Blue/Black is one of the more interesting archetypes in Oath of the Gatewatch. You are presented with interesting options throughout the draft, as Blue/Black(UB) can be drafted in a multitude of ways. For instance, through the drafts I have done I have had the most success with UB Evasive Devoid decks-but as you see from my video, more controlling versions do exist.
Drafting Colorless Decks is the most intricate and difficult archetypes to draft in Oath/Oath/Battle. The reason being is you are stricken between picking the colorless lands (Wastes, Crumbling Vestige, Unknown Shores, Holdout Settlement) and the actual cards that can utilize them (Blinding Drone, Maw of Kozilek, Kozilek’s Shrieker, Stalking Drone etc.).
First and most importantly, I have found that you want to forego picking any of these lands early. Part of the reason is you want to remain open early in the draft to potentially draft more archetypes. Taking the lands early is risky, you may not end up with many creatures that need them, let alone playable cards. Also, if you take lands over the colorless mana utilizers themsevles, players behind you in the booster pod end up with many of the payoffs and you often end up getting cut in pack two. You are much better off waiting to see if the colorless lands fall into your lap later, since not only will you have more cards for your deck, but you will also know that people passing to you are likely uninterested.
This concept also holds true for some of the cards that utilize colorless mana, if you take them early you are committing to 3 colors, and risking not finding enough lands late. If you do find enough lands, often you are making these picks over strong cards for your deck-and thus is the dilemma that makes drafting devoid so extremely difficult. Be careful, don’t take lands early, and don’t take “medium” creatures early that require colorless mana. These colorless utilizers have diminishing returns, as if you get too many you often won’t have enough colorless mana to utilize them all effectively within a game.
If these Devoid Colorless decks are open, you should be able to tell. The lands and the creatures with activated colorless abilities will come mid-to-late draft. Your deck will only be good of course if the archetype is open, so in general you will want to take solid removal and generic creatures to start off. Then, move in once you see the later Devoid staples like Blinding Drone, Kozilek’s Shrieker, Gravity Negator, Slaughter Drone, Colorless Lands, etc. Very few people want to commit to a colorless deck, as it essentially means you get locked into 3 colors in pack one. You are always better off letting the good cards come to you as opposed to aggressively picking them early. Once other drafters have passed on enough of our filler cards, then we can take advantage by being the drafter who commits, and end up receiving cards for our deck later in the draft then normal.
Only take the true bombs and powerhouses early, cards like Reality Smasher, Thought-Knot Seer, and Deceiver of Form are obviously excellent early picks. Remember any non-white color combination can support a deck that utilizes colorless cards, so look to stay open between these if you did end up with early Colorless Bombs. A pick 2-4 Sea Gate Wreckage, Mirror Pool or Oran Reef can be a signal, and these cards are also just strong enough to potentially move in on, but generally should not be picked over removal. These lands are exceptions to the don’t draft lands early rule. However, don’t force anything the packs aren’t showing you , since often these lands can’t be effective without support. Know the rarity of the cards people ahead of you have taken. This is especially nice for drafting UB devoid, as Oblivion Strike is the best common in the set. If you get passed an Essence Depleter for instance with a common missing, understand the potential that your neighbor has drafted an Oblivion Strike.
I have found that because of the mana problems that exist within Devoid, both Hedron Crawler and Kozilek’s Translator are strong, in addition to Seer’s Lantern if you are control. They fill up slots in your deck as playable cards and provide ramp that fixes your mana somewhat, which can give you additional powerful draws. One of the frustrating aspects of drafting a UB Devoid Deck, is that no matter how many lands you get, your mana is almost always suboptimal. Drafting these will alleviate the pressure of needing to spend picks on lands, and help your Devoid decks be more consistent.
Colorless Activated abilities are stronger when they can be activated more than once a turn. While all the Colorless Creatures that are activated through Colorless mana are good assuming they can be activated, these colorless utilizers that can be activated multiple times have a much higher ceiling and are more objectively powerful. This provides a payoff for having and drawing multiple colorless lands. Essence Depleter, Kozilek’s Shrieker, Havoc Sower, and Prophet of Distortion improve with additional Colorless sources on the battlefield. These cards are often better to draft, because you can get value back from spending other picks on lands, and they often can snowball games where you draw multiple colorless sources.
There are generically good UB cards too, some of which are Devoid cards that don’t require the lands, and some aren’t. This draft video is a good example of a way you can draft UB without really needing many colorless sources if at all. Obviously the power level of these kind of decks is lower, but your deck can still come together. I’m very careful not to commit to taking the lands and colorless creatures when I don’t have to, especially when it doesn’t seem open. In my video draft for instance, I don’t see the late cards I would expect pack one-Colorless Lands, Shriekers, Skyscourers. Sometimes this is because they aren’t opened, but I managed to notice that a Gravity Negator didn’t table, and I didn’t necessarily want to have to fight over the lands and creatures that needed colorless mana if I didn’t have to. I went for a more controlling UB Devoid, where I still was able to utilize colorless synergy, without having colorless mana for the most part. The end product was interesting, and even though I went 1-1 the deck was great.
More often than not UB Devoid will be more aggressive than the UB deck I drafted. I believe that UB utilizing evasion and power through colorless mana as your “third” color is the most effective UB deck. You will generally be the only player at the table who wants Skyscourer’s and Kozilek’s Shriekers, and there is a lot of support for the deck within the set. Your deck should be powerful and synergistic given you are following my guidelines of drafting colorless: you are going to not take lands or creatures that need them early and not commit until you are getting passed the goods. For the more typical UB evasive Devoid decks, try to have a critical mass of evasive creatures, they don’t necessarily have to be Devoid ones. Beyond having Colorless mana, there are few actual payoffs for having many devoid cards. In fact, for UB, Skyscourer is the only card in OGW that requires Devoid cards. There are a few in Battle for Zendikar: Tidedrifter, Ruination Guide, and Dominator Drone, and that’s about it. You are not obligated to have only “Devoid” cards at all-it just so happens that creatures that utilize colorless mana are the bread and butter of UB, which are happen to be colorless themselves.
The Ingest/Processor core is now much worse then in BFZ only draft. and much harder to pull off in Oath draft, but not undoable. The Processors are still great but the Ingestors stink. You only have one pack of BFZ, you will likely be the only one who wants any of the Processors. This is just another aspect that makes drafting UB interesting. Processing is quite powerful, but you aren’t necessarily going to see that many with one pack. The enablers for the Processors in OGW happen to be quite strong regardless of their ability to enable Processors (Oblivion Strike, Thought Harvester, Mindmelter, Witness the End, Dimensional Infiltrator, etc) and you often won’t need to go out of your way to pick them. But, if you happen to be getting more than normal, this increases the value of subsequent ones significantly, due to the fact that getting enough enables us to play Processors. In spite of only one pack of processors, you will likely see your “fair” share considering the reason you should have drafted Blue/Black Devoid in the first place should have been from signals received in the first pack. Now as I said, most of your Blue/Black decks shouldn’t be able to utilize many of these Processors, but if you can the payoff can be huge.
-Never force Blue/Black, take only premium colorless spells early. Otherwise, take removal and the strongest cards out of packs, if they happen to be Blue and/or Black, see how the pack develops. You are looking for an abundance Creatures that require Colorless mana and the lands themselves mid to late in pack one in order to move in.
-Don’t take Colorless lands early, it will leave you susceptible to broken drafts, or decks without enough playable cards. Some drafts you will be more colorless mana hungry than others, so adapt as the draft pans out. Remember you will likely see a few colorless sources in pack three of BFZ, but they are often bad ones. Picking up at least one wastes is nice if you are lacking colorless mana, as you can potentially pick up evolving wilds in pack 3.
-Understand when you can play with or without Processors. They aren’t necessary and often unusable, but you should be set up to reap a huge payoff if you can use them.