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Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers: Limited Review for January 5


About half of the Oath of the Gatewatch cards have been revealed at this point, and so far I'm more excited for the set than I was for Battle for Zendikar. Two more full days until Friday when the full set spoiler becomes available, but we have plenty here to whet our appetite in the meantime. 

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)

Blue

Hedron Alignment

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D-

The win condition clause on this is cute, but nigh impossible to achieve in Limited. If your deck is slow enough that you think the scry ability will be worth it, then go for it, but this effect is a lot more Taigam's Scheming and a lot less Crystal Ball. Any deck that wants one of these would likely prefer an efficient creature instead.

Black

Drana's Chosen

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Unlike Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Drana's Chosen takes some time and some work to start pumping out Zombies. If left unchecked, it can flood the board and that's good enough for me.

Inverter of Truth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Translation:

Creature - Eldrazi
Devoid, Flying
When Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield, exile all cards from your library face down, then shuffle all cards from your graveyard into your library.

A 6/6 flyer can put the game away quickly, but you better have a backup plan if your opponent kills Inverter of Truth. This goes well in an aggressive build that can win before it decks itself, or a controlling build that can stock its graveyard with lots of powerful tools. A midrange deck that just puts random 3/3s into the graveyard may not have the speed or the power to win by just recycling its graveyard's contents.

Red

Chandra, Flamecaller

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

This is the first Chandra that I've been truly excited about, and it's not just because her 0 ability draws a card like another Planeswalker we all know and love (Jace, the Mind Sculptor).

If you're losing the game, her -X ability could change that or at least stem the bleeding. If your board is stalled, her 0 ability is going to make sure your cards are more useful than those of your opponent which will help you pull ahead. If you're winning, her aggressive +1 ability attacks the opponent for 6 extra damage a turn with haste. No matter what the situation, she'll help you win the game, and will force your opponent to spend resources trying to get rid of her.

Fall of the Titans

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

I love Fall of the Titans. The flavor is awesome, and the power level is definitely there. It may be premature to say so, but this might be as good as Rolling Thunder. 5 mana yields two Shocks and 7 mana gives two Lightning Bolts. If you can find a cheap spell to pair with it, you can get an even better rate. Fall of the Titans is even an Instant so it has that advantage over Rolling Thunder.

Oath of Chandra

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Simple and effective, but not very flashy for a Rare. You'll always take Oath of Chandra and always play it if you're in Red, and like the other Oaths, the Planeswalker portion isn't relevant at all in Limited.

Green

Bonds of Mortality

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D

While this could be a relevant sideboard card, creatures with either of these keywords don't show up often enough to warrant maindecking this. It does replace itself which makes it not awful, but the only situations where its great are when your opponent casts some awesome Rare like Sphinx of the Final Word while you're holding a removal spell.

Sylvan Advocate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Sylvan Advocate is like the world's most reasonable Dragonmaster Outcast. It's actually usable before you get to six lands while remaining beatable once you do. It also incentivizes Awaken spells in a really big way.

Multicolored

Cliffhaven Vampire

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

While this isn't quite Defiant Bloodlord, Cliffhaven Vampire's initial stats are a lot more reasonable than its Battle for Zendikar cousin. If you have no life gain, this vampire isn't special but if you're comboing off with Kalastria Healer triggers, you get to drain your opponent twice as quickly.

Stormchaser Mage

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

How many keywords does a Territorial Roc need before it becomes good? I'm pretty sure Prowess alone does the trick, but Haste is somewhat useful as well. Stormchaser Mage's intense mana cost makes it a difficult spell for casting before a Surge spell, but just attacking and blocking efficiently is a good deal. Leaving your opponent in fear of making it a 2/4 or 3/5 means they have to be cautious when entering combat.

Baloth Null

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Dutiful Return is a weird card. In theory, it grants you two good cards and should thus be fairly costed as a bit more than Divination. In practice, you'll have too few creatures or too useless creatures in the graveyard to always be able to cast it. Think about how that Gravedigger is generally a more popular card.

Baloth Null goes a step further than Gravedigger by being able to Raise Dead up to two creatures at once and always bringing at least a 4/5 body to the table.

Weapons Trainer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

I'm already a fan of Bone Saw due to the presence of Surge cards, and I hope to see another playable, low-rarity Equipment in Oath of the Gatewatch. Being able to pump up your other creatures is nice, but unfortunately it is easy for your opponent to trade off with Weapons Trainer in combat and remove the +1/+0 effect. 

Void Grafter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Void Grafter offers an interesting choice: save it until your opponent attempts to remove one of your more important creatures, or send it into the fray as quickly as possible. I'm more likely to use Void Grafter as a surprise blocker than as a protection spell, but I'm happy to have the option regardless.

Colorless

Reality Smasher

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

This is everything Walker of the Wastes wanted to be and more. It slices, it dices, (it smashes), and it costs your opponent two cards to get rid of it. Anybody who opens this will be scrambling to draft colorless sources and making it fit in your deck will almost always be the right choice.

Thought-Knot Seer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Thought-Knot Seer is a complete weirdo. It passes the vanilla test and can sometimes reduce the power of your opponent's hand. The downside is that the opponent always gets a fresh card regardless of whether you were able to take a card when it entered. This means that it kind of stinks to cast when your opponent has no spells in hand.

Lands

Corrupted Crossroads

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Yet another Wastes with upside, though this is kind of an odd one. The life loss could add up if you have to use it multiple times, but that would at least guarantee casting your spells on time. Once I pick one of these up, I'd probably try taking a little more mana fixing and then going full Grixis.

Conclusion

As the Rares begin to run out, we're seeing more Uncommons such as the multicolored cycle we talked about today. While Rares are exciting and will reward certain archetypes in the new format, the Commons and Uncommons are what really will define this set, and they're what I'm looking forward to seeing. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited review tomorrow and Thursday before the final reveal on Friday. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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