I had the extreme pleasure of travelling down to the Wizards of the Coast Australia/New Zealand Head Office today to participate in what WotC described as a “Pre-Pre Release” for Oath of the Gatewatch. I got the chance to interview Will Chan, the Brand Manager for Wizards of the Coast’s Asia Pacific Region, which you’ll get to see in the video at the bottom of this page. For those who might not be able to watch the video, we cover the new mechanics from Oath of the Gatewatch (Support, Cohort, and Surge), as well as talk about Wastes and Colourless mana, Expeditions, and what you can expect at your pre release this weekend. If you get the chance though, I really recommend watching it. We crack a two headed giant sealed pool, and build decks. [Spoiler: sweeeeeeet card pulls.] We also got a game in against two other Wizards employees who spent their morning building as well. The full game video should be up by Friday morning if you’d like to get a quick look at how OGW plays out before you attend your pre release.
I didn’t get much of a chance to see surge or support do a great deal in the game we played (though I did get to see cohort do some busted stuff with a little help from support), but I can definitely see them doing some cool things in two headed giant. Surge may very well be playable in standard, and I’d be really interested to see what a deck like that would look like. I may attempt to brew up one myself. During the sealed pool sorting, Will spoke about his experience with the set, and getting even a glimpse of how the three WotC guys built their decks offered some great insight into what to expect with the set in limited.
There is what I’d call “secretly a fourth mechanic” in Oath of the Gatewatch, however. Colourless mana. Wastes have definitely made an impact on the game, especially during deckbuilding. Devoid has come into its own, and I really feel like colourless mana over generic mana has changed the way we’ll need to think about the game for the next year and a bit. With cards – decent cards that you’ll probably want to use – specifically demanding colourless mana instead of the normal generic mana, colourless now actually plays like a sixth colour. That little bit of extra strain on your manabase is worth it though, because these colourless cards are insane, and I feel like the colourless demands balance out the power. Rather than everyone playing the crazy powerful Eldrazi cards just because they can (in a world where colourless costs still only demand generic mana), now intelligent deckbuilding will be required more so than I think we’ve seen in the last few years.
This set feels awesome to play. There’s a bunch of powerful cards here which I’m still not sure how to fit in to standard decks. They’re obviously powerful, but in a way unlike we’ve seen before. This is a format that going to keep me brewing for some time to come.