Welcome to Oathbreaker
For those who have never picked up vintage, fear not, this article is here to help you peer into a great, old format while allowing you to play it in commander. Oathbreaker is a deck archetype that utilizes the above card Oath of Druids to cheat out amazing game winners like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Griselbrand as early as turn two or three, but what this deck aims to do is something different. This deck aims to use the reveal ability to trigger until you fail to find a creature and then put all cards revealed into your graveyard, and through a complex play after that, actually win the game with no library instead of losing the game, which I will get to in a little bit.
Why Should I Play Oathbreaker?
For starters, this deck appeals to the semi-competitive player that loves something new and unique. A deck that plays like this takes long to master with combos and interactions that can get very complex, especially when you are going for the victory. You should play this if you:
- Love combo decks and are looking for a new challenge.
- Want to end games swiftly and without warning.
- Like not having to worry about having a small hand.
- Don’t want to rely on a creature-based strategy.
The Commander Herself
Damia, Sage of Stone offers one thing this deck relies a great deal on, and that’s having a hand full of options. This deck runs not one game winning combo, but three, and having options to always fall back on is a powerful resource in multiplayer. Since this deck can generate a lot of mana quickly, the casting cost is not that big of an issue, but the main idea is that we almost never want to have creatures in play. Our general should be a backup plan. Her ability to refill your hand from zero after dropping your mana rocks and ramp spells allows her to be a mid to late draw card engine all by herself.
The Oath of Druids Combo
Although I am about to describe an ideal scenario, this is also just the minimum requirements for the combo. Starting off at turn three, where we have two lands, one that taps for blue, and one that taps for green. We have Oath of Druids on the field and a land in hand, and at least one opponent has a creature on the battlefield. Activate Oath of Druids at the beginning of your turn’s upkeep, failing to find a creature, but putting your entire library in the graveyard. Make sure you keep track of how many spells you cast.
- Before you move out of upkeep, flashback Memory’s Journey, putting back Yawgmoth’s Will, Lotus Petal, and Mana Crypt, in any real order, but recommended Yawgmoth’s Will on top.
- Draw any one of those cards, and then play your land for turn and flashback Deep Analysis, drawing your last two cards. Your deck should be empty and your graveyard full.
- Play Lotus Petal and break it for Black, and play Mana Crypt tapping it for two colorless. Cast Yawgmoth’s Will and you’re on the route to victory.
- From there the essential play is using Lotus Petal to play Mana Vault, and then casting Mox Opal, making Green and three colorless to cast Summer Bloom and Amulet of Vigor, then returning your three lands in play for Simic Growth Chamber, Dimir Aqueduct, and Golgari Rot Farm, and since they enter the battlefield untapped, you end up having two of each color in your color identity, six mana total.
- Use the mana to play ramp spells, like Cabal Ritual and Doubling Cube, while also playing artifacts like Sol Ring, Chrome Mox, Basalt Monolith, and Grim Monolith.
- After you have a strong enough board presence of artifacts, cast a Retract or a Hurkyl’s Recall to return all of the artifacts, which is key.
- After you have recast your mana rocks and used your untap spells like Turnabout and Dramatic reversal, count the number of spells you’ve played for storm count and cast Tendrils of Agony, doing more than enough damage to kill everyone else at the table.
Since the winning combo is as early as turn three, the combo itself is hard to beat, but what if someone has a counter ready or what if someone gets rid of Oath of Druids? For starters, the deck runs it’s own suite of powerful counter magic as well as cards like Noxious Revival and Krosan Reclamation to get Oath of Druids back to your hand. The most useful thing to know is that once Yawgmoth’s Will resolves, you should win, because you have enough counterspells in your deck that can be cast for free to save your combo, in the off chance that any piece is disrupted look to Krosan Reclamation as a backup to give you one more turn. Just in case something really bad happens to Oath of Druids, there are a couple other combos in the deck that are quick game winners that don’t rely on Oath of Druids.
Alternate Win Conditions
Because most people don’t fall for the same trick twice, Oath of Druids can be a hard one to win with multiple times in the same playgroups, so the deck has a few built in win conditions to see that you are still winning quickly and efficiently.
- Grim Monolith or Basalt Monolith with Power Artifact: Since the mana rocks are necessary for the combo, adding power artifact can give you a way to create infinite colorless mana, pairing this with Villainous Wealth gets to steal an opponent’s entire library and cast it, also you can use Blue Sun’s Zenith to draw someone out, or Exsanguinate to simply kill everyone by making them lose a very large amount of life life.
- Hive Mind and Slaughter Pact or Pact of Negation: The deck needs the pact cards to help it get out of trouble and adding Hive Mind means you can kill players while getting to use them naturally. It works by forcing them to cast a copy of the spell and if they can’t pay the mana for it on their upkeep, they lose the game.
Since this deck generates a good amount of mana, the deck can operate with the combos quickly, with little to no build up, and having that counter magic and other forms of disruption makes the alternate win conditions a pretty safe bet for your backup game.
Things to Consider
Oath of Druids is not a “may” ability, so when it’s on the board it will activate if someone has more creatures than you, so be careful playing it, and always use it when you know you can kill with it. Memory’s Journey and Deep Analysis are crucial to the main strategy, but if you have any doubts and can resolve Memory’s Journey, grab the safest out to a counter play, and you have Krosan Reclamation if you need another turn with Oath of Druids. In that same vein of play, I usually put Yawgmoth’s Will on top with either of those, just to make sure I can go off without a hitch. Timing and threat assessment is key to this deck. Use your tutors to fetch counter magic instead of grabbing your win conditions if necessary.
Using Your Pillowforts
The deck comes stacked with removal and disruption, and aside from the obvious Force of Will, and Pact of Negation, there are a few ways to stabilize yourself and keep yourself from being the most threatening player mid to late game if you don’t have access to those cards. Lethal Vapors is a fun card that forces players to play carefully without truly painting a target on your back, and the skip a turn aspect can make players think twice before playing creatures or killing your enchantment. Dissipation Field is also helpful for making sure you don’t get swung at by bouncing things that do damage to you. Rebuild, while better for your combo, can also be used to shut off decks that focus on artifacts, and Damnation is there for mass creature removal.
Things that will blow you out
The main threats to your deck are graveyard hate at instant speed and stax based cards that add costs to your spells, and playing around those cards can be tricky in this deck. Since those cards are harder to see in the early turns, most of the time you should be fine, but keep in mind those kinds of decks can shut you down hard, and practically kill you, but that’s what alternate win conditions are for, other than those, the deck is fun to pilot, and is a great way to prove your combo skills and introduce people to a new way of playing.