BFZ: The exile/process deck

I recently drafted a U/B exile/process deck with 6 ingest creatures, no other exile effects, and 7 processors. Here’s the decklist:

Creatures (18):
– 2cc: Fathom Feeder, 3 Culling Drone
– 3cc: 2 Benthic Infiltrator, Eldrazi Skyspawner, Hagra Sharpshooter
– 4cc: 3 Murk Strider, Mind Raker, Silent Skimmer
– 5cc: Ulamog’s Reclaimer, 2 Oracle of Dust, Endless One, Windrider Patrol

Non-creatures (4):
– 1cc: Clutch of Currents
– 2cc: –
– 3cc: Swarm Surge
– 4cc: Dampening Pulse
– 5cc: Demon’s Grasp

Land (18): 9 Islands, 8 Swamps, 1 Blighted Fen

I thought the deck looked strong, but I had several opening hands with no ingest creatures. Other times, my opponents would prevent me from getting my processors online by trading with or killing my Culling Drone. I still managed to go 4-1 with the deck, but only because many opponents had slow starts, which allowed me to stall the game using my X/5’s and then use Fathom Feeder, Oracle of Dust, Hagra Sharpshooter, and/or Windrider Patrol to win the long game. I also managed to curve out in a couple of games and then cast Swarm Surge for the win.

I realized that 6 exile effects is insufficient for this archetype. While the expected number of exile effects in my opening hand is 1, there’s a 29% chance of having none. Here’s a table showing the probability of having 1+ and 2+ exile effects in a 7-card hand (assuming a 40-card deck).

# exile effects in deck 1+ exile effects in hand 2+ exile effects in hand
4 55.22% 13.43%
5 63.93% 20.40%
6 71.14% 27.86%
7 77.09% 35.50%
8 81.95% 43.06%
9 85.90% 50.35%
10 89.08% 57.23%
11 91.63% 63.60%
12 93.65% 69.40%
13 95.24% 74.60%
14 96.47% 79.18%

Given these numbers, and given that opponents may be able to kill my ingest creatures, I’d like to have 9+ exile effects the next time I draft this archetype. Let’s take a look at the playable exile effects in the format to determine whether this is a reasonable expectation. The table below categorizes them, as well as process effects, by rarity and whether the effect is reusable. Within each category, cards are sorted by color and then mana cost. Exile effects with a strikethough are ones I believe can’t be relied on to exile a card; for one-time exile effects, they also need be able to exile a card on curve (i.e., once you have the mana needed to cast the card).


Some observations:

  • The best exile and process effects are both in blue. While most exile/process decks will usually be U/B or U/b, a U/r deck is possible if you get multiple copies of Touch of the Void, Vile Aggregate, and Processor Assault. A monoblue deck may even be possible on occasion since 8-person drafts have an average of 13 exile and 10 process effects that are blue or colorless.
  • I was not impressed with Culling Drone in this deck, so I would prefer to have Mist Intruder instead when I draft this archetype next, even though it is less playable in the absence of process effects. Since U/B exile/process decks should be heavier blue, this should also reduce the likelihood of having a 2-drop ingest creature that you cannot cast because you don’t have the right color of mana.
  • An 8-person draft has 6.5 reusable and 11.6 one-time exile effects that are playable in U/B. If you want to have 9 exile effects in a U/B exile/process deck, you have to play either some reusable exile effects that are unreliable and/or some one-time exile effects.
  • Most process effects are one-time, and the reusable ones are less impressive, so it should be okay to run a number of one-time exile effects. (Reusable exile effects are still better, since a single one can enable multiple one-time process cards.)
  • There are fewer process effects than exile effects (14 vs. 18 playable ones for U/B). While it makes sense to draft exile effects before process effects, you should not usually draft exile cards over powerful processors like Murk Strider with the expectation that you will be able to pick up the processors later.
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