February 19, 2016

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Bad Brews: Oath of Jace

Hello and welcome to Bad Brews

For those of you new to these articles, let me just recap: every week I crack open a new pack from Standard and hope for the best. Often I end up with the worst, which just makes the game more fun. Then I take the cards from that pack and try to make a deck around them!

This week I cracked open a pack of Oath of the Gatewatch. The latest in the Magic: The Gathering series Oath of the Gatewatch is a powerful set whose mechanics are based around teamwork and introduces us to a new concept in the way of strictly colourless mana costs.

So let's see what we have opened for this week:

Now, let's flip to the back and take a look at our rare for the day.

Oath of Jace is a wonderful rare to get, even if you don’t have any Planeswalkers in your pool. Card advantage alone will help win games, and Oath of Jace’s ability to allow you to draw three cards - even at the cost of having to discard two - will help build an effective deck. Add to that the fact that on your upkeep you can scry as many cards as you have Planeswalkers, this card just screams all around good.

Now for those of you who have been counting along, you may have noticed something off about this pack. It's missing a card. That's because we also pulled a foil card in this pack! Being as this is my game and I am making it up as I go along let's say right off the bat that I will be brewing a deck around BOTH the rare and the foil no matter what it is.

With that being said, let's take a look at our foil.

So, not only is our card a foil, but it's also a rare. Not bad at all. Zendikar Resurgent is also an enchantment, and it allows us to tap lands for an additional mana every time we tap a land. Pretty neat. A little costly at seven mana, it means that we are going to pumping a lot of lands into this deck in order to make it run properly.

So now that we know what we have to brew with, let's take a look at the other cards in the pack that might be viable for going into our deck.

Seer’s Lantern is an obvious choice. Tapping for colourless mana in a deck without colourless specific cards may not seem like it's all that useful, but it will help get out Zendikar Resurgent a turn early. Plus, it gives us an additional scry trigger for two more mana, allowing us to dump dead card to the bottom of our libraries when we don't like what is coming up next.

Up next we have Saddleback Lagac, a creature that when it enters the battlefield we get Support 2. Placing counters on creatures we control is helpful in dealing some much needed damage later in the game. It's a little costly at four mana for a 3/1, but given the right set of circumstances, this card could be incredibly useful.

Containment Membrane stops creatures from untapping during its controller's untap step. While not so good as to tap the creature as well, as in the case of Claustrophobia, it requires one fewer blue mana, which is nice. Additionally if it is our second spell of the turn it can be cast for only one blue mana, making it a great card to play later in the game, when we have lots of mana open.

Lastly, we have Gift of Tusks. An instant that allows our creature to become a 3/3 Elephant is useful for beefing up creatures that would otherwise die during combat. For only one mana, we can turn unblocked nuisances into real threats, if only for a short time.

Now that we have that all sorted out, what other cards should we throw into the mix?

Obviously, we want to trigger Oath of Jace, and who else could we use to do that than Kiora, Master of the Depths. While my loved for our fishy friends is widely known, this is more about staying in our colour identity than anything else. Kiora’s +1 ability gives us a chance to summon Zendikar Resurgent a turn early by allowing us to untap a land as well as a creature. It also leaves some mana open turn four for a well timed Containment Membrane to keep our opponent's creature tapped for the remainder of the game. Her -2 ability feeds us creatures and lands, which means once she is on the field we shouldn’t miss a much needed land drop. Her ultimate, assuming we get there, is just beastly. Allowing us to throw a few 8/8 creatures on the field and then having them fight our opponent's threats is just overkill. If the game isn’t over the turn after that, we are doing something wrong.

Having to get to seven lands in order to play Zendikar Resurgent might be a tough sell, if it weren’t for Explosive Vegetation being in the format. Search for two additional lands and put them into the battlefield tapped. Add to that the fact that with Kiora’s +1 we can untap one of them, we might as well tell our opponent to go home, the game is over.

Bone Saw is a no brainer in a deck with surge in the mix. We get a creature pump for nothing, and we don’t have to pay the full cost of other spells. Sign me up coach!

Crush of Tentacles will see play in this deck as well, seeing as we will have plenty of mana post-Resurgence, paying either the Surge cost or the regular cost will be no problem. Does this mess up the board state? Yes! And if you are in a pinch you really should think twice about using this bomb. But if the going gets tough, the tough get to flipping the table - metaphorically speaking. Cast Bone Saw, then Surge in Crush of Tentacles so we get an 8/8 creature to really upset things.

Then, just for giggles, let's throw in a pair of Kozilek’s Channeler. Our deck is a little creature light to begin with so it makes sense to add in these guys. Plus, a bolt-proof mana rock doesn’t hurt our cause of trying to get to seven mana as soon as possible.

Now for the real wombo-combo. Let's add in a copy of Nissa’s Revelation to allow us to Scry more, draw more, and gain some more life. When combined with something beefy, like a few copies of Kozilek, the Great Distortion, it makes sense that we were ramping up to something big. Granted it's a flavor fail for the deck, since Zendikar only resurges after the Eldrazi are dead, this is obviously what the card was intended to do, play bigger monsters. Plus, now it makes sense that we have so many colourless mana sources.

Now that we have all our cards laid out, let's take a look at what we have come up with:

Doing in for the Team - Zendikar Style

So, what is the game plan for this week’s deck?

Obviously, we want to ramp as quickly as possible into our biggest creature, Kozilek, the Great Distortion. Early game we keep our opponent at bay with a well timed Containment Membrane, either Surged thanks to our Bone Saw or un-Surged if need be. Granted, we might take a few unfortunate hits because we don’t have anything at the two mana cost level. This means we have to be careful in the early game. Oath of Jace will come in around turn three to keep our hand from being filled with dead cards. Then turn four we hope to see a Kiora hit the field.

Late game, we get out our Zendikar Resurgent. Then next turn we again drop a Bone Saw, float at least sixteen mana, and play Crush of Tentacles for its surge cost, giving us a 8/8 creature. Then with the leftover mana we throw down Kozilek, the Great Distortion. If we haven’t hit it yet, we play a copy of Nissa’s Revelation and hope to hell we can draw tweleve cards and gain twelve life by putting it on top of our deck. Then, next turn we swing in for a possible win.

Well, that's it for this week’s Bad Brews! Is there anything different you would have done with this pack? Do you think Kozilek was the right way to go? Let me know in the comments below! As always, enjoy brewing, and may your brews be as bad as mine.