Welcome to my Oath of the Gatewatch Limited Set Review. As usual, there are a few things that inform these ratings:
• The numerical rating is an easy way to get a sense of where the card is, but context is everything. I strongly encourage you to read what I think about the card, why I gave it a certain rating, and what sorts of factors make it better or worse. For example, a card like Mist Intruder is quite good in the right deck, and quite bad in the wrong one. I’ll do my best to describe when and where these cards shine (or don’t), but the rating doesn’t have that subtlety.
• Oath is designed for Two-Headed Giant play. I’ll try and mention when a card has particular relevance there, which usually will be when it targets multiple players or provides benefits to a teammate.
• The ratings scale is below. It gives you an idea of what kinds of cards belong in each ratings group, but is certainly not absolute. I expect the cards I review here to change based on actual gameplay experience, and I’ll be revisiting those that change drastically in a month or so.
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.)
Previous Set Reviews
Battle for Zendikar Set Review and Set Redo
I know how bad green is in Battle for Zendikar, but I’m still going to rate these cards on their power level alone. There is less incentive to draft green than other colors because of the pack of BFZ, but I still want to deliver the ratings without factoring that in. What that means is that a 3.0 in green is like a 2.9, as it loses the tiebreaker to any other color’s 3.0. Whether it’s worse than that I don’t know yet, and ultimately it could be more like a green 3.0 is a 2.4 or 1.9 compared to other colors.
This is a great deal for 7 mana, and that would be true without the regeneration ability. The Scions conveniently protect this even if you have no other colorless mana sources, and I’d gladly take and play this in any green deck. As an additional bonus, it’s even splashable!
Ruin in Their Wake
Besides sounding like an Archenemy scheme (look those up if you haven’t seen them—the names are sweet), this is a card that works well in colorless decks. It finds Wastes if you need one, and once you have Wastes, this accelerates you. I like this a lot more than Sylvan Scrying for two reasons:
• This set is a lot more about Wastes, and as such is more of a 3-color set.
• Rampant Growth is a great card, and if you have a couple Wastes in your deck, this will sometimes be a very good early play.
If you have zero copies of Wastes in your deck, you really shouldn’t be playing this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being decent in colorless-focused green decks.
Scion Summoner, eh. I wonder what this does?
Story checks out.
This is a great deal, and even a ground Skyspawner (this really should have been called “Eldrazi Groundspawner”) is a very good card. It makes you realize how truly absurd Skyspawner is, since this is much worse and is still a card I’d pick early and always play. 3/3 worth of stats over two cards is a steal for 3 mana, and that Scions provide colorless is very relevant in this format.
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.
A 3/3 flash for 3 isn’t vile to begin with, as it can ambush 2/2s very effectively. Add the colorless bonus and you get the potential for some huge blowouts. 4 mana for a 3/3 and even just one 1/1 is great, and this can sometimes get 2-3 Scions in the late game. I would try and make sure I could pay <> if this was in my deck, but I’d play it even in a deck that couldn’t.
I’m assuming that 7-drops are still castable in this format, though if the aggro decks are good enough, cards like this lose some points. Killing an enchantment or awakened land is incredible, with the consolation prize of just killing a normal land still being pretty good. It has reach, so you are well-defended, and if this somehow dies, you can just get it back. Overall this hits a lot of the notes I like: card advantage, pseudo-removal, great stats, reach, and a recursion ability.
I’ll play 3/1s for 2, but the ability is so minor that it may as well not exist. Unlike Kor Castigator, this does get owned by Eldrazi Scions, so keep that in mind when sideboarding against an opponent who has a bunch.
Bonds of Mortality
I might side this in against a hexproof Sphinx, but if you don’t have good spells to target it with, there’s not much of a point. Either way, don’t play this in the main deck.
These stats are passable, but I feel like you’ll be able to do better a good chunk of the time.
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.
Embodiment of Insight
This is slightly worse than Embodiment of Fury, since I wouldn’t likely play it without the additional ability. That’s still good enough in total, even if the 5-drop slot is usually a contested one.
Support 6 is definitely not twice as good as support 3, because you become more and more likely to leave counters unused due to a lack of creatures. Still, this will reliably provide 8/8 or 9/9 worth of stats, and could easily gain 4-6 life over the course of a game. I hart good lifegain, and this being a great finisher doesn’t hurt.
2HG: In 2HG, support 6 is great, and you should play this.
If this format is even half as mana-hungry as BFZ was, I don’t want this anywhere near my lands. Eating a creature isn’t that exciting either, so despite my natural affinity for Trolls, I’d leave this out unless you are playing a sacrifice-themed deck.
Lead by Example
Eh. I have no problem leading by example, and you won’t see me playing that many combat tricks in my deck. When this works, it’s good, but the power level isn’t high enough to guarantee it a spot.
I love Civic Wayfinder, but this is a far cry from that. Skipping your draw step is one of the worst fates imaginable, even if it’s optional. If your deck wants a 1/3 for 2, this is a fine creature to play, as it does get you out of tight spots, but I know I’ll be unhappy no matter what I choose with the ability. Picking up Wastes is an exception, and maybe this card is a necessary evil if you are playing the colorless deck.
“Its natural state is in the sideboard.”
This casts a wide net, as it brawls ground creatures well and flying creatures excellently. There are a lot of 2/3s in this set (which is beginning to make me skeptical of 2/2s) with Spider being one of the better ones. Giant Mantis wasn’t very good in BFZ, but this is definitely better, and could help green have relevant early plays.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Gideon she’s not, though Nissa still does act as a global buff/creature machine, albeit at a weaker rate across the board. Ultimately, this is a planeswalker with multiple good abilities, and you will usually take her if you see her. If you can flood the board, playing Nissa and using her -2 is great, and you may even get more than that.
Where she doesn’t shine is when you don’t have a lot of creatures in play, especially if the opponent has a flier. Her ultimate is many turns away, and Plants don’t stop fliers, which leaves her -2, which is anemic unless you have 3+ creatures. Because of this fail case, I have Nissa below bomb level.
5 mana for two +1/+1 counters and a removal spell is a good deal, and this isn’t nearly as vulnerable as actual fight cards are. If you are supporting two different creatures, one removal spell in response can’t stop both from punching the opponent’s creature, and this even counts creatures that have +1/+1 counters for other reasons. Plus, the opponent’s creature doesn’t even fight back, so you aren’t taking any risk there either.
Oath of Nissa
Unless your green deck is abnormally spell-heavy, this is a free way to smooth out your draws. Finding creatures or lands gives you good flexibility, and missing is pretty difficult.
Pulse of Murasa
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.
The main difference between this and Relief Captain is the point of toughness, but between that and support 2 instead of 3, this gets a downgrade from 3.5. It’s still a consistently good card, as long as you make sure you have sufficient creatures for it to carry.
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.
A 2/3 for 2 is impressive, and this becomes a 4/5 in short order. Plus, if you do happen to awaken some lands, it pumps those too. You don’t need to draft around the land part, as the rest is good enough, which means this is a card with lots of upside.
Vigilance and trample take this from “decent stats, probably will play” to “play unless you have a compelling reason not to.” It’s great on offense or defense, easy to cast, and an Ally on top of all that.
Vines of the Recluse
As little as I like tricks, 1-mana tricks are in a completely different league than 2-3 mana ones. This does a good job swinging combat, can set up ambushes with both the reach and untap aspects, and is efficient enough to give you a real advantage when it works. It also provides enough toughness to dodge some removal spells, and with that, checks all the boxes I’m looking for.
A 7-mana spell that doesn’t impact the board doesn’t sound great, but what if it gives you a great shot of winning the game if you untap? That’s where this is at, and I think you can build a defensive enough deck to take advantage of this. It promises great rewards, just don’t throw it in a random deck and expect it to work. You want lots of defense and lots of creatures, so lean on cards like Netcaster Spider to provide that defense (rather than removal spells, which don’t combo with Zendikar Resurgent).
Top 5 Green Commons
Oh, look, no common fight card. Sorry, green. These are some decent commons, just nothing as exciting as what the other colors get. Green has some beef, and even a little fixing, but I’m not seeing a compelling reason at common to draft green. We’ll see how it ends up playing out, but these commons/uncommons combined with the overall weakness in BFZ don’t make me optimistic.