The Big Cheese

Posted in From the Lab on August 26, 2013

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Hello, and welcome to the Lab! Enchantments have a long history of doing some unique things in the world of Magic. Many of the craziest effects in the game appear on enchantments, from the randomness of Grip of Chaos to the artifact-animating March of the Machines. Today I'll be looking at a few of my favorite enchantments, and building a pair of decks to take advantage of their abilities.

It's Lonely at the Top

The first enchantment I'll be looking at was first printed in Unglued. The Cheese Stands Alone is a wacky instant-win card that requires you to have no other cards on the battlefield and no cards in hand. Not an easy feat, since casting a six-mana enchantment usually requires a land or two. Along with its black-bordered cousin Barren Glory, it can make for a surprising end to a game if you can pull it off. Fortunately, there are a few cards that are excellent at helping out.

The Cheese Stands Alone
Barren Glory

Apocalypse and Kaervek's Spite can both get rid of your hand and all your permanents. The only problem is, that gets rid of The Cheese Stands Alone as well. There's an easy way to solve that problem, however: Get rid of it yourself first. By exiling the enchantment with Oblivion Ring beforehand, it will return when Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield due to Apocalypse or Kaervek's Spite, allowing you to win the game. Leonin Relic-Warder also works here, though you have to beware of instant-speed removal ruining your fun.

Coalition Relic allows you to cast The Cheese Stands Alone as soon as turn four, enabling you to win two turns sooner than you would otherwise be able to. Additionally, Swords to Plowshares can keep you alive long enough to put the combo together, and giving your opponent some extra life is completely irrelevant when using an instant-win card. Enlightened Tutor makes everything run a bit more smoothly, allowing you to search up The Cheese Stands Alone, Oblivion Ring, or even Coalition Relic if need be. Although it does cost you a draw step, it's more than worth it to ensure you get the card you need.

Coalition Relic
Oblivion Ring

The Cheese

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Would You Like Some Boats With That Paradox?

Paradox Haze has long been one of my favorite cards. It doesn't cost very much mana, it works with a huge variety of cards, and most importantly, it does something really cool. An extra upkeep each turn holds a lot of possibilities, whether using it to give yourself a double-dose of beneficial effects or to give your opponent an extra helping of pain.

I'll start out with one of the most well-known and powerful ways to take advantage of Paradox Haze: Mirror-Sigil Sergeant. Each upkeep, the Sergeant puts a copy of itself onto the battlefield, but only if you control a blue permanent. And wouldn't you know it, Paradox Haze happens to be blue. With Paradox Haze enchanting you, one Mirror-Sigil Sergeant will turn into four on your next turn, then sixteen the following turn, and so on. Quadrupling your creature count each turn should enable you to overwhelm your opponent fairly quickly.

Paradox Haze
Mirror-Sigil Sergeant

Another fun card to use with Paradox Haze is Progenitor Mimic and its predecessor Followed Footsteps. Although they don't increase as quickly as Mirror-Sigil Sergeant, you will get two tokens each upkeep instead of one, and depending on what you're copying, that can be pretty huge.

My favorite card to copy with Followed Footsteps is Sporesower Thallid. It may not be the most powerful option, but it's a lot of fun, and it gets even better with Paradox Haze. One Sporesower Thallid is unimpressive, giving you a Saproling token every three turns. However, its effectiveness increases exponentially the more copies you put on the battlefield. Two Sporesowers give you two tokens every two out of three turns. Three of them give you three tokens every turn, and if you get up to six, you're pumping out twelve Saprolings per turn.

Progenitor Mimic
Sporesower Thallid

Paradox Haze not only doubles the number of Thallids you put on the battlefield with Progenitor Mimic, it also more than doubles the number of spore counters you get, since the new copy will trigger on your second upkeep. If you copy a Sporesower with Progenitor Mimic while enchanted with Paradox Haze, the Mimic will make a token on your next upkeep, then the first two Thallids will put two spore counters on each of your three creatures. On your second upkeep, Progenitor Mimic will make a fourth Sporesower, and the first three will put three counters on each Thallid, giving you enough to make four Saprolings with some change left over.

Doubling Season works remarkably well in this deck. It doubles the number of copies you make with Mirror-Sigil Sergeant, Progenitor Mimic, and Followed Footsteps, as well as doubling both the spore counters and the Saproling tokens produced by Sporesower Thallid. It can sometimes be even better than Paradox Haze, although it costs a bit more mana as well.

Doubling Season
Followed Footsteps

I wanted one more good creature to copy with Progenitor Mimic, and my mind turned to the Liege cycle from Shadowmoor block. These hybrid-mana creatures give all creatures of one color +1/+1, and all creatures of a second color +1/+1, combining to give multicolored creatures +2/+2. The cycle was completed for every color combination between the two sets, so I certainly had plenty of options to choose from. In the end, I settled on Murkfiend Liege. It gives all green creatures +1/+1, allowing it to pump up the Saproling tokens from Sporesower Thallid, and although there aren't any other blue creatures in the deck, the fact that it's blue does mean that you can use it to enable Mirror-Sigil Sergeant if you don't have Paradox Haze.

Murkfiend Liege can get very large very quickly when making copies with Progenitor Mimic. Two copies pump each other to 6/6, three are 8/8s, and four are 10/10s, not to mention that any Sporesower Thallids and Saproling tokens are getting +4/+4. The fact that they untap your creatures on your opponent's turn also helps you attack with impunity, forcing your opponent to sacrifice creatures to chump block without risking a lethal counterattack.

Fertile Ground, Farseek, and Skyshroud Claim help drastically accelerate your mana in order to cast the variety of five- and six-mana spells in the deck in a timely manner. Between the three of them, you can have up to eight mana available on turn four. I also added Enlightened Tutor here as well, allowing you to find Paradox Haze, Doubling Season, Followed Footsteps, or even Fertile Ground in a pinch.

Murkfiend Liege
Fertile Ground

Hazy Clones

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Inch-Ant-Mint Wars

Although these decks are similar in their use of enchantments, they have rather opposite game plans. One seeks to win the game in one fell swoop, while the other aims to build up a powerful army over the course of several turns. Whichever side proves victorious, it's sure to be an enlightening battle.

Game 1

The Cheese started things off with Forbidden Orchard, and Hazy Clones played a Breeding Pool. The Cheese played a Reflecting Pool, and Hazy Clones used a Misty Rainforest to grab a Temple Garden, using that to cast Farseek for another Breeding Pool. The Cheese passed the turn with no play, and Hazy Clones cast Skyshroud Claim, getting a Temple Garden and a Breeding Pool. The Temple Garden was put onto the battlefield untapped, and Enlightened Tutor grabbed Paradox Haze.

The Cheese passed the turn with no play again, and Hazy Clones cast Mirror-Sigil Sergeant before passing back. The Cheese finally found a land with Reflecting Pool and cast Coalition Relic, giving Hazy Clones a Spirit token with the Orchard. The Cheese put a charge counter on the Relic and passed the turn. Hazy Clones played a land and cast Sporesower Thallid and Paradox haze. Mirror-Sigil Sergeant and the Spirit attacked for a total of 5 damage, and Hazy Clones ended the turn.

The Cheese played a City of Brass, took 1 damage to use it and gave the clones another Spirit token to cast The Cheese Stands Alone. Paradox Haze enabled three more Mirror-Sigil Sergeants to come into play, and Doubling Season made sure there would be even more next turn. The first Sergeant, Sporesower Thallid, and the two Saprolings attacked for a total of 10 damage, but on the following turn The Cheese cast Oblivion Ring and Kaervek's Spite to win the game.

Forbidden Orchard
Kaervek's Spite

Game 2

Both sides played land for the first two turns, until Hazy Clones cast Paradox Haze on turn three. The Cheese played another land and passed, and Hazy Clones cast Skyshroud Claim to grab a pair of Breeding Pools. The Cheese played a land and ended the turn, and Hazy Clones cast Mirror-Sigil Sergeant.

The Cheese used Enlightened Tutor to get Oblivion Ring, and Hazy Clones made three more Sergeants before casting another one. The first attacked for 4, and Hazy Clones passed the turn. The Cheese cast Oblivion Ring on a Sergeant, cast Coalition Relic, killed another with Swords to Plowshares, and passed the turn.

Hazy Clones brought the Rhino count up to twelve, then attacked for 12 with the three left over from last turn. The Cheese cast Barren Glory and exiled it with Leonin Relic-Warder, but didn't have enough mana to finish the combo, and died to 48 damage in angry Rhinos.

Skyshroud Claim
Leonin Relic-Warder

Game 3

Lands were the only thing played for the first turn, then The Cheese cast an Enlightened Tutor on turn two for Oblivion Ring. Hazy Clones played a land and passed, and The Cheese cast Coalition Relic, taking 1 damage from City of Brass. The Clones cast Sporesower Thallid, and The Cheese charged up the Relic.

However, The Cheese didn't have another land and was forced to recharge the Relic and pass the turn. Hazy Clones attacked for 4 with Sporesower Thallid, then enchanted it with Followed Footsteps and ended the turn. The Cheese cast Leonin Relic-Warder, exiling Followed Footsteps, and passed the turn. Hazy Clones cast a second Sporesower Thallid and attacked for 4 with the first before passing the turn.

Gemstone Mine created the sixth mana to cast The Cheese Stands Alone, and a Murkfiend Liege pumped the Sporesowers up to exactly lethal damage, thanks to the 2 from City of Brass. Leonin Relic-Warder was there to stop one, however, and Followed Footsteps came back on the Liege. The Cheese cast Oblivion Ring on Murkfiend Liege, and exiled a Sporesower Thallid with Swords to Plowshares. Unfortunately, the Thallid made a Saproling token in response, putting a total of 5 damage on the board to attack for the win.

Swords to Plowshares
City of Brass

A Brief Reminder

Last week, I announced the beginning of a contest here at From the Lab. In case you missed it, I'll repost the rules here. I've already have several entries roll in so keep them coming! I'm excited to see what all of you come up with.

Every Magic card since Exodus has a collector number on the bottom, below the artist credit. You can also find these numbers on Gatherer. Selecting two of these numbers, (or only one for bonus points), build a deck using only cards that were printed with that number. For example, #154 would give you access to Forest from Planechase (2012 Edition), Masked Admirers from Modern Masters, and Fertilid from Magic: The Gathering—Commander, among many others.

Design your deck and send me the list through the email link at the bottom of the page. Entries will be accepted through September 9, which should give you all plenty of time to scour through those pages of tiny numbers. I'll be highlighting my favorites during the following weeks, so check back then to see if your deck made it to the top. See ya!

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