4c Planeswalker sort of Oath Control

I should start by saying that I rarely post on themanadrain, but have been a daily lurker and occasional poster for at least 15 years. I don't get to test much as my work is very busy.

When Oko was spoiled a friend asked me if it was good in Vintage, and I immediately said no. He's a good player and has top 8'ed many tournaments (outside of Vintage), so when he asked me repeatedly and suggested it might be good, I listened. I decided to try and see if Oko was any good in vintage. I usually play 4c control type lists, a la Brian Kelly decks with high land counts, slightly higher mana curve and access to the best control cards across most colors, think Sylvan mentor or Kelly Oath.

I started with the 4c list I had been playing, which was a control deck running Dack Fayden, Narset, and Wrenn and Six, which helped with color fixing and an occasional Strip/Wasteland lock. My first iteration of the deck with Oko looked a lot like the RUG Planeswalker lists that just top 8'ed in Pittsburgh but 4 colors meant I could run black, which allowed for demonic tutor and assassin's trophy. I really liked assassin's trophy because it really enables the land destruction pathway, as seen in this years finals match against golos shops and for a control deck to have a card that answers any problem permanent (such as an opposing Oko out of lightning bolt range, any large creature, narset, etc) is really helpful.

When I added Oko to the deck, I realized a couple of things right away. It is a great planeswalker to fight other planeswalkers and can really control the board. It forces most opponents to over commit to the board to try and stabilize. Adding Oko also meant my planeswalker count went up to 8. I think it's important to realize that Vintage now has enough good planeswalkers to run 8-10 in a deck. This hasn't been the case in the past, and in my opinion changes the way we can build decks utilizing oath of druids since a planeswalker control list like the ones currently being played are at their best when unmolested by opposing creatures and nothing tells your opponent not to play creatures better than oath. The inherent strain placed on the opponent by decks that run 8-10 planeswalkers and oath is hard to describe, and Oko is probably the glue holding it all together. Oko strains the opponent the most of all planeswalkers as an early Oko can turn your opponents mox into a creature to trigger oath even if he was holding back creatures. If you don't have oath, Oko can take over the board with creatures forcing your opponent to play creatures, resulting in making oath live. This idea of playing a more controlling list with oath as the win condition is pretty removed from the typical combo oath strategy of turn one oath, but I think it is a viable option for RUG planeswalker like decks to at least consider. It also means that it may not be necessary or even correct to play 4 oath and 4 orchards, if oath is functioning like a mid to late game win condition rather than a primary combo. It just means that while the opponent is playing 2-3 x tarmogoyf you are playing 2-3 x oath. As a side note, Oko also works well with oath post board to remove containment priest and graffdiggers cage.

4c Planeswalker Oath

Lands/Mana

3 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring
2 Volcanic Island
2 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Oath Package
3 Oath of Druids
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Inferno Titan
2 Crop Rotation (for orchard, strip lock, mana fixing, or tabernacle)

Planeswalkers

2 Oko, Thief of Crowns
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Wrenn and Six
2 Dack Fayden

Counters/Answers
4 Force of Will
1 Force of Vigor
1 Flusterstorm
1 Mental Misstep
1 Pyroblast
4 Assassin's Trophy

Draw/Tutor

1 Dig Through Time
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Brainstorm
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Treasure Cruise

SB: 1 Pithing Needle
SB: 1 Ashiok, Dream Render
SB: 1 Bojuka Bog
SB: 1 Veil of Summer
SB: 2 Blazing Archon
SB: 2 Forbidden Orchard
SB: 1 Oath of Druids
SB: 4 Leyline of the Void
SB: 1 Null Rod
SB: 1 Force of Vigor

I would like to make some brief comments on the card choices in the deck.

The lands/manabase is notable for a single Forbidden Orchard. As a control deck, I didn't want to play a long game and have to fight my own spirit tokens. Oko gives alternatives to activate oath and I wasn't planning on combing early. In the interest of diverse options, I run 2 crop rotations, which can find orchard but several other utility lands including strip, tabernacle, and bojuka bog from the SB. This also increases Green count for oath of vigor. I put 2 Orchards in the board for games when you need to speed up. Also, Wrenn can get back lands sacked with crop rotation, and postboard bojuka bog can be sacked to find tabernacle (for example) and then recurred with Wrenn.

The one sol ring could be the last mox to increase the chance of turn one oath, but I preferred the extra mana provided by sol ring.

Oath package

I went with 3 oath of druids since it is more of a midgame play after the opponent has been forced into playing creatures to deal with the planeswalkers. The last is in the board for games when you need to accelerate.

Emrakul is nice in that if you draw it, which occurs more often in a deck not trying to combo, it can be discarded to reshuffle. Just be sure to return a strip mine first to avoid loosing a strip lock.

Inferno titan is castable and can easily deal with Elk tokens. Blazing Archons in the board is pretty common these days for dredge, survival, etc.

The planeswalkers are pretty self-explanatory. Oko is great for board control and forcing favorable board states for oath or keeping your other planeswalkers alive. Narset is amazing and can play with Dack to occasionally force your opponent to draw 1, discard 2. Wrenn can fix mana, strip lock, replay tabernacle or bojuka bog, and go infinite turns with time walk late game, while avoiding pyroblast (much like oath). Dack can sometimes ultimate, which causes assassin's trophy to become a two-mana uncounterable control permanent, which is pretty sick.

Control package is pretty heavy on control, though I would love 1-2 more counter spell effects. Assassin's trophy is a great answer to everything (except stonecoil serpent). It can compliment strip lock or remove key permanents. The flexibility makes it invaluable in my opinion.

The draw package is pretty standard. Delve cards get turned on earlier with oath.

Anyway, I think that I will stop here. I know this was long, but i would love to hear any thoughts from people who have tried something like this or feel that this list has subtle (or glaring) weaknesses.

last edited by marcb

@marcb said in 4c Planeswalker sort of Oath Control:

Dack can steal artifact elk tokens

this is not the case. an elk is an elk. it will retain any supertypes(legendary, basic, snow) but its only type will be Creature, unless it's a particular card with weird interactions.

Thanks! You are right. I just rechecked the rules. That makes some of the interactions with Oko and Dack a little worse, but doesn't change the overall crux of the deck. Please keep the feedback coming!

Marc

I think you might want a different Oath... Oath of Nissa is pretty interesting. I had some success with it before Oko was printed.

Thanks wfain.

Oath of Nissa might be ok as a 1 of, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't do what oath of druids does. Oath if Nissa is kind of like a green one mana cantrip that smooths the mana base in a 4c planeswalker list. Oath of druids is a win condition that plays very well with planeswalkers, by preventing your opponent from developing answers to your planeswalkers and allowing you to sometimes play Emrakul on turn 2 or even as a mid-game finisher.

I guess the first question I would ask to people is this:

Do you think that oath has strategic interaction with planeswalkers?

If so, is there any benefit in the current metagame to use oath as a control deck finisher rather than all-in combo, noting the increase in rise of very playable control planeswalkers as listed in the original post?

If it's feasible, could an ideal list not run the full compliment of oath and orchards main?

I think playing oath in a planes walker control shell when your opponent plays tarmogoyf or even pyromancer may be a strategic advantage (as is seen in the recent Xerox planeswalker decks). There are lots of advantages to oath against other matches as well.

Ostensibly one of the strengths of Oath is being able to play 4c due to Orchard. Your deck will struggle with that. You have four red sources (volc, orchard, mox, lotus) to cast cards like 2x W6, Titan, 2x Dack, Pyro. On the other hand you have six black sources (3x sea, orchard, mox, lotus) to cast 4x trophy and a demonic.

You are relying heavily on red for the "end game" control. If a volc gets stripped prior to W6 coming down, you are rarely casting a large portion of your spells - and probably none of your creatures ever.

Orchard is mana fixing. If you remove it your mana base has to change

Thanks! The list was an old version I had typed up with more black for DRS, that I tried to adapt on the fly to the oath creature version. The deck I’ve been playing does have 2 u sea and 2 volcanics, given the color spread. Thanks for taking such a close look at it. I may consider a second orchard in part for mana fixing in place of Trop x3. Mostly still trying to figure out if there’s a world where oath is worth loosing creatures when I don’t plan to play 4 of each oath and orchard.

last edited by marcb

I want to thank everyone for the lively discussion so far. Please keep it going. In the interest of providing food for thought and hopes that it keeps the conversation more active or encourages others to post, I will say that I recently played a slightly outdated version of this list against a few decks in the metagame.

Here are some quick thoughts.

Xerox mentor with dread arcanist

I thought this was going to be heavily favored for arcanist. The common replacement of mental misstep with pyroblast made me feel like the deck was preboarded against me with 3 pyroblast and 3 Narset, not a bad way to start game 1 in a control vs control matchup. What I discovered was that Mana denial with strip and assassin's trophy with help from Wrenn and 6 (W6) was a decent way to punish the xerox manabase, while not worrying as much about pyroblast, since all these key mana denial cards aren't blue. Also, W6 is a fine way to get rid of Narset at 1 loyalty, when needed. The threat of oath makes it hard for the deck to just run out arcanist since it can be met with Emrakul. Without the cantrip recursion, the match-up doesn't feel as lopsided asI thought. Overall, we both felt the the matchup was more favorable for the oath list. Again, he is a better magic player than I am, but doesn't know vintage well. I'm an ok player, but have followed the metagame daily since forever.

Arcbound ravager shops - This felt like a near even match-up. Oath was again key. This is clearly a matchup where postboard, I would accelerate into max oath/orchard. In game 1, oath was still a great early play, severely hampering his ability to play creatures, but it forced a game where Mishra's factory was a key card for him to pressure me under an oath. I often felt the need to assassin's trophy/wasteland the factory to buy time to give him a creature to trigger oath. Force of vigor is amazing against shops; who knew? The pithing needle in the board was kind of an answer to factory and bazaar (dredge).

W Eldrazi

This felt bad. Containment priest and Displacer main were tough on oath. An early oath or Oko to deal with displacer/priest plus counter spells and mana denial could still get there, but accelerating was key. I think that I would have liked this match up even less with tarmogoyf or pyromancer.

Dredge

Game 1 is predictably not great. The mana denial package gives a better game 1 than most control decks, but not stellar. The SB is heavy on dredge hate plus accelerating into Blazing Archons with max oath/orchards. I think the combination of good hate and a fast game plan are needed to try and overcome dredge. Creatures wouldn't have been as good I think.

I didn't get a chance to test against PO storm or Survival and now the metagame will likely shift, so who knows.

If you're still reading, I wanted to switch gears and discuss some other card choices, I have been mulling over.

When misstep was restricted many decks added pyroblast in its place, since it's great against Narset and just as dead against shops. In the 4c decks that I run, the blue count has to be carefully considered to support force of will (FoW). It's easy to play the best nonblue cards and forget about FoW. I really wanted blue counter spells to replace mental misstep and 1 pyroblast main, which I ran even when misstep was unrestricted. It was hard to find a replacement, and for a while I ran Daze. I usually only ran 2 Daze, which meant I often drew it later in the game. Daze seems like a strange counter for a control deck trying to build its mana resources for late game (i.e. not wanting to return lands to hand), but the ability to return a land and discard it to Dack to improve the draw effect or get back the land with W6 as virtual card advantage felt pretty good. Eventually, I cut the card, but then mystic sanctuary was printed. I haven't tried mystic sanctuary in my list, but the Xerox RUG planeswalkers lists are running 2. It seems like a good way to recast Time walk while building up W6 for infinite time walks. How do people feel about mystic sanctuary? Should I try it in my list? Would Daze be a consideration in the new RUG planeswalker lists?

Looking forward to the great responses.

Sincerely,
Marc

last edited by marcb

I’ve had some thoughts over the past week that are conceptually, if not equivalent to what you’re doing, very similar. I’m looking forward to hearing if this deck performs well.

@T1DarkRit

Thanks for the kind words. At least I know that I'm not the only crazy person, having these thoughts.

I haven't had much time to test in seriousness, but some basic goldfishing and rudimentary testing plus the results from some of my previous games, makes we want to add at least another Forbidden Orchard to 2 main. I think the mana fixing is too important, though I don't run this land out without oath unless I'm baiting a strip mine/wasteland. I also think that somewhere between 2-3 Forbidden orchard and 2-3 Oath main is probably correct with up to 4 oath in the board. The number of Forbidden Orchards depends in total upon how many crop rotations you run, which I'm currently favoring 3 Orchards and 2 crop rotation in the 75. I have also increased the SB pyroblast to 2 over Veil of Summer and a Forbidden Orchard that has moved to the main deck.

If anyone ever tests on xmage, feel free to reach out. I would love to get in some practice games, but I don't have mtgo at the moment. Maybe I should look into that.

If anyone else is trying anything along these lines or has anything else they want to share, please speak up.

Sincerely,
Marc

You can still play a control plan if you have 4 Oaths in the deck.

1 Forbidden Orchard is impossible for me to believe is correct.

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