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Ahead of the Curve: Colorless Mana Sources in OGW Draft


There are 25 recurring sources of ◇ mana in Oath of the Gatewatch draft, most of which are lands and colorless creatures.

  Oath of the Gatewatch Battle for Zendikar
Common Crumbling Vestige, Holdout Settlement, Unknown Shores, 2x Wastes, Hedron Crawler, Seer's Lantern, Warden of Geometries, Cultivator Drone, Kozilek's Translator Kozilek's Channeler
Uncommon - Blighted Cataract, Blighted Fen, Blighted Gorge, Blighted Steppe, Blighted Woodland, Spawning Bed, Hedron Archive
Rare Corrupted Crossroads, Ruins of Oran-Rief, Sea Gate Wreckage Ally Encampment, Sanctum of Ugin, Shrine of the Forsaken GodsFrom Beyond
Mythic Mirrorpool -

An eight-person draft has an average of 27.4 recurring sources of ◇ mana. This works out to 3.4 per player, but since White has few uses for ◇ mana, the decks that do need it are more likely to end up with about four recurring sources of ◇ mana if all players prioritize these sources similarly.

24 of the 27.4 sources are in the two Oath of the Gatewatch packs and the remaining 3.4 are in the Battle for Zendikar pack. If your deck needs ◇ mana, you should ensure that you get these recurring sources in Oath of the Gatewatch since the Battle for Zendikar pack won't have many sources. I've had two occasions where my draft deck was significantly improved because I was able to draft two sources of ◇ mana in the Battle for Zendikar pack (once with two Blighted lands, and another time with Sanctum of Ugin and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods). Looking at these numbers makes me appreciate how unlikely that was, and I should have tried harder to pick up those sources in the Oath of the Gatewatch packs.

Of the 24 recurring ◇ sources in Oath of the Gatewatch, 4.6 are Wastes. While most of the other lands that produce ◇ seem strictly better, if my deck uses ◇, I usually try to draft at least one Wastes to pair with a Terramorphic Expanse or Pilgrim's Eye in the Battle for Zendikar pack. If I'm in Green, the incentive to pick up a Wastes increases further since Oath of the Gatewatch has Loam Larva and Battle for Zendikar has Fertile Thicket, Natural Connection, Blighted Woodland, and Nissa's Renewal. An eight-person draft has an average of 4.3 Green cards that allow you to find Wastes, or improve your chances of finding it, in the case of Fertile Thicket. Green also has Sylvan Scrying, but that can be used to find any of the lands listed above, not just Wastes.

Wastes is also better with Ruin in Their Wake, Walker of the Wastes, and the Rare allied-color lands from Battle for Zendikar, and can't be targeted by Crumble to Dust, though admittedly these situations don't come up often in draft.

In addition to recurring sources of ◇, we can also sacrifice Eldrazi Scion tokens for ◇. You don't usually want to use them for reusable abilities like the ones on Blinding Drone, but they can be an additional source of ◇ in a deck that has only a few spells that require ◇. Let's enumerate these next. The list does not include Warping Wail and Vile Redeemer since they require ◇ to make Eldrazi Scion tokens, and does not include Blight Herder and Void Attendant since they don't reliably make Eldrazi Scion tokens in the current format. Many of the cards in this list are unplayable outside of some very narrow archetypes, so I've also struck out cards I consider mostly unplayable.

  Oath of the Gatewatch Battle for Zendikar Expected Number in Eight-Person Draft Expected Number of Playables
Blue Abstruse Interference (common) Eldrazi Skyspawner (common), Incubator Drone (common), Adverse Conditions (uncommon), Drowner of Hope (rare) 4.3 2.0
Black Sifter of Skulls (rare) Grave Birthing (common), Carrier Thrall (uncommon) 1.4 0.6
Green Scion Summoner (common), Birthing Hulk (uncommon) Blisterpod (common), Call the Scions (common), Eyeless Watcher (common), Brood Monitor (uncommon) 5.8 2.6
Multicolor - Catacomb Sifter (uncommon), Brood Butcher (rare) 0.4 0.4

Green and Blue have the most number of cards that make Eldrazi Scion tokens, but even Green-Blue has only 4.6 playable ones in an eight-person draft. Black-Green and Blue-Black have access to even fewer, with 3.6 and 2.6 respectively. If we assume that Green is shared by two drafters, each other color is shared by 3.5 drafters, and there is only one Black-Green drafter at the table, then Green-Blue and Black-Green drafters can expect to get 1.9 cards that make Eldrazi Scion tokens. A Blue-Black drafter can only expect to get 0.7 such cards. So even though these cards can sometimes let you produce ◇ when you don't have a recurring source, you shouldn't expect to end up with very many of them, which means you need to prioritize the recurring sources appropriately in the Oath of the Gatewatch packs.

Conclusion

Each Oath of the Gatewatch pack has about 3.5 times as many recurring sources of ◇ as the Battle for Zendikar pack. While Battle for Zendikar has more cards that make Eldrazi Scion tokens that can be sacrificed to produce ◇, you shouldn't typically expect to get more than a couple of those cards in an eight-person Oath of the Gatewatch draft, regardless of your colors. Consequently, if your deck needs ◇, you should try to draft sources that generate it in the Oath of the Gatewatch packs. If you find you don't have enough sources when you get to the Battle for Zendikar pack, you need to prioritize any sources you see very highly since the eight Battle for Zendikar packs will have an average of only 3.4 recurring sources of ◇ between them.


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