Saheeli Oath in Vintage

Last weekend I drove 4 hours to the MKM Series in Milan and played in my first Vintage tournament—with my own cards, and without asking anyone to lend me anything. That was a big deal for me, despite the fact that it was just a 28-person tournament with dubious prize payout.

I used to play Mentor online and whenever we played Vintage for fun. But last weekend, I really wanted to try this deck—this one really got me into it.

Here’s the list that took me to the quarterfinals.

Saheeli Oath

Andrea Mengucci, 6th place at MKM Series Milan

In the tournament I went 3-0-2 in the Swiss defeating Dredge, Paradoxical Storm, and Stax, and lost in the quarterfinals against the Mentor deck that won the whole thing.

How Does the Deck Work?

It’s an Oath deck, so your plan is to resolve Oath of Druids and make sure your opponent has a creature in play, either with Forbidden Orchard or Beast Within. Then you start milling your deck to get Sun Titan into play. During this process, you’ll hope to mill at least 2 copies of Saheeli Rai so that you can combo off by chaining them with each other, using the -2 of the first Saheeli on Titan to get back the second Saheeli. You sacrifice the old Saheeli to the legend rule, -2 the new Saheeli, and create an army of 6/6 haste creatures. If you happen to have 1 Saheeli Rai in your hand, you can also just mill 1 copy and still go off.

If you happen to get Sun Titan early with Oath, you’ll still get some value out of it since you’re playing 3 Dack Fayden and other utility cards like Sensei’s Divining Top or Detention Sphere. Even just hitting a single Saheeli Rai to give you two Titan triggers can be a huge problem.

Isn’t Griselbrand or Emrakul a better target for Oath?

They might be, but I love trying new and cute things, and this qualifies. Also, it’s possible that your life total is lower than 7 life and you can’t afford to pay life to draw 7 cards, so a Swords to Plowshares will just clear the board and let their Monks kill you. The same could be said for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This is a way of winning in one turn with just 1 Oath activation, even if you can fizzle.

Other Oath players have a different way to win in just one turn—the bomberman kill. Auriok Salvagers plus Black Lotus generates infinite mana, then Pyrite Spellbomb adds the win condition.

I think Saheeli plus Sun Titan is a better combination, since having a 6/6 vigilance is better than having a 2/4, and even if your opponent has graveyard hate, you still beat down and win the old way.

With Sun Titan you can dodge Grafdigger’s Cage—there’s a very cute play to make if you have Oath of Druids in play and your opponent has Grafdigger’s Cage out and some creatures. You can just start milling cards, then once you find Sun Titan you can leave it on top and decline to put it into play. Then just draw it and hard cast it—6 mana is no tall order in Vintage.

Against Containment Priest you can’t get that cute, but hard casting a Sun Titan is much easier than Griselbrand or Emrakul.

One of the strengths of Oath is that it often makes your opponent go overboard. Against Stax, Grafdigger’s Cage and Relic of Progenitus are two annoying cards if you want to combo out quickly, but they slow themselves down as well when they take out threats or Spheres to make room, and your Dack Faydens and spot removal can find you a way to victory without Oath of Druids. Again, you can easily hard cast Sun Titan or ping your opponent to death with Saheeli Rai while controlling the board with Dack Fayden and spot removal, which happened to me in game 3 against Stax.

One card I love that you can’t exploit in many decks is Balance. Despite its name, Balance is anything but, since you tend to have an artifact, enchantment, and planeswalker, making it a great play every time I resolved it.

Someone asked me about only playing 3 Forbidden Orchard, and I told them that I was so unimpressed with Orchard that I could even cut the 3rd copy. The card is good only with Oath of Druids and makes your planeswalkers very bad, and since you play so many of them, having Forbidden Orchard out is terrible if you want to grind your opponent down with value.

Obviously, the dream scenario is Orchard plus Mox plus Oath, so I guess 3 is still the right number for it.

Saheeli Oath is a fun and novel approach in a format that doesn’t see many new ideas.

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