Oath of the Gatewatch Limited Set Redo

Ratings Scale

5.0: The best of the best. (Citadel Siege. Wingmate Roc. Dragonlord Atarka.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Tragic Arrogance. Whirler Rogue. Icefall Regent. Hangarback Walker.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Abbot of Keral Keep. Jhessian Thief. Ultimate Price.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Separatist Voidmage. Fiery Impulse. Epic Confrontation.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Deadbridge Shaman. Skyraker Giant. Watercourser.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Read the Bones. Silumgar Butcher. Dragon-Scarred Bear.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Throwing Knife. Chandra’s Fury. Artful Maneuver.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Vastwood Gorger. Aeronaut Tinkerer. Cobblebrute.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Thornbow Archer. Deep-Sea Terror. Akroan Jailer.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Vandalize. Vine Snare. Congregate.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Fascination. Infinite Obliteration.)

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Eldrazi Displacer

Original Limited Rating: 3.5

3 mana for a 3/3 devoid is not bad, even if it’s in a color which doesn’t have a ton of payoff cards for having colorless creatures. The ability here is extremely powerful, and is exactly where I like to see the <> symbol. Since the ability requires colorless mana while the cost of the actual card is “normal,” you can much more safely play Eldrazi Displacer in your deck than if those symbols were reversed. You can cast it on turn 3 without much issue, and if the ability eventually becomes active, great!

Once you know that your deck will have a couple colorless sources, you should prioritize creatures with good enters-the-battlefield abilities, though those realistically were already going to be high picks. Plus, even without them, this can knock blockers out of the way, prevent opposing creatures from dealing damage when they attack, and save your creatures from removal. It’s overall excellent, and having this ability active will cause your opponent no end of headaches. If you knew you’d get 3-5 colorless sources, this would be a solid 4.0, but that’s something you won’t usually know until slightly later in the draft (and makes you commit a little more than you want to early).

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Updated Rating: 4.5

This card is absurd, and I only mention it because I was a little too cautious about how many colorless sources you needed—as it turns out, if you open this, you will add the necessary colorless.

Makindi Aeronaut

Original Limited Rating: 1.5

Apparently the flying Kor are now Allies, which makes me wonder why they were so uncooperative in Battle for Zendikar. Either way, this occupies the same spot as other decent Allies: good in an Allies deck, somewhat lackluster outside of that. I do like 1/3 fliers in my defensive decks, so I’d be tempted to run one of these in some of those, but they aren’t a high priority.

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Updated Rating: 2.5

The Allies decks tended to be starved for 2-drops, and this happened to work extremely well with both support in GW and cohort in WB. As such, I almost always played Aeronaut, and would pick it fairly early. Context matters, as cards like this demonstrate (and I think I was a little low on this to start with, just because a 1/3 flier for 2 is decent even without context).

Ondu War Cleric

Original Limited Rating: 2.5

A bear that can gain 2 life a turn is a solid little deal. It can beat down early and is quite relevant late, which is really all that you can ask for out of your 2-drops.

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Updated Rating: 3.5

This is still worse than Isolation Zone (which remains a 3.5), but the difference is much smaller than it initially looked. Ondu War Cleric is just a great card, and every white deck wants as many as it can get. The ability is just so easy to use and so relevant, all basically for free (since a 2/2 for 2 is already playable).

Searing Light

Original Limited Rating: 3.0

White is getting more and more removal these days, with three commons in BFZ and two here, which is not a small number. Searing Light is cheap and works on offense or defense, though it doesn’t quite clear blockers out of the way. It is unfortunate that this doesn’t stack with anything else, unlike a burn spell, but every now and then you will kill a 2/5 with it and feel very smart. Incredibly smart.

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Updated Rating: 1.5

I hate this card. It doesn’t work nearly as often as I want it to, and by now I’ve basically stopped maindecking it. There are certainly times where it’s good, but I’ve missed often enough that I’d rather board it in when I see targets, rather than the reverse.

Spawnbinder Mage

Original Limited Rating: 1.5

Spawnbinder Mage is one of the cohort cards that really misses if you aren’t consistently activating it. A 2/4 for 4 is expensive enough that you wouldn’t really play it without the ability, and tapping two creatures to tap one creature isn’t all that impressive even when it does work. I like one copy in a heavy Allies deck, but that’s about it.

2HG: Tappers get a reasonable amount better in 2HG, because you can deal with the biggest threat presented by either player, and because you can keep changing targets as better ones appear. I’d look to play this, as you will often have an Ally deck where it will fit.

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Updated Rating: 2.5

Spawnbinder is a fine card, and powerful enough that I’ll happily play 1-2 in every Ally deck. It’s better in WB than RW or WG, so maybe it’s closer to a 2.0, but either way it has overperformed my initial expectations.

Blinding Drone

Original Limited Rating: 2.5

Here we go. This is the first common that really pays you off for having reliable access to colorless mana, while being fairly mediocre if you don’t get there. If Blinding Drone were the same card but cost a generic mana instead of a colorless mana to activate, it would be a solid 3.5. A 1/3 tapper for 2 mana is great value, as it dodges a lot of removal and can block reasonably well, all while having a ton of utility in the late game. Clearly this is worse than that, because you need to play something like 4-5 colorless sources before it’s active, but the payoff is there.

I’d play Drone with as little as 2-3 sources if I needed a 2-drop, and once you get to 4+ sources the Drone becomes an appealing addition. Cards like this don’t seem worth moving in on all that early, but picking this around 4th or 5th sounds fine to me. Once you have a couple reasons to want colorless, Wastes become interesting, and in general I’d look to pick up Wastes after I had these cards and not before.

This has the same caveats that Mist Intruder did—if there’s a really good deck that uses colorless, they could be key early picks. My initial assumption is that colorless cards fall more on the “solid to good” scale than “key parts of a dominant archetype” scale, but that’s the sort of thing that only truly becomes clear once we draft the set.

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Updated Rating: 3.5

While I specifically said that the value of colorless decks/sources would determine the true rating on this, I still want to update this based on those results. Blue colorless decks are very good, and in fact most blue decks end up as colorless decks. Blinding Drone is the best blue common by a wide margin, and is comparable to non-Oblivion Strike commons across the board.

Gravity Negator

Original Limited Rating: 2.5

Gravity Negator is not far from being a 3.0, but once the colorless ability is active, it gets there. In a deck that can’t pay to jump something, it’s still a passable flier that’s good on defense. In the decks with 4+ colorless sources, I’d be pretty happy to play this and wouldn’t mind picking it mid-pack.

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Updated Rating: 1.5

Negator ended up being very underwhelming. The stats and cost just don’t line up right against the rest of the format, and blue decks are so rarely aggressive that the ability doesn’t add much. I rarely play this card.

Jwar Isle Avenger

Original Limited Rating: 3.5

Jwar Isle Avenger is another solid flier with upside. You are unlikely to slam this on turn 4, but playing a normal 2-drop and this on turn 5 is a very good deal. I view most of the surge cards as bonuses rather than goals to draft around, with cards like Crush of Tentacles as the exception. Still, given enough good cheap cards, you can and will take (and play) this early.

2HG: Avenger is fantastic, and one of the best threats in the format. I try not to play early creatures, or anything that could conceivably damage my opponents, but I’ll make an exception for this.

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Updated Rating: 2.5

The surge deck didn’t come together often enough for Avenger to be awesome. I’d take Containment Membrane or either Drone over Avenger, even if Avenger is still a fine playable.

Oath of Jace

Original Limited Rating: 1.0

*Cue rant about rares referencing mythics from when I reviewed Oath of Gideon*

Draw three and discard two isn’t a great deal, and I’m not looking to play this unless I’m short on playables.

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Updated Rating: 2.5

The format is slow enough that this amount of card filtering is what you want. Oath of Jace isn’t insane by any stretch, but does offer blue decks an ability worth 3 mana.

Essence Depleter

Original Limited Rating: 2.0

I don’t mind a 2/3 for 3, and the ability is pretty good once it gets going. If you pick up one of the few life-gain-matters cards, this enables it, and in any colorless-themed deck this offers a good early play and a good late-game ability.

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Updated Rating: 3.5

Essence Depleter is absurd. Colorless sources are plentiful enough that activating this twice a turn is very easy to achieve. It’s incredibly hard to race, and ended up being one of the best non-rare colorless cards in the set.

Kozilek’s Translator

Original Limited Rating: 3.0

“What’s he saying?”
“Something about feeding me. Yeah, that’s it.”
(This is how I imagine any work I would do as a translator, and I assume what this thing is up to. It’s even got flavor text about sustenance!)
The actual card is good too, as it plays a slightly more painful Kozilek’s Channeler. It can still attack and use its ability, so the pain is well-distributed at least. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a colorless-specific card—it’s good in any black deck, and just happens to be better in ones that care about colorless. Remember to use this on your turn in order to leave a land untapped so you can use it on the opponent’s, essentially getting double value if you have the requisite life to spare.

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Updated Rating: 2.0

Translator ended up being fine, but nothing spectacular. It looked like an analogue to Kozilek’s Channeler, and fell far short of that. Paying the life wasn’t great, and getting 1 mana instead of 2 is just not what you want.

Corpse Churn

Original Limited Rating: 1.0

I don’t want a Raise Dead all that much, and certainly don’t want to pay 2 mana for one. It may increase your selection, but that’s not worth a ton.

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Updated Rating: 1.5

Not a huge jump here, but I wanted to point out that in BG grindy decks, this was a solid inclusion. It stocks your graveyard for Pulse of Murasa or Baloth Null, and overall did a decent amount of work.

Null Caller

Original Limited Rating: 3.0

I’m gonna go ahead and call this a good deal. It’s got decent stats and a powerful ability, even if it’s a little slow. You don’t need to go out of your way to enable this, but trading in combat never hurts.

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Updated Rating: 1.5

This card was a big disappointment. The ability is too slow to activate, and I never once had it be good. I think the numbers basically just didn’t line up right, and the Zombies being tapped was not helping.

Tar Snare

Original Limited Rating: 3.0

Nothing wrong with some good, clean removal. Or in this case, some filthy, sticky removal. This kills plenty of things and weakens the others during combat, which is fine by me.

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Updated Rating: 2.0

You still usually play a Tar Snare, but shouldn’t be happy about it. It doesn’t kill that many cards that cost more than 3, and is more of a sideboard option than a good main-deck one.

Zulaport Chainmage

Original Limited Rating: 2.0

4/2 for 4 is not one of my favorite set of stats, as this will often trade down for a 2- or 3-cost card. The ability does mitigate that, and I’d probably run a couple of these in an Ally-heavy deck.

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Updated Rating: 2.5

I was surprised to see how highly I rated this initially. I thought I would have to bump it a bunch, but I wasn’t too far off. This is more of a minor note than a major one, in that you almost always play at least one Chainmage in BW (and rarely anywhere else).

Akoum Flameseeker

Original Limited Rating: 2.0

I’m not particularly inspired by this cohort ability. It is nice that it can let you fight getting flooded later, but aggressive decks don’t really want to tap two creatures in order to loot. If you need to fill out your curve or want to up your Ally count, go for it, but I’d seek better.

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Updated Rating: 3.0

I really like Flameseeker. The ability is much better than I gave it credit for, and I only cut these if I’m truly short on Allies.

Goblin Freerunner

Original Limited Rating: 3.0

My beatdown decks will be goblin as many of these up as they can. 3/2 menace is a powerful threat, and it’s not hard to play this on turn 4 alongside a 2-drop. You don’t need to do much besides draft a low curve to make this good, though the value certainly drops once you aren’t aggressive.

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Updated Rating: 2.0

Freerunner, on the other hand, rarely comes out for less than 4 mana. It’s just not that good in most decks, and takes too much work for not enough payoff.

Stalking Drone

Original Limited Rating: 2.5

I’m always on the hunt for Grizzly Bears with thrilling abilities, and this certainly qualifies. You do need access to colorless mana to make this exciting, but once you have 4+ sources this becomes a very appealing early pick.

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Updated Rating: 3.0

Stalking Drone is a solid little guy, and deserves to be rated higher than a 2.5. I currently have this as the best green common, just because of how high the payoff is when you do have access to colorless mana (and because any 2-drop is good in a heavy support deck).

Elemental Uprising

Original Limited Rating: 2.0

Using this card can be a little tricky. Early game, it’s good removal, as you are paying 3 mana to kill whatever they play first. Later, it can always ambush something, though you do get 2-for-1’d if the land dies. Those two abilities combined make me want to try this.

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Updated Rating: 0.0

This is garbage. It just goes wrong so easily, and overall is not worth including in your deck. The risk vs. the reward is at a terrible ratio.

Pulse of Murasa

Original Limited Rating: 1.5

Once I started thinking about this as a Divination that draws a creature and 6 life, I started liking it more. Funny how that works. It’s still not great, but you can do worse with your last couple slots. I also like it out of the board against aggressive decks.

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Updated Rating: 2.0

Aggro green decks still don’t want this, but it’s a lot better than it looked in controlling ones.

Seed Guardian

Original Limited Rating: 4.0

A 3/4 reach for 4 is something I’d be glad to play already, and this is significantly more than that. It leaves behind at least a 1/1, but often a 2/2 or 3/3, which puts this in the running for one of the top uncommons of the set. Seed Guardian gives you a ton of stats at very low cost, and is resilient in the face of any removal barring exile.

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Updated Rating: 3.0

Seed Guardian is a fine card, but the preponderance of exile effects and bounce made it way less impressive than it looked. I still can’t fully explain why this card fell so short, but in my experience, it certainly did.

Bone Saw

Original Limited Rating: 0.0

Bone Saw is ready. So many people are going to play this card to enable surge, and when their 3/3 flier gets dealt with and their hand is empty, will wonder what went wrong. I will admit that 0.0 is aslight exaggeration, because of cards like Crush of Tentacles, but I’d rather not play Bone Saw under almost any circumstances. It just isn’t worth a card to get a 1-3 mana discount on a spell, even if you can tell me about a really sick turn you had.

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Updated Rating: 1.5

Certain decks have made me rethink my stance on Bone Saw. It does have a time and a place, and you should be ready to include it. It mostly enabled surge, but Stone Haven Outfitter was also a valid reason to play Bone Saw.

Conclusion

I’m pretty happy with how the Limited reviews went this time around. Some of the cards I adjusted were based on metagame reasons, which are hard to predict without playing a bunch of drafts. Colorless ended up being a better/easier theme than it initially looked, and some of the cohort Allies overperformed as well. Oath wasn’t the trickiest limited format to decipher, but it was an interesting one, and I enjoyed playing it.

Previous Set Reviews

Limited

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Colorless, Artifacts, Lands & Gold

Constructed

White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Colorless & Gold

Battle for Zendikar Set Review and Set Redo

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