With the full set finally spoiled and the pre-release only a week away, we decided that it’s time to take a good hard look at Oath of the Gatewatch and, despite having never played with the cards, tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s just downright ugly. Welcome to the OGW edition of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good

Let’s be completely honest, colorless mana looks fantastic. For starters it’s way more interesting than Devoid was in Battle for Zendikar. But, more importantly, the cards almost all do interesting things for a colorless card. There are over two dozen Eldrazi cards which have the new colorless mana symbol either in their casting cost or in an activation cost (not including creating Eldrazi scions) and almost every single one of them has a useful effect. Some are going to be fantastic in constructed and some will just be limited bombs but almost all of them look really strong. It certainly is going to help push the success of the new symbol to have strong effects tied to it.

The big concern of course is being able to produce colorless mana to fuel these cards in limited environments. I don’t think that will be a problem. Five common slots in the set are lands that produce {C} and another three commons create Eldrazi Scion tokens while yet four more commons add {C} on their own. So just in the common slot there are 12 cards in OGW that will product {C} one way or another. Odds are good this won’t be a big problem in limited.

Of course the Eldrazi aren’t the only part of the story here, but that brings us to our next topic…

The Bad

Is it just me, or are the allies and planeswalkers just not that impressive? It isn’t one or two specific cards that are huge letdowns but more so the mechanics being used to portray teamwork. Cohort, for example, requires you to have two allies in play, and the one with Cohort can’t have come under your control that turn. Now you need to tap both of them to get the effect, rendering them unable to attack. The effects are things that normally appear on one creature but perhaps are more aggressively costed on Cohorts. If you end up with one or two of them in a limited deck it will be fine, but they won’t  shine in a constructed deck with Allies as its theme.

Support is a mechanic that rewards having a large team of creatures on the battlefield since you get to put +1/+1 counters on a bunch of creatures at once. As a limited mechanic I’m underwhelmed. The problem is that you really need to build a deck that will support (get it) this mechanic by going wide, but you’ll really need a few bombs like Nissa’s Judgment, Baloth Pup, or Gladeheart Cavalry. Basically this is your mechanic if you’re in Green. Remind me what the worst color in BFZ drafting is?

Last we come to Surge, or what it will soon be known as: The only reason to run Bone Saw in your sealed deck. Most of the surge cards are actually pretty good, such as Tyrant of Valakut, Fall of the Titans, Boulder Salvo, and so on. Unfortunately, Surge almost encourages you to not play your cards, because you want to wait until you can cast your card and your surge card on the same turn. Let’s say you were fortunate enough to open Crush of Tentacles. You have a three-drop that you want to play on turn three so that you can be on-curve, but if you can somehow hang on until you have eight mana you can blowout your opponent with a surged Crush of Tentacles. What do you do? I guess you hope you’re playing two-headed giant and have a teammate.

Speaking of teammates…

The Ugly

This is just about the ugliest thing we’ve seen in a long time. Here’s the official ranking of Oaths: Nissa, Gideon, Chandra, Hippocratic, the Oath Benedict Arnold broke, the Supreme Court Oath of Office, about ten thousand other oaths taken by various judges across the world, whatever Kim Davis swore to protect, Jace.

Is this better than Divination? Is that a valid way to evaluate a card? It has the same casting cost and can be cast at the same time. Divination gives you +1 cards while Oath of Jace ends up even in cards. If you control a single planeswalker and get to scry for one every turn is it really worth it?

Lastly, Wesley Burt, we need to have a word. You’re better than this. Ephara’s Enlightenment was gorgeous. Fiendslayer Paladin looked like a bad-ass Jedi knight. Your various incarnations of Nissa all look solid. So what the hell happened here? Was the art description something like “make Jace look like the tool everyone thinks he is?” I expect better next time.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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