I can still remember the first time I saw a Legends card. Settle down, grandkids, and Poppy will tell you all about it…
Nicol Bolas! And the children all said, "Oooohhhh!"
It was when I had been playing for about a year, and a friend of mine with a deeper collection joined our tiny group. He wowed us with our first views of Royal Assassin and Maze of Ith, inspired us with an Aether Flash -- Death Pits of Rath combo, and depressed us with a few infinite-mana tricks he knew.
The first Legends card he played was Nicol Bolas, which came screaming out under a Sneak Attack with Pandemonium on the board. Two of his opponents took seven damage and lost their hands. The rest of us stared at the color of the card: it was gold.
All those different color symbols, all together in the top left corner of the card! How was this possible? And what was with the 7/7 flyer? And it was a Legend…and a Dragon…and an Elder! Freak out.
For the next couple of weeks, I did as much research as I could into Mr. Bolas’s amazing expansion. I figured if this legend was good, the set Legends must be, well, stellar!
Unfortunately, most of my readers will be able to guess the end to this sad tale. Beyond a few boutique cards -- Sol'Kanar the Swamp King, Nebuchadnezzar, Xira Arien -- there are very few legends in Legends that lived up to the hype that Nicol Bolas started for us. There are some extremely efficent non-legend gems -- I am still dying to get my hands on four Thunder Spirits -- but for the most part, the rarer creatures in the set are a massive disappointment. (I always love hearing grizzled veterans of the game talk about the “Golden Age” of Magic, when the game was new, honey flowed out of Magic packs without getting any of the cards sticky, and nobody knew better than to get all excited about opening Pixie Queen and Boris Devilboon. Oh, to have a time machine and relive the joy…)
But one thing Wizards did get right back then was Enchant Worlds.
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
A quick primer/refresher: Enchant Worlds work like regular global enchantments, with the exception that there may never be more than one in play at the same time. When an Enchant World comes into play, any other Enchant Worlds (and there really only ought to be one) go away as a state-based effect.
And no, you may not bring them all into play using Replenish or some other clever trick -- if they all come into play at the same time, they all go back to the graveyard.
Legends was the first set to have Enchant Worlds , and the trend continued through the Mirage block. (Many a multiplayer game has seen Bazaar of Wonders played as part of a control-win condition.)
But what is amazing about the twelve Enchant Worlds in Legends is that they are all sturdy multiplayer cards. Every single one can form the basis of at least one playable group deck. And with a statement like that, I suppose I had better back it up.
I’ve ranked the twelve cards below in ascending order of power in multiplayer. Please don’t get too excited if my #3 is your #1; when I got around the top six, I found that any system I used to rank them was incredibly subjective and/or arbitrary.
Each entry has the beginnings of a deck. I would prefer to leave the rounding out to each of you. Experiment, tweak, and have fun. I realize that getting four, or even two, of many of these cards can be difficult. But it’s not impossible, and focusing on one or two that you really like can lead to some good times. Some of them, like Land's Edge and Concordant Crossroads, were reprinted in Chronicles and shouldn't be too difficult to acquire. (After this list, I’ll share an idea on what to do if you only have one copy of many of these.)
12. GRAVITY SPHERE
11. CAVERNS OF DESPAIR
10. FIELD OF DREAMS
The lower tier of multiplayer Enchant Worlds
9. STORM WORLD
8. IN THE EYE OF CHAOS
Of course, Arboria doesn’t stop anyone from taking advantage of activated abilities…
5. LAND’S EDGE
4. NETHER VOID
Anthony's picks for the "real power cards," culminating with the insane Abyss.
3. CONCORDANT CROSSROADS
Partial Deck -- FatCrossroads.deq
4 Concordant Crossroads
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Priest of Titania
4 Skyshroud Troopers
4 Penumbra Wurm
1 Treva, the Renewer
1 Iridescent Angel
1 Fungal Shambler
1 Verdant Force
2. LIVING PLANE
(Incidentally, I tried a combination with Cultural Exchange first, but I couldn’t come up with enough fodder. That could be fairly funny, though, exchanging two opponents’ lands so that they couldn’t cast a darn thing.)
1. THE ABYSS
Laugh if you will at the split card; but that is no joke. And with the “Tainted Wood” uncommon lands in Torment, it’s easier to play in this deck than ever! The fact is, the black component of the deck takes care of just about everything except players with “rare-color” creatures and other players’ artifacts. Just when your opponents think you’ve got fewer answers than Kenneth Lay, BANG!…out comes Illusion/Reality to stop that noise. That card oughta be restricted. While you’re running green, throw in a couple of Emerald Charms to work over enemy enchantments.
OLD WORLD, NEW WORLD
Unless you have an amazing collection, you may not be able to access all of the cards you need to explore those wacky ideas above. But take heart: you can still enjoy the lovely glow of Enchant Worlds. And here’s the kicker -- you don’t even need actual Enchant Worlds!
Make a small deck of 20-25 global enchantments and artifacts. Here is the single criterion each should meet: the card uses continuous abilities only, and only those that do not refer to a “target”, or to “you.” (The “you” can be printed on the card, or implicit in the ability.) So Aluren, Humility, and Furnace of Rath are in; Dawn of the Dead, Ensnaring Bridge, and Pyromania are out. Sprinkle in some real Enchant Worlds, if you like; don’t forget that some expansions beyond Legends have them too.
Some creatures have continuous abilities that work right, like Marble Titan. If you’re feeling peppy, those are fine.
Put this “enchant world” deck into the center of the table face down. Before the first player’s turn, flip over the first card. That effect is a game rule that cannot be disenchanted or otherwise removed. Play your game (and any basic format will work here -- chaos, attack left, hunt, team, whatever). Right before that first player takes her next turn, flip over the next card. That new effect replaces the old one.
There are variants, of course. You can make the “flipping” more frequent (e.g., each turn) or less (e.g., by rolling a die and only flipping the card on odds or evens). Some groups never switch them automatically, but allow players to skip turns or pay 5 life to flip the effect. You can also let the worlds “stack,” by not removing the old ones as new ones come in. I wouldn’t recommend letting more than two stay on the board, however. Trying to track what happens when you have Price of Glory, Storm Cauldron, and Warped Devotion all on the board at once can be fairly mind-blowing.
Most players, when building a world deck like this, tend to pick slow “control” cards like Winter Orb. Try to put in an equal (or at least decent) amount of aggressive global effects, like Awakening and Howling Mine. That keeps games moving, so that turns happen more quickly and more new worlds can be experienced. And that’s what we’re after, right?
Anthony may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.