Power ranking MTG’s Oath of the Gatewatch Intro Packs

magic the gathering

We’ve all been there.. standing at the store looking at the Magic the Gathering Intro Packs, and trying to decide which one to buy. You sloppily fumble through your phone trying to find the deck lists online, but you really don’t care which cards are in the packs as much as you really want to know: Which deck is the most powerful!? Well, Nerd Reactor is here to take the guesswork out of the equation. We have play tested these decks deep into the night and have come up with a comprehensive, hard-fought, Top-5 ranking from weakest to strongest based on a set of criteria we have created that includes win percentages, deck synergy, and perhaps most importantly, fun factor. Let’s start things out with number 5 on the list… Surge the Resistance.



#5 Surge of Resistance Review (Blue/Red) played by Marcus Hunter

I was excited to play this deck because it combines two of my favorite basic land types that I would typically use. I found that this deck relied on three major mechanics: Surge, Flying, and Prowess. The mechanics in this deck appeared to be a good combination because the new mechanic Surge allows you to play another spell for a reduced cost if you or a teammate already cast a spell this turn. This mechanic would help you trigger prowess or it would allow you to play additional spells because of the reduction in cost.

After playing this deck, I noticed that the cards used to build it were too high in mana cost.  This affected how I played because I found myself holding onto cards that I would typically play early game. I was holding onto the cards because I needed the lower cost mana cards to help me trigger Surge. If I were playing in a team, this would not have been a problem because I would use my teammate to cast the first spell to trigger Surge for me.

Overall this deck performed the worst out of the 5 intro decks because the amount of high mana cost cards. If this were Two-Headed Giant match, it would have performed much better and the rankings would have been different. Pyromancer’s Assault, Containment Membrane, and Tyrant of Valakut were some of my favorite cards in the deck. I wished I would have been able to use them more, but unfortunately the surge mechanic is very vulnerable when you cannot play more than one spell in a turn. This deck will require some card changes to help you in early game and give you a better chance at triggering Surge. Overall I was happy with the cards in the deck and I can see value in them, but as it stands there needs to be some changes for 1v1 matches.


#4 Desperate Stand (White/Black) played by Cory Vincent

When we were choosing our Intro decks for the play testing, I was very excited to play with the Desperate Stand deck, after all the Ally intro pack from the Battle for Zendikar took first place in our last playtest. Ally decks are heavily creature based decks that incorporate low mana costing creatures and abilities that allow the Allies to stack and grow stronger as the battle progresses. The main mechanic in this particular Ally deck is one called Cohort.

Personally, the cohort ability is not as great as it may look at first glance. What it boils down to is that you have to tap two Ally creatures to activate one card effect. That is one less potential attacker or blocker of attack and defense phases. The reality was that only a few of the creatures in the deck like Munda’s Vanguard or Malikir Soothsayer were really worth the extra tapping anyways. This deck contained a fair amount of lifegain, but with no real win conditions, the extra life only makes my ass-whooping last a few turns longer.

My biggest gripe with this deck was that all of the cards were fairly low-costing and there were not nearly enough cards that helped replenish my hand. In each of my games, I would end up playing off the draw for a majority of the game. Boosting the card advantage in this deck should definitely be anyone’s first priority who buys this deck and while cohort has its place in the deck, making it the primary mechanic didn’t work out so well.


#3 Vicious Cycle (Green/Black) played by David Ng

Vicious Cycle is a green and black deck which is all about creatures that get stronger the more creatures you send to your graveyard. An early Rot Shambler will capitalize on the fodder and scions that you either block with or sacrifice to effects like Bone Splinters and Smothering Abomination. With a solid number of removal spells like Oblivion Strike and the land ramp that green is known for in Natural Connection and Loam Larva, you will be able to hold your ground in the early game.

In the late game, Seed Guardian will turn into a big creature when it dies because you will have such a large graveyard and Dread Defiler will throw the corpses of your creatures directly into your opponents faces! Then if plan A isn’t working out for you, why not just return all those big creatures from your graveyard to your hand with cards like Baloth Null, Corpse Churn, and Pulse of Murasa and ask if your opponent can kill them twice. This deck is a good combination of interesting creatures and spells that let you interact with both the board and your graveyard.


#2 Twisted Reality (Blue)  played by Cory Vincent

The lone mono colored deck in this set of intro packs is the awesome Twisted Reality Deck. We went back and forth on whether this deck deserved the top spot in the rankings or not. Ultimately we decided that while this deck is probably the most fun in the group and a powerhouse in 1v1 matches, it pulled so much early aggro in our bigger matches and just couldn’t get the job done against our first place deck.

Twisted Reality is a Blue devoid eldrazi deck that has a silky smooth mana curve that keeps you relevant in the game from start to finish of the match. Versatile cards like Spacial Contortion were awesome in this deck. You can use it as removal early game, or you can save it for late game and use it to give your pumped up Endless One or Bane of Bala Ged. Salvage Drone and Prophet of Destruction were perfect early game editions to the deck for hand fixing and setting yourself up for success in late game.

While this deck and the #1 Concentrated Effort decks were neck and neck the matches usually came down to a lack of flying defense and not quite enough removal spells.


#1 Concerted Effort Review (Green/White) played by Marcus Hunter

Concerted Effort looked the least appealing intro deck when I first read each deck list.  Many of the cards had the new Support ability that allows you to put +1/+1 counter on up to X amount of creatures, but the whole deck list for Concerted Effort looked pretty bland.  You play creatures, add counters, and finish your turn, but nothing else that is exciting is going on.

Once I played this deck, I could see the value for this deck being a very good intro deck.  The deck is simple to play and it can create some pretty big creatures by using the Support ability.  I had a fun time playing it because I was drawing well, I could play a card nearly every turn, and the synergy between the Support cards were working very well.

Overall this deck ranked #1 because I was able to take down my opponents before they could mount an attack against me. My success from this deck was a result of three main cards: Steppe Glider, Relief Captain, and Shoulder to Shoulder. Steppe Glider gave most my creatures flying and vigilance, which was important in my attack and defense because my creatures could fly over my opponents’ creatures and they would not tap after attacking so I could defend. The Support ability given by the other two cards gave me big enough flying creatures to hack away my opponents and defeat their flying creatures. This strategy helped me get my W.  To my surprise, this deck was fun to play and it played much faster than I expected.

This is a great starter deck for the newest of new players because it is simple to play and it works well enough to beat the other decks. It will need cards changes to play more competitive, but as it stands it is the best intro deck in this set.

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