Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar By the Numbers

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Last weekend, we got our first look at the cards played from Battle for Zendikar in Standard and I was definitely surprised by the results. In order to make it more convenient for everyone I’ve created a table that inlcudes all cards found throughout the decks sorted by most played. I’ve even tracked the sideboard cards played, to show the direction that the format is taking.

Here’s a breakdown of the played cards at the Pro Tour by card type:

Land (199) Sorcery (21) Creature (127) Instant (99) Sideboard (120)
25x Flooded Strand 8x Dragon Fodder 16x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy  Flip 11x Fiery Impulse 11x Disdainful Stroke
20x Wooded Foothills 6x Hordeling Outburst 15x Hangarback Walker 11x Dromoka’s Command 9x Surge of Righteousness
17x Windswept Heath 7x Treasure Cruise 12x Warden of the First Tree 10x Wild Slash 9x Duress
16x Mountain Enchantment (12) 12x Mantis Rider 8x Crackling Doom 9x Arashin Cleric
15x Polluted Delta 8x Silkwrap 10x Den Protector 7x Abzan Charm 6x Roast
15x Bloodstained Mire 4x Jeskai Ascendancy 8x Siege Rhino 6x Ojutai’s Command 5x Transgress the Mind
14x Plains Planeswalker (22) 8x Anafenza, the Foremost 6x Kolaghan’s Command 5x Rending Volley
14x Mystic Monastery 20x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar 7x Wingmate Roc 6x Jeskai Charm 5x Exert Influence
12x Forest 2x Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker 6x Tasigur, the Golden Fang 5x Valorous Stance 4x Wingmate Roc
8x Prairie Stream 4x Zurgo Bellstriker 4x Titan’s Strength 4x Ultimate Price
8x Canopy Vista 4x Soulfire Grand Master 4x Murderous Cut 4x Tragic Arrogance
5x Sunken Hollow 4x Seeker of the Way 4x Dispel 4x Silkwrap
5x Smoldering Marsh 4x Monastery Swiftspear 4x Dig Through Time 4x Radiant Flames
4x Shambling Vent 4x Deathmist Raptor 4x Atarka’s Command 3x Mastery of the Unseen
4x Llanowar Wastes 4x Abbot of Keral Keep 3x Temur Battle Rage 3x Fiery Impulse
4x Island 3x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  Flip 3x Become Immense 3x Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh  Flip
4x Battlefield Forge 2x Lightning Berserker 2x Utter End 2x Whisperwood Elemental
3x Swamp 2x Hidden Dragonslayer 1x Secure the Wastes 2x Valorous Stance
3x Cinder Glade 2x Dragonmaster Outcast 2x Tasigur, the Golden Fang
2x Nomad Outpost 2x Hordeling Outburst
1x Shivan Reef 2x Felidar Cub
2x Evolutionary Leap
2x Dragonmaster Outcast
2x Dispel
2x Den Protector
2x Crackling Doom
1x Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1x Self-Inflicted Wound
1x Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1x Ruinous Path
1x Radiant Purge
1x Ob Nixilis Reignited
1x Negate
1x Narset Transcendent
1x Lightning Berserker
1x Gideon’s Reproach
1x Boiling Earth
1x Abzan Charm

Quick Stats:

Top Creature — Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Top Land  Flooded Strand

Top Instant — Fiery Impulse / Dromoka’s Command

Top Sorcery — Dragon Fodder

Top Enchantment — Silkwrap

Top Planeswalker — Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Brief Summary:

Abzan took down the Pro Tour, which is shocking to nobody. Key cards from the deck include Warden of the First Tree, Hangarback Walker, Den Protector, Anafenza, the Foremost, and Siege Rhino. Interestingly, even with a Pro Tour win I’m not sure how much Siege Rhino can gain throughout the rest of its Standard life. The Clash Pack printing has devastated the price of the card and I’m not sure if it is going to spike up a large amount simply due to the fact that there are so many other decks out there that aren’t playing Abzan colors, Pro Tour win aside.

Hangarback Walker is the talk of the town, as usual, as noted by its second place listing among the most played cards of the Top 8. I’m sure further breakdowns of the Top 64 and beyond will continue to show the trend, but as we all knew Hangarback Walker is going to continue to shine in Standard due to the fact that it is the strongest colorless option (amongst three and four color decks) that players can choose to include because it does so well against the sorcery speed removal of the format.

Which brings me to Silkwrap, one of the premier answers to Hangarback Walker that is left in the new Standard after Theros block has rotated out. I’m not surprised that copies are bordering on $2 at this point, and keep in mind that it is in Dragons of Tarkir so its shelf life has a farther expiration than Khans and Fate Reforged. I don’t expect Silkwrap to go down in value (unless of course it gets the event deck / clash pack / whatever reprint) so pick up your copies now in order to deal with the Hangarback Walker threat that will be seen over the course of the winter.

Of the most played cards in the Pro Tour Top 8 from BFZ, we have Prairie Stream, Canopy Vista, Sunken Hallow, Smoldering Marsh, and Shambling Vents making a splash in the decks. Outside of lands, the only cards from BFZ to see play in the maindeck of the top decks include Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Dragonmaster Outcast, and Dispel – not a great showing of Battle for Zendikar since two out of those three cards are reprints. Based on these results, expect Gideon spike up to new highs and stay there for a while until the format becomes solved over time as players try and figure out how to make Ingest and Devoid work in Standard. I wouldn’t pick up extra copies of Dragonmaster Outcast since it is a reprint and will continue to drop in price as more BFZ packs are opened over the coming months.

As we continue into the Standard season, I hope that more variety is introduced to the decks. I’m really excited to see what Battle for Zendikar can add to Standard, but it seems like the power level hasn’t quite been figured out yet. Cards like Oblivion Sower seem really powerful in a vacuum but I’m not sure if they are good enough for Standard yet based on the Pro Tour results. As we continue on through Standard there should be opportunity for other cards to shine, like sideboard inclusions Radiant Flames and Exert Influence. Until then however, I would expect aggro decks and Jeskai (whether splashing black or green) to be dominant forces at FNM as more and more players realize that yes, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (and his insane price) is not going away from Standard anytime soon, unfortunately.

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4 thoughts on “Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar By the Numbers”

  1. Radiant flames is an amazing sideboard card. Not sure why Jeskai black wouldn’t have it in the side for GW aggro or the mirror. But with Hangarback so prevalent I’m not sure if Radiant Flames can make it in the mainboard or if it will spike in value. BFZ is a fun draft format, terrible Standard cards. Before UB aristocrats there was a GB deck which I think can be just as good. I have to look over Calcano’s list, and I know there was a player on GB crats, but with players mainboarding and sideboarding Dispel Coco is tougher to cast. Seems like Calcano made a good meta call avoiding Coco at the pro tour.

    The only card of value, literally, in these “Aristocrats” decks is Liliana. Hangarback is a good addition but the budget players can do without him, otherwise it’s a super cheap deck with some fun interactions. And I still think Gideon is super overrated and am having fun flipping him for 2 blue fetches. I’m looking for players to realize that Sorin and Sarkhan Dragonspeaker are amazing and hope the spike comes as I did some speculating this summer. I’m not sure how much longer it is going to take Jeskai players to realize Jeskai Charm is great against Gideon. Maybe none of these things happen, but for as much Magic as I play I can’t be the only one seeing all the angles to stop Gideon and the pet decks of the format.

    Thanks for the great analysis and breakdown Yost

    1. Great additional thoughts!

      I’m also a huge fan of Radiant Flames and really hope that it can do more as it ages within Standard. Also, I’m really liking Woodland Wanderer and Painful Truths as other Converge cards that seem really powerful in a slower Standard format.

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