Oath of the Gatewatch Draft Archetypes

Posted in Event Coverage on January 31, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Oath of the Gatewatch gave players many new tools to work with in this draft format. With two booster packs of the small expansion being opened instead of the traditional one, now the small set matters so much more. Some of the old BFZ archetypes have improved while others become nonexistent. Oath adds many new archetypes all on its own. Here's a breakdown of what some of the pros drafted this weekend.


Face-to-Face's (9) Mike Sigrist drafted a R/G/b deck with large creatures. “It's a creature-centric format. The creatures are just bigger than in BFZ,” he explained. Green has a lot of flexibility. It has great mana fixing and it's possible for your green deck to be three and even four colors. Netcaster Spider and Scion Summoner are the most important commons and Seed Guardian is one of the more powerful uncommons. The reach creatures give the deck game against flyers which was something that green struggled with in BFZ. Scion Summoner acts as the ramp spell you need to get your bigger creatures out quicker.

(9) Mike Sigrist is playing a base green three-color deck.

Shuhei Nakamura had a more aggressive version of red-green and chose not to splash a color. He was heavier in red with burn spells like Touch of the Void and Fall of the Titans. With multiple copies of Scion Summoner, a Brood Monitor and a From Beyond, he had a nice go-wide strategy. Typically green go-wide decks in this format are looking for lots of token producers and finishers like Tajuru Warcaller and Tajuru Beastmaster.

Shuhei Nakamura is happy with his Fall of the Titans

Cohort Allies

The Ally deck can go in a few directions. There's black-white, which still focuses on life gain and hasn't changed much from BFZ. Greg Orange from Team Hotsauce Games drafted this archetype today. “I'm not too happy with my deck. It's missing a lot of synergy that black-white usually has. The best common is Vampire Envoy but I didn't get any of him. I also really like Kor Sky Climber in the deck.” Greg was fortunate enough to open Linvala, the Preserver in his draft which he hopes to win most of his games with.

Hotsauce Games's Greg Orange with his Black-White Allies deck

ChannelFireball's (4) Eric Froehlich drafted a more aggressive version of Cohort Allies. “I drafted red-white. I like my deck, but I like black-white better.” In this deck, it's less important to have synergy and more important to have a tight mana curve. The two-drop allies with cohort, Ondu War Cleric and Zada's Commando, are the best commons. They beat down early but also offer utility in the late game. In Battle for Zendikar, you're looking for creatures with rally like Firemantle Mage and Resolute Archangel. “Resolute Archangel is better than most rares,” says Froehlich.

(4) Eric Froelich is happy with his cohort allies.

Colorless and Devoid

Colorless mana is a prominent theme in Oath of the Gatewatch. It's heavily in blue, black and red but touches the other colors as well. If you're going to draft heavy colorless mana, you're very likely going to be drafting blue-black.

Neil Oliver of Team Face-to-Face drafted one of the more interesting blue-black decks. He has four Blinding Drones which requires a lot of colorless mana but he's also splashing green for Birthing Hulk. “I love this guy,” says Neil about Birthing Hulk. “The splash is free. All of my nonbasic lands produce every color.” Neil had multiple copies of Unknown Shores and Holdout Settlement. He's playing six colorless sources and is relatively happy about it, and he wasn't really interesting in playing Wastes. “My deck is pretty much mono-blue splashing Oblivion Strikes and Birthing Hulk. Blinding Drone is so important.”

Team Face-to-Face's Neil Oliver

Blue-Red is another direction that can be taken with colorless mana. Maw of Kozilek is a solid common for the deck. It's really flexible and can play the role of offense or defense if you have access to colorless mana. Eleventh-ranked Alexander Hayne drafted a blue-red devoid deck today. “My best cards are Blinding Drone, Prophet of Distortion, and Holdout Settlement. I had a lot of colorless sources, and even had two Wastes in my sideboard. I like Wastes, but I need colored mana too, so the lands that can produce everything are better.” Hayne also had a minor surge theme going on in his deck with spells like Slip Through Space to power out Jwar Isle Avenger.

(11) Alexander Hayne from Team Face-to-Face

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