Where is Oath right now?



  • I ran Oath in paper this weekend... played just poorly enough to take fifth at a small tourney with a strong field, and just out of the money. I'm a little mad at myself, but not at the deck. It was better than me this weekend, that's for sure. I'll write up a report this evening.



  • 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?



  • If I were to play Oath, I would run it with 4 Monastery Mentors and some number of Regrowths to hit Time Walk(s) and/or Disenchant efx, so that the "draw back" of Mentor making tokens allowing my opponent to Oath is Null. Im honestly surprised no one has tried this route yet.



  • Down in my corner of the Southeast we finished up our first league a couple of weeks ago. It consisted of 3 months of tournaments with Legacy for 3 weeks and Vintage for 1 week each month. I ran Shuhei's version of Brian Kelly's oath list from the VSL all three weeks, no cards changed.

    Overall I placed 1st, 3rd and 2nd. Going 10-2 in matches overall, losing to BUG Hate and Paradoxical Storm.

    The matches I lost involved T1 null rod and double answer to oath both games from BUG Hate, and T1 win with force back up from PS. Outside of these matches the deck ran amazingly well, beating a wide variety of shops, mentors, oath, paradoxical and tezz decks.

    If I were to continue playing oath (which I probably will considering PS seems to fair poorly against shops despite its power level) then that list is were I would start. Enchantment hate is the only thing I ever felt light on, and the counter density makes playing the control role super smooth regardless of what you're going up against.

    The only other options I would consider playing would be demon oath with rune-scarred demons in a similar counter dense shell (stronger vs null rod but weaker to needle/cage/priest), or possibly (and this would require a lot of tinkering to get things right) a null rod/root maze style oath list with lots of permanent based hate.

    Unfortunately the best version (in my opinion) of oath is all but unplayable online, so if that is the only play method available to you then you might try one of the other two types I listed.



  • @wiley Congratulations on the Oath finish. Its reports like these that make me want to pick up Oath and play it more. I have a history in Vintage with it going back to the printing of Orchard. A very fond history as I remember the good times easily. But then I sleeve up Oath and decide to take it to a tournament and the jeckyl/hyde nature of the deck smacks me hard in the face and says, "NOOOOO, Not again!"

    In any given tournament you can get the unbeatable nutz draw or the "where is my other combo piece?" draw and be left hanging. In years past this was Ok because the format was different. Oath held up better in the long game while it dug for answers. Today if it stalls there are too many decks that are just too fast for it. Even creature decks like mentor and ravager shops can beat it.

    This is not to say Oath can't be successful. It absolutely can. Its just a roller coaster ride of success with few peaks and bigger dips than it used to have.



  • @Serracollector said in Where is Oath right now?:

    If I were to play Oath, I would run it with 4 Monastery Mentors and some number of Regrowths to hit Time Walk(s) and/or Disenchant efx, so that the "draw back" of Mentor making tokens allowing my opponent to Oath is Null. Im honestly surprised no one has tried this route yet.

    In such a build, would you still be playing a fatty like Griselbrand?

    It's certainly an interesting idea. What about adding top deck tutors (Mystical, Vampiric) for the miracle Time Walk as well?



  • the only Oath deck I like right now is PO Oath. the list I've played with and against has by far the highest "win the game after resolving Oath trigger" of any Oath deck I've ever seen, and it has the option of winning like a normal PO storm deck. it's also insanely fast. obviously it's vulnerable to hate, but there are tradeoffs to everything, and I think having speed and resiliency through win redundancy is much better than trying to control things with dinky 1 for 1s and awkward control cards.



  • @Khahan said in Where is Oath right now?:

    In any given tournament you can get the unbeatable nutz draw or the "where is my other combo piece?" draw and be left hanging. In years past this was Ok because the format was different. Oath held up better in the long game while it dug for answers. Today if it stalls there are too many decks that are just too fast for it. Even creature decks like mentor and ravager shops can beat it.

    To be fair, there were a lot of games that I won just because I was a bomberman deck as well as an oath deck. One standout game was against shops where they landed double t1 grafdigers cages and a foundry inspector. I went t1 land, lotus, salvagers. His t2 saw tangle wire and another creature. I played land go, his t3 saw no sphere effects so I recurred lotus in my upkeep, made infinite mana in my main, hard cast griselbrand and over half of my deck until the rest of the combo was assembled. I also won at least 2 games against mentor just with salvagers recurring ee and pyrite spellbomb with no lotus.

    Bomberman is a vintage worthy deck, and running it alongside oath does a couple of trade offs:

    1. You have a really shitty mana base. No helping this, oath decks almost universally require running risky mana bases.
    2. Your tutor for salvagers also often gives you access to the other combo pieces. It also costs less than other tutors normally run by bomberman.
    3. Your yawgmoth's bargain gains you life and deals 7 by itself.
    4. Since you only have to run the one salvagers and none of the other creature tutors you can have a higher density of countermagic in the deck. And awkward or not they still make a huge difference in the current meta.
    5. Since you are already in white, you have great answer cards for anything you might face so long as you can anticipate it in your sideboard plans.
    6. EE is just plain awesome, especially in oath and bomberman.


  • @brianpk80

    What list are you using to start out with Evil Oath? I'd really like to see what you have and maybe do some testing.


  • TMD Supporter

    Saheeli seems to work for some folks but I am not one of them. I can Oath into Griselbrand and draw seven in response to a plow which is huge.



  • @Islandswamp said in Where is Oath right now?:

    Saheeli seems to work for some folks but I am not one of them. I can Oath into Griselbrand and draw seven in response to a plow which is huge.

    I was, of course, a big Saheeli Oath fan when I entered the world of MTGO Vintage in late December through March. After a multi-month hiatus, though, I tried a Gush-less Saheeli Oath tonight for a few casual matches... it was not good.

    Obviously, there is a lot of tweaking I can do, but I have to say that losing Gush really hurt. It's not just Mentor--although Mentor is the worst offender--all the other blue decks have much more compact threat packages. And Saheeli Oath had a more bloated threat package than regular Oath, which means it is really bloated compared to Mentor.

    While I love the ability of Sun Titan to be hardcast and I find Saheeli to be a uniquely-fun planeswalker (if underpowered), it doesn't seem to be an environment where that matters.

    It seems like Oath only really works as the base-blue deck that is less optimal than Mentor, but has a better Shops matchup. And if that's the case, then you have to run the tightest threat package possible since you already have the clunkiness of 4 Oath.

    I've never played Griselbrand/Emrakul Oath, but I think I have to start practicing that now.



  • @jhport12 I recommend giving Paradoxical Oath a whirl. Make sure you have access to at least 3 Abrupt Decay to fight Null Effects/Taxing Effects/Containment Priest/Cage... Fun Deck.



  • I looked up some lists and I have to admit that playing so few counterspells feels scary. I saw one list with Misstep, 3 Thoughtseize and no Forces. I saw another with only 4 Forces.

    It did make me think, though: What is the role of countermagic in an Oath deck, especially against a Mentor deck? In my Saheeli Oath, I often did 4 Force, 3 Misstep, 2 Mindbreak/Flusterstorm for a total of 9 counterspells. It's interesting to question how many were necessary vs. having other cards.


  • TMD Supporter

    @jhport12 said in Where is Oath right now?:

    @Islandswamp said in Where is Oath right now?:

    Saheeli seems to work for some folks but I am not one of them. I can Oath into Griselbrand and draw seven in response to a plow which is huge.

    I was, of course, a big Saheeli Oath fan when I entered the world of MTGO Vintage in late December through March. After a multi-month hiatus, though, I tried a Gush-less Saheeli Oath tonight for a few casual matches... it was not good.

    Obviously, there is a lot of tweaking I can do, but I have to say that losing Gush really hurt. It's not just Mentor--although Mentor is the worst offender--all the other blue decks have much more compact threat packages. And Saheeli Oath had a more bloated threat package than regular Oath, which means it is really bloated compared to Mentor.

    While I love the ability of Sun Titan to be hardcast and I find Saheeli to be a uniquely-fun planeswalker (if underpowered), it doesn't seem to be an environment where that matters.

    It seems like Oath only really works as the base-blue deck that is less optimal than Mentor, but has a better Shops matchup. And if that's the case, then you have to run the tightest threat package possible since you already have the clunkiness of 4 Oath.

    I've never played Griselbrand/Emrakul Oath, but I think I have to start practicing that now.

    The thing about Griselbrand is that usually the worst-case scenario is that you cheat it into play, opponent goes plow/karakas/jace bounce/whatever and you draw seven cards to counteract that or to simply find a time walk and activate Oath again. You can also build your Oath deck in such a way as to enable hard casting griselbrand by making sure you run full moxen, mana crypt, sol ring, and tolarian academy. It's still tough to do, but I've cast Griselbrand quite a bit honestly. And it's funny when you hard cast gris and your opponent was banking on Fragmentize to stop your plan!

    This reminds me that one of my "crazy Vintage stories" was the time that I hard cast Griselbrand... from my graveyard! Play Lotus, tap lands plus academy, crack lotus, yawgwill, replay lotus, griselbrand. GGs. :D



  • I've played two tournaments this week with Punishing Oath, learning the world of Grisel-rakul. I have gone 4-4 (once was because MTGO locked me out, so I'll call it 4-3).

    Everyone says Shops is the top deck, but in 8 matches I haven't faced a single Shops deck. I have hit 4-5 PO Storm decks (usually with some Blightsteel or Key/Vault antics), 1 PO Oath, and 2-3 Dredge decks.

    The deck feels less clunky than Saheeli, but not as much as I might have expected. It also loses the ability to hardcast your Oath targets. And getting my Oath targets without Dragon Breath has been treacherous when I'm low on life.

    Speaking of, Dragon Breath is a little underwhelming as I've only been able to use it twice. One of those times, though, it really mattered. Mana Drain has been worthless--I don't always have UU and 2-mana is very expensive for a counterspell in Vintage I am discovering.

    I miss having access to white for Stony Silence, it feels very maindeckable right now.

    The thing I am most marveling at, right now, is just how problematic having a bulky threat package is. It can be really hard to compete against a deck that chooses to have a 3-4 card package of any combination of:
    --Mentor
    --Tendrils
    --Tinker, Blightsteel/Key/Vault
    --Jace

    Oath is 6 cards minimum: 4 Oath and 2 targets. And you usually have to add a Dragon Breath or 2 Jace or Vault/Key as back-up win condition. I think I would feel differently if I had faced a single Shops deck, since that is what Oath is supposed to prey on.



  • @jhport12

    When playing punishing oath, did you find punishing fire to be useful in its own right (i.e. proactively) or did you use it primarily as an answer to containment priests and other hate?



  • In 8 matches I have used Punishing Oath ZERO times. But, as I noted, I haven't played a single Shops deck--or a White Eldrazi for that matter.

    My experience with MTGO has ALWAYS been that the meta shifts dramatically every few days. People careen from Shops to Mentor to PO Storm w/Tinker, I think.

    Dredge and Oath players seem to stick to them, but that just maybe my speculation.



  • Hey guys, I got in a few events at GenCon with Oath. I'm not going to do a full report, but here are the highlights.

    Here's what I played:
    Saheeli Oath

    4 Oath of Druids
    3 Saheeli Rai
    2 Sun Titan

    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Time Walk
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Ponder
    3 Preordain
    1 Dig Through Time
    1 Treasure Cruise
    2 Sensei's Divining Top
    2 Dack Fayden
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    4 Force of Will
    3 Mental Misstep
    2 Mana Drain
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Balance
    1 Ancient Grudge
    1 Beast Within
    1 Detention Sphere

    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Forbidden Orchard
    2 Tropical Island
    2 Volcanic Island
    2 Tundra
    4 Misty Rainforest
    1 Library of Alexandria
    1 Strip Mine

    Sideboard:
    2 Swords to Plowshares
    1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Ancient Grudge
    3 Nature's Claim
    4 Tormod's Crypt
    2 Null Rod
    1 Wasteland

    Overall I felt really good about Sun Titan being my monster. Whether you're just establishing dominance by recurring threats or you're winning the game outright, there's no mana cost to doing so. Plan B is hard-casting the titan, which I did several times. This version of the deck is also much better against Dredge than most other versions because Titan typically comes into play with a crypt - you start locking down your opponent right away. Either that or Elesh Norn just tears their board apart and requires a bounce spell.

    The GenCon metagame is always heavier on Oath and Shops, and lighter on blue-based control. I'm not sure exactly why that is (pretty sure I'm part of the problem, though) - that's why the Wasteland was in my board and that's also why I didn't consider cutting a Forbidden Orchard. I could imagine cutting one orchard in a meta with no other Oath decks, but that wasn't going to happen here.

    I loved most of what Sun Titan had to offer, but I kind of hated Detention Sphere. I didn't cast it once, and I was never in a situation where I thought to myself "Man, I really wish I had a detention sphere right now." It costs a ton of mana and the target is pretty narrow. I think I'd rather play a Seal of Primordium, maindeck Null Rod, try to find a way to get Pernicious Deed into the deck, or otherwise get creative with that slot. I was glad to never have drawn Memory's Journey, but there were a couple games where playing it would have really come in handy. Still not sure how I feel about that card in a deck that already has too many "necessary evils."

    Overall, the deck ran well. It plays a control game first and resolves an Oath when the coast is clear. It's got great game against Shops and Eldrazi due to the way it tries to win, and the match-up against other blue decks is no worse than it would have been. I'll also say that I never wished I had drawn Punishing Fire or Life from the Loam either, and I would have been really grumpy if any of my lands had been a Grove of the Burnwillows instead of a blue source. I feel like Titan is the way to go, and this deck is probably at least a little better than its current tournament result history. It's hard to say what's going to happen on Monday with any real specificity, but the metagame will still include colorless taxing decks, blue decks, and dredge. This is still going to be a good choice.



  • Do you know who got the bye on Saturday? I got it on Friday. Saturday I lost round 2 after a Jace Cosplayer pointed out that I had Jace in my hand to the whole event.



  • @the-duressed Detention Sphere was meant as a maindeck answer to Planeswalkers, Mentor Tokens (if you whiff on your Oath trigger), and Big Thalia, who stops the combo. It sounds like none of those was particularly prevalent in your metagame, so cutting it is reasonable. It's also a way of increasing the Blue count for Force as Oath tends to be lighter on Blue cards than most decks.


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