Oathbreaker: A Q&A On MTG's Newest Official Format


In March, Oathbreaker became the newest official format for Magic: The Gathering.  Let's learn more about it!

In March, Oathbreaker became the newest official format for Magic: The Gathering. And that's kind of a big deal. After all, announcements like that aren't exactly an every day occurence.

So, what's there to know about the format and the MagiKids charity it's used to promote?

We chatted with Oathbreaker Rules Committee member Nikki Roy about Oathbreaker to find out more.

Magic Untapped: What was the process in getting Oathbreaker recognized by WotC like?

Nikki Roy: The process was by and large done by Jason (Egginton), he’s always been the ardent face of the charity, and the first voice to speak up about the format itself as well. Over the years of going to MagicCons, MagicFests, CommandFests, Grand Prix’s, Pro Tours, and every name they’ve come up with for our little gatherings, I’ve gotten to watch him unwaveringly introduce people to our little format. Without his drive to bring it to every single person he could, and his passion for the charity itself, it’d still just be a niche regional format.

MU: Did you ever face any unusual hurdles, such as people not knowing exactly what it is?

NR: It definitely started that way, even just in our local community it was somewhat niche at first, but (especially in Minnesota) it quickly became pretty easily recognizable, mostly because it was so closely linked to our charitable work. Anytime we threw a charity drive, or a pre-release event, or just had a booth at local conventions, people expected and were looking forward to jamming a few games with the “Oathbreaker Guys.”

If anything, I’d say the hurdle currently is the fatalism that so many in our community feel, the occasional cynical post about how it’s just going to end up like tiny leaders, or any smaller format that never really kicked off. I think the biggest difference between us and those formats is that we’re inherently a grass roots community, no matter how much the popularity has soared since Loading Ready Run first played Oathbreaker on stream, or even with the new announcement from WoTC, the heart of Oathbreaker is always going to be this charitable community in the Midwest.

MU: What does it's recognition by Wizards of the Coast mean for both the game and the format itself?

NR: It’s definitely driven larger interest again, and that’s exciting! More eyes means more takes on this format we love, and we’re incredibly excited to share our space with so many new people with new takes on the game. The surge of players trying to ‘break’ the format has been fun to watch, as most of the time these combo’s and ideas are things we’ve tested and found to be completely fine, (the general public has yet to learn the power of a lightning bolt at an Oathbreaker table.)

As the resident Spike on the RC here, I feel pretty confident in our ability to gauge problem cards, but every bit of feedback we get from these new players is exciting, it gives us something new to think about, something to innovate on, and I can’t encourage everyone enough to keep trying! We’re also hopeful that this recognition might lead the way to some of the color pairings currently closed off in the format seeing new Planeswalkers, fingers crossed!

MU: You list on the Oathbreaker site that it was first fully developed in 2017. What were the origins of Oathbreaker before that?

NR: The origins of the format are pretty simple, and can be traced back a single email from one of our founders, Levi, with all of the original members CC’d on it. Forty minutes later the idea of the signature spell was brought up in that same email chain, and from there our favorite lunch table format was founded!

The goal of the format has always been to have fast, interactive games that can be fit into the quick lunch breaks, because originally that was all the time the team had to play. The majority of the team are all healthcare workers, whether direct care, research, laboratory, or support staff, and so are most of our volunteers, all with jam packed schedules and no time to play a full game of Commander.

MU: How closely is the new format linked to your charity?

NR: On a personal level with the RC we’re intrinsically linked, the heart of this format is this charitable community itself, and whilst the RC is a separate entity from the MagiKids team, it’s who we’re playing the game with at the end of the day.

Speaking as one of the MagiKids team as well, when you come to our learn to play booths at conventions, you’ll find an Oathbreaker game waiting for you, when you come to one of our charitable events in our local community, you’ll find Oathbreaker players. Every single person on the RC will have a story to tell you about sorting tens of thousands of bulk cards to make MagiKits for the charity, or long weekends at the learn to play booth.

A large part of the reason we’ve reached this point of recognition from Wizards is that they’re looking to support MagiKids. With such a strong link between the two, the more eyes that are on Oathbreaker, the more people we can help through the charity.

MU: What do you see the future being like for Oathbreaker? Where do things go from here?

NR: The future looks bright, but it really always has from where we’re sitting, we’re eager to welcome all these new players into our community and watch how they help us grow. Will someone crack the format? Will burn finally be outpaced? There’s so much to look forward to, so much to innovate on, especially with deck lists pouring in from events being held all over the world. Above all else, we just want to continue fostering the kind of caring and inclusive player base that we have up to now.

Make sure to check out the official Wizards page, and if you or anyone you know runs or wants to run a club through their school, local library, etc, please check us out. You can find our application forms for kits there, as well as our curriculum.

We would like to thank Nikki Roy and the Oathbreaker team for the interview!

Evan Symon

Evan Symon is a graduate of The University of Akron and has been a working journalist ever since with works published by Cracked, GeekNifty, the Pasadena Independent, California Globe, and, of course, Magic Untapped.