A couple of weeks ago I managed to win a Mox Emerald at the vintage main event at Good Games Town Hall’s Eternal Weekend with a unique take on Oath of Druids and Gush.  When I was preparing for the tournament, I didn’t have much time left to figure out a list, and I had lost faith in my latest Salvagers Oath brew. I needed something new. I was out of ideas and was hoping Bazaar of Moxen would give me some inspiration. Luckily, Gwen de Schamphelaere’s Tezzeret/Oath deck from the Bazaar of Moxen vintage main event was fantastic.

TezOath

Gwen de Schamphelaere - 1st BoM Vintage Main Event
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Seinsei's Divining Top
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Time Walk
1 Tinker
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
1 Misdirection
2 Steel Sabotage
1 Spell Snare
1 Flusterstorm
2 Mental Misstep
1 Brainstorm
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Ancestral Recall
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Fact or Fiction
3 Island
1 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
1 Snow-Covered Island
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
Sideboard

1 Misdirection
2 Rune Scare Demon
1 Flusterstorm
1 Forbidden Orchard
4 Oath of Druids
2 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Swan Song

I love Oath of Druids sideboard shenanigans; and I expected that Oath would work well against much of the local metagame.  However, there was something clunky about the Tezzeret and Snapcaster Mages in the main of Gwen’s list that didn’t appeal to me. Gwen’s deck emphasises artifacts and Tezzeret to bait his opponents into sideboarding poorly, and then hits them hard by siding into Oath. His build sacrifices the ability to develop the serious card advantage you would normally expect from a blue deck in vintage.

My Take

I wanted to incorporate a card advantage engine. I had been playing around with Gush for some time, but always shied away from playing a Gush build at a competitive event because of the large amount of MUD decks in the Australian metagame. However, in the spirit of trying something!

I needed to support my Gushes and to buy some time against tempo strategies. I felt like I needed a decent planeswalker to provide me with some continuous advantage. Deathrite Shaman was an obvious choice. Deathrite Shaman is Wizards’ most recent under-costed mistake. The Deathrite Shamans would act to balance and fix my mana, buy me time against tempo and aggressive strategies, act as cheap chump blockers, give me some tricks against opposing graveyard tricks , and nibble at my opponent’s life. Last but not least, if people see Deathrite Shamans in game one, the Oath of Druids transformative board will be a complete surprise in game 2.

Once this all set, the rest of the deck was straight forward. I wanted to keep the quick Tinker/Blightsteel Colossus/Time Vault/Voltaic Key finishers that both Gween’s Tezzeret deck and standard Grixis lists offer. For a moment, I considered running Tendrils of Agony, but I ended up cutting it because I did not want to clutter the deck with too many cards that do not do much on their own. Lastly, I adapted Gween’s disruption to suit the metagame I was expecting. I incorporated a few more permission spells to help combat fast combo, MUD and tempo decks. I included two Steel Sabotages and 2 Spell Pierces in the main over two Mana Drains and Misdirection.

The end result was this:

Deathrite/Oath/Gush: “DOG or GOD”

Fast Mana

1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl

Steak and Potatoes

4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Gush
1 Fastbond
1 Tinker
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor

Permission

4 Force of Will
2 Mana Drain
2 Spell Pierce
2 Mental Misstep
2 Steel Sabotage
1 Flusterstorm
1 Spell Snare

Lands

1 Library of Alexandria
1 Tolarian Academy
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Island
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Misty Rainforest
Sideboard

1 Forest
2 Hurkyll's Recall
1 Mental Misstep
3 Swan Song
2 Griselbrand
4 Oath of Druids
2 Ravenous Trap
To the Top
Round 1 vs Keith on Cagebreaker Dredge

Game 1, I win the roll, go on the play and open with a turn 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Keith opens with a Bazaar of Baghdad. I’m very close to assembling the Time Vault/Voltaic Key combo but Keith’s hits me with four cabal therapies over two turns. I lose the game after having my hand destroyed. Game 2, I tinker up a turn one Blightsteel Colossus on the play and ride it to victory. Tinker is pretty good against dredge!

Game 3, I’m on the draw and keep the following hand:

My only dredge hate is two Ravenous Traps. So I decide that Oath is as good as it gets and that I should run the risk that I may not draw into  green mana within the next two turns. Keith mulls to three and, as expected, opens up with Bazaar of Baghdad.

On my first turn, I draw Ancestral Recall, but decide to open with Sol Ring to either bait a Nature’s Claim, because Keith doesn’t know I’m on the Oath of Druids plan, or a Mental Misstep. Keith lets Sol Ring resolve.  At the end of my turn, Keith bazaars away a Mental Misstep and Golgari-Grave Troll. He had Misstep, what a bastard! On his second turn, Keith therapies me. Before naming anything, I decide to reveal my hand! I really Ribetted that one badly. Keith calls the judge just in case and shamelessly names my Ancestral Recall. I never draw that one green mana and die in four turns.

 0-1

Round 2 vs Luke playing on Affinity Shops

Luke won his first round. I am paired up, I know what he’s running and I’m on the draw! I win game one by taking infinite turns with Time Vault and Voltaic Key. In game two, after taking care of a couple of early Lodestone Golems with Force of Will and Steel Sabotage, I resolved an Oath of Druids which shortly after revealed a Griselbrand. I win!

1-1

Round 3 vs Karl on Burning Oath

Game 1, Karl wins the die roll and goes on the play. He resolves an early Oath of Druids. A few turns later, Karl finds a Forbidden Orchard, donates a token to me, Oaths up a Griselbrand, storms out and I die.

Game 2, Karl opens up with a massive Turn 1 hitting a storm count of ten. He then casts Show and Tell, revealing a Memory Jar. I reveal a Griselbrand! Surprise! He thinks that I’m really disgusting, we both laugh and I win after drawing permission to end his combo turn and leave him running on empty.

Game 3, Karl opens up with a turn one all in with Wheel of Fortune. On turn 2 he plays Oath of Druids. I eventually manage to Swan Song away one of his spells, giving him a token. Soon after, we both activate Oath and the board looks like this:

After alot of back and forth I manage to win on turn five of extra time.

2-1

Round 4 vs Francis on BUG

I always lose to Francis, so I feel like I am already on the back foot.

Game 1, I resolve an early Jace, the Mind Sculptor and win with a quick Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus.

Game 2, I resolve an Oath of Druids. Francis holds back to avoid giving me an oath trigger and we pass turns back and forth, with my Mana Crypt slowly killing me. Eventually Francis draws into an Abrupt Decay and destroys my Oath of Druids, then follows that up with a Dark Confident, which I counter. The next turn he drops Scavenging Ooze and another Dark Confidant and then beats me to death. In that matchup, I was confidant that I’ld be able to out-draw Francis if I could prevent him from casting an early creature. It didn’t work that way this game.

Game 3, We have a massive, early counter war over an Oath of Druids, and I lose. In the next turn Francis tries to play a Jace the Mind Sculptor but I hard cast a  Force of Will to counter it. The next turn he plays a Dark Confidant which is soon followed up by a Notion Thief and a Deathrite Shaman. He then plays a Null Rod and proceeds to beat me to death.

2-2

Round 5 vs Rob on BC’s MUD

We are battling for a spot in top eight.

Game 1, Rob is on the play and opens up with a turn 1 Smokestack which I decide not to counter. Rob passes the turn, and then I play a Library of Alexandria and pass back to him. Rob puts a counter onto Smokestack and attempts to resolve Crucible of Worlds, I draw a card from my Library prior to forcing the Crucible. My turn, I sack Library. I’m unable to generate sufficient board presence. I eventually concede to avoid wasting time.

Game 2, I open up with a turn 1 Ancestral Recall. Rob attempts to resolve a Lodestone Golem, which I force. On a later turn, Rob plays a Phyrexian Revoker naming Griselbrand. Not long after, I oath into a Colossus. I attack, but Rob chump blocks, going to nine poison. In his next upkeep, Rob oaths and finds a Phyrexian Metamorph, which copies my Colossus! I eventually oath up a Griselbrand and draw into a Hurkyl’s Recall to win that game.

Game 3 played out similarly to game 2. We ended up facing each other with a Griselbrand and Blightsteel Colossus, after Rob oathed into a metamorph to copy my Blightsteel Colossus. We go into additional turns and I use up four of them thanks to Time Walk and Time Vault/Voltaic Key. I manage to win on turn 5.

Games two and three were epic. Rob is very good at oathing into Phyrexian Metamorph!

3-2

Top 8
Top 8 vs Keith on Cagebreaker Dredge

I finished 7th in the Swiss. Keith is on the play. He mulls to 1 without hitting a Bazaar of Baghdad and I take down the game.

Game 2, I missteped his turn 1 Cabal Therapy. I resolve an early Jace, the Mind Sculptor and brainstorm. By turn three or four Keith has put me down to two life with beats, but it’s not enough. I Gush into a Time Vault/Voltaic Key lock and take down the match!

4-2

Top 4 vs Brian on Moon Men MUD

Brian is on the play and opens up with a Chalice of the Void at zero. He passes, and I play Sol Ring with a Tinker in hand. The next turn, Brian disables my Sol Ring with a Phyrexian Revoker. I never manage to build up my resources and quickly die.

Game 2, I resolve a turn 1 Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus and win.

Game 3, This is the first and only time in the tournament where I ran Oath of Druids and Deathrite Shaman together in the same 60. Since Brian was on a shops/prison list that had Phyrexian Revokers, Simian Spirit Guides and Magus of the Moon, I needed both the deathrites for mana and the Oath to punish him if he wasn’t able to successfully lock me out of the early game.

Deathrite won me the game and therefore the match by gaining me 6 precious life points. A couple of early Hurkyl’s Recalls brought me some time, then, as I hit one life, I managed to resolve a Jace, the Mindsculptor, fatesealing myself to reveal an Oath of Druids. I oathed into a Griselbrand, with three fatties and only one Deathrite Shaman left in the deck. Brian retaliated by metamorphing my Griselbrand and then drew 7 cards. In the next turn, my Jace bounced the Metamorph back to Brian’s hand. We quickly reached the point were Brian could not afford to pay Phyrexian life to cast his Phyrexian Metamorph.

Griselbrand sealed the deal but Deathrite won the game! This game was so intense. It was the most interesting game of the tournament. Deathrite Shaman did an incredible job.

5-2

Final vs Karl on Burning Oath

So here we go, I’m on the play and I open with the following hand.

I know Karl is on Burning Oath, so I am not concerned about the lone Black Lotus. The hand has a great disruption suit, with plenty of blue cards to pitch and a potentially fast kill with Tinker. It’s a great keep. Karl duressed me turn 1 but I missteped it. I topdeck Sol Ring which means that I can resolve my Tinker on turn 2 and then win from there:

 Game 2, I keep the following hand:

Once again, it feels like a god hand against a fast combo deck. It has two free disruption spells and on the draw, potentially three. The fast mana is helpful if I draw an early bomb. In spite of my protection, Karl goes bananas on turn two to the point where he casts a Yawgmoth’s Will with a high storm count, seven mana floating and a Memory Jar in the graveyard, but I get him with a Ravenous Trap! Once again, Karl thinks I am disgusting. but he is the one playing with a silly deck!

Outro

So I won that event out of nowhere without any playtesting! My highlight of the day is winning three rounds against MUD on the draw. Two of those matches were against experienced MUD pilots. Dominating MUD when you’re on Gush is something worth getting excited about.

If I was going to play the deck again, I would diversify the disruption package. It felt horrible not being able to meaningfully interact with permanents on the board except with a lone Steel Sabotage or a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I could easily find a way to include two Thoughtseizes and two Abrupt Decays in the main. I would also cut the Library of Alexandria and replace it with a main deck Swamp. The library did nothing for me all day. The deck really just wants to cast an early Deathrite Shaman or Duress without exposing itself to Wasteland effects. Also, in  the Australian metagame, with MUD decks running rampant, developing a strong board presence is really important, especially if you decide to run a Gush deck.