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This is That: Oath of the Gatewatch


Welcome to the second installment of This is That! Inside this article I look at every single one of the 183 cards in Oath of the Gatewatch and classify each according to how original it is. What new design veins did Wizards tap into? Which cards look just like cards from Magic's past? Read along below and find out!

Rather than show you 350 card images of each card and its companion(s), you'll have options to expand each group of cards.

Reprints

The yearly Core Set is no more, and that means reprints are becoming more popular in normal expansions. Reprints, while not original by any metric, can still be interesting since one card may fill two very different roles in two different sets. For example, Bone Saw is tempting as a (subpar) Surge enabler, and Unknown Shores is more desirable because of its colorless ability than its mana filtering ability. Neither of these cards had these interactions when they were printed before.

There are 7 reprints in the set:

Click to show 5 more reprints ...

Bone Saw [OGW]Bone Saw [CON]
Unknown Shores [OGW]Unknown Shores [THS]
Strider Harness [OGW]Strider Harness [SOM]
Grasp of Darkness [OGW]Grasp of Darkness [SOM]
Mighty Leap [OGW]Mighty Leap [MM2]
Negate [OGW]Negate [ORI]
Netcaster Spider [OGW]Netcaster Spider [M15]

Functional Reprints and Subtype/Color Shifts

Sometimes there exist cards which are not reprints but might as well be. There are spells with exactly the same text, and creatures who change nothing but their creature subtypes or colors. These types of cards are about as close to reprints as you can come by without being the same card.

There are 3 subtype shifts, 1 color shift, and 5 functional reprints in the set:

Affa Protector [OGW]Standing Troops [TPR]
Canopy Gorger [OGW]Alpha Tyrranax [SOM]Tusked Colossodon [KTK]

Click to show 7 more functional reprints ...

Makindi Aeronaut [OGW]Concordia Pegasus [RTR]Territorial Roc [DTK]
Spatial Contortion [OGW]Nameless Inversion [MM2]
Meandering River [OGW]Coastal Tower
Submerged Boneyard [OGW]Salt Marsh
Cinder Barrens [OGW]Urborg Volcano
Timber Gorge [OGW]Shivan Oasis
Tranquil Expanse [OGW]Elfhame Palace

Generally Better

I got in a bit of trouble for using the phrase "strictly better" in the previous This is That, so I've switched over to the more inclusive word "generally." There will always be corner cases when a substandard card might be preferred, but the cards in this category are usually better outside of these rare corner cases.

There are 14 cards in the Generally Better category:

Witness the End [OGW]Mental Agony [AVR]
Comparative Analysis [OGW]Inspiration [RTR]

Click to show 12 more generally better cards ...

Containment Membrane [OGW]Paralyzing Grasp [RTR]
Devour in Flames [OGW]Magma Rift [ZEN]
Expedite [OGW]Accelerate [TOR]
Grip of the Roil [OGW]Crippling Chill [KTK]
Immolating Glare [OGW]Kill Shot [KTK]Rebuke [ISD]Terashi's Verdict [BOK]
Iona's Blessing [OGW]Marked by Honor [M15]
Slip Through Space [OGW]Touch of Invisibility [OD]
Tajuru Pathwarden [OGW]Feral Krushok [FRF]
Unnatural Endurance [OGW]Boon of Erebos [THS]
Vines of the Recluse [OGW]Snare the Skies [AVR]
Zada's Commando [OGW]Riot Piker [DGM]
Overwhelming Denial [OGW]Last Word [DST]

Generally Worse

Wizard's tries not to pin us with worse versions of cards we already have at our disposal, but sometimes we get them anyways. These cards are typically the result of balancing Limited and Standard power levels.

There are 4 cards in the Generally Worse category:

Hedron Crawler [OGW]Manakin [TE]
Isolation Zone [OGW]Banishing Light [C15]
Kor Scythemaster [OGW]Porcelain Legionnaire [NPH]
Tar Snare [OGW]Last Gasp [RAV]

Generally Bigger

Cards in this section cost more than their counterparts and grant a bigger effect (along the same axis) than the original card. Sometimes the added cost is not mana. For example, Akoum Flameseeker grants larger Power / Toughness than Rummaging Goblin, but the tap effect requires tapping two creatures instead of just itself.

There are 11 cards in the Generally Bigger category:

Akoum Flameseeker [OGW]Rummaging Goblin[M15]
Baloth Null [OGW]Gravedigger [M15]

Click to show 9 more generally better cards ...

Kozilek's Pathfinder [OGW]Spin Engine [MBS]
Make a Stand [OGW]Break of Day [DKA]
Needle Spires [OGW]Ghitu Encampment [DDN]
Press into Service [OGW]Mark of Mutiny [M13]
Roiling Waters [OGW]Symbol of Unsummoning [ME4]
Scion Summoner [OGW]Nest Invader [MM2]
Sifter of Skulls [OGW]Pawn of Ulamog [ROE]
Stormchaser Mage [OGW]Seacoast Drake [M14]
Unity of Purpose [OGW]Burst of Strength [GTC]

Generally Smaller

Cards in this section cost less than their counterparts and grant a smaller effect (along the same axis) than the original card.

There are 8 cards in the Generally Smaller category:

Brute Strength [OGW]Colossal Might [CMD]
Cliffhaven Vampire [OGW]Defiant Bloodlord [BFZ]

Click to show 6 more generally smaller cards ...

Eldrazi Aggressor [OGW]Blade-Tribe Berserkers [SOM]
Lead by Example [OGW]Common Bond [RTR]
Natural State [OGW]Naturalize [DTK]
Searing Light [OGW]Puncturing Light [ROE]
Sparkmage's Gambit [OGW]Wrap in Flames [MM2]
Umara Entangler [OGW]Jeskai Windscout [KTK]

Barely Tweaked

The cards in this section are quite similar to one or more existing cards. Maybe they are two spells with the same effect, such as Bathe in Dragonfire and Boulder Salvo. Or maybe they are two three-mana artifacts both granting +2/+2 and evasion, such as Angelic Armaments and Chitinous Cloak. It should take little effort to see the comparison for cards in this category.

There are 45 cards in the Barely Tweaked category:

Abstruse Interference [OGW]Frightful Delusion [ISD]Runeboggle [GPT]
Allied Reinforcements [OGW]Join the Ranks [WWK]Knight Watch [GTC]

Click to show 43 more barely tweaked cards ...

Ancient Crab [OGW]Horned Turtle [TPR]Fortress Crab [ISD]
Baloth Pup [OGW]Ainok Artillerist [DTK]
Bearer of Silence [OGW]Vampire Interloper [ISD]Gatekeeper of Malakir [ZEN]
Blinding Drone [OGW]Blinding Mage [M11]Ostiary Thrull [GPT]
Bonds of Mortality [OGW]Arcane Lighthouse [C14]
Boulder Salvo [OGW]Bathe in Dragonfire [FRF]
Chitinous Cloak [OGW]Angelic Armaments [AVR]
Cultivator Drone [OGW]Vedalken Engineer [DST]
Dazzling Reflection [OGW]Awe Strike [MRD]
Dimensional Infiltrator [OGW]Dewdrop Spy [MOR]Ringskipper [LRW]
Eldrazi Obligator [OGW]Jeering Instigator [KTK]
Essence Depleter [OGW]Scholar of Athreos [THS]
Expedition Raptor [OGW]Supply-Line Cranes [JOU]
Flaying Tendrils [OGW]Infest [C13]
Gift of Tusks [OGW]Turn to Frog [C14]Wings of Velis Vel [MM2]
Goblin Freerunner [OGW]Boggart Brute [ORI]
Gravity Negator [OGW]Chasm Drake [M12]
Jwar Isle Avenger [OGW]Illusory Angel [M15]
Kor Sky Climber [OGW]Leaping Lizard [ME2]
Kozilek's Shrieker [OGW]Gruul Nodorog [GPT]
Kozilek's Translator [OGW]Blightsoil Druid [MOR]
Loam Larva [OGW]Ainok Guide [FRF]Sylvan Ranger [C14]
Maw of Kozilek [OGW]Flowstone Giant [TE]Scion of Glaciers [KTK]
Null Caller [OGW]Cemetery Reaper [M12]
Oblivion Strike [OGW]Unmake [EVE]
Prophet of Distortion [OGW]Azure Mage [C14]Benalish Heralds [IN]
Reality Hemorrhage [OGW]Shock [M14]
Reaver Drone [OGW]Vampire Lacerator [MM2]
Reckless Bushwhacker [OGW]Goblin Bushwhacker [ZEN]
Relentless Hunter [OGW]Fanatic of Xenagos [BNG]
Remorseless Punishment [OGW]Forbidden Ritual [VI]Tyrannize [SHM]
Ruins of Oran-Rief [OGW]Oran-Rief, the Vastwood [C15]
Sky Scourer [OGW]Kozilek's Sentinel [BFZ]
Slaughter Drone [OGW]Onyx Mage [M12]Death-Hood Cobra [NPH]
Stalking Drone [OGW]Darkthicket Wolf [ISD]Havoc Sower [OGW]
Sweep Away [OGW]Whisk Away [FRF]Consign to Dream [SHM]
Tears of Valakut [OGW]Thunderbolt [AVR]Roast [DTK]Combust [MM2]
Thought Harvester [OGW]Circu, Dimir Lobotomist [RAV]Cloudhoof Kirin [SOK]
Untamed Hunger [OGW]Madcap Skills [GTC]
Vile Redeemer [OGW]Caller of the Claw [C15]
Void Shatter  [OGW]Dissipate [M15]
Walker of the Wastes [OGW]Earth Servant [M11]
Warden of Geometries [OGW]Manakin [TE]Steward of Valeron [ALA]

Somewhat Changed

The cards in this section are similar enough to existing cards to not make it into the "Original" section below, while not being similar enough to make it into "Barely Tweaked". I'll openly admit the borders between these three categories are somewhat subjective, but I do try to be as consistent as possible. While not quite original, the cards in this section can still be quite interesting. For example, Inverter of Truth is just Paradigm Shift on a creature, but changes the function of the card from a fringe card you only want in rare situations to a way to close out the game before killing yourself. There are 34 cards in the Somewhat Changed category:

Saddleback Lagac [OGW]Relief Captain [OGW]Armaments Corps [KTK]
Birthing Hulk [OGW]Savage Thallid [TSP]Skeletal Vampire [MMA]

Click to show 32 more somewhat changed cards ...

Cinder Hellion [OGW]Deathforge Shaman [CNS]Goretusk Firebeast [JUD]
Corpse Churn [OGW]Sudden Reclamation [FRF]
Crush of Tentacles [OGW]Aethersnipe [MM2]Kederekt Leviathan [ALA]
Cyclone Sire [OGW]Gravelgill Axeshark [SHM]Wall of Resurgence [OGW]
Deepfathom Skulker [OGW]Bident of Thassa [THS]
Drana's Chosen [OGW]Selesnya Evangel [RAV]
Eldrazi Displacer [OGW]Mistmeadow Witch [C13]
Eldrazi Mimic [OGW]Renegade Doppelganger [ROE]
Fall of the Titans [OGW]Bonfire of the Damned [AVR]
General Tazri [OGW]Aurochs Herd [CSP]
Havoc Sower [OGW]Perilous Shadow [RTR]Stalking Drone [OGW]
Holdout Settlement [OGW]Springleaf Drum [BNG]
Inverter of Truth [OGW]Paradigm Shift [WL]Leveler [MRD]
Linvala, the Preserver [OGW]Timely Reinforcements [M12]
Malakir Soothsayer [OGW]Crookclaw Elder [LGN]
Mindmelter [OGW]Dimir Guildmage [MM2]Phantom Warrior [M14]
Oath of Jace [OGW]Compulsive Research [C14]Thassa, God of the Sea [THS]
Ondu War Cleric [OGW]Oreskos Sun Guide [BNG]Ancestor's Prophet [ONS]
Relief Captain [OGW]Saddleback Lagac [OGW]Wurmskin Forger [MRD]
Ruin in Their Wake [OGW]Rampant Growth [C15]Caravan Vigil [ISD]
Sea Gate Wreckage [OGW]Fool's Tome [TE]
Seer's Lantern [OGW]Crystal Ball [M11]Mind Stone [C15]
Shoulder to Shoulder [OGW]Travel Preparations [ISD]
Spawnbinder Mage [OGW]Sandsower [MMA]
Sphinx of the Final Word [OGW]Sphinx of Jwar Isle [C14]Pearl Lake Ancient [KTK]
Steppe Glider [OGW]Helium Squirter [MM2]
Stoneforge Masterwork [OGW]Alpha Status [SCG]Coat of Arms [TPR]
Thought-Knot Seer [OGW]Vendilion Clique [MM2]Mesmeric Fiend [VMA]
Vampire Envoy [OGW]Updraft Elemental [DTK]Judge of Currents [LRW]
Void Grafter [OGW]Deputy of Acquittals [DGM]Mizzium Meddler [ORI]
Wandering Fumarole [OGW]Turtleshell Changeling [LRW]
Zendikar Resurgent [OGW]Mirari's Wake [CNS]Primordial Sage [C14]

Original

The cards in this section are unique enough to be given the esteemed title of "Original." These cards provide a brand new effect for the game in one way or another. If you see an Oath of the Gatewatch card compared to another card in this section and think, "But those aren't similar at all!” then you're absolutely correct. You've identified why the card made it into the Original section. I love looking through the cards in these sections and witnessing the untapped design space of which Wizards somehow manages to find in each new set.

When a card can make it into multiple categories, a judgment call is needed to decide where it belongs. For example, Goblin Dark-Dwellers is generally better than Shatterskull Recruit, but the Goblin feels like a new and exciting card more than it feels like an upgrade of a Standard-unplayable Battle for Zendikar Common.

There are 51 cards in the Original category:

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim [OGW]Disciple of Griselbrand [ISD]Teysa, Orzhov Scion [GPT]
Call the Gatewatch [OGW]Idyllic Tutor [MOR]Steelshaper's Gift [5DN]

Click to show 49 more original cards ...

Captain's Claws [OGW]Avacyn's Collar [DKA]Moonsilver Spear [AVR]
Chandra, Flamecaller [OGW]Chandra Ablaze [ZEN]
Consuming Sinkhole [OGW]Incendiary Command [C13]Thunderbolt [AVR]
Corrupted Crossroads [OGW]Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper [CHK]Eldrazi Temple [MM2]
Crumbling Vestige [OGW]Tendo Ice Bridge [BOK]
Deceiver of Form [OGW]Mirrorweave [SHM]Shapeshifter's Marrow [FUT]
Dread Defiler [OGW]Haunting Misery [WL]
Elemental Uprising [OGW]Enlarge [M14]
Embodiment of Fury [OGW]Embodiment of Insight [OGW]Halimar Tidecaller [BFZ]
Embodiment of Insight [OGW]Embodiment of Fury [OGW]Sentinel Spider [M13]
Endbringer [OGW]Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind [MM2]Thundersong Trumpeter [RAV]Ivorytusk Fortress [KTK]
Flayer Drone [OGW]Mindsparker [M14]Tunneling Geopede [BFZ]
Gladehart Cavalry [OGW]Abzan Ascendancy [KTK]
Goblin Dark-Dwellers [OGW]Shatterskull Recruit [BFZ]Galvanoth [MBS]
Harvester Troll [OGW]Gluttonous Slime [CON]Voracious Null [BFZ]
Hedron Alignment [OGW]Barren Glory [FUT]Biovisionary [GTC]
Hissing Quagmire [OGW]Lavaclaw Reaches [WWK]
Immobilizer Eldrazi [OGW]Hero of Oxid Ridge [MBS]
Joraga Auxiliary [OGW]High Sentinels of Arashin [KTK]
Jori En, Ruin Diver [OGW]Incursion Specialist [GTC]
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet [OGW]Overseer of the Damned [C14]
Kazuul's Toll Collector [OGW]Vulshok Battlemaster [MRD]Brass Squire [MBS]
Kozilek, the Great Distortion [OGW]Sandstone Oracle [C15]Hisoka, Minamo Sensei [CHK]Pathrazer of Ulamog [ROE]
Kozilek's Return [OGW]Pyroclasm [M11]Volcanic Fallout [CON]
Matter Reshaper [OGW]Skirk Drill Sergeant [VMA]
Mina and Denn, Wildborn [OGW]Mosstodon [ALA]Exploration [CNS]
Mirrorpool [OGW]Increasing Vengeance [DKA]Cackling Counterpart [C14]
Munda's Vanguard [OGW]Mikaeus, the Lunarch [ISD]
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar [OGW]Avenger of Zendikar [C13]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad [DKA]
Nissa's Judgment [OGW]Hunt the Weak [M15]Fall of the Hammer [C15]
Oath of Chandra [OGW]Draconic Roar [DTK]Searing Blaze [WWK]
Oath of Gideon [OGW]Join the Ranks [WWK]
Oath of Nissa [OGW]Commune with Nature [MM2]Mycosynth Lattice [DST]
Pulse of Murasa [OGW]Grim Discovery [ZEN]Nature's Spiral [M11]
Pyromancer's Assault [OGW]Jori En, Ruin Diver [OGW]Pyroconvergence [RTR]
Reality Smasher [OGW]Giant Solifuge [GPT]Diffusion Sliver [M15]
Reflector Mage [OGW]Man-o'-War [DDO]Meddling Mage [ARB]
Seed Guardian [OGW]Corpse Augur [C15]
Stone Haven Outfitter [OGW]Puresteel Paladin [NPH]
Stoneforge Acolyte [OGW]Wood Sage [TPR]
Sylvan Advocate [OGW]Earth Surge [GPT]Dragonmaster Outcast [BFZ]
Tyrant of Valakut [OGW]Akoum Hellkite [BFZ]
Visions of Brutality [OGW]Cast into Darkness [JOU]Spiteful Shadows [DKA]
Wall of Resurgence [OGW]Coral Barrier [M15]
Warping Wail [OGW]Dimir Charm [GTC]
Wastes [OGW]Snow-Covered Island [CSP]
Weapons Trainer [OGW]Armament Master [ZEN]
World Breaker [OGW]Sylvan Primordial [GTC]
Zulaport Chainmage [OGW]Hired Torturer [DGM]Zada's Commando [OGW]

Conclusion and Final Tally

Reprints 7
Functional Reprints and Shifts 9
Generally Better 14
Generally Worse 4
Generally Bigger 11
Generally Smaller 8
Barely Tweaked 45
Somewhat Changed 34
Original 51
Total 183

Oath of the Gatewatch boasts a higher Original percentage and lower Reprint percentage than Battle for Zendikar. Maybe this reason is why I'm looking forward to Oath more, and maybe this has something to do with how excited people get when reviewing new cards. Old cards we've seen time and time again like Allied Reinforcements or Lead by Example, but show us an Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim or a Mina and Denn, Wildborn and we are bound to start brewing new decks.

If you have any comments or want to suggest a card comparison I missed, reach out to me in the comments below or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG.


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