Oath of the Gatewatch Limited Review: White

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Posted January 13, 2016 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

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10.0: A card that earns a ten is unbeatable, or close to it. In a well designed set, there won’t be any cards that warrant this score, as they “break” the format.

9.0-9.9: These are bombs. If you see one, you’re going to take it, and you’re probably going to splash for it, mana costs be damned.

8.0-8.9: This range is for exceptional cards. You won’t go out of your way to play them, but they offer great value. Efficient removal spells end up in this range.

7.0-7.9: Cards that fall here are the upper band of playables – that is to say, above replacement level, but not necessarily exciting (some could be, I guess).

6.0-6.9: This is probably the most common score. These cards aren’t great, but they make up the majority of Limited decks.

5.0-5.9: These are cards you’ll end up playing, but are below replacement level. You may be disappointed running these in the main deck, but you could be doing worse.

4.0-4.9: This batch of cards are those that you should be avoiding. You’ll occasionally be forced into a scenario where you have to play one, but you will be actively unhappy.

3.0-3.9: When an opponent plays cards with this score, I’ll actually be pretty happy.  

2.0-2.9: … what are you even doing at this point?

1.0-1.9: If these cards are in your deck, your deck is a disaster. Something went very, very wrong along the way.

0.0-0.9: These cards should be burned in a dumpster fire, probably along with their designers. Just kidding, we love you WotC employees.

Mythic Rare

General Tazri

General Tazri

In the right deck, Tazri can be quite good. There is some mana fixing in this format, and at low rarities, so her second activated ability isn’t impossible to hit, but you rarely will be able to. It’s powerful if you can activate it, but largely irrelevant. Now, a 3/4 that tutors on ETB is quite powerful. Granted, it only gets Allies, BUT there are some exceptionally powerful Allies. Fortunately, not even all of these Allies are Rare – there are a fair number of powerful Allies at Uncommon. No matter what you’re getting, tutoring is like drawing a card, but in many ways a more powerful effect. Staple that onto a 3/4 that takes advantage of Ally synergies for five mana and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid card. Not brilliant by any means, but definitely better than just playable.

Score: 7.0

Linvala, the Perseverer

Linvala, the Perseverer

Linvala is a bomb. There are no two ways around it. This one card can turn the game around, entirely on her own. If you’re on the back foot, suddenly you have more life to play with, along with eight power and toughness in the air. Even if you’re ahead, and neither of the abilities trigger, you’re getting a 5/5 flier, for six mana. That’s slightly worse than say, Serra Angel, but it’s still pretty damn good. I won’t say that she’s the best Limited card in the set, but in a vacuum, I think that she’s definitely a very major part of the conversation.

Score: 9.0

Rare

Call the Gatewatch

Call the Gatewatch

Call the Gatewatch is going to be absolute garbage most of the time. It’s not even a build around, because you can’t expect to see any Planeswalkers in a draft, or even in a Sealed pool. That being said, if you’ve already opened a Planeswalker, this card actually does become playable, since it essentially gives you two copies of what is probably the most powerful card in your deck. Even taking that scenario into account, I really can’t justify giving this card a high score at all.

Score: 4.0

Eldrazi Displacer

Eldrazi Displacer

Aside from the potential for an “infinite” combo in Limited, Eldrazi Displacer is actually pretty good. It easily passes the Vanilla test, and it’s activated ability is extremely powerful. Saving creatures from Removal or combat tricks is huge, as it basically acts as a counterspell in those scenarios. Unfortunately, the creature getting flickered does enter tapped, but that’s a fairly low cost to pay, if I’m being honest.

Score: 7.8

Munda’s Vanguard

Munda's Vanguard

In the dedicated Ally deck, Munda’s Vanguard is an engine. The body is largely unimpressive, but the Cohort ability ensures that it will grow larger. It’s certainly not one of the best Rares in the set, but it is one that will make for a first pick you can be happy with. That said, it does depend on how powerful the Allies deck is with OGW added to the format, since it was far from the best deck in triple BfZ.

Score: 7.6

Oath of Gideon

Oath of Gideon

Want to pay three mana for two 1/1’s at Sorcery speed? Honestly, be my guest. I’ll be chuckling from the other side of the table while you do. While the second clause is powerful, it simply is not designed for Limited. At most you’ll have one Planeswalker, and that does NOT justify putting this deadweight card in your deck.

Score: 3.0

Stone Haven Outfitter

Stonehaven Outfitter

As a bear, Outfitter is fine. There’s no real downside to playing this guy. Even if the format ends up being slow and grindy like BfZ (which is likely), the Outfitter is still a slightly above replacement level two drop. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of equipment in the format that’s not all that exciting. Sure, this makes it all marginally better, but most of it you won’t even want in your deck anyways. This is far from the powerhouse that one would hope it would be.

Score: 6.0

Uncommon

Allied Reinforcements

Allied Reinforcements

Allied Reinforcements is definitely better because it breaks four power and four toughness evenly between two 2/2 creatures. This allows for two Rally triggers, and two Allies to be tapped for Rally effects. It also means that opponents trying to beat you with spot removal will have to 2-for-1 themselves (barring countermagic, of course). Allied Reinforcements is pretty much on curve, and has a lot of potential. It’s not exactly the best card Uncommon in the set, but it’s one most White decks (even those lacking Ally synergies) will be happy to pick up.

Score: 7.2

Immolating Glare

Immolating Glare

If Celestial Flare is already a playable card in Limited formats, then Immolating Glare becomes prime removal. The restriction on attacking creatures isn’t huge in a format centered around creature combat, so this will hit most threats you care about it hitting. Plus, at two mana, it’s extremely efficient, especially by today’s standards. There are scenarios when it won’t do much, but these mostly involve your opponent reading you as holding an Immolating Glare, so those are largely corner case.

Score: 8.5

Iona’s Blessing

Iona's Blessing

Auras are always tricky to evaluate, since they open the door so easily for a 2-for-1. So, Auras often become a question of opportunity cost; is the risk of getting 2-for-1’ed greater than the value the Enchantment offers? Vigilance, +2/+2 and being able to block two creatures definitely seems like a lot, and I think it’s probably enough. That doesn’t mean Iona’s Blessing is excellent, but it’s a card that decks (especially those looking to be more defensive than aggressive) will be interested in playing. Not in all scenarios, of course, but this card definitely has a place.

Score: 6.1

Make a Stand

Make a Stand

You’re not going to play this card for the +1/+0. No, Make a Stand is a card that you play to give you an edge when it comes to board stalls. It will save your entire team, barring exile effects, of course. Sometimes it may only save one creature, but even then it could be worth having in your deck. I don’t think it’s worth prioritizing, and in some cases it will be relegated to the sideboard, and brought in if you see a wrath or a relatively high volume of removal spells.

Score: 5.9

Relief Captain

Releif Captain

Relief Captain’s worst case scenario is pretty bad. A 3/2 for four mana – two of it color specific? No thanks, get it out of here. Fortunately, it does have Support 3, which is quite powerful if you have creatures to hit. The thing is, you can’t guarantee that, and sitting on this guy until you can get value out of him won’t feel good. That said, four mana for six power and five toughness is pure value. You can’t evaluate this card expecting to get that 100% of the time, but even getting to put a counter on one other creature makes the Captain a reasonable turn four play. And it’s not like it’s impossible to have three other creatures on the board either. The card may become more of a “win more” creature then, but in board stalls it truly shines.

Score: 6.8

Stoneforge Acolyte

Stoneforge Acolyte

This card is essentially useless. All of the equipment in BfZ is bad (Slabhammer is Ok at best), and the only decent equipment in OGW is at Rare. The Cohort ability, therefore, is nearly useless, especially considering that it requires you to tap two creatures. Now, if this creature had better stats, then maybe we could talk. But a 1/2 for one with a virtually useless ability is very close to being absolutely ridiculous.

Score: 2.0

Wall of Resurgence

Wall of Resurgence

Remember Fortified Rampart? Remember how Fortified Rampart was actually one of the best two drops in triple BfZ? Now, what if I told you that, for one additional mana, you could also get a 3/3 with Haste? Seems like a pretty powerful card, no?

Score: 7.0

Common

Afra Protector

Afra Protector

A 1/4 with Vigilance for three is kind of mediocre. It blocks well and kind of attacks for free, but at three mana these aren’t the stats you’re looking for, at least in general. Now, if your deck wants to lock down the ground (like, for instance, a UW fliers deck would) then Afra Protector is the type of card you probably want. That said, it’s not something worth prioritizing.

Score: 5.8

Dazzling Reflection

Dazzling Reflection

For two mana, Dazzling Reflection saves a creature and gains you some life. In a vacuum, you wouldn’t pay two mana for either of those effects. Put them on the same card and it gets a bit better, and I can come up with plenty of scenarios where Dazzling Reflection will put in a lot of work. Most times, however, it just won’t be worth a card.

Score: 5.0

Expedition Raptor

Expedition Raptor

If Support allowed you to put counters on the Creature with Support, Expedition Raptor would be great. A 3/3 flier for five that brings an extra point of power and toughness to the board? That seems pretty good. However, that’s not what Support does, and that lowers the potency of Expedition Raptor. Of course, Support isn’t awfully hard to take advantage of. It may not be exciting, but the setup cost is rather low, so most of the time Expedition Raptor is going to give you four power and four toughness for five mana, two of which will have evasion. That’s not terrible, so you’ll probably end up playing this card.

Score: 6.3

Isolation Zone

Isolation Zone

Stasis Snare this is not, but nevertheless, Isolation Zone is solid removal. If Supression Bonds was playable in Origins, which was neither as good as this card, nor as well suited to the speed of the format, Isolation Zone should be quite good. Also, it is worth noting that it hits Enchantments as well. Most of the time you’ll be taking out creatures of course, but it is relevant that it hits other permanents, and certainly a mark in its favor.

Score: 7.0

Kor Scythemaster

Kor Scythemaster

Kor Scythemaster is an Ally, and it’s not too expensive for what you’re getting. As a result, some decks will be happy with having this card. The one toughness is probelmatic when you’re on the backfoot and need to defedn your life total, but the high power means that it’s likely to trade up. On the attack, it’s actually quite good, since three power worth of First Strike is fairly difficult to block efficiently. Still, it’s not amazing, in any sense of the word.

Score: 6.0

Kor Sky Climber

Kor Sky Climberr

Because of the fact that Kor Sky Climber is an Ally, it would be likely to get play even without its activated ability. The stats aren’t exciting, but the card still passes the vanilla test. The ability to give it Flying obviously improves the quality of the card significantly, especially later in the game when you aren’t casting as many spells. This is definitely one of the better White commons.

Score: 6.8

Makindi Aeronaut

Makindi Aeronaut

Makindi Aeronaut blocks well, and a 1/3 for two that Flies is fine, if unexciting. Of course, it’s not an aggressive threat, so not all decks will be excited to have it. To be fair, no deck will be “excited” to have one of these guys, as it’s probably slightly below replacement level. Regardless, you’ll probably have to play this guy on occasion.

Score: 5.9

Mighty Leap

Mighty Leap

Mighty Leap has shown up quite frequently lately, and every time it’s been printed, it’s been a fine combat trick. Are you going to prioritize it? No, not usually. Unless you’re lacking fliers, I guess, but in White that shouldn’t be a problem. That said, playing a copy of Might Leap (maybe two, I guess) is far from a disaster, especially if it’s a late pick up, which this particular card usually is.

Score: 6.0

Ondu War Cleric

Ondu War Cleric

This is an engine in the BW Allies/Lifegain deck. It’s stats are right on curve, so it would see play regardless of its Cohort ability. As with all Cohort costs, the setup is relatively low. However, tapping down two creatures to gain two life each turn is far from optimal, unless, of course, you have other synergies going, in which case the ability will do work.

Score: 6.5

Searing Light

Searing Light

Searing Light is decent removal. It’s probably not the type of card you’ll play in your opening 40, but against opponents trying to be aggressive, it ends up being quite good, taking out early threats for only a single White mana. It can also hit blocking Creatures, but I doubt that that’s where this card will shine. The limitation is, of course, quite strict, which is the reason I doubt it will see play in mainboards. It may not even be good enough post-board, but I feel fairly comfortable with the assumption that this card is probably playable.

Score: 5.9

Shoulder to Shoulder

Shoulder to Shoulder

At sorcery speed, what you get for playing Shoulder to Shoulder simply isn’t worth it. The card technically does a lot – it grows two creatures and it draws you into a new card. the problem is, the floor on this card is extremely low. Worst case scenario, you’re drawing a card at Sorcery speed for three mana. This isn’t inherently bad – some cards with really low floors are actually great cards. Look at Tarmogoyf, to give but one example. The thing is, Shoulder to Shoulder doesn’t have a high ceiling at all.

Score: 4.8

Spawnbinder Mage

Spawnbinder Mage

Tappers are generally very good, if the cost is low enough. Spawnbinder Mage is probably one of those. A 2/4 body for four mana is nothing to text your friends about in excitement, but it makes for a reasonable blocker, should that become necessary. It’s also not the worst attacker, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Now, as for the Cohort ability. Tapping two of your creatures to tap one of your opponent’s doesn’t seem great. Obviously, it’s good situationally. If you want to get through and your opponent only has one blocker, then you’re fine. On a board stall where your opponent has one profitable attacker, Spawnbinder Mage shines. That said, it’s still not the best trade, though its stats make it playable, if unexciting/not amazing.

Score: 6.0


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.