Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about Oathbreaker.
What is Oathbreaker?
Oathbreaker is a new casual format inspired by commander and kitchen table multiplayer that emphasizes the epic power of Planeswalkers. It provides players new and interesting deck building challenges in a faster format, with casual big spell feel.
When was Oathbreaker pulled from the Aether?
In March of 2017, as the Gatewatch prepared to face Tezzeret and Nicol Bolas, the Oathfather began devising a new format that highlighted the powers of the Planeswalkers. After seeking the council of other Planeswalkers, Oathbreaker began taking form. In June of 2017 the first games were played, leading us to the format that we have now: Planeswalkers breaking the oaths they took to protect the people of the multiverse to fight each other.
How do spells without a mana cost work as signature spells?
Cards without mana costs can't normally be cast. This does not change from the command zone. If you somehow cast it from the command zone using alternative means, the “Command Zone Tax” still applies.
How does the "Command Zone Tax" work with Partner Oathbreakers and/or Split Cards?
The "Command Zone Tax" is tied to each individual card in the command zone. Where Will and Rowan Kenrith each have their own tax because they are different cards, Fire/Ice shares a single tax because it is a single card.
Why 20 life and 60 cards?
The combination of 20 life and 60 cards was found to provide a perfect balance of power and resource management. Twenty life makes aggro a viable deck option and forces combo players to find creative ways to survive to their combo. This is also cushioned by the damage that your Oathbreaker is going to absorb through the game. Sixty cards allows for players to have more focused deck building, and making harder cuts than seen in a 100 card deck. We often find that moving back to the base life total and library size that Wizards designs cards for was ideal for providing faster more focused game play.
Is Oathbreaker a competitive and/or 1v1 format?
No, Oathbreaker is a multiplayer casual format much like Commander. While there will always be competitive decks in any formats we highly recommend a casual feel to all decks.
Are we a Commander variant?
Our playgroup enjoys the camaraderie that is fostered in multiplayer formats like Commander. So, having played a lot of Commander games, this format has naturally drawn heavily on aspects of the Commander style. However, it also draws on the classic kitchen table style formats. The marriage of those styles makes for a play experience that feels unique unto to itself, allowing us to strongly say that we do not see it as a Commander variant.
Can my signature spell go to other zones besides the command zone (and the stack)?
No, your signature spell must always return to the command zone. It can only exist on the stack and in the command zone. If it somehow would go anywhere else, it returns to the command zone instead.
How do spells with alternative casting costs, like Force of Will, work as signature spells?
The “Command Zone Tax” on cards from the Command Zone is an additional cost, and therefore applies to spells no matter how they are cast. If you cast Force of Will for the third time from the command zone by exiling a blue card from your hand, you will still need to pay an additional 4 generic mana.
Deck building FAQ
Can I use a transforming planeswalker as my Oathbreaker?
Your Oathbreaker must be a planeswalker on its front side. This means legendary creatures like Jace, Vryn Prodigy can’t be your Oathbreaker but Arlinn Kord would make a great Oathbreaker.
Does my signature spell have to match exactly my Oathbreakers color identity?
No, but it must fall within the color identity. Vraska the Unseen can play Worldly Tutor as the signature spell.
Why use the command zone if you are not a Commander variant?
Fun fact: the command zone is a legal zone for all games of magic, not just Commander. This is where emblems live. When Commander first began as EDH, your “General” as it was referred to at the time, stayed in the “Removed from game” zone. This is where Commanders were cast from until WotC adopted the format and created the command zone. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, so we chose to make the command zone the home for both the Oathbreaker and the signature spell.
Does Burning Wish do anything?
Oathbreaker has no sideboard, however since it is a casual format, each playgroup should have their own rules regarding wishes.
Can you play cards that reference “your commander”?
Yes, any cards that reference your commander instead reference your Oathbreaker. There was much discussion on this topic within our group. Ultimately, it was decided that limiting the card pool was not beneficial to the format and often these cards fit the philosophy of Oathbreaker. They just felt natural to include.
The partner mechanic works in Oathbreaker as it does in Commander. However, each planeswalker has their own color identity, and signature spell. Rowan Kenrith will have a red (or colorless) signature spell, and Will Kenrith will have a blue (or colorless) signature spell. This also means you will have 4 cards in the command zone, and a 56 card library. While Rowan is on the battlefield, you may cast her signature spell, but not Will’s, unless he is also on the battlefield.
Are house rules welcome?
Cards with special rules?
As with most Magic formats, cards overrule game rules, so cards like Relentless Rats work as written. The exception to this is the signature spell. Your signature spell always returns to the command zone, rather than going anywhere else.
When can I play that sweet new (insert card name) in Oathbreaker?
As soon as you have it. Since you shouldn't be able to have it before the Prerelease for that set, cards are legal as of the Prerelease date. If there is no prerelease for a set, then as of the release date.
Is Tibalt, the Fiend Blooded overpowered?
You heard it first here, Yes!!!