I always try to keep my eyes open during prerelease season. I mean really open. Anybody can tell when a creature is powerful and undercosted, or when a new spell is an improved version of an older card. The cards that are tougher to evaluate are the ones that change the rules we’re used to operating under. One such card is Oath of Gideon.
How powerful is it to add extra loyalty to your planeswalkers? Well, it certainly depends on the planeswalkers. It depends on what you typically do the turn you cast them, and the normal patterns of play (both yours and your opponents’) which surround them. If Oath of Gideon can allow you to keep your planeswalkers alive when they might otherwise die, or to use them in new and unusual ways, then it has the potential to be an excellent card.
It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of creativity to pair Oath of Gideon with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. He’s the best planeswalker in Standard, shares a color with Oath of Gideon, and is even the namesake of the card! The Oath allows Gideon to make an emblem on the turn he enters the battlefield, and to stick around to continue the fight on the next turn. This line of play works particularly well with the tokens Oath of Gideon gives you as a bonus.
Not only does Oath of the Gatewatch’s new planeswalker fit perfectly into a token shell, but she also operates particularly well starting with an extra loyalty. If Nissa has one weakness, it’s her +1 ability being rather unexciting, but starting with 4 loyalty gives you the option to cash her in for 2 activations of her -2 ability. A double-Glorious Anthem with the flexibility to start plus-ing when you want to is quite a bargain.
So Oath of Gideon provides 2 bodies to protect your planeswalkers and to receive the bonuses built into a token deck. The tokens are Allies, for any deck interesting in utilizing the rally or cohort abilities. The Oath offers particularly exciting bonuses to 2 of Standard’s hallmark planeswalkers. It also adds extra loyalty to Magic Origins’ “flip” planeswalkers since you, “exile [them], then return them to the battlefield transformed.” Finally, it provides a buffer against Dromoka’s Command, allowing you more flexibility in utilizing cards like Silkwrap and Quarantine Field. All told, it sounds like an excellent addition to a GW Token strategy.
This deck maintains many of the strengths of Abzan Aggro and the old GW Megamorph decks. The 2-color mana base makes it fast, smooth, and very consistent. Against decks trying to control the board, it attacks from a handful of angles at once, and has a higher density of planeswalkers than any other deck in Standard. Finally, a healthy and efficient removal suite rounds things out, and gives it the tools to fight whatever your opponent might throw at it.
This is just one of the ways to use Oath of Gideon. Keep an eye on it in older formats, since it allows planeswalkers such as Garruk Wildspeaker, Elspeth Tirel, Tezzeret, the Seeker, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas to ultimate on the turn they enter the battlefield.
Oath of Gideon has a unique effect that you cannot find on any other card in the game of Magic. That alone makes it worth keeping a close eye on.