Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Do you want to win Zendikar Rising draft? Want to earn Gems, while drafting on Arena? Our Zendikar Rising Draft Guide will help you do just that!

First, we’ll take a look at all mechanics and see how they work and how they affect Zendikar draft. Afterwards we’ll check the best commons for each color. Finally, we’ll examine all archetypes and what they’re trying to do.

You’ll find the rankings for colors and archetypes, as well as some general tips at the end. Some things are bound to change when we start doing multiple drafts, so this article will get an update in a couple of weeks or so.

Anyways, let’s get right to it and find out what Zendikar Rising draft is all about.

UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you should read our Dominaria United Draft Guide.

Zendikar Rising Mechanics

Zendikar Rising has four mechanics, two returning ones and two new ones:

  • Kicker
  • Landfall
  • Modal double-faced cards
  • Party

Let’s take a look at them and how they’ll affect the Zendikar Rising draft format.


Kicker is a returning mechanic. It’s a pretty simple one. Each card with kicker gives you an option to pay more mana to get an additional effect.

Zendikar Draft Guide Mechanics Kicker Kitesail Cleric

Take a look at Kitesail Cleric, for example. You can cast it for one white mana to get a 1/1 flyer. You can also cast it for four mana (two must be white) to have it tap two creatures when it comes into play.

Cards with kicker have countless different effects, like drawing cards, getting +1/+1 counters and plenty more. Some cards also care if you cast a kicked spell, but more about that later – in the blue-green archetype section.

One thing worth mentioning is that kicker often promotes playing an extra land and going up to 18 lands, as you’ll always have stuff to do with extra mana.


Landfall is another returning mechanic, that debuted in original Zendikar. It’s also pretty straightforward. Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, all your landfall effects trigger.

Zednikar Rising Draft Mechanics Landfall

So whenever you put a land into play, Scythecat will get a +1/+1 counter. It can grow into a really big cat.

Landfall also has various different effects, from tapping opposing creatures to buffing your team and making making tokens.

It’s yet another mechanic that can promote a higher land count.

We’ve already seen double-faced cards, but this is a new take on them. You chose which side of the card you want to play. There are six dual lands plus 30 additional double-faced cards, 6 for each color:

  • 1 mythic
  • 1 rare
  • 4 uncommons

All of those have a non-land card on one side and a land card on the other. Lands enter the battlefield tapped. The only exception are the 5 mythic lands, that give you a option of paying 3 life, to enter untapped.

This cards will probably change how many lands you play in your decks, but more about that a bit later. Let’s just say that they’re all at least playable in Zendikar Rising draft.


The second new mechanic is party. Not the one with Party Crasher, but an homage to classic adventuring parties.

Party effects care about four creature types:

  • Cleric
  • Rogue
  • Warrior
  • Wizard

Most of the party cards grant you an effect, that’s better the more different party types you have. There’s also a couple of cards that want you to have all four different types.

Note that if you have two Clerics and no other creatures in play, they still only count as one (as Gimli would say). On the other hand, if you have two Clerics and a Rogue, your party count is two.

Malakir Blood-Priest How to Win Zendikar Rising Draft MTGA

So Malakir Blood-Priest will drain your opponent for a maximum of 4 life. It also counts itself, unless it’s killed in response to the trigger.

Party Distribution

So let’s take a look at which creatures type belong in which colors.

Zendikar Rising Draft Guide Party Distribution Statistics

You can notice several things from the table above. First, in which colors the creature types are centered:

  • Clerics (black-white)
  • Rogues (black-blue)
  • Warriors (red-white)
  • Wizards (blue-red)

Second thing you can notice is that both blue-white and red-black combination contain all 4 creature types. As you’ll see in the archetype section, both of those archetypes have a party theme.

Finally, green has access to all four creature types, so it can offer a support to any other color that wants to assemble a party. You can see that green has 4 creatures in each category. It actually has two for each type plus two creatures that count for both. There’s also one artifact creature, that’s worded the same way.

All of those have all four creature types. Important thing to note is that they only count towards one different creature type in your party.

For example, if you have just Packbeast in play, your total party count is one. If you have a Packbeast and a Cleric, your party count is two and so on.

Party definitely looks like a fun mechanic for draft. With all that said, let’s move on to best commons in Zendikar Rising draft.

Best Commons for Zendikar Rising Draft


1. Nahiri’s Binding

Nahiri's Binding Best White Common Zendikar Rising Draft

Nahiri’s Binding is this set’s Pacifism. It does cost one white mana more, which is not negligible. However, you get the added benefit of disabling activated abilities plus locking down planeswalkers. Sure, that won’t happen often, but when it does, it’s going to be very powerful.

Cards like this are usually the best commons, and there’s no reason for that to change in Zendikar Rising Draft.

2. Shepherd of Heroes

Shepherd of Heroes Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Even though Binding is very good, Shepherd almost gives it a run for its money. 3/4 flyer for 5 mana is already a good deal, but when it comes with the added bonus of life gain, that pushes it over the top.

The only worry with big flyers is that an aggressive opponent may beat you down. Well, that’s not the case with this Angel. You’ll always get at least 2 life (it’s a Cleric – unless it gets killed in response) which is already good, but often you’ll get four or even more, which can quickly put you in a very favorable position.

Even though it’s a five drop you should probably play as many of those as you can get your hands on, and cut other five drops.

3. Tazeem Raptor

Tazeem Raptor MTG Arena Draft Zendikar Rising Tips

First two white commons were amazingly good, and Raptor is somewhat weaker, while still being a very good card. Three mana 2/2 flyer is nothing to sniff at.

Its ability might look weird, but it’ll play perfectly in Zendikar Rising draft. First, it’s a may – you don’t have to return a land, if you don’t want to. Second, it’s got two uses:

  • The land you got back, can trigger you landfall effects when you replay it.
  • You might’ve played a modal double-faced land earlier in the game. Now you have enough lands and you return it, so you can cast its spell side. Value!

All in all, this Bird should see a lot of play in your white decks.

Honorable Mentions

Those three cards are clearly above all the other white commons, However, there’s a couple more you should pay attention to.

First, Prowling Felidar is a bit clunky, but can become a real deal, especially if you have enough landfall support.

Second, Resolute Strike is another one of those playable combat tricks, that can be deceptively strong, and it has an additional upside in a Warrior / Equipment deck.


1. Bubble Snare

Bubble Snare

Bubble Snare is a nice take on the blue tap-down effect in the set. Sure you lose flash from the Capture Sphere, but you can cast it for one mana, which makes it much better.

The low cost means that you’ll have to take one attack before you use it, as the creature won’t become tapped otherwise. However, this doesn’t even matter much, anyways. Why?

Because at the time when your opponents play big creatures, you usually have four mana to spend and lock them down before they attack. Early on, when you don’t have enough mana, you probably want to lock down a smaller creature, and you can afford to take a hit before you lock it down.

All of this makes Bubble Snare an amazing blue quasi-removal spell. Don’t forget that there are also some synergies with kicked spells, which can make it even better.

2. Into the Roil

Into the Roil Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

If you’ve been playing Magic for a while, you might remember Blink of an Eye from Dominaria. If you’re a veteran player, you might even know that it was a functional reprint of Into the Roil from original Zendikar.

Well, enough with the history lesson. Whatever this card was called it was always very good. Bounce spells are a great tool if you get the timing right. When you get a card draw on top of that, they are just incredible.

Note that you get to bounce any nonland permanent, whether it belongs to your opponent or to you. This way you can save your stuff from removal spells, as well as remove big blockers out of the way for a turn.

You can never have too many Into the Roils in your blue decks in Zendikar Rising draft.

3. Expedition Diviner

Expedition Diviner Zendikar Rising Draft Guide Archetypes

Three powered flyer for four is already a fine deal. When you have another Wizard in play it becomes even better – even if your opponent manages to kill it, you’ll get to draw a card.

They usually won’t remove your other Wizard first, as the big flyers are usually the first targets for removal spells. Just in blue, you already have access to 10 Wizards (4 at common), so it should be pretty easy to get a second one in play – even if you aren’t in red, which is the secondary Wizard color.

Honorable Mentions

Now blue is really deep this time around, as there are a bunch of other powerful commons, we should talk about.

There are three great kicker cards:

All of them are fine without kicker and even better when you do kick them. Their versatility shouldn’t be underrated.

How to DRaft Zendikar Rising Risen Riptide Kicker Deck

When you have so many good common kicker cards, you should expect that Risen Riptide will be good. It might be one of the strongest cards in your deck, if everything comes together.

Even if it doesn’t – who cares. Your opponent simply can’t afford to attack into it if you have four mana open, unless they risk getting completely blown out. Riptide is certainly a real deal.


1. Deadly Alliance

Deadly Alliance best common Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Unconditional removal at instant speed for five mana – that deals with both creatures and planeswalkers. An amazing card!

But wait, that’s not all. You also get a one-mana discount for each creature in your party. This spell will often cost 3 or 4 mana, and that’s very good. Especially, since when you’re stuck on three lands, you often have enough non-land cards in hand that you can easily cast two party creatures, so you’ll be able to cast Alliance as well.

Deadly Alliance is certainly the front-runner for the best common – not only in black, but in whole Zendikar Rising draft.

2. Vanquish the Weak

Vanquish the Weak

Vanquish the Weak is obviously weaker then Alliance, but by how much?

To find out, we analysed all creatures from Zendikar Rising. There are 151 total of them, and 122 have a power of 3 or less. This means that Vanquish the Weak kills 78.7% of all creatures in the format.

Considering that it only costs three mana, that makes it a very good removal spell. You probably won’t get too many Alliances, so Vanquish the Weak will have to do – and it certainly will do its job just fine. But make sure that you don’t get blown out by a pump spell.

3. Feed the Swarm

Feed the Swarm Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Third best black common is also a removal spell and a pretty interesting one at that. It’s a hard card to properly evaluate. So in order to do so, let’s take a look at converted mana cost of creatures in Zendikar Rising.

Converted Mana Cost of Creatures Zendikar Rising Draft

As you can see, most of them are at two and three mana. Average creature in Zendikar Rising draft costs 3.18 mana. (commons and uncommons 3.11, rares and mythics 3.33)

What this means is that Feed the Swarm is probably good enough. It easily deals with smaller creatures early on. Even when you have to deal with something bigger you might be happy that you have an option to do so, even if it comes with a bigger life loss.

That’s even before we start to talk about enchantments. There are 10 different ones, costing between 1 and 5 mana. The most relevant are three enchantment-removals:

You’ll pay a high price to get rid of Journey, but the other two are pretty manageable. Besides you’ll often happily pay 4 life, just to not get overwhelmed by Felidar Retreat.

So after this deep analysis, you can see that Feed the Swarm is a pretty good card. Black decks will always want at least one copy, maybe even two. Three is pushing it, unless you have a bunch of life gain stuff (which is actually possible in the White-Black Clerics archetype).

Honorable Mentions

So we really went deep here. Now good removal spells aren’t the only good thing black has to offer. It also has Nimana Skydancer, which can really play nicely with both instants and Rogues.

Another cool flyer is Ghastly Gloomhunter, although you want to have ways to buff it with +1/+1 counters.

Finally, there’s Subtle Strike, which is subtly very good. It can easily win you a combat and you get to keep a counter for your troubles.


1. Roil Eruption

Roil Eruption Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Three damage for two mana to any target is always very strong in limited, even if it comes at sorcery speed. Add on top of that the fact that it can be kicked for 5 damage and you get to the best red common for Zendikar Rising draft.

Often you’ll get a bunch of damage in with your red deck, then you’ll get to seven mana and just finish your opponent off with Eruption. If you’re playing against red, you should always keep this card in mind, especially when your opponent starts making weird attacks, just to get you down to five life points.

Let’s do a quick toughness check. As we said, there are 151 creatures in Zendikar Rising. 116 have 3 or less toughness and 144 have up to five. So Roil Eruption kills 76.8% creatures for two mana, and 92.9% when you kick it.

2. Synchronized Spellcraft

Synchronized Spellcraft Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Spellcraft falls right in the middle of kicked and non-kicked Roil Eruption. For five mana you get to kill 90.7% creatures in the format (137 out of 151).

Besides, you get a very relevant additional burn to your opponent’s face. You’ll often be able to deal two damage, which can quickly add up, especially since you just removed a blocker out of the way.

This makes Synchronized Spellcraft a very playable card. You’ll happily include two copies in most of your red decks.

3. Spitfire Lagac

Spitfire Lagac

Spitfire Lagac might not have the perfect body for a four drop, but its effect it’s pretty nice and it can still get into the red zone just fine.

You’ll try to get quick damage in in the first turns with your red decks. Lagac – or better, multiple Lagacs – can be your top end. Now you’ll either draw actual cards that’ll help you win the game, or lands, which will also finish your opponent, thanks to this Lizard.

Honorable Mentions

Inordinate Rage might look like another mediocre pump spell, especially when it costs two mana. However, it’s very possible that it’ll overpreform. Sometimes it’ll win you a combat and scry a land to the bottom. Other times, it’ll just win you the game on the spot. Possibly paired with a trampler, like another good common Grotag Bug-Catcher.

Expedition Champion can pack a big punch for a three drop, if you manage to constantly have another Warrior in play. Just watch out, so you don’t get blown out when your opponent kills your only other Warrior mid-combat.

Pyroclastic Hellion is another great finisher. Not only does it have a perfectly fine body for a five drop, the benefit of burn + getting land back is real. You can reuse your double-faced spell lands or trigger your landfall effects again.


1. Rabid Bite

Rabid Bite How to Win Zendikar Rising Draft MTG MTGA

As usual, the fight spell is once again the best green common in the set.

We’ve seen Rabid Bite before, it’s always been good and there’s no reason for this to change. It has a low cost and it isn’t an actual fight card, but more of a punch. Your creature gets to deal damage without being damaged itself, which is very relevant.

You’ll want plenty of those in your green decks. Pair them with green efficient creatures and you’re good to go.

2. Gnarlid Colony

Gnarlid Colony Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Now after the first spot, there a bunch of competition between the green commons and these rankings could surely change when we do more drafts. But for now, we decided to value flexibility that Gnarlid Colony offers.

Do you need a play early on? Colony is your bear for the job.

Got to five mana? Here’s a 4/4 trampler with upside.

The +1/+/1 counters actually enable a bunch of synergies – just in green already, but even more if you pair it with black. On the other hand, there are also kicker payoffs, when combined with blue.

Anyways, green decks will really want this bear – you can’t have too much of them, since they’re just so flexible.

3. Canopy Baloth

Canopy Baloth

Four mana 4/3 is fine, but when it becomes a 6/5 – it’s amazing! Of course it can even become a 8/7 if you have a way of putting multiple lands in play in one turn.

It’s going to be very hard to block, but it will be okay at best when on defense – three toughness really isn’t a lot. So when you want to draft Baloth, try to build a more aggressive deck.

Honorable Mentions

Zendikar Rising Draft Guide Joraga Visionary

The one card that was really hard to decide where to put it is Joraga Visionary. Serviceable body for four mana that cantrips. What’s not to like?

Nissa’s Zendikon is another deceptively powerful card. You can look at it as a five mana 4/4 hasty creature, or as four mana 4/4 that might come into play tapped. Either way, it’s a good common and the benefit of getting a land back is good, as we mentioned before. (Try to enchant a double-faced land if you have one).

Finally, Territorial Scythecat is another landfall creature that can quickly grow out of control. Plus it has trample!


There are two colorless commons that you should pay attention to, if you’re partying.

Packbeast is an okay support if you really want to assemble party. Speaking of which, Sea Gate Colossus is just an actual strong card. If you can consistently have two different party members in play on turn 5, you should definitely include this Colossus in your deck.

Zendikar Rising Draft Archetypes

Zendikar Rising draft archetypes are all pretty interesting. Lots of them focus on a mechanic + a creature type. All in all, they all look fun to play, so let’s start examining them.

Blue – White: Party

White has Clerics and Warriors. Blue has Rogues and Wizards. That makes this archetype a perfect home for a party (and a welcome sight from the usual flyers archetype).

So, how should you build around this mechanic? First, don’t force it. Don’t pick creatures just in regard to their creature types.

If you’re missing a Warrior, don’t pick Cliffhaven Sell-Sword over Shepherd of Heroes. No party bonus is that important. Unlocking the full party is going to be both very hard and not much more rewarding then having two different creatures types in play.

Sure, casting Spoils of Adventure for two will feel amazing and worthy of a screenshot. But at that point you have at least four creatures in play, and you’re probably doing well anyways.

So just draft a good curve of good creatures and you’ll end up with enough party members – even without paying much attention to them. However, you can certainly use them as a tiebreaker. If you can’t decide between a Rogue or a Cleric, pick the one you have fewer of.

Black – Red: Party

Black-Red is the other dedicated party deck. You get Clerics and Rogues in black and Wizards and Warriors in red. The deck will be somewhat more aggressive then Blue-White, by using two drops that can pack a punch, like Grotag Bug-Catcher and Malakir Blood-Priest.

Still you have plenty of staying power in the late game with cards like Shatterskull Minotaur and Thwart the Grave to bring it and another creature back for more.

Finally, the Ravager’s Mace might look clunky, but the fact is that it can turn any creature into a must-deal-with threat, a long as you have a couple of party members in play.

If you like partying more aggressively, you should definitely try drafting this archetype.

Black – White: Clerics / Life Gain

Black-White features Clerics, a beloved tribe, especially among the veteran players. Their respective mechanic is life gain.

New players are often warned of uselessness of pure life gain cards (like Life Goes On). On the other hand, cards that gain you life incidentally, while being at least playable cards on their own, are very strong.

Cards like that are the backbone of this archetype and they enable plenty of life gain synergies. All three cards that we highlighted above, have those synergies. Cleric of Life’s Bond is basically Ajani’s Pridemate, which also enables itself.

You should also pay attention to Attended Healer. Not only is it an amazing cards, it’s one of the few cards that make tokens. (Actually one of two, if you don’t count rares.) This means it can support a go-wide strategy with mass pump spells like Dauntless Unity – especially if you can get multiple Healers.

Finally, just because the archetype doesn’t specifically scream party, you can still take advantage of some party cards, as you have access to Clerics, Warriors and Rogues. Same is true for other archetypes, so keep this in mind, even though we’ll only mention it here.

Green – White: Landfall

Landfall is really the focus of this archetype. You’ll try to hit your land drops, curve out, be an aggressor and make your creatures bigger with their landfall abilities.

Murasa Rootgrazer only works with basic lands, which is a bit sad, as you don’t get to reuse your modal double-faced cards, but it’s still very good. It’s actually the only way to get two lands into play repeatedly.

Even so, you won’t have to put much lands into play, if your landfall creatures manage to survive. They can definitely grow very quickly.

Because of cards like Canyon Jerboa and Canopy Baloth, you really want to be the attacking player. You won’t have many effects like Rootgrazer, that let you play lands on your opponent’s turn, so you’ll be getting their temporary landfall effects only on your turn. Creatures like that don’t really excel at defense.

Red – Green: Landfall

Second landfall deck contains red instead of white. This deck will tend to be even more aggressive, since it loses some creatures that get +1/+1 counters on landfall, and replaces them with bigger, but temporary buffs of +2/+2.

Akoum Hellhound into Brushfire Elemental is a really scary curve out. You can be swinging for 4 on turn 2 and for 6 on turn 3. This scenario only needs a common, an uncommon and three lands to work, so your opponent can easily be on ten life – before they even get to play their third land.

When drafting this deck, it’s incredibly important that you have a low curve and aggression in mind at all times. You really don’t want to block with your 0/1s and 1/1s.

Red – White: Warriors / Equipment

Red-White is as usual, an aggressive color pair, this time with a tribal twist.

You want to have lots of Warriors, as they work well with one another. Expedition Champion can be very scary as a 4/3 for three mana. Kargan Warleader is already okay as a three mana 3/3, but if it pumps your whole board it can become insanely strong.

Plenty of Warriors have equipment synergies, as you can see from Kor Blademaster. Here are the five equipments available for these colors, ranked from best to worst:

  1. Maul of the Skyclaves
  2. Relic Axe
  3. Cliffhaven Kitesail
  4. Utility Knife
  5. Scavenged Blade

The good part about equipments is that you can usually make just about any creature into a relevant threat.

All in all, this archetype looks like a ton of fun, especially if you manage to get lucky and get Akiri, Fearless Voyager. If you’re the one of the only red-white drafters at the table, you might even get one passed to you.

Blue – Black: Rogues / Mill

Rogues are perhaps the most interesting and the hardest archetype to evaluate. They’ll support the mill strategy, but milling the opponent out mostly won’t be the number one goal.

Instead you want to mill your opponent, so they have at least 8 cards in the graveyard. This will unlock a bunch of power-ups for your cards like Soaring Thought-Thief‘s power boost.

Some similar mill payoffs are:

Ruin Crab

How to Draft a Mill Deck Zendikar Rising Ruin Crab

Now here’s one interesting card that we should probably mention along with this archetype. It’s the new version of the Hedron Crab!

It fits nicely in the deck, as it can quickly fill your opponent’s graveyard to eight or more cards. What’s even more exciting, is that it can actually support a mill win condition. How viable it’ll be is hard to say, but if you can get a couple of Crabs and some Rogues that mill, it definitely seems doable.

Blue – Red: Wizards / Instants & Sorceries

Just take a look at the three highlighted cards for this archetype and you should have a pretty good idea of what the deck wants to do. Cast instant, sorcery or Wizards spells and get advanatage while doing so.

It can play as a fine tempo deck, that can also hold its own in the late game. It also unlocks Chilling Trap to it’s fullest – some serious value is packed intro this one mana card. Speaking of traps…

Relic Amulet is a Trap

Relic Amulet Bad Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Don’t try to play Relic Amulet. It has all the makings of a trap card (and no, I don’t mean the instant subtype).

It only does something, if you get it into play early on – like on a turn two. But because you’re more of a tempo deck, you’d like to play creatures early on, right? So if you get it early, and if you cast three appropriate spells, you get to cast Roil Eruption, that your opponent saw coming for four mana? And that’s even a very good scenario for it!

Now imagine topdecking it in the late game. Even if you manage to draw two more cards that put counters on it, it’s just a four mana deal 2, that you couldn’t use immediately.

It looks like it was changed late in the development and we got this unplayable card. Anyways, rant over, moving on to much sweeter cards.

Blue – Green: Kicker / Ramp

This is our front-runner for the both most fun and most powerful archetype – when it’ll come together, of course.

Kicker is already a great mechanic in draft. You get to play your spells early, so you don’t fall behind, but when you draw them in the late game, they become even more powerful. Naturally, the archetype built around this mechanic is expected to do well.

The main build-around is definitely Roost of Drakes. You’ll almost always cast it for four mana, so you’ll get at least a 2/2 flyer for four mana. Not great, not terrible, as a certain Soviet scientist would say.

But once you get a second Drake, the card has definitely paid for itself. Once you get three or more, you are doing it! That’s all while you’re casting fully powered kicker spells.

Both Vine Gecko and Lullmage’s Familiar are great for supporting the theme. As for which kicker cards you should play – all of blue and green kicker cards are at least playable. (Except maybe Maddening Cacophony, when you don’t have mill support.)

Definitely a fun deck to play, although it might be over-drafted in some point of the format.

Black – Green: +1/+1 Counters

Finally, here’s Black-Green, the other archetype that doesn’t care much about creature types. It focuses on the +1/+1 counters instead.

Ghastly Gloomhunter could really shine in this deck. Even if you play it as a 1/1, just add a single counter to it and you have a real creature in play. Did you draw it in the late game? 3/3 flying lifelinker is nothing to sniff at. Besides, it can still carry additional counters.

Both Moss-Pit Skeleton and Iridescent Hornbeetle are nice payoffs and work pretty well with one another. Oblivion’s Hunger will also do some serious work here. If you’re playing against this deck, try playing around this card, if you can.

Dauntless Survivor and Guul Draz Mucklord might look like nothing much, but they’ll probably be the cards that’ll hold the deck together and make sure that you’ll have enough counters for you synergies to work.

Zendikar Rising Draft Guide: Power Rankings

And now – it’s time for the Zendikar Rising draft Power Rankings! As always take them with a grain of salt, as the format seems to be pretty balanced.

Best Colors

  1. Blue
  2. Green
  3. White
  4. Black
  5. Red

As usual with those rankings the important part is the commentary. So, both blue and green have a ton of good playable cards, and seem like the two deepest colors. Those would be Tier 1 so to speak.

All the following three colors are very closely behind, like Tier 1.5. All have enough good cards and tools to compete and it looks like we’re about to have a pretty balanced set.

Best Archetypes in Zendikar Rising Draft

The same thing is true about the archetypes. The first four archetypes all contain either blue or green, but all strategies seem viable to reach 7 wins. Even though the Rogues are ranked last, we definitely don’t think they are unplayable or something like that.

The rankings will almost surely shift in the next couple of weeks, after we do more drafts.

  1. Blue – Green: Kicker
  2. Blue – White: Party
  3. Red – Green: Landfall
  4. Green – White: Landfall
  5. Black – White: Clerics / Life Gain
  6. Black – Green: +1/+1 Counters
  7. Black – Red: Party
  8. Red – White: Warriors / Equipment
  9. Blue – Red: Wizards / Instants & Sorceries
  10. Blue – Black: Rogues / Mill

Final Tips For Zendikar Rising Draft

With all that said, let’s take a look at the bigger picture with some general tips for building your Zendikar Rising draft decks.

Format Speed

Format speed is usually the main thing you should know about the new draft environment. It’s usually pretty hard to predict correctly, but we’ll make some educated guesses.

If we take a look at mechanics, they would mostly suggest a format where multiple strategies are viable – both fast and slow.

Landfall decks, especially red-green one, will keep the format from going to far on the slower side. As we talked about, they really have some absurdly fast starts.

On the other hand, kicker and tapped modal double-faced lands suggest a slower format where you have plenty of stuff to do in the late game.

Squad Commander Zendikar Rising Draft Guide Format Speed

So what should you take from all of this? Try to build decks with a good curve. Don’t skip on your early plays, as certain decks will take full advantage of that and punish you.

On the other hand, have enough stuff to do in the late game with kicker cards and double-faced land spells, as some games will go on for multiple turns.

Lands in Zendikar Rising Draft

Usually you just put 17 lands in your deck and that’s it. Well, you should probably change that in Zendikar Rising draft.

The presence of both landfall, kicker and modal double-faced cards, should put the default starting land count at 18 lands. But that’s not the end of it.

How Many Lands to Play With Double Faced Cards?

Double-Faced spell lands should change how you approach this number. Should you count them as lands? Should you count them as spells?

It depends on the card.

First, you should actively look to draft as many double faced lands in your colors as you can. Even the seemingly bad ones are playable, as they prevent your from flooding out in the late game.

Now with every card you should ask yourself: “Would I played this card if it wasn’t a land on the other side?”. If the answer is yes, then you should count is as an actual card. If the answer is no, then count is a land.

The reason for this is simple. The only reason to play the bad modal cards is to have something to do when you’d otherwise flood out. Most of the time you’ll want to play them as a land, since that won’t cost you much. You don’t want to count them as spells, because the average quality of your cards will go down.

On the other hand if you have something powerful like Kazandu Mammoth, you want to cast it almost always. So you won’t count it as a land, because then you’ll be forced to play it as a land more often.

So with all that in mind, the formula for land count in Zendikar Rising draft is:

Total number of basic lands = 18 – number of “bad” double-faced lands

Keep Useless Lands in Hand

Lastly, there’s one more thing to say about lands, thanks to the landfall mechanic. When you draw more lands then you need, don’t just play them out.

Maybe you have something like Felidar Retreat in your deck? If you draw it, you’ll be happy that you still have lands in your hand.

However, don’t take this into extreme and keep multiple lands in hand, while you have only four in play, if you have six drops and card draw spells in your deck.

Removal Efficiency

We talked about most conditional removal spells in the best commons section, but here’s a table, where you can see how much creatures do certain removal spells deal with. This way you’ll have an easier time when deciding which one to pick.

Removal Efficiency Probability Zendikar Rising Draft Guide

Did you notice that 0.7% missing by Deadly Alliance? That’s Cragplate Baloth, may it never appear on your opponent’s side.

That’s Not All About Zendikar

Want to find out more about Zendikar Rising? First, you should check, Zendikar Rising Spoiler Page. There you’ll find all cards from the set, which will additionally prepare you for the draft.

If you’re wondering when you’ll be able to start drafting this set on your computer, you can find exact Zendikar Rising release time on Arena here. In addition, don’t forget to claim free Arena codes, as we’re getting a new one with Zendikar Rising.

Will you be playing Standard? Check 20 new fun Zendikar Rising Standard decklists.

In case you’re playing Commander in paper, you can check the two new decks and upgrades for them here:

Maybe you just want some more strategy content? If so, you can read about how to reach Mythic on Arena.

Last but not least, if you like our content, give us a follow on Facebook or Instagram. You’ll get reminders about new articles, as well as some Magic memes.

Until next time, have fun and may all your Zendikar Rising drafts be fun and successful.

16 thoughts on “Zendikar Rising Draft Guide”

  1. Amazing article, Looking forward to drafting this. I’m curious about the efficiency of lands and splash colors in the set. As a seasoned drafter, your article really helped clear this format up for me by far. Cheers!

  2. I recently became very interested in drafts to balance the grind of Standard play. This article will definitely help me not have my bottom handed to me.

    PS.: The text has the word “Rogue” misspelled a couple of times as “Rouge”. Glamorous, but incorrect :’D

  3. Easily digestable and highly informative article.
    For me that’s enough info for a good starter. I’m not convinced with party ability, but then I need to play first few games to see their potential.

  4. I’ve done about 20-30 drafts. BG and UG are the best color combos, I think you got the strength of each archetype incorrect. The RG landfall deck is garbage. One of the worst in the format.

  5. Really one of the best articles available online… but I have to say that probably Relic Amulet ISN’T a trap! I’v seen it working in a lot of videos, sometimes even in the combo Into the roil/Roilmage

  6. I’ve been playing for a few days now and I have some findings that are different than yours.

    I’m finding that the format is on the slow side because of a lot of high quality removal and some good card advantage spells in multiple colors. My best decks so far have been removal heavy, midrange/control decks. UG kicker, WU party, WB clerics. There’s definitely some good aggro deck possibilities too though.

    I might agree that blue is the best. I don’t think Relic Amulet is a trap. It’s been good, sometimes great, in the types of decks I mentioned, helping to mop up some of the smaller creatures I don’t want to spend removal spells on. Even without many wizards, I usually get 2 creatures. I’ve also gotten badly beaten up by it on my opponents side.

  7. Great article except for the bit about Relic Amulet being a trap card – literally after I read this I played back to games with people using this and it totally wrecked me.

  8. This is the first time some of your site is inaccurate in my mind. First off your colour pair order is quit off, I have it at
    1. Blue green
    2. Black white
    3. Blue red
    4. Black red
    5. Blue white
    6. Blue black
    7. Red white
    8. Red green
    9. Green black
    10. Green white

    Secondly I think your criminally underrating red in this set. With the best common(roil eruption) in the whole set, first pickable, and some killer synergy I’d rank it in second or third place in colours.
    It’s mostly right although you shouldn’t be putting some of these incorrect things out there. Next time listen to Limited Resources and check yourself.


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