Matchhup Analyses

In the final section of this primer, I will give some advice for how to play the deck against particular matchups. Archetypes listed here are the ones I have played enough to have some experience against; since I play primarily on MTGO, some decks that appear in paper Magic only (e.g. Bomberman, Dragon) are not included here (though in the few games I have played, the Bomberman matchup is slightly unfavorable, and Dragon, slightly favorable). Absence of a deck in this list is not intended as an insult to that deck!

Favorable

Workshops

The "workshops" pillar encompasses a wide range of strategies, from the more traditional prison "stax" decks to the more recent aggro shops builds revolving around Arcbound Ravager. Oath is well-position against nearly all Shops builds, since these decks have few answers to Oath of Druids, which trumps much of their strategy: they cannot deploy threats like Lodestone Golem or Phyrexian Revoker without triggering Oath, buying you plenty of time to stabilize your mana and draw into potent answers like Hurkyl's Recall and Nature's Claim.

Against shops more than any other deck, it is essential to deploy Oath as early as possible, before spheres and Wastelands shred your ability to cast spells. As usual, game on can be very difficult to win on the draw, but the matchup is quite favorable if you are on the play.

Your goals when sideboarding are twofold: first, the Oath deck sports a shaky manabase especially susceptible to Wastelands; you must harden it by bringing in the two basics. Basic Forest is in many cases more crucial than basic Island, since it allows you to reliably cast Nature's Claim and Oath of Druids. Second, spot artifact removal can deal with the opponent's most significant threats, such as Lodestone Golem and other large robots, Crucible of Words, Tangle Wire, etc.

Pithing Needle also shines in this matchup, as it can name Wasteland, Mishra's Factory, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Staff of Nin, Arcbound Ravager, or various equipment, as needed.

Your opponent has few good sideboard options. Grafdigger's Cage and Ensnaring Bridge are easily handled by Nature's Claim. Duplicant, mentioned above, is the most significant sideboard threat, but is a rare sight these days. Phyrexian Metamorph is more common, but also less threatening, since it does not remove your own Griselbrand, and the copy is still an artifact that can be bounced or destroyed. Your opponent can draw cards using the Griselbrand copy, but Workshop decks are limited in the amount of mischief they can cause due to the heavy mana requirements of their threats (especially if they have been playing many sphere effects), so even 7-14 cards will only translate to 2-3 deployed threats.

Arcbound Ravager is a very subtle card, difficult to play with and against. Its presence allows several anti-Oath tactics worth being aware of. First, it can be used to sacrifice all of the opponent's artifact creatures, preventing Oath from activating until you draw an Orchard. The counters from Ravager can be transferred to a Mishra's Factory, presenting a fast clock. Second, creatures blocking or blocked by Griselbrand can be sacrificed before damage is dealt, denying you the 7 life from Griselbrand's lifelink; you must take this trick into account when calculating combat math. (A similar trick is also possible using Wasteland and animated Mishra's Factories).

Finally, a word about Tangle Wire: upkeep triggers are stacked in APNAP order, so Tangle Wire will tap down your permanents before Oath tutors up Griselbrand. This means that Oath will find you a blocker even if your opponent's Tangle Wire requires you to tap down more permanents than you currently control. On subsequent turns, you may be required to tap Griselbrand; however, if your opponent still controls more creatures than you, you can Oath up an untapped replacement, and sacrifice the tapped copy.

Typical Sideboard:

-4 Mental Misstep

-1 Flusterstorm

-1 Misdirection

-1 Memory's Journey

+4 Nature's Claim

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Island

+1 Forest

Dredge

Oath is one of the few decks that can race Dredge, even on the draw. However, as in the Shops matchup, doing so requires some luck and extreme aggression, i.e. landing Oath on the first turn, before the Dredge player can shred your hand with Cabal Therapies. Sometimes the Dredge player will just win on turn 2 before Oath can trigger (usually due to them having double Bazaar in their opening hand); that's life when playing against Dredge.

The flip side is that Dredge is one of the few decks that can reliably race a Griselbrand. Griselbrand's lifelink counteracts only four zombie tokens (five on defense), and true to trope once the Dredge deck starts recurring Ichorids and Bloodghasts, the zombie horde will just keep coming. Winning game one will require either an extremely explosive start, or assembling multiple extra turns with Time Walk recursion or Vault+Key.

The sideboard is relatively light on Dredge hate, as not much hate is necessary given that Oath naturally preys on Dredge's creature strategy. The main order of business is slowing down Dredge so that they cannot win in the first few turns using the Dread Return combo; both Pithing Needle (naming Bazaar of Baghdad) and Nihil Spellbomb accomplish this objective, and Memory's Journey can also do so in a pinch (and is immune to Cabal Therapy thanks to flashback). Expect the Dredge player to sideboard in all manner of artifact and echantment removal, including Ingot Chewer, Nature's Claim, and Wispmare; these answers require Dredge to draw them as well as mana sources, however, which they will have difficulty doing if you can neuter Bazaar.

The Oath decks's trump card against Dredge in games two and three is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Elesh Norn sweeps away Dredge's entire board, stops them from generating any additional zombies or casting Dread Return, and leaves them with few to no answers (some Dredge lists might have Chain of Vapor). There is some danger to casting Show and Tell against Dredge, as some lists contain large creatures like Sun Titan, an Elesh Norn of their own, Chancellor of the Annex, etc. which can survive Elesh Norn; however Elesh Norn is so potent agains their strategy that it's usually worth the risk to run out an early Show and Tell anyway.

Be aware that in addition to "vanilla" Dredge, I have seen several players experiment with transformational sideboards that contain surprises like Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage, Grinstone + Leyline of the Void, etc. Pay attention to cards milled during game one that might telegraph such strategies.

Typical Sideboard:

-2 Thoughtseize

-1 Griselbrand

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Dig Through Time

-1 Abrupt Decay

+2 Nihil Spellbomb

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

+2 Flusterstorm

Merfolk (and other non-white aggro)

Every tournament has some players trying poorly-built rogue decks or noncompetitive Modern decks; other than these decks, Merfolk and other aggro decks (like Goblins) are the closest you will get to a free match win, as Oath completely trumpts their strategy.

To win a game, Merfolk must attack your mana to prevent you from resolving or finding Oath of Druids, while deploying enough threats to kill you before you can stabilize. Therefore as in game one of the Dredge matchup, it is essential to assume an aggressive role. Note that all of the opponent's creature will likely be unblockable due to islandwalk, so there is some chance that with enough True-Name Nemeses and lords, the opponent can race Griselbrand. Elesh Norn in games two or three eliminates this threat and makes it extremely difficult for the opponent to win.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Griselbrand

-1 Misdirection

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Pithing Needle

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

+3 Abrupt Decay

Slightly Favorable

Storm

Yes, the Storm matchup is slightly favorable, despite Storm's strength against other "big blue" decks. The reason is that Griselbrand presents an extremely fast clock: if Storm stumbles during the first couple of turns, you have a window in which to resolve Oath and find Griselbrand, at which point your opponent will have great difficulty resolving their tutors and other game-winning spells.

The Storm matchup is one of the few cases where it is correct to assume a control role. Your job during the crucial first few turns of the game is to not-lose: you must counter their attempts to generate large quantities of black mana, and to resolve Dark Petition in particular, at all costs. Thoughtseize and Mental Misstep are excellent here, as is Flusterstorm. Do not waste Mental Missteps on blue cantrip like Ponder or Brainstorm; save them for Dark Ritual. Do not tap out to resolve Oath if you can leave up mana for countermagic instead.

Few Storm decks play countermagic, so an early Show and Tell is usually a safe, game-winning play. The biggest risk is that the opponent Shows Yawgmoth's Agenda; unless the opponent is very low on life, passing the turn to an opponent with Agenda will lose the game. In this situation I recommend paying as much life as necessary to try to find Time Walk or Vault+Key instead.

Necropotence is less of a threat, since it is usually too slow(!) to race Oath. Keep in mind also that Necropotence will exile any cards that the opponent discards due to your Thoughtseizes; Demonic Tutor for Thoughtseize can be a game-winning play if you can snatch their Tendrils of Agony.

Nihil Spellbomb comes in to thwart Dark Petition and Yawgmoth's Will. Nihil Spellbomb continues to function even in the presence of Defense Grid, making it excellent insurance against broken opposing turns. More Flusterstorms allow you to fight more reliably against the opponent's early-turn acceleration and disruption.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Pithing Needle

-1 Abrupt Decay

-1 Dig Through Time

+2 Flusterstorm

+2 Nihil Spellbomb

"Big Blue"

The strategy against blue decks is to overwhelm their countermagic with multiple must-counter threats, such as Oath, Show and Tell, and Vault+Key pieces. The blue deck is likely to feature potent card advantage engines like Gush and Treasure Cruise, so it is essential to assume an agressive role and pressure the opponent during the early turns when they haven't had times to set up defenses.

The reason I list Big Blue as a slightly favorable matchup, and Mentor as just a tossup, is that the traditional non-Mentor creatures like Delver, Young Pyromancer, Consecrated Sphinx, etc. present a slow clock (relatively speaking), allowing you a few turns to penetrate the opponent's countermagic while maintaining a high enough life total to activate Griselbrand at least once. Once Griselbrand is in play, the Oath deck can transition to the control role, patiently countering the opponent's important spells. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the most dangerous card in most blue lists, as it can stop Griselbrand even once it is in play. A preemptive Needle naming Jace is prudent.

Abrupt Decay is a trump against several key permanents in blue decks, including Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Dack Fayden, other small creatures, and Grafdigger's Cage. No number of Mana Drains can stop Abrupt Decay from removing Cage, and this play will punish countless overconfident and overextended fellow blue mages.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Memory's Journey

+2 Flusterstorm

The exact sideboarding plan will depend on the blue deck's specific build; i.e. it may sometimes be necessary to bring in more Abrupt Decays.

Grixis Vault

By "Grixis Vault" decks I refer to blue decks with a very high artifact density (including artifact lands), whose primary strategy is to win by tutoring for Vault+Key, and/or using Tezzeret, the Seeker to animate a lethal number of 5/5 artifacts.

As with other blue decks, the main danger of the Vault deck is that its draw engines -- Thoughtcast and Thirst for Knowledge -- easily trump your Ancestral Recall and Dig Through Time. By chaining enough draw spells you opponent is bound to eventually find game-ending threats like Tinker, Time Vault, Tezzeret, or Memory Jar. Abrupt Decay trumps Time Vault, and it is prudent to keep up Abrupt Decay mana at all times. As always, the strategy for beating Vault is to assume an agressive role, and overwhelm their early defenses.

Pithing Needle is excellent in this matchup, as it can stop either Tezzeret of Time Vault. Artifact hate intended for the Shops matchup also does good work here, for obvious reasons.

Typical Sideboard:

-4 Mental Misstep

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Misdirection

+3 Abrupt Decay

+2 Nature's Claim

+1 Pithing Needle

Tossup

Mentor

Mentor decks are the most dangerous of the blue decks, for multiple reasons. First, a Mentor represents an exponentially growing threat -- playing Oath a turn after Mentor may already be too slow to stop the opponent from successfully racing Griselbrand. Second, since the deck is playing white for Mentor, they are also likely to possess annoying sideboard answers like Karakas and Containment Priest.

Abrupt Decay is essential in this matchup, as it not only uncounterably answers Mentor, but also removes Containment Priest. Elesh Norn gives you a way to clear out the opposing monk tokens, cutting off the possibility of the opponent racing Griselbrand. Still, this matchup is rough -- sometimes you will get an early Oath and run away with the game, and sometimes the opponent will play an early Mentor or Jace, counter all of your threats, and run away with the game. If Shops loses its deck-to-beat status due to the recent Lodestone Golem restriction, I plan to swap out Shops hate for more Mentor answers.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Griselbrand

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Dig Through Time

-1 Memory's Journey

+3 Abrupt Decay

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

BUG

BUG is very likely to play early creatures, like Dark Confidant and Deathrite Shaman, activating Oath even if you do not have Orchard. Unfortunately, all of BUG's creatures are dangerous -- including the deceptively flexible Shaman -- and BUG has potent answers to Oath in the form of Trygon Predator and their own Abrupt Decays. Moreover BUG can put great pressure on your mana via Wastelands and Null Rods.

An early Oath nevertheless will win most games, especially if you can protect against Abrupt Decay using Thoughtseize or Misdirection. It is usually wise to Misstep Deathrite Shaman, unless you have an Oath you can play and protect next turn; Shaman allows the BUG player to accelerate into Jace, fix their mana in order to resolve Abrupt Decay or Trygon Predator, and removes your best spells from your graveyard, greatly weakening Yawgmoth's Will. Trygon Predator is an extreme threat for obvious reasons. Dark Confidant will allow the opponent to win the game through incremental card advantage, but is usually not worth countering unless it looks like the game will inevitably go long.

The sideboard strategy against BUG assumes that Deathrite Shaman and Grafdigger's Cage effectively shuts off your graveyard recursion tactics. Abrupt Decay is excellent at stopping BUG's creatures, and removing Null Rods; brining in basic lands relieves some of BUG's pressure on your manabase.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Flusterstorm

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Pithing Needle

-1 Dig Through Time

-1 Memory's Journey

-1 Yawgmoth's Will

+1 Island

+1 Forest

+3 Abrupt Decay

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobyte

Dark Depths

Dark Depths relies on another unrestricted two-card combo, Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage/Vampire Hexmage. These combo pieces are weaker on their own than Oath is, but Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage are both uncounterable, which can pose problems for Oath if it cannot win the game in the first few turns.

The deck has literally zero outs to an opposing Marit Lage token. You must therefore stop the Dark Depths combo at all costs. If your opponent does manage to create a 20/20 token, you have to hope that your opponent attacks you with it, allowing you to chump block with Griselbrand, and giving you an opening to set up infinite turns while the Marit Lage is tapped.

Strip Mine is excellent against Dark Depths; it can be used in response to them activating Stage or Hexmage to stop the combo, requiring them to find two of their second combo pieces before they can go off. There is an important timing issue to be aware of when fighting Dark Depths. Often the opponent will wait until your end of turn to create a Marit Lage token (presumably to play around the possibility of Jace, the Mind Sculptor bouncing their token). This gives you a window to stop Dark Depths even after they have assembled both combo pieces, by searching for and playing Strip Mine during your main phase. Your opponent cannot response to the special action of playing Strip Mine once you find it, and once in play, they cannot activate Hexmage/Stage without you being able to Strip the Depths in response. The opponent's correct play is to create Marit Lage as soon as possible, or at the very least, in response to Griselbrand's card draw ability / your cantrips / your Demonic Tutor. But unless the opponent knows you have no Jace or other answers to Lage, they are unlikely to do so, giving you a narrow out.

Pithing Needle obviously stops Thespian's Stage or Hexmage, and comes in games two and three.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

+1 Pithing Needle

Slightly Unfavorable

Landstill

If you cannot resolve Oath during your first couple of turns, you probably never will. Most of Landstill's cards are great against Oath, from Mishra's Factories that whittle away your life total without activating Oath, to Jace which bounces Griselbrand even if you do manage to get Griselbrand into play, to the namesake Standstill that heavily punishes you for playing artifact mana and cantrips.

To make matters worse, Karakas is common in Landstill sideboards.

Why then is Landstill only "slightly unfavorable"? If you do manage to land an early Oath, you are the heavy favorite to win the game. When Landstill wins, it doesn't do so quickly, so you will have plenty of turns to find and play an (uncounterable) Orchard.

Pithing Needle naming Jace or Mishra's Factory can buy you some time, and Flusterstorm allows you to fight back during the early turns. But make no mistake: if it is turn 3 and there is no Oath in play, you have lost the game, just as surely as you have lost the game against Shops if they have played multiple Spheres and Wastelands without you landing an Oath; the only difference is that against Landstill, you labor under the illusion of still having a chance.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-4 Mental Misstep

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Island

+1 Forest

+2 Flusterstorm

Unfavorable

The Mirror

I prefer Fenton Oath to other Oath builds due to its consistency and resilience against a large metagame cross-section; unfortunately, these features make Fenton Oath weak to more specialized Oath strategies. Show and Tell is extremely dangerous in the mirror match, since there is a good chance your opponent can Show their own Griselbrand (or worse), and if your opponent is playing additional card filtering or disruption instead of your Show and Tell slots, they have the advantage in the match.

Emrakul is notable in that it utterly trumps Griselbrand -- the only way to beat Emrakul is to wait for it to attack, sacrifice six permanents, and hope to assemble infinte turns while Emrakul is tapped. Other Oath creatures like Void Winnower are less dangerous, but can still win games by shutting down Time Walk, Time Vault, and Demonic Tutor, giving Odd Oath time to Oath up their own Griselbrand.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the mirror match revolves around Orchard superiority. Do not play Oath until you are sure you will win the Orchard race. Strip Mine, Time Walk, and even Time Vault are invaluable as they can be used to subtly change the spirit token math. Review carefully the section at the beginning of this primer on the timing rules surrounding the Oath intervening if trigger -- the win in the mirror will often go to the player with the tighter technical play.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Pithing Needle

-1 Show and Tell

+3 Abrupt Decay

White Trash

This matchup is pure misery. If Oath ever becomes the deck to beat, White Trash is the deck that will keep it in check. The only card in the entire deck that doesn't somehow hinder your strategy are the basic Plains: Karakas, Thalia, Stony Silence, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Disenchant, Aegis of the Gods, Containment Priest, Wasteland, Grafdigger's Cage -- and this is just the maindeck!

Play Oath on turn one and pray -- you're going to need as much divine intervention as you can get.

Typical Sideboard:

-1 Hurkyl's Recall

-1 Misdirection

-4 Mental Misstep

-1 Griselbrand

+3 Abrupt Decay

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

+1 Island

+1 Forest

I have a few thoughts on this deck as I have played it in several tournaments.

First of all I am glad that you didn't include Ponder in your list, as I think that card is hot trash in this deck.

I don't think 4 Misstep is necessary, and I run an extra discard spell instead of the 4th (1 Duress).

I think 1 Jace is necessary. Without Jace, your only win condition is attacking with Griselbrand. Even if you assemble infinite turns, if they have a flying blocker with toughness > 7 (such as an Emrakul they put in to Show and Tell), you cannot win the game.

Prior to the Lodestone restriction I was playing Blazing Archon in the board instead of Elesh Norn. Archon is better against Shops. vs Shops their only out is a combination of Ravager + Triskelion. Elesh Norn is great against Dredge but they still have the out of a hardcasted Grave Troll. With Archon out their win con becomes Flayer of the Hatebound, if they run it.

Engineered Explosives is a very useful sideboard card and it gets a lot better with Mentor running around. I recommend a copy.

@mediumsteve Engineered Explosives is an intriguing option. It does sound good against tokens, Cage, even Containment Priest or Jace in a pinch.

I've tested Jace extensively and you are right that it gives the deck an out to large flying blockers (though in practice Emrakul and Marit Lage are rather rare, at least in the online metagame). However in my experience this advantage is not worth the dis-synergy between Jace and Orchard. It feels really bad to resolve Jace onto a board of 2+ Orchard tokens, and of course the situation is even worse if the opponent has also played some of their own creatures. Jace is horrible vs Shops, Dredge, Storm, and creature aggro strategies. It shines in the blue matchup, where it serves as an additional must-counter threat, but even here it is weak vs opposing tokens, expensive, and slow. I prefer to dedicate the slot to additional countermagic and disruption.

I'll have to read this more thoroughly when I get out of work, but thanks for posting this.
Oath is my deck of choice more often than not and it's nice to see it getting some respect

@Islandswamp Yes, I was a bit dismayed by the dismissiveness of some of the VSL commentators towards the deck. Oath is not optimally-positioned in every metagame, but it is a versatile and powerful strategy that always deserves respect.

@evouga said:

@Islandswamp Yes, I was a bit dismayed by the dismissiveness of some of the VSL commentators towards the deck. Oath is not optimally-positioned in every metagame, but it is a versatile and powerful strategy that always deserves respect.

Chris Pikula has regarded Oath as "not a real deck" for as long as I can remember. I can recall him saying it in earshot of me at an event in what was probably 2010, then I beat him a round or two later with Oath. Needless to say, he was not pleased.

I'm not really surprised to hear that his opinion is shared by other VSL commentators though.

Nice primer though, I'm sure Greg will weigh in at some point.

@evouga without reading the entire thing since I'm at work, I REALLY like the formatting for this. I plan to write a Delver2016 primer shortly, and will most likely steal it. Thanks for the hard work.

@evouga However, you're Mirror sideboarding is just plain wrong!

You absolutely ALWAYS do the following
-3 Oath of Druids

The card is dead. You never want it (I keep 1 to tutor for, in case my opponent boarded all his out as well). You NEVER want to play an Oath just to find out your opponent has drawn more Oarchars than you have.

@Soly how do you plan to win, without Oath? Oath is a safe play, once you have established Orchard superiority. Show and Tell is almost never safe (unless you can clear a path with e.g. Thoughtseize).

@evouga I always end up playing the Control game. I win a lot of times by becoming Spirit Aggro post-board.

You can't always rely on Orchard superiority especially if your opponent sides in Wastelands, which while really uncommon, is something I've seen.

I used to occasionally play Oath decks WITHOUT Show and Tell and I'd still sideboard out 3 Oaths. You rely on your opponent being bad and keeping his in, while you're busy drawing non-blank cards in those spots post-board.

@Soly there has been a wasteland in my sideboard for the last two events I played oath in. Good in the mirror, comes in against dredge and shops too. I've even considered using them to go after certain colors to keep people off of Gush, Abrupt Decay, or anything else important.

@Islandswamp Even so, I'd rather sandbag extra orchards and let them play the Oath. I know I'm not alone in this thought process.

Thanks for writing up this primer on Fenton Oath! Like many aspects of Vintage, there's a 'wild west' feel to deck/archetype theory and primers like these really help establish a baseline for each archetype, similar to the DTB and established deck section for Legacy at the mtgthesource.

I love this deck and exclusively played this deck for a full year in paper tournaments (NE weekly tournaments, NYSE, Champs etc.). I know nothing about online so here are my 2 cents based on paper games only:

LSV actually played a similar list at vintage champs last year, he was 7-1 before having to drop to catch a flight. So ignore Pikula, oath is real deck and can be a great choice for some metagames.

This is not the best JTMS deck for sure, but like you alluded to, the 'brainstorm' effect is absolutely insane and necessary for this deck. I've been extremely happy casting JTMS while giving my opp a token, because I still get 3 brainstorms out of it before it dies, AND Jace can always tick up. JTMS is also by far the best card in the mirror, so I'd be very reluctant to not play at least 1, usually 2, and have been happy with it.

On a note re: the mirror - Yes traditionally you sideboard out 3 oath, and 2 show and tell. You win the following way: After establishing orchard dominance, tutor for your single oath, hardcasting griselbrand eventually or stick a JTMS. If you play vault key, that is another way to win obviously.

My main issue with the deck has to do with consistency. There are an upward of 6 cards (3 grisel, vault/key/memory's journey) that do almost nothing on their own in the deck, and having any of them them in your opening hand (50% of the time by my estimate) feels bad. You can get lucky and even spike a tournament or 2 with great draws, but eventually the variance will catch up to you.

The other issue is containment priest. While abrupt decay is a great answer, mentor just does not give you enough time to find the decay due to how quick of a clock it is.

While winning game 1 is easy, 2 and 3 becomes nightmares IF your opp is well prepared. When ppl are unprepared against oath they get crushed.

Completely anecdotal, but fun anyways: Last weekend, I played against Greg Fenton and he is on the play with the following draw: lotus, recall, oath x2, orchard, land, flusterstorm. I beat that god draw with a turn 1 aegis of gods plus double force of will hand. If the game dragged on longer, he might have found an abrupt decay, but because my deck has more velocity, I was able to find a containment priest before that happened and seal the game completely while he just sat there playing draw go for awhile.

Thank you for writing this outstanding primer to my deck, Evouga.

I'm amazed at how much consideration, care, and fantastic detail you put into every aspect of it. You took a lot of words straight out of my mouth.

I'm only just seeing this for the first time, but I plan on adding in some anecdotes, fun facts, and extra details to your thread later in the day or week. I'm looking forward to reading the entire article.

@hankzhong I was off of Jace for a while. I went from two in the main, to one and one Tezzeret, to one Jace TMS, and then to none and one in the SB, and then none for quite some time.

I am now back to running one Jace, because I think it's right again. The reason I wasn't running it is that I wanted my deck to care the most about the first few turns, and plowing through an Oath, But now Oath has picked back up online, and as you mentioned, Jace is SUPER important in the mirror. Without Time Walk or Vault, you can't even beat a Jace much of the time. So having one to put the hurt on mirror opponents is key.
Also, being able to put an Oath target back into your deck never hurts.

@Soly I side out SOME Oaths, but usually I leave in two. Your point makes perfect sense though. I will also not side out Show and Tell all the time either, it depends if I'm playing Thoughtseize or not. If I am on Thoughtseize, there's a decent chance I can safely cast Show and Tell. Also, if you have enough mana and life, it's totally possible to Show Griselbrand and draw into either a Vault Key combo or your own Jace or Echoing Truth (which I do sometimes run). It's not pretty, but it can work.

I've had several games where my opponent had enough of an army of tokens to potentially race me, but I've used Show and Tell to play a second, untapped Griselbrand to block with, denying my opponent the chance to race. It doesn't always come up, but in games against Mentor or Pyromancer it can save your life.

Your matchup analysis of Dredge is wrong. You seem to assume that Oath naturally trumps Dredge, but it's the reverse. Turn one Oath gives you some chance to steal game one, so there's that, but Dredge is easily capable of overpowering Griselbrand. Dredge can race Griselbrand without even casting any spells by just using Ichorid and Bridges, and Oath has no way to clear Bridges. In addition, Dredge can Flashback Therapy to kill the tokens you give them, buying them more time. I'll grant you that Oathing into Elesh Norn is a winning position, but Dredge can beat a resolved Oath in several ways. The 1 turn window you grant them by passing turn before you Oath can likely be enough for them to win the game with Dread Return. Also, Dredge naturally packs their sideboards with a huge myriad of enchantment removal that just so happens to take out Oath. Your 3 sideboard cards aren't close to enough to sway the post-board percentage back into your favor. You might occasionally draw that opening hand of Orchard, Mox, Mox, Oath, Nihil Spellbomb, but that isn't going to happen very often.

Am I criticizing your deck? No. Pick your battles. You can't have a deck that beats everything. Sacrificing your Dredge matchup might be the correct thing to do, but don't fool yourself into believing you're above 50% against Dredge.

I may not have made this point clear in my original posts, but the matchup analyses are based not on armchair theorycrafting or wishful thinking, but on hundreds of games played in the MTGO Vintage 2-man paid queue. I am quite happy with the Dredge matchup.

It may be that the online Dredge pilots are uncharacteristically poor, but that has not been my impression. In any case, if you have an account I'm on MTGO most evenings, and am always happy to playtest against Dredge.

@evouga "Armchair theorycrafting?" Well, I like my armchair, but my reasoning was sound. I do have an account on MTGO and I'd be happy to test with you. Let's not make this about proving something, though.

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