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Preface - Oath of Druids


Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids is very well known combo / control card from the old Extended days of Magic (circa 1998 through 2003). Dubbed the deck that "won it all", Oath of Druids, or simply "Oath", saw many Pro Tour and Grand Prix top 8 finishes and wins, piloted by a few MTG Hall of Fame players. Oath uses Oath of Druids to cheat into play powerful, high casting cost creatures. The deck has had a few variations, but at its core, it is still a control deck. Finally in 2003, Oath was banned in Extended. It wasn't until 2004 with the printing of Forbidden Orchard that Oath decks saw tournament placings again, this time in Vintage. Even now, with the printing of Oko, Thief of Crowns, Oath decks have a place amidst the Vintage meta.

Oath decks are traditionally very resilient and are able to recur their threats and counter magic through the use of Gaea's Blessing's trigger when milled, usually after resolving an Oath of Druids trigger. This deck is very much a late game deck, it tends to shine in longer games where it can out-resource the rest of the table.

Who Am I?

Before getting to the nitty gritty, I would like to share some of my history with Magic to help you decide if you should listen to me (or not):

tl;dr I have been playing Oath for nearly 2 decades.

I am known as "Floor" in most online circles and I started playing Magic around the year 2001. My first deck was an Extended version of Oath of Druids and I have had the pleasure of playing many other powerful decks throughout the years. Some examples being Tog (2002 Standard), Wake (2003 Standard), and Ravager Affinity (2004 Standard). I started traveling to out-of-state tournaments in 2007, both Extended and Standard. In 2009, Wizards implemented drastic rules changes, the most significant being the removal of "damage on the stack", which, in my opinion, separated the good players from the better players. This rule change did not sit well with me or my play group, so we quit playing competitive and started playing casual multiplayer, where I played a 77-card version of Oath. Eventually EDH took over as the multiplayer format to play.

My first EDH deck was a Teferi combo / control deck. Since then, I have gone back and forth between building 100% EDH decks (Teferi Chain Veil, Gitrog, Tazri Food Chain) and casual, fun EDH decks. Ultimately, I decided on building a 75% version of my old Oath deck.

My Local Metagame

Currently my playgroup consists mostly of other 75% decks, along with some 100% decks: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher Food Chain, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, Thrasios, Triton Hero/Tymna the Weaver, Godo Helm, and a few others. Overall, my meta is more combo-oriented. Usually each player has a "good" deck and a toned-down, more casual deck to play.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Has a very good ability to grind out games as it recurs more than most decks
  • Can win at instant speed
  • Can interact with stax cards, as the deck has blue
  • Can be cheap to build, as the main cards are relatively low cost
  • Is often not perceived as a threat, due to it's speed.
Cons
  • Is not a fast deck in any sense of the word
  • Has trouble against extract effects (Praetor's Grasp) and graveyard hate (Grafdigger's Cage)
  • Combo wins require 3+ specific cards
  • Has complex lines of play

Likes & Dislikes

You might enjoy playing this deck if you:

  • Like complex lines of play. This deck requires planning multiple turns ahead, in addition to managing the creature count on board
  • Enjoy playing the long game. Unlike many other combo decks, this deck does not win in early turns.
  • Building on a budget. This list has the twisties and optimal mana base, but due to its speed, you can get away with running ETB tapped dual lands.
  • Like playing a reactive, controlling deck
  • Have a high level of knowledge of the game rules, specifically the stack.
  • Like playing table politics. Kenrith, the Returned King allows us to trade favors or enable damage that we otherwise wouldn't be able to deal.

You won't like playing this deck if you:

  • Don't like decks with a high learning curve. The combos to win is the easy part, but the setup is the difficult part.
  • Don't like combo decks. While we are not "all in" on the combos, this deck doesn't deal high amounts of damage.
  • Have a meta with constant artifact, enchantment, or graveyard hate.
  • Prefer decks with creatures. This list only has 5 and they hardly ever turn sideways.
  • Like taking long turns. This deck is very reactionary. An average turn consists of draw --> land --> go.
  • Prefer to rely heavily on your general.

Commander Comparisons

So what separates this deck from the the other combo/control decks out there? This list is more of a jack-of-most-trades deck. Due to its recursion, Oath can thrive in the late game without being the obvious leader or oppressive. It is a very slow burn but once it snowballs, it can be tough to disrupt. Due to the many unconventional working parts, opponents who lose to the deck don't feel discouraged and view the deck as "beatable", which it definitely is.

Other 4 or 5 color decks tend to have the same win cons, creating a stale and unsatisfactory match result. Being that the main Oath engine is so few cards, the deck has potential to add other combo/interaction/creature packages. Additionally, Kenrith, the Returned King allows us to interact with opponents without giving them too much of an advantage that also can benefit us.

The Enchantment

Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids is a enchantment that is easy to cast, being only one color, and is easy to tutor for. Since we are playing all five colors, we have every legal card at our disposal, thus maximizing our use of this card. Sadly, this card cannot be our general, so once it dies, we have to dedicate resources to getting it back. Keep this in mind when casting it, as to avoid getting disrupted. Now, onto what the card actually does, part by part, with updated Oracle text:

"At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player chooses target player who controls more creatures than they do and is their opponent."

In order for a player to trigger Oath, they need to be able to target an opponent with more creatures than that player. The slang for this kind of trigger is: "it checks twice". This means that you need to maintain the requirement for it to trigger and resolve. If you trigger Oath with two creatures on board, targeting an opponent with three creatures, and one of your opponent's creatures are destroyed, thereby reducing the number of creatures among the two players to the same amount, the Oath trigger will fizzle.

"The first player may reveal cards from the top of their library until they reveal a creature card."

The main takeaway is that this is an optional ability. Once your opponents learn that, they tend to be less hostile towards the card. Conversely, this also opens the possibility of players, including yourself, to forget to trigger Oath and skip to their draw step. At that point, it's too late!

"If the first player does, that player puts that card onto the battlefield and all other cards revealed this way into their graveyard."

This is the payoff: Not only do we get a free creature, we get to load up our graveyard with goodies to recur. Since we have a five creature package, we get a more consistent gameplan using Oath of Druids. When your opponents get to resolve an Oath trigger, unless they also are a graveyard-based deck, they will be losing out on the cards they mill. Gaea's Blessing is the usual suspect in Oath decks to reshuffle our graveyard back into the deck and is included in this list.

Interactions & Rulings

The most obvious interaction is milling Gaea's Blessing to reshuffle our graveyard into our library. This can be achieved even when there are no more creatures in the deck. Even if we mill Gaea's Blessing and Oath into an Eternal Witness or Sun Titan, because we are the active player and control the triggers, we can order the ETB trigger and Blessing trigger in whatever order we want. Another "gotcha" interaction is with Ixidron. The "As Ixidron comes into play..." ability means that no one has an opportunity to respond to it entering from an Oath trigger. Anyone who wants to respond would have to do so before the Oath trigger resolves. In most cases, hitting an Ixidron from an Oath trigger is random, unless the opponents saw you put it to the top of the deck with Volrath's Stronghold or Worldly Tutor.

We are able to manipulate the top of the deck very often through using cards like Sensei's Divining Top and Scroll Rack, among many others, to dictate what card(s) get milled or come into play.

Here are the official rulings from the Gatherer:

  • The ability can only target an opponent of the current player.
  • The targeted player controlling more creatures than the current player is a part of the targeting requirement. A player can't be targeted by this ability unless it's true, and the ability doesn't resolve if it's no longer true at that time.

Our General

Kenrith, the Returned King

Kenrith, the Returned King is a 5/5 Legendary Creature - Human Noble with five abilities. Overall, he is easy to cast, despite being a five-color general, and serves as a decent blocker or attacker. Recasting our general for a total of 7 mana is very do-able. When he gets into the double digits is when recasting him requires us to be in the super late game or have access to infinite mana. Kenrith initially doesn't come across as a threat, so he tends to fly under the radar when there are more obvious threats as generals. Next, onto his abilities:

": All creatures gain trample and haste until end of turn."

This ability can be used to benefit us, by playing a bit of politics. If an opponent slams a fat creature that would force an opponent to block it, why not have that happen right away? Why not have some damage trample over after blockers have been declared? All for a measly mana. Additionally, this ability is used when we combo off to give us the swing for lethal.

": Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature."

So far, this is our general's most overlooked ability. Post combo, we use it to swing for lethal. Even if an opponent has "infinite" life, it doesn't mean anything to well over 21 points of general damage. It has a ton of utility from keeping counters on our Spike Weaver to fog, or to mess up an Undying combo. Even something as simple as throwing off combat math, regardless if our creatures aren't attacking or blocking, can be beneficial. Someone used an Anger of the Gods type effect? Use this ability to save an opponent's creature to ensure that an opponent has more creatures than us to trigger Oath. It even helps against cards like Phantasmal Image to make sure they don't keep their cheap clone.

": Target player gains 5 life."

5 life is nothing to scoff at. If we have nothing better to use our mana for in between rounds, we can gain 5 or 10 life. It does add up. This ability has obvious synergy with Bolas's Citadel. Additionally, it can be used to save an opponent from lethal, if it is beneficial to us to keep that opponent in the game.

": Target player draws a card."

Don't misunderstand, this ability is very good. Post combo, we can use this ability to end the game immediately, without having to attack. It does have the niche use of forcing an opponent to draw a card, say after resolving a Vampiric Tutor in response to a Wheel effect. Otherwise, its main purpose is to refill our hand.

": Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under its owner's control."

This is the ability that most players misread. We don't get to steal a creature from an opponent's graveyard. The creature is returned to it's owner's battlefield. Being able to target creature's in the opponent's graveyard can still be useful, depending on what they have in there. Did one of the opponents finally get rid of that pesky Elesh Norn that was preventing them from comboing off? Bring it back. Sufficed to say, bringing back any creature from our graveyard is highly beneficial as they either have a powerful ETB trigger or prevent us from losing. Multiple indestructible 10/10 creature coming our way? Bring back Spike Weaver to fog or my favorite, Ixidron, to turn them into 2/2 creatures without indestructible.

Always remember that there are 3 other people sitting at the table. Don't be afraid to ask them questions like, "If that Kozilek, Butcher of Truth were to somehow get haste, would it swing at me?"

Bring It All Back

Second SunriseEternal WitnessPhyrexian Altar

The main combo of the deck includes Second Sunrise, 4 creatures, one of them being Eternal Witness, and Phyrexian Altar. We sacrifice all of our creatures to Phyrexian Altar, producing and any other two colors. We then use the mana and one of the others to cast Second Sunrise, bringing back all of our creatures that we sacrificed, with one of them being Eternal Witness, which ETB trigger targets Second Sunrise, returning it to our hand. At this point, we are back to where we started except we have 1 mana of any color in our mana pool. Lotus Petal can replace one of the creatures in this combo.

Repeat this process an arbitrarily large amount of times, floating an arbitrarily large amount of each color mana. From here, we can cast our general and put a billion "draw a card" abilities on the stack targeting each opponent. If they have any responses, such as trying to flash in a Laboratory Maniac, we respond by putting another billion "draw a card" abilities on the stack, before their spell or ability resolves. If any of them have shroud, we can give our creatures haste and trample, pump our creatures to an absurd amount of power, and swing. This also gets around infinite life due to dealing well over 21 points of commander damage. If we need to clear the board of any permanents, we can recur any spell by sacrificing and bringing back Eternal Witness however many times that is required.

Faith's Reward can be used in place of Second Sunrise. It requires an additional creature, but has the added bonus of not bringing back anything that might have died on our opponent's side of the field. Thankfully, this deck runs just enough creatures for this to be possible.

If one the creatures that is being brought back is Ixidron, because all the creatures would eneter the battlefield at the same time and Ixidron's ability turns them face-down before it enters play, our combo is unaffected. However, it will flip any creatures our opponents already have in play. Darn.

With Aetherflux Reservoir in play, we don't need to net mana to get the kill as we are casting many, many spells.

This combo can be performed without netting mana and a win condition and still be beneficial. For instance, if one of the other creatures being recurred is Sun Titan, we get to bring back each permanent with CMC 3 of less from our graveyard. If any of those permanents are fetch lands, we can thin our deck of all the lands they can search for, thereby ramping us. This line of play might be worth while if we have a very juicy graveyard or if we need to respond to our graveyard being exiled.

Yup, Artifacts Are Still Dumb

Bolas' CitadelAetherflux ReservoirSensei's Divnining Top

A more common combo in EDH, but has synergy with our top deck manipulation suite. Turns out, when you start out at 40 life, Bolas's Citadel is an even better card. With these 3 permanents out, it reads " Top to draw a card, then play it from the top of your library, paying 1 life, and then gaining X life, where X is the number of spells you have cast." Repeat this process to draw/play the entire deck, accumulating enough life to dome each opponent for 50 damage.

This combo is not an infinite, as you will eventually deck yourself. To make it a true infinite, you have two options:

  1. Be able to cast Entomb with Gaea's Blessing still in the deck to refill the deck.
  2. Have Abundance in play.
Option 1 is very unlikely, especially multiple times in a row, but is an option nonetheless. Getting Option 2 is much more feasible, since we are drawing/playing through the entire deck. Abundance is a replacement effect, so we never actually draw any cards when using it, and therefore never actually deck out when comboing off. With this, we can achieve infinite life and infinite damage.

Other Combos

CounterbalanceSensei's Divining TopScroll Rack

Apptly named "CounterTop", this combo allows us to maintain a controlling grip on the game state. When an opponent casts a spell, Counterbalance will trigger. In response to that trigger, we activate either Top or Scroll Rack to put a card with a matching CMC on top of our deck so that when Counterbalance's trigger resolves, it will reveal the matching CMC card and counter the spell. This combo is very sustainable in that Top doesn't tap when looking at the top 3 cards. Scroll Rack does tap, and therefore is not sustainable over the course of a full round, but does let us put cards from our hand to the top of the deck.

Other cards, such as the instant speed tutors, allow us to dictate the top card of our deck, in case we don't see the correct CMC in the top 3 cards. Also, we run a number of instant speed shuffle effects that we can use to get another chance to counter the spell with the new top 3 of the deck.


Spike WeaverRings of Birghthearth

This combo allows us to have a sustainable fog effect. Since Spike Weaver's first activated ability can target itself, and if we copy it with Rings of Brighthearth, we end up with a Spike Weaver with one more +1/+1 counter on it. We can then use it to activate its second ability to fog for the turn, but this time we are not down any counters than what we started with. Essentially it reads: Pay : Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. With Training Grounds in play, this combo becomes even cheaper.

Gameplan

Since we have covered how the deck can pull off a win, we still need to go over how to get to that point. This Oath list is a slow combo/control deck that performs better through attrition or out-resourcing the rest of the table. Conversely, this deck doesn't have an abundance of interaction cards to stop the faster combo decks out there.

Opening Hand & Early Game

An ideal opening hand will have 3-4 lands, 1-2 tutors, 1 card draw source, and 1 counter/removal spell. The most important card type (besides land) is card draw. We are a slow control/combo deck and without our sustainable resources, we don't get anything started.

Here are some different types of opening hands that should definitely be sent back:

  • No lands: A very obvious mulligan. Can't cast spells if you don't have mana. One land hands never work out.
  • Multiple creatures: Our creatures aren't as good when they are in our hand. Our deck lets us put them into play for free; no reason to have them taking up space in our hand.
  • Multiple reactionary cards: We run enough reactionary cards that we can see them in multiples in our opening hand. Too much utility and no gas is a hand we ship back.

Once you've decided on a hand to keep, next we evaluate how good the hand is. This is determined by:

  1. How quickly we setup a draw engine?
  2. How quickly can we search for, resolve, and trigger Oath?
If we can do both, the hand is amazing. Generally we try to prioritize number 1. As nice as it can be to Oath on turn 2 or 3, if we don't have ways to protect it or have ways to keep opponents who oath in check, we are losing. By setting up a draw engine, we are able to hit our land drops every turn to establish a board state and to recover if said board state is wiped. Even a setup like Crucible of Worlds, a fetchland, and Top is great as we thin the deck and maximize the quality of cards we draw over the first 5 or so turns.

Mid & Late Game

Mid game (turns 6 - 10) is where a lot of 75% decks will make their move to win the game. Our "game winning" move is finding and resolving Oath. By this point, we should have hit all our land drops, and have either counter magic or recursion to protect Oath, as it has to make it all the way around the table before our next upkeep before we get to use it. There is always the possibility that we have to hold off on casting Oath even longer to prevent the opponents from winning. In this instance, it is usually better to setup the CounterTop combo.

Late game (turns 11+) is where we shine. Our opponents have cast many more spells than us and might be running low on resources, assuming you have been keeping them in check over the last 10 or so turns. By this time, we have had Oath going for a few turns and have a few pieces of our combo available to us, whether in our hand or in play. There is always a point in a game where each opponent is tapped out. It is at this point in the game that we go for our win.

In this section we will go over the individual cards in the deck, as well as cards that have been omitted and the reason for why they weren't included.

Our creature package is a bit unconventional and draws inspiration from old deck lists from Extended and Vintage past.

  • Eternal Witness - Let's us bring back anything in our graveyard on ETB and is the required creature for our main combo. Has great synergy with Oath, as it fills our graveyard. Even if well mill Gaea's Blessing, we can still stack the triggers to get back the card we want and have the rest shuffled back.
  • Ixidron - Our main creature control. Turning every creature into a 2/2 with no abilities helps us further our gameplan while keeping creatures on the board.
  • Spike Weaver - This is how we don't die. The deck doesn't have prison effects to prevent us from being attacked. Should it ever be flipped from Ixidron, it keeps its +1/+1 counters.
  • Sun Titan - Serves a similar role as Witness as it gets brings back most of our relevant permanents or ramps our land count.
  • Vilis, Broker of Blood - Our bomb creature. Vilis has one, very key, line of effect text: "Whenever you lose life, draw that many cards". Wow, this card turns cards' downsides into the best part of the card: Crack a fetch land? Draw a card. Shockland coming into play untapped? Draw 2 more. Opponent swinging for 18? No blocks! Vampiric Tutor becomes even better. Sylvan Library is outright bonkers.

Every opponent is bound to have a few cards that can put a wrench in our plans and we won't always have the counterspell in hand. Our removal suite offers both removal and synergy with our flagship card.

  • Beast Within - Instant speed, catch-all removal spell and it gives the opponent a creature to help us trigger Oath? Sold.
  • Chain of Vapor - Cheap bounce spell to interrupt our opponent's strategy or can save our own permanent(s).
  • Drown in the Loch - This card is very good, doubling as removal for creatures or can counter any type of spell. With our opponents "taking advantage" of our Oath, their graveyards tend to be filled with enough cards for this card to target any creature.
  • Echoing Truth - Can act as a solid spot removal to get rid of pesky cards or as a silver bullet to stop wide plays such as Najeela's warrior tokens. Also can save one of our own nonland permanents from being destroyed.
  • Generous Gift - A white version of Beast Within. I thought this was a singleton format?
  • Mercy Killing - Similar to Beast Within in that it gives our opponent creatures, but also gets around indestructible as it forces the player to sacrifice the creature. Force them to sacrifice a big enough creature and they won't be able to Oath for a while.
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns - A form of removal that also potentially increases the number of creatures our opponent controls. Making their Grafdigger's Cage or Relic of Progenitus into a 3/3 with no abilities is pretty sweet. Even having the slightest possibility of stealing an opponent's Kiki-Jiki seems so sweet. An additional purpose Oko serves is absorbing damage, as he is a target when on the table.

The main part of our interaction suite. While we have counter magic, it is generally reserved for protection Oath or dealing with a game-breaking spell.

Counterspells

  • Arcane Denial - A counterspell that is both easy to cast, only requiring , and draws us a card? Sold. Has added synergy with Smothering Tithe.
  • Counterspell - The original way to say "no".
  • Dovin's Veto - An uncounterable negate. A little bit more mana specific, but winning the counter war is important.
  • Force of Will - A free counterspell. We run plenty of blue cards to allow us to cast it for free.
  • Mana Drain - A strictly better Counterspell. It allows us to make bigger plays earlier if we don't need to protect our combo.
  • Muddle the Mixture - While its main purpose is to transmute for Oath. Sylvan Library, or Counterbalance, it can counter an instant or sorcery if we need it to.
  • Swan Song - A counterspell that counters the most relevant spell types, only costs , and also gives our opponent a creature? Absolutely.
  • Counterbalance - Our sustainable form of counter magic. It uses are discussed further in the Combos & Synergy section

Reactionary

While few in number, these spells still get the job done of keeping our board state intact.

  • Faith's Reward - While primarily being a part of our infinite, it can also serve its purpose intented by Wizards: bring it all back, once.
  • Heroic Intervention - A blanket of hexproof and indestructability for all of our permanents. Usually used to protect the board state, but can be used in combat to take out a pesky creature.
  • Second Sunrise - See Faith's Reward above.

Static

  • Sterling Grove - Provides a layer of protection by giving our Oath shroud. Be wary, shroud prevents us from targeting our enchantments as well.

With our protection suite not actually generating any card advantage (usually), we need to continue to have cards in our hand to deal with the other 3 players at the table. This is accomplished through our card draw suite and is pivital that we establish it in the early game.

  • Abundance - While not generating card advantage on its own, it does grant us card quality. It lets us determine the type of card that we are going to draw. If our hand still has 1 or 2 lands in it, we can declare "nonland" to not continue to draw lands. The opposite is also true where we can guarantee we will get a land to make our land drop for the turn. Mainly combos with Sylvan Library to "draw" three cards per turn. Keep in mind that Abundance's effect is a replacement effect where we do not actually draw any cards but rather we put them into our hand. There is a difference in the eyes of the game rules. Additionally it stops us from losing due to drawing from an empty deck. With a Narset in play on our opponent's side of the battlefield, we can still use Abundance to put cards into a our hand.
  • Fact or Fiction - Can generate a lot of card advantage, depending on the piles your opponent(s) present. Also interacts favorably with Gaea's Blessing in that the revealed cards are still on top of our library and if we choose a pile without the revealed Gaea's Blessing, it will trigger from being put into our graveyard from our library.
  • Lat-Nam's Legacy - Let's use shuffle in a card from our hand to draw 2 cards at the beginning of the next upkeep. Doubles as card draw and as a way to put back cards that we would want in the deck. A prime example of this would be Gaea's Blessing.
  • Rhystic Study - A staple in almost any EDH deck running blue. If you land this card within the first 3 or 4 turns of the game, you can generate some serious card advantage. Otherwise, it loses its impact the later the game goes.
  • Sylvan Library - Our main source of card advantage. It is easily searchable, as our tutor lineup is geared towards finding 2 drops/enchantments. Starting at 40 life really helps as we can afford to pay life to keep more cards in our hand.
  • Thirst for Meaning - Instant speed draw three. Generates card advantage if we discard an enchantment. With the addition of Hall of Heliod's Generosity, the discarded enchantment can be recurred at a later point in time.
  • Thirst for Knowledge - Same as Thirst for Meaning but with discarding an artifact. This cost can be mitigated the same way since we run Academy Ruins.

Since the deck relies on getting very specific cards, during specific turns of the game, we have a large amount of tutor cards, more than just the common black tutors you will see in a lot of EDH decks.

  • Demonic Tutor - The best tutor in the game, but not the best tutor in our deck. A very obvious inclusion to any deck with access to black mana nonetheless.
  • Enlightened Tutor - Instant speed tutor that puts any artifact or enchantment on top of our deck. Helps us find Library or Oath primarily, but also can search for our combo pieces, as they are mostly artifacts. Has synergy with Counterbalance, as we run a good CMC spread among our artifact and enchantments.
  • Grim Tutor - A strictly worse Demonic Tutor, except when Vilis is in play. Regardless, finding our 2 key enchantments is very imporatant, with the added flexibility of searching for anything else.
  • Lim-Dul's Vault - Instant speed way to find the card we are looking for and stack the top 5 accordingly. Another synergistic card with Counterbalance at the very least.
  • Muddle the Mixture - While its main effect text counters and instant or sorcery, its main purpose in this deck is to transmute for a 2 CMC card. Guess which ones. Worst case, it can be used to search for a catch-all counterspell and thin/shuffle the deck.
  • Shred Memory - Another card used primarily for transmute but can serve an alternate purpose of exiling key cards from an opponent's graveyard. See Muddle the Mixture.
  • Sterling Grove - Normally just sits there to protect our Oath, but also serves as a tutor if we draw it before we draw Oath. More synergy with Counterbalance.
  • Tolaria West - A transmute card that doesn't search for a 2 CMC card? Yup, instead it can search for Forbidden Orchard, another ulitity land, or color fix. Always consider actually playing it. Land drops are extra crucial in this deck. Other cards it can search for is Mana Crypt for ramp or Lotus Petal for the combo.
  • Vampiric Tutor - The actual best tutor in our deck. Searches for whatever we need and puts it on top of our deck at instant speed. Synergy with Oath, Counterbalance, Vilis, and Bolas's Citadel.
  • Wargate - Our most versatile tutor, as it can find us Oath, combo pieces, or even just a land right into play.
  • Worldly Tutor - Is used to determine which creature we Oath/draw into. Sometimes the board state advances too quickly and you just need an Ixidron. Other times it can get you the last creature you need for the combo. It has the same synergies that the rest of our topdeck suite has.

  • Brainstorm - Normally listed under draw power, this card it used for the utility it provides of topdeck manipulation.
  • Entomb - While largely considered a "tutor", this card is used to mill Gaea's Blessing to protect our graveyard. Other uses include milling something for Sun Titan to bring back, putting Memory's Journey to disrupt a play, removing a card from our deck that we don't want in there, such as a creature we don't want to Oath into, or a card that we don't want our opponent to take with a Praetor's Grasp or Bribery effect.
  • Leyline of Anticipation - Turning all of our spells into instants is criminally good. Every turn is our turn.
  • Memory's Journey - Used to recycle cards that are better off being in the deck. Can be used to disrupt opponent's graveyard-related plays or to make them shuffle their deck.
  • Noxious Revival - Puts any card from a graveyard on top of its owner's library. That means we get to determine the top of our deck, at instant speed, for free. Or we can determine the top of an opponent's deck.
  • Pull from Eternity - Sometimes a card that we really need gets exiled. This card puts that card in our graveyard, ready to be recurred. Also messes with suspended cards, inprinted cards, or cards that are "stolen" such as from Hostage Taker, Fiend Hunter, or Stolen Strategy. Combos with Memory's Journey to keep us from milling out should we not have access to Gaea's Blessing for whatever reason.
  • Regrowth - Returns any card from our graveyard to our hand.
  • Reins of Power - Switching our creatures with an opponent can be game-breaking. We can stop their combo or even potentially sacrifice all their creatures if we have Phyrexian Altar in play. Remember, this card is an instant, for some reason.
  • Rings of Brighthearth - This card has so many uses: double-up on any activation. Double fetchland activations, ramping us? Check. Dome two players for 50 with Aetherflux Reservoir? All day.
  • Sensei's Divining Top - This card does it all.
  • Scroll Rack - Has a place in our topdeck manipulation suite as well as allowing us to just dig farther into our deck.
  • Training Grounds - Used primarily with our general, it makes him that much better. One mana to either gain 5 life or give a creature a +1/+1 counter is good. Two mana to draw a card is even better.

Being basically a 4 color deck, every utility land has to have a very powerful effect for us to consider it, and even then it still might not make the cut. We need to consistently have access to any color mana. Most of the color producing lands in the list are fairly obvious.

  • Academy Ruins - Has great synergy and is part of our recursion engine as well as our top deck manipulation suite. As it is, at least one artifact is required for all of our combos and this land ensures that we have access to it.
  • Forbidden Orchard - A land that produces any color mana and gives an opponent a creature. This is the main land that we want to have on the field. With mana burn being a thing of the past, we don't lose life for having control over the creature count.
  • Hall of Heliod's Generosity - See Academy Ruins, except that it targets enchantments.
  • Phyrexian Tower - Serves as a sac outlet and produces double black. It used to make sure that we have fewer creatures than our opponents so we can always trigger Oath.
  • Strip Mine - Blow up any land we want. Usually hits a pesky utility land. Since we run Crucible of Worlds, we have the potential to take one of our opponents out of the game.
  • Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - Turns everyone's lands into swamps, in addition to their other types. Allows us to use lands like Mana Confluence or any fetchland without losing life.
  • Volrath's Stronghold - See Academy Ruins, except that it targets creatures.

While big creatures creatures have a bigger impact on the board state, they also paint a bigger target for us. This list runs the creatures it does because of the utility they provide, rather than the impact. Oath of Druids can certainly be run with that big creature suite and do well, but that is a very different build.

While Labman effects definitely have synergy with milling ourselves with our flagship enchantment, there are better outlets to achieve a win with these effects: Tainted Pact or Demonic Consultation are much more efficient at getting our library empty. Also wins with these cards are boring; easily the most flaccid, stale win achievable in EDH.

Necro is without a doubt a very powerful card. We can search for it and it serves as a draw engine. The cards gained from Necro are put into our hand at the end of the turn and we have to skip our draw step. The pace at which this card forces you to play, along with the target you get from casting it, is why you won't find it in this list.

JtMS is very powerful, but typically ends up being a sorcery speed, 4-mana Brainstorm or Unsummon, and then he dies.

This commander staple is commonly found in even 2 color decks. Being a 4 or 5 color deck, surely this is an auto-include, right? With the right mana base, this card is just not worth running. It is mana-negative the turn you cast it and doesn't advance our gameplan when we do cast it. This same thought process can be applied to other EDH staple artifacts like Commander's Sphere and Arcane Signet. If your meta has Blood Moon effects, then this card becomes more useful.

Definitely a contender to make the list. Has a big impact on the board and clears the way for combos. If your meta is too fast for this deck, consider putting this card in.

It makes sense to include this card in a deck that gives its opponents creatures and wants to cheat out creatures of its own. We get the most out of our creatures when there are cards in our graveyard, which Defense of the Heart does not do.

In this section are some potential creature packages. Some of them drastically change the deck, as getting rid of even one of the creatures in the regular package would call for other cards to be replaced as well.

This creature package would just give us a bunch of card advantage. We would prioritize getting Oath into play instead of search for card draw engines because the creatures we would Oath into are our card draw engines.

There is also the good 'ol fashioned Vintage Oath creature before Griselbanned got printed. This build would run more rocks to generate infinite mana. Additionally, it would run Cursed Totem as we can just bounce it with the Tyrant when we need to use our general. Having only one creature gives us the opportunity to run Proteus Staff to stack our deck.

We would go all-in on using Bolas's Citadel with this package by keeping our life total high. Also gives me an excuse to run Lich's Mastery.

The cards listed in this section are the ones that might be cut for other cards, due to meta shifts or under-performance. In other words, when a more enticing card comes along, these cards are the first to be considered to be cut.

While the interaction with revealing and not choosing Gaea's Blessing is cute, at four mana it wouldn't be that hard to find a better card to go in the slot.

Serving as niche of a purpose as this does, should an outright better option come along, that would make for an easy swap.

Of course if we open this card, it is insane. However, this is one of those cards that gets considerably weaker when drawn later in the game.

Sacriledge! How dare I even consider cutting Rhystic Study?! This card is honestly hit-or-miss. It all depends on when you play it and how your play group operates. Amongst semi-competitive groups, Rhystic Study slows the game down as players are opting to conserve mana to pay for the trigger rather than advance their gamestate. That does sound like a good thing, but it does make the game slower and less fun for some. Aka it is a 3 mana, one-sided Sphere of Resistance, which again sounds and is good, but isn't fun. Granted your opponents can just not pay the , but that would likely lead to a quick or one-sided victory, which also isn't fun.

This card is good, but doesn't have synergy with enough cards in the deck to be uncuttable.

  • Carpet of Flowers - While this sees play in most cEDH decks, this card is definitely meta dependent. As it is, I don't go up against enough islands to include it in the deck. If your meta has one or two heavy blue decks, this is almost a must include. Remember, you only get the mana at the start of one of your main phases.
  • Compost - Meta dependent, but can draw us a bunch of cards if our opponent uses our Oath.
  • Constant Mists - A fog spell with buyback. Should this be included, Spike Weaver would likely be removed from the creature suite. Combos with Crucible of Worlds.
  • Copy Artifact - 2 CMC enchantment (this deck likes those) that can be the best artifact on the table. Heavily considering.
  • Earthcraft - This lets us go infinite with the Second Sunrise combo without needing Phyrexian Altar, but requires us to have basic lands in play. Additionally, it is a 2 CMC enchantment, so it is much easier to tutor up than the Altar.
  • Eerie Ultimatum - There is actually zero chance of this spell ever resolving, but if it did...
  • Karn, the Great Creator - A one-sided Null Rod that can also increase our opponent's creature count. Karn's second ability can also get back one of our artifact combo pieces if it gets exiled. If your play group allows Wish Boards, then by all means include this card.
  • Ponder - More topdeck manipulation with a cheap cost plus the potential to shuffle is always nice.
  • Reality Shift - Sometimes you need to get rid of a creature for good. This card does that and keeps the creature count the same.
  • Teferi's Realm - An unorthodox protection card. If we choose to phase out enchantments, it would prevent our opponents from using or affecting our Oath.
  • Underworld Breach - With the ability to mill the entire deck in one go, this card basically turns into Yawgmoth's Will except the cards don't get exiled if they hit the graveyard.
  • Veil of Summer - Another meta-dependant inclusion. If my meta shifts more towards blue, this will find its way in.
  • Whirlwind Denial - Helps win counter wars, along with interrupting big spell after effects, such as a resolved Living Death bringing back a bunch of creatures with ETB triggers.
  • Whirlwind of Thought - Drawing cards is good and since we never actually cast our creatures, we would draw a lot of cards.
  • Wilderness Reclamation - A worse version of Seedborn Muse, but still pretty good. Is easier to tutor up as well.

Even 75% decks can get up there in cost. With that said, there are alternative, cheaper cards that can be run to achieve the same effect. Here is the list of the cards that have eclipsed the $30 price tag in the list and what you could potentially run in their place.

Artifacts

  • Mana Crypt - This is the most powerful form of mana ramp in EDH. There just aren't any replacements for something this powerful.
  • Phyrexian Altar - Other options like Ashnod's Altar don't generate infinite colored mana with our combo, requiring Lotus Petal, and thereby making the combo less consistent, but still possible.
  • Rings of Brighthearth - Rings has a high $ cost, but is one of the cards that is much easier to cut due it only serving as a value engine most of the time. In this slot, feel free to test a few cards that you were looking to add.
  • Scroll Rack - A very versatile artifact that lets us dig and/or determine the top card(s) of our deck. Can be replaced by cards such as Crystal Ball or Soothsaying.
  • Sensei's Divining Top - There really isn't replacing this card. The only card that even can be mentioned in the same vein is Mirri's Guile, which isn't very good. If you don't have this card, I would prioritize getting it.

Instants

  • Force of Will - The best counterspell. Even its toned-down counterpart Force of Negation fetches an above average price. FoW can be replaced by cards like Delay or Dissipate.
  • Mana Drain - Another fantastic counterspell. Has the same replacements as Force of Will above.
  • Vampiric Tutor - There really isn't replacing this card since it does so much. Technically you can throw in a Scheming Symmetry or Diabolic Tutor, but it won't be the same.
  • Worldly Tutor - Can be replaced with a card to help with whichever aspect of the deck needs more consistency. As it stands, Worldly Tutor serves to guarantee the creature we Oath into, but that isn't 100% necessary for the deck.

Sorceries

  • Demonic Tutor - An EDH all-star. There is no replacing this card with something of equal power for less money.

Enchantments

  • Sylvan Library - This is another card that is basically irreplaceable. The best card that comes to mind to use instead is Necropotence. if you are not running Library, then your draw step isn't as important, making Necro much better.
  • Training Grounds - 100% replaceable. While certainly strong, it can be replaced with a cheap counter, removal, or draw spell.

Lands

  • Twisties - Because this deck is very slow, you can put in less consistent dual lands, such as the check lands from M10, the Temples from the Theros block, or any of the pain lands. With Ikoria, the new fetchable trilands are certainly an option.
  • Fetchlands - Manipulating the top of the deck is one of the main themes, so having some sort of fetchland in the deck is necessary. The Khans of Tarkir fetchlands are still around $20, so try to pick those up if you can. Otherwise, you can technically use the slow fetches from the Mirage block or even basic lands. Budget permitting, get the Zendikar fetches later.
  • Volrath's Stronghold - More like icing on the cake, it makes the list that much sweeter, but it can be run without. Replace with a basic land or other utility land you would want to run.

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Date added 1 year
Last updated 4 months
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 0 Mythic Rares

54 - 0 Rares

28 - 0 Uncommons

10 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.57
Tokens 3/3 Elephant, 1/1 Spirit, Food, 1/1 Elf Warrior, Treasure, 2/2 Bird, 3/3 Beast
Folders Uncategorized
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