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Oath of Kaya


Kaya, Ghost Assassin
Back during spoiler season for Aether Revolt, a few story cards were leaked early, and I saw Oath of Ajani and thought it was a pretty cool card. It seems like we may be getting some more Oathwatch, right? We could take odds on who would be next among existing planeswalkers. Karn? Kiora? Sorin? Saheeli? Tamiyo? And what would their Oath look like? Consider how good an Oath of Tamiyo or Oath of Dack might be.

But this led me to consider one of my favorite ‘walkers right now for multiplayer. Kaya, Ghost Assassin, who just gets better and better each time I play her. In fact, these days I’d argue that she might be the best Planeswalker for multiplayer period, given her cheap cost, you can -2 her ultimate immediately, force everyone to discard while you draw — so much better than the card drawing of a bunch of other ‘walkers and totally awesome. Need to drain the table of a bunch of life while you gain 2? Sure thing! Flicker something? All right then! She’s awesome.

And that line of thinking took me to my natural conclusion. What would an Oath of Kaya look like? All of the various Oaths have enters-the-battlefield triggers as well, so you could layer them in too. And Kaya naturally blinks herself, so you could blink herself (or another ‘walker) and rack up some sexy Oaths . I even found a partner for her out there as well!

So let’s do it!

The goal of this deck is to run Kaya, Ghost Assassin and junior partner in crime Venser, the Sojourner. Then use their abilities to blink something to blink a Planeswalker. Then you get another slate of triggers for various things, while also reloading counters after they’ve dropped, right before someone is about to kill them next turn, or to get another trigger this turn (use it, flicker it, if it’s one of those blink effects that comes back immediately, then use it again!)

Venser, the Sojourner
And that’s the goal, an Esper themed ‘walker blink deck. Now most blink effects won’t touch a Planeswalker. So I’m not running junk like Conjurer's Closet, Panharmonicon, and Deadeye Navigator. If it won’t let you blink a ‘walker, then I’m not calling it up from the lower leagues.

So what does make the cut then?

The great thing about flickering a Planeswalker is that you can drop some loyalty from the later abilities and bring it back over and over again. This works even with the slower blinking of Kaya. Take Sorin Markov as a great example. Play him. Drop someone to ten life. Then flicker him with Kaya and he’ll be out for a full round, not coming back until your next turn, when you can use his -3 ability again to again drop another foe’s life to 10. Plus during that winding tour of duty coming back from Kaya’s banishment, Sorin isn’t even in play, so he can’t be attacked while he has a low loyalty. Blinking is a great friend of the often-more-powerful second abilities of a lot of ‘walkers.

Who is best to be my leader? None of the Esper flavored leaders fit the theme or flavor of this deck. Zur the Enchanter is close. But he’s not that great of a fit. You could swing and fetch out an Oath. But that’s about it. And Zur is a guy that really puts the fear of breakage into a lot of folks. Is it worth the heat the deck would get by running him? Especially when I’m not running him in a negative way at all? I mean, to this day, I rate Zur is the 8th Be-hated Commanders out there.

Lady Evangela
I could run Ertai, the Corrupted and sacrifice token creatures, the Oaths or something for counterage. But that’s pretty weak in a deck not dedicated to him.

Who else works? The artifact friendly stuff makes no sense here. We have to go with a generic leader. Ummm . . . Halfdane? Dakkon Blackblade? Merieke Ri Berit? Lady Evangela? Chromium?

I do like Lady Evangela. She can tap to prevent the damage an attacking creature would deal to one of your ‘walkers. And she’s just a 1/3 for 3 mana that takes 2 mana and a tap to use to Fog precisely one creature. That’s not overwhelming anything. So she gives you a bit of a chance to build up while she’s out with her ability and a low heat index.

So I’m running her. But I do think Zur is much more synergetic. (And I think I could add in a few fun Zur enchantments like Soul Snare, Seal of Doom, Grasp of Fate, Act of Authority, Propaganda, Monastery Siege, Phyrexian Arena, Animate Dead and such, instead of powerful stuff like Gods, the Voltron auras to get a quick Zur kill, nasty stuff like Rhystic Study, and more). So, your view may vary there.

Now you could add Green with a certain popular populating Commander out there . . . Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. Then you get both Oath of Ajani, Oath of Nissa, and a bunch of other planeswalkers of power — Tamiyo, Field Researcher? Ajani Unyielding? There are a lot of options! Plus add in Green counter-ganza cards like Doubling Season.

But nah. I’m sticking to the Lady Evangela and her Esper friends. Are you ready . . . 

Welcome Lady Evangela!

Oath of Kaya ? Commander | Abe Sargent

Oath of Liliana
And there you are! ‘Walkers and Blinkers and Engine and Control cards — all make the cut! So what do you like from this thing?

Consider, as one good example, Oath of Liliana. Your blink effects from Kaya and Venser and company are slower ones, so you’ll ratchet up one Zombie token the turn after you blink a Planeswalker around. Free Zombies is definitely the Liliana way. We also have token making from other ‘walker sources as well, which is good given the emphasis on ‘walkers over creatures here. From 5/5 Demons to 1/1 Solders, we’ve got tokens for every occasion. So buy some tokens today!

The first place I wanted to mine were the Planeswalkers. But there are so many we could look at with Lady Evangela’s colors. Hmmm . . .  I decided to begin by hoeing all of the high quality Esper colored Planeswalkers for multiplayer. The top notch need-to-play-it stuff.

In particular, I wanted to focus on those that provide raw card drawing and thus are pure unadulterated card advantage. Ever since his first iteration as Jace Beleren, Jace has had a lot of pure ways to draw cards like Jace, Unraveler of Secrets above in addition to Jace, The Mind Sculptor or Jace, Memory Adept. But I didn’t want too many Jaces clogging up your hand as you can’t keep dropping them. That’s fine, because stuff like Teferi, Temporal Archmage are great and able to be used alongside the Jace.

Sorin, Grim Nemesis
Remember, I want to keep my ‘walkers alive. From blinking to protection, there is a lot of investment to keep them around, so I have no desire to run into the “Too Many of the Same Type” issue that I can’t have them all on the battlefield together.

Meanwhile we have great card drawing entries like Dovin Baan, Sorin, Grim Nemesis, and Ob Nixilis Reignited. Reignited and it feels so good! Reignited like I knew it would! And then you can get card advantage with these things too. I like leaning on them for stuff like removal such as Mr. Reignited’s Murder or either of the Sorins here hurting a creature for some damage or Elspeth, Sun's Champion destroying all of the big creatures out there. Gideon Jura destroying trapped creatures? Yes please!

But your fellow Planeswalkers are not enough. We need to keep them alive, right! Especially since we don’t have that many creatures running around. We must protect this house!

There are not a lot of taxing cards that keep folks from attacking your Planeswalkers. Sure, Propaganda will do a lot to keep folks from attacking you, but your ‘walkers are still open season. Similarly, No Mercy works along the same vein, but again, keeps your ‘walkers open.

But are not that many options to keep your ‘walkers safe too. Norn's Annex is one of the few out there that will work. Similarly, Riddlekeeper forces people to mill two cards each to attack and has similar bones. And check out the awesomeness of Archangel of Tithes here as well. Want to draw cards? How about Isperia, Supreme Judge, who also nets you cards when they attack your ‘walker instead. You could also run something like Marchesa's Decree if you want to tax life instead of mana in case someone wants to attack you or one of your ‘walkers. And you’d do well to think about Sphere of Safety or Collective Restraint or even something like Teferi's Moat in the right iteration of this deck (or something similar).

Illusionist's Gambit
Given that the general protective stuff is a bit weaker in a heavy Planeswalker deck like this one, what is next? What can we hit instead? How about stuff like Maze of Ith? And don’t sleep on the serious power of a spell like Illusionist's Gambit. Did someone attack you all out? Did they pay the taxes to attack you? Are you exposed or about to lose one or two critical ‘walkers? Then don’t worry and cast Illusionist's Gambit. Now they have to do over, and attack with those creatures at someone else! And any taxes they paid from a Ghostly Prison or the cards you drew off Isperia are still concluded!

Now I hope that you will be a little surprised by the direction I went with my support. Notice the decided lack of a heavy Counterspell contingent. The counters that are in here serve a few roles. First, they can do something else — like Silumgar's Command, Mystic Confluence and Insidious Will. All three can be played to kill something, bounce stuff, draw cards, duplicate a key spell and more, rather than just counter. They provide the deck some vital emergency backup in case something really bad is about to break. I also included Fuel for the Cause more for the proliferate than the counter. And that’s it. You won’t notice 8 or 10 counters here keeping stuff from getting played. That’s not this deck. You could toss in something like Dromar's Charm or Disallow or Cryptic Command if you wanted to.

Meanwhile I tossed in some fun blink effects, like Brago, King Eternal that will blink your ‘walkers. Flickerwisp? Glimmerpoint Stag? Felidar Guardian? There’s a few solid effects buried under the floorboards. You can unleash them for serious damage smashery. Or more ‘walker triggers. I also layered in some duplication effects in Strionic Resonator, Rings of Brighthearth, and The Chain Veil. I think those might really make the deck sing.

And that’s pretty much a deck, right? Right! I mean we have some creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities to use since we have blinking stuff in here anyways. Cloudblazer! Rune-Scarred Demon! Mulldrifter! Shriekmaw! Noxious Gearhulk! Gonti, Lord of Luxury! And then we have proliferate cards like Inexorable Tide and Contagion Clasp and its upgrade, Contagion Engine. I’m sure you can see how cool this stuff is. (You cast one Planeswalker to bounce another with the Cloudstone Curio so you can replay it for another trigger, or self-bounce one of your creatures.) I even chosen reanimation spells that will put out a Planeswalker from the graveyard as well as a creature!

Deck done! Check off one for Kaya and her assembled Blink Team. What else strikes you? Would you want Capsize? Narset Transcendent? Syphon Mind? Decree of Justice? Ajani Steadfast? Safeguard? Ith, High Arcanist? Viral Drake? Nekrataal? Ugin, the Spirit Dragon? Aether Adept? You’ve got this!

So get your Kaya, Venser, and Blinking on Commander style!

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