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Oathbreaker All-Stars #1

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The most popular deck in Oathbreaker remains Arlinn Kord with Moonmist, and that is glorious. This format allows players to enjoy strategies and themes that don't work anywhere else. Mamma Kord and her wolf boys may not have the raw power of other decks, but neither are they as oppressive as, say, Teferi or Nicol Bolas. In multiplayer, the strength of an archetype can be balanced out by table politics. The most dangerous deck can be attacked first, so you can gain both as strategic and life-value advantage by picking the locket (Planeswalker and signature spell) you love most. You do not have to select an Oathbreaker deck based on power level.

Arlinn Kord
Moonmist

That said, for those interested, this week I will feature the two decklists that have performed best for me. That's not to say they're more powerful than combo strategies from Ral, Storm Conduit or artifact ones from Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge. But among the tribal and aggressive creature strategies I love, ones led by Huatli and Elspeth have dominated.

Huatli, the Sun's Heart
Elspeth, Knight-Errant

The Elspeth list is similar to the one I discussed a while back, with updates with more cards from Theros Beyond Death. What both decks have in common is the ability to both dish it out and take it. Huatli gains life with her -3, and Elspeth increases the power of lifelinkers. Whereas a starting life total of twenty makes most players vulnerable to an unfortunate turn cycle, you can put yourself out of reach by increasing your life to thirty or more.

Grizzled Leotau
Mirran Crusader

Both Huatli's high-toughness creatures and Elspeth's doublestrikers can deal massive hits. Attacks for ten are common for either deck, and both can slay opposing players in a single combat step. Aggressive strategies succeed in Oathbreaker because pressuring Planeswalkers is so important to prevent their casting their signature spells. And speaking of, here's Huatli's and Elspeth's respectively.

Tower Defense
Faith's Shield

With Huatli on the battlefield, Tower Defense might as well turn all your creatures into actual towers that fall on your foes, burying their dreams in rubble. With Elspeth at large, you can give your critical creature +3/+3, flying, and protection with Faith's Shield, should an opponent cast a kill spell in response. You can also use Faith's Shield to save Elspeth herself. Huatli is more explosive. Elspeth, more impervious. The dinosaurs and Huatli's other jungle friends start preying on foes a turn or two earlier. The soldiers in Elspeth's army have more protection and evasion.


Most of all, Huatli wants inexpensive creatures with high toughness that can dino-stomp all over the battlefield the turn she comes into play. Even if the creature has low toughness, such as Birds of Paradise or the token from Khalni Garden, it can deal six damage thanks to Tower Defense.

Arboreal Grazer

You may not like it, but Arboreal Grazer is an ideal threat. Not only does this beast turn into a Wild Nacatl thanks to Huatli, the Sun's Heart, but also it also lets you play her on turn two. The acceleration also ramps us to our heavy hitters like Indomitable Ancients. The ten-toughness treefolk is exceptional. Most of our cards with higher converted casting cost have more than raw stats. Still, it's worth remembering that Huatli can gain you ten life with Indomitable Ancients.

Indomitable Ancients

Other cards higher up the curve fill important rolls, such as granting vigilance to our team: Oathsworn Giant and Sight of the Scalelords. Oathbreaker games often escalate into intense standoffs. Vigilance will allow you to pressure opponents without leaving yourself helpless.

Oathsworn Giant
Sight of the Scalelords

Whereas in Commander, creatures fall constantly to cards like Wrath of God, in Oathbreaker, sweepers are less oppressive. Wraths don't kill Planeswalkers, and you can often attack for five on an empty board thanks to the deck's MVL (most valuable land), Forbidding Watchtower. You also have the raw strength to kill the player you think most likely to wrath before they reach four mana. Try doing that with a creature strategy in Commander.

Card draw is less necessary in Oathbreaker, as fewer resources are required to dispatch opponents starting from twenty. Also, your signature spell is like the ninth card in your starting hand. These two aggressive decks play only a handful of cards that draw. Mentor of the Meek synergizes with both strategies. Looking at the individual lists, Elspeth's soldiers are ready and willing to equip Skullclamp. Huatli prefers to be inspired by dinosaurs like Runic Armasaur. The Dawn half of Dusk // Dawn can also refill your hand.

Huatli is a warrior poet who uses her art to convey the joy and strength of creatures, ideally dinosaurs. I began with a more flavorful list with more dinos, but I decided her well-known power was better paired with Spike cards. Only two of the scaly denizens of her home plane remain with her: Runic Armasaur and Kinjalli's Sunwing.

Runic Armasaur
Kinjalli's Sunwing

At least Huatli also has the company of Atzocan Archer from Ixalan. He joins the dwarf Fairground Warden in the removal suite. Not only do they get creatures out of the way, but they aren't here to play, with a respectable toughness. With her advanced tactics as a general of the Sun Empire's armies, Huatli deploys lopsided board wipes such as Dusk, Slaughter the Strong, and Fell the Mighty. They also can unmake the 3/3 tokens you give with Generous Gift or Beast Within. You can also consider Fiend Hunter. He was my last cut.

I would never cut Arasta of the Endless Web. Not only does she give you needed flying protection, but she can also creates a spiderling whenever an opponent casts a (signature) spell. Ordering a Tower Defense will make those hatchlings grow up fast and deal seven damage each. Now those are some monster spiders worthy of B-movie screams.

Arasta of the Endless Web

Huatli and Elspeth have a few more things in common. They're both leaders of their people who've been led afoul by the Magic Story. Huatli claimed the Golden City for her Empire and received not a word of thanks from her Emperor. She could've taken power from that ingrate, and maybe she would have if her color identity were different. The best you can say is that he didn't kill her, like Eslpeth's boss did. Instead Huatli simply 'walked away.

As I've already written about the theory behind Elspeth's deck, I won't repeat myself here. I moved Elspeth, Knight-Errant into the command zone because I think she's stronger than Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis, granting more power and evasion. The list gained more great cards from Theros Beyond Death: Eidolon of Obstruction, Alseid of Life's Bounty, and Taranika, Akroan Veteran.

Taranika, Akroan Veteran
Eidolon of Obstruction

Taranika can boost the stats of the many creatures the deck plays with powerful abilities but low base power and toughness. To name one: Alseid of Life's Bounty. Say Elspeth gives Taranika flying and +3/+3. The legendary soldier attacks with Alseid of Life's Bounty, making it a 4/4 lifelink indestructible. You're now attacking for ten and gaining four, by turn four. Also, your vigilant creatures can help protect your Planeswalker.


In the Magic Story, neither Huatli nor Elspeth got due recognition for heroism. We can do better around the casual tables. Make better stories for them in your Oathbreaker games, with honor, victory, and lasting friendships.