Hey guys, I'm a long-time Oath player and i've been struggling a lot with many of these same questions. Primarily, which version of Oath is best right now in the paper metagame? There are several competing versions, and I'm not really sure where to go.
The key decision points seem to be:
- What's your backup plan if Oathing directly into one huge dumb guy won't work? For example, how do you deal with Grafdigger's Cage, Containment Priest, or Eldrazi Displacer?
- What are the weaknesses of your main kill condition (and your backup plan)? How dependent are you on the graveyard? Is Swords to Plowshares live against you?
- Which colors beyond green and blue are you going to play? Are you trying to play Dack Fayden? Demonic Tutor? Auriok Salvagers? By Force? Abrupt decay (and, if so, how many)?
One of the questions I don't have a good grasp on right now is how good Dack Fayden (and therefore the color red) actually is at this point in time. Shop decks have been playing ravager for a while now, and Walking Ballista also makes sure that you're not going to get a second Dack activation. If you're resolving a three-mana, two-color spell against workshops, it probably needs to put you into a pretty good spot. Against other decks, the card draw is certainly a substantial benefit, but it's also not quite as good as it was because you can't Gush back some lands and then discard them. We also saw Painful Truths emerge as another card draw alternative.
I've honestly never played an Oath deck without black for at least Demonic and Vampiric Tutors, so that's something I'm mulling over as well. I've had good experiences with Aburpt Decay as well, though I'm less tied to that.
To me, the main contenders are either a Salvagers-based win package or Saheeli. They both have the trait of being able to hardcast the primary win condition, which is important. In the past, I've always looked to Show and Tell as my plan B, but the increased presence of Containment Priest makes this much more difficult. On the other hand, they both can be significantly disrupted by Swords to plowshares. For both, the odds of firing off a combo kill directly after your first Oath aren't super high (in fact, not even above 50%), so I also get a bit concerned when I think about that awkward turn in the middle.
Standstill Oath also seems interesting, and I've also seen some folks here and elsewhere pilot it to some success. For those of you who have, why is that deck your choice? In which situations would you prefer it over the other flavors? It's not a variant that I've worked with much in the past.
Finally, if I were to play Saheeli, I'd feel compelled to include a Memory's Journey because 30% of the time your deck will be arranged such that you can never get to a combo finish. That's not even including times where you draw a Titan naturally. Please set me straight on this - how often does the deck win by beating for 6 and establishing control via permanents rather than the combo kill?
If you were to play in a paper tournament tomorrow, which flavor of Oath would you choose? Why?