The First 3 Picks – Battle for Zendikar Draft #1

I’m excited to write some draft guides for Battle for Zendikar, but those require many drafts under my belt for any given archetype to explain all of its complexities, and with a set as deep as BFZ, I’m still just a little ways away from being able to deliver that experience fully. Rather, I was able to capture many drafts online, and am excited to discuss how each went, and then discuss the final product. My goal with this 3 picks article is to create something very digestible and a bit lighter, and I hope you enjoy its structure. Let’s get to the drafts themselves!

Pack 1, pick 1

What would you select?

My Pick

Lantern Scout.

There’s a lot of power here, but it’s mostly tied up in the Allies present, so given that information you might as well select the one with the most power and only one color.


Pack 1, pick 2

What’s the pick?

My Pick

Beastcaller Savant.

This is a pretty clear pick, but does have some competition with Gideon’s Reproach since we just took a white card. The trick here is that if you want to be in the Ally deck, you want to both commit and be flexible to splash cards since the deck often ends up 3 or even 4 colors. Luckily, Beastcaller Savant fills both of those roles.


Pack 1, pick 3

What’s the pick?

My Pick

Snapping Gnarlid.

I think there are a few other good options here. Akoum Stonewaker is another reasonable 2-drop, but it just isn’t as aggressive as the Gnarlid, and I really want to be attacking early and often. Sure Strike is a nice trick, but I don’t really want to pick one up this early. And while the two first black cards are both good, I don’t think they’re strong enough to push me off my opening cards.


Here’s my final deck:

Draft Deck

First, I’ll grade the deck to the best of my understanding within the context of its BFZ archetype using my draft guide scale:

A: Hits every mark of the archetype and has some extra power outside of the archetype itself (usually from strong rares and uncommons).
B: Reaches all the goals of the archetype and has a strong game plan that will lead to many wins. You should aim for this level when drafting (and hope that an A results).
C: There are some elements of the archetype in place, but there are some holes in the deck and it isn’t streamlined.
D: The deck is a pile of reasonable cards within its colors but doesn’t have a cohesive strategy.
F: Often labeled a train wreck, the deck just doesn’t work on basic fundamental levels.

Grade: D+

This deck started off so well! But it really ended up all over the place. Even from pick 3 we saw the deck was torn between landfall and Allies, and that ended up happening while picking up some off-theme Vestige of Emrakuls. I was hopeful for the deck because it still had individually powerful cards, but I think it needed to get very lucky to draw those, and in the right order due to wanting landfall early and then back-to-back Allies.

The mana was fine but not amazing, because the splash is lower on the curve rather than at the top. Often I couldn’t cast my Veteran Warleader early, and sometimes I’d have to crack my Blighted Woodlands for fixing rather than landfall triggers, and as a result, every resource felt stretched.

One final note about the build is that it was difficult to decide between running the Eyeless Watchers in the board over Vestige of Emrakuls. My theory was that the deck wanted to be as aggressive as possible, and the Vestiges helped that more, despite being worse with the pump Allies. I think I’d still go with that final deckbuilding decision if I had this deck again.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s draft. Again, let me know how you felt about this type of article and formatting!

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