Our admittance letters to the magic school of Strixhaven will arrive at the perfect time. The once-beloved Hogwarts is now shadowed with scandal after JK Rowling exposed herself as something of a Death Eater. The wand she dropped I hope will be picked up by Wizards of the Coast.
Last week we took our first tour of Strixhaven's colleges. I will apply to Silverquill, where witches and wizards learn to battle with words. Expect prophetic poetry, lethal insults, and healing benedictions. Time to open my enchanted wardrobe, dust off my raven-wing coat, and fly off to my new school.
A card may inspire us for any number of reasons. When that happens, we itch to play it; even more, we yearn to build a deck around it. Now if that card is a legendary creature, we play Commander. If it's a sorcery, it's trickier. Luckily, there's a growing format called Oathbreaker where you can strategize around noncreature spells. Your command zone glows with two cards: a Planeswalker and an instant or sorcery. As long as your 'Walker is on the battlefield, you can cast their signature spell, taxed two more each time.
Over the coming weeks I hope to build a deck for each of the college's commands. We'll begin with Silverquill.
College Life | Oathbreaker | AE Marling
- Creatures (26)
- 1 Ajani's Pridemate
- 1 Archfiend's Vessel
- 1 Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
- 1 Bloodthirsty Aerialist
- 1 Cleric of Life's Bond
- 1 Cliffside Rescuer
- 1 Crypt Rats
- 1 Drannith Magistrate
- 1 Eidolon of Obstruction
- 1 Epochrasite
- 1 Hex Parasite
- 1 High Priest of Penance
- 1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
- 1 Karlov of the Ghost Council
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Mother of Runes
- 1 Righteous Valkyrie
- 1 Selfless Spirit
- 1 Serra Ascendant
- 1 Skyclave Apparition
- 1 Skyclave Cleric
- 1 Soul's Attendant
- 1 Speaker of the Heavens
- 1 Vampire Hexmage
- 1 Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
- 1 Vizkopa Guildmage
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
- Instants (8)
- 1 Akroma's Will
- 1 Despark
- 1 Flawless Maneuver
- 1 Hagra Mauling
- 1 Kabira Takedown
- 1 Malakir Rebirth
- 1 Sejiri Shelter
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
Silverquill Command gives us lots of options. For deck-building, I first thought of combining its +3/+3 and evasion with double strike creatures, as I did with an Oathbreaker All-Star Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Another member of the Discord, CherryDad, suggested using infect creatures in much the same way, doubling the potency of the power buff. Both are reasonable options, though it's worth mentioning that neither Mirran Crusader nor Phyrexian Crusader can be targeted by Silverquill Command. This path is also one I've trod before with Elspeth.
Searching over the Orzhov-aligned 2-drops, I noticed something exciting. In Cleric of Life's Bond and Karlov of the Ghost Council we have two strong creatures that lust after life. Soul Warden into Ajani's Pridemate is a strong curve, which you will rarely get in a singleton format. Thanks to Black we have access to more synergistic creatures, which we can resurrect with our signature spell.
In the other casual format of Commander, life gain does little. You already start out in a secure castle of forty, and you're more likely to die of commander damage anyway. It's different in Oathbreaker, where Goblin Guide is a playable card, and a starting life of twenty feels precarious with three foes. The value of life gain is one of the reasons this is White's best format. The deck size is also fifty-eight cards (with the last two in the command zone), so we can draw our Ajani's Pridemate and friends more often.
Though Silverquill Command's +3/+3 stat buff isn't doubled when applied to these creatures, they will likely already have high power. Often Ajani's Pridemate will become a 10/10 or bigger. What it needs is evasion, and we can give it wings.
Of the all the options we could choose for our Orzhov Planeswalker, (between Kaya and Sorin, or Sorin and Kaya), I wanted the one that drains the most life. Sorin, Solemn Visitor is ravenous, and the Oathbreaker Reddit community was right to recommend him. However, I believe he's best suited to token strategies. Not only will Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord activate all your synergies, he can also bring your critical creatures back to the battlefield.
The most bloodthirsty may be Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, with Vizkopa Guildmage a close second. I also wished to introduce our newest divine payoff, Righteous Valkyrie, who'll swoop in with a double anthem and as a 4/6 flier herself.
We want to protect these creatures, especially if we plan to target them with Silverquill Command. For that we have Mother of Runes and Selfless Spirit. Cliffside Rescuer can also prevent damage to your Planeswalker, and you can return these bodyguards to the battlefield as needed with Silverquill Command. It's possible we should add more protection in the form of the best boy Selfless Savior. The first card I would cut would likely be Crypt Rats, but first I want to try spreading a plague and gaining twenty life, thanks to Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord.
Crypt Rats and High Priest of Penance both excel with our Planeswalker. CherryDad from the Discord suggested them. Feel free to join us there to look for Oathbreaker games online. In the meantime, I should also mention some creatures that are uniquely good in this format. Drannith Magistrate is the best hate bear, which we can protect and reanimate. Vampire Hexmage can also slay an opposing Oathbreaker, and Hex Parasite can suck out all their counters. Kambal, Consul of Allocation can lock foes out of their own command zones. He can also wrap storm decks in red tape.
Speaking of combo, this decklist isn't tuned against the more competitive end of Oathbreaker. Like cEDH, this casual format can get crazy. Force of Will and Mana Drain give Blue combo decks a huge advantage. I would advise you sit at more casual tables. Oathbreaker is a better and more fun format when you're not trying to combo win by turn three. Also, I don't think our Silverquill Command is the best choice for a signature spell at higher levels of competition. I would choose Entomb. I've included it and other more competitive cards below. I would also say they're less fun, but that depends on personal taste. If you love Stoneforge Mystic, for instance, you may want to include it and an equipment package. Most of these cards are also expensive, which is another reason I avoided them in the main list.
Competitive Substitutes | Oathbreaker | AE Marling
- Creatures (7)
- 1 Grand Abolisher
- 1 Hushbringer
- 1 Kataki, War's Wage
- 1 Leonin Arbiter
- 1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- Enchantments (1)
- 1 Sanguine Bond
Another Oathbreaker I considered was Kaya, Ghost Assassin. She can re-buy your enter-the-battlefield triggers on creatures, and if you lose any of the key ones you can reanimate them with Silverquill Command. Gain value with Wall of Omens or force opponents to lose it with Burglar Rat. This is a game plan, though not one I prefer. Rather than incremental advantage I would rather pressure my opponents while keeping my life total unassailable.
Before closing out I should mention two last details about the decklist. First, when we go to the graveyard to dig up Archfiend's Vessel or Epochrasite, they leap out of the musty ground stronger than ever. Archfiend's Vessel even has lifelink to enable our other creatures.
Second, we are playing a full six double-faced lands that can also serve as spells. I always want to hit my land drops in Oathbreaker. Flood is less of a threat, as we can simply cast our signature spell again and again. It's wise to play a few extra kill spells like Hagra Mauling for an opposing Drannith Magistrate. Now you could swap in Mutavualt for some of these weaker cards, but even Skyclave Cleric has utility if we need a few more life for Serra Ascendant.
What Strixhaven college do you hope to attend? And what Planeswalker-command pairing would you love to see next week?