Double Or Nothing: Enchantress In Standard?

For those that don’t know, you need an Enchantress or Enchantress’ Presence in play and a couple of one casting-cost Enchantments out along with a Words of Wind. You play an enchantment and trigger the card drawing, then pay one to turn it into a bounce instead of drawing a card. But Deep Dog had a very hard time of losing if they got a Wild Mongrel on the table and a Basking Rootwalla in their hand….

I don’t know about you guys ‘n gals, but Christmas has always been a time away from Magic for me. A time to sit back, watch Star Wars movies, and have far too many drinks with friends.

Even so, with a Standard tournament to attend on the eleventh of January, I decided to do a little testing and building when I got some free time. Unfortunately for me, Asheron’s Call 2 was released at the start of December and that’s been eating up my free time – and so, when the testing session on Wednesday came around I only had two decks built up that I could take: B/r Control and Deep Dog. I grabbed them, and headed down to the pub to test.

After four hours of testing and drinking I was totally taken by a new deck my team mate Adam had bought with him. Here’s his initial deck list:

Standard Enchantress 2003 v1

Creatures (7):

3x Yavimaya Enchantress

4x Verduran Enchantress

Other spells (30):

4x Counterspell

4x Enchantress’s Presence

4x Force Spike

2x Naturalize

2x Compulsion

3x Telepathy

4x Wild Growth

3x Words of Wind

4x Aether Burst

Land (24):

3x City of Brass

10x Forest

11x Island

Adam reads pretty much everything on the internet, and had spotted an article on an Extended Enchantress deck on Brainburst by JJ Stors. He took out the cards he couldn’t play with and dragged it along for a few games. At first it looked janky and didn’t seem to be doing much – until he got the pieces and just plain won.

For those that don’t know you need an Enchantress or Enchantress’ Presence in play and a couple of one casting-cost Enchantments out along with a Words of Wind. You play an enchantment and trigger the card drawing, then pay one to turn it into a bounce instead of drawing a card. You then return one of the one casting-cost enchantments to your hand – preferably a Wild Growth – and repeat. Each time you do this, you need two mana (one to bounce, one to recast) and your opponent has to return a permanent every time! If you have enough mana, you can start to return five or six permanents a turn until they’re stuck on no permanents – and then you kill them with the Verduran Enchantress.

After winning and winning and winning against my B/r Control deck (I can’t do anything about his enchantments) we played it off against Deep Dog. Although I had the upper hand, he was still getting more wins than I’d expected. He finished off the night playing against a Sligh deck and got his ass handed to him every game. We both liked the deck a lot and decided to see if we could tidy it up a little before Saturday.

When we looked back on the games, a few important things stood out. Firstly, B/R Control couldn’t win unless I dropped a Nantuko Shade on turn 2 and beat him to death. Using Duress and creature kill doesn’t help when they can sit around and top deck all the enchantments they need to win.

Secondly, Deep Dog had a very hard time of losing if they got a Wild Mongrel on the table and a Basking Rootwalla in their hand. Basically, in response to making you bounce a permanent you play out the Rootwalla for free – and then bounce that! With only four Counterspells in the deck, it made life very hard.

The Aether Bursts weren’t really good enough. The first one or two didn’t even slow people down that much, and even bouncing three or four critters only slowed them down for a turn. Enter Moment’s Peace. Each Peace gives you two turns of grace and with the extra card drawing, thanks to the Enchantress and Presence, you often find the pieces to go off quite quickly.

We also looked at the Verduran Enchantress. If you’re only really using it to kill people, it could be anything – so to help against Sligh, we swapped it for Ravenous Baloth instead. They give a few life and soak up small critters in the early game.

Finally, we trimmed the Naturalizes. They really shouldn’t be in the main deck. Sure they help out in some matches, but in the really aggressive matches they were just dead wood.

Over the next few days, Adam managed to get the deck together online and get a few games in but – even with the Baloths, Sligh was handing him his ass. After a little discussion, he added Engineered Plague to the main deck. Naming Lizards stops Deep Dog recasting the Rootwallas, and naming Goblin or Cats certainly slows Sligh down.

Here’s the deck Adam eventually played:

Standard Enchantress 2003 v2

Creatures (6):

3x Ravenous Baloth

3x Verduran Enchantress

Other spells (31):

4x Counterspell

4x Enchantress’s Presence

3x Force Spike

3x Living Wish

4x Moment’s Peace

3x Telepathy

4x Wild Growth

3x Engineered Plague

3x Words of Wind

Land (24):

3x City of Brass

3x Tranquil Thicket

7x Forest

7x Island

4x Underground River

Sideboard (15):

1x Spellbane Centaur

2x Genesis

4x Naturalize

1x Ravenous Baloth

2x Squirrel Nest

1x Verduran Enchantress

2x Compulsion

1x Silklash Spider

1x Engineered Plague

As you can see a few more surprises are lurking in the deck. Living Wish allows us to move one of the Enchantresses to the sideboard but also allows us to go and get a Baloth if we need one or a Genesis if we’re thinking of recurring them. Unfortunately there are no real ways of getting Genesis in the graveyard in the main deck.

Spellbane Centaur helps against Opposition. The Squirrel Nests come in against Braids and MBC and Naturalize helps out against Astral Slide and in the mirror.

Meanwhile, I took B/R Control again but tweaked it even further from the version that won me the tourney in November. I wanted to add more Shades and took out a Haunting Echoes and a Chainer’s Edict to fit them in. I also took out a Rancid Earth and Engineered Plague from the sideboard to give me space to add a second Ensnaring Bridge and a Blaze, to help me beat the R/W Slide decks after they’ve cast a Circle of Protection: Black.

My first match went badly. After winning the first game, I made a horrible mistake in the second game and went on to lose the third in short order. In the second round my opponent failed to show and in the third round my opponent presented me with a 59-card deck giving me an easy game win which I capitalised on by winning game two.

So by round four, my wins were mostly down to my opponents. I chatted to Adam as we waited for the fourth round pairings and Adam cracked open a can of Dr Pepper.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” he smirked.

“We could get paired up, mate.”

I lost round four to Adam after we were paired up.

Before the tourney we’d agreed that, should we get paired, we’d ID. Both of us were happy with the decision – but when it came down to it, neither of us were doing very well and a draw wouldn’t help either of us too much. At the end of the day, it was much better for one of us to win and have a better chance of making the top eight. We played and, just like in testing, he won.

Round five was a win, and round six I lost again, leaving me at 3-3.

My deck was losing to creature-based decks because I tweaked it too far away from where it started! Originally it had enough creature kill in the main deck and sideboard to be able to deal with anything but over the last few tourneys, I’d quietly reducing it and now, rather than just beating all the creature decks it was just losing to them.

Nantuko Shade is good if you want to attack – but against most creature decks I want to be control, not beatdown. The Shade doesn’t help against a weenie rush, doesn’t help against flying 6/6 Wurms, and is too easy to deal with. I’m going to put the deck back to the way it was for testing for the next few weeks.

Another big problem with the deck is the number of Sligh players out there right now. Game one against Sligh is very hard unless you get to six Swamps and can start casting Corrupt at their creatures. An early Mutilate helps, but they’ve often got a Blistering Firecat in hand waiting to finish you off. Right now, I’d steer clear of MBC and B/R control unless you’re pretty sure there won’t be many Sligh players showing up.

Anyway, back to Adam. Adam also finished 3-3 but gained us a lot of info on how the deck was working. The Moment’s Peaces were very good, but sometimes he needed a few more turns. Quite often he’d be able to bounce almost everything but not the two creatures that were about to kill him. The Engineered Plagues were often dead draws. Force Spike, although good in the early game, just didn’t cut it later on and there was nothing to do with it when it was useless.

We sat down and took another good look at the deck. What it really needed was mass removal and some better counter spells. I took the deck to bits and put it back together as follows:

UGW Enchantress

Creatures (6):

3 Verduran Enchantress GG

3 Ravenous Baloth GG

Other Spells (30):

4 Counterspell UU

2 Circular Logic

4 Enchantress’s Presence G

3 Living Wish G

3 Moment’s Peace G

2 Compulsion U

4 Wild Growth G

4 Words of Wind U

4 Wrath of God WW

Land (24):

3 City of Brass

5 Forest

8 Island

4 Brushland

2 Plains

2 Windswept Heath

The deck loses its Black mana and has to go a little overboard on White to get the two White mana it needs for Wrath of God, on the upside most of the other spells in the deck only need one colored mana, but you do need to get to two blue pretty quickly.

The deck drops Telepathy, which Adam only used because he needed a cheap enchantment, for Compulsion in the main deck. Compulsion lets you dig for the pieces of the combo but you have to be careful not to throw away too much land because you really need it. The two Circular Logic give the deck a few more counters and work well with the Compulsions but you don’t need them to counter things. Finally, the Compulsions give you a way to throw away Genesis if you get it with a Living Wish.

I passed the deck on to Adam and he scrounged around Magic Online for the Wraths and Windswept Heaths he needed, put the deck together, and got some testing in and the deck performed quite well.

The sideboard needs a lot of work, but it certainly contains:

1x Genesis

1x Ravenous Baloth

1x Yavimaya Enchantress

1x Spellbane Centaur

1x Auramancer

All these are good Living Wish targets. After watching a Slide player with one Aven Cloudchaser cause a lot of trouble, I’d probably add one Cloudchaser to the sideboard. The Words of Wind can keep bouncing it if you need to in order to get rid of troublesome Astral Slides. I’d probably like to see some Deep Analyses in the sideboard so that I could sideboard out the Baloths and bring them in to get more card drawing to make the combo go off a little easier.

The last change I’d make is to drop one Living Wish for a third Circular Logic. They stop too many things too often to be missed out, and I’m a lot happier with seven counter spells instead of the four we started with!

I hope a few of you give the deck a try, at the very least it gives you a combo deck to add to your test gauntlets for Regionals.

In a few weeks, Regionals start here in the UK and it’s going to be very hard work to qualify this year. As ever, I’ll keep you up to date with what we’re testing and what we play against and – fingers crossed! – I’ll make it to Nationals once more.

Cheers, Jim.

Team PhatBeats.