It has become something of a ritual for me to say how tough it was to choose among the decks for a winner to Break this Card. In this case, I actually don’t have enough space to mention two or three decks that could easily have won a prize. If you don’t see your name below, believe me – it wasn’t for lack of a good deck or idea.
We got in about seventy entries – not enough to bust the eighty barrier, but enough to get us to two prizes. (I actually award two and a half, for reasons that will be clearer later on.)
Putting the decks into reader-friendly categories is also difficult – so many of these transcend typical definition. And just running through the most popular creature enchantments – Unquestioned Authority and Armadillo Cloak were by far the most popular – doesn’t do justice to some of the tricks I saw.
So I end up with three bins, admittedly crude ones at that:
(1) Decks that used Crown of the Ages,
(2) Decks that used Femeref Enchantress, and
(3) Decks that used neither.
Crown of the Ages lets you move your enchantments from creature to creature, and so it’s a natural fit with the Mythmaker. Many, many entries fell into this bin. Peter Ross was among a small troop of entrants who suggested using Control Magic-style enchantments, like Persuasion, Binding Grasp, and False Demise, to gain control of other creatures as you wished. Nathan Long suggested similar cards, along with Yavimaya’s Embrace and Rootwater Matriarch.
Of all the Crown decks, my favorite was given by David Seiler, who paralleled Nomad Mythmaker with Genesis, so that creatures and enchantments could both come back. David also used four copies of Intuition, and was one of perhaps two decks to do so (the other one comes up later). Intuition is excellent in a Mythmaker deck, and so is Abduction – David was the first (but certainly not the last) entry in with that most excellent creature enchantment. The deck is solid, and David only narrowly missed a prize. That was a painful cut.
The Femeref Enchantress, which lets you draw a card whenever any enchantment goes to the graveyard, was perhaps the most popular deck type. Often it was paired with Auratog and/or Verduran Enchantress, making the Mythmaker an interesting addition to an established decktype. (Sacrificing Rancor is often the centerpiece of this sort of deck, which makes the Mythmaker somewhat moot.)
Jay Strode’s Enchantress deck was the standard-bearer for this group; he used Instill Energy to give the Mythmaker untapping power, and Pattern of Rebirth to get successive Auratogs and Thaumatogs. His deck had Rancor, but didn’t focus on it as much as some other decks did.
Another popular creature in Enchantress decks is Rabid Wombat, which often doubles with Empyrial Armor to make a tasty rodent. (Hey! – The Ferrett) Michael Pellauer sent in a Wombat deck that sought a finish either by massive damage (including Ancestral Mask) or milling through a strange Cleansing Meditation/Altar of Dementia combination.
The most combo-driven Enchantress deck came from Star City’s own Geordie Tait, who took time from his grinding daily-article schedule to tell me a little ditty about a Type I deck that uses Instill Energy, Fire Whip, and a few other choice creature enchantments to build a deck that could conceivably enter an impressive loop, if you include Mind over Matter and fanagle the right mana. (Hey Geordie, you can play Type I, just like Oscar’s been saying! Oscar, you’re a genius.)
Of course, there were also decks that used BOTH the Crown AND the Enchantress. Andrew Wright (Whetstone) and Lincoln Quirk (Blastoderm, Diamond Valley) were the two most remarkable of these brave souls.
Decks With Neither
Typically, in a contest like this, I let the entrants go wherever they will, and see where the most popular synergies are. While I don’t necessarily spite those decks, I do look extra carefully in the bin that doesn’t have the most often-tried cards for the winner(s). (This should be no surprise, given past contests.)
This, to me, was the most rewarding set of decks to go through. While variety in creature enchantments is perhaps limited (there really aren’t, if you think about it, that many good creature enchantments, and the cream of the crop is pretty easy to find), variety in delivery system is easier to find. To wit…
Arthur Dubman had a vision. His vision was a grinding Gurzigost with Unquestioned Authority on it (a bit redundant, but still very compelling). Even better, he saw a pair of druids – Avenging Druid and Hermit Druid – paving the road to victory for their fine, burrowing friend. Pariah on a creature with Unquestioned Authority helped soak up combat damage, in the meantime.
David Kadonsky’s vision was a bit different; he had a perhaps quicker deck with Blurred and Nimble Mongeese as the primary choices for creature enchantments. Andy Pogreba saw more red than green; he was thinking of a Ball Lightning with Squee’s Embrace. Rob Mack saw all three colors: Meteor Storm and Book Burning were his ways to get enchantments into the graveyard, and Auratog was his win condition.
Two decks came in – one from a “pdesch” who liked Awakening, and one from Job van der Zwan who preferred the suddenly-amazing Immobilizing Ink – that made use of Tim-style”pinging” enchantments like Hermetic Study, Quicksilver Dagger, and Psionic Gift. Job also was one of the few who remembered Serra’s Sanctum and its potential in a Mythmaker deck.
In terms of weirdness, few could outdo Jeff Wiles, whose”Vorpal Bunny” deck used Caribou Range and Kjeldoran Outpost tokens as recipients of the creature enchantments. Of all the creature enchantments, Bestial Fury and Bequethal were Jeff’s favorites. Jeff almost got a prize by virtue of sheer peculiarity.
Another delightfully ecclectic deck came from Rusty Jones, who (in addition to a deck that used Donate and sought to lose as often as it won) sent in a deck with Braids, Cabal Minion, and Shade’s Form, as well as Phyrexian Infiltrator and Pariah and Treacherous Link. A couple of copies of Null Brooch also helped out; and Rusty was, I believe, the only one who considered Entomb as prep for the Mythmaker’s enchantments.
The two most painful of painful decisions came with Christopher Hearns, who put in Smokestack, Chime of Night, and recursive creatures like Weatherseed Treefolk and Reborn Hero; and Tim Ward, who came up with Ertai, the Corrupted and Chime of Night (counter a spell to kill a creature). Either deck would have been an easy one to call a first prize.
Let’s look at the ones that came out on top.
Second place would have gone to the following deck, were I not risking charges of nepotism. I think the best way to explain this is to show you the (slightly edited) email, which was sent by Todd Petit, a member of our play group (“Theo”):
Yes, it’s blatant cheating to send this to your work address as well. Here it is.
1xCasting of Bones
1xChime of Night
1xPattern of Rebirth
1xSigil of Sleep
2xCity of Brass
Anthony, here’s the basic idea behind the deck: it’s a”toolbelt” type of construction, designed to offer solutions to many problems by enchanting creatures with the appropriate enchantment for the situation. It should have staying power in multiplayer because none of the threats on the board are of Pernicious Deed level. [Note from AA: that’s a crack at me, folks.] In other words, it shouldn’t attract all that much attention. Because of the variety of enchantments, it can cough up solutions to many problems, all through the lowly creature enchantments. I would anticipate that (and I’d normally lie here and say that”Playtesting has shown that …”, but you’d know the truth) the deck will have problems with mana denial decks and cards that can remove the Mythmaker from the game. Global effects should not be too brutal, since the Elephant Guide and the Abduction will ensure that you get the better part of the bargain.
And now the part where I brag about all of the clever tricks:
With an active Mythmaker on the board, you can put combat damage on the stack and then Myth up a Latulla’s Orders and whammo! Get rid of that pesky artifact. This works with Sigil and Destructive Urge as well.
The Intuitions are key to the deck. They can fetch a much-needed Mythmaker, or fetch three enchantments, putting two of them into your graveyard where they are just as useful. The Soltari Visionary is included because I could find no creature enchantment that is an answer to an enchantment, and I wanted some form of enchantment control.
Enchantments that *nearly* made the cut included:
Floating Shield, or Flickering Ward
Did you catch that bit at the end, there? Todd’s not sure he’ll win with the deck he gave me, so he decides to list every card that might be good with Nomad Mythmaker. Cute, but ineffective – I don’t count”thought-abouts” in decklists, not even for friends.
Of course, the list was hardly necessary anyway – the deck itself is stellar, and I cannot tell you all how much it hurts to admit that. Oh, the pain. I hate Todd’s decks; and I love this one.
Todd has actually played this deck several times since writing the email. I don’t think he’s making many changes to the deck; the original design is pretty dead-on. He was wrong about how much attention it would attract, though: It got lots. He had to move quickly, and sustain a lot of early damage – Armadillo Cloak was essential for him. In a five-player game, his typical result was to kill three people and then die to the last opponent.
I highly recommend the deck to anyone with the cards – and the big rare creatures are really exchangeable with anything else, so it shouldn’t be hard to manage. As the only deck that fully embraced the”1x tool” style that mirrors yesteryear’s Survival of the Fittest decks, I felt it deserved an honorable mention, at least. Ah, heck, I’ll give Todd a damn Mythmaker for a prize. It will be funny, since he ordered four to go in the deck already from eBay, and now he’ll have wasted money on one.
But since I know him and don’t want readers to feel I’m biased, his prize will not take away from the first prize, or the runner up, which I’m getting to right now.
Jensen Bohren, who also goes by”The Orgg” in many places around the Internet, provided a deck that used many challenging cards at once – Morality Shift, Cantivore, and Traveling Plague – all in support of the Mythmaker and another card that takes some thought, Solitary Confinement:
4 Nomad Mythmakers
2 Animal Boneyards
3 Shade’s Form
2 Solitary Confinement
2 Morality Shift
4 Morgue Theft
4 Diabolic Tutor
2 Insidious Dreams
3 Traveling Plague
2 Tattoo Ward
1 Wayward Angel
Morality Shift puts the deck into the graveyard – and then the Mythmaker, Boneyard, Auramancer, and Shade’s Form all work together to keep a Solitary Confinement in play. It ain’t gonna happen every day, people; but it’s going to happen every once in a while, and it will look rather spectacular when it does. The graveyard recursion for the creatures you bury, and the Wayward Angel that should live forever, are nice side touches. Thanks, Jensen!
The winning deck goes to an entry that came in at pretty much two minutes before deadline. (This is why I don’t look at entries too hard until they’re all in.) Christopher Porter is not only creative with the creatures he enchants, but the enchantments as well, in a white-red deck that turns the Mythmaker into a fire-stoker:
4 Nomad Mythmaker
3 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
3 Goblin Soothsayer
3 Soltari Champion
4 Betrothed of Fire
4 Goblin Trenches
3 Orim’s Thunder
2 Oath of Lieges
2 Planar Birth
2 Serra’s Blessing
2 Winds of Rath
4 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
1 Rath’s Edge
The key card? Betrothed of Fire, thrown upon a Goblin Trenches token. I love that this is a red-white recursion deck – the lands you sack for creatures, and the enchantments you sack to win with them, can all come back. In a field where virtually every entry I received was either original or rigorous, this one came out close to the top on both counts, and so I give it the nod.
Christopher also had three other decks, none of which used Crown of the Ages or Verduran Enchantress. (Again, it’s not that those cards are bad in any way – in fact, they’re stellar with the Mythmaker. It was just neat to see one person put in four decks that didn’t use either card.) One deck was built around Bloodfire Infusion, another around Ghostly Wings (and Rootwater Shaman), and another around the good ol’ Thrashing Wumpus/Spirit Link trick…With Unquestioned Authority to save those creatures (including the Mythmaker) that you might want to see stick around. Reading Christopher’s decks were just plain fun; and he didn’t even need to say much after each one. Really well done!
Christopher and Jensen, please email me at [email protected] with a mailing address where you’d like your prizes sent. Christopher, please also include which Torment or Judgment rare you’d like to receive as an additional prize.
Normally I’d add my own take on the card… But you know, I do not believe I could do better than the last three I saw up there. Anything I would contribute would just be a tweak, and any of us could do that ourselves. Thanks to the three of you!
And thank you to everyone who submitted! This was one of the best Break this Cards I can remember. The number of decks I would consider bad was really, really low – my first cut included about 75% of the entries, where it’s usually about 50 %. Either my readers are getting smarter, or I’m getting dumber. (Both equally likely.) I’m definitely looking forward to the next contest, after Onslaught comes out!
See you in two weeks.