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Cryptic Commander: Opening the Wizards Vault


So, I don’t think this will come as a surprise to many of you. White is the absolute worst color in Commander when it comes to card advantage. I’ve said it before, briefly touching on it when I talked about Sunforger, and it remains true today. Even Red is better at drawing cards than White thanks to Wheel of Fortune effects and the recent retinue of temporary card draw effects like Outpost Siege, Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance (just to name a few). The best White gets is stuff like Sram, Senior Edificer, Bygone Bishop, and my personal favorite, Puresteel Paladin . . . Not that impressive when compared to the juggernauts of card advantage the format has to offer. White does have access to colorless forms of card advantage, but those can only get you so far because colorless card advantage can only be so good. Well, fear no more, White mages. Wizards has opened up their secret vault and released unto you a card advantage machine the likes of which you have not seen for some time. Behold . . . 

Now, don’t be shy. The people want to see you!

There you go. Let that sink in for a moment. Really let it permeate the membrane of your mind and implant itself deep into your subconscious desire for card advantage. Let’s crack this thing open and see what it can do.

First and foremost, Oracle's Vault is colorless, so it can go in any deck your heart desires. It immediately reminds me of a certain six mana artifact that ends up in way less decks than it should, Staff of Nin. For two less mana, you get an artifact that can’t pick off small creatures or peck opponents to death, and it is much worse at giving you real card advantage since the cards it provides you only stick around until the end of the turn. However, that second ability makes a world of difference. Once you have three brick counters on your Vault, by whatever means you put brick counters on your Vault, that’s when the real fun starts. Once you’ve finished constructing the Oracle's Vault, you get to start casting cards off of the top of your library for free, and that is some incredible value. Being able to cast an extra spell for free every turn is certainly powerful, as are most things that let you cheat costs. Even if you flip a land, you still have the option to lay it on the table since Oracle's Vault specifies you can play the card, not cast it.

Having an artifact that gets you free value every turn seems pretty good on its own, but how can we take advantage and really crack this thing wide open? I see a couple courses of action here.

  1. You could try to take advantage of proliferate to put brick counters on the Vault faster than normal, but that seems a little unnecessary. Three is such a small number of counters to get on the Vault that I don’t think we need to play around with trying to get extra counters on it. It doesn’t do more if you have more than three, so maybe consider looking elsewhere. For instance . . . 
  2. Untap the Vault for fun and profit! There are a lot of ways to untap permanents in Magic, especially if those permanents are artifacts. Using untap mechanics can help you get to three brick counters faster, but the real power comes in once you get to cast multiple spells for free. Tap the Vault to exile a card, untap the Vault with something like a Voltaic Key, tap it again to exile another card. Cast those cards for free.
  3. You can even go crazy if you involve Paradox Engine (though, that card is already crazy by itself). Tap the Vault, cast the spell, untap the Vault, tap the Vault, cast the spell, untap the Vault . . . it could go on forever, especially if you have a Sensei's Divining top in play and a mana rock to activate it between Vault triggers. The thought makes me sick to my stomach because of how much you can abuse Oracle's Vault with Paradox Engine. *Shudder*

Today we’ve learned that Paradox Engine is just an absurdly powerful Magic card in Commander. Though, in all seriousness, Oracle's Vault doesn’t need to cast you more than one free spell a turn to be an insane value engine for decks that lack card advantage. White decks everywhere rejoice for another artifact that can help them keep up with the other, more card draw heavy, colors.

And there you have it! What do you think of Oracle's Vault? Future Commander all star or roleplayer in card advantage-lite decks? Is it unplayable jank? Let me know what you think and keep the conversation going below!

Robert Burrows

@ironmanphoenix on Twitter

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