5 Planeswalkers Who Finally Have a Home as Oathbreakers

Tom AndersonCommunity, Oathbreaker

With WotC’s surprise adoption of Oathbreaker last week, we’ve entered a boom time for experimentation and brewing in the Planeswalker-centric format. But what possible playstyles does the format offer – and how should you decide on your first deck to start figuring it out? The easiest thing to latch onto is the Oathbreakers themselves, the Planeswalker-commanders which go a long way towards defining your deck’s identity. The majority of Planeswalkers can’t normally be played in the Command Zone, and the explosive, scaling gameplay of Commander means a lot of them aren’t good in the 99 either.

Obviously a lot of these cards have seen some amount of Constructed play, but there’s still quite a few Planeswalkers who have just never found a good home in the other formats they’re legal. I think one of the best angles to get started on this format is to adopt one of these cards as your Oathbreaker and try to figure out what they can do; and by extension, what Oathbreaker itself can offer you.


Samut, the Tested is the perfect example of a Planeswalker who never found their place in other formats. Clearly designed as a curve-topping support card in RG aggro decks, in Standard she was overshadowed by Hazoret and Ramunap Red. And after that… nothing.

It’s not hard to understand why; her first two abilities are useless unless you’re ahead on board. Perhaps that’s because the third one casts Tooth and Nail – historically even more of an “I win” button than most planeswalker ultimates. This combo potential hasn’t helped Samut in Constructed, as she’s slow to build that ultimate on top of everything else. But for multiplayer Oathbreaker, having a true combo win condition in the Command Zone is worth building around.

Your Signature Spell can only be cast after your Oathbreaker is in play, so your choice should be mostly focused on the endgame. If our goal is getting Samut to ultimate, then Expand the Sphere is the best way to expedite it. Assuming we uptick Samut the turn we play her and then proliferate twice with Expand on our next turn, that allows for Samut’s second activation to be the game-winning Tooth and Nail!

I imagine the rest of the deck being heavy on RG monsters to help pressure opposing walkers, and mana dorks to speed our plan up even more. But the only really necessary component is our Tooth and Nail targets, the cards which we will actually use to end the game. 

Ideally we’d win deterministically without going to combat, but most of the two-creature combos in these colors need a little help; but even our combat-based combos are good enough for me to feel confident that Samut has found her home. Kiki-Jiki plus any “untap target creature” ETB effect will win immediately if opponents can be attacked, or Heartless Hidetsugu plus Solphim, Mayhem Dominus will win instantly with a source of haste (or just on your next turn). Other options include Birgi plus Grinning Ignus or Dockside Extortionist plus Temur Sabertooth for infinite mana, or just something involving the usual suspects: Kodama of the East Tree, Purphuros, God of the Forge, Grumgully, the Generous, Hellkite Charger, Avenger of Zendikar, all of which offer multiple well-established combo routes.


Kaya, Ghost Assassin was the main reason I tried Oathbreaker for the first time a couple of years ago. I’ve always loved this card, but since she’s only legal in Eternal formats there was no good spot to sleeve her up. But as an Oathbreaker she makes the jump from “unplayable” to “build-around” very easily!

Just reading her abilities, it’s obvious Kaya thrives in a grindy, low-resource game where there are fewer spells cast per turn and there’s time for her -2 activations to take over the game. If you were going to play her in Legacy, it would likely be alongside other resource destruction and discard spells common in her colors.

But this is Oathbreaker – you can’t just rely on out-valuing your pod with planeswalker activations when everybody else is also playing around that card type! We need a faster plan A to pair with Kaya’s natural grindy potential; and I choose to take inspiration from some much less honest WB Constructed decks:

For years, fringe Modern decks stole wins by targeting Obzedat, Ghost Council with an early Goryo’s Vengeance, then using Obzedat’s self-exile trigger to dodge the more permanent exile from Goryo’s and keep their 5/5 online for future turns. With Goryo’s as our signature spell, we can guarantee access to Kaya’s +0 ability to re-create this interaction – but potentially for much more powerful reanimation targets! 

Griselbrand and Emrakul are banned in Oathbreaker but we can still make hay with Vilis, Avacyn, Iona, both Sheoldreds, Tergrid, K’rrik and a ton of other nasties. Athreos, Shroud Veiled deserves some extra attention as a redundant way to “break” Goryo’s. Fill the remaining slots with interaction and hatebears picked for a multiplayer planeswalker-heavy environment and you’ve got yourself a decklist!


Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury might come as a surprise on this list of under-loved cards. She was the face commander for a precon deck, part of the original cycle of Planeswalker-commanders, and supports one of Magic’s evergreen (heh) archetypes.

But there is a LOT of competition for Elves commanders, and the various legendary creatures just tend to make more sense in a creature-based deck.  Of over 30,000 EDHREC decklists with the “Elves” theme, fewer than 1 in 34 are led by Freyalise. Even narrowing it down to just mono-green her share is less than 1/8th.

But as for other Oathbreakers the field of competition is far less crowded – although you can find a second elf-specific Planeswalker in the original Nissa Revane. The signature spell rule also acts as a huge shot in the arm for Freyalise and the Elves deck generally, as it allows us to port over a crucial card from its most powerful Constructed incarnations: Glimpse of Nature.

Besides all their other options, Elf decks offer a world-class mana engine, with a huge depth of one-mana accelerants to ensure a fast, efficient, consistent resource curve. Usually the missing component is a sufficient source of card draw to keep up with what your mana can theoretically cast. But having Glimpse in the Command Zone solves that issue the way nuclear weapons solve a termite problem.

As long as Freyalise is on board, you can reliably be casting Glimpse every turn. Perhaps multiple times per turn, as the elves you draw can help cover the cost of re-casting it! It’s not a deterministic combo, but it’s going to feel like it a lot of the time for our opponents. The rest of our deck can continue taking direct inspiration from Legacy – we may not be able to run multiples of everything they do, but the elvish depth-chart has plenty of redundancy to fill any leftover slots.


Yes, partner is just as strong here as it is in Commander – you get 2 Oathbreakers and a signature spell for each of them, so your main deck size shrinks to a svelte 56 cards, and you effectively start with an 11-card hand! 

The only downside is there’s just two planeswalker partner pairs to choose from at the moment. Jeska and Tevesh Szat should be well-known quantities as Oathbreakers if you follow Commander, but Rowan and Will Kenrith? Not so much. Despite having the “can be your commander” clause, the twins don’t offer a lot of clear mechanical direction for a deck to build around, and costing six mana each really hurts their appeal.

That’s not to say there’s never a reason to play them: Rowan’s ultimate easily goes infinite with innocuous cards like Basalt Monolith, giving us a lot of slots left for interaction and utility. She even gets to her ultimate at a decent pace thanks to her +2 loyalty per turn. But that uptick ability needs our help to actually be considered impactful in its own right.

The most obvious signature spell to capitalize on forcing attacks is probably Aetherspouts, assuming we’re committing to getting both twins on board. But I don’t really like going that defensive with signature spells; remember, you’re casting these from a spot where you’re very likely to be ahead. If you aren’t, I’d question how your Oathbreaker is surviving while you’re tapped out for a turn cycle from casting them. Keep Watch is a far more proactive signature spell for this situation, and Will’s cost-discount -2 will help ensure we power spike after resolving it by immediately cashing in all the cards. 

You could also try leveraging Will’s +2 ability by playing Anger of the Gods, thereby having a way to clear even larger creatures. But I have an idea I like better for that  –  signature spell Mogg Infestation! We get an unconditional sweeper in red, and the sudden influx of tiny goblins makes Keep Watch much stronger! And of course, they can easily be mopped up with Rowan’s downtick if needed. 

The remaining spell slots might double down on more enemy-token-granting effects, or they might look like a traditional “blue Moon” style control list. All they need to do is control the game and buy time for Rowan’s eventual emblem to win.


Even if you haven’t been quietly waiting to show your favorite under-played Planeswalker the love they deserve, I hope these examples still get you thinking about the possibilities different Oathbreakers represents. Building around Oathbreakers and their signature spells is a fundamentally different challenge to even 100-card Commander. And as a “new” format to most players, it lacks all the emotional baggage around how hard you’re meant to try to win.

Oathbreaker’s custodians are proud of how their format leans towards fast, powerful games, capable of playing out over a typical lunch-break. The high presumed power ceiling and small deck size are very reminiscent of Legacy, so why not take the chance to build something in that vein? So long as you can figure out how to turn your Command Zone into a wincon, you should be staying competitive at any table – and you’ll probably have come up with something quite unique in pursuit of that.