Oath of the Gatewatch is here and making big waves. The biggest failure of Battle for Zendikar limited was the weakness of green. The green creatures were too small to outclass creatures in other colors—which is the primary strength of green in limited—and the colorless Eldrazi filled the big creature role in any deck. What has Oath done to change this? Quite a bit, actually.

Green is significantly stronger now that Oath of the Gatewatch cards make up two third of the card pool for both sealed and draft. Look at the creatures in Oath, across all the colors and colorless cards. They aren’t as big. Broodhunter Wurm matches up very well against these creatures. Tajuru Beastmaster now looks legitimately great. How will you block Territorial Baloth? The balance of creature sizing has shifted closer to normal, which makes green naturally better.

On top of that, scions are much better now that colorless mana lets us splash powerful cards. Eyeless Watcher and Call the Scions will be high picks. Not only do these creatures provide mana fixing, with a faster pace to games the ramp they provide is more significant. You can gain real tempo by playing a six drop on turn four. Even better, support makes 1/1 tokens useful on their own. Tajuru Warcaller is going to be a real bomb now, but any support card loves to have scions on the board. The scion makers are going to be great. Scion Summoner is a nice addition to the group.

At my second prerelease on Sunday I had the good fortune to open a broken green-white sealed pool with Eldrazi Displacer as my promo foil. Behold:

Dangerous Curves Ahead

Creatures (17)
Cliffside Lookout
Snapping Gnarlid
Ondu War Cleric
Eldrazi Displacer
Joraga Auxiliary
Affa Protector
Scion Summoner
Pilgrim’s Eye
Warden of Geometries
Eyeless Watcher
Relief Captain
Embodiment of Insight
Tajuru Pathwarden
Oblivion Sower
Linvala, the Preserver
World Breaker

Spells (5)
Call the Scions
Isolation Zone
Seek the Wilds
Retreat to Kazandu
Lands (18)
Fertile Thicket
Evolving Wilds

Sideboard (9)
Affa Protector
Makindi Aeronaut
Mighty Leap
Iona’s Blessing
Stalking Drone
Elemental Uprising
Natural State
Hedron Crawler
Unknown Shores

This deck crushed, dropping a single game to Endbringer plus Deathless Behemoth. Otherwise it was smooth sailing. Sure, having three bomb mythics helps, but really the only one I cast more than once was Oblivion Sower. Linvala was good as a 5/5 flier the one game I cast her (without any bonus triggers) and World Breaker exiled a Stoneforge Masterwork the one time I cast it. Otherwise, the deck just curved out and won quickly.

Relief Captain is fantastic with scion makers. A curve of Snapping Gnarlid, Scion Summoner, Relief Captain is hard to beat, and Relief Captain is still great on turn six. Green-White seems like the best shell for the card, and the best deck for support in general.

Joraga Auxiliary was also amazing. Once you play out your creatures, you have the mana to use the support ability whenever you don’t have a better play. You want other support to make Joraga Auxiliary bigger, but assuming you can do that, it will make the rest of your team huge if your opponent lives that long. Similarly, Cliffside Lookout continues to be amazing with tokens, and it combos well with Tajuru Beastmaster and Tajuru Warcaller, should you have those cards in your pool.


Embodiment of Insight is another fantastic uncommon that tops an aggressive curve well. This style doesn’t need much removal—forcing blocks is how you kill their creatures. Isolation Zone was great to deal with big threats, and Unnatural Aggression will probably do good work against smaller threats. Nissa’s Judgment is another strong curve topper that provides a ton of tempo after you’ve built your board presence. These aren’t cards in my pool, but they fit the strategy for future builds.

This deck will struggle if it can’t maintain board presence, but there aren’t many sweepers around. Radiant Flames and Planar Outburst will be hard to come by with Battle for Zendikar making up only a third of each limited pool. Boiling Earth and Flaying Tendrils can punish you, but support can negate those cards, as can three toughness generally.

I think this will be a strong draft archetype that will reward reconsidering green in the format. More generally, green strikes me as an excellent support color for draft decks. Playing green plus an open strong color and splashing a few powerful colorless cards thanks to green’s scions will be a solid strategy, especially early when many drafters will assume green is still horrible. Green has some fantastic uncommons in Oath of the Gatewatch—Seed Guardian might be the best uncommon in the set—and they might go later than they should before people realize. Tajuru Warcaller will likewise be easier to pick up in pack three, and so will Greenwarden of Murasa.


Back during Battle for Zendikar limited season, I observed that green provided anti-synergy cards like Broodhunter Wurm that provide value as role fillers that aren’t weakened by synergies. If your deck is all two-for-ones and you aren’t taking advantage of synergies, then you don’t want cards whose value are tied into their favorable interactions with specific cards. Oath of the Gatewatch really puts a damper on the synergies from Battle for Zendikar. Anti-synergy cards stand to benefit considerably. Green has the most cards like that in Battle for Zendikar.

Limited metagaming is all about information asymmetries. You want to be a step ahead of the pack. The more powerful cards you can pick late in draft because other drafters undervalue them, the more success you will have. Don’t be afraid to go into green early in the new limited environment.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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