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Brewer's Minute: Oath of Ajani


Hey, everyone. It's time for another Brewer's Minute. This week, we are going to take a few minutes to talk about a new card from Aether Revolt that has some people pretty hyped: Oath of Ajani! Does this card have a place in Standard, and if so, where does it fit? 

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Transcript

Hello everyone, it's Seth, probably better known as Saffron Olive, and it's time for another edition of Brewer's Minute. This week, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about a spoiler card that people are really hyped about, and at the risk of being a party pooper, wet blanket, or whatever you want to call it, I want to break down why I think that Oath of Ajani is a bit overrated at the moment. I think people are more excited about this card than they should be, because when you read the card, it sounds pretty crazy—you get to pump up your entire team, and reducing the cost of your planeswalkers sounds exciting and really powerful, but if you really break down what this card does, I think it fails under some harsher scrutiny.

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I've gotten a ton of tweets and emails about Oath of Ajani, and most start with a curve of Thraben Inspector into Oath of Ajani (pump Thraben Inspector) into Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on Turn 3 and Nissa, Vital Force on Turn 4. While this curve is doubtlessly powerful and playing planeswalkers a turn early can be a good way to win a game of Magic, the thing is that you can already do this with Servant of Conduit. In fact, I think that if you goal is to make your planeswalkers cost one less, Servant of the Conduit is almost certainly the most powerful option—far better than Oath of Ajani

The upside of Servant of the Conduit is twofold. First, Servant of the Conduit is an actual creature that can attack and block, so in the late game, it gives you much more value than Oath of Ajani, which just sits on the battlefield and does nothing. Second, and most importantly, Servant of the Conduit makes other things cost one less mana as well, and even if you are playing a deck with several planeswalkers, it's likely you'll want to cast some removal spells or creatures like Ishkanah, Grafwidow or Archangel Avacyn to defend your planeswalkers. Servant of the Conduit helps you cast these cards; Oath of Ajani does not. Of course, Servant of the Conduit has some downsides as well, in that it dies to creature removal, but it seems likely that its upsides make it the better option in everything but extremely dedicated (e.g., like 15+ planeswalker) decks. 

While the mana it produces is narrow, Oath of Ajani has some upside as well. First, it's difficult to kill thanks to being an enchantment. While most decks will have creature removal, not very many will have a way to kill an enchantment, especially in the main deck. Second, there are also some weird situations where Oath of Ajani can produce two mana in a turn (for example, you cast a Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on Turn 5), but these situations are rare and probably not a real reason to play the card. However, the biggest upside of Oath of Ajani is that it can put counters on your creatures, which is something that Servant of the Conduit can never do.

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For Oath of Ajani to really be good, the "put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control" ability needs to be relevant. Simply making Thraben Inspector into a 2/3 isn't enough to play it over the most flexible Servant of the Conduit. While the fact that Collective Effort—another more flexible card that can pump your team while also killing an Emrakul, the Promised End or Fevered Visions—is in the format and hasn't seen any play is another vote against Oath of Ajani being good, I do think that if you can build a deck that can go wide enough to make the "pump your team" mode relevant sometimes, while still playing enough planeswalkers to make the mana-reduction part of Oath of Ajani powerful, then the legendary enchantment has a chance to be good.

The point of all this is that if you just want to make your planeswalkers cheaper, there are better options than Oath of Ajani in Standard. If you just want to put counters on your team, again, there are better options available in Standard. As such, to make Oath of Ajani good, you really need to be able to take advantage of both halves of the card, which means the potential homes of Oath of Ajani are limited to things like GW Tokens or possibly Abzan Fabricate. Rather than being a card you can jam into any deck or even any planeswalker-heavy deck, Oath of Ajani has a very narrow purpose in a very specific and focused deck. This is not another Oath of Nissa, which is good in a wide variety of strategies; it's closer to Oath of Gideon, where you need a very specific build for it to be worth a slot in your deck. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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