Tips for New Players: Deck Building

It looked super interesting.  You read the rules. Your brew bones are literally twitching from a Scrambleverse [] of ideas.  Now, you want to know more. What is a format like with Planeswalkers and Signature spells starting off in the command zone?  How fast is it? What is it like to play a game?

My name is Shaun, I have played many games of Oathbreaker, including game #1, at a lunch table far far away.  I was in the original Weirdcards Charitable Club playtest group back in 2017. Please check us out! I want to share my perspective on deck building, gameplay, Signature Spells, and even some tips/tricks in a series of articles.  

Oathbreaker is a casual multiplayer format.  We knew from the very first game of Oathbreaker, there was a lot of potential to do some pretty crazy stuff, which was awesome and scary at the same time.  Take a look at our intro video, we were so worried about power level, we forgot to include the actual rules! Like that video, I want to encourage players to have a discussion before the game to discuss power level, it can go a long way to keep the game interesting and fun for all players.  No one wants to be the person staring at a lonely Mindless Null [] during a Dragon Tempest [] .

Deck Building

  • Lower your curve
  • Have a way to interact with opposing Oathbreakers
  • Your combo is exposed
  • Include a win condition

Lower Your Curve:

Oathbreaker is designed for faster gameplay.  The 20 life and 60 cards force the issue. In you are coming from a Commander background this can present a deck building challenge.  My advice is to lower your mana curve. Those big beefy 8 mana hay-makers in Commander may end up rotting in your hand while a sleuth of Grizzly Bears [] beat you down.  Cutting Plague Wind [] for Drown in Sorrow [] is usually for the best. If you can’t cast anything by turn 4, your deck’s mana curve is probably too high. Turn 3 or turn 4 is typically when Oathbreakers start coming out in droves, which can bury you before you even get started.     

Have a way to interact with opposing Oathbreakers:

Are Planeswalkers tougher to deal with than legendary creatures? I say yes! There are far fewer spells that outright kill Planeswalkers as compared to legendary creatures. The board wipes that hit Planewalkers are more mana intensive than creature board wipes. Many Planeswalkers can protect themselves and others have high starting loyalty. Lastly, certain colors struggle more than other colors when fighting Planewalkers, especially at instant speed.

Why is it important to interact with opposing Oathbreakers? Planeswalkers provide immediate value after being cast unlike many legendary creatures. Certain Planeswalkers can just win the game with printed abilities or are such value engines they might as well say “win the game”. Finally, an opposing Oathbreaker unlocks the Signature Spell, arguably the most powerful aspect of the format.

Consider dedicating a few deck slots for opposing Planeswalkers. This might just save your life! Some of my favorites: Hex Parasite [], Lightning Bolt [], Cast Out [], Hero's Downfall [], Echoing Truth [], and Rootgrapple [].     

Your Combo is Exposed:

Your Oathbreaker and Signature Spell are in full view of your opponents. This is shared information. I find this to be a very interesting dynamic within the game. It helps with threat assessment and can lead to some interesting table talk. Please, expect to be hated on if you are the one running the scariest combination. For example, would you be more wary of Narset, Parter of Veils [] + Windfall [] or Jiang Yanggu [] + Hornet Sting []. (No disrespect to Jiang and Hornet Sting).

Consider using a less obvious Signature Spell to fly under the radar! On the flip, try not to tilt if you are the archenemy at the start (it always changes!).

Include a Win Condition:

I bring this up only as a reminder. I have seen numerous decks struggle to close out games due to lack of win conditions. I may even be guilty having decks with “meh” win cons, I’m looking at you Teferi Takes his Time. Since you are playing multiplayer it becomes even more important to have a plan to end the game.

Bonus: Top 5 Clever Deck Names!

Can you guess the Oathbreaker and Signature Spell? (before clicking the links)

Future Sight!

Here’s a hint at what’s coming in my next article: Gameplay.

  • The lost skill – Attacking
  • It is okay to use Politics
  • Being the Kingmaker
  • ??