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Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers: Limited Review for January 1

Welcome to the end of week one of spoiler discussions for Oath of the Gatewatch! Today we're setting a record for shortest limited review article ever with only three cards on the agenda. We'll make up for it by discussing them a bit more in depth than usual.

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 probably because the official 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)

Sphinx of the Final Word

$ 0.00 $ 0.00


This is a pretty blatant callback to Sphinx of Jwar Isle. They are both 5/5 flyers from Zendikar that don't die to removal and have bonus abilities that are much more relevant in Constructed than Limited. While Sphinx of Jwar Isle was good in original Zendikar, will the jump from 6 to 7 mana for Sphinx of the Final Word prove to be too expensive? I don't believe so. I think this will still be a great brick wall and game finisher, and I appreciate the more reasonable mana cost this time around.

Alhammarret, High Arbiter is the best comparison card in recent memory. He was fine in Magic Origins, but not super exciting. Sphinx of the Final Word is about as good as Alhammarret was with High Arbiter being better when the opponent has exactly one card in hand that matters and Final Word being better when they have two or more. Given that this is likely going to be a slower format than Origins was, I have no qualms about giving Sphinx of the Final Word a high grade.


Oath of Nissa

$ 0.00 $ 0.00


Wizard's exploration of weird Green cantrips continues to intrigue me. This is extremely similar to Seek the Wilds from Battle for Zendikar but with a few important tweaks.

First of all, Oath of Nissa looks only three cards deep into your library. Since the vast majority of any Limited deck is creatures and lands, you'll almost never whiff and hit nothing. Rather, you'll usually have two or three cards to choose from. Being able to choose between turning this card into a creature or land is great because it can help you whether you're in danger of being mana flooded or mana screwed.

Second, Oath of Nissa costs only one mana. This is a big deal. Seek the Wilds costs two mana and could easily prohibit you from casting an early creature to attack or block while you go digging through your library. Oath of Nissa, on the other hand, can be cast on Turn 1 when you're likely to not be doing anything else. Even if you have to wait until a future turn to cast it, it leaves you with plenty of mana to cast another spell in the same turn.

Put it all together and you get a card that is definitely playable, but whose power level ceiling is just too low to be exciting. It can help you find creatures or lands when you need them, and may occasionally dig you toward a sweet Planeswalker you opened, but it's not card advantage, graveyard fuel, board interaction, or anything exciting like that.


Wandering Fumarole

$ 0.00 $ 0.00


Weird name notwithstanding, Wandering Fumarole is my favorite of this block's creature land cycle. It attacks for a lot if left unblocked, and you get to be the one to decide whether you want it to trade with opposing 2/2s or 3/3s. Your opponent needs something as big as a 4/5 to completely beat Wandering Fumarole in combat, and anything with stats 1/1, 2/1, 3/1, or 0/4 die without being able to trade with it. That's a large host of power/toughness ranges that let you be in charge of combat.

Red/Blue is also likely to have more instants than other color combinations (Comparative Analysis anyone?) and that makes leaving this back to block less costly when your opponent decides not to attack into it. The options that this enables along with the power it represents, make this a solid card in my book.


Thus ends the first week of spoilers. Please join me again next week for more spoilers and more Limited review. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.

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