Oath of the Gatewatch
Block: Set 2 of 2 in the Battle for Zendikar block
Number of Cards: 184
Release Date: January 22, 2016
Languages: English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
New draft format
Oath of the Gatewatch is the second and final set in the Battle for Zendikar block and the 69th expansion in the game. One of the new concepts this set will introduce, is a new draft format, which will consist of two Oath of the Gatewatch boosters and only one booster of Battle for Zendikar. In order to make this possible, the design team for this set had to make the set a bit larger than 'small' sets in the past.
It will be interesting to see how this change affects the value of cards from this and future small sets, as it should cause more Oath of the Gatewatch Booster Boxes to be opened compared to other small sets in the past.
OGW will also feature twenty additional Zendikar Expedition Lands. These are extremely rare Full Art Foil versions of some of the best non-basic lands from Magic's past. Besides the cycle of filterlands (originally from Shadowmoor and Eventide) there will also be ten iconic special lands fitting the theme of Zendikar, like Wasteland, Horizon Canopy, or Ancient Tomb. Mark Rosewater stated on Twitter that the Oath of Gatewatch Fatpack will also contain Full Art Lands... This means that there will be an Full Art Land pack inside, including fourteen Full Art Wastes on top of any Full Art Lands that may be contained in the nine booster packs.
Initial Artworks featured Nissa, Jace, Gideon and Chandra channeling energy among massive Hedrons in the background, in a possible effort to remove, eliminate or capture Ulamog. There was no black mana planeswalker taking the Oath with them though. By now we know that Ob Nixilis interfered with our heroes' plans to capture Ulamog, causing the rise of Kozilek, the Great Distortion instead. With their primary plan disrupted, Zendikar's inhabitants and their planeswalking Allies needed an even better plan to stop the Eldrazi from transforming the entire plane into a Waste. Looking at the artwork and flavour text of Bonds of Mortality and Fall of the Titans it seems like Jace, Nissa, Gideon and Chandra found a different way to bind Ulamog and Kozilek to Zendikar and incinerate them in the end. But will that really be enough to stop the entire Eldrazi brood? And where did the mighty Emrakul go with his brood in the meantime? Will he be the entity causing the Shadows over Innistrad in the next expansion?
Battle for Zendikar already had a strong colourless theme, symbolized in part by the “Devoid” keyword. Being colourless already mattered in a variety of ways, but in Oath of the Gatewatch, the Eldrazi take their transformation of the mana structure itself one step further and that gave Wizards the perfect opportunity to introduce the colourless mana symbol. This also helps clearing up the inaccurate meaning of encircled numbers on cards in the future. The diamond can precisely mean actual colourless mana in costs and in effects from now on, while the encircled numbers can signify mana of any colour, also known as generic mana.
Thematically the allies of Zendikar are still facing what might be the biggest threat to the multiverse ever seen, and there is no way to win this fight without teamwork, which will be symbolized by some of the new keywords, which will be especially useful in multiplayer formats like Two-Headed Giant:
SupportNo one fights the Eldrazi alone – at least if they would like to see another day. Even a hero like Gideon needs a little support every once in a while. Support is a new keyword action that can boost the stats of your and/or your teammates' creatures. “Support N” means “Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to N target creatures”. Remember that support creatures can't buff themselves or pile multiple counters onto one creature though.
To overcome the odds and swing the battle around, it can be important to capitalize on momentum. Surge is a new ability that lets you cast spells for an alternative cost if you or a teammate have already cast a spell this turn. You qualify for the surge cost no matter what happened to that other spell. It does not matter whether it has resolved, whether it was countered instead, or whether it is still on the stack! On some cards, surge is just a nice mana discount. But on others, surge brings you not only mana savings but additional effects!
The Allies are still a force to be reckoned with, fighting valiantly for the safety of their world. Cohort abilities require two creatures with the creature type Ally to work together by tapping both to generate a powerful effect.
In the colourless corner, representing team tentacle we have Kozilek, the Great Distortion, one of the three titans, and Kozilek's Return, which “leaves more room for the big ones to fight in”. There are also multiple smaller Eldrazi ready to leave a permanent mark on the constructed landscape, like Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher and Matter Reshaper.
On the other hand Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Chandra, Flamecaller represent the colourful Planeswalker team. There are also four Legendary Enchantments in the sets, symbolizing the Oaths Jace, Nissa, Gideon and Chandra take to protect the multiverse. Especially Oath of Nissa is bound to see a lot of tournament play.