Did you know a new set came out this past weekend? For me, it was kinda great. I was buried under the snowstorm that swallowed up the Mid-Atlantic region, but I had anticipated this and made a point to stock up on Oath of the Gatewatch during my Friday lunch break. I spent my snowed in day cracking and organizing packs, and really got a sense of the set for the first time.

No matter how many spoilers I read, for me it’s all about getting my hands on the cards. Ever since my first pack of Fourth Edition (specifically), there’s a magic in opening new packs for me. After I opened that one, I could not believe it was real. It was some cosmic joke being played on me, what with the new tap symbol, the different cardstock, and the sprinkling of new cards contained within. I hid them, as though it would make them more likely to be real, and for about a week I’d pull them out of their hiding space and look upon them in wonder.

I had some issues as a kid, but my love of cracking new sets remains. Doing so with a lovely backdrop of a snowy day in the window—it was a nice weekend.



I was originally going to go through some arbitrary number of cards, talking about pluses and minuses for each, but I got distracted by updating my decks. So, that’s what I’m going to talk about this week—the cards so interesting I rushed to make them part of one of my pretty little death machines.


I bet this would look nice in foil.



Deck: Tymaret, the Murder King


My first thought was that Mirrorpool’s drawback seemed a mild one. My second thought was that it wasn’t a particularly hard drawback to get around. In particular, it seemed like a good fit for Tymaret, the Murder King, my representative of the “steal-and-sacrifice” archetype. If I stole something and copied it, I’d get to keep a copy of it and my opponents wouldn’t. And, due to a quirk of the rules, I was pretty sure I could target a stolen creature with Mirrorpool and then sacrifice it to Ashnod’s Altar to pay for the cost. I’m pretty sure that works? I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

Even if it wasn’t a good fit with the deck mechanically, it probably would have found its way to a slot due to that deck’s use of Crucible of Worlds. I only have one of those, and Mirrorpool seems particularly powerful if you can recur it regularly. Copies of Mirrorpool are also making their way into my Life from the Loam decks, but Tymaret, the Murder King can only access the Crucible for obvious color reasons.


They look like they’re having a good time.


Mina and Denn, Wildborn

Deck: Omnath, Locus of Rage


Oh my god, do I love this card. If I could have chosen a rare to get reprinted in this block, it wouldn’t have been Dragonmaster Outcast. While it’s a powerful card, I’m far more a fan of Oracle of Mul Daya. And, while the Future Sight lands ability on Oracle is powerful, we’ve recently seen a card with only that: Courser of Kruphix. It’s a great card, and I play it in many green decks, but Azuza, Lost but Seeking is a far more powerful card. Being able to play extra lands in a turn is a very powerful ability that can turbocharge a game.

Mina and Denn, Wildborn supplements this powerful enabler with a solution for some of Omnath, Locus of Rage’s lategame woes. Omnath can run out of land. Even in a deck so stacked with lands, a midgame Boundless Realms can strip out all your basic lands. When that happens, it’s difficult to maintain your landfall. Mina and Denn help with that, though. Being able to bounce a land back to hand and then replay it means Omnath can go for longer, always good in case of a slog.

Plus, they give trample! What can’t they do?!


And unlike his previous incarnation, this one only costs four mana!


Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Deck: Anafenza, the Foremost


Anafenza, the Foremost and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet do a similar thing: they turn off opposing death triggers. This is convenient when you are trying to break the symmetry of a card like Fecundity. A lot of decks need death triggers, and just in case Anafenza can’t make it into play, Kalitas is there as backup. This is particularly useful when you’re casting the deck’s key card: Living Death. One of the ways to break Living Death’s symmetry is by exiling your opponent’s creatures when they hit the graveyard. It’s nice when you can do it earlier in the game, but if you had Anafenza on the battlefield when Living Death wiped the board, you had just exiled a fair number of threats with little downside, all while increasing your own board presence.

One of the other things that Living Death decks like to do is to bin some creatures before the mass resurrection spell. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet helps you there, too, as he is also a sacrifice outlet. He is not the best sacrifice outlet, mind you; his ability is a bit pricey and providing a pump is a less valuable effect in Commander, but even there the lifelink, permanence, and scale of it makes it useful. It doesn’t take all too many creatures before Kalitas starts being a major threat.

And he has a final mode! In addition to all that, he, like Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet before him, turns your enemy’s fallen foes into thralls under your control. His original ability was a bit splashier, removing individual creatures and then giving you a token of equivalent power and toughness; this incarnation has a more powerful ability, giving you a 2/2 tapped zombie whenever you replace a death trigger. Seems pretty good with Attrition!

If I ever want to make a monoblack Living Death deck, I know who will be helming it. In the meantime, Anafenza is getting a strong tool.




That’s it for this week. This is only scratching the surface of what Oath of the Gatecrash has to offer us, and I have plenty of more decks to doctor. In particular, I’m excited about the upgrades to the Ally deck and the prospect of a five-color Eldrazi deck. What a world!


Jess Stirba is back in the digital age.

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