What the MTG Finance Speculators Don’t Understand about Oathbreaker

Oathbreaker is in a unique position where, as a burgeoning format, not all the decks are ‘solved’ and consequently it flies under the radar of most of MTG Finance.

 Furthermore, many of the cards people want to buy for Oathbreaker decks are cards they’d buy for Commander anyway. This odd positioning makes it difficult for a lot of MTG finance people to pinpoint exactly where they can make money by buying and selling into the format, which is good. It’s this author’s opinion that they shouldn’t be trying to do that at all.

I think the smartest MTG finance advice one can give when it comes to Oathbreaker is this: buy what you need to play and have fun with friends.  Use MTG finance to play the game cheaper and grow the community!

That said, there are definitely people who will look to sell into the hype which, from an MTG finance standpoint, isn’t an erroneous proposition, but there are some holes in their logic.

There’s some ‘obvious’ MTG finance speculations a lot of my compatriots are trying to get in on and they all seem very obvious choices, yet somehow manage to not take certain aspects of the format into account. It’s as if they haven’t really played it and are just looking at the rules and saying “Superfriends: the format. Got it!” and are ready to throw money into the proverbial fire.

I do a regular MTG finance post called “Tell Me Why My Spec is Wrong.” It’s designed to make aspiring MTG financiers think of possible specs more critically, without having personal investment, so they can take that discerning look to their own trades.

Let’s try breaking down some of what I see as shallow choices and what people are missing:

In Garruk’s Wake []
Pro: It can be a Signature Spell. It’s one sided and sweeps away all creatures as well as Planeswalkers
Con: It’s very very slow and the high converted mana cost of it makes it an awkward Signature Spell.
What people are missing: In Garruk’s Wake is a windmill slam into black decks…or so you’d think. It’s an excellent budget piece, but in regards to MTG finance and Oathbreaker, anyone who’s played the format can immediately tell you that the speed and amount of interaction make a 9 mana spell unreliable in mono black.  If you want In Garruk’s Wake, get it. The Promo art is dope and intimidating. The buy in is low and the supply is high. This is a perfect buy it if you’ll use it. You won’t regret having fun with it, but the supply, reprint-ability and the restrictions to playing it make it exceedingly hard to “GET RICH” with this card.

The Elderspell []
Pro: Powerful. It will almost never be useless and allows your Oathbreaker to ultimate faster.
Con: Everyone can see your Signature Spell, which marks you with a big target. If you’ve played Narset, Leovold or Teferi Temporal Archmage, you already know what I’m talking about.
What People are missing: First of all, this is a standard sideboard rare in one of the most successful sets released in recent time. I want to repeat, at the time of the writing of this article, it’s only a sideboard rare card. That means it is cheap and has little external demand. In Oathbreaker, this will kill your opponent’s walkers, great, but you know what this doesn’t kill? The creatures your opponent’s still control that are alive because you only killed their walkers, creatures that can still kill your walker or kill you with your pitiful 20 life. Oathbreaker is a very political game.  That fact relegates Elderspell to a superfriends or ‘aristofriends’ deck as you increase the consistency to the point that it becomes a strong consideration.

Doubling Season []
Pro: Everyone KNOWS how powerful this card is with Planeswalkers. Walkers having a Doubling Season test during preview season is a testament to how strong this card is.
Con: EVERYONE KNOWS this is a powerful card, so the buy in is already high. This means the growth will not have a lot of velocity.
What people are missing: Doubling Season is one of the first cards people think of when it comes to Superfriends. What decks does this go into? Oathbreakers who have ultimates that pass the Doubling Season test. This narrows the field. Oathbreakers who have green…ok, even fewer decks. And Superfriends…so the issue is that the card has limited use, despite how powerful it is. Oathbreaker is a faster format. Taking a turn off to play this, while cute and fun, is probably not where you want to be in this format. The buy in for it is super high, so if you’re not using it and only intend to sell it for a profit, the time and effort is not worth it.

The Chain Veil []
Pros: Extra activation for your Planeswalker. Goes in any Oathbreaker deck.
Cons: It’s already spiked. Mana cost is cumbersome to use.
What people are missing: There is no reason this card can’t grow. Honestly, the one big drawback for me is the buy in/benefit ratio is too small for me to stand behind this card. ***Another issue with the card is scarcity. The card was printed in a Core set at mythic. That means that the set wasn’t as heavily opened because in general core sets are not as popular, therefore there are less singles from the set floating out in the world. Which means a Mythic from a core set is going to be harder to get than a Mythic from another non core set. The buy in for the card at it’s current price as well as the mana investment make it a big no go for me.*** If you are looking to run this in your Oathbreaker deck, go ahead and get it. If you’re looking to buy and re sell, I would not, because there’s better cards to put your time and money into.

Summing Up…

Overall ,my philosophy when it comes to trying to use Oathbreaker to make “MAD MAD MONEY!” is something I frown upon for multiple reasons.

A. It is a new format and is trying to attract new players. A lot of these new players are looking to play on a budget and only want to dip their toes into the format before going deep. I don’t like trying to profit off of this particular play group. It’s not something I’d be OK with both ethically and financially. They’re either new players or people coming over from Commander, who aren’t interested in reinvesting into a different format.

B. This is not a “for profit” format for multiple reasons. Wizards hasn’t monetized this format yet. If you look at previous format variants like Tiny Leaders, Brawl, and Frontier, you’ll note that there was little to no profit to be had. However, this was not due to a lack of trying in the MTG finance community. I recall several MTG Finance personalities touting “Frontier” as the truth, even going so far as to invest heavily in Jace Vryn’s Prodigy post standard rotation. To be clear, I’m not saying this format is merely the next Brawl or Frontier. In fact, I believe it’s here to stay. My main reasons for not trying to get rich quick off of Oathbreaker are points A and C.

C. The format was created by a charity club that emphasizes fun, inclusiveness, and expanding the love of Magic. I’d like to keep it that way.

What You Should Consider

All this being said, I want to name some cards which ARE still reasonably costed that I feel can improve the power and quality of your Oathbreaker experience. As of this writing, they are fairly untouched by the hype.

Forge of Heroes []
If you follow me on Twitter @barbariansriddle, you know I’m all over this card. I had previously bought two playsets for future Commander use at a $0.25 a piece. This is still and exceedingly good card for our format. It essentially makes you pay 1 more to give your commander an extra loyalty and it’s a land that comes into play untapped!

This card is exceedingly strong for some of the Oathbreakers with no uptick loyalty abilities and can actually change the pace of gameplay. Aside from a few niche uses, this card is better than Karns Bastion [] for the speed it provides. It’s still cheap and is a slam dunk for any Oathbreaker who is two or less colors.

Evolution Sage [] / Flux Channeler []
These cards are strong. If you’ve played them in limited, you know they’re powerful and can get out of hand really fast. The buy in for these are low and they see a lot of normal Commander play as well. I’m not going to feel bad picking up as many of these as I want to run. If you’re not already running these in your decks, you should strongly consider it.

Pithing Needle [] / Sorcerous Spyglass []
These are popular in both standard and modern when looking for cards that turn off activated abilities of Walkers. If you want a Commander analogy, these are colorless Lignify [] / Song of the Dryads [] that permanently turn off one opponent’s Oathbreaker. This is a perfect politics card and serves as removal that doesn’t end up with your opponent simply recasting their Oathbreaker.

Ensnaring Bridge []
As we go down this list, the prices start to increase. In a format full of Walkers, stopping the big uglies from one hitting your Breaker seems nice. Oathbreaker is a faster format, but it doesn’t mean we still don’t have an affinity for slamming out a Ghalta, Primal Hunger [] with Garruk Caller of Beasts [] or using our signature spell to Chord of Calling [] out an Avenger of Zendikar [].  Ensnaring Bridge is a card I’d put into a lot of Oathbreaker decks, but the obvious restriction is its price. Unlike Chain Veil, it can come down at a decent curve and directly effects how the game is played. It sees eternal play, so it is a relatively “safe” investment if you want to play it!

Thanks for taking the time to read my philosophy of MTG finance and Oathbreaker. Hopefully you liked it, learned something, and will start incorporating some of these cards into your decks. I hope I dissuaded some of you from doing something like “investing” in a 100 or so copies of In Garruk’s Wake []! I’d love to hear your comments about these ideas. Until next time, have fun and brew safe!