Bolas’s Master Plan: Enter The God-Eternals Will Kill Aggro

Do you like beating down with creatures in Standard? Too bad! GerryT is here to tell you why Enter the God-Eternals means aggro’s reign is over!

Ribbons of Night was basically everything I ever wanted in a Magic card. You get to kill a creature, pad your life total, and cantrip to boot. In Draft, Ribbons of Night was the original “mythic” uncommon, where it was so good that you should basically never pass it.

There were only a few short moments in history where sideboarding a Ribbons of Night was correct due to how expensive it was and how the matchup needed to be about stabilizing, which meant your opponent had to be fast but not too fast.

Suddenly, we have a card that accomplishes those things, does a much better job of it, and even happens to be maindeckable.

Instead of drawing a card, we’re making a 4/4 (or building a larger Army) and milling someone for four. Drawing a card is nice and everything, but making a 4/4 body is much stronger and is really what pushes me toward liking Enter the God-Eternals. Against decks where your life total matters, this is a Siege Rhino or Obstinate Baloth mixed with Ravenous Chupacabra. In general, that’s not that different from what we have access to now, but it’s in a color combination that doesn’t typically have access to that sort of thing, which is huge.

While Enter isn’t great against every single deck out there (looking at you, Esper Control), it’s incredible against any midrange or aggressive deck. That might lead to it being more of a sideboard card than anything, but people maindeck Cast Down and Ravenous Chupacabra all the time. For the most part, this is a stronger Chupacabra in decks that can actually cast it. It’s also worth noting that even Esper Control will likely play some number of Augur of Bolas, so maybe you won’t be quite as devoid of targets as you might think.

How Do We Utilize the Self-Milling Aspect of Enter?

We have a few options, but none that are so great that it should be a big part of the reason why it’s in our deck.

With five cards total heading to the graveyard, it becomes trivial to transform Search for Azcanta. Using Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin to find even more copies of Enter the God-Eternals is another big draw to the card. Those decks typically play Chemister’s Insight, so hitting a jump-start card is a nice bonus.

If you wanted to play a true Zombie deck, you could use Enter to fill the graveyard for Liliana, Untouched by Death and Graveyard Marshal. Sadly, a lot of the good payoffs aren’t actually Zombies, so that may never come to fruition.

If you’re into Dimir Midrange, Pteramander will be adapting on the cheap following an Enter. You could use Lazav, the Multifarious to take advantage of the graveyard. There’s also Mausoleum Secrets if you wanted to chain massive amounts of Enters together.

What do some of those decks look like?

This deck doesn’t contain a sweeper, although I’m not convinced we need one. Not only do you have Augur of Bolas for early blocking, Enter will catch you up very quickly. Dreadhorde Invasion also has the potential to deter early attackers. Plus, the two in combination will likely lead to your Army being six power, at which point you will create a dramatic life swing thanks to the lifegain rider on Dreadhorde Invasion.

As a two-color deck, you get to play some copies of Field of Ruin if you want them. You’ll have some issues with enchantments and, to a lesser extent, planeswalkers. Then again, if the format is just right, a midrange deck that goes big will be what you want. You’ll probably have trouble outright winning the game against something like Esper Control, though.

If we’re going to midrange, we should do it right.

I fully expect Enter to end up in a deck like this rather than in a more controlling deck. For a five-mana sorcery, you need to be getting a lot out of the deal. While Enter the God-Eternals does provide that, something like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a stronger way to take control against everyone. In midrange, you’re typically looking for something like Enter, so it’s more at home in a tap-out style of deck rather than the previous version.

Being able to use threats early to distract your opponent and slow them down gives you just enough time to live before getting to fire off your more powerful cards. Maybe Thief of Sanity (and Dimir in general) aren’t the right way to go about things, but these strategies made a dent in the format last season, so they’re worth exploring.

I like Tamiyo’s Epiphany rather than Chemister’s Insight in a midrange deck. The card is much stronger overall and this deck isn’t really interested in utilizing the jump-start. A quick burst of card selection and card advantage should be exactly what the deck needs. Precognitive Perception is also fine, but there’s more competition at five mana.

Overall, branching out into three-color territory is likely correct.

This is a slight update from my deck earlier in the week and holy crap is this a big upgrade. Grixis, now with pound-for-pound some of the strongest cards on each spot on the mana curve, promises to be a real contender.

Gaining life against aggro decks is something that Grixis was sorely lacking, as Vraska’s Contempt is too slow and Moment of Craving is too narrow, plus two life does little to offset the cost of your manabase. On the other hand, four life is a huge game.

Having Enter in the deck makes me want to play a couple of Dreadhorde Invasions in the two-mana slot, but that makes Augur of Bolas significantly weaker. Some creatures would have to come out to ensure having a high enough chance for Augur to find a spell. Thief of Sanity does feel more like a sideboard card…

What other decks can we improve?

This deck used to play Basilica Bell-Haunt to beat Mono-Red Aggro, and while it worked, that card was ineffectual in basically every other matchup. Enter gives you a slower, but much stronger Bell-Haunt.

Esper is a pile of two-for-ones, efficient threats, and lifegain, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as a contender once War of the Spark hits. I wouldn’t expect this to be the deck’s final form (since every single person will immediately cut Warrant from the deck despite needing more early interaction), but it’s a great start to what will ultimately be a good deck.

This deck is sweet.

Stitcher’s Supplier and Enter are the only self-milling cards in the deck, but I wanted to try to take advantage of that by playing Narcomoeba. With Priest of Forgotten Gods, each extra body is relevant, so any time you spike a Narcomoeba, you’ll be very happy. Graveyard Marshal is the only other card to take advantage of the self-milling aspect (unless you want to count Memorial to Folly), which works quite well with Vizier of the Scorpion.

These decks used to get overpowered in the mid-game and were severely punished by early sweepers. With Enter the God-Eternals; Liliana, Dreadhorde General; and Dreadhorde Invasion, I expect those concerns to be heavily mitigated. Getting traction against red decks would have remained a problem, but now you have Enter for that sorely needed lifegain.

Plaguecrafter is very nice with Dreadhorde Invasion, which isn’t an interaction I’ve seen many people discuss. The other color combinations might have stronger three-drops like Judith, the Scourge Diva and Militia Bugler, but Plaguecrafter deserves a try, especially in a deck like this where we don’t have the temptation to play a “better” card.

Using Priest of the Forgotten Gods as a mana accelerator is incredible. Previously, Priest decks didn’t have a top-end, so they’d end up casting some more Grizzly Bears with that extra mana. Now, every time you untap with Priest, you are threatening to have an insane turn.

These brews are cool and all, but what about playing Enter the God-Eternals in a deck that’s actually good?

Is it finally time to ditch Vivien Reid? Enter and Vivien aren’t really competing for the same matchups, but if the metagame continues to be infested by aggro decks, Enter is where we’d want to be.

Regardless, I think we can finally cut Cast Down. With so many great ways to stabilize our position almost immediately, the spot removal doesn’t seem particularly relevant or useful. Maybe cutting Vraska’s Contempt entirely for Plaguecrafter is a bit too far, though. Regardless, your Finds are going to be incredible thanks to the self-mill and because your removal spell is now a creature.

This looks like a great contender for the first week of Standard. Sultai Midrange was already close to being the best deck in the format but was ultimately spread too thin between needing to beat hyper-aggro, disruptive aggro, control, midrange, and combo. The metagame seems to have cut out some of the weaker decks, leaving basically just aggro and control. If that holds, Sultai is primed for a comeback, especially because you can sideboard to beat everything else.

Enter the God-Eternals is clearly a winner against aggro. Is Enter like Cruel Ultimatum, where it’s so good against a specific archetype that it allows you to play fewer cards specifically for those matchups? Time will tell…