A 60-card variant format of Magic: the Gathering, similar to the Commander format, centered around a planeswalker called an Oathbreaker. The additional layer being that each Oathbreaker will have a “Signature Spell” that will also exist in the command zone. That Oathbreaker’s “Signature Spell” must be an instant or sorcery card that falls within their color identity.

As the War of the Spark previews have spun into high gear, Planeswalkers as general have continued to generate debate. While I discussed my feelings on the topic last week; to summarize, I believe the inclusion of planeswalkers as generals should be realistically considered, if simply to prove that their placement as generals likely wouldn’t change the landscape of the format too dramatically. And such I wanted to play around in the hypothetical space of planeswalkers as generals to construct a deck this week.

To avoid drifting too far into the hypothetical, I wanted to find a constructive way to cover this topic. And then I remembered a format that has been in the orbit these last few weeks, but that I had heard of passively earlier in the year and never looked too far into. That format is Oathbreaker, brought to us by Weirdcards Charitable Club. Feel free to check out what they do.

As an unapologetic fan of the game, especially the more casual side, I always want to give every format a chance when I can. Usually I keep at least one or two stock decks of any format I enjoy. With Oathbreaker, I wanted to make sure that my first deck would be something that would speak to my sensibilities. I am not entirely sure of what the true speed of the format will be once I find a playgroup. Therefore I built something around my preferred play style, highlighting a character I love, and can be aggressive or controlling as needed. I could think of no other planeswalker than Gideon Jura to be my test flight into the format.

Our Oathbreaker

Gideon Jura is my favorite planeswalker, with some of my favorite art within the game. While I admit that better cards exist for the character, I have always had a soft spot for his original incarnation. Something about his ability to destroy tapped creatures always appealed to me. I have been disappointed that that part of the character is no longer being used, especially because no other Planeswalker currently plays in that design space.

He is the punching bag that hits back, able to coax creatures at him, allowing for him to remove a creature on the next turn or use the cleared path to attack through by himself. As such I wanted to build a deck that played on all of his abilities while also exploring what could be done within the Oathbreaker format. It’s going to be weird to build a deck with only 60 cards again, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

Oathbreaker: Gideon Jura
Signature Spell: Ethereal Haze
Artifacts: Endless Atlas, Extraplanar Lens, Strata Scythe
Enchantments: Lightmine Field, Legion’s Landing, Oath of Gideon
Instants: Aether Shockwave, Endure
Sorceries: Akroma’s Vengeance, Austere Command, Blinding Light, Call the Gatewatch, Deploy the Gatewatch, Take Vengeance, Vengeance
Planeswalkers: Ajani Steadfast, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Gideon of the Trials, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, The Wanderer
Creatures: Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Avacyn, Guardian Angel, Benalish Trapper, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Darien, King of Kjeldor, Djeru, With Eyes Open, Gideon’s Avenger, Gideon’s Lawkeeper, Guardian Seraph, Hero of Bladehold, Master Decoy, Oketra the True, Sunblast Angel, Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
Lands: Geier Reach Sanitarium, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, 21 Plains

Protect Your Own

+2: During target opponent’s next turn, creatures that player controls attack Gideon Jura if able.

One of the strongest themes I wanted to play off of with this deck was the idea of keeping whatever resources I have on the board safe. Gideon will be directing my opponent’s creatures at himself some of the time, while getting into the red zone at other times. This is why Ethereal Haze is Gideon’s signature spell. As a rattlesnake effect, I believe that having the card in plain sight will motivate my opponents to not dedicate too much to attacking me, while also ensuring that when we use Gideon’s first ability, he will be able to survive. In Commander, Fog effects can be off-color Time Walks, as they negate entire turns for our opponents. In theory, I believe the multiplayer nature of Oathbreaker will mean they can play a similar role here as well.

But we can’t Fog every attack step, meaning we’re going to need to be both proactive and political. While Guardian Seraph and Djeru, With Eyes Open don’t work exactly the same, preventing some of the damage can be enough to discourage attacks altogether. Avacyn, Guardian Angel’s second ability can be expensive but can play a similar role. Darien, King of Kjeldor won’t prevent our loss of life, but the threat of our battlefield growing rapidly can also deter attacks meant to “spread out the damage.”

Tap Down Control

-2: Destroy target tapped creature.

Even though Ethereal Haze is an inexpensive spell to cast, it is a highly reactive one that will become far too expensive if we’re using it with too regularly. It’s better to deal with problematic creatures before they have a chance to attack into me. Gideon’s Lawkeeper, Master Decoy, and Benalish Trapper can repeatedly take care of attackers or blockers outside of combat. Or if we need to handle a larger grouping of creatures, Aether Shockwave can negate an entire attack step.

This of course plays into Gideon’s second ability which allows him to destroy tapped creatures. Vengeance, Take Vengeance, and Sunblast Angel reinforce this theme. Once we’ve used this trick once, it might cause our opponents to be careful with when they are tapping their creatures, knowing  they may not be safe while tapped.

Mono White Super Friends

The control shell sets up the deck to enlist other planeswalkers to assist Gideon Jura. My favorite thing about white planeswalkers is they generally creating tokens and enhance creatures, occasionally all in one package. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is extremely versatile, allowing us to make populate our board or immediately use up all his initial loyalty to create an emblem of Glorious Anthem.

Elspeth Knight-Errant and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion can both create Soldier tokens while building toward ultimates that create more crature-enhancing emblems. Ajani Steadfast is a friend to creatures and planeswalkers alike.

Battlecruiser Creatures

0: Until end of turn, Gideon Jura becomes a 6/6 Human Soldier creature that’s still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.

We have a robust skeleton of control elements in this deck, so it’s time to actually win the game. With three different copies of Gideon in the deck, any one of them should be able to pick up Strata Scythe and deliver a huge payload of damage. But I also plan that the Scythe in the hands of my medium flier—Avacyn, Guardian Angel, Guardian Seraph, and Sunblast Angel—should be able to attack in the sky uncontested.

I wouldn’t expect that we will always be able to profitably attack with Gideon or other fliers. At the top of our mana curve we’re going to want powerful creatures that should be able to evade removal either through protection from colors or straight-up indestructibility. The trinity of Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Oketra the True, and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn should ensure we quickly close out games as we reach the later turns.

I haven’t been fortunate enough to play a single game of Oathbreaker yet. But my hope is that once I do I will be better able to analyze this deck skeleton and pick out the components that work and don’t work, to better create a deck that exemplifies some of my favorite parts of multiplayer Magic that I unfortunately don’t get to do in Commander because I can’t focus my game plan around a planeswalker like Gideon Jura.

Commander and Oathbreaker can both work in the same ecosystem and are not mutually exclusive. Hopefully by Magic Fest Minneapolis in the late-summer I can have this tuned and I can play a few game with out of town guests. If you’re looking for more content on the format or have any questions with rulings or the banlist, I would direct you to Weirdcards on Twitter. The premise of Oathbreaker is very promising, and I hope we can grow this format.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the EDH community, and streams on Twitch in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

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