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Fun & Games: Oath of the Gatewatch Review

By: ALuckyBum

The flood gates have opened. Normally a small set like Oath has little impact on Modern and a slightly higher impact on Standard. This time it’s a little different. Modern (last 10 years of magic cards) has been completely broken open, and standard has been shaken up quite a bit too.

Let’s take a look at the mechanics of the set and then talk about the impactions it’s had already in it’s short time on the market.

Cohort:

Cohort is a great ability to combo with all the Allies in the block. You can tap the Cohort creature and another Ally and get a bonus. You can even tap an Ally that has summoning sickness, but that doesn’t work on the Cohort creature itself. It is one of those mechanics that was made for limited more then Standard (or Modern). It pays well and I think it’s a win.

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Wizards of the Coast

Support:

Support is a keyword that is attached to a creature, instant, or sorcery. If it is on a creature it can’t support unto itself. No self-help creatures here. It’s all about the team. It’s not a complicated concept. I have noticed that even 20 years into the game Wizards still tries to keep things simple whenever they can. Again, this a mechanic for limited. I like it though. Ask me again in 10 years what it does and I will have forgotten.

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Wizards of the Coast

Surge:

Surge is an alternate casting cost that sometimes comes with a bonus. As you can see here with Crush of Tentacles it might feel like a completely different spell if you don’t cast it with surge. Most of the time surge just makes the spell cheaper to cast. It can take a lot of setup to play these cards effectively, but the pay off is there on some of them. In limited it takes careful drafting to get enough surge cards and enough enablers (cheap spells) to make it work. Still, Crush is the only card in the top 20 most expensive cards in the set of these 3 mechanics so far. So while it’s better for standard then Support or Cohort, that still isn’t saying much.

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Wizards of the Coast

So far it all looks very normal, but then things get weird. Wizards has now added a 6th “color” to magic that has been here the whole time. I present to you the colorless mana symbol!

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What does this mean? Here is an official line from Wizards:

“To cast Spatial Contortion, you pay two mana: one generic (that’s the {1}) and one colorless (that’s the {C}). The generic mana cost can be paid with any type of mana—that means any color or colorless. But the {C} is different. That can be paid only with colorless mana. There have been plenty of nonbasic lands over the years that produced colorless mana. This set gives you a more… ubiquitous way of doing it.”

So let’s look at some of the cards they made in the new set.

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Wizards of the Coast

        

Bask in their glory. The first 5 are all part of a new Modern deck that is storming the format’s meta. There are different flavors but they all have two things in common these:

Casting a 4 mana Thought-Knot Seer on turn 2 is broken. About 8% of the Pro Tour this weekend had some kind of Eldrazi deck featuring these pieces. That is not a huge amount of people out of 400 or so pros. However, looking at the top 8 players 6 of them had an Eldrazi deck. On average there were about 18 cards from Oath of the Gatewatch in each one. That is unheard of. No set has ever had such a profound showing this early in a format. If things look to stay this lopsided then a ban would have to drop. These cards are too good with Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple still around. Wizards has already said they will wait to see if all the other decks can change to fight this crazy deck before they do anything rash. There are plenty of land hate cards in the format that might be able to balance it out.

It’s exciting to be around when a format is broken open like this. It could be bad for the format if it’s ‘play this or lose’, but it might just be the birth of another tier 1 deck that is powerful, but not oppressive.

What do you think of this latest set? Let me know in the forums!

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