May 19, 2019 at 7:00 am #681
Primary Colors : Simple Approaches to Introducing Oathbreaker
Welcome to the wonderful world of Oathbreaker. While you may be familiar with the new and emerging format, for those that are not as well versed I will explain some of the basics. If you already understand the format please skip to the next paragraph. Oathbreaker is a commander variant format. It takes the elements of Commander (utilization of the “Command Zone” and no more than 1 of any card that is not basic land) and modifies some of the rules set within. It has a unique banlist (found here : https://weirdcards.org/Oathbreaker-ban-list ) and instead of using a Legendary Creature as your commander, you can use any Planeswalker card. You then choose a “Signature Spell” which has to match your Planeswalker color identity, and also use this card in your command zone. You cannot cast your signature spell without having your commander, in this case your Planeswalker, in play. Both cards are subject to commander tax, so each time they are cast from the command zone, they cost 2 generic mana more than the previous time. So, for instance, if my general is Lilliana Vess, and my signature spell is Demonic Tutor. I have my Planeswalker in play and have already cast demonic tutor twice. When I would cast the spell for the third time, I again make sure my Planeswalker is in play before casting it, then I am required to pay 4 generic mana on top of the 1 generic and 1 black for the spell. Also, if a signature spell would go anywhere besides the command zone, it returns to the command zone no matter what. So choose your weapons carefully! Now onto the fun stuff!
Below you will find 5 Mono Colored decks to utilize within the Oathbreaker format that are both relatively affordable in paper, and also good points to look at when considering signature spells.
First up, Mono Black : Davriel Denial
A simple strategy of denying your opponents the access to their resources and killing them with the various effects within the deck that hurt them while you do. It is the essence of what black does. It hurts your enemies while strangling their ability to answer your spells and threats. Further than that though, this deck exemplifies what you would want in a good pairing of Planeswalker and Signature Spell. Our general hurts them when they discard, our spell not only makes them discard, but makes it random. It is everything we can possibly ask for as a nice starting out point. When looking at this format think of the synergy you can use.
Second, Mono Green : Natural Vengeance
Our goal with this deck is to take things a step forward. Not only does our signature spell synergize with our commander (we can make creatures and then use our spell to kill our opponents with only 10 damage instead of 20 or more), it also builds with the deck and allows our seemingly small creatures to become game winning threats very quickly. We utilize simple effects to strip our deck of lands and our creatures to ramp into these effects consistently. From untapping lands, into giant swinging hydras, we win through combat.
Third, Mono White : Curse of Gideon
If you are noticing a theme, you aren’t wrong. All of these decks have small synergies, high value, and are affordable. This deck might be a little less affordable but provides you with staples to grow with in other formats as well as Oathbreaker. This is important because should you get bored with the format, or even just want to trade into a new deck, having cards that are usable for trades versus the smaller bulk cards that make up a majority of the lists can save you a lot of money in the long run. You made an investment. Why waste the same money twice? With all that out of the way, our goal here is to utilize Gideon and our low casting cost creatures to safely stay in the game until our opponents either die or have nothing left to draw. Our early emblem as well as our signature spell will keep us in the game for far to long, even against combo decks! This deck isn’t our cheapest deck here by a bit, but it does provide us with staples that should we want to upgrade into another deck or into another format entirely, we can trade them for what we need.
Fourth, Mono Red : Hymn Eternal
Now we get into the realms of combo decks. Even on a budget we can build big splashy combo oriented decks that net us advantage and punish our opponents. We are using our Planeswalker to generate mana for our big dragons, or filter our card selection. While his ultimate is relevant, we do not need to rely on it as our overall strategy is to make creature tokens and then once critical mass has been obtained (especially so if we have a Krenko in play) we cast battle hymn repeatedly. Even with commander tax, we can utilize this as a massive game ending push of mana into comet storm, into a dragons firebreathing type ability, or into Mogg Infestation and into even bigger mana for sillier plays. It is by far not the best combo deck. For a learning curve though it is low and efficient and helps lead you into more playstyles that help you see the advantages and disadvantages of deck types. Notice our lack of answers? It is very difficult in 60 cards to fit in your answers as well as your staples when building with the 2 cards we chose here for this deck. As such, we suffer from decks that can punish us (ie control decks) or decks that can race into use faster than we can keep up (mono green tokens, other red aggro decks).
Fifth and finally, Mono Blue : Parting Ways
Our final deck but certainly not our worst. One of the more budget friendly lists, the deck has multiple elements and builds on our earlier decks. From the combo play (Our Planeswalker and spell locks our opponent to a single card), to our control elements with our counter spells, too our win condition of decking our opponent with a cheeky creature that bends the rules thanks to its card text. It is everything we can ask for and at under $60, it again allows access to the format.
Now read through the decklists if you would like, or if you are more familiar with the format than the need to read these awesome cheap brews, continue on. Within the format we can do a lot of strange interactions not seen within the standard commander format. It allows us to explore very powerful synergy from our command zone that is both game breaking and yet fun. When you design your own deck, be sure to ask yourself if the spell you are picking is worth costing 2 more each time you cast it. Is my 3 casting cost Planeswalker going to feel the same when I have to play it for 7 mana from the command zone? Most importantly though, what is MY playgroup’s power level? It doesn’t matter what horrible or amazing decklist you have and bring, if it isn’t strong enough to sit at a table with your friends and you lose every time, well it just is not that fun. On the same token, if you are bringing a fully cranked up combo list winning every game on turn 3 and your playgroup cannot keep pace ever, you will end up without a playgroup. Find a balance. The goal of Magic is of course to win, but in variants like Oathbreaker, it is to create interesting and exciting games from cards we already know how to ply with. To do something new and different and potentially not seen before. Have fun, experiment, try not to settle on the first thing you see and consider what other people in your potential or current playgroup might be using.
Some more in depth tips before I close. While going through these lists you will see a trend. I stuck with low casting costs overall, low land counts, and aggressive setups. Most decks will probably want to run between 21 and 23 lands similar to a standard deck, but that is almost a trap. You see, the deck itself is really only 58 cards. In blue decks, that number can be brought down even further with spells like Gitaxian Probe and cantrips. In black we can utilize Streetwraith and similar effects. In red we have Light up the Stage and similar draw engines to blue but requiring us to discard. In white, well, we are short here. It is hard to focus on higher casting costs due top the lack of draw power. In green, we have it but in most cases it is out of reach or off curve, so we focus on deck thinning. In the next article, I am going to introduce everyone to the wonderful world of the multicolored budget Oathbreaker lists and expand our options to keep things flowing. At the end of each article I will also feature whatever deck I am currently playing, which will change each week! Bye for now and I hope you enjoyed!
May 19, 2019 at 12:11 pm #699
What are your thoughts on Scapeshift in Oathbreaker. The first game plan/deck idea I had for that would use Nissa, Worldwaker as your commander with Scapeshift of course. Ramp into a turn 3-4 Nissa, then untap four forests and cast Scapeshift, use Scapeshift to find Dark Depths and Thespian Stage. Pros for this game plan: you don’t have to give a fuck about Nissa after Scapeshift fires off, if try one fails you can still go for try 2 with out being low on mana since you’re already a mono green ramp deck, and a 20/20 flying indestructible is kinda hard to deal with in a 20 life format. Cons for this game plan: sorcery speed, kill one opponent at a time and it feels sad if someone plays control 🙁
Similar to Scapeshift, Crop Rotation could fill this role and probably is a straight upgrade in this format also allows more options for a commander, being Garruk Wildspeaker, Nissa, Worldwaker, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.