Schlagwort-Archiv: Battle for Zendikar

Some winning OOB draft decks

No, this doesn’t mean that my „fixing cards“ series has already ended. I just wanted to uphold the tradition of posting decks which won me drafts, and since the format isn’t exactly brand new anymore, it’s time now.

I haven’t drafted nearly as much as I wanted during the last months due to real life reasons, but I did watch a boatload of videos and streams to confirm my outlook on the environment. To make this short: It is slow, certainly slower than triple Battle for Zendikar draft, and possibly the slowest since the infamous and unparalleled Magic 2014. Note, though, that „slow“ does not mean that you can ignore the existence of aggressive decks and completetly eschew early defense – it just means that defensive decks are generally favored over aggressive ones, and that you need to address the lategame and boardstall situations more extensively than in fast formats, which are mainly about not falling back early and winning races.

I usually, although not always, choose to draw in this format. Making your land drops is very important, since your higher mana slots will be well-filled, and mulligans hurt – the new mulligan rule notwithstanding – since you need both your lands and your spells. Also, most decks stretch their mana bases quite a bit (which makes sense, because you prefer power over consistency a little more in slower formats), and the „sixth color“ Grey compounds this. Being on the draw allows you to keep more 7-card-hands (or rather, makes bad but necessary keeps a little less bad – I’m not actually sure how often I would mulligan a hand on the play which I would keep on the draw).

If you look closely at my winning decks, you will probably notice a trend. (Okay, you don’t need to look THAT closely.) I assure you that most of the six other decks I drafted looked differently – but then again, those went all only 2-1 each, so there’s that…



Note that I drew Mana Confluence only once and then didn’t play it, because my mana worked out perfectly fine without it. Skyrider Elf disappointed me by never showing up in a deck where he would have been really excellent.



If you thought Deathless Behemoth was good in the previous format, try it in this! Having the biggest creature on both offense and defense is… well, big.



In the finals, I sided the Warcaller out – not because he was too slow against an aggressive deck, but because he didn’t have enough impact in an extremely grindy attrition matchup.



Fall was great, although I never needed to cast it with X>2. I never cast Serpentine Spike, though, although that was the card which finally cemented me in GR instead of UG/r. While I firstpicked those rares, I unbelievably got Outnumber very late, and Press even tabled. People are deeply stupid!

That’s it for now, but I promise to return to Arabian Nights soon!


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The Misery of German Magic by Numbers

During the first day of the World Magic Cup, a tweet caught my eye.


I immediately thought: This can surely not be a tweet of pride, right? After just five rounds, all the German team had achieved so far was reaching day 2 with (almost) absolute certainty. So this had to mean that we had failed to make day 2 in each of the preceding three years! I looked it up, and yes, that was actually the case. That is no reason for pride, but for shame.

Now, of course, Magic is a game of luck and variance, but being among the most successful 32 nations in the World Cup is still a very reasonable outcome to expect for a large and wealthy nation with a rich Magic history, and missing that goal three years in a row seems quite significant. I decided to compare Germany’s results with that of other nations, looking up 24 countries overall, including the most prestigious Magic countries in the world, the biggest nations from Europe, and our closest neighbors. This is what I found:


To better compare these results, I decided to give 1 point to each country for each time they reached stage 1 of group play on day two, another point for reaching stage 2, a third for being in the quarterfinals, a fourth for playing in the semis, a fifth for reaching the finals, and a sixth for taking the trophy home. Then I sorted this table by total points and got this here:


Admittedly, we’re not the only nation underperforming at the World Cup, but being at the very bottom of those rankings is still nothing short of embarassing!

But how much have we really been underperforming? Maybe we have actually gone from playing second fiddle internationally to being outright Magic backwater? (I admit I’m not that great with metaphors in English…)

To put things in perspective: There used to be a time when Germany was one of the four big Magic nations. The United States were – Kai Budde notwithstanding – clearly the overall number one for obvious reasons; Japan safely secured the number two spot after a few years; and France never quite gave up the headstart they had when cards had been printed in French before they were available in German; but noone else would oust us. We were (and, I believe, still are) one of the biggest markets for the game worldwide, and as a consequence were among the most succesful countries in competitive play (even excluding Kai). But alas, we have taken a big fall, and I decided to find out just how big that fall was. So I looked up the number of players who had secured gold and platinum status during the latest four seasons for the countries above.

Two caveats: For one thing, Wizards have consciously rigged high level play during the last few years to massively favor North American players, so it is not exactly fair to compare the rest of the world to the United States and – to a little lesser extent – Canada. Of course, density of organized play has always been a factor, but things have gotten ridiculous lately.

Secondly, while I did my best to find out the correct thresholds for gold and platinum in those earlier seasons, this proved to be a much harder task than I expected it to be, and I might have gotten something wrong. To the best of my knowlegde, those point thresholds were 25/40 in the 2011-2012 season, 30/45 in 2012-2013, 35/45 in 2013-2014, and 35/46 in 2014-2015, and I applied those to the final Player of the Year standings each season. If I missed the mark here, any consequential errors are at least not systematic.

To produce a ranking, I gave each country 2 points for each player who achieved platinum status during a season, and 1 point for each who made gold.


The picture is clear: We count among the also-ran Magic nations nowadays, despite our large size and proud history. Of course, getting no high level events on our home turf anymore hurts, but as there are still a lot of Grand Prixs happening each year in driving distance, it’s hard to see why we should be so extremely disadvantaged compared to, for example, Sweden or Slovakia.

I still hold that the downfall of the German Magic internet community is a factor here (although causality probably goes both ways): No tournament reports, no strategy articles, no active forum appealing to competitive players anymore – and what’s worst, almost noone but me missing these things! A small circle of road warriors is still regularly hitting Grand Prixs and PPTQs, but with little reward in relation to their effort. Some even seem to have given up on the idea of own success, contenting themselves with being part of the playtest groups of succesful players from other countries, having lost any sense of belonging to a German Magic community. The desire for both disseminating and absorbing knowledge among fellow Germans is dead.

The current season is still young, but so far it really does not look as if Germany would get a gold pro again, while smaller countries like Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic have reasons to be optimistic. (Actually, Denmark’s Martin Muller has already secured gold during the World Cup!) But hey – it’s probably my fault in some way, right? Oh, and Germany’s Magic glory is probably not even really gone at all – it only hides in places where I can’t see it, just like its community. Or its common sense…


But enough ranting for this time. I finally finished my set of 100 Battle for Zendikar drafts with an overall disappointing tournament win ratio of 21%. These are my latest winning decks:


(I sided out the green splash for a red splash to run the Blademaster in two matches.)


(Here I always sided out Green because I felt my deck was much more powerful anyway and would only lose to bad mana draws.)


(No, the Warcaller in the sideboard isn’t a mistake. This deck didn’t want it. Note that I never played the Hydra or the Greenwarden, but Sower and Ulamog were great, and I won two close games with massive Rumbler attacks thanks to Sower or Woodland.)


(No color combination is truly weak if you’re in the right seat for it!)


(The Breaker never showed up, but the Shepherd brought back the Sower once, which was one of the more absurd things I’ve ever seen a draft deck do.)


Okay, that last deck only went 2-1, but the match it lost was due to MTGO freezing on me in this situation:


Considering the utter absurdity of this deck, and the egregious injustice of the situation, I present it among the winners. Sue me!

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Commander 2015 Entries into my Limited Card Pool

Well, if I get asked directly to write about a specific topic, and it isn’t too much work, that is usually already enough to motivate me – in the end, I like to blog about Magic, making it a hard habit to break.

So, Commander 2015! I do not expect too much from this kind of product, which is targeted at an audience valuing very different things in this game than I, consists mainly of cards explicitly designed for multiplayer, and tends to go way overboard with regards to power level. However, there also is a certain degree of extra design freedom noticeable, allowing for cards which could not be printed in a regular set, and thus there might just be something fitting my needs.

This time, though, an unimpressive total of two cards made it into my Limited Card Pool:

[card]Bloodspore Thrinax[/card]

While mainly designed to be used in token/sacrifice decks, I want to try this in environments with counter synergies. I thought long and hard if it might be too swingy, but I do not believe so. I think it is even quite weak in draft unless supporting strong synergies, which makes it a good buil-around pick.

[card]Arjun, the Shifting Flame[/card]

I had trouble finding a fitting second Izzet rare (besides [card]Prophetic Bolt[/card]) for years, and wasn’t entirely happy with my previous solution [card]Dack’s Duplicate[/card]. This is much better. Its strange ability might look very strong from a casual deckbuilder’s perspective, but should be merely good and interesting in draft.

Now, this would be a really short entry if I stopped here, so I will additionally mention a few cards I at least thought about for a while:

[card]Shielded by Faith[/card]

This card would work, but it does not lead to especially great gameplay, and I just see no need for it.


I almost replaced [card]Desertion[/card] with this, since it is a cleaner design, but it lost out in the crunch because Desertion fits better in between [card]Dismiss[/card] and [card]Draining Whelk[/card].

[card]Daxos’s Torment[/card]

I would have loved to add an effect like this to my black enchanment synergies, but this is just way too powerful.

[card]Deadly Tempest[/card]

This would have fitted my crunch as an alternative to [card]Barter in Blood[/card] and [card]Languish[/card], but I realized I do not really need a black [card]Wrath of God[/card].

[card]Mizzix’s Mastery[/card]

An interesting option among red instery synergy cards, but Black needed [card]Sins of the Past[/card] more, which is also a cleaner version.

[card]Great Oak Guardian[/card]

I tried to convince myself way too long that this weren’t overpowered, but rightly failed. It just does too many great things at once.

Unrelated, I will keep up my tradition of posting winning draft decks. After my latest post, there were three more, bringing my draft win ratio to 16/70 so far:


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Pictures of Winning BFZ Draft Decks

Funny – I was already wondering if posting a bunch of pictures might not be a good compromise between writing a lot of stuff few people seem to be interested in, and not blogging at all. That seemingly almost noone who visits Magicblogs is interested in Battle for Zendikar drafts is pretty demotivating, since that is what’s been on my mind for the last few weeks and probably will be for a couple more. Such an annoying, frustrating, and yes fascinating environment!

And now it happened that Chris Pikula asked on Twitter for the very thing I had contemplated to publish: Pictures of winning Battle for Zendikar draft decks. Oh, it takes so little to provoke me into blogging about Magic

For context: These 13 decks are from a total of 58 drafts (4 decks I already posted in earlier entries, but I wanted to have them all in one place here). Of the drafts I didn’t win, I went 2-1 in all but 4 or so (the match history feature of MTGO isn’t entirely reliable because it breaks down after relogs). Make of that what you want, but be reminded that I am an excellent drafter and deck builder, albeit a lousy player; and my experiences with this format are that an outrageous percentage of games – won or lost – were non-games, which in my opinion contributes noticeably to equalizing win percentages.

So here we go:

A few notes: The decks dubbed „NoInsight“ and „NoTwincast“ got their names because I never got to cast those cards. In „Islandforcascade“ I took the picture before I replaced the last [card]Skyline Cascade[/card] with a third Island (because I realized it was important to find it with [card]Fertile Thicket[/card]).

Four of those thirteen decks contain Green, which I consider a typical ratio (compare with the 3-0 decks from Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar). It is no doubt the weakest color, but it does support two drafters per table.

If anyone wants to talk about that format: That’s why I’m here. (Even if it is only me.)

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A few Snippets about This and That

I will continue my series about CML’s eye-opening blog post when I have a little more time, and just keep this blog going with a few things on my mind right now.

But let me at least address a few remarks from the comment section of my latest entry: I have no idea why someone who writes about Magic needs to be compared with Hunter S. Thompson (and it’s actually already saying something good if he is), and I also never claimed CML was a „great writer“ – although, to be fair, if you hold him to reasonable standards pertaining Magic articles, that is a very defensible position. Interestingly, I consciously declined to praise his writing style too much to avoid that very comparison to „serious“ writers, understating his abilities by only saying that he writes „quite well“. That is most certainly true even for „serious“ writing (albeit not necessarily for the highest publishing standards), but there should be nothing left to discuss considering we are talking about Magic articles here!

Regarding „real“ professional sports and the opporunity to make big money there: I admit I was thinking of conventional, physical sports here, like football, basketball or tennis. I have next to none knowledge about the e-sports scene. However, I would still be surprised if the higher payouts and the more professional sponsoring there wouldn’t enable at least a few of the top players to actually make enough money during their active time to set it aside (I’m not talking about „retiring“ afterwards, though, just coming out ahead). Anyway, the comparison between e-sports and Magic is better suited to highlight the value WotC places on their professional tournaments, which will probably be the topic of my next entry in that series. By the way, there seems to be at least some interest for this, judging by the fact that I actually got a few comments. Sadly, this is already remarkable! Just compare with the number of comments which the latest few articles on PlanetMTG – the only left publishing platform for editorial German Magic content – got:


In the meanwhile, I have done a couple of Battle for Zendikar drafts – seven, to be precise. I won two of them, went 2-1 in four more and would very probably have gone 2-1 in the seventh as well, if MTGO hadn’t decided to stop me from playing in the last round while I was 1-0 in the lead and in a very strong position in the second game. When I write this, I have been filing for reimbursement over 16 hours ago and not got an answer yet (other than the automatically generated email) – this used to go a lot faster a year or so ago! But alas, even one of the few things MTGO was to be commended for (fast reimbursement) has gone bad now.

These were my two winning decks:



Most of my other drafts I was more focussed on aggression, with Red and/or White as a foundation, and while I admittedly didn’t face the toughest opposition (and made several really stupid playing mistakes), my match losses were usually to back to back egregious instances of mana issues. Thus, I feel that overall I cannot really judge the format fairly yet, but my impression so far is that drafting it is fun, but playing the games rather annoying. It may be tainted by my frustration with the MTGO shuffler, though, which is having fun colorscrewing my two-color decks every second game (not even including the ones where I’m generally manascrewed), while my opponents lay down a third turn 3/4 [card]Tajuru Stalwart[/card] off a splashed rare land every second game (alright, that is probably not the frequency that this really happens, but it feels that way). I just absoulutely hate it when I build my deck for consistency and am still struggling to cast my spells, while my opponents seemingly run haphazard mana bases without issues…

Objectively, though, I shouldn’t complain. I have a very decent win ratio so far, and in my very first draft I managed to grab a couple of (then-) money rares and sold them immediately afterwards, when they were still absurdly expensive. I never opened anything really valuable again, though, but I was one of the lucky recipients of the mistakenly awarded [card]Gideon, Ally of Zendikar[/card] – those were supposed to be use- and worthless avatars, but some moron at WotC mixed those up, to the delight of some players and the dismay of most traders. I even managed to sell it before its price plummeted!

As for the dynamics of Battle for Zendikar draft: The format seems medium fast. You probably do not want to put some of its really expensive spells in your deck if you do not have a good plan how to support them, but you are also not required to run mediocre 2-drops if you do not intend to be aggressive, and most 2-drops are actually actively bad if you do not specifically focus on ending the game fast and being able to break through a solid defense. The colors seem reasonably balanced to me so far, but unfortunately the booster packs aren’t – some drafters are going to end up with five or more bomb-level picks, while others stare at empty packs each firstpick which do not even contain a good common. On the bright side, though, reading signals seems to work well, and thus you should usually get access to enough picks in your colors that you can finetune your deck for focus, curve and synergies, while still being able to snatch up a few useful sideboard cards and extra full-art lands.

Finally, an addendum to my Battle for Zendikar Limited Pool update: I decided to give [card]Swarm Surge[/card] a chance as a black card synergizing with artifacts. Without eldrazi scion tokens, it will not be too exciting, but Black really needs it.

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Battle for Zendikar update to my Limited Card Pool

If you do not know what this is about, click here!


[card]Ally Encampment[/card]
[card]Blighted Cataract[/card]
[card]Blighted Fen[/card]
[card]Blighted Gorge[/card]

I already talked about those lands here. I decided to remove [card]Tolaria West[/card] now that I have the Cataract, since I never really liked the tutoring, but keep [card]Soldevi Excavations[/card].

Colorless (non-devoid)

[card]Kozilek’s Channeler[/card]
[card]Bane of Bala Ged[/card]
[card]Eldrazi Devastator[/card]
[card]Hedron Archive[/card]
[card]Gruesome Slaughter[/card]

The Channeler will replace [card]Stone Golem[/card], the Bane [card]Triskelavus[/card] and the Devastator [card]Sundering Titan[/card]: One interesting and reasonable upgrade, and two replacements of cards which were always second-rate solutions. I didn’t like the Archive at first, with both modes being overcosted, but every deck that wants [card]Thran Dynamo[/card] will also not be too unhappy with the Archive, and its two uses make it playable. The Slaughter is a nice artifact synergy card to me, even though colorless cards and artifact cards are of course not the same, but the overlap is large enough that this makes sense. I chose a couple more colorless synergy cards for the same reasons.

Artifact synergy

[card]Nettle Drone[/card]
[card]Molten Nursery[/card]
[card]Forerunner of Slaughter[/card]
[card]Herald of Kozilek[/card]

I was happy to get another artifact synergy card in Black with Skitterskin, and the Drone and the Nursery replaced the lackluster [card]Rustmouth Ogre[/card] and the awkward [card]Forge Armor[/card] I also decided to extend artifact synergies to two-colored cards, adding not only Forerunner and Herald, but also [card]Ethersworn Shieldmage[/card] and [card]Reclusive Artificer[/card], and hoping that Oath of the Gatewatch will have a few more.


[card]Expedition Envoy[/card]
[card]Kor Bladewhirl[/card]
[card]Lantern Scout[/card]
[card]Makindi Patrol[/card]
[card]Hero of Goma Fada[/card]
[card]Kor Entanglers[/card]
[card]Kalastria Healer[/card]
[card]Zulaport Cutthroat[/card]
[card]Hagra Sharpshooter[/card]
[card]Tajuru Warcaller[/card]
[card]Tajuru Beastmaster[/card]
[card]Coralhelm Guide[/card]
[card]Firemantle Mage[/card]
[card]Chasm Guide[/card]
[card]Ondu Champion[/card]

I don’t like that the new allies work differently from the old ones, but I will make the best of it. I removed all allies with abilities which affected only allies (unless they were putting +1/+1 counters on allies) and replaced them with rally variants, but kept those which counted allies for an effect. I also now include a few cards specifically because they are allies – even without an ally-related ability – in addition to [card]Stonework Puma[/card]. All of those – the Envoy (taking over from [card]Elite Vanguard[/card]), the Cutthroat, the Sharpshooter and the Guide – make also sense in cubes without ally synergies, but would probably not have made the crunch without that creature type. I also used the opportunity to get rid of [card]Bojuka Brigand[/card] and [card]Nimana Sell-Sword[/card], which are strictly inferior versions of green allies.


[card]Ondu Greathorn[/card]
[card]Retreat to Emeria[/card]
[card]Retreat to Hagra[/card]
[card]Scythe Leopard[/card]
[card]Snapping Gnarlid[/card]
[card]Retreat to Kazandu[/card]
[card]Wave-Wing Elemental[/card]
[card]Retreat to Coralhelm[/card]
[card]Valakut Predator[/card]
[card]Retreat to Valakut[/card]

Landfall isn’t a theme which needs too much density, so I could be rather picky here – at least in Red and Green. I decided to use all five Retreats to make sure I have enough landfall on non-creatures, to support the colors with fewer attractive options, and because their abilities are not all focussed on attacking. However, that meant that [card]Grazing Gladehart[/card] and [card]Zendikar’s Roil[/card] had to go for being too similar with some Retreats. I also took out [card]Zektar Shrine Expedition[/card], which I never liked too much because I wanted my landfall-enchantments to do non-creature stuff. As for the creatures, I preferred very simple abilities not requiring additional mana. [card]Hedron Rover[/card] got the boot for being too similar (and vastly inferior) to the Predator.


[card]Quarantine Field[/card]
[card]Roil’s Retribution[/card]
[card]Seek the Wilds[/card]
[card]Vestige of Emrakul[/card]
[card]Turn Against[/card]

There is room in my pool for the Field because I use [card]Journey to Nowhere[/card] instead of [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] or [card]Banishing Light[/card], and the scalable version should play interestingly. The Retribution is fairly unique (at least in White, where this effect belongs), and the Seek weakly supports a land theme and might serve as a kind of green [card]Impulse[/card] in general. The Vestige replaces the vanilla [card]Highland Giant[/card] which is just too far below the curve nowadays, and Turn Against shoves out [card]Ray of Command[/card] which Blue neither needs nor deserves (but the effect was too cool to go unused).

As usual, I will not explain why I NOT chose cards unless specifically asked – so, if you are curious why some cards didn’t make the cut, just ask me in the comments!

You can download my complete updated Limited Card Pool below as a spreadsheet in XLS format. The columns show card name, converted mana cost, a card type code I use for easier sorting, an abbreviation for card rarity, and some tags I use to facilitate cube-building. My type code uses „Klar“ for colorless cards and those affiliated with all five colors, and otherwise the German names for single-colored cards and the established names for color pairs and triples. The color function of cards in a cube trumps technically correct color definition here. „L“ denotes lands, „K“ creatures, „J“ other permanent types, and „I“ instants and sorceries. The asterisks are only there for sorting purposes. The rarities are (ordered from high to low frequency) „S“ for staple, „C“ for commons, „U“ for uncommon, „R“ for rare and „M“ for mythic. That there are five rarity categories does not mean that every cube I build will use them all. Note that I changed the concept for the rarity I give in that spreadsheet: It is no longer defined as the projected most likely rarity of a card in a cube (although it will often happen to be), but the lowest rarity which I believe could make sense in a cube I build. The exception here are mythics, which can always be downgraded to rare. I will always use at least three rarities, maybe not for single card frequencies, but for collation purposes.

My Limited Card Pool in XLS format

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Lands in Next Level Cubes – Battle for Zendikar addendum

Links to card pictures from that set should work finally, so here is the Battle for Zendikar addendum to my series.

(part 1part 2part 3 part 4)

As usual, an asterisk (*) denotes lands I want for my Limited Card Pool.

The lands with too many names

[card]Canopy Vista[/card]
[card]Cinder Glade[/card]
[card]Prairie Stream[/card]
[card]Smoldering Marsh[/card]
[card]Sunken Hollow[/card]

(I will not join the discussion what the nickname of that cycle should be, at least not here and now.)

They are not a full cycle yet, but it seems very likely that the missing cross members will appear in Oath of the Gatewatch. Their power level is fine, but I’d prefer the [card]Clifftop Retreat[/card] cycle due to its ties to specific colors even if the basic land types weren’t a taboo for me.

The blighted cycle

[card]Blighted Cataract[/card] *
[card]Blighted Fen[/card] *
[card]Blighted Gorge[/card] *
[card]Blighted Steppe[/card]
[card]Blighted Woodland[/card]

I hate it when WotC introduce a promising cycle and then ruin it with unusable members. Cataract, Fen, and Gorge are perfectly fine, but Steppe is terrible, and Woodland actually does something I actively do not want (green manafixing), and also only makes sense in very specific environments. Only using parts of a cycle is something I do sometimes, but here it is really sad that the cycle isn’t complete. The Cataract will probably replace [card]Tolaria West[/card] in my pool, since that is just a second-rate solution to the issue of Blue not having enough affiliated lands.

The spell land cycle

[card]Fertile Thicket[/card]
[card]Looming Spires[/card]
[card]Mortuary Mire[/card]
[card]Sandstone Bridge[/card]
[card]Skyline Cascade[/card]

This is the third incarnation of such a cycle after Zendikar and Worldwake (I have a hunch there might be a fourth one in Oath of the Gatewatch), and if I wanted to construct my own cycle, I would now finally have enough material, with the Mire being actually good in contrast to its predecessors, and the Cascade providing an alternative for the blue member which has a more unique effect. However, the issue that those will be played off-color too often is obviously still there.

The manlands

[card]Lumbering Falls[/card]
[card]Shambling Vent[/card]

Here, it has officially been announced that this cycle will be completed with the next set, so one issue I had with it will disappear then. The members of this cycle being quite different from each other still bugs me, though – their main role in a cube would still be to provide manafixing, and I want this to be as uniform as possible. I might still use them, if it weren’t for their power level which is just too high – not so high that I COULD not use them, but so high that I do not WANT to. I have been second-guessing that decision a lot, because their design is very appealing, and I really love complete cycles of duallands, but in the end I know better – they are just too strong to play well.

The rest

[card]Ally Encampment[/card] *
[card]Sanctum of Ugin[/card]
[card]Shrine of the Forsaken Gods[/card]
[card]Spawning Bed[/card]

Allies are one of two circle tribes which my pool supports (the other, obviously, being slivers), and the Encampment does a fine job here. The Sanctum does nothing useful for me: I consciously include very few spells with comverted mana cost of more than 6 in my pool, because any draft environment where more than one (out of four) players could conceivably base his deck around ramping up that far is terrible. (I’m not going into detail here, but the baseline is that you either have no fast decks at all, or that the fast and the slow decks in that environment don’t interact much. And yes, that means that I anticipate I will not like Battle for Zendikar draft, just like I hated Rise of the Eldrazi draft.) Shrine is out for essentially the same reason – while I love that it always taps for mana unlike [card]Temple of the False God[/card], it is important that the ramp effect happens much earlier. The Bed is a variant of [card]Foundry of the Consuls[/card] which once again only really makes sense if you want to ramp up super high, and also I will not use cards which produce scion tokens in general, because of that very reason.

An aside: Hangarback Walker

You know, I am very disappointed with Battle for Zendikar so far, just like a lot of people, but unlike most of those the reason is not that I consider that set to be too weak. For one thing, I do not really care for the constructed viability of cards a lot. Another reason, though, is that I just do not believe that it is possible for anyone who isn’t both really competent in Magic strategy (ruling out over 99% of all players) AND took the time to actually think about the potential of a card (ruling out at least 50% of the rest) to assess a card’s potential for constructed formats reliably, unless that card is really obviously overpowered, or obviously underpowered AND boring (underpowered, but strange cards have a habit of showing up unexpectedly in very specific roles in very unusual decks sometimes).

To illustrate my point, here are some highlights from snap evaluations of [card]Hangarback Walker[/card]:

From MTGSalvation:

„Definitely not constructed playable“

„It’s too behind the curve. Obviously broken at X but it’s bad at XX.“

„it needs a lot of support to be good[…]Then again, a card that requires this much support for no real payoff is not where you want to be „

„What a bad card.“

„[card]Fireball[/card] is outstanding in Limited because efficiency is less important there, but Constructed it’s bad because it’s bad value for any given value of X. This is kind of the same thing, except it’s XX so it’s even worse.“

„it’s one of those cards where a single X would be way too good, and double X makes it trash.“

From MythicSpoiler:

„This card seems like it would be fine in limited.“

„Without Overseer, this is far too expensive.“

„If this shows up on any top 8 lists i’ll eat my hat.“

„It requires an onboard ravager to be any good.“

„I just can recognize a bad card.“

„This is the shizz“

You might want to keep that in mind!

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