CheshirePlaysGames's picture
By: CheshirePlaysGames, Albert Caynes
May 22 2019 11:00am

Now I know what you're saying, “Chesh, how is this any better than Brawl or Tiny Leaders?”. I'm so happy you asked because Oathbreaker not only already has a strong following, it's gaining HUGE momentum thanks to Tolarian Community College and Jumbo Commander, with both doing recent videos on the format.

So what IS Oathbreaker?

Oathbreaker is a commander/EDH variant based on having a Planeswalker as your commander AND a spell that acts as a “signature spell” in your command zone.
  • Planeswalker of your choice in the command zone.
  • Signature Spell in the command zone MUST match colour identity of your commander.
  • Commander tax applies to both your planeswalker commander and the signature spell.
  • Your commander MUST be out on the board if you wish to play your Signature Spell.
  • Not unlike commander, only one of each non basic card can be in your deck.
  • Decks are 58 cards in the main (60 when you include commander and signature spell).
  • Life is set at 20 to start the match.
  • Games are intended for four players.
  • There is a banned list and though it is different to commander, it still includes (Grislebrand) and Gifts Ungiven.
Cards banned in Vintage are not legal in Oathbreaker: notably, the 25 cards with the “Conspiracy” card type, silver bordered cards, skill testing cards such as Falling Star, and the 9 cards that reference “playing for ante” are not legal.

Additionally, the following 44 cards are banned in Oathbreaker (last updated 4/4/19- High Tide banned):


So there has been a LOT of talk of late about Planeswalkers as commanders including a lot of “planeswalkers slow down commander”, however Oathbreaker circumnavigates this with a MUCH lower life total and deck size. This means decks will be more aggressive and games will end a heck of a lot faster. Signature spells will also signal the threat at the table a lot more often than seeing a commander and wanting the person dead.
The format banned list is maintained by Not For Profit children's charity group and has an oddly exciting premise tacked on. They won’t ban a card until it has been out for three months. That means there is a three month grace period for the community to play with and experience new cards... And likely break them in the process. Looking SQUARELY at you, Narset, Parter of Veils and Windfall... That's a NASTY soft lock that no one ever wants to be on the end of.

Okay look, we all know what happens with casual fun formats. Some spike is going to come along and tell you that their gross combo deck is valid and therefore you should just have an out at all times to the deck no matter how disgusting and unfun the deck is to play against. Use that social contract LIBRALLY. In a 60 card “highlander” format on a table of four, The Chain Veil and Doubling Season WILL come up and someone WILL bring them to the table. The same with good old lock decks like Teferi, Time Raveler with Winter Orb and Stasis, it will happen at some stage, so enact that social contract.
In addition to this, yes (Tamiyo Field Researcher) is likely going to be a messy problem, like that 2am kebab your drunk self wanted and when you wake up at 9 am oh goodness you just have to go puke because how can someone put THAT much oil in a kebab or was it the tripple cheese I wanted on it? Oh I'm paying for it already...
The format doesn't seem to really be on Wizard's radar? I mean, I haven't seen any official tweets about the format and how awesome it is, but I might have missed those. At any rate, we have seen Loading Ready Run play it, Jumbo Commander and Tolarian Community College make videos on it and a new facebook group (well not new but a new influx of members) pop into the community spotlight. But no official support for it as yet by Wizards of the Coast. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE, WIZARDS. DO THE THING YOU DIDN'T WITH BRAWL!

60 card decks (58 really) make the game more consistent. 20 life makes winning easier for the most part, or rather, losing. Playing games will mean you get more in over the span of a single game of commander, and that's pretty cool.
Having now played a few games as well, I can confirm the format is fun to play with your friends and those new static ability planeswalkers from war are especially CUTE right now, right Ral, Storm Conduit?
Also, with this format being new to the wider community, I think we will see some awesome deck builds coming out of the woodwork. Heck, I decided to build both a STORM deck based on Grapeshot as my signature spell and an Ashiok, Dream Render with signature spell Mind Grind. Okay those both might be a little more towards mid power than my usual jank, but I get to play MILL!
I can't stress enough that this is intended to be a CASUAL format. This is a great format, but please discuss powerlevels with your play groups before you dive in head first and squash your tables into never playing again.
All in all, just give it a shot, fome one commander player to another. Have a try and see how you go, you might just find it to be what you were looking for all along. Except your house keys at 2am. Oh that kebab is coming up again. -Chesh