As Ben Bleiweiss mentioned in his recent article on Champions of Kamigawa and Vintage, Oath of Druids has been granted a very fun new toy in Champions of Kamigawa – Forbidden Orchard. After reading Mr. Bleiweiss’s article, my testing group and I decided that it was no longer a good idea to keep our pet project underground. Thus, here in all its glory, is an Oath of Druids deck for Vintage, designed to destroy the opponent in one attack; hence its nickname: One-Hit Wonder.
Dragon-chance Oath (or, the”One-Hit Wonder”)
Design credits: John Beety, Aaron Dubin, Matt Mullins
1 Chrome Mox
4 Dragon Breath
4 Dragon Scales
4 Dragon Shadow
4 Funeral Pyre
2 Krosan Reclamation
1 Lotus Petal
4 Reckless Charge
4 Verdant Touch
4 Forbidden Orchard
4 Wooded Foothills
Since this is still an experimental build, we had not yet built a sideboard, but a reasonable sideboard might include:
4 Enlightened Tutor
4 Stronghold Gambit
4 Wild Research
The deck looks rather horrible on paper (and any deck using cards from Scourge should!), but as any of the nameless opponents on Apprentice who has caught the wrong end of a 12/13 Dragon Tyrant may attest, it has plenty of raw power. Note that this is a largely unpowered build; those with the appropriate Power Nine cards should have a good idea of where to stick them. Doubtless many of these cards require an explanation, so here goes.
The Dragon X block (Dragon Tyrant and the Dragon enchantments)
The Dragon Tyrant and its legion of Dragon enchantments are the core idea behind the deck. If a creature has to sit around in play for the duration of the opponent’s turn, no self-respecting deck is without the means to remove it. (No, this deck does not respect itself that much.) The whole key to making an Oath deck work in Vintage is creating a mechanism by which the deck can kill with one attack from one creature.
The Dragon Tyrant is a 6/6 double-striking, flying, and trampling agent of doom, ready to knock the opponent into next week…except for the fact that it does not have adequate power or haste. Dragon Breath provides much-needed haste. Dragon Scales provide a boost in power…and every point of power equates to two points of damage. It also provides a blocker for a turn in the extreme case that it should become necessary. Dragon Shadow provides another point of power and also provides fear, which can be key in some cases. Note the absence of Dragon Fangs – its abilities were redundant in the context of the Dragon Tyrant, and the +1/+1 simply did not justify its existence. Dragon Wings, of course, gives the Dragon nothing it didn’t already have, and if the deck is cycling, it is in serious, serious trouble.
Not just a way to give the opponent creatures, the Funeral Pyre is also a deliciously nasty way to foul up an Animate Dead/Worldgorger Dragon deck. There are very few times when the Pyre will be a dead card, and the surprise blocker it can generate has also proven to be a life-saver on multiple occasions. (Most of these came in the Psychatog era, but there are still occasions when it will be handy.)
Gamble is one of those cards that has never been given much respect. Its powerful tutoring capabilities are tempered by the possibility of losing the very card the player wanted. Still, Gamble does provide rare tutoring in Red, and frequently the drawback turns to an asset (such as when a Dragon enchantment becomes the discard.) A first-turn Gamble is rather like a game of Russian roulette, but in a touchy deck such as this one, the players in the group are often willing to keep a hand with only a Gamble in it, ready to pull the trigger.
The Krosan Reclamations act as restockers, throwing Dragon Tyrants back into the deck in case of emergency. It can also restock lands, Oxidize, and other fun cards, including Reclaim. Despite the no-tomorrow mindset of Vintage, it is prudent to add safety nets.
It negates (and gets around) a Chalice of the Void for two mana and can act as an excellent Gamble target in case of dire emergency. That alone justifies its existence in the deck, in the opinion of the testing group.
This little gem from Odyssey does not just provide haste; the +3/+0 boost jumps the Dragon Tyrant to a 9/6, one point of power away from lethality. Its flashback is also affordable at three mana total, making it a viable option from the graveyard.
Any junked card can go to the top of the library in an instant with Reclaim. This has various uses, from Dragon Tyrant to Oxidize and anywhere in between.
This addition to the deck was created from the original version of the deck, which was predicated on a flawed idea. One day, in lunch on a Sunday, we were toying around with the Dragon X block, when Aaron mentioned that even the best Oath deck would be foiled if the opponent had no creatures. It was near the start of the year, but before the Darksteel prerelease, so I was tinkering with adding Scrap to get around a Chalice-lock when I stumbled upon land-animators. The words”Lifespark Spellbomb” triggered a flood of scribbling from both sides. It’s too bad that our understanding of the difference between”end of turn” and”at end of turn” was flawed; Lifespark Spellbomb and its friend Animate Land didn’t last long enough to trigger the Oath! Verdant Touch, on the other hand, was forever and could still be used, keeping hope alive; this later led to the Funeral Pyres. Verdant Touch can also be used in odd cases on one’s own lands, and at least one unlucky Vintage player has met his demise at the hands of a Touched land.
Forbidden Orchard and company
Forbidden Orchard was tailor-made for the deck; its rainbow mana production and generous donation of a creature to the opposition make it a tasty addition. Wooded Foothills can fetch any of the twelve dual lands in the deck, making it easy to support the One-Hit Wonder’s tri-color habit. Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal are fill-ins for Mox Ruby and Mox Emerald, which are much less realistic for the average person’s budget. Karplusan Forests and their ilk can be substituted if a player wants to build an extremely”budget” version of the deck (which can be calculated at under a hundred dollars.)
Playing the One-Hit Wonder is relatively straightforward. Unless the land situation is absolutely untenable, keep any hand with an Oath of Druids or a Gamble. Yes, this means Force of Will hurts and will likely lead to a loss; then again, against most combo-oriented decks (and the group views the One-Hit Wonder as a combo deck) Force of Will is a deal-breaker, and that is a risk that must be accepted without significantly tinkering with the deck. It is important to memorize the deck’s escape hatches; the Reclaim, the Krosan Reclamations, the Oxidize, and most importantly the Funeral Pyres can save one’s bacon if played appropriately. Certainly by Vintage standards the deck is uncomplicated and may become a decent entry-level deck.
None of the group claim to be masters at Vintage, but consistent turn 3 kills in person-to-person testing on Apprentice are nothing to sneeze at, though faster kills do exist in rare situations. (See LongDeath for Exhibit A.) Turn 2 kills are possible if the opponent cooperates with creatures, and with the addition of Champions of Kamigawa, turn 2 kills may happen sometimes without the opponent’s consent. The trick to making Oath work in the big pond that is Vintage is creating a threat that can deal twenty points of damage without dying, and the best way to do that is to make sure the opponent never gets a second chance. Just remember that often, vitae fortunae debentur.*
Enjoy your games,
John Dale Beety
*The Latin phrase loosely translates to”Our lives are better left to chance,” a suitable phrase for a deck running Gamble. It is a line from the Garth Brooks song”The Dance,” a favorite of my mother’s and of mine, which happened to be the song playing when I first hit upon using the Dragon Tyrant and the Dragon enchantments in Oath.