What to Play at Your Oath FNM—In Every Format Ever

Posted in Ways to Play on January 28, 2016

By Maria Bartholdi

Maria is one half of the podcast Magic the Amateuring. When she's not working on the podcast, she's probably in an improv show, speaking Welsh, or thinking about popcorn. Rakdos is the true nature of her heart.

Everyone loves Fridays. But as Magic players, we really, really love Fridays. We love Fridays so much we just might marry them.


Aww yiss.

Especially the first Friday night after a new set is released.

It's everyone's first official opportunity to bring their new cards from Oath of the Gatewatch into the sunlight...er, moonlight...and give them their chance to shine.

Whether it's Draft, Standard, Modern, Commander, Vintage, or Legacy—your local game store is sure to have Friday Night Magic on the menu. I, for one, will be among the countless players making their way into their favorite store ready to throw down with some spicy cards from OGW.

But what to play? That's the million-dollar question. With all the new additions from Oath of the Gatewatch floating around, it can be tough to figure out how best to utilize the exciting new tools we suddenly have at our disposal. Should you play a tier-1 deck? What about a deck that's really fun? How about a deck that uses an alternate win condition? Or something entirely new that breaks the format?

I can't answer that question for you. But what I can do is give you some options.

Standard

The deck I'm most excited to play is something entirely new in Standard. I don't know if it's format-breaking, but I do think it'll be incredibly fun. And the best part? You'll never have a problem finding the right color of mana.

Patrick Chapin's Colorless Eldrazi Aggro

Download Arena Decklist

Much like a jelly doughnut, this deck is filled with awesome. Not only do you get to play a lot of unique lands, you get to play a classic aggro deck. It's also mega-disruptive and messes with your opponent's hand (exhibit A: Thought-Knot Seer, exhibit B: Warping Wail) to keep them from playing anything that will mess with your game plan. I'll be looking to cast an early Eldrazi Mimic, slap a discounted Ghostfire Blade on it (thanks, colorless creatures!), and go to beatdown town...population ME.

Will this deck be good? That remains to be seen! The first FNM after a new set is all about testing the waters. No one really knows if their decks will sink or swim. Another option if you're looking to throw down with Eldrazi at FNM is this decklist from Frank Karsten, which pairs black with our colorless Eldrazi friends.

Frank Karsten's Mono-Brown Aggro

Download Arena Decklist

But maybe you're not down with the dark side (aka Eldrazi) and want to play with the good guys (aka Allies). Or perhaps you don't like the idea of only playing one color...or no colors...and want to play with ALL OF THE COLORS. I mean, I get it. If that's the case, this decklist is for you.

Gavin Verhey's Five-Color Allies

Download Arena Decklist

This list really makes use of the fact that we have such good mana fixing in Standard right now. It plays General Tazri, which can go find any Ally you want and, if you activate the "Rainbow Connection," can pump all of your dudes. Plus, who hasn't wanted to play Skyrider Elf in Standard? It's an Elf riding a giant sky manta! Tell me that isn't awesome. You can't. Because it is awesome.

But perhaps you haven't got a dog in the Eldrazi-versus-Allies fight and prefer to vanquish your opponents using wicked combo kills. User Mastertoa put together this decklist, which features an infinite damage kill using Eldrazi Displacer, Brood Monitor, and Zulaport Cutthroat.

Mastertoa's Infinite Combo Aristocrats

Download Arena Decklist

All you need to do is get Brood Monitor down along with Eldrazi Displacer (which a listener of my podcast has nicknamed "Eldrazi Bouncy Castle") and Zulaport Cutthroat. Then, sacrifice the three Eldrazi Scion tokens made with Brood Monitor to make three mana to flicker the Brood Monitor with Displacer. Wash, rinse, repeat. This combo makes infinite damage with the help of the Cutthroat on the table, or it mills your opponent with Altar of the Brood. I'm not saying this will be an easy combo to pull off. But it will be an amazing combo to pull off.

Bonus points to anyone who is able to make this happen in Draft. Speaking of Draft...

Draft

If your LGS hosts drafts for FNM, I have a couple of build-around-me cards to look out for that could make for incredibly fun decks.

First up: Stoneforge Masterwork. This card is straight bonkers in the right deck. If you can pack 1, pick 1 this baby and go all-in on either Eldrazi or Allies, you're looking at a legit Cranial Plating. It buffs (and equips) for a respectable amount even if you only have two other relevant creatures out. And, once you have more than that, well...let's just say it can get ugly (for your opponent) fast. Last night I had an incredible dream about this card and a bunch of Eldrazi Scions.

This is a card that'll make your surge decks worth their weight in gold. Not only will you be playing your creatures or spells for pure value at their surge costs, you'll also be dealing 2 damage any way you see fit. All upside? Yes, please! This card definitely screams "build around me!" so let's have some fun and listen to those screams....I regret that last sentence.

If attacking your opponent just isn't for you, here you go! This combo has already been used against me in a draft, and I can testify that it is really, really annoying. Board states in OGW Draft can get gummed up fairly easily thanks to lots of high-toughness creatures, and this is one convoluted way to break the stalemates you might encounter. If you liked the slow, grindy decks the Orzhov Syndicate let you play back in Return to Ravnica, a black-white Allies deck in Oath will give you a similar feeling.

Legacy

If you're the kind of player who's more interested in an interesting way to win rather than winning outright, good news: you're not alone. More good news: Oath of the Gatewatch offers a card that is tailor-made to give you warm tinglies in your heart.

If this card makes you want to swipe right, take a look at the deck below. Carlos Gutierrez brainstormed a Legacy deck that is designed for you to win the game with Hedron Alignment's unique (some would say borderline impossible) win condition.

Carlos Gutierrez's Blue-Black Hedron Alignment Combo

Download Arena Decklist

This list isn't insanely competitive, but it is sure to be an Instagram moment if you can manage to align all of your hedrons for a win. There are several other players out there who have also brewed up Legacy Hedron Alignment decks, so there are more options to check out if you do a bit of light searching.

Modern

With the recent bannings of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom, some are saying it may be Tron's time to shine. This is welcome news for me, since I've recently been testing Tron. There are a couple Oath of the Gatewatch cards that I think Tron might really enjoy. Most notably: Kozilek's Return.


See? It's a perfect fit.

Kozilek's Return and Tron go together like movies about the future and ridiculous bodysuits. It's great because it can be very powerful against strategies such as Affinity and Infect. Its converted mana cost is 1 more expensive than a similar card Tron already runs (Pyroclasm), but it has the potential to be even more impactful because Ancient Stirrings can find it. Let me tell you how many games of Modern I've played where I've wished my Ancient Stirrings could find a one-sided board wipe. Spoiler alert: it's been a lot of games. It also fits well into the Tron strategy because the second half of the card—and its 5-damage goodness—is relevant thanks to the giant Eldrazi creatures Tron plays. The cherry on top? It's instant-speed, which kills animated lands.

So, if you play Tron, I suggest adding in a couple Kozilek's Returns! You can also rip those pesky Rending Volleys out of the sideboard now.

Commander

My friend (and level 3 judge) Rob McKenzie is responsible for this next list. He's a Commander superfan, so it only makes sense that he's put together a Superfriends Commander deck! Check out this deck based around Medomai the Ageless that features no fewer than fifteen planeswalker cards. You heard me right: fifteen. Superfriends, fight for justice! Rob has added in a couple of the new Oath cards from Oath of the Gatewatch to help his buddies out.

Rob McKenzie's Medomai the Ageless

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Medomai the Ageless

I hope you have a fantastic time at the first FNM since Oath has been released. No matter which format you play or what deck you try, remember that this is everyone's first go-round and things are bound to be a little crazy. I'm interested to know what decks you end up playing, so give me a tweet @mtacast and let me know what you played and how it performed.

Then, send me a wedding present. I just married Fridays.

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