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Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #19: Enchantress Decks in Extended

I have a long history with Enchantress. I’ve played it at PTQs. I play it casually. I wrote about it on the Dojo. I saw it played again at Las Vegas – and lost to it on Saturday.

I have a long history with Enchantress. I’ve played it at some PTQs. I play it casually. I wrote about it on the Dojo long ago. I saw it played again at Las Vegas – and lost to it on Saturday. And I expect to see it again: Enchantress is not always consistent, but any deck that can run four Seals of Cleansing maindeck and can outdraw Donate has potential in this metagame.


Believe it or not, Enchantress comes in several very different builds. I’ll lay out a few, then talk about particular cards.


I want to start with an old favorite – an Enchantress deck I called Trained Seals. I played this at two PTQs in 1999, just after Nemesis became Extended Legal, and in casual and group games for a few weeks. This is a pure beatdown/card-drawing version, and it still works – you can still get amazingly explosive turns thanks to the Enchantress/cheap enchantment engine. I have almost decked myself – with no help from my opponent – on turns 4 or 5. And when you draw that many cards, you generally win. Here’s the deck from back then:


Trained Seals

3 Seal of Strength

3 Seal of Cleansing

4 Argothian Enchantress

3 Verduran Enchantress

2 Endless Wurm

4 Auratog

4 Rancor

4 Exploration

4 Wild Growth

2 Flickering Ward

2 Emerald Charm

1 Swords to Plowshares

4 Brushland

4 Savannah

3 Gaea’s Cradle

3 Serra’s Sanctum

6 Forest

3 Plains


Today, I would go up to four Seals of Cleansing, and replace the Seals of Strength with Burgeoning or Swords to Plowshares. Seal of Strength is no longer tech – and probably never was.


The deck really wants a turn 1 Exploration, turn 2 Argothian Enchantress, land, Wild Growth. If you can play those, you are off to the races.


Here’s a bit of play-by-play from a four-player team game with a nearly identical version. (Cathy was my partner.) It shows just how explosive the deck can be.


Turn 1:

Ingrid: Mountain, Sol Ring, go.

Me, Forest, Exploration, Savannah, go.

John: Swamp, Ritual, Phyrexian Negator, go.

Cathy: Land, Mox, (I think) Feldon’s Cane, go.


Turn 2:

Ingrid: Land, Kavu Monarch, go.

Me: Forest, Argothian Enchantress, Savannah (via Exploration), Wild Growth on untapped land (draw card), Rancor John’s Negator (draw a card), Exploration (draw a card), Serra’s Sanctum (via Exploration #2), tap for WWWW, Auratog, Auratog, go.

John: land, beat on Cathy (I sacrificed Rancor to pump my Auratog so she only took five damage), then Ritual, Negator #2.

Cathy: Land, Thran Dynamo, Ring of Gix, go.


Turn 3:

Ingrid: Forest, Kavu Chameleon, beat on Cathy with Monarch, go.

Me: Tap Forest with Wild Growth for Argothian Enchantress, Rancor on Auratog (draw two cards), Gaea’s Cradle, Exploration #3 (draw two cards), Verduran Enchantress, Seal of Strength (draw three cards), Brushland, sacrifice Rancor to pump Auratog, recast Rancor (draw three cards), Rancor #2 (draw three), tap Serra’s Sanctum, cast Flickering Ward, (draw three), bounce Flickering Ward and recast (draw three), land, Seal of Cleansing (draw three), Wild Growth on Cradle (draw three), another Wild Growth on Cradle (draw three), Emerald Charm to untap Cradle, retap for GGGGGGG, cast and sacrifice Rancor to pump Auratogs many times, draw another Emerald Charm, untap and retap the Cradle, Rancor both ‘Togs, send one at John and another at Ingrid, sacrifice tons of enchantments to make both Auratogs thirty-something tramplers, kill both opponents.


That was on turn 3, versus two opponents playing Type I decks and each of whom had large creatures ready to block, and they died to a trampling attacker anyway. It’s that type of thing that makes Enchantress decks fun to play.


The Endless Wurms were there for fun, but you generally can cast them early on and they do win games. I still remember game three of a PTQ match when I started turn 4 with three lands, an Argothian Enchantress, and an Auratog on the table. I finished the turn saying,”Endless Wurm, Endless Wurm, Endless Wurm, burn for two, discard twelve cards, go.” I had five cards left in my library. If I hadn’t been playing Femeref Enchantress, I could have pumped the Auratog enough for the win that turn, but with the Femeref I would have decked myself if I had. Needless to say, three Endless Wurms were too much to handle, and I won next turn.


Playtest this a lot, and keep track of the mana carefully – you generate a ton when you are going off. And mulligan aggressively – the only real problem the deck can have is not getting an Enchantress and stalling.


A quick note – the above deck is explosive, but it is also fragile. It really suffers from mana gluts, since it cannot draw through a pile of lands, and hurts when someone drops a Meddling Mage naming Auratog. Pernicious Deed can also hurt this build.


By comparison, here’s a deck that JJ Stors wrote about on Brainburst. It has more options to win (e.g. Rancor and/or Ancestral Mask on Birds of Paradise), but not quite as much card drawing. Turn 3 or 4 kills are less common with this deck, but versatility is always good.


JJ’s Enchantress Deck J.J. Stors

4 Argothian Enchantress

2 Verduran Enchantress

4 Auratog

3 Birds of Paradise

2 Wall of Blossoms

4 Exploration

4 Rancor

4 Wild Growth

3 Ancestral Mask

3 Spirit Link

2 Seal of Cleansing

2 Sterling Grove

1 Sylvan Library

1 Worship

1 Treetop Village

2 Serra’s Sanctum

2 Gaea’s Cradle

3 Savannah

9 Forest

5 Plains


Finally, here’s my recreation of a very different Enchantress build I first talked to one of the builders about Friday night, then lost to on Saturday. The creators come from California, but I’m not sure where. I’m also not sure about the numbers here – I didn’t get a decklist, but here’s my guesses based on seeing a lot of the deck (Sylvan/Abundance and long games mean I probably saw almost every card, some several times.)


California Enchantress

4 Abeyance

4 Swords to Plowshares

3-4 Tithe

1-2 Enlightened Tutor (I think)

1-2 Sylvan Library

1 Abundance

2-3 Holistic Wisdom

2 Sacred Mesa

3-4 Aura of Silence

2-3 Sterling Grove

Seal of Cleansing

Worship (possibly from the sideboard)

4 Argothian Enchantress

4 Wall of Blossoms

2-3 Serra’s Sanctum

Plains

Forests

Brushlands

Savannah


This is a very controlling Enchantress build. Early on, it protects itself with Walls of Blossoms and Swords. Then it establishes card advantage with the Sylvan Library/Abundance combo, the Enchantresses and Holistic Wisdom. I lost game one because Holistic Wisdom let him cast Swords to Plowshares seven times. I lost game three because he cast Abeyance during my upkeep turn after turn, so I could never play the Pernicious Deeds in my hand – and I never drew the Tranquil Grove or a Vampiric Tutor


Note that this version does not run Rancor. It only has one real path to victory – making a ton of Pegasus tokens and flying over for the win. This makes Rancor unnecessary, since two tokens are every bit as good as one Rancored token. However, if an opponent gets two Meddling Mages down – one naming Swords and one naming Sacred Mesa — the deck will have to rely on decking the opponent using Abundance.


I found this build very interesting, even though I don’t think it had a very successful GP. Several people ran it, but none made day 2.


Here’s another”Enchantress”* build – this one did make Day 2 at Vegas.


Gerald Linn: Enchantress

4 Brushland

5 Forest

2 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Savannah

3 Treetop Village

1 Yavimaya Hollow

2 Argothian Enchantress

4 Auratog

3 Fleetfoot Panther

4 Llanowar Sentinel

4 Skyshroud Elite

4 Soul Warden

3 Aluren

4 Land Grant

4 Phyrexian Furnace

4 Rancor

4 Seal of Cleansing

2 Wax


Sideboard:

2 Cursed Scroll

2 Mirri, Cat Warrior

3 Skyshroud War Beast

2 Squirrel Nest

4 Swords to Plowshares

2 Winter Orb


The most interesting addition here is the Soul Warden/Aluren/Fleetfoot Panther combo, which can generate infinite life. In many respects, though, this isn’t really an Enchantress deck – it only has two Enchantresses and eleven maindeck enchantments. I don’t like it, but then again Mr. Linn came in 64th. I came in 207th.


Assessing the deck:

First of all, any Enchantress deck is going to be green and white. This may be a drawback, since Perish will probably be common in the next few weeks. However, Enchantress decks may be able to draw enough cards before the Perish to survive, and some of the kill cards, like Auratog or Pegasus tokens, are not green. Pernicious Deed is a worse threat but there are answers to that as well.


The deck has a number of alternative builds, and both have strengths and weaknesses. My build is almost pure beatdown and concentrates of drawing cards like crazy. Pernicious Deed will totally wreck it, although it will often win before they can cast and activate Deed. On the other hand, the California deck is highly resistant to Deed, since it has both Abeyance and Aura of Silence.


I haven’t playtested Enchantress much recently, but my expectation is that it should do well against Donate and Stasis, and have a battle against Three-Deuce and Junk if those decks continue to pack a lot of enchantment hate. The BUG decks with counters and Deed should be the deck’s worst matchup. Rock is variable – either you go off immediately, or you need to get lucky to avoid having your face stomped. The same is true of weird stuff like Life and Raisin Bran – Enchantress is faster, but once their combo goes off, they win.


Card-by-Card Analysis:

Enchantresses: It is an Enchantress deck, so you play four of the untargetable Argothian Enchantresses, without question. The Verduran Enchantresses provide additional card drawing. I run two to three, but some decks don’t.


Exploration: This is a staple of my builds, since it allows you to play the extra lands you draw, then play additional enchantments with the lands’ mana. This works because the enchantments in my build are very cheap. It is missing in the California build because the deck has a lot of 3cc enchantments and relies more on Sylvan and Holistic Wisdom than on pure speed.


Wild Growth: This falls in the same category as Exploration – it is fast mana and a card, but not as useful in slower builds.


Burgeoning: Burgeoning is another 1cc green enchantment that lets you play more land, faster. It could be good – it would be Explorations number five through eight – but this would need more testing.


Sterling Grove: This fits well in the California build, where it can both protect the win condition and critical pieces, or can find particular enchantment at the time you need it. In the pure beatdown versions, this is unnecessary, since all enchantments are nothing more than”something else to feed to the Auratog” – nothing is really critical.


Rancor: A critical part of the beatdown machine – it can be sacrificed to Auratog over and over. It is also a perfect way to draw additional cards, when you have a way to sacrifice it, since it is as cheap as they come.


Ancestral Mask: This proved to be a”win more” card in my build, since I could almost always pump Auratog to thirty-plus without the Mask. However, in decks running Birds of Paradise, this does provide some nice evasion and an alternative way to win.


Yavimaya Enchantress: The Yavimaya Enchantress, on the other hand, has nothing to recommend her. She does not have evasion, does not pump herself, and does not help draw cards. I have never found her to be worth the slot.


Wall of Blossoms: In a more beatdown-oriented metagame, it is nice to be able to block with something, and Wall of Blossoms is a cantrip.


Seal of Cleansing/Aura of Silence: Seal of Cleansing is better if you want to go off fast, since it is cheaper – useful when playing against Donate. In all other decks, Aura of Silence is better. Having Pernicious Deed cost five is an immense advantage.


Flickering Ward: This was an old standby that could give an Auratog protection from any color. More importantly, you could bounce it then recast it to draw extra cards. This was amazing against Sligh and mono-colored decks – against Spiritmonger, it reads,”sacrifice enchanted creature to make opponent tap a forest.”


Spirit Link/Armadillo Cloak: The life gain is fun, but is unnecessary in very fast decks. In the past, I found the Link to be a”win more” card, while the Cloak is too slow in beatdown decks and probably unnecessary in controlling versions. (If you don’t need Rancor, after all…) However, Spirit Link is very cheap, and life gain is important in an environment full of Trick and Donate.


Aluren: The casting cost is too high for a beatdown version and I never like giving my opponents the chance to benefit from my spells, but whether some decks can benefit from Aluren is an open question.** The Soul Warden/Fleetfoot Panther/Aluren combo is pretty nice – very few decks can win once you get to three billion life. On the down side, the combo pieces are not amazing on their own, so I’m not sure this is worth including. Of course, one copy won’t really hurt and you will have a story to tell if you get it to go off.


Sacred Mesa: The initial cost is touch high for a pure beatdown version, and the upkeep cost is, in effect, 1W… But it allows you to generate an endless supply of 1/1 fliers at instant speed. A very strong option – who runs Hurricane nowadays, anyway?


Elfhame Sanctuary: I saw these being tried. The casting cost is right, but everything else is wrong. Try Burgeoning instead.


Holistic Wisdom: Fine for the California deck, less interesting for other decks. In the current environment, almost no decks are going to kill just the Auratog – they will remove it from the game with Swords or trash your whole side with Deed.


Eladamri’s Vineyard: Your opponent gets to use it first, which is bad. Almost every deck in the field can use the free mana, which is even worse. The first time a Donate player gets a Sapphire Medallion and an AK on turn one, or a Rock player gets a turn 2 ‘Monger, you will know why this is really bad right now.


Spirit Link: In the past, I always thought of this as a”wins more” card, which life gain usually is. However, it is a very cheap enchantment, which is good. More importantly, life gain is very important in a Donate-driven metagame. I need to test this some before I decide – I still wonder if the decks have enough attackers to get this out and beating quickly enough to make a difference. In the more control-oriented versions, with Sacred Mesa, Peace of Mind could have some value. It would be something to do with the spare land you draw.


Sylvan Library/Abundance: The combo is broken, but the cost on Abundance is too high for speed builds. Again, control versions will like this, but beatdown decks don’t want to choose among cards – they just draw everything in sight, then feed it to the Auratog.


Mirri’s Guile: Stacking the top three cards of your library is good. If you had a shuffle effect, it would be very strong, but without one it generally isn’t worth it.


Lands:

Plains, Forest, Savannah, Brushland: Yes to all of these.


Elfhame Palace: Not in any fast deck. Coming into play tapped is bad.


Gaea’s Cradle: If you have multiple creatures, this lets you cast Rancor over and over – which is a Good Thing.


Serra’s Sanctum: One white mana for every enchantment is pretty good, especially if you are playing Sacred Mesa or Flickering Ward.


Non-Enchantment Cards:

Swords to Plowshares: The best removal card ever printed, and it is the right color. What more do you want?


Abeyance: A very nice cantrip, which prevents your opponents from casting and triggering Pernicious Deed. Sure, they can cast it, but you can sac a Seal of Cleansing before they can blow it up.


Emerald Charm: In decks that run lands that produce more than one mana, this is good. Against Donate, it is game over it they don’t have a counter. And when you untap a blocker they didn’t expect, it can win games. I have even had it bring a Morphling back to earth, but don’t count on that.


Endless Wurm: Okay, he fits the deck, he’s huge, but he’s not that good. The fun factor is very high, but I think there are better cards.


Sideboard Tech

Lifeforce: Pay GG, counter Pernicious Deed. When my opponent dropped this against me when I was playing Rock, I was stunned. I had completely forgotten it was Extended-legal, and it really hurts. It may even be good enough for the G/B mirror match.


Elephant Grass: It’s a mini-Propaganda and Light of Day in one, and the cumulative upkeep isn’t too bad. This can buy you a few turns against beatdown decks.


Absolute Law/Absolute Grace: Cheap enough to fit into beatdown decks, these give protection to all your creatures. Absolute Law is absolutely necessary against Sligh, and pretty effective against Oath with Crater Hellion, but those decks are not that common in the metagame. Absolute Grace could work against the Zombie Infestation and the Avatar of Woe that Reanimator decks dig up, but that’s about all.


Worship: It is a little pricey, but Worship and Argothian Enchantress are a tough combo to deal with… Unless, of course, you have Pernicious Deed. (Is Deed common enough to justify a Bind or two in the sideboard?)


Parallax Wave: This is an answer to the Spiritmonger problem, and may fit the sideboard in some decks. In Minnesota last weekend, one Enchantress player was using it and liked it. A four casting cost is high for these decks, but slowing up Spiritmonger long enough to go off is important.


Spreading Algae may be good versus Reanimator, but doesn’t seem fast enough. It also seems marginal against Rock – but attacking the black mana is important against the Rock. If swamps were more common in other decks, it might again earn a place in the sideboard, but for now I’m leaving mine at home.


Kirtar’s Desire could provide some benefits; it’s cheap and slows Spiritmonger. It probably isn’t powerful enough… But it might be interesting if you can reliably get to threshold. If not, consider Pacifism. Once you have considered Pacifism and decided you would not play it, then you know what to do with Kirtar’s Desire.


Hidden Gibbons and Multani’s Presence: These are the answers to blue decks. City of Solitude can also work, but it is expensive. Both the Gibbons and the Presence can come down turn one, which is really important.


If I were going to play the deck today, here’s what I would play:


Trained Seals 2001

2 Wall of Blossoms

2 Birds of Paradise

4 Argothian Enchantress

2 Verduran Enchantress

3 Auratog

3 Seal of Cleansing

2 Aura of Silence

4 Rancor

4 Exploration

1 Burgeoning

2 Sterling Grove

2 Ancestral Mask

1 Sacred Mesa

2 Emerald Charm

3 Swords to Plowshares

4 Brushland

4 Savannah

3 Gaea’s Cradle

3 Serra’s Sanctum

5 Forest

1 Treetop Village

3 Plains


I kept rewriting the decklist and rewriting the decklist. I really wanted one copy of Fleetfoot Panther, one Soul Warden, and one Aluren in there. Thinking about it; that’s because I play Enchantress to have fun, and that may be more important to me than making T8 or qualifying. So I have to admit that the above – with the trio erased – is probably a better decklist, but when and if I actually play it, I’ll have those three in there somewhere.


Next time, some other rogue Extended decks.


PRJ

jahnp@itis.com


 


* – At least, that’s what Sideboard called it.


** – If you need a list: Sligh can break it, Three-Deuce loves it, Rock can use it at times, and Walamies and Trick can’t do diddly. Call of the Herd is not a creature, so you cannot use Aluren to summon elephant tokens.