all means feel free to play the apprentice.
Marsh Threader – I usually start this guy and board it out if they are not Black. Unless you have an abundance of useful 2 drops it is fine to start this little guy. If you do have an abundance of better 2 drops it’s definitely fine to keep this guy in the board until you see Swamps.
Rest for the Weary – This can be a useful sideboard card against very aggressive decks looking to burn you out or blitz you out. You normally don’t want to maindeck this card, unless you have multiple Scholars to get rid of it when it’s bad or a shortage of 2-drops so you are worried about falling too far behind. While it’s not laughably bad in a format this aggressive, basically this card still isn’t good enough to maindeck unless you just end up with an overly slow but powerful deck and you need the life.
Veteran’s Reflexes – This card stinks. In this deck you aren’t trying to attack with guys they can block and you don’t want to be untapping this on their turn so they can blow you out with a removal. It might be quite good in a R/W aggressive strategy or different style deck where your opponent is going to be blocking and you can use this on your turn when their mana is probably tapped, but I would strongly advise not playing it in the control style deck I am describing drafting in this article.
Aether Tradewinds – I love this trick. Too often you get to save your own guy from a removal and bounce one of theirs. Otherwise bounce is just really good now that there are all the Zendikons running around. Also there is a little trick with this card that when necessary you can tap a Plains for mana and 3 Islands to cast it and bounce the plains and one of their guys and replay it giving you 2 White for a double White spell. Not too high tech, but it does come up and is worth mentioning.
Calcite Snapper – This guy is very good. Shroud is a huge ability in a format with plenty of cheap removal and his ability to be a 1/4 on their turn and a 4/1 on yours is fantastic.
Dispel – While you can’t really maindeck this card, it is an extremely powerful sideboard card. Look for it late in packs and make sure to grab it. Against people with powerful instant spells it can be a huge blow out for only one mana.
Enclave Elite – Blue is fairly underpowered and underplayed as a whole so I generally prefer to leave this guy in the sideboard. It is important to pick one up late for the Blue mirrors though, so keep an eye open late in the draft for him.
Halimar Excavator – Obviously gets more powerful based on how many allies you have. A lot of times I leave him in the sideboard than board him in versus 2/1.decs. That said it’s perfectly fine to main him as a nice groundstopper. Be aware that if there is no possibility of you decking your opponent or getting decked before winning and you don’t know that they aren’t playing black, you probably want to mill yourself not your opponent if you have a low ally count and decking them isn’t realistic. Black has a lot of different cards that bring back dead creatures.
Mysteries of the Deep – This is the best blue common in this deck. It’s funny because I could imagine a blue black aggressive deck where you wouldn’t even play this card. However it’s the key to success for a dedicated control deck.
Surrakar Banisher – This guy is really good in this deck. Since your opponent is probably attacking you he can buy the necessary time to set up your late game. Some of the time you will already have the ground on lock and he won’t be too useful but those are the games you are winning anyways. Also his ability to bounce and kill enchant creatures and the Zendikons makes him a game changer.
Treasure Hunt – While nowhere near as powerful as Mysteries of the Deep, it can still provide nice card advantage when you hit a land and a spell; as well as the obvious combo with Halimar Depths. Don’t go nuts for this card as it’s not an integral part of your strategy but you will pretty much always play it if you have it.
Twitch– I am not a huge fan of this card in this deck. Tapping an attacker for 3 mana isn’t too useful. Tapping a land on their upkeep during their 3rd turn can be nice on the play and since it cycles for 3 mana it can’t be too bad but it’s definitely not too good either.
Wind Zendikon – Like Welkin Tern, this card isn’t important in this deck. It is still playable and a fine card but it’s not what you are looking for. There are enough flyers that you will end up with some to kill your opponent with. Do not prioritize small flying creatures during the draft. Play the ones you get but don’t give them high priority.
Early in a draft you will not necessarily know whether you are going to end up with a control deck or an aggressive deck. Remember all the pick orders and card evaluations I list are for this deck specifically. If you aren’t sure which way you are going to go you have to use your best judgment. I think this archetype is one of the best available in Zendikar/WorldWake draft. My match win percentage drafting this deck is extremely high and I highly recommend it. Just remember the key points. You have to prioritize “win conditions” not small flyers. Big flyers and card drawing are the best win conditions not Welkin Tern and Wind Zendikon. You still almost always play both of those Magic cards but they are not a high priority when drafting. Removal is very important. Journey to Nowhere, Iona’s Judgment and Kor Sanctifiers are all fine early draft picks for this deck. Counters and walls get much better. Small ground creatures get much worse. Just keep in mind that your main plan is to lock up the ground with good defensive creatures and walls, and then you want to draw cards and counter or deal with their bombs. Lastly comes winning, mostly with flyers or large dudes.