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By: TugaChampion, Guilherme Carmona Alexandrino
Jul 07 2015 12:22pm
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Reasons why I write so much about Oath:

I have written many tournament reports with Vintage Griselbrand Oath. I am the type of player who likes to play the same deck over and over again, with just some small tweaks, until I am playing the deck very well and I only change decks if it becomes worse or for some reason can't be played anymore. This leads to me writing about the same deck over and over again. I don't think that's necessarily bad, as you learn more from my reports if I am playing better, but it can get boring for some people.

There aren't Momir events to mix it up and I have been struggling to find a Modern deck so it has been hard to do anything other than Vintage. And since I'm doing so well with the deck, I can't justify playing something else. So I'm writing about why I think this is the best Vintage deck right now.

I can say a lot of stuff why I have this opinion but I'll start by giving you hard numbers. During June and July, I am 65-24 playing the deck in Daily Events plus the Ham on a Wry 4. I didn't count byes or no shows and there is one event that only shows the last round so I don't know how I did in that one but that shouldn't change the percentages in a meaningful way. My winning percentage during these two month has been 73%!

I'm not saying the deck should be winning 73% of its matches. I know I was lucky several times but I was unlucky sometimes as well. And since I have played this deck so much, I probably have an edge over many opponents. But the deck has to be good, otherwise I wouldn't have this record.

Oath of Druids

How I picked up Oath and what I like about it so much:

When I decided to get into Vintage, I started by watching LSV play some decks and Oath was one of the more interesting ones to me. When I started playing the deck I really enjoyed it, even though the list was a bit clunky with Gifts Ungiven (back when it was restricted) and even Tezzeret the Seeker. It didn't have Show and Tell and had Gaea's Blessing to avoid decking.

I liked the deck and I was in profit, even though I made a lot of mistakes. The deck often was able to win despite those mistakes. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were printed and things changed a bit. The Delver match up was very even because many games I'd be destroyed by a massive card advantage. When they restricted Cruise, things got better because Dig, while better at getting the sideboard hate, requires two mana making it easier to counter and harder to chain draw spells.

And that brings us to today's metagame. Workshops is considered the best deck in the format by many and Delver decks are much more worried about them and the mirror than anything else. Workshops also happens to be very good against Monoblue Belcher which is difficult for Oath. BUG type decks with Decay can also be difficult but those are rare nowadays. Dredge has lost popularity but it still shows up and that's a very easy match up with my sideboard.

But if Oath is so good, why isn't it more popular? Most of you are probably asking that question. There are a few reasons that justify this. I think the main one is that the OmniOath list seen in the VSL is not good. The deck is certainly more powerful but it's much more inconsistent and there are many times Oathing into Emrakul is not good enough (in one of my articles I actually won because he hit Emrakul instead of Griselbrand). This list made people think Oath is not good. Another reason is that someone trying the deck for the first time might get unlucky a few times in a row and dismiss the deck. With OmniOath it can happen more often but even my list has games where they counter the Oath and I lose to an Orchard token.

I really love the deck because it has free wins but it also gets to play Magic most of the time. There are some games you do nothing as well but the free wins happen more often.

Griselbrand

The most common match ups:

The match up against Shops is good because many games you just need to resolve one spell to win and that's much easier than resolving a Pyromancer and play several cantrips or building a big storm count with some Sphere effects in play.

Against Delver or Mentor decks, game 1 is easy but with sideboard it can be more difficult because they have some number of Cages and Priests. It's nice that you end up not needing Orchard many games and just putting an Oath into play without any creatures makes their whole deck so much worse.

Dredge is very easy because you are almost as fast as them (although they are fast more often). In game 1 you are not favoured but it's very winnable while games 2 and 3 with 6 hate pieces I'd say we win about 90% of the games.

Monoblue Belcher is difficult because they are faster and don't play any creatures. But since Shops destroys Belcher, you don't really need to worry about this as you won't face it often.

Doomsday and other Storm decks. These are not easy but they aren't bad match ups either. I'd say it's pretty even but Doomsday decks are a bit better against us than other Storm variants.

BUG decks like Standstill can be hard because Decay is very good against us.  It's still very winnable and depending on their list, it can range from 50-50 to 40-60.

Show and Tell

The list and some card choices:



3 Griselbrand and 2 Show and Tell: with Show and Tell, you want some number of cards to use it and I think less than 3 is not enough for 2 copies.

No Gaea's Blessing: I used to have it when I had just 2 Griselbrand. Most of the time the card is not needed. I've had several games that weren't just auto wins because I didn't have Blessing in my deck but I ended up winning all of them. There were a couple that were really close and I could actually have lost but, if my memory isn't failing me, I only lost once for not having it (and having it wouldn't be a 100% win). However, if you are playing only 2 Griselbrand you might need it. It also helps you win games where you screw up.

Time Vault + Voltaic Key + Top: The Vault Key combo is not necessary but I think it's a nice addition. Like Blessing it makes some games 100% wins but you'll win those almost always. Time Vault doesn't do anything on its own and Key needs Vault or Top but I still like them because it's another way to win games and gives you more outs and free wins.

Jace: It has fallen out of flavor in Vintage because Dack Fayden is similar for one less mana. Dack is fantastic against Shops, which is a huge thing for Delver decks, which are mana light and may not always get 4 mana. It's still very good in Oath, it can be an alternative winning condition and it's still a very powerful turn 1 play.

No Preordain, Cruise and Digs: I think Dig is better in Oath than Cruise and the deck can't fit more than 3 Delve spells. We would have to change a lot to fit this cards because without a few more fetchlands and Preordains, the Delve spells would be dead often. I could see taking out Jaces, Mana Drain and Rebuild but I really don't know what else I would cut to fit those.

Academy and Library: I'd probably have to cut these two for fetchlands to have enough delve fuel. And these two are very powerful some games.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

How to sideboard:

Shops: -2 Jace -1 Mana Drain -2 Misstep -1 Flusterstorm -1 Thoughtseize +1 Decay +3 Nature's Claim +1 Hurkyl's Recall +1 Forest

You might have noticed I'm taking out 7 and siding in just 6. It depends on their list but I keep 1 Jace, or 1 Mana Drain or 1 Misstep. I've even taken out Top because I felt I wanted to have 1 Jace and 1 Mana Drain against his version. Thoughtseize can be fine on the play but I never want it on the draw. Misstep is usually very bad against Shops but I want to keep at least one because it counters Cage.

Delver/Mentor and BUG decks: -2 Jace -1 Mystical Tutor -1 Rebuild +2 Flusterstorm +1 Thoughtseize +1 Decay

Dredge: -2 Jace -2 Decay -1 Mana Drain -1 Top -1 Rebuild -1 Thoughtseize +4 Leyline +2 Tormod's Crypt +2 Flusterstorm

Other than Flusterstorm this one is pretty obvious. I like having more ways to protect my hate cards. There was a time people were siding in the Dark Depths combo so keeping one Jace against lists with that is very important. Some people are also siding in Leyline of Sanctity and you want some number of Nature's Claim against those.

Monoblue Belcher: -2 Jace -2 Decay -1 Rebuild -1 Mystical Tutor +3 Nature's Claim +2 Flusterstorm +1 Thoughtseize

Thoughtseize and the counters that need mana are much better on the play Decay costing 2 is not great and bouncing all their artifacts doesn't do much unless you are able to do it in response to a draw 7. I'm still trying to figure out what is best in this match up as I haven't faced it very often.

Storm/Doomsday: -1 Mystical Tutor -1 Rebuild -1 Mana Drain/Jace +2 Flusterstorm +1 Thoughtseize

I like having Decay to kill Defense Grid and I have stolen some games by killing Laboratory Maniac.

I think sideboarding is a dynamic process and while it's good to have some guidelines, especially when you are learning the deck, it's important to keep an open mind. I like taking out Mystical Tutor against anything with Misstep but I still keep it against Dredge even if they have those.

Library of Alexandria

Some general tips and tricks about the deck:

Sometimes it's difficult to know if going for it is good or not. It takes experience and it's something I feel I got much better. Usually, on the play in game 1, I like going for it because it makes them have Force and they still haven't used their cantrips to sculpt a better hand. And there's always the possibility they are not playing blue.

If you have Oath in play and they have creatures and Cage and you choose yes on Oath, you mill a bunch of cards until you get to Griselbrand which stays on the top of your Library for you to draw on your draw step. This is very useful if you have Show and Tell in hand.

There is another cool trick with Show and Tell. You can use it to draw out a counterspell but not only as a bluff. It can be a good way to resolve Key, Vault or even Oath while not actually casting the card you want to resolve. Just don't forget you can't put Jace into play with it! I've even used it to put a Leyline into play against Dredge!

In Vintage, sometimes, you need to think outside the box. I've noticed while playing Standard over the years that it's very rare to get into a position where you do a play you never thought was possible. In Modern, it is more likely but still not common at all. However in Vintage, you will get into very strange games. One example: you might need to use Key to untap Mox Jet to get the forth black mana to hardcast Griselbrand. It's important to notice when a game might go in that direction to plan accordingly and fetch as many Underground Sea as possible instead of Tropical Island. Despite being a very powerful format, sometimes it is close to a limited format where strange and new interactions can still happen after thousands of games.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and at least a few players decide to try out my list.

7 Comments

I liked playing Misdirection by Joe Fiorini at Tue, 07/07/2015 - 18:43
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

I liked playing Misdirection in my list, as it is either another Force when you need it to be, or it can deflect an Abrupt Decay.

I probably gave up on the list too soon, as after my first event with it, I never did well again. I'd try to land an Oath with back-up counters and still get blown out.

I'd still play it again, it's a very fun deck, and when it does it's thing, it's hard to stop. You're lucky there aren't that many players playing it now though, the mirror isn't fun in my opinion. They can use your own oath against you, and you never want to risk a Show and Tell. It's rough.

Nice article! You should post a link on TMD, people will read it!

Yes, one Misdirection could by TugaChampion at Tue, 07/07/2015 - 19:05
TugaChampion's picture

Yes, one Misdirection could certainly be good, especially if decks with Decay get more popular but it's so expensive right now that I can't justify it.

I understand. It's easy to get unlucky in the first couple tournaments and give up on the deck because it seems bad.

And I agree, the mirror is pretty bad, especially when you don't know you are playing the mirror, play Oath without Orchard and they play Orchard.

I have a TMD account but I keep forgetting my password!

Just email someone there, by Joe Fiorini at Tue, 07/07/2015 - 21:22
Joe Fiorini's picture

Just email someone there, they are all cool people for the most part!

Honestly, I think I just got lucky that first time. It was my first Vintage tournament ever. Then after that, I kept getting close but not close enough, if you know what I mean.

I commend you for sticking with the deck though, I honestly think that I may have hurt my chances overall by switching decks too much. I mean, I've played A LOT of Vintage decks, and I haven't been playing the format for a year yet.

My favorite thing about Oath is the Shops match up. All you need to do is resolve an Oath, and they can't counter it. Sure, they can play cage, but that turns your Missteps on. In fact, Oath is the only deck that I wouldn't side Misstep out against Shops in that match up. Other than Cage, they have only Sol Ring as a Misstep Target. (This also is why they can Chalice on one all day every day and just laugh about it!)

Keep up the good work, and feel free to hit me up for some play-testing any time you want.

Yes, I know, I've done it by TugaChampion at Wed, 07/08/2015 - 06:22
TugaChampion's picture

Yes, I know, I've done it before. I'm just lazy to do it!

Well, some players like switching and trying new things while I prefer sticking to something that has been working for me and get better and better with it.

Yes, Shops will beat us on the play when they have the nut draw but they there's very few things that doesn't beat anyway. Every other game Oath is favoured.

Thank you.

Thank you for this primer! I by jay85 at Tue, 07/07/2015 - 21:29
jay85's picture
5

Thank you for this primer! I had built your exact list a little while ago and I enjoy the deck. I've only played it in one daily so far. I would play it more but it's hard since Vintage dailies are not easy to come by. I've challenged Joe Fiorini to a couple matches before so he could give me some pointers on how to play the deck better (thanks, Joe!), and now after reading this article I feel a lot more comfortable with the deck.
I feel my biggest problem with it is knowing when to go for the combo. I'm still a little gun shy with it, but like you said, I'll feel more comfortable the more I play with the deck.
Also, Thanks for the sideboard guide. The next chance I get to participate in a daily you can bet this article will be loaded up and ready to go since I'm not familiar with the Vintage meta and don't know exactly how to sideboard. Anyways, thanks again and I'll be sitting here impatiently waiting for your next article!

I'm glad you liked it! It's by TugaChampion at Wed, 07/08/2015 - 06:31
TugaChampion's picture

I'm glad you liked it! It's not easy to explain when you should go for it because the more experiencied with the deck, the easier it is to know when to do it.

I think the best way to learn is actually going for it very often. With the exception of those situations you're almot sure it will go wrong, you should just go for it. That is how you learn. If you go for it, you get to see when it works and when it doesn't. If you don't go for it, you don't know for sure. Later, you'll have a better idea when to wait and you can start doing that.

Flusterstorm is how I win by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 07/08/2015 - 07:12
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Flusterstorm is how I win counterwars usually.