Swinging Atog, Hidden Enchantress

No, this is not the deck by J.J. Stors – but his deck is the reason why I decided to dust off my old Enchantresses and send it onto the battlefield once again. Resurrecting the archetype and updating it to challenge the top decks in the current Extended metagame was not as difficult as I…

No, this is not the deck by J.J. Stors – but his deck is the reason why I decided to dust off my old Enchantresses and send it onto the battlefield once again. Resurrecting the archetype and updating it to challenge the top decks in the current Extended metagame was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Firstly, something every Enchantress player should know, which might not have been so when Enchantress was popular years ago: An Enchantment spell no longer must be successfully cast in order to trigger the card-drawing ability of an Enchantress – which means that even if an opponent counters your Enchantment spell, you still get to draw a card.

My Enchantress deck’s name is obviously a corruption of the popular movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and is based on two things: Swinging for the win with an Atog, and utilizing the highly underrated”Hidden” (a.k.a. Sleeping) Enchantments from Urza’s Block.

The deck has undergone significant testing and matches up favorably to most of the”decks to beat”* in Extended.

Swinging Atog, Hidden Enchantress

4 Argothian Enchantress

2 Verduran Enchantress

4 Wall of Blossoms

4 Auratog

4 Rancor

4 Wild Growth

4 Exploration

3 Hidden Gibbons

2 Seal of Cleansing

2 Flickering Ward

2 Mirri’s Guile

1 Spirit Link

1 Sterling Grove

1 Worship

1 Swords to Plowshares

10 Forest

5 Plains

4 Savannah

2 Serra’s Sanctum

1 Gaea’s Cradle


4 Hidden Guerillas

3 Swords to Plowshares

2 Absolute Law

2 Seal of Cleansing

2 Carpet of Flowers

1 Hidden Gibbons

1 Multani’s Presence

Careful readers will discern that there are sixty-one cards in the deck instead of the standard sixty. This is because the deck worked so consistently, I feared cutting a land or non-land as it might affect the seemingly perfect mana ratio.

I realize the decklist is a bit peculiar at first sight, but I will validate each card choice for you, and explain each one’s benefits and tricks.

Wall of Blossoms – Originally I had two in the deck, but found only advantages by including the other two. The wall slows the weenie rush, whether it’s blocking Goblins, Slivers, Elves, Jackal Pup, River Boa, or Quirion Dryad. It also can chump-block a Spiritmonger or a non-flying Morphling. Additionally, it is also a cantrip, helping to cycle through the deck faster.

Mirri’s Guile – Like Wall of Blossoms, this functions as a Green search card. J.J. Stors ran Sylvan Library, but I like Mirri’s Guile better. For starters, it’s 1cc instead of 2cc, meaning it doesn’t compete with the Enchantress for turn two drops. All I really want to do with the Guile is to streamline my draw phase. The Sylvan Library requires me to pay four life per card if I wish to draw more than one! I’m sorry, but in my deck, this is just too expensive. Besides, if I have an Enchantress in play, and the top three cards contain two Enchantments, I’ll probably get all three cards into play anyway.

Auratog – Obviously, this guy is your primary kill card. With the assistance of Rancor, the opponent will find that he is very difficult to kill off, but they themselves are suddenly quite easy to eliminate.

Rancor – The diet of choice for Auratogs around the globe… When faced with an opponent running discard, throw it onto any creature you can (as long as it’s not an opponent’s creature that will be assisted by it), because when your Auratog hits play, he can eat it, and you can replay it on him.

Seal of Cleansing – A multipurpose Enchantment, the Seal is often used to destroy Winter Orb, Cursed Scroll, Phyrexian Processor, or force a player running Pernicious Deed to wait longer before playing it. It is strongest and most feared when there are a lot of Donate decks in the field. When facing Donate, don’t forget the little”life gain on the stack” trick.

Hidden Gibbons – These guys are another win condition of the deck and are especially good if the opponent is playing a Red or Blue deck. When Hidden Gibbons is staring them down from across the table, a Blue mage really has to think hard about countering a spell or searching their deck with Impulse, Brainstorm, Gush, or Intuition. Likewise the Red mage with his or her Insta-burn will be equally reticent to”awaken” the Gibbons, unless they believe they can burn for the win in just one turn. Remember, if an opponent tries to Disenchant the Gibbons, it will turn into a creature, avoiding destruction.

Exploration – A great accelerator, this often allows for a turn two Enchantress and Enchantment or Wall of Blossoms.

Wild Growth – When building an Enchantment chain (drawing an Enchantment, playing it, and drawing another Enchantment; repeat multiple times), these are basically a free card. And, like Exploration, they accelerate your abilities in the early game. Just don’t drop a first-turn Savannah and enchant it with Wild Growth unless you are sure that the opponent is not playing with Wasteland.

Flickering Ward – Why aren’t people running these in their Enchantress decks?! This is one of the best cards in Swinging Atog, Hidden Enchantress. It is a rampant card-drawing engine when used with Serra’s Sanctum and an Enchantress. It can be returned to the hand in response to a Pernicious explosion or if it becomes the target of a Seal of Cleansing. It can make a Verduran Enchantress immune to burn. It can prevent an opponent from Swordsing an Auratog. It can be played on a Wall of Blossoms to stop a Spiritmonger cold. It can even attach itself to opposing creatures to prevent them being targetted (read: Curiosity). It does everything but slice bread – so use it, people!

Worship-I tried going without it, because at four mana it is a bit of a hog, but ended up leaving it in the maindeck because it is one of those cards that turns a loss into a win. If the opponent has no way to get rid of it quickly, I’ll have plenty of time to build a 21/20 trampling Atog.

Sterling Grove – Here are the Pros and Cons:

Pro – It’s a”toolbox” card that allows you to fetch just about anything in your deck-including Rancor.

Con – Like an Enlightened Tutor, it causes card disadvantage.

Pro – It’s an Enchantment, meaning Auratog can eat it, and you get to draw a card for it if you have an Enchantress in play.

Con – It doesn’t pose an immediate threat the way Hidden Gibbons, Hidden Guerillas, or Seal of Cleansing do.

Pro – It protects your Enchantments from targeted removal.

Con – It’s two colors, making it tricky to play sometimes.

Pro – Oftentimes, it will draw fire from an opponent’s Seal or Elvish Lyrist in the early game if they don’t know what I’m playing.

Con – It can only be played on my turn, unlike an extra Swords to Plowshares (a switch I considered for some time).

Spirit Link – It can be played on your creatures to get you some life, or on the opponent’s critters to keep them at bay. I trimmed them down to two because I kept drawing them in my opening hand and was unable to enchant my early Argothian Enchantress. This lack of early targets was a recurring problem, which led to a large alteration to the maindeck; I drastically cut back on most of the Creature Enchantments, including the complete demise of Ancestral Mask. Later, after testing against The Rock, I concluded that a maindeck Swords to Plowshares was needed to deal with”Mr. Fog Machine,” Spike Weaver. A Spirit Link was cut to make room.

Swords to Plowshares – Although it is not an Enchantment, meaning it can be a roadblock when I’m ruthlessly drawing cards, care of my Enchantress(es), it is necessary in the maindeck to deal with Spike Weaver. Nothing can spoil a friendly (or not so friendly) Atog pummeling like the Weaver.

Argothian Enchantress – An untargettable babe. A staple for any Enchantress deck.

Verduran Enchantress – Unfortunately, she falls to a lot of removal in this format. I pondered the addition of Femeref Enchantress, but the strength of this deck is in drawing cards when they are cast, not when they hit the graveyard. Besides, with my mana ratio, it’s easier to cast than the Femeref, and it doesn’t have to necessarily wait until turn three to come out and play, thanks to Wild Growth and Exploration.

My mana has been consistent for over fifty games, without any major problems ( I only ended up mana-screwed in four games out of fifty), so I believe it’s as good as it can get. Testing results aside, here’s why I ran what I did.

Savannah – I’m running a G/W deck and it provides the most consistency. I don’t fear non-basic land hate like Back to Basics because I’m not running many non-basic sources. Brushlands would have smoothed the mana base even more, but would open me up to more damaging assaults like Price of Progress and Ruination. Additionally, it’s a painland, and this deck already takes enough of a beating before it goes off.

Gaea’s Cradle – Used to be three, then two, but was cut down to one after the Birds of Paradise left the deck. This is a card I rarely need to win, one that is always blown up by Wasteland, and is terrible to get in your opening hand. I toyed with the idea of removing it completely, but it has such explosive possibilities that I let it be.

Serra’s Sanctum – This is better than the Cradle in this deck because of the large amount of Enchantments. This is incredible with Flickering Ward when you have an Enchantress in play, usually allowing me to win on the following turn. It is more tolerable in an opening hand, because there are a lot of 1cc Enchantments that allow it to drop into play on the second turn.

I can be a little briefer on the sideboard, because a sideboard is almost entirely dependent on the metagame, which changes from region to region (apparently in Japan, Black Weenie is showing up).

Absolute Law – This doesn’t provide as much protection as a Circle of Protection: Red, but allows all your creatures to block without trepidation. Since there are no countermeasures besides Anarchy, you should be able to go off before their burn crisps you.

Swords to Plowshares – The best removal in the game. It is needed against matchups that run Spike Weaver, such as The Rock, Oath, and Turboland. If you bring more into the maindeck, don’t be afraid to Plow a Spiritmonger or Deranged Hermit – but if you don’t, watch out for Duress!

Seal of Cleansing Emerald Charm has been used in this slot before, but this is an Enchantment, not an Instant, and you don’t have to hold open any mana to spring it on the opponent.

Hidden Guerillas – These guys are a huge problem for Donate, because the deck’s speed is based on an early Sapphire Medallion. If a Guerillas hits play on turn one, the Donate player is in trouble. If they play the Medallion, they change the Guerillas into a four-turn kill (three-turn with a Rancor). If they don’t, they’re slowed down by at least three full turns. They also are a deterrent against opponents planning on laying down a turn 2 Winter Orb. And I won’t even get into the gruesome way the Guerillas ravage the Tinker player…

Hidden Gibbons-Only one resides here, but only because there wasn’t enough space maindeck for four.

Carpet of Flowers – Incredible against Winter Orb and Stasis strategies.

Multani’s Presence – Another underestimated card that does not see nearly as much play as it should. There isn’t a huge need for them in Swinging Atog, Hidden Enchantress, because the Hidden Gibbons generally performs better in their stead. However, having an Enchantment countered when you have Multani’s Presence and an Enchantress in play actually gains you card advantage! Beware though, as the card drawing is not optional, and the Presence can deck you.

Sideboarding tips for expected matchups:

Donate: Board in: 4 Hidden Guerillas, 1 Hidden Gibbons, and 2 Seal of Cleansing. Board out: 1 Worship, 1 Sterling Grove, 1 Swords to Plowshares, 1 Exploration, and 3 Wild Growth.

The Rock: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares. Board out: 3 Hidden Gibbons.

Miracle Grow: Board in: 1 Hidden Gibbons, 2 Carpet of Flowers, and 1 Multani’s Presence. Board out: 1 Sterling Grove, 1 Flickering Ward, and 2 Exploration.

Reanimator: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares. Board out: 3 Hidden Gibbons.

PT Junk: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares. Board out: 1 Sterling Grove, 1 Worship, and 1 Hidden Gibbons.

Sligh: Board in: 2 Absolute Law. Board out: 2 Seal of Cleansing.

Oath: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Seal of Cleansing, 1 Carpet of Flowers and 1 Multani’s Presence. Board out: 4 Wall of Blossoms and 3 Hidden Gibbons.

Stasis: Board in: 2 Carpet of Flowers, 1 Hidden Gibbons, and 1 Multani’s Presence. Board out: 1 Sterling Grove, 1 Worship, 1 Spirit Link, and 1 Swords to Plowshares.

Frozen Fish: Board in: 1 Hidden Gibbons, 2 Carpet of Flowers, and 1 Multani’s Presence. Board out: 2 Exploration, 1 Wall of Blossoms, and 1 Seal of Cleansing.

Secret Force: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares. Board out: 3 Hidden Gibbons.

Wwu: Board in: 3 Swords to Plowshares. Board out: 3 Wild Growth.

On January 5th, I will be playing this deck in Seattle at a PTQ for Osaka. Look for a full report from me about a week later. As always, I welcome any feedback you might have about the deck, its place in the metagame, specific card choices, or pretty much anything Magic-related. Until next time, best wishes to you all, and keep reading the great articles on StarCity for tips on the metagame!

Jeremy Edwards

[email protected]

* – Specifically: Donate, The Rock, Miracle Grow (Comer’s ver.), Reanimator, PT Junk, many various builds of Sligh and Seattle Sligh, Frozen Fish, Secret Force, and WW/u.

** – This doesn’t necessarily mean that one should always run this precise mana base in this deck. The mana base can easily be altered in reaction to changes in the metagame or to one’s own preferences.