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I like green enchantments, long walks on the beach, and casting Might of Oaks on River Boa.

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posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

As an Oath of Druids pilot, the first thing I thought of was how Imprisoned In The Moon is possibly the only(?) reasonable blue answer to Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Containment Priest; and Karakas.

Song of the Dryads obviously accomplishes the same thing (and more), but the merits of Imprisoned In The Moon being blue are obvious. Most decent removal, "hate," and sideboard business can't be pitched to Force of Will.

It's unlikely, but I could see myself running one in the sideboard of some list.

posted in Oath read more

Good morning, Vintage strategists.

I was watching the Vintage Super League on YouTube and noticed something that really stood out to me.

I've been playing Oath of Druids decks in Vintage for many years. Throughout that entire tenure, judges and players alike have been telling me the same thing: When an Oath of Druids trigger is on the stack, players can't increase or decrease the amount of creatures on the battlefield to change the outcome of the Oath of Druids. They've said that however the turn began is what the Oath of Druids will ultimately "see" upon resolution, regardless of what has changed since then.

By clicking this link, you'll be taken to the exact time (22:08) when Shuhei Nakamura begins his turn. He controls fewer creatures than Brian Kelly and has the option to successfully activate Oath of Druids. Brian Kelly responds, with Nakamura's trigger on the stack, and taps his Forbidden Orchard to give Nakamura a spirit token, therefore equalizing the amount of creatures that both players control. Nakamura ultimately doesn't activate Oath of Druids and moves on to his draw step. (By choice, or due to inability?)

I was under the impression that, once a turn began, creatures couldn't be added or removed to change the outcome of an Oath of Druids. Did Nakamura not activate his Oath of Druids on his own accord, or was Kelly's last-minute decision actually what "stopped" Oath of Druids from working? Eric Froehlich and Randy Buehler didn't seem surprised by what Kelly did. Froehlich even briefly acknowledged it.

I'd like to get this straight once and for all. It's an important concept, especially for the Oath of Druids mirror match. How does adding and removing creatures work in relation to an Oath trigger going on the stack?

Let's look at Example A:

Bill is on the play and is going to take his first turn. He casts Mox Ruby, plays a Forbidden Orchard, and then casts Oath of Druids. It resolves. Bill passes the turn.

Andrew draws a card and plays a Forbidden Orchard of his own. He taps it for blue, casts a Preordain, and then ends his turn. Both players have an equal amount of creatures.

Can Bill untap, trigger Oath of Druids, and then respond to it by tapping his own Forbidden Orchard to increase Andrew's amount of creatures and change the outcome of Oath of Druids? Many judges have told me that this won't work, but I want to know for sure.

If Kelly was able to add a creature to nullify an Oath trigger by equalizing the amount of creatures, why couldn't somebody remove or add creatures to cause Oath of Druids to trigger when it otherwise wouldn't?

How about Example B?

Bill is on the play and is going to take his first turn. He casts Mox Ruby, plays a Forbidden Orchard, and then casts Oath of Druids. It resolves. Bill passes the turn.

Andrew draws a card and plays a Forbidden Orchard of his own. He casts Mox Sapphire. He taps them, casts Time Walk, and then ends his turn. Andrew takes his extra turn, taps his Forbidden Orchard, and passes.

Let's say Bill untaps, triggers Oath of Druids, and then responds to it by tapping his own Forbidden Orchard and Mox Ruby to cast Fire//Ice, successfully killing off his own two tokens. Now that Andrew has two tokens and Bill has zero, can he successfully use Oath of Druids, even though he had more at the beginning of the turn?

I realize that this thread will partially be a wash if Kelly's adding of a creature didn't actually change anything, and that Nakamura simply chose not to activate his enchantment, but regardless, let's get some clear answers.

Thank you to all who are able to offer some insight on the finer details of triggering an Oath of Druids. I'd really like, once and for all, to definitively know how all of this works.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Yes, that's right. I'm asking the age-old question: What are the best Magic cards of all time?

I know, I know. "It depends." It absolutely does depend on a lot of things. Format, game context, bias, and time period all play a huge role in any one person's answer. Serra Angel will always be a quality card, but she's been undeniably outclassed by a variety of today's creatures. Regrowth will always offer a powerful effect at a nice cost, but it really has little to no place in competitive Magic in 2016.

When I've casually asked friends, most can agree that cards such as Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall are safely near the top of the list, but it gets pretty blurry and individualized after that. There are no right or wrong answers. What exactly defines the "best cards?" Black Lotus is great on the first turn of the game, but it might not make for a great "top deck" later on in the game. Context is everything. Griselbrand is clearly a better card than Dark Confidant when it's on the battlefield, but that's, again, a completely contextual situation. Cost effectiveness is obviously important.

So, why am I even bringing this up? A few weeks ago, I stumbled onto my absolute favorite issue of InQuest. For those who don't know, InQuest was one of the premier gaming magazines of the '90s, along with Scrye, TopDeck, and Duelist. InQuest was my personal favorite, though, as it featured a degree of humor geared towards children (12-year-old me) that I felt each other magazine lacked. Each month, InQuest offered up-to-date information that was especially valuable in a pre-Internet world. In the aforementioned issue, the editors got together to rank the top 100 Magic cards of all time.

As I wrote before, context is everything. This issue came out in August 2000, a few months after Prophecy and a few months before Invasion. The magazine's list came with parameters, of course: "We weighed a card's sheer power, cost effectiveness, versatility, and what part it played in history to determine whether it was worthy of Magic's most exclusive club."

For TMD's enjoyment, I've scanned and uploaded each page of the wildly amusing article. It's just amazing. For older players, it'll bring back a lot of nice memories. For newer players, it'll open a window to Magic's past; a time when Hammer of Bogardan, Stroke of Genius, and Nekrataal were more highly regarded than Bazaar of Baghdad, Tinker, and Mishra's Workshop. It's hard for me to believe that I bought this magazine nearly 16 years ago.

What stands out to you as intriguing and/or absurd about their list? I think we can all agree that Black Lotus at #13 is peculiar at the very least. It's also so painfully '90s to have Time Spiral ranked as more powerful than both Black Lotus and Time Walk. Perhaps the most amusing moment, for me, is what the editors wrote for Mox Ruby. "The Ruby has been aiding red mages in their quest to kick blue ass for almost seven years. Makes you feel old, doesn't it?" Good lord.

Where would today's top tier cards roughly fall? Monastery Mentor; Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Dark Confidant; Lodestone Golem; Abrupt Decay; and Sensei's Divining Top come to mind.

With apologies to Demonic Tutor and Yawgmoth's Will, here's my casually-considered top 5 list:

  1. Black Lotus
  2. Ancestral Recall
  3. Tolarian Academy
  4. Force of Will
  5. Strip Mine

What would your list of the best Magic cards of all time look like? It's a difficult question to answer. It would be fun to see other members chime in with their own personal top 5 or top 10 list, along with the reasoning behind their decisions. With this being a Vintage forum, I assume that most lists will (appropriately) lean toward Vintage applications, but other formats and concepts are great, as well. Feel free to set your own parameters and guidelines; it's just for fun. Enjoy:

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posted in Vintage Community read more

Although I'm sure a lot of us have seen this terrible incident being shared around Facebook, I thought I'd help spread the word on here. Any extra publicity that this situation receives is a very good thing.

Here's a link to a detailed article with additional information.

In the above article, the wife of the victim mentions how video footage suggests that the situation was predetermined between two people who created a distraction.

Several people have suggested that extra video footage might show if the thief played in any event this weekend. If he did, somebody might be able to determine what his table number was and (likely) what his name and DCI number would be from there. There haven't been any updates on this from what I've seen, so I'm afraid that he probably didn't play in any events.

With how well connected the Magic community is in 2016, I'm truly surprised that this case hasn't been wrapped up yet. With the thief's Knicks jacket, I'd have to assume that he's from New York, but that obviously doesn't give us very much information to work with. There's no way that he's completely unknown, though. The security footage just has to be seen by the right few people, I suppose. I sincerely hope we find those few people who can help.

If you suspect that you've ever seen this person before in your life, please reach out to Shaun Martin. His contact information is in the article I shared above.

posted in Art and Collecting read more

@Naixin:

That's a seriously beautiful deck. You've obviously put a ton of care and effort into the whole deck and it shows. Thank you for sharing it with us. The altered Bayou duo is especially cool, too. I like that the art and color palette still fits the overall theme of the original Bayou illustration.

I'm always curious about other people's stylistic preferences. What made you choose Chinese as the main language? Also, why did you choose an Italian Sylvan Library over a Chinese copy?

Here's my next addition to the thread:

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It's an Oath of Druids artist proof, hand painted by Daren Bader. For those who don't know, each Magic illustrator gets the courtesy of receiving 50 blank-backed "artist proofs" for each card he or she illustrates.

Daren Bader had been sold out of this old classic for ages, but I was fortunate enough to find a blank copy on eBay several years back. I sent it off to Mr. Bader and asked him to put his all into the painting on the back. He did my favorite card some serious justice.

I'm hoping more users will continue to share pictures of their unique collections in this thread.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@OurLadyInRed said:

@Greg Oh yea, that art by Terese is completely unidentifiable. And goodness, look how bad the wasteland art is! such abstraction! C'mon, these artists are great & deserve respect, whether you like their style or not.

Also, a number of things:

  • Force has art by Terese, explicitly directed to show a woman of color. Fuck yea women of color being represented in Magic. I would actively choose this art over anything else.
  • The hologram is probably going to have it's own value, as fakes get better and better.
  • Nearly everything printed at rare in MM saw a significant hit in price, even if only for a period of time. I'd also offer that Bob pretty much tanked. Some unjustifiably expensive cards tanked completely.

@OurLadyInRed: I appreciate your commentary, but you seem to have completely misunderstood my post.

I'll try to address each part of your response to my post. First off, Terese Nielsen's new Force of Will illustration is completely unidentifiable by nearly everybody's standards of what "Force of Will" is within the confines of a game of Magic: The Gathering. The "Commander" Sol Ring, illustrated by Mike Bierek, will never be Sol Ring. Ever. Certainly not to me, at least. Even after many years, that Sol Ring variation does not represent "Sol Ring" to me. The same will go for Force of Will, I promise you.

For better or worse, I'm simply an elitist for the early years of Magic. I'm fully aware of this. Even with that said, it's important to note that I'm not actually insulting anybody, though. You seem to be equating my use of the term "unidentifiable" with "bad" or "unsuccessful." I did not state that any of the recent artwork is bad. Terese Nielsen's updated Force of Will and Eytan Zana's Wasteland are both nice illustrations, but, regardless of skill, subject matter, or flavor, neither will ever trump or replace the original duo. A lot of it has to do with the new card frame, new font, and new hologram, though.

Let's take away my personal bias for a moment, which I'm fully cognizant of. Visual iconicism and instantaneous recognizability are unbelievably important in a game of Magic. Most people playing or watching Vintage are processing information and making decisions solely on picture recognition. How often do you stop to carefully read a card that you've seen hundreds or thousands of times before?

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Let's say I cast Thoughtseize or Gitaxian Probe on my opponent in a game of Vintage. If they reveal a Revised Demonic Tutor, Beta Sol Ring, Urza's Legacy Tinker, Antiquities Strip Mine, and Alliances Force of Will, the situation would be instantly understandable to me; I wouldn't need to burn too much brain power to try and assess the situation. If my opponent instead revealed a "Divine vs. Demonic" Demonic Tutor, "Commander" Sol Ring, "From The Vault" Tinker, "Expedition" Strip Mine, and "Eternal Masters" Force of Will, I would actually need to slow down to visually identify what each card was, even though I know them all like the back of my hand. It would take me exponentially longer to assess the situation and determine where I stood in the game. When my opponent plays any "Expedition" land, I never know which one it is. I recently got blown out by a Strip Mine that I had thought was a fetch land for many turns. Lesson learned. Most of them look indistinguishable from each other. Variety and incongruity in design do not work here.

Again, I'm looking to take my personal bias out of the equation. Which hand represents the presented information most accurately to you?

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@OurLadyInRed said:

And goodness, look how bad the wasteland art is! such abstraction! C'mon, these artists are great & deserve respect, whether you like their style or not.

I never said it was bad. It's nothing special, but it's not bad. Where are you getting "whether you like their style or not?" You're putting words in my mouth. I agree with you, though. Every Magic illustrator deserves respect, no matter what, but that doesn't mean they are free from potential criticism, (though I wasn't even criticizing the content of anybody's art.) Conversely, I actually think Terese Nielsen's new Force of Will is an absurdly skillful painting; it's simply gorgeous. It's a big improvement over her 1996 effort. Terese Nielsen, at this point, is probably the most skilled artist to have ever worked on the game; I have the utmost respect for her. None of my criticisms were even about the formal aspects of the artwork to begin with, but if they were, I'm more than able to form a respectful and fair opinion. I have a BFA in illustration and an MFA in art education; trust me when I say that my opinion isn't arbitrary or without serious consideration.

Regarding your bullet points:

  1. Diversity in Magic: The Gathering is fantastic. Seriously. Mirage was one of the most visually intriguing and beautiful releases the game has ever seen. I'm glad that the new Force of Will personally speaks to you because of that, but this is simply not something I take into consideration when choosing which cards to purchase and sleeve up. There's nothing right or wrong with either of our preferences.

  2. The hologram is a disaster. Sorry.

  3. If that's the case, then Modern Masters, at the very least, did a good job to some small extent. Getting "unjustifiably expensive" cards to tank is something I'm strongly in favor of. I'm clearly off topic now, but I do sincerely hope that Eternal Masters brings the prices of staple cards down and does something to help the average player. I don't see how the print run won't be slightly helpful, at the very least.

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion read more

@spook said:

Ideally I would like the page numbers to appear next to the thread title.

@GHitchHiker said:

It would be nice if we could have page navigation at the top of the thread as well though.

@Brass-Man, is it possible to update the forum's layout to include either of these suggestions?

posted in Vintage Community read more

I'm sure I'm not alone here, but the Eternal Masters release doesn't have any personal effect on me whatsoever.

In basically every instance, I have the cards I need to play, but even if I didn't, I would never choose to obtain the version being printed in Eternal Masters. Not only will mostly every classic reprint come with a new and unidentifiable illustration, but they will also be printed with the new frame, new font, and snazzy hologram. No thanks.

With all of that said, however, I'm still sincerely excited to see what Eternal Masters brings to the table: for my own curiosity, an overall historical intrigue, and to hopefully help out players still looking to pick up essential cards. The question I wonder, though, is whether Eternal Masters will actually be a real help for people to obtain desirable cards such as (potentially) Karakas or Mana Drain.

In all likelihood, Wizards of the Coast will probably make the mistake of upgrading the rarity on nearly every critical card. I've written about this before in great detail, but I still feel like it wasn't tasteful to upgrade the rarity of cards like Dark Confidant, Vendilion Clique, and Tarmogoyf. Combine this issue with the small print run and overpriced MSRP. None of this is helping the players. I'll give Wizards of the Coast some credit, though; I was pleasantly surprised to see Wasteland printed at rare and not mythic rare. That's a great call; a real "for the players" action. With Wasteland being a Vintage, Legacy, and Commander staple, it's a card that most players need to own.

@gkraigher said:

They will probably assume Force of Will, Wasteland, and Imperial Recruiter will be enough to sell packs and put garbage in the rest of it.

I agree. On the back of Force of Will and Wasteland alone, Wizards of the Coast probably figures that those inclusions are more than sufficient enough to sell a ludicrous amount of booster packs. I don't disagree. With Force of Will and Wasteland in the set, I assume that it'll become less likely that players will see the addition of other top tier cards such as Imperial Seal, Mana Drain, and Mana Crypt this time around.

Even still, how much has Modern Masters really helped with the supply of staple cards? It'd be silly to say that sets like this haven't helped at all, but at the same time, the cards are still very rare and, if I recall correctly, prices didn't drop much. If a price dipped, it was often due to playability and relevance, not due to scarcity becoming a non-issue. I'm sure there is some real data out there that proves how Modern Masters helped or didn't help with card pricing, but I'm just speaking from a casual perspective.

I don't think that sets like this really do enough to help the overall player base, but I think that they certainly do something. Either way, I am hopeful that Eternal Masters will create more opportunities for players to own important cards, and most importantly, help to create new interest in paper Vintage.

posted in Oath read more

(Well, this took longer than I'd expected, but here's my contribution to the thread. Better late than never, right?)

When Rune-Scarred Demon was printed, I knew this was it. Wizards of the Coast had just printed the best Oath of Druids target that we'd ever seen and would ever see.

Until Rune-Scarred Demon came into existence, Vintage Oath of Druids decks toyed with flimsy and goofy creatures such as Hellkite Overlord; Tidespout Tyrant; Iona, Shield of Emeria; and Terastodon. They all had their positives and negatives, but none of them were great.

Why I'm Even Here

I've been playing Oath of Druids since 2000. Bob Maher's Extended deck was the epitome of "awesome" to my 13-year-old self. I loved the idea of controlling the game with permission, doing fun things with Sylvan Library and Abundance, playing dual lands, and fetching up uniquely powerful creatures. Even though Oath of Druids decks have always been inherently blue, the namesake card is green. Green has always been my favorite color in Magic, so that was a big selling point for me, and I was sold.

I played Oath of Druids in Extended up until late 2001, when I decided to take a long break from Magic. In 2009, Wizards of the Coast did a fantastic job of reeling old fans back in. Once an old friend told me that Lightning Bolt and Ball Lightning would be in M10, I just had to play again. It didn't take long for me to meet back up with a different friend, Nick Detwiler, after so many years. He tried to convince me to play Vintage, but I wanted nothing to do with it. The price barrier and my own stereotypes of the format kept me ignorant and uninterested. He hit me where he knew that he had to. "You know, Oath of Druids is a competitive deck in Vintage." Really? I had assumed that the deck had certainly faded into obscurity. This was also my first time learning about the existence of Forbidden Orchard. I was back, and I couldn't be more excited to be wielding my favorite Magic card after so many years. I hit eBay up for 4 Korean Oath of Druids and haven't sleeved up a different pair since.

So, What Is "Fenton Oath?"

Well, I actually wasn't sure for a while. It wasn't until people started giving my deck that moniker that I realized what it was.

I was at graduate school from 2011 to 2012 and didn't play much Vintage during that time. When I did get a chance to play Vintage, I was enjoying a healthy amount of success with a Rune-Scarred Demon trio. As I mentioned before, I thought this demon was the pinnacle of Oath of Druids targets. When I started playing again in late 2012, my friend, Michael Savage, tried to convince me to give up Rune-Scarred Demon for the new Griselbrand. "What the hell is Griselbrand?" I wasn't aware of the card yet. Upon learning about it, I still wasn't interested. I liked the simplicity of Rune-Scarred Demon and didn't want to make any unnecessary changes.

Savage is the one person I consistently play-test with. We've had tons of memorable games, but the best one was the game where I realized how good Griselbrand was. I had just revealed a Rune-Scarred Demon with Oath of Druids and put it onto the battlefield. I froze, looking at my friend, and stated, "Why am I playing Rune-Scarred Demon? If this was the G-Man, this game would be over." People have heard me refer to Griselbrand as "G-Man" before, but most don't know that he got that name before I ever sleeved one up. This has become a legendary moment between Savage and I.

In 2012, many Vintage enthusiasts were excited about Griselbrand. To some degree, it's an improved (or, at the very least, alternative to) Yawgmoth's Bargain. When Vintage players think of Yawgmoth's Bargain, they think of a storm deck. I recall a variety of people trying out Dark Ritual-based Oath of Druids decks that were all-in on a storm kill. Griselbrand was being used as a vehicle to finish off an opponent with Tendrils of Agony. From what I can tell, the deck wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't noteworthy. Several players gave up on this, while others transitioned to trying out Burning Wish... but I had a different vision.

As far as I can tell, I was the first person to try Griselbrand in an extreme control deck. The way I saw it was that Griselbrand didn't need a combo accompaniment to be powerful. As long as he remained on the battlefield for a few turns, I'd unquestionably win the game. While this may seem like a no-brainer in 2016, this wasn't something greatly considered or conceptualized in early 2012; it was fairly new thought. I tried to figure out the right color combination and suite of permission to play. The original concept for the deck, in my eyes, was to "have an answer for absolutely everything somewhere in the deck."

A Deck Is Born

One of the very first iterations of Fenton Oath included 4 copies of Night's Whisper and featured a mass of permission and reactive cards, such as Fire//Ice, Lightning Bolt, Nature's Claim, and Steel Sabotage. I was just beginning to flirt with Show and Tell, which eventually became a critical staple in Fenton Oath: the ability to threaten a Griselbrand from a variety of angles. This deck list is from January, 2013.The list was far from perfect, looking back at it, but it did its job. I won a Black Lotus at Top Deck Games, besting Wizards, Dredge, and Landstill in the playoffs. At this point, I jokingly titled the deck "Wood Elemental's 'I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing' Oath." I never titled the deck "Fenton Oath." That title was dubbed by the community as a way to identify a controlling and reactive Oath of Druids deck that featured Griselbrand. To be honest, I've only ever thought of it as "my deck," the deck I wanted to play and the way I wanted to win.

At this point in late 2012 and early 2013, I was still including red as a part of the deck's coloration. Cards like Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt soon dissipated in favor of a purely "BUG" core. I still can't believe that I only had one single copy of Abrupt Decay in the entire 75 of that tournament-winning list. Duress and Thoughtseize would eventually play a big role in the deck's strategy. With all of the arbitrary cards like Nature's Claim and Fire//Ice in the maindeck, this iteration of Fenton Oath had a lot of tricks up its sleeve and could often weasel its way out of sticky situations. The biggest salvo, however, was the inclusion of Yawgmoth's Will, Time Vault, and Voltaic Key: three cards that could sneak up on an opponent who had been so careful to fight off the Griselbrand strategy.

Night's Whisper's payment of 2 life eventually proved to be too much of a liability as the format sped up with token generation and quick creatures. Preordain made for a logical replacement that I actually liked much more. It had a lot of positives that Night's Whisper didn't offer. Firstly, Preordain was a blue card that pitched to Force of Will. Secondly, it didn't force me to expose a non-basic land on the first turn. Lastly, I found that my deck didn't care so much about card advantage, but rather succeeded from card selection. Finding that one critical card was often more important than filling my hand up.

The Championship Deck

As time went on, the deck tightened up dramatically. I learned a lot about the deck's potential and limitations over the next year. Many "cute" cards disappeared. For a brief time, even Yawgmoth's Will and the infinite turn schtick took to the sidelines. I had designed a hyper-consistent deck that was all about control. Oath of Druids decks have been notorious for including a litany of dead and useless cards. As powerful as Yawgmoth's Will and Time Vault are, they can often be considered as "dead cards."

One of the big changes that I'd made to the list was including a third Griselbrand alongside 3 or 4 maindeck copies of Show and Tell. This made for a more consistent opening play alongside Oath of Druids itself. Containment Priest didn't exist yet, so this was a nice way to get around Grafdigger's Cage and direct removal such as Abrupt Decay and Nature's Claim.

While I wasn't the gentleman playing it, I did ultimately design the entire 75 that won the 2014 Vintage Championship. Mark Tocco took what was likely the "essential" version of my deck and piloted it to ultimate success.

I've already written about the thought behind this deck in great detail on the old forum, but the block of text isn't currently accessible. Here's a link to the text I wrote about it. (Thanks, Google Cache.) To put it briefly, I decided that the deck could potentially sacrifice a lot of its versatility for a degree of incredible consistency. By doing this, I made the deck unbelievably vulnerable and weak, but also very quick and deadly. I opted to go this route for a marathon event such as the Vintage Championship, which turned out to be the right call for Mr. Tocco.

Deck Analysis

Evouga did a fantastic job explaining the deck in full detail. Having designed the deck, I am truly amazed at how well this primer was written, researched, and considered. I basically agree with everything written in some form. With that said, I truly believe that nobody has played this deck more than I have; I wanted to take note of a few points that I found noteworthy to reflect on.

Pithing Needle

I think that the unsung hero of the deck is Pithing Needle. I know that Evouga's example list was just that — an example — but I thought that his inclusion of just a single Pithing Needle was worth pointing out. I discovered that, put simply, the deck, at its core, has six huge weaknesses. In no specific order, Karakas; Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Kudoltha Forgemaster; Wasteland; Mishra's Factory; and Library of Alexandria. Four of these problematic cards are lands, which cannot be countered nor easily destroyed. With the traditional Fenton Oath build, there may be a single Strip Mine, but more often than not, it's wildly difficult to overcome these cards. Many of these problem cards go together, too, so you might expect to see several of them piled up together. In its heyday, I usually ran 2 copies of Pithing Needle. In later iterations, I ran 3, which I truly think is the correct number. Outside of the big trouble-makers that it stymies, the fact that it doubles as mediocre Dredge hate is really huge. There aren't many match-ups where you don't want to see a Pithing Needle: Evouga mentioned it 21 times in his article. It's an important card that you absolutely need to find against certain opponents. A pre-emptive Pithing Needle naming "Karakas" is sometimes a necessary evil for winning with Griselbrand.

Clone Effects

Evouga listed many of the deck's feared threats, but left out a worthy inclusion: clones. In the Workshop match-up, Phyrexian Metamorph can cause some serious problems. With the list that Evouga has provided, there are no copies of Mana Drain or Steel Sabotage. That makes Force of Will the only way to stop a Phyrexian Metamorph from starting trouble. Sure, there are 4 copies of Nature's Claim in his list, but most of this deck's tenure coincided with an unrestricted Chalice of the Void. A Fenton Oath pilot can look to Abrupt Decay the Chalice of the Void, but that's assuming you have enough mana to cast it through spheres and one of the deck's dreaded foes: Wasteland.

Phyrexian Metamorph was one of the most frustrating cards to play against when I was running this deck. It was an easy and debilitating defense for mostly every Workshop player. Phantasmal Image was even worse. Phantasmal Image, if played correctly, is usually accompanied by a Cavern of Souls naming "Illusion." Even without Cavern of Souls, as I mentioned before, how will you counter it? Without Mana Drain, the Fenton Oath pilot is relying heavily on Force of Will to deal with this card. If it resolves, how will you stop it? Its casting cost quickly becomes 4BBBB and can no longer be hit with Abrupt Decay. I don't really have an answer to this. Clone effects were a gross difficulty for this deck to overcome. They can't be ignored.

In Conclusion

I could write about innovating and piloting Oath of Druids all day, but I've probably written enough for now. Evouga covered all of the critical aspects very nicely. If anybody has any direct questions or comments for me, I'd be happy to address them. With that said...

I took a huge break in playing Vintage (and Magic in general) from roughly April 2015 to January 2016. Since I've returned to the game, I actually have not once played the "Fenton Oath" build. I've tried tinkering with a couple of very strange concepts that I've had mixed levels of success with. I created a deck called "Moath!" that I might actually write something about one day. "Moath!" is a blue and white Oath of Druids deck that plays 4 or 5 creatures alongside multiple maindeck copies of Moat. In my eyes, Moat is one of the most powerful cards in the format that can't actually be realistically played in any deck… almost. It's one of the few cards that is golden against Workshop, Dredge, and Mentor decks. At the very least, it's cute with Forbidden Orchard, right? White was the one color I'd never seriously explored with Oath of Druids in Vintage; I was thoroughly surprised and delighted to see how powerful and fitting it was.

I was on quite a tear with Fenton Oath in early 2015. I'd split top 4 at an Eternal Extravaganza for $800 cash, took first place at Mark's Comics for an Unlimited Time Walk, and split the finals at Top Deck Games for an Italian Moat. It was soon after this that I slowly became disillusioned with Vintage and Magic in general. I took a long break, only pausing my hiatus to flail around at the 2015 N.Y.S.E. Open and Vintage Championship. I'm enjoying Magic and Vintage as much as I ever have right now, though. I'm glad to be back. I'm not sure when I'll go back to tinkering with this deck, but I promise the answer isn't "never."