We have right around half the set spoiled, but already Oath of the Gatewatch looks to have a much higher average power level than Battle for Zendikar. There's nothing quite as insane as fetchable duals or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but there are a lot of cards that are easily Constructed-playable. Let's dive in and take a look at the major movers and shakers from Oath of the Gatewatch.
It's not often that we get new tools for Legacy, though Oath offers two cards that are definitely worth thinking about. The first has rather obvious applications to explore.
A blue two-drop with haste and prowess could be exactly what is needed to push Izzet Delver to the forefront of Legacy. Stormchaser Mage fits right in with Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration and Monastery Swiftspear, and it pitches to Force of Will to boot. The evasion and resistance to Lightning Bolt is also worth noting.
I don't know if it will be my preferred flavor of the deck, but I fully expect some players to adopt it, and as such I like the idea of picking up foil copies.
The other card that caught my eye for Legacy is a bit further off the beaten path...
The stars... er, hedrons... will really need to align for this card to see competitive success. But if it happens anywhere, my bet is on Legacy. The problem is that shy of actually winning the game, the card doesn't do anything. This is a similar problem to many cards in Show and Tell decks, so it might be workable, though the explosive nature of Show and Tell simply cannot be emulated by Hedron Alignment.
That said, seeing as the win condition only takes four slots, there could be an Intuition-based prison deck, or even a deck with access to a different combo that capitalizes on Hedron Alignment. Actually winning games with the deck will require a finely-tuned shell and a lot of work, but the potential is there.
If foil copies are cheap then I recommend picking some up, though I wouldn't invest real money in this one until the deck proves itself.
You could make the argument that Stormchaser Mage matters for Modern as well, though I'm less convinced. The cantrips simply aren't there, though a decent deck could be constructed. In terms of Modern applications, the cards that are most exciting are all Eldrazi.
Kozilek is a potential player for Tron, though the deck already has good inevitability for that stage of the game. Where all of these cards could matter in a big way is in the Eldrazi Black deck. Even there Kozilek is a one-of type card that will be driven by casual demand more than anything, but is still in the Constructed conversation. Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer, on the other hand, are four-of creatures that give the deck a real shot in the arm.
The benefit that Reality Smasher provides is that it's bigger than basically everything in Modern and it doesn't require any setup the manabase doesn't already provide. Blight Herder does a decent Tarmogoyf impression even without enablers, but Reality Smasher is just great with the only condition being the ability to cast it, made painfully easy by Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin.
Thought-Knot Seer adds even more to the deck. Not only is it a large creature that doesn't demand any enablers, it also happens to be a processor enabler itself. The deck already plays discard, and this is just disruption, a solid return and an enabler all rolled into one. In a deck that has the potential to play it on turn two.
The existing Eldrazi decks are already quite good, and these additions just might push them over the top. As of now Tron and Affinity exist as pretty bad matchups, but the additional speed and disruption could turn the tide.
I personally like the black-white versions the most due to access to Path to Exile, Lingering Souls, and some great sideboard cards, so that's where I'd personally look for investment opportunities. Caves of Koilos is poised to see additional play in Standard and in this deck, so it's a great pickup. Eye of Ugin has of course been rising, so it's also worth paying attention to.
Two cards with high buy-ins that haven't been impacted yet are Marsh Flats and Cavern of Souls. Both add a lot to the deck and aren't likely to be reprinted in the near future. Those two certainly aren't for the faint of heart, and demonstrate a lot of confidence in this deck, though I have been seeing more Caverns in Modern in general lately.
For individual cards, there aren't better bets than Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. You can snipe a set for around $60 on eBay if you're lucky, and that price is stellar. I'd be amazed if you didn't see positive returns on that. Even at a $20 buy-in, I imagine there will be significant growth in the initial weeks after Oath launches.
There was a time when it looked like the community had learned its lesson about planeswalkers and had made pre-order prices inaccessible, but with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and now the newest Nissa it looks like we're back to seeing some good pre-order opportunities.
Picking exactly which colorless mana spells will shine in Standard is a bit tough given the amount of relevant information we have, but I'd say we know enough to guarantee painlands will see an increase in play, minimally when Khans rotates. Picking up one set is very cheap, and if you need them to play you won't be sorry.
Which ones exactly will see the most play in Standard is a more uncertain matter at this point. I'm confident suggesting a playset or two, but for investment purposes beyond that you'll want to invest in the specific land that will see the highest returns. I'm inclined to believe that could be Caves of Koilos given my thoughts on Modern, but I'm definitely open to the possibility of a better choice.
The Rise of Ramp
The deck I see gaining the most from Oath is Eldrazi Ramp. The information that we have already provides the groundwork for a build with a lower mana curve, which makes it better at interacting with faster decks, as well as some interesting disruption to keep the bigger versions of the deck from easily going over the top. I have a strong feeling that World Breaker, along with some other new additions, will give this deck a powerful facelift.
Sylvan Advocate is a big upgrade to Jaddi Offshoot, providing relevant anti-red technology that isn't horrendous elsewhere. Of course you can still board the Offshoots, and together they might even be enough to swing this matchup in Ramp's favor.
Likewise, Kozilek's Return is a great tool against Atarka Red that isn't completely dead in other matchups, and World Breaker "flashes back" Kozilek's Return quickly while also providing relevant disruption and a huge body. A build incorporating these elements doesn't rely on hitting so many ramp spells so early, and mitigates the problem of getting Ulamog flooded.
If this deck sees a serious surge, then Shrine of the Forsaken Gods and Sanctum of Ugin should see a little price bump. They are regular rares from BFZ, so it won't be huge. We all know what happened with Mantis Rider.
I actually don't hate the prospect of picking up World Breaker if you can get them for a buck or two. I'm pretty convinced that this is the groundwork for a competitive deck, and I can think of worse bets to make.
This article has been far from an exhaustive list of cards worth watching from Oath of the Gatewatch. There are quite a lot of promising cards from the set, which is very exciting. If you haven't already been reading them, I strongly recommend checking out our single-card posts on the free side for some great information on individual cards.
Thanks for reading.
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