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Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers: Limited Review for December 28


Hello friends and welcome to the first spoiler discussion article for the newest set, Oath of the Gatewatch! Today we're talking about new cards, new mechanics, and I'm offering my first thoughts on how Oath of the Gatewatch will shake up the draft format. 

I'll be reviewing these cards from the standpoint of how well I expect them to perform in Limited. We can't rate the cards completely accurately without knowing the entire set, but we can evaluate the cards in an "average" limited format. You can find all the latest spoilers on the Oath of the Gatewatch page. Please note that if I haven't yet reviewed a card, it's because the official English spoiler for it has not been released yet.

Grading scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Tragic Arrogance, Dragonmaster Outcast)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Blessed Spirits, Clutch of Currents)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Aspiring Aeronaut, Culling Drone)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Gather the Pack, Geyserfield Stalker)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Jace's Sanctum, Prism Array)

White

Should to Shoulder

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Support is a mechanic that supports going wide. It feels a bit like a win-more mechanic, in that the player who has the most creatures is already likely winning, but now they also get more value out of their Support spells than their opponent does. Shoulder to Shoulder can never be incredible, but will always at least cycle unless your opponent destroys the spell's target(s) in response. I wouldn't play bad 1-drops just so that I could curve into this on Turn 3. I'd prefer to use this later in the game to buff my evasive creatures and keep my cards flowing, perhaps following this up with a Surge spell.

 

Munda's Vanguard

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Cohort is an interesting keyword, reminiscent of Outlast from Khans of Tarkir. The fact that this doesn't require you to tap your creatures on your own turn and doesn't require mana to use (though other cards with Cohort might) is a lot less restrictive and potentially a lot more powerful.

Munda's Vanguard is the type of Rare I don't mind losing to in Limited. It gives you every opportunity to remove it, requires multiple creatures to work, but will almost certainly win the game if left unchecked. To beat this card, you either need to kill it or deploy creatures so aggressive and/or evasive that your opponent dies before their creatures get big enough to stop your attacks.

 

Stone Haven Outfitter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Relic Seeker was a recent Rare equipment lord that was only okay in Limited, but this is a new format and Stone Haven Outfitter is a new card. While I still hope to avoid Pathway Arrows, this creature might be enough to make Hedron Blade a good card, and we still have yet to see what Equipment Oath of the Gatewatch brings us.

Blue

Comparative Analysis

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

As a strictly better Inspiration, this is already playable in all but the fastest draft environments. The occasional upside of being able to save a mana with Surge is minor but still existent. If Oath of the Gatewatch maintains the format speed, this card will probably wanted as at least a one-of in most Blue decks. It's not close to Coastal Discovery, but at least it's not close to Brilliant Spectrum either.

 

Crush of Tentacles

$ 0.00$ 0.00

B

While Surge is easy to achieve in Two-Headed Giant, it's a chore in 1v1 games, especially on a five-mana (when cast with Surge) card. This card is pretty bad if you can never get the Octopus since your opponent gets to redeploy their creatures first. If I drafted this card, I'd highly prioritize getting some good 1-2 drops, especially non-permanent spells or Awaken cards, since lands do not get returned by this effect. 

 

Deepfathom Skulker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Basically a Bident of Thassa, this creature rewards you with cards for connecting and gives you a way to do it. I'd play this card even with zero colorless mana sources in my deck if my creatures were evasive enough, but playing this definitely makes me value ways to use its activated ability.

Black

Dread Defiler

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

A vanilla 6/8 for seven-mana wouldn't be good, so this Eldrazi's activated ability is going to have to be good. Repeatable Lava Spike would be good even at four-mana, but that requires your graveyard to be pretty stocked which is not a theme nor an easy thing to do in this block.

Red

 

Goblin Dark-Dwellers

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

A Shatterskull Recruit at worst, this creature is always playable, but needs to recur a spell before it becomes very good. This makes Outnumber and Touch of the Void even better, but anyone playing Red should be prioritizing these spells anyway. 

 

Reckless Bushwhacker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

This is really interesting design for an aggressive creature that can't typically be cast until Turn 4. Do you play out your only 2-drop then hard cast this on Turn 3? Or do you save your 2-drop to deploy them both on Turn 4? The ability to come out of nowhere with a large amount of damage can overwhelm an opponent who isn't prepared for it and leave them scrambling to block on subsequent turns. This will slot well into aggressive decks, but its inconsistency will make it difficult to get full value.

 

Tyrant of Valakut

$ 0.00$ 0.00

B+

Red already has at least one great 1-drop in Outnumber, and if any more are printed in the new set, this Dragon is going to be incredible. If you ever have to hard cast it and miss out on the lightning bolt effect, you'll be extremely sad. Although a five-power flyer is sometimes enough to win a game by itself.

Green

Gladehart Cavalry

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This is what you play when you can't count on finding Tajuru Warcaller in the single pack of Battle for Zendikar you get to see in your draft. It pumps up your team, helps you win a damage race with life gain, and is a 6/6 by itself when you don't have very much else going on. You don't want too many 7-drops in your deck, but when you do have one, you probably won't be sad if it's Gladehart Cavalry.

 

Scion Summoner

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

If Green is going to make a resurgence in Oath of the Gatewatch, it's going to be because of high-quality Commons like Scion Summoner. The lack of flying makes this less exciting than Eldrazi Skyspawner, but the stats are solid and it enables cards needing colorless mana.

Multicolored

Jori En, Ruin Diver

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Eidolon of Blossoms, Abzan Beastmaster, Triton Fortune Hunter — repeatable card draw is always interesting in Limited, especially when attached to a creature. Jori En, Ruin Diver combos well with the Storm-like mechanic of Surge and can threaten to drown your opponent in card advantage if you can keep chaining spells together. Even if you (heavens forbid) never draw a card with her, you still get the 2/3 and your opponent is incentivized to get rid of her at their earliest opportunity.

Colorless

Crumbling Vestige

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

I think this is clearly inferior to Unknown Shores, but could be better than Wastes in most decks. It can't produce colorless mana the turn you play it and it forces you to hold it in hand until you want to use the colored mana ability, but a land that produces mana every turn and has the chance to help with colored spells as well as colorless seems good.

 

Endbringer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Endbringer is awesome, but has more abilities than will be typically useful. Its abilities are varied, but the continual colorless mana investment is a little steep. I think this will lead to Endbringer being primarily used to just attack for five or ping for one damage on every turn. Given that it will be producing unstoppable damage and sometimes unstoppable card draw, it will be very difficult to win if your opponent has this creature on the board.

 

Kozilek, the Great Distortion

$ 0.00$ 0.00

B-

While Kozilek is neat, he seems worse in every way when compared to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger from the previous set. Kozilek's mana cost is more intensive, his cast trigger is less powerful, and his spell countering ability is worse at protecting him than Ulamog's Indestructible clause. Regarding his game-ending potential, Kozilek could theoretically attack three or four times before ending the game while Ulamog guarantees death in two swings. While he's still a worthy goal in a deck that can cast him, my initial estimate is that he'll provide less incentive to draft a control/ramp deck than Ulamog.

 

Mirrorpool

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This is sort of like a sixth land in the Blighted land cycle from Battle of Zendikar. Only being able to copy your own spells/creatures is a big downside, but I still can't imagine any deck that wouldn't run this card. The additional benefit of being colorless and leaving you open makes this a great first pick in draft. Bonus points for going "infinite" with this and a creature like Greenwarden of Murasa.

 

Spatial Contortion

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C+

Color shifted Nameless Inversion is a sweet card and a good reason to put colorless mana producers in your deck. While drafting this does require you to draft colorless mana sources, it is free of other colors and thus is a strong first pick in a draft, leaving you open to whichever good cards your opponents pass regardless of color.

 

Unknown Shores

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Unknown Shores is just better than Wastes except for not being Basic or being counted by Walker of the Wastes. I really like its ability to fix your colorless mana while not crippling your ability to play cards with colored mana costs. Since this can also support Converge strategies, I expect this card to be an early pick in draft by players almost regardless of their deck's archetype.

 

Walker of the Wastes

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Walker of the Wastes asks the question "Just how colorless can your deck be?" The requirement to play exactly Wastes instead of better lands like Unknown Shores hurts enough that I don't think too many people will try. First you have to see this card, an Uncommon. Then you have to pick Wastes over "better" colorless fixers using draft picks. Even if you cast this on turn five with two Wastes (which will rarely happen), you've only succeeded in creating a Renowned Rhox Maulers. If there are many other cards that care about exactly Wastes, this obviously gets better, but I'll wait to see if those spells exist first.

 

Wastes

$ 0.00$ 0.00

C-

We currently know of the Blighted cycle in Battle for Zendikar, Unknown Shores and Crumbling Vestige at Common in Oath of the Gatewatch, and Eldrazi Scions everywhere which are all fighting for the same spot in your deck as Wastes. Without having a lot of cards like Walker of the Wastes which want Wastes specifically, I have a feeling other colorless mana-fixing options — which can also produce colorless mana or have some other upside — are going to be preferred over these new basic lands.

Expeditions

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Expeditions are awesome, and there are some very powerful ones included here. While I'll almost always first pick them, their actual grades are highly assorted. While I highly discourage playing Forbidden Orchard in Limited, getting to Strip Mine someone outside of Cube is going to be a fun experience. 

Conclusion

Nineteen cards down, over one hundred to go. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited review as the official spoilers continue during this week and next. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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