Battle for Zendikar was just fully spoiled this past week, and this set has a few clear cut archetypes. It’s hard to get an accurate read on how strong each will be right away, but at the very least we can be aware of what archetypes are really looking for what cards and what cards should signal that an archetype is open.
I’m starting with Green Ramp because with the Prerelease events this weekend Sealed is going to be on every one’s mind and ramp lends itself very well to most sealed formats and should be a strong option this weekend.
I expect Blue to be the natural pair for Ramp decks because it also has a couple excellent Eldrazi Scion generators with Eldrazi Skyspawner and Incubator Drone to help ramp and stabilize the board. Another all star for a G/U ramp strategy is Murk Strider, it isn’t the easiest to enable this card in G/U but if you can this is an example of just one great tempo spell this color combination can use to buy time to get their large threats online.
The great thing about Red as a ramp pair is having access to the many great removal options Red brings to bear in the new format. Cards like Stonefury and Rolling Thunder are great versatile answers that scale great with the additional mana Ramp is going to generate. There are other great cheap removal options in Red. The one drawback to this color combination is a lack of quality cheap threats to stabilize the ground game, many of these threats are aggressively costed and are much better when turned sideways then they are when left back as blockers. For this reason R/G can find itself with many of the creatures that get pumped with Landfall triggers and perform as a midrange beatdown deck.
Similarly to Red, Black has solid removal. It lacks the versatile answers that red provides but has a couple unconditional removal spells that have the upside of exiling the creatures they kill to enable cards like Void Attendant that both stabilize the ground and help ramp up. Black also has a strong tokens sub-theme that can be exploited for additional win conditions. Catacomb Sifter is a perfect example of a card in this color combination that helps ramp and provides fantastic card selection when sacrificing Scion to ramp.
This is likely the worst color pair for a pure ramp strategy just because white is more aggressively slanted. However, White does bring some solid removal to bear and ways to pump Eldrazi Scion and capitalize on going wide. There are also great Awaken options like Sheer Drop in white that are great mana sinks for a ramp deck that hasn’t found its big threats.
Green provides great fixing in the format and in Sealed you can expect to splash a third color very often. Blue is the best color pair and a decent splash color, although Red/Black provide the splashable removal these decks will be looking for. I would be looking for ideally a GU shell splashing either Red or Black for some versatile answers to ensure the deck can consistently reach the late game.
The highest priority commons are those that generate Eldrazi Scion. Eyeless Watcher and Call the Scions ramp and provide multiple bodies for pay offs in splash colors. Cards like Outnumber and Swamp Surge provide ways to utilize Eldrazi Scion if you lack large win conditions. These cards also ramp you up two mana the following turn, Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid are just barely behind and are the two remaining core cards. In draft these four are fairly interchangeable and a good mix of the four is ideal. Brood Monitor is the final core card, this can be ramped into and helps get into the 7 to 9 drop range reliably.
As stated earlier, ways to utilize tokens for damage can be a fairly reliable way to win if you lack the efficient Eldrazi. But at common and uncommon the win conditions that are truly great are Plated Crusher, Eldrazi Devastator, and Bane of Bala Ged. Two cards that really shine in this deck are Titans Presence and Scour from Existence because you can reliably ramp into Scour and have the top-end to reliably turn Titans Presence into a powerful and efficient removal option.
If you’re only interested in Sealed then this probably isn’t for you. These are the cards that you see after pick 5 or 6 that should indicate that the archetype is open. Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid will rarely reach this point but if they do you can be confident that a player to your right isn’t in either Converge or Ramp since these are core to both strategies. The high quality pay off cards should also indicate this, especially Plated Crusher.
This will be a powerful and very common strategy for both the prerelease and release events for BFZ. However, if you don’t have the enablers found in the Core Cards section this shouldn’t be pursued as actively. You generally want between three and five solid direct ramp options in your deck. You don’t need as many pay off cards you need enablers, so just because you open three Plated Crushers doesn’t mean you should be attempting to run a ramp deck. It’s much more important you find the enablers and work with whatever large threats you open in your pool as they are much more common than the actual ramp cards.