Oath vs. Mentor Decks



  • For many this may be old hat, but I'm trying to better understand the Oath vs. Mentor matchup.

    I have been playing a form of Saheeli Oath with 3 Gush. I manage to do pretty well against Shops and Paradoxical Outcome decks, and for awhile I was doing fine against Mentor. However, lately I seem to have been getting beat up by them. They seem to have more card draw and less dead draws than I do.

    Curious as to how Oath players ensure a good win percentage against Mentor.



  • Cutting dead cards like Saheeli would be a good start.



  • It's almost like you're giving something up in the pseudo mirrors to have a more simplistic match up against the tempo decks.



  • @JuzamJim Is this a general statement against the Saheeli Oath build or the card Saheeli specifically? Are you recommending a different Oath build?

    Saheeli is certainly clunky. That said, I've found that it's Scry 1 isn't worthless and 1 damage that can go to an opponent's planeswalker is surprisingly relevant.



  • @jhport12 if you are playing Saheeli as a planeswalker in Oath, that means you are bypassing 2 planeswalkers that are just generally better in the metagame the past 2 years (Jace TMS and Dack Fayden) for the opportunity cost of having Saheeli in your deck. What does Saheeli do against stuff like Ravager, Thought-Knot Seer, Mentor, etc.? It functions as a 3 mana Time Walk for your opponent, and is very low impact comparatively. I would rather play either of those aforementioned planeswalkers or even Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast in those slots (which also usually changes part of the strategic footing of the Oath build in question).



  • The deck was designed to have very favorable matchups against Shops, Eldrazi, and Outcomes at the expense of the Mentor matchup. By sacrificing Orchards for the Gush draw engine, you are giving up speed against a control deck (Mentor) which gives them time to draw their Priests, removal, Walkers, etc. By running Sun Titan, you get a castable Oath target but one that is susceptible to Swords if you go for the infinite Sun Titan route. The "best" Oath strategy against Mentor is BUG Griselbrand but you aren't the best against good Shops pilots or Eldrazi, and the deck lacks consistency. And the matchup is still sub-50% against Mentor.



  • @JACO said in Oath vs. Mentor Decks:

    @jhport12 if you are playing Saheeli as a planeswalker in Oath, that means you are bypassing 2 planeswalkers that are just generally better in the metagame the past 2 years (Jace TMS and Dack Fayden) for the opportunity cost of having Saheeli in your deck.

    The various versions of the deck I've played run 2-3 Dacks and 1-2 JTMS - the same as Kelly Oath. You aren't running Saheelis over other planeswalkers. You are running Saheeli + Sun Titan over Salvager and his Trinkets or Griselbrand and his Show and Tells/Vault Keys/etc.


  • TMD Supporter

    I've never had much trouble facing Workshop decks with my Oath builds, I guess everyone I've ever played wasn't any good or something.

    The issue with any Oath deck against Mentor, whether or not it's running Gush, is that they give a max of four slots to a win condition that's basically as deadly as anything the Oath deck has and is far more efficient. That means the Mentor player has more room for counters and other control cards. Plus they can often run fewer mana sources.

    Then there's the fact that Gush means they'll see more cards than you most of the time, it's pretty rough. Even when I'm running Gush in my deck I feel like it's somewhat hard to keep up, although I've been doing much better against Gush/Mentor decks in general lately.

    The plus side is that the Oath deck has four Oath of Druids which are usually a pain in the neck for a lot of decks in game one. In game two, things get trickier, but all is not lost. The key is to try to understand properly how your opponent will attempt to stop you. If that fails me, I just revert to my base strategy of being a world-class luck sack. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

    The key to beating Workshops with an Oath deck is knowing which hands to keep. I'd rather keep a hand with more mana than almost anything else. Beyond that it changes depending on the exact build of their deck, or if it's the very different archetypes like White Eldrazi or Tribal builds. I've never felt like I was at a loss against those decks because I plopped a griselbrand into play, save for Karakas, a card I've found ample answers for. And If I'm hard-casting a six drop against those decks I feel like I'm already winning.

    Unfortunately I can't give any personal advice on beating a Mentor deck with Sun Titans because I've never actually tried that combo. I suspect it is probably tough for the reasons that have already been stated, and I don't know anything beyond that.


  • TMD Supporter

    I think one of the better cards Oath can have against Mentor is Abrupt Decay. Abrupt Decay answers Monastery Mentor before it can become a problem and is a perfect solution to the anti-Oath cards that Mentor tends to bring in (Grafdigger's Cage, Containment Priest, etc.). Additionally, going with Oath targets that are "immune" to Swords to Plowshares and Karakas will provide added durability against Mentor decks.


  • TMD Supporter

    @desolutionist said in Oath vs. Mentor Decks:

    I think one of the better cards Oath can have against Mentor is Abrupt Decay. Abrupt Decay answers Monastery Mentor before it can become a problem and is a perfect solution to the anti-Oath cards that Mentor tends to bring in (Grafdigger's Cage, Containment Priest, etc.). Additionally, going with Oath targets that are "immune" to Swords to Plowshares and Karakas will provide added durability against Mentor decks.

    Well, I always bring in abrupt decay. I usually have to save it for a hate card though. But it is really good, even though they might get some tokens in the deal.



  • @ChubbyRain So far, I haven't really missed the Orchards much in the Mentor matchup, although maybe I haven't been paying enough attention to realize the impact they would have on certain game states.

    It sounds a little like it is an Oath problem, generally, as opposed to a Sun Titan/Saheeli problem in particular. Or would it be more accurate to say it is a Gush Oath problem? Does non-Gush Oath perform better against Mentor? I just started playing MTGO Vintage and it seems like that meta skews more towards PO decks and Mentor decks. So, I gain a little and lose a little.

    What would people think about losing Gush and just putting in Preordain? Increases the ability to Scry away Sun Titan/Saheeli, even though it doesn't generate card advantage like Gush does.


  • TMD Supporter

    @jhport12 Playing Gush optimally and playing Oath optimally are two separate skills that are required to properly pilot a Gush/Oath hybrid.

    Running your own Gushes is a way to not get buried under the constant stream of card advantage a Mentor/Pyromancer/Gush deck creates. However, depending on the build, you're still running some cards that can be clunky and cumbersome.

    We put cards in our deck so that we may draw them and play them, except for when we're playing an Oath deck (or arguably other archetypes as well). The average Oath deck has 2-6 cards you either don't want to draw or just don't want in your opening hand.

    Contrast that with a Mentor deck. Usually drawing more than one Mentor isn't a problem as multiples are even more powerful. Mentor "combos" with every non-land, non-creature card in your deck so it's trivially easy to assemble a winning board state.

    With any Oath deck there are many, many times where the card you peel off the top of your deck will not help you. That's an issue of variance and it can be difficult if not impossible to completely solve. The Saheeli deck solves this somewhat by having Oath targets that are able to be hard cast, but it also has a bunch of three drops and cards like Saheeli that are better off in your graveyard.

    This is just something you're going to have to learn to live with, but it shouldn't be a deal breaker. @ChubbyRain is a very good deck builder and I trust the list has a lot of power. However you may have to just keep grinding with it until you learn the absolute best way to play it. I can personally tell you that I lost many a match of Vintage before I started to really understand where my mistakes were, as they're not always as readily apparent in such a complex format.

    Some people have disagreed with my opinion regarding Oath of Druids decks, but I strongly feel that it is beneficial to learn the more straightforward versions of the deck first (BUG) before moving on to lists with more moving parts. Put simply, Griselbrand is pretty user-friendly. If you Show or Oath a Griselbrand into play and it gets popped, you're still up seven cards and you can usually find a way to win with those.

    That's just my two cents. Good luck!


  • TMD Supporter

    In my testing (TP Room on MTGO), I've had decent successes with my Oath build against Mentor Decks. I run a variant of Steel City with Oath. I run the full complement of rainbow lands including Orchard. You should easily be able to search for a Steel City deck primer if you want to know the base I started from.

    The overarching theory of steel city decks is that you jam spells until something sticks. Game 1 against an unknown opponent, I'll jam as many bombs into the first two turns as possible. That includes oath, tutors, draw 7s, whatever. I'm completely aggressive and I will tap orchard for non-oath mana if needed.

    Game 2 (versus Mentor specifically) I play a bit more conservatively. I'll use a combination of missteps/duress to buy some time while I decide on my game plan. I'll usually tutor for tinker->Inkwell (I run the Golden Gun creature package of Blightsteel + Emrakul but I sometimes board in Inkwell against mentor game 2, because it's anti-StP.) If the tinker plan fails (which it usually does,) then I'll fall back on the Oath plan. If I carefully sequence my discards and missteps, I can usually find an opening to cast Oath after a failed tinker plan. A hasty Emrakul (with Dragon Breath) is usually enough.

    The third plan is Vault+Key. Steel City decks do a good job of finding the combo because of the combination of powerful tutors, draw 7s, and other draw spells (Thirst, Thoughtcast.)

    Mentor decks usually win a counter war, which is why I've moved away from a more control-oriented Oath build towards the combo version (Golden Gun creature package + steel city explosiveness.)



  • My wife and I have played Oathstill vs Jeskai Mentor for 22 matches in the past 2 weeks. Oathstill has won 14 and lost 8. I'm a slightly stonger player than my wife, but in that time we've switched decks several times and I can tell you that I am confident that this Oath is at least a slight favorite against that particular Gush build, given perfect play over time. The Jeskai build is almost exactly the Joe Brennan list from eternal weekend, except that Wear//Tear is mainboard in this one with a Swords in the SB. The Oathstill deck is as follows -

    Emrakul, TAT.............3 Mishra's Factory.............4 Standstill
    Griselbrand...............4 Forbidden Orchard........4 Oath of Druids
    Auriok Salvagers......2 Tropical Island.................3 Abrupt Decay
    Time Walk.................. Underground Sea.............4 Force of Will
    Ancestral Recall........Island......................................Mindbreak Trap
    Dig Through Time....2 Polluted Delta..................Flusterstorm
    Treasure Cruise........2 Flooded Strand............... 3Mental Misstep
    Ponder..........................Wasteland.............................Engineered Explosives
    Preordain....................Stripmine...............................Sensei's Divining Top
    Sylvan Library............Black Lotus
    2 Jace, TMS................Mox Sapphire
    Demonic Tutor..........Mox Jet
    Brainstorm.................Mox Pearl
    Mox Emerald
    Sol Ring
    Library of Alexandria

    This build works quite well for me... I know some people just don't like putting Oath and Still together, but that's fine. I like it because it has a lot of mainboard answers to the threats and Oath hate that Gush normally employs, as well as many threats of it's own which, considering the rate that Gush uses cards like Flusterstorm and Misstep, are very difficult for Gush decks to answer efficiently. Keep in mind that FoW is a 2for1.

    Salvagers, Oath, Jace, Sylvan, Standstill are all potential threats to the way Tempo-Gush decks want to play the game, each of which can't be touched by non-FoW counters. Salvagers does die to Swords. In addition, EE and Decay are shields against things like Dack and Mentor which again, can't be touched by the other control that Gush runs.

    So, to answer your question, in terms of deck building. I just try to put in a lot of cards that ignore Gush's control elements and can take the game in another direction, away from the grindy tempo strategy that Gush is so so good at. Which is what I think works in general from what we've seen in the past 6 months. Decks that can really lock it down, like Shops, have a reasonable game against Gush. Decks that can Combo off really fast is ways that gush can't interact with (I'm really thinking Dredge and Belcher here) have a reasonable game against Gush. That's my take. I just never want to get in a card drawing war with Gush decks if I can help it...



  • @ChubbyRain said in Oath vs. Mentor Decks:

    @JACO said in Oath vs. Mentor Decks:

    @jhport12 if you are playing Saheeli as a planeswalker in Oath, that means you are bypassing 2 planeswalkers that are just generally better in the metagame the past 2 years (Jace TMS and Dack Fayden) for the opportunity cost of having Saheeli in your deck.

    The various versions of the deck I've played run 2-3 Dacks and 1-2 JTMS - the same as Kelly Oath. You aren't running Saheelis over other planeswalkers. You are running Saheeli + Sun Titan over Salvager and his Trinkets or Griselbrand and his Show and Tells/Vault Keys/etc.

    Sorry, when looking at most of the lists I had seen I must have bypassed how many of each were played. Regardless of how many of each individual one are played, my point remains about the opportunity cost of Saheeli vs. other more powerful cards in Vintage (of similar mana curve).



  • The benefits of Saheeli has typically been that you stand a chance of winning on the turn you activate Oath, which is significant. You can also get one Saheeli, copy Sun Titan, get something back, then attack with the Sun Titan copy and get something back.

    I won't argue it's better than other Oath builds in the current meta (MTGO or paper), I haven't played enough. But it has interesting lines to it.

    Someone built a Saheeli Oath that avoids Gush and opts instead for great hate cards like Chalice/Trinisphere/Stony Silence/Pernicious Deed/Crucible of Worlds main deck. It's pretty interesting.



  • @JACO said in Oath vs. Mentor Decks:

    Sorry, when looking at most of the lists I had seen I must have bypassed how many of each were played. Regardless of how many of each individual one are played, my point remains about the opportunity cost of Saheeli vs. other more powerful cards in Vintage (of similar mana curve).

    And my point remains that comparing Saheeli to other cards based on converted mana cost is ignorant.

    The card is part of a two-card combo - that is its function. Does the deck need a win-the-game-now combo? If yes, then compare it and Sun Titan to other Oath creatures and combos that Oath has access to...



  • @JACO @ChubbyRain I totally agree. Something else worth mentioning about Saheeli (which I consider to be a good card which is bad to play... if that makes sense) is that she almost forces you to play a version of Oath with Sun Titan in it, which then forces you into a very graveyard oriented strategy... in a metagame where there is a ton of anti-graveyard sideboarding already present because of dredge.

    (Here's the top 10 most common SB cards in vintage over the past year - Cage 1.7 per deck - Containment Priest .0.76 per deck - Tormod's Crypt 0.6 per deck - Ingot Chewer - Rest in Peace

    Sun Titan Oath seems like the second best graveyard deck in the format... which isn't where I think one wants to be.

    To Jaco's point... Saheeli might be fine, but I for one don't think there is any reason to think that it causes winning to happen better than Jace or Dack. I suppose you could put it in with those two cards, but unless somebody is funning 4 Jaces and 4 Dacks plus at least 1 Saheeli, it's really perfectly fair to compare these cards since they are competing for space in decks and space within the larger metagame. (I confess to being ignorant of how it is ignorant to compare cards with same CMC when it comes to card selection for deckbuilding.)

    The same competition for slots is certainly at play when it comes to "Oath targets". (Yes people, Oath does target but that's not what I'm talking about.) Sun Titan for example, which again, I think is a fine card, doesn't seem to cause winning nearly as often as other Oath targets like Griselbrand... and the other creature I really think it should be compared to... Auriok Salvagers. It seems to me that if you like Sun Titan in Oath than you should love Salvagers because it's so much leaner, comboing with the Lotus that's already in the deck. (My current build doesn't even run the spellbomb, because fetchlands with Sensei's Top, plus Engineered Explosives, plus Emrakul, give plenty of finishing options to finish the game, without including too much garbage you don't want to draw.) Plus you can cast Salvagers much more readily than Titan and play right around those Priests and Cages from the list above. Ultimately one needs to ask, am I winning more or less by playing Salvagers and Jace and Dack or by playing Sun Titan and Saheeli (multiples if you really want the combo) ... My humble opinion is that while the Titan/Rai combo does live up to all those adjectives that are usually assigned to it... powerful, interesting, cool... it just doesn't win more often then the already established combos in other Oath builds, because it isn't as lean, is actually a little less powerful, is less versatile and much more fragile to the most common graveyard hate in the format.



  • @Topical_Island

    It's ignorant because it lacks knowledge of how the deck plays out. I rarely end up casting the Saheelis I draw...They get pitched to Force, discarded to Dack, floated on top with SDT or JTMS so that I can Oath at least one into the yard. The mana cost only matters insofar as it contains a Blue symbol and is less than or equal to 3 for Sun Titan. This may not be intuitive but it is literally "lacking knowledge about something in particular". I don't mean it as an insult to @JACO.

    I've already mentioned my strategy for circumventing graveyard hate. As for Salvagers, I play on MTGO and so the Bomberman combo is not a realistic alternative. Outside of MTGO, Bomberman gets shut down by Null Rod and Sphere effects which are becoming more prevalent.



  • @ChubbyRain Yeah, as to the ignorant thing... I really don't want to get hung up on this word but... I just don't think that's the way to argue. Either you can demonstrate Saheeli is better or you can't. (The best way is to play it and win with it... in my opinion) Responding to a counterargument by calling it ignorant is... what's the word... hmm... well I would just stick to refuting it with evidence.

    Modo is a great reason, in my opinion, not to play Salvagers... Taxing effects aren't. We can just know that because Bomberman Oath continues to perform pretty well in actual paper tourneys where taxing effects make up a large part of the field. Brian Kelly famously did that thing he did, right through the Lodestone Shops max-tax days. (Yes I know Lodestone doesn't actually break up the combo.) Shops was what... 40% of that field?

    We are pretty deep in the theory pool here. Maybe Saheeli is just awesome. I really don't know. It doesn't seem like it to me. This build seems way less versatile than Salvagers builds running other creatures like Gris and Emrakul which can get around various kinds of hate. If I understand this combo with Saheeli, we need multiple Saheelis in play or graveyard, and a Titan come into play trigger? But we pitch the Saheelis to Force of Will and don't play them often... So how many Saheeli's do we run to make this combo a thing? I am totally ignorant of this build, admittedly (the technical usage, rather than the pointed usage of the word) but this seems just a lot more convoluted then casting cards like Dack or Jace and just ramming more-better cards down the opponent's throat. I think that's all we're really saying here.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to The Mana Drain was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.