The Long and Winding Road – Blightsteel Colossus and the Golden Gun

Wednesday, February 2 – Today, we’re going to look at a new Oath deck. With the printing of Blightsteel Colossus, we now have two creatures capable of effectively winning with one swing: Blightsteel Colossus and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

“… he doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus…”

Or, more accurately, he makes the other Colossi appear as but normal men.

This is a creature that can literally one-shot your opponent and result in instant victory. As such, it’s obviously very good and requires immediate
consideration as a Tinker and Oath target. However, we do need to be aware of some potential issues with Blightsteel Colossus compared to other Tinker
and Oath options.

With Jace being popular, there’s a legitimate chance that this creature will never actually get into the red zone. Blightsteel Colossus, or BSC, is
highly vulnerable to Jace. The fact that it deals damage in poison instead of life points is not irrelevant in Vintage; should your opponent have a
blocker and survive, even at nine poison counters, those counters will not remove the opponent’s ability to channel life points into something
like Necropotence, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, or the Gush/Bond engine, whereas a swing with Darksteel Colossus will usually cripple an opponent who was
looking to use any of those card-draw engines or had already taken damage from something like Mana Crypt or Dark Confidant. Finally, it’s a very weak
Tinker target against Workshop decks who can beat it with Tangle Wire, Smokestack, Duplicant, and Maze of Ith.

Having taken care of necessary disclaimers and contractual / legal warnings: BSC is pretty nuts! It’s the most formidable turn-one Tinker target
we’ve ever seen. Simply slotting it into existing decks that play Tinker/Robot, however, doesn’t seem like maximizing the potential of this

We can do something better. This is a toy deserving of a new toy chest.

Today, we’re going to look at a new Oath deck. With the printing of BSC, we now have two creatures capable of effectively winning with one swing:
Blightsteel Colossus and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Before I present the deck, I’m going to take a look at the progression of Oath decks after the
restrictions of 2008, as the evolution is interesting, and there are currently several viable Oath strategies that attack the metagame from different

Oath Decks: July 2008 to Today

With access to un-Restricted Brainstorm and Gush, Tyrant Oath was a major player in Vintage leading up to the restrictions of Merchant Scroll, Ponder,
Brainstorm, Gush, and Flash in June 2008. The loss of Brainstorm was a savage blow to Oath decks, which were then far more vulnerable to awkward draws
and to having Oath targets stranded in-hand.

While the lack of Brainstorm was highly detrimental, it was hardly the end for Oath decks. A few short months later, Hellkite Overlord found its way
into From the Vault: Dragons, leading to the creation of this deck by James King:

When I first started playing Vintage with Brian Legrow, John Jones, Craig Berry, and Will Magrann in 2008, this was the deck that I found most
appealing. It was surprisingly disruptive, using Chalice of the Void and Wasteland / Strip Mine to attack the opponent’s mana base, and capable
of some fast and easy wins. Almost no one had any hate for Oath of Druids in their decks, so you were free to tailor your sideboard to beat opposing
strategies without much concern that your opponents were able to do the same.

After a few months of playing the deck, Shards block continued to pump out insane Oath targets, leading to this:

Progenitus Oath was a blast to play and added an alternate attack plan of Tinker into Inkwell Leviathan, with Empyrial Archangel in the board as an
upgrade to Simic Sky Swallower. Ultimately, however, this deck struggled to keep up with more refined Tezzeret decks that started to completely
dominate Vintage in May and June, 2009. The restriction of Thirst for Knowledge, and use of Dark Confidant, was actually great news for Oath of Druids.
The challenge was building an Oath deck that was “broken” enough to keep up with Tezzeret.

The first thing we tried was upping the speed, by playing two Hellkite Overlords. Keith Seals and I named this version Double Dragon Oath; the
breakthrough for me came in the removal of Chalice of the Void and Gaea’s Blessing from the deck, so that I could abuse Yawgmoth’s Will (as
a proper blue Vintage deck should), as well as the addition of red for access to Red Elemental Blast and Ancient Grudge. Without Blessing, I added a
third Dragon: Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. The release of Iona, Shield of Emeria further cemented this deck as a Tezzeret-buster and was an upgrade from
Karrthus against anything that wasn’t playing Tangle Wire (moving Karrthus to the sideboard). The Iona version was a house and included Time
Vault and Voltaic Key:

Around the same time, Robert Vroman built a version of Oath centered entirely on Iona, Shield of Emeria, which looked like this:

Vroman’s deck was really an Oath combo deck, designed to get Iona into play, turning turn off opposing counterspells and guaranteeing another
turn; during the next turn, the deck would Oath away the remaining library into the graveyard. It would then flashback Krosan Reclamation to
“shuffle” Yawgmoth’s Will back. Drawing Will for the turn, the deck could then play Will, return all the fast mana from graveyard to
the battlefield, play Time Vault and Voltaic Key from the graveyard, and then play Timetwister to refill the library and prevent decking. This deck was
very strong against blue decks but relatively weak against Workshops, which would prove problematic with the onslaught of MUD decks during 2010.

In February 2010, Rich Shay unleashed a new version of the three-creature strategy, Elephant Oath:

Elephant Oath played three different, but impactful, creatures: Iona, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and Terastodon. This was a more controlling Oath deck,
with many avenues of attack, and was immediately popular with the Vintage player base. Show and Tell out of the sideboard was another hallmark of this
strategy, which was rapidly updated to include Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

The tide began to turn against Oath as 2010 marched on, with Nature’s Claim seeing widespread adoption as a way of beating Workshop decks, and
specifically, the dreaded Lodestone Golem. On the West Coast, David Ochoa unleashed a Tezzeret deck that played Trygon Predator to further cement the
Workshop matchup. In a warning I failed to heed, I told Vintage players to watch out for this deck at Vintage Champs in this article, stating:
“If you’re playing at Champs, this is the style of Tezz you should be testing against.” A modified version of this deck rocked
Vintage Champs, immediately becoming the most popular blue deck and making life miserable for Oath pilots.

Despite this, Matt Sperling still put together an interesting Oath list using M11’s Sun Titan:

This deck is similar in many ways to Vroman’s Iona Oath, but it has a significantly better matchup against checks using Chalice of the Void. I
tinkered with this deck for a while, and the design is very interesting, but I strongly suggested adding a Pernicious Deed to the maindeck; the
interaction of that card with Sun Titan is so good that I’ve been dying to find a home for it ever since.

As 2010 came to a close, several factors began to play to Oath’s favor. Workshop decks had become so powerful and so omnipresent in top eights
that players began to move past Nature’s Claim and into laser-specific artifact hate. Cards like Viashino Heretic, Energy Flux, Ancient Grudge,
Hurkyl’s Recall, and Artifact Mutation are all great against MUD decks but don’t interact with Oath of Druids. At the same time, the return
of Gush to the format and a resurgence of Ritual decks both eroded the Jace Control / Trygon Tezz style of deck, which is ill-equipped to keep up in a
race with faster, flashier decks like TPS, ANT, and various Gush builds. The end result is that the cards that pushed Oath to the margins in some areas
have begun to recede, and the Q4 Metagame report
showed a stronger Oath presence than I would have expected.

Speaking of Gush, Stephen Menendian and Paul Mastriano have been spotted rampaging through Vintage events recently with an updated take on Tyrant Oath.
While certainly damaged by the loss of Brainstorm, the return of Gush has been enough to make this deck viable again. In fact, Paul made the semifinals
of the 90-player NYSE Grudge Match II on 1/8, wielding this:

Tyrant Oath is capable of all sorts of nonsense once Oath has fired off, including the potential to add infinite blue mana to play, use, bounce, and
play Jace to draw the entire deck. Tyrant itself is very good against Workshops provided that Oath has triggered, but this specific build is not
actually that capable against Workshops given the lack of Spell Pierce and use of Gush. It’s also a relatively difficult deck to play

Simple folks, like me, want something easier. There have never been two different creatures capable of winning in one swing before; you could pretend
there were, using two copies of Emrakul, but that cut off Tinker as a route to victory.

Today, we have that option. I present to you…

The Golden Gun

You’re all familiar with Golden Gun mode, from Goldeneye? Golden Gun is all about one-shot kills. That’s the name of the game for this
deck, also: point, shoot, win. Of course, in Magic parlance, “GG” has other connotations that apply here as well. This idea of using BSC
and Emrakul is hardly unique to me, having been posted on themanadrain.com and other places as soon as BSC was spoiled. However, I think this is closer
to a finished product than most lists you’ll find on the internet. The actual deck was worked out during testing with Brad Granberry, who kept
pushing me back toward Preordain and Regrowth until I finally relented, once they proved their value.

On the surface, especially to those not intimately familiar with the format, most of these Oath decks probably blur together. I’ll unpack this
deck by its components. I have tested this deck and believe it is tournament-ready.

Oath Component:

1 Blightsteel Colossus

1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

4 Oath of Druids

2 Dragon Breath

Where playing Tidespout Tyrant and Gush requires precise play and understanding of “the rules of the game” and such, this deck is the
opposite: Oath into guy, attach Dragon’s Breath, turn sideways, win. Cue bass and brass and nifty spiral with blood spilling out.

One thing to watch for when using BSC is that if an opponent has two tokens or otherwise has at least two toughness worth of blockers, you’ll
essentially be passing the turn without having impeded them at all, so try to avoid this scenario whenever possible. Using Jace to bounce a token is
not the worst thing in the world if it means you instantly win the game.

Alternate Win Component:

1 Tinker

1 Voltaic Key

1 Time Vault

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Winning with Tinker and Key/Vault is another “easy” aspect of this deck. Turn 1 Tinker into BSC usually wins you the game immediately, and
Key/Vault is still as easy to durdle into as ever. Jace TMS is technically an alternate win condition; although this deck is rarely controlling enough
to achieve victory this way, it’s certainly an option. Jace also supports all of the other win conditions, especially Oath, by acting as the
“missing” copies of Brainstorm.

Disruption / Protection:

4 Force of Will

3 Spell Pierce

2 Thoughtseize

GG Oath plays fewer of these spells than Elephant Oath, which often ran Spell Pierce, Force of Will, Mana Drain, and/or Thoughtseize; however, it runs
more than Tyrant Oath, which is only playing three Thoughtseizes and four Forces of Will. I’ve found that the use of Spell Pierce is vitally
important against Workshop decks.

Tutors / Filters / Broken:

1 Merchant Scroll

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Gifts Ungiven

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

3 Preordain

1 Regrowth

1 Time Walk

1 Brainstorm

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Lim-Dul’s Vault

This is a relatively standard selection of these cards. Preordain supports the blue spell count and allows us to run relatively light on land (as does
a generally low converted mana cost overall). Regrowth has been fantastic in this deck, making Gifts piles both easier and more potent, and allowing
re-buys on countered Oaths or other broken spells. Lim-Dul’s Vault has always been a favorite of mine and supports the Key/Vault plan, but if
you’re not a believer, play a fourth Preordain or third Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Fast Mana:

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Pearl

1 Sol Ring

1 Black Lotus

This is the full standard complement; I’m not a fan of Lotus Petal in this style of deck.


4 Forbidden Orchard

2 Underground Sea

2 Tropical Island

1 Volcanic Island

3 Misty Rainforest

2 Polluted Delta

1 Island

1 Forest

Sixteen lands is one short of standard, I believe. I’m not playing any Wastelands or Strip Mine main, and we have two basics to combat Workshop
decks (requiring four Misty Rainforests among the fetch base). I believe this deck is a couple artifacts short of wanting to use TolarianAcademy, so
that isn’t included either.

Moving on the sideboard, it breaks out like this:

1 Pyroblast

1 Red Elemental Blast

These cards are potent anti-Gush weapons and worth bringing in against all blue decks. They’re critical for beating Trygon Predator as well as
cards like Meddling Mage.

1 Dispel

I really like the versatility of a card like Dispel. For one mana, you can counter Gush or Nature’s Claim. Against Dredge, you’re able to
counter Nature’s Claim and Chain of Vapor.

1 Pithing Needle

4 Leyline of the Void

1 Nihil Spellbomb

1 Strip Mine

With sideboard space being so tight due to a broad format, I had to make my anti-Dredge cards versatile. My current “it girl” against
Dredge is Yixlid Jailer, and I sometimes play them in Oath sideboards. Being able to Oath into hate pieces is kind of cute. However, this deck
doesn’t really want to play Yixlid Jailer, as it doesn’t play nice with Dragon’s Breath. So, we’re back to playing Leylines.
I’m supporting them with three singletons.

Pithing Needle is important because it attacks hate cards, like Spawning Pit and Greater Gargadon. Nihil Spellbomb dodges Chalice of the Void set on
zero and is a nice singleton to bring in against decks seeking to combo out via the graveyard (such as Will-centric builds of Tendrils or Gush, or
Goblin Welder decks). Strip Mine does double-duty as an extra mana source against Workshops that also hits Maze of Ith, as well as being helpful in
Oath mirrors when trying to establish Orchard superiority.

1 Hurkyl’s Recall

1 Steel Sabotage

1 Nature’s Claim

This is the anti-Workshop package, although Nature’s Claim is also useful against opposing Oath decks. Nature’s Claim may also come into
play against decks using Leyline of Sanctity.

1 Virtue’s Ruin

1 Progenitus

To help beat hate bears. If Fish is popular in your area, you’ll want a supporting spell to this, such as Massacre or Firespout. Note that
Progenitus doesn’t play nice with Dragon’s Breath but usually beats Fish anyway, especially if you then Oath into Emrakul plus
Dragon’s Breath.

This is the deck I’m playing right now, and I’m really enjoying it. What ideas didn’t make the cut?

Third Thoughtseize / Fourth Preordain / Fourth Spell Pierce – All of these options are good and are fighting for space against Jace. Without Mana
Drain and with less artifacts and no Academy, Jace doesn’t have the “pop” in this deck that he has in some other Vintage decks.

Ancient Grudge – I’d love to play these, as they are so good at beating Tangle Wire, Smokestack, and Eon Hub; however, the quantity of Time
Vault decks hasn’t been high enough to make room in the deck, and MUD decks look to play Chalice at two against Oath anyway.

Enlightened Tutor or Lim-Dul’s Vault – Both of these cards are pet cards of mine. Enlightened Tutor is a cheap and unrestricted way to find
Oath of Druids, Time Vault, Voltaic Key, and Black Lotus, while also digging for hate cards against Dredge. In this deck, it’s extra-spicy because you
can stack an Oath trigger and then Enlightened Tutor for Dragon’s Breath, ensuring your Oath target will attack immediately. This is the same
idea I used with Pernicious Deed and Sun Titan in my version of Titan Oath. Lim-Dul’s Vault does all of those things while also digging for
anything you want and pitching to Force of Will. I went with LDV in the list, above, but you could easily play Thoughtseize, Preordain, an artifact
removal spell like Nature’s Claim or Ancient Grudge, or a third Jace TMS in that slot.

Mana Drain – I love Mana Drains. There’s something great about playing a non-conditional hard counter that I find very appealing. However,
there isn’t much to do with the Drain mana in this build outside of playing Jace, and Drains overall are a bit weak in this meta.

Additional Oath Targets – Playing only two creatures is perhaps a little loose, and Steel Sabotage may be a potential foil for BSC. You could
play an Iona, Shield of Emeria in the sideboard against combo and other blue decks, an Empyrial Archangel for the Fish matchup, or Terastodon, which
might make sense. In the list, above, I went with Progenitus. I’ve always been a fan. It’s rather hard to stop Progenitus with cards like
Duplicant or Maze of Ith, or, well, almost anything in the format, really.

Additional anti-Workshop – If you’re really concerned with Workshops, I would add a Hurkyl’s Recall and Nature’s Claim to the
main deck and beef up the sideboard hate also. You’ll have to give some ground against Fish, Gush, or Dredge to make that work, however. Another
card to consider is Steel Sabotage, which I have as a one-of.

Enjoy the deck! Oath players: don’t call it a comeback; you’ve been here for years.

“It is a terrible thought, that nothing is ever forgotten; that not an oath is ever uttered that does not continue to vibrate through all times,
in the wide-spreading current of sound…”

-William Cowper

Matt Elias

[email protected]

Voltron00x on SCG, TMD, and The Source