Battle for Zendikar Limited Data

This week, I have some fun new data to sift through for Battle for Zendikar drafting. Out of 83k games, we can try and answer some common questions:

  • Is green the worst?
  • Do players honestly cast 10-mana cards?
  • Is UW awaken the best archetype?
  • Has the mulligan rule made a noticeable impact on winning with 6?

Let’s dive in!

PSA regarding this data and what it’s useful for:

“Here it is: Win% and Likely Win% are not the equivalent of card evaluation. It is not a direct analogue to the cards’ inherent ‘strength’ for many reasons that are detailed in the comments below. It is an additional source of information that can contribute to your evaluation of a card. The less conditional a card is the closer the average win rate when played will correlate with strength, low-cost permanents (particularly creatures) are an example of this. For cards that are only ever played when you are behind, the raw win percentage when played is likely much less useful in evaluating its strength.

The other area where the current metric is useful is in comparing similar effects at similar CMC’s e.g., 2 different options for a combat trick.”

Summary of the Data

For those without time or reading on mobile:

Color Win %

  • Blue (52.2%)
  • White (51.0%)
  • Black (50.7%)
  • Red (50.7%)
  • Green (48.4%)
  • Win % on Play – 47.2%, G1 % – 49.7%
  • Win % on Draw – 52.8% G1% – 50.3%

Color Archetypes by Popularity

  1. UB
  2. UR
  3. WB
  4. WU
  5. WR
  6. RG
  7. BR
  8. BG
  9. WG
  10. UG

Best Archetypes

  • UW and UR both 55%+
  • UB 52.9% in 3rd

Worst Archetypes

  • Everything with green (All sub-50%)

Top 10 Most Played Commons

  1. Eldrazi Skyspawner
  2. Clutch of Currents
  3. Benthic Infiltrator
  4. Mist Intruder
  5. Kor Castigator
  6. Complete Disregard
  7. Nettle Drone
  8. Culling Drone
  9. Courier Griffin
  10. Touch of the Void

Top 5 Most Played Commons by Color


  1. Complete Disregard
  2. Culling Drone
  3. Sludge Crawler
  4. Kalastria Healer
  5. Dominator Drone


  1. Eldrazi Skyspawner
  2. Clutch of Currents
  3. Benthic Infiltrator
  4. Mist Intruder
  5. Incubator Drone


  1. Snapping Gnarlid
  2. Lifespring Druid
  3. Eyeless Watcher
  4. Oran-Rief Invoker
  5. Tajuru Stalwart


  1. Nettle Drone
  2. Touch of the Void
  3. Kozilek’s Sentinel
  4. Makindi Sliderunner
  5. Valakut Predator


  1. Kor Castigator
  2. Courier Griffin
  3. Makindi Patrol
  4. Gideon’s Reproach
  5. Shadow Glider

Notable Takeaways

The difference between being on the play and draw is the smallest since this data has been collected. This is also the first time I can remember the draw win percentage surpassing the play win percentage when not looking at mulligans.

Every time someone says a set looks very slow—ignore them. This has been happening for nearly every single draft format, and it rarely holds true. Even the slowest of current sets feel miles faster than what we had a decade ago. This just has to do with how much better creatures are now—simply put, it was very difficult to win quickly in many formats with weak threats and far more removal placed at common.

Blue is the best color, and UW and UR are the best deck archetypes by far. Now, if they start to get overdrafted we may see some return to the norm, but honestly, these archetypes aren’t married to specific cards. UR devoid may have a preference for devoid to take full advantage of Vile Aggregate and Ruination Guide, but in general, the cards you’ll be taking are just better quality than the opposition.

Green is atrocious. I know Owen touched on this in his article and other Pros have chimed in, but you don’t really know with such a small sample size. It was possible that green was just doing badly because of the high-level drafters involved. Nope, turns out green is just wretched no matter what level you play at and what you plan on picking. From what I can tell, this falls to three primary issues:

  • Lack of good power commons
  • Lack of good connecting (archetype) commons/uncommons
  • No depth

These three kind of bleed into each other, so I’m just going to talk about the underlying problem with the color. None of the commons are powerful enough to be worth starting your archetype/draft with and they don’t particularly play well with other established archetypes. The fight card is also weak without the usual set of larger creatures, which makes the traditional single-removal spell in green almost nonexistent. Instead, most of your commons consist of weaker standalone creatures or Eldrazi Scion spawners which have no other use—basically weaker iterations of Nest Invader and Kozilek’s Predator.

While this would be fine if Scions were better supported, you rarely have amazing cards to ramp into, and the best pump cards are the best for every other color as well. You don’t need to build around Tajaru Warcaller, because that card is already ridiculous in anything that has green mana.

So Snapping Gnarlid is a solid card… What else do we have?

Not exactly the most powerful options. There’s no cohesion in the color itself, compared to blue where the cards firmly fall into one of two camps, and many are solid on their own. Green cards don’t slide into archetypes nicely, they don’t reward you for doing so, and the landfall cards are nowhere near their Zendikar glory days like Grazing Gladeheart.

In fact, the only archetypes that really reward you for sticking with a green theme are GB sacrifice and GR landfall—but the GR landfall deck really doesn’t do well. You can stick the red landfall creatures with pretty much any other color and come up with a similar, if not superior, deck.

So, as Owen says, do not draft green if you want to win. It’s possible the win percentages will rise when everyone stays away from green, but if the current trend holds, then green will be the weakest color of any set since black in Avacyn Restored.

Have a look through the full data yourself and draw your own conclusions!

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