The First 3 Picks – Battle for Zendikar Draft

Pack 1 Pick 1

My Pick

Tightening Coils.

I have to say I was tempted by the Catacomb Sifter. This pack is shallow, and there isn’t much power here. Ultimately though, I don’t want to start with a green card, and only want to dive in if the color is clearly open (to the extent that Tajuru Warcaller goes 6th+ picked). Once the Sifter is off the table, the Tightening Coils competes head-to-head versus Spawning Bed. I do think Spawning Bed is quite good, but it’s much better in decks looking to take advantage of a go-wide strategy or care about the ramp from the Scions. Tightening Coils is just a fine card always, and blue is my preferred color in BFZ draft.


Pack 1 Pick 2

My Pick

Halimar Tidecaller.

I’m glad I avoided the Catacomb Sifter! Here the choice is between a Tightening Coils and Halimar Tidecaller, but the pick isn’t particularly close since the upside is so high on the Tidecaller that it’s worth speculating on.


Pack 1 Pick 3

My Pick

Encircling Fissure.

Encircling Fissure, Felidar Cub, and Wave-Wing Elemental all have merit here. The Cub is the worst option in my opinion since it doesn’t really go with our cards so far and is in a new color. Wave-Wing is a solid finisher but is often easy to get a copy of later in the draft. That leaves us with the Encircling Fissure which is a nice followup to the Halimar Tidecaller. It’s one of the weaker awaken cards to combine with the Tidecaller because it only gives 2 counters, and the Safe Passage effect is much worse when it’s known, but it’s still a bit better than the other options here and gives us a good start to a UW fliers/awaken deck.


The Final Build

draft 1 build

BFZ Archetype Grade 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: B+

This deck ended up very very good, mostly in part to a lucky open of Planar Outburst in pack 3. I even took a 2nd Halimar Tidecaller in pack 2 over an Eldrazi Skyspawner because I had enough awaken that I thought it was worth it, with the hopes of getting 2-3 more awaken cards in pack 3! One deckbuilding consideration was whether to include Scour From Existence and Ulamog’s Reclaimer. Without the Scour I think there aren’t enough ways to turn on the Reclaimer, but both are quite good together in any long game. I decided to sideboard them for specific matchups since I wasn’t confident I’d have the time to play Scour consistently, and my deck already had enough late game through all the awaken spells.

Why does this deck only get a B+ and not an A? Despite the upper bounds of power on the deck, there is isn’t a critical mass and the deck is missing some marquee cards. I didn’t end up with any Eldrazi Skyspawners (I could have taken one, but am glad I didn’t) or Clutch of Currents which are two key pieces to the fliers and awaken elements of the deck. As is, I needed the games to go quite long and find my good awaken cards in a timely manner, and then be able to win through the advantages Halimar Tidecaller provides. This certainly isn’t that hard to do, but it is more important to draw the right cards in the right order than it is with some other midrange draft decks. That being said, I’d happily draft this deck again if I could as the games played out in very fun and interesting ways, and the deck certainly packs a punch.

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