An Enchanting Preview

Posted in Card Preview on May 26, 2016

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

You never forget the first time you see a sweet deck in action. The year was 2003, and it was my first trip to Japan. My flight was delayed, and by the time I landed I had to figure out how to make my way to the convention center and the Extended Masters Series, which was already underway, even as I waited for my bags by the luggage carousel. I arrived—frazzled and anxious—by the third round and got to see a pretty sweet Pattern of Rebirth deck in the hands of Tomi Walamies. I was excited to watch him in action again for Round 4.

Walamies's deck could easily have been the sweet deck in question. It was a predecessor to the modern sacrifice-themed Aristocrats decks that we saw as recently as the Top 8 of the last Pro Tour. Honestly, I did not even remember Walamies's deck until I looked back in the archives for the feature match coverage from that event. You see, his opponent for Round 4 was eventual Pro Tour Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif playing Enchantress. I was absolutely blown away watching the deck and witnessing the power of Argothian Enchantress—a card that was first printed in Urza's Saga and was initially overshadowed by some of the soon-to-be-banned powerhouses in that set. The card had become a fixture in enchantment-based decks and is a staple in the Legacy format. It is also coming soon to an Eternal Masters booster pack near you.

Let's take a look at Nassif's deck and talk a little about the power of Enchantress and how it can be so much more than just drawing cards.

Gabriel Nassif's Enchantress—Second Place, Yokohama Masters Series

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Though theoretically Nassif's deck could win with damage—Cloud of Faeries has been known to attack on occasion, and Yavimaya Enchantress was definitely a fatty in this deck—it was primarily a combo deck that bounced all your opponent's permanents with Words of Wind. With Words of Wind in play, he could pay one mana to force both players to return a permanent to their hand instead of his next card draw. This may seem symmetrical at first glance, but when you are returning enchantments that draw you more cards it can get out of hand quickly. Nassif could even keep getting extra land drops by picking up and replaying his Exploration.

Nassif's creation is one of my all-time favorite decks, and it has become a Legacy staple with an even wider range of tools to work with. Cards like Back to Basics and Choke are great hosers that can often draw you multiple cards, Green Sun's Zenith acts like four more Argothian Enchantresses, and Sigil of the Empty Throne can deploy an air force of creatures to close the game out in short order. Here is a modern take on the deck in Legacy that recently finished second in a Belgian Legacy tournament.

Diederik Masure's Enchantress—Second Place, Belgian Legacy Cup Trial

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There are more ways to kill a shroud creature now than there were in 2003, but there is something really comforting about tapping out to play a linchpin card on turn two and knowing it won't die to a burn spell, get exiled with a Swords to Plowshares, or go on a Journey to Nowhere. I can't help you with Diabolic Edicts other than to say play fetch lands and Dryad Arbor and wait until turn three to play your Enchantress.

I love the Emrakul in Masure's deck. The Enchantress deck is able to generate tremendous amounts of mana with Serra's Sanctum—another card from Urza's Saga that was not immediately a breakout all-star—and a fifteen-mana Time Walk seems like just the ticket to close the game out.

One of the things I am most looking forward to about Eternal Masters is drafting. R&D has done a great job with Modern Masters in creating draft synergies in the commons and uncommons across the ten color pairs, and based on this uncommon reprint, Eternal Masters is no different.

I loved the most recent iteration of the Legendary Cube...or should I say the portion of the cube that was seeded with the Enchantress archetype? I can't actually speak to the rest of the cards since I never drafted anything but this deck while the cube was around. I opened an Argothian Enchantress in my first pack and never looked back. You have not lived until you've cast Epic Proportions on an attacking animated Sigil of the Empty Throne and had your opponent scoop before you could even draw your three cards.

The nice thing about drafting an Enchantress deck is that if you are taking all the Enchantresses and utility enchantments—they can be Pacifisms, Oblivion Rings, or Fertile Grounds—the payoff enchantments like Opalescence or Sigil of the Empty Throne will usually find their way around the table to you since most other players can't fully harness their power. I have no idea what an Enchantress deck will look like in Eternal Masters Draft, but I am looking forward to finding out.

Yeah...Nassif really hooked me good with that deck. I even play it in Canadian Highlander, with both of the cards being featured today playing prominent roles. When building an Enchantress deck in a singleton format, you want as many variations of Argothian Enchantress as possible. The deck packs them all in, from the original Verduran Enchantress to the newfangled Eidolon of Blossoms.

Brian David-Marshall's Canadian Enchantress

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100 Cards

Possibly the sweetest card in this deck is Back to Basics. I have prompted more than a couple of scoops in the midgame after sticking a copy while my opponent has tapped all their lands—none of which are basic. It may seem odd in a deck with so many nonbasics of its own, but there are enough fetch lands to make sure you always have a basic land to pile your Wild Growths and Fertile Grounds onto.

I have not updated this list in the light of the most recent points update, but if I have to make any room I can actually just cut Ancestral Recall. One of the ways you survive with this deck is the card Solitary Confinement, which makes it almost impossible for your opponent to do anything to you. The card gives you shroud and prevents all damage that would be done to you. The drawback is that you have to discard a card every upkeep and you skip your draw step. Not a problem for a deck that can often draw two to three cards for every enchantment it plays. What is a problem is casting Ancestral Recall targeting yourself while you have shroud.

The reality is that with an Enchantress deck you can draw so many cards that Ancestral Recall is a card I would consider cutting. And with Eternal Masters, it will actually be possible to draft a deck with powerful synergies that make Wild Growth look very much like Ancestral Recall.

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