There has been a small break in service whilst I’ve been travelling but I’m back with a pretty good pack today that contained two rares; a foil Ayara, First of Locthwain and this meme-tastic knight:

Oathsworn KnightOathsworn Knight

Oathsworn Knight is a 1 Generic ManaBlackBlack rare human knight creature with 0/0 stats but it enters the battlefield with four +1/+1 counters. It must attack if it is able to but when it takes damage you must remove a +1/+1 counter from it; doing so prevents that damage.

I’m assuming that you’ve already realised this is Magic’s take on The Black Knight from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail with each +1/+1 counter representing a different limb. That is a wonderful piece of design1 but I actually think the card is pretty decent mechanically. Before I get to that, it’s worth pointing out that this appears to be something of a partial cycle as blue and green also have access to three mana 0/0 creatures with four +1/+1 counters upon them in Animating Faerie // Bring to Life and Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig respectively2. I like this as four counters are a decent amount for Galloping Lizrog combos.

On first glance I mistook Oathsworn Knight as being akin to Ugin’s Conjurant with counters being removed for each piece of damage done but that is not the case. Instead this is likely something that will survive (albeit with diminishing strength) for multiple turns. This makes it fall into the category of “annoyance” for your opponent as it’s either going to die slowly over four turns by eating up their chump blockers3 or it’s going to make your opponent waste a Murderous Rider // Swift End or Mortify. You’ll never block with this due to the “attack if able” clause4 but those constant attacks can be draining and (depending on their creature situation) you are likely either preventing them from attacking or they are having to make decisions as to whether to block this or other attacking creatures.

One nice thing to mention is that Knight is a relevant creature type and it’s easy to see a deck where this can be kept alive beyond the limit of four turns thanks to Inspiring Veteran or Icon of Ancestry. Of course, it will likely die on it’s fifth outing when it no longer has a counter to prevent damage but that is still an extra turn of value that can be extracted. With regards to preventing damage, the biggest issue for this card is Questing Beast and Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp as they remove the “prevent damage” clause suddenly making this not quite as invincible as it first seemed.

In Limited this is a definite must play as keeping a body on the battlefield for at least four turns is always going to be good. Standard is also seeing this card fairly regularly though, especially in the Mardu (RedWhiteBlack), Orzhov (WhiteBlack), and Rakdos (BlackRed) knight decks for the obvious reasons of knightly synergy. Even without that synergy though I think this has some legs (albeit temporarily) as the slowly diminishing attacks can be highly effective at forcing your opponent to make decisions; something I’ve realised relatively recently is that it is often a good play to overwhelm your opponent with choices as it gives them more opportunities to make catastrophic mistakes!

Of course, the main reason for playing this card is so you can shout “HAVE AT YOU” whilst attacking with it as a 1/1…

  1. It’s not the only Monty Python reference in the set with the artwork for Kenrith, the Returned King being based on Graham Chapman’s portrayel of King Arthur. I personally would have liked to have seen the Rabbit of Caerbannog or a token emblem for “Syr Not-appearing-in-this-game”… ↩︎

  2. There is also Workshop Elders from the Faerie Schemes Brawl deck which creates 0/0 creatures with four +1/+1 counters every turn. ↩︎

  3. Remember that a 1/1 creature will die blocking an Oathsworn Knight but it does succeed in removing a limb so each attack becomes less powerful. ↩︎

  4. Unless you’re using something like Corridor Monitor or Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner↩︎

This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.