I've recently gotten back into vintage myself. The increase in non-blue decks is something that I have also noticed. It seems like the new Karn is the cause for this. It can go in decks like Eldrazi, Shops, Dark Depths, and probably others. Karn gives the Eldrazi a means to basically end the game with Lattice, but can also be used for utility. Eldrazi was already very good, but this put it in a much better spot against artifact based decks.
Since Karn can lock out artifact decks while being good against Xerox it seems like it should continue to take more space in the meta. There seems to be much more Dredge than there used to be. I am not really informed about its good and bad matchups, but I know it is strong against Xerox. The last challenge also had more Oath than usual, which seems normal because it does better against Shops and creature decks than decks like RWU Xerox and Paradoxical Outcome decks.
When Oath is played more, Fish normally becomes played more. I actually played quite a few Fish decks in league today. I would think Xerox strategies would need to respond by focusing on artifact removal rather than focusing on blue match ups.
I read though as much of the comments as I could in a reasonable amount of time. I think you did a great job articulating your position Brian.
My focus in this post is not to state my agreement or disagreement with anyone's position, but instead I would like to make some personal observations concerning the format's management and what I would like to see change.
As someone who has played Vintage off and on over a long period of time I have had the chance to see cards come and go. Some things that remained consistent over this time was widespread player complaints and the length of time before action was taken. The length of time before action is taken against certain well known strategies can last years. Myself and many others have quit multiple times for the same reason before action is finally taken.
After more than a decade of waiting for results that are slow to come I have started looking for goals or strategies in managing the format. My opinion is that cards are being printed for most archetypes that allow for an easy to obtain line of play that is very dominant. I believe the goal is to allow new players to cast spells and win easily more often in hopes of attracting more players. If that were the case the intention is good, but just as difficult to tolerate than not restricting cards that were a problem before these newer printings.
As a long term Vintage player I enjoy playing many archetypes. Although I play a certain archetype more often than others I wouldn't care if they restricted the main cards and made it unplayable. I would just play something else and be just as happy. I guess you could say that my goal would be to take action faster. I don't want to go into my personal preferences, but just that some action is taken to address an issue soon after it is identified. I don't even care if the wrong action is taken as long as actions are being taken to improve game play in a timely manner. A competitive game with constant new additions should naturally require constant attention.
Something else I have noticed in long lasting competitive games is the desire for both sides to have the same chance of winning. While this can't be achieved to perfection the paper, rock, scissors effect can be mitigated. I feel that sculpting the format so archetypes are rather evenly matched would create more fun, therefore attracting more players.
I think Oath will always be a good choice for Vintage. I hadn't played in four months and went 4-1 in league with it. I also played it in a challenge this weekend and went 3-3. I couldn't say that I was disappointed with the decks performance, or that it wasn't a good choice to play.
I have some ideas for the deck in the current meta, so I will test them out. If I find something that works well and put up results, I will post the deck and write about it. I should also be streaming within the next couple weeks, so once I get that going you can count on seeing Oath getting played.
Also, if you have any questions about playing the deck you can message me or make a post and someone will answer.
I've been interested in streaming Vintage for quite a while now. I haven't played in about four months, but I am pretty interested in some of the new cards from War of the Spark. Tonight will be more of a test stream to get familiar with streaming on Twitch. Provided I set up everything properly I will go live when I have it all figured out. There won't be a face cam or sound at this time, but it is likely in the near future.
I will probably play a Jeskai control and an Oath list of some sorts. I like to play most decks in Vintage, so I will try to play a variety of decks. My twitch user name is jimtosetti. Come hang out if you see me streaming!
@aeonsovarius I've played with both Night's Whisper and Painful Truths in a Show and Tell variant. They work much better here because you are more likely to draw creatures and then have the ability to use Show and Tell to play them. If you draw more cards and you are not using Show and Tell then you will likely need two Jaces plus Chart a Course and maybe See Beyond. I prefer not to use the black draw spells anymore because they are not the best against Shops and have been sub par in other matches.
Show and Tell is a strong card, but I found myself losing to what my opponents would put in play. I actually had Show and Tell resolve against me in the last Vintage challenge. My opponent put in Griselbrand and I put in Leovold, Emissary of Trest. I took two hits from Griselbrand, and then I bounced it with Jace and won. I was actually playing Oath myself with Leovold as a side board card.
The counterspell package always contains Force of Will in this deck. I'm actually still testing theories about certain cards and what they do in certain matchups.
Gush does seem like an awkward card in Oath. I didn't play with it initially, but decided to play with it one day and went 5-0, so I kept using it and continued to put up results. I find this card to be vital to Oath's strategy. It is best used as a mana fixer rather than just something to draw cards with.
I think that Oath would be a fairly difficult deck to play as a first Vintage deck right now. It is probably more complex than it has ever been. I started playing it a long time ago when Tidespout Tyrant was the go-to creature. After that I left Magic until 2010 or 2011, and then played it off and on. After that I played various Oath builds until Brian Kelly created an Auriok Salvagers version using Ancient Grudge. At that time it was probably one of the best decks I had ever played. I eventually took several more brakes from Magic. When I came back I wasn't as successful with the Salvagers version, so I started using a Show and Tell version. I found that it was great for leagues and very poor for constructed tournaments. Oath has struggled as an archetype for quite a while now, but good players have found ways to win with it. Arlin Kord, Sphinx of the Final Word, Deep Analysis, and many other cards have been used, but they really change how the deck works. This makes the deck fairly difficult for an inexperienced person to play on MTGO because of how good the players are there. We have recently gotten new options in the form of Mission Briefing and Niv-Mizzet, Parun. As you can expect, the new options from the last couple of years can present some difficulty when looking for the correct mix.
Recently, I have found that three Preordains are great for creature based match ups because you can find the Oath more quickly. I replaced Ancient Grudge in the main deck with Fire//Ice. I don't really want to go into the details of Fire//Ice and why I play it over other cards, but it is good for cantripping and removing cards like JVP. I've written about Niv-Mizzet, Parun elsewhere on the site, so I won't go into detail about it here. Basically, this card can be hard to play with even for experienced players. I side it out quite often against creature decks. Arlin Kord is still effective, but it is not always effective. Having said that, most of the deck options are not always effective, so you must use your judgement when anticipating the meta you will play in.
I have been experimenting with Leovold and Kambal in the sideboard, and they have been very effective, I have recently cut back to two Pyroblasts because of how strong these cards are in certain matchups. They are great against Storm, PO, the version RWU Xerox that uses more JVP's and Fragmentize, and probably other decks. These are traditionally some of Oath's more difficult match ups, so I am really enjoying these cards. Leovold can be good in the mirror, but not always. I would say you almost have to feel this one out. As far as siding out Oaths in the mirror, the more experienced the opponent, the more Oath's I like to side out.
Sorcerous Spyglass is a card that I have started using again. It is really strong against Survival, JVP, and a variety of other cards. I am really enjoying the utility that it provides.
So, with all of these random thoughts and information, I would say that practicing with every version of Oath from the last four years is a good idea. It will allow you to see why certain cards are played, and when they are included. I would also say that there are many effective Oath strategies at the moment. This presents very interesting deck building opportunities, so I am interested in seeing what players come up with.
It is difficult to pull ahead of other decks in terms of cards in your hand with Oath. This archetype has quite a few viable strategies that each gain an advantage in their own way. The amount of Preordains really impacts how games play out. Fewer Preordains usually requires more Jaces and or Deep Analysis. This is a strategy that can gain card advantage. More Preordains helps to find lands or cards you need.
I've recently been experimenting with cutting tutors and playing three to four Pyroblasts, three Flusterstorms, and Four Missteps. I've put up two 5-0's in the last few days with this strategy, so maybe there is something there. I've been winning matches that usually gave me the most trouble such as BUG Fish and RWU Xerox. The somewhat difficult match is still the Tendrils version of Paradoxical Outcome. I have found that I basically cannot tap out. Every time, without fail, they will combo out if I tap out.
I am a big proponent of Mission Briefing in Oath. Recasting Time Walk or Ancestral Recall can give the deck an edge when it needs it. I almost consider this card as important to the deck as Gush.
As far as Gisella goes, it is great against creatures, but so is Inferno Titan and other Oath targets. I include it in the main deck because I want as good as chance as possible to beat Dredge.
Matt explained when to cut Oath of Druids pretty well below. The other aspect to cutting Oaths is the mirror match. I have found over the years that the best strategy in the mirror is to cut all of the Oaths and side in one to two Nature's Claims and one or two Sudden Shocks. The mirror becomes a game of who can gain an advantage from any Oath on the board by having more Orchards or using Sudden Shock to kill the Spirit tokens under your control. It is also a race to hard cast your creatures. You can still keep some number of Oath's in after game one, but this strategy runs the risk of your opponent using it to win.
I don't know if this has been mentioned in this thread or not, but Gisella doubles Niv-Mizzet, Parun's damage. Sylvan Library is a guaranteed three damage even if you do not pay life to draw additional cards. The Fire side of Fire//Ice will effectively deal three, while the Ice side will deal two and draw two cards. Jace, the Mindsculptor deals three damage from the draws.
Niv-Mizzet Parun has been very effective in my Oath decks, but it took some practice. If it is second or third creature to Oath into, or if one other creature is in your hand, I consider refraining from using Oath again because of the potential of getting decked from Niv's draw ability. I still use Inferno Titan in the sideboard because of its utility against planeswalkers, Shops, and Survival.
The card's biggest weakness is Pyroblast. However, it is not as weak as could be assumed. It is most vulnerable to the spell when it is hard cast and the Oath player is tapped out. Otherwise the counter battle to follow can cause the game to spiral out of control for the opponent even if they manage to get Niv-Mizzet off the board. I think the biggest downside I have found with the card is its vulnerability to Karakas. All three creatures I play are Legendary, so I really need the Inferno Titan in the sideboard.
I basically consider this as my main deck replacement for Inferno Titan at the moment. It is very good against Paradoxical Outcome Decks, and has game against most decks game one. Oath needed some type of upgrade to compete because it has been struggling for quite a while. Oath feels like a tier 1 deck too me again because of this card.