You Are The Archenemy!

Hello OathBreaker Community! My name is Jonathan Medina, and you can typically find me on Twitter musing about various Magic: The Gathering topics. I typically write for CoolStuffInc, but I couldn’t resist when the team here asked me to do a write-up on one of the format’s most thematic and feared pairs; Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God [] and The Elderspell [].

Bling, Bling, Bang!

Whenever I build a deck, I always start with the end in mind. What does the final turn look like? In my imagination, the game ends with me casting The Elderspell [], ultimating Nicol Bolas, and dancing to the Final Fantasy victory fanfare! The next step in this mental exercise is asking the question, How do we get there? By removing eight loyalty from Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God [], of course!

−8: Each opponent who doesn’t control a legendary creature or planeswalker loses the game.

In my estimation, we’ll need three things to pull this off: survive the early turns, remove all legendary creatures, and ensure Planeswalker fodder. Let’s explore each of these prerequisites and look at what cards can help us achieve our goal. Also, don’t worry! I’ll give you a decklist by the end of this article. I know some of you will skip ahead right now. That’s ok, don’t feel guilty.

Survive The Early Turns

The format is fast. At least, its faster than Commander. The reason for this is because the rules incentivize strategies that are low-to-the-ground. I’ll show you what I mean. In order to cast your Signature Spell, you need to have your Planeswalker (Oathbreaker) on the battlefield, this means that lower cost Planeswalkers will be played more often so that you can cast your Signature Spell sooner. This is why the three-mana Planeswalkers are popular in the format. Their presence shifts the mana-threshold down to three mana and forces action into the early turns. Your opponents should be playing one and two-mana creatures to keep those early Planeswalkers in check. We need to be packing cards to address all of this early activity if we want to survive until turn-five when Nicol Bolas shows up to the party.

I’m Nicol Bolas, and I like to party.

Although Lightning Bolt [] is a no-go in Commander, it’s the perfect tool to deal with early creatures and manage Planeswalker loyalty. Imagine that, twenty-six years later and Lightning Bolt is still good! Sometimes, you just have to stop and appreciate elegant game design. Anyways, you’ll notice a similar theme in cards like Pyroclasm [] (which might be better as Anger of the Gods []) and the big hitter, Toxic Deluge []! Package these things with cards like Dreadbore [], Bedevil [], Angraths Rampage [], and Spell Pierce [] to deal with opposing Oathbreakers and you should make it to your Nicol Bolas turn!

Remove All Legendary Creatures

We just talked about some creature removal that can help us to keep the board clean as we prepare The Elderspell []. Even though I’ll highlight a few more cards to get the job done, this section should serve as more of a reminder of what to keep in the forefront of your mind while you’re navigating through the game. It takes some mental muscle to learn what actually constitutes a threat. In the bigger picture, you may need to prioritize a legendary creature instead of a more “threatening” creature, so that you can make way for The Elderspell [] a few turns later.

Terminate [] joins the fray of Rakdos answers to legendary creatures in our arsenal. We also have a handful of Planeswalkers whose abilities can send those legendary creatures back to the Commander decks that they crawled out of. These Planeswalkers include Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast [], Chandra, Torch of Defiance [], Ob Nixilis Reignited [], Ral, Izzet Viceroy [](kinda), Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker [] and endboss Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God []. And while we’re on the topic of our Planeswalker horde, this is a perfect time to talk about the third and final requirement for victory!

Ensure Planeswalkers Fodder


The time has come. It’s time to cast The Elderspell []! If you’ve removed all the legendary creatures, then casting The Elderspell [] should win the game. We only need two other planeswalkers to get Nicol Bolas Dragon-God [] into ultimate range. Ideally, we’d knock out all our opponent’s Oathbreakers– there’s something deeply satisfying about that conclusion. However, sometimes we do too good of a job of controlling the board, and we need to devour our own planeswalkers to get into ultimate range. That’s not hard to do since we have 13 to choose from in the deck. Speaking of the deck, let’s take a look at the list.

The Decklist

The decklist below was designed with budget in mind. A fully powered list may contain cards like Dual Lands, Jace, the Mind Sculptor [], Liliana of the Veil [] and the like. I think about the decklist below as the “current iteration,” because I’m sure that improvements can be made. Maybe after more reps, we can figure out how to optimize the card choices to better suit the energy of the deck. Let’s iterate together on the deck in the comments. Without further ado, here’s the list:


Final Thoughts

I want to note that I purposely left out some of the finer points of the deck, like the mini-proliferate theme, and the lack of creatures, to keep the post short. If you have questions about the card choices please feel free to ask! Also, this list may need some levels of iteration. For example, there’s not a lot of protection built into the deck. If you expect high levels of instant speed interaction, then cards like Flusterstorm [], Defense Grid [], or Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir [] (the OG) will come in handy. Lastly, if you build this deck, you may want to adjust the Planeswalker line-up, adding and subtracting based on your collection, play-style, and taste. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look at the “Archenemy” deck in Oathbreaker. If you’d like to purchase the deck whole, you can do so at my passion project, Alchemist Refuge! Thank you for reading.

<3 Medina