Sam, a PERL wizard and a reader with whom I regularly trade email with, implied the phrase”sell out” in reference to my stating that I was going to play Enchantress at the PTQ on Jan 19. While he may have been foolin’ about, or perhaps using the expression as a motivational tool, it nevertheless put me in Think Mode.
With Think Mode: On, I argued the pros and cons – but more importantly, I thought about that phrase.”Sell out.” For quite a long time, I tried to reason why that phrase would hit me so hard – and more so, how cool it was to have a reputation for keeping it real, thus, being at all able to have the”sell out” label attached in the first place? After all, you can’t sell out if you don’t believe in anything.
I realized that, to some readers, I may be some sort of, for lack of a better word,”voice,” – or, at the risk of sounding like a megalomaniac, a”rock” that can be trusted to mean what he says and back it up with action when necessary. A voice that preaches to fight the good fight, make no excuses, nor apologies, and always stand up for what you know is right. A rock that risks Top Eight by refusing to ID in the last round, never plays Net Decks, and plays on when it is painfully obvious that a drop is in order is either foolish or altruistic. Or both.
Somehow, the fact that I was going to play Enchantress meant that I had turned my back on what I believed; what I preached and have been preaching for the last year and change.
Thousands of Magic players would pay Sam’s seemingly innocuous comment no mind, for”sell out” is certainly a subjective term that is often misused. Also, how many other players can you think of that would hear that phrase thrown at them simply for stating that they were going to play an established deck type at the next event?
As far as”established deck type,” or even”Net Deck” being a label that can be thrown at Enchantress goes, it really cannot. During the first qualifier, I saw a total of one Enchantress deck being played; JJ Storrs was the lone ranger. During the next event, and after I had mentioned the deck in a report and the designer of the deck (JJ) wrote an article about it, I verified a total of three Enchantress decks in attendance. During the third qualifier, of which I was unable to attend, one Enchantress deck received Feature Match coverage on Team Academy. I can only assume that, if JJ was in attendance at this qualifier, he also played Enchantress.
Now, this hardly meets the criterion of what I would consider a Net Deck. Granted, the decktype has been around probably since Alpha and the printing of Verduran Enchantress, with varying degrees of popularity in the interim, but I had never seen, in print nor in casual play, a version that used Auratog. It is possible that I simply do not know the history of the game; perhaps Auratog was a staple card in Enchantress decks, but I had not seen it until I observed JJ smashing face and crushing dreams. Actually, I cannot believe that Auratog was widely played until Legacy, for he does not shine without the brokenness of Rancor.
I do not believe that one Rogue deckbuilder who builds, has success with, and then publishes his decklist can create a Net Deck. It truly cannot wear that tag until it is accepted by the community-at-large as a”deck to beat.” I also do not believe that Enchantress has yet earned that coveted title, although why it has not baffles me.
And then I came back to the phrase: Sell out.
I will concede that having stated my positions on a variety of issues, and quite loudly at that, puts me in the”unenviable” position of having to practice what I preach. When the Net is watching, you better make sure to be and do what you represent.
The fact that I stated I was going to play Enchantress bothered one of the Net watchdogs – it bothered someone who had taken a liking to my articles, believed that I was one of the good guys and taken time out of his life to cultivate at least a transitory relationship with me. While it was only one person, that was plenty. While it was only one sentence, it spoke volumes.
Many times I have stated that the person I am ultimately responsible to is myself. Thus, I have to ask myself if I am indeed selling out by playing Enchantress. Still, I was more than a little concerned that someone would question my sincerity, even if partly in jest.
Let us check out JJ’s decklist, which may or may not be the current build he is running…
Then, let us take a look at the starting-point build I put together while offline for nearly two weeks and with no access to JJ’s decklist…
Now, compare and contrast…
In the 1cc slot, I agree that 4x Exploration, Wild Growth, and Rancor fit the bill. However, while JJ runs 3x Birds and Spirit Link, my version throws in the fourth Birds and drops a Spirit Link. Those are all the same cards, but there are two minor differences in the numbers.
In the 2cc slot, we both run 4x Argothian Enchantress and Auratog. However, it is in this slot that our builds become less homogenous. JJ runs Wall of Blossoms and Sylvan Library, both of which I do not. Also, while I run 4x Sterling Grove and 3x Seal of Cleansing, JJ runs only two of each. The major difference in the number of Sterling Grove is significant. JJ runs a few more bullets (sideboard included), but only two ways to fetch them, while I prefer the redundancy of maximum search and safety in numbers – in case I do not draw one or the other.
The 3cc slot sees me making a major diversion from JJ’s decklist; a full complement of Verduran Enchantress adds even more redundancy to the deck, while JJ feels safe running only two. Also, the third Ancestral Mask in JJ’s version makes it easier for him to draw one, while I reason that with the four tutors, I can safely fetch one if indeed I have not yet drawn it. Mask is quite simply the monster card in this deck, and it does seem odd that I would run one less than JJ… But it is not a card that you want to see in your opening hand. With no protection from discard in the deck, I reason that it is much better to fetch one when you are ready to win than to see one (or more) hit the graveyard. Perhaps it is indeed much wiser to simply run the third Mask and drop a Grove, but I would much rather have more search capability at the cost of having less chance of just drawing into a Mask.
JJ also chose to run Worship, which certainly puts a cramp on Sligh and any other deck that lacks non-targeted creature removal – all one or two of them. One bullet does not a major difference make, but running even one bullet quite often tempts me into running two. And then three. And so on. Perhaps Choke, an Ivory Mask, or maybe even an Aura of Silence could fit?
I spent much time debating the inclusion of Aura of Silence over Seal of Cleansing – and realized that, while Aura can make it impossible for your opponent to even cast his own Seal or Deed, it is quite often one turn too slow against Donate.
I found that Gaea’s Cradle was not the monster land that it usually is. Often, tapping it for seven to ten mana was a regular occurrence in FrigginGreen, and decks of its ilk that could pump out plenty of creatures in a hurry. In Enchantress, it is likely that a Cradle will generate two or three mana on average. While worthy of one slot, two seemed a little overzealous. Serra’s Sanctum, on the other hand, seemed like it had no place in the deck. Because it really thinks that it wants to be a major player, it warranted looking into, but the end result was that it was too average too often; producing only white mana does not allow for Rancor recursion, and there really are no vital white spells that needed to be cast while going off.
My inclusion of eight duals shows just how important it is to get the right colored mana at the right time. JJ reasoned that the deck can gain so much life that Sylvan Library was often a”draw all three cards” deal. I agree that a little pain does not really hurt, especially since you should be going off by the time you are even remotely concerned about your life total, but with the 4x Grove, I knew that I absolutely had to have a) access to lands that could produce green or white mana on demand, and b) as many of each that were permitted. I am willing to pay for the privilege of reliable mana, just as JJ was willing to pay eight life to draw three cards.
Treetop Village is certainly a viable alternate win condition/emergency creature, but I had a very hard time justifying only starting one. Still, his logic is sound in the inclusion of a solitary Village: Sometimes all you need is one creature, and Village is often enough to get the ball rolling. This is the one card that I am yet unsure of, although, I do believe that I will eventually follow JJ’s path and start one.
With the subtle and no-so-subtle differences between our decklists, I think that even if JJ’s deck is a Net Deck, which I ardently believe to not be the case, I am not playing one.
I’m playing Enchantress.
A question is thusly raised: What is Rogue? I consider JJ’s deck to be Rogue; JJ himself has implied to me that his disdain for Net Decks rivals my own. Is playing a deck based upon the design of a fellow Rogue deckbuilder tantamount to Net Decking? While that is a good question, with more than one possible correct answer, I feel that the answer is a resounding”no.” If anything, it appears that it can easily be recognized for what it truly is – the tipping of a hat to a player who set his own rules – a”sticking together,” if you will.
And props to Sammy, lover of PERL for standing up to be heard and for keeping me on my toes.
The last Top Eight I made was 2/10/01. That’s eleven consecutive PTQs without so much as a sniff of the shiny pin and the booster box of love. If ever there was a deck to get me that pin, Enchantress is it. Actually, plenty of decks are”it” – but as was established in the previous pages, there is a clearly defined line that I will not cross. Enchantress is on just this side of that line.
However, as per my usual”tweaking” procedures, I took that line and moved it backwards with”incarnation a” and”version b” until said line was so far from where JJ placed it that it was no longer even a line – it more closely resembled a blur. To wit:
It is virtual heresy to play with any less than the maximum number of Auratogs than permitted by law, right? But what of Yavimaya Enchantress? With a built-in Ancestral Mask, this girl is nothing short of amazing. If one were to enchant said Enchantress with the aforementioned Mask, then one should expect to be immediately banned from all sanctioned play. With a Mask, Yavimaya Enchantress reads: ~ this~ gets +3/+3 for each enchantment in play. It will not take very long at all to lift this girl to ridiculous proportions; Auratog proportions, but without the need (necessarily) for Rancor to pull it all together.
With eight creature enchantments and thirteen creatures, it was more likely than not that there was a viable target for a handful of otherwise useless Rancor, Link or Mask. My first version contained twelve enchantable creatures, but with the replacement of Auratog with Yavimaya Enchantress, two birds were killed with one stone. Yavimaya Enhantress is her own creature enchantment; she’s a two-way street that works independent of what particular type of enchantments are in play or in hand. That sort of double duty is why two copies can easily replace one Auratog without the batting of an eye nor the skipping of a beat.
Cutting one Sterling Grove was a simple task; they were too often, if you can believe it, slowing me down. The one mana and one draw were often significant enough to reduce the flow of the overall gameplan. And while it proved quite powerful to fetch what I needed (usually a Rancor to accommodate an in-play Auratog), the fact that I could not Seal of Cleansing my own Rancor was detrimental at times.
Many would think that the last thing you would want to do would be to kill one of you own Rancors, but often enough, I needed to do just that. When there were multiple Groves in play, this jumpstart was impossible. To squeeze out of this situation, I would need to sacrifice multiple Groves to kick the engine into high gear. That sort of play is foolish in every respect.
I find myself wanting to draw Auratog/Rancor less often, which seems odd, since that particular combo is likely the most ridiculous card drawing engine – not to mention just plain unfair, even without a card-drawing Enchantress – in Extended. There is little evidence to compel me to believe that this deck cannot benefit from maximum redundancy. It may end up that Auratog, and the rest of the white cards, are eliminated form the deck entirely. This would provide maximum redundancy with the following:
Adding the staples from the previous versions…
Would allow room for supplementary creatures and enchantment spells that worked well with or without the Enchantress engine. While disregarding Auratog/Rancor and the utility of the other white spells seems foolhardy, it is nevertheless a viable alternative. In addition, a mono green build would allow full use of the hidden enchantments, which”awake” when an opponent meets a certain condition:
G 4/4 Gibbons (plays an instant)
G 5/3 Guerillas (plays an artifact)
G 3/3 Herd (controls a nonbasic land)
G 4/4 Predators (controls a 4-power or bigger creature)
G 3/5 Spider (brings a flyer into play)
1G 5/5 Ancients (plays an enchantment)
1G 3/2 Stag (plays a land)
Many of the above enchantments can be strong in the current environment, and are certainly multi-taskers in their own right: They trigger Argothian and Verduran, pump Yavimaya until they awake, and quite often become beatsticks, thereby becoming…
I just typed five pages and had Word freeze up, requiring a Ctrl/Alt/Del. Oh, how I screamed at my evil, evil computer. After a restart, I found that the five pages I had just typed and did not save were waiting for me on my desktop, alive and recovered. Microsoft sucks. And since Microsoft knows that it sucks, it builds in safeguards to protect those who would otherwise be screwed by said suckiness.
Anger, hatred, and the burning desire to beat someone up quickly became the desire to make sweet, sweet (read: very aggressive, me on top) love to Bill Gates.
One could also take elements from the following decks…
Ten Land Green – Super-efficient weenies, free spells and mana denial in the form of Winter Orb
Secret Force – One-of”answer” creatures, Natural Order, acceleration with Elves, walls and additional Cradles
Miracle-Grow (Comer) – The blue part of the Dryad engine
…and find a comfortable home alongside the Enchantress engine.
In a decktype that has so many opportunities for creativity, I find myself asking once more:
Hells no. And if I have to beat someone like a step-headed red child, then it’s <insert yet-to-be-invented Lauren catch phrase here>!
Since I began writing this article, I have seen two additional articles devoted to Enchantress, neither of which was written by JJ. That is times slash Becky for slash dot certain. It appears that perhaps Enchantress is finding its way onto the great, big list o’ Net Decks. More so, both articles were accompanied with decklists – lists that looked very much like JJ’s.
Can I still contend that Malcolm can find no reason to take the soapbox?
What is a girl to do?
I have also noticed that Misetings is becoming funnier and funnier by the day. Since it was already bordering on chuckle-worthy, that is no mean feat. Of particular note are the few people who have mailed me asking me if I am upset by the apparent dissings I have been subjected to on the site.
Allow me to say this once more:
So long as they spell your name right, s’all good.
Magic is a game that does not need, nor can support, even one sacred cow. Taking a moment to poke a little fun at anyone is times that Lauren Must Supplement With A LOL.
Although, contrary to public opinion, I did not win a draft at Crossroads. For this unscrupulous error, I am considering ringing up my attorney in hopes that I may gain a financial windfall. After thinking for more than one second, I have decided that is not a good idea – I do not have an attorney. So much for the gravy train of life, it has left without me yet again.
As for the matter of my f33r of TeamAcademy, I will say this: I enjoy cashews.
AndyStok up and got a feature match at GP- Houston. Lesson 1: AndyStok is a name player. Lesson 2: The squeaky wheel gets the oil. And the ink. Especially in Magic. Living proof, I am, so I know of what I speak. Sort of.
So, for all you feature match wanters out there, you know what you must do. Be loud. Heck, if it worked for me and AndyStok, then we know it can damned well work for you as well.
CCGPrime is back in business, with a format more pleasing to the eye. After being TA’s Bitch of the Month, one would think that Dan Rowland would take special care to watch his back, his mouth, and any submission that comes his way. However, having met Dan, I can attest to the fact that he is nothing if not someone you would not want to fight. Ever. After turning Russell loose on TA, Dan has seemingly decided to be the big man on campus – he continues to link to their site and has AndyStok and Mouth entered in the Writer War ’02. Often times, someone has to be the man. In this case, Dan has taken the reigns and is riding that bad boy down the path of Whatever Street and Heh Avenue.
Dan Rowland is someone who deserves a shout-out, and not because he could physically destroy any Magic player on Earth in hand-to-hand combat. I often wonder what Dan’s fatality is. Does he tear your torso like Johnny Cage? Perhaps he says”Toasty!” and burns his opponent to a crisp. It is also quite possible that he simply gets pulls out the Ginsu like Baraka. Regardless of how he answers”Finish him!” I have little doubt that pushing”F, F, HK” will send his flying kick at your grille.
Back to the matter at hand – Is Enchantress a Net Deck? Do two articles merit inclusion into that proverbial club of ill repute? Are we to blame JJ for writing an article that began the journey? We know whom to blame, do we not? Yes, none other than our old stand by – our fall guy extraordinaire – Nate Heiss.
During a sexy draft night at FNM in which I lost only one friggin’ match (I can see the headlines on Misetings already!), some of the boys were helping a brother out with Enchantress ideas. Since there was to be an Extended tourney at Crossroads on Saturday, everyone felt obligated to give me tech that may or may not have any chance of succeeding. Mike Emmert suggested adding a Kaervek’s Torch, while Deejer (he’s not a real deejer) went for his old standby: City of Solitude. Both were fine and dandy notions, so I went home and did this:
I added one Sanctum for Torch fatness, two City of Brass for semi-nice ways to cast said Torch, and also, quite possibly to allow some five-color Enchantress love in the board. This idea is not written in stone, but the possibilities of five colors of enchantments to hate everything sounds like it has a chance. And hey, a little tourney is good practice for the real thing on the 19th, right?
Choke and City are for blue nerds, Law, CoP, Worship and Mask are for (duh) red nerds, Peacekeeper is sexy mirror match tech, or at least a way to make my opponents fatties take a breather now and again, and Bind is some sex-type thang for Deed. Fairly random, if I do say so myself. And I do indeed, say so myself, that is.
Somehow, I think that adding a Torch should be great but it feels so, well, ungreat. Or something.
Twenty guys give or take, showed up on Saturday, but none had f33r for my Enchantress. Bastards.
Surprise, surprise, I have to play James Kindness in the first round. With him and his annoying penchant for blowing up the world, repeatedly, with ‘Blits and Haups, it was all I could do to eke out a win. The deck worked like the not-so-well-oiled machine that it is.
The second round saw myself pitted against Joe, he of the”…his shiny bald head distracted me” quote on Misetings. While he was having a gay old time casting Spiritmonger and friends, I was just about to scoop when I drew an Exploration and up and went off from nowhere. And it really was from nowhere – I had Birds, four or five lands, and Argothian in play – he was at twenty.
He snuck up on me game two with a friggin’ Emerald Charm on my Grove when I foolishly tapped out to try and win on turn five. Duh. Game three, however, shows the beauty of going”Bird, Rancor, Rancor – Bind your Disk and Bind your Lyrist.” Kinda fair.
However, the days of wine and roses were soon to come to a crashing halt. In round three, I had the happy feeling of being sodomized by CoryA’s third turn kill. Ten-Land Green can be, well, a little speedy sometimes, especially when you mulligan to four. Cory allowed me to live until turn five in the next game. Nice of him to draw two Wastelands that he sided in, wasn’t it? While everyone else had barely started, Johnny Dejected had to try to hide of the next twenty-five minutes or so – dead in seven minutes ain’t too proud to beg.
Jeff Emmert, the brother of resident”pro” Mike Emmert – and hence the same surname – dropped his Miracle-Gro up on my ass with the fun times. Spiketail Hatchling is not too amazing in that deck. Yes, that means that it is. Jeff will tell you that the games were close, but he always says that. City of Solitude is a beating against blue – if it resolves. Note to self: Make sure it resolves, jagoff.
Mike and Jeff, Deejer, Kindness, and I started some Foily Five lovin’ while waiting for the next round, fully aware that we would not finish a game. Hey, in this format, finishing a game is optional. But peep this list of cards that were donated to the Foily Five of Love:
I remember when the Crossroads guys thought it was insane that I played the Foily Five unsleeved. I remember when they thought it was nuts that I asked peeps to sign my cards that they borrowed for tourneys. Ah, they’re coming along quite nice, aren’t they? It’s only cardboard until it becomes something more – until it gets a little history behind it.
Remember Sammy Da’ PERL from up above? Well, he never sent me any complimentary foils, but I won’t hold that against him. Sort of.
With over three hundred cards, the Foily Five is turning itself into a monstrosity that could actually be competitive. However, the thousand or so other foils that I have but cannot add to the Foily because I’m fresh out of shiny land (hint, hint, I’m taking donations – nonbasic shiny lands are especially sexy and I’ll love you for years if you send me one, two, or a bunch) will simply have to bide their time. Someday, perhaps, they can make it to the big deck.
Andrew The Answer Boy had answers. Going first in game one, I drop Birds, anticipating dropping double-Rancor on his ass… And who has the Swords in response? Could it be the same guy who has the Swords in response to me jacking up Auratog with Ancestral Mask with a boatload of enchantments out? Do I lead off the exact same way in game two, and does Answer Boy have the Swords in response again? Does he do it two more times, both in response?
Wow, that was annoying.
2-3. Not exactly a world beater, now is it? I can argue that if people would stop being annoying and just let me go off here and there, I would have won the damned tourney. But you know people.
I’d have to say that it is time for Hidden Herd to make it to the main. Hidden Gibbons is also a strong consideration as well. While the deck did perform fairly well most of the time, often enough it was in dire need of just one enchantment to jump-start the shebang. A few Hidden guys up in here will be those elusive enchantments. I did get to Torch two Thresholded Mystic Enforcers though. Wow.
If I intend to show S to the PERL my true colors and take a perfectly good”almost Net Deck” and ruin it, why not just ruin the living piss out of it? Why bandy about minor changes when I have the ability to totally demolish everything that was good and true about the deck?
Let’s start with enchantments in the other colors that are downright sexy, or at least serve double duty:
Mind Harness – since you don’t know what this one does, lemme break it down:
Mystic Remora – break down for y’all:
Cumulative upkeep 1
Whenever an opponent plays a noncreature spell, you may draw a card unless that player pays 4.
Okay, with the exception of Infestation, Sarcomancy, Mystic Remora, Trade Routes, maybe Mark of Fury and Fire Whip, most of the above enchantments, well… They would kinda suck in Enchantress. Why am I denying the obvious need to throw in 4x Swords to Plowshares and be done with it? Why indeed. Or maybe Mother of Runes. Or shadow guys. And why in the hell am I not playing Werebear? Or Wild Mongrel?
Suck my metagame.
Dear Everyone Who Was Going To Play Enchantress Until They Read This Article,
Glad I could be of service.
Desperately Seeking Rogue
I’m still playing Enchantess on the 19th because it is just plain neato.
And one more thing…
No sell out.
John Friggin’ Rizzo
Just think of how many people will turn to The Net to research Malcolm X and get linked to this article. With a serious title like”A Frank Discourse: The Relevance Of Malcolm X In The Twenty First Century,” I am giddy at the thought of tons of college freshmen clicking a Magic site to research their essays. I know that somewhere off in the distance, perhaps lounging beneath an apple tree in a secluded orchard on a crisp Winter afternoon, Lauren is laughing, or at least contemplating a lawsuit.