BFZ: Is green really that bad?

My last few posts have explored potential G/X decks in Battle for Zendikar draft. My conclusion was that G/W tokens/Allies and R/G landfall are possible, but that B/G sacrifice and G/U ramp/converge are difficult to pull off in a typical 8-person draft. Most of these posts have had at least one person respond saying “green is terrible.” I’ve generally stood up for green, saying that it can be good if it’s underdrafted and if you know what you’re doing, but I do agree that green doesn’t have very many good cards in Battle for Zendikar, and I want to try to quantify that.

Let’s start by looking at the playable green cards by rarity:

  • Common (7): Broodhunter Wurm, Giant Mantis, Oran-Rief Invoker, Snapping Gnarlid, Swell of Growth, Tajuru Beastmaster, Tajuru Stalwart
  • Uncommon (6): Infuse with the Elements, Murasa Ranger, Plated Crusher, Scythe Leopard, Brood Monitor, Tajuru Warcaller
  • Rare (5): From Beyond, Beastcaller Savant, Nissa’s Renewal, Woodland Wanderer, Oran-Rief Hydra
  • Mythic (2): Greenwarden of Murasa, Undergrowth Champion

This means that an 8-person draft has an average of 24.6 playable green cards, or enough for 2 G/X decks, which is what I’d expected. However, I do see some deficiencies as I look through this list of cards:

  • There’s only one card I’d consider a bomb (Oran-Rief Hydra).
  • The green cards are not all good in the same deck. A few of the playable cards are 2-drops that are best in an aggressive deck, but Tajuru Stalwart and Giant Mantis don’t fit well in aggressive strategies.
  • There are almost no playable green creatures at the odd mana costs. At 1 and 5 mana, the only playables are one uncommon each (Scythe Leopard and Tajuru Warcaller). And Tajuru Stalwart is unlikely to consistently be playable as a 3/4 for 3 mana in most decks, so it will usually either be played as a lackluster 2/3 or played off curve.
  • The green lands (Fertile Thicket and Blighted Woodland) don’t fit in most aggressive strategies.

I still think it’s possible to draft green successfully as long as you keep these weaknesses in mind. Green can usually only support 2 decks at an 8-person draft, so you probably shouldn’t commit to green until pick 3-5, which means it should usually be the second color you select. B/G and G/U decks are difficult to pull off, so you should only consider green as your second color if your first color is red or white. Both R/G landfall and G/W/x/y tokens/Allies decks should prioritize 3-drops like Valakut Predator and Tajuru Stalwart. Since green lacks bombs, you need to focus on a good curve even more than usual, since you can’t rely on drawing a bomb to help turn the tables. Green also lacks playable removal, so you need to ensure you draft some in your other color(s), along with pump spells that help you break through the myriad 4-, 5-, and 6-toughness creatures in the format.

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