An Enchanted World

Posted in Serious Fun on March 5, 2002

By Anthony Alongi

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.

WORLDLY COUNSEL

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

Gravity Sphere
Flyers are a rather common staple in multiplayer games. Hurricane is not the only way to deal with them. A simple grounding is often all that’s required. Fairly efficient, and almost always useful, a Gravity Sphere can be complemented by red’s universal ground-damage cards -- and, of course, your own cards that bestow flying (and perhaps other abilities) selectively.

Partial Deck -- Gravitron.deq
3 Gravity Sphere
4 Fault Line
4 Keeper of Kookus
4 Beasts of Bogardan
4 Subterranean Spirit
3 Predator, Flagship
3 Phyrexian Splicer

11. CAVERNS OF DESPAIR

Caverns of Despair
The grandfather to Invasion’s Dueling Grounds, the Caverns count on you having bigger and better creatures than your opponents. I do prefer the more restrictive green-white enchantment to this one; but if you like to play a more aggressive color, you might start with the following skeleton to your deck:

Partial Deck -- Cavepingers.deq
4 Caverns of Despair
4 Bubble Matrix
4 Razorfin Hunter
4 Prodigal Sorcerer
4 Ghitu War Cry
4 Thalakos Mistfolk

10. FIELD OF DREAMS

Field of Dreams
This card appeals to a very narrow set of players who enjoy very precise interactions. While some benefit is gained from the knowledge itself, the real joy is in making people pay for simply knowing what’s coming. At the same time, you can find cards that give you the chance to draw additional cards, or even change the targeting structure of the game, if you have the same insight.

Partial Deck -- UnevenField.deq
4 Field of Dreams
4 Booby Trap
4 Predict
4 Sindbad
4 Vexing Arcanix
2 Psychic Battle
4 Reef Pirates


The lower tier of multiplayer Enchant Worlds

9. STORM WORLD

Storm World
This card has been “given away” to the artifact world in the form of Rackling and Wheel of Torture. There are subtle differences, of course -- the way it hits the controller too, and the timing of the damage. The fact that the card is red (and red is not exactly stellar at restocking cards) makes a building a deck a real challenge. At least, having extra “useless” copies of this Enchant World in your hand will help prevent damage!

Partial Deck -- ReStorm.deq
4 Storm World
4 Squee, Goblin Nabob
4 Viashino Sandscout
4 Viashino Sandstalker
4 Viashino Cutthroat
4 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Shivan Phoenix

8. IN THE EYE OF CHAOS

In the Eye of Chaos
While limited in scope (instants only), this may be an excellent card to have a few of as players start going Radiate-crazy for the next couple of months. This can be a powerful card; but any deck is going to have a “reactive” flavor that may not suit a larger multiplayer environment. My take here will be downplaying blue’s instant Counterspells (which would cost more) and focusing on the permanents that provide counter protection.

Partial Deck -- PokeInTheEye.deq
4 In the Eye of Chaos
4 Ertai, Wizard Adept
4 Stronghold Machinist
4 Stronghold Biologist
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Arrogant Wurm
2 Dense Foliage

7. REVELATION

Revelation
The primary benefit to the sort of knowledge granted by Revelation, especially in green, is that you can weigh your fat -- and then weigh your chances of getting your fat out for long enough to swing. I use it below to help you time the drawbacks of certain green cards that share benefits. This way, you can be more sure that everyone won’t have too much of a good time at your expense.

Partial Deck -- GreenParty.deq
4 Revelation
4 Eureka
4 Hunted Wumpus
2 Planeswalker's Favor
4 Verdant Force

6. ARBORIA

Arboria
This is where the real power cards start. Arboria rewards those players who already have board position by making them impervious to attack. The fact that there are often other paths to victory present at any given group’s table (milling, burn, etc.) means that an Arboria deck will have to pay careful attention to shutting and locking those doors. One single white card will suffice. (You could also use blue and Deflection-style cards; but I’m trying to spread across multiple colors, here… and I just realized for the first time as I wrote this article that none of these enchant worlds is white.)

Of course, Arboria doesn’t stop anyone from taking advantage of activated abilities…

Partial Deck -- Elsewhere.deq
4 Arboria
4 Ivory Mask
4 Oracle en-Vec
4 Devoted Caretaker
4 Order of Leitbur
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Questing Phelddagrif

5. LAND’S EDGE

Land's Edge
One of the best-known combos among old-school players is Land's Edge and Land Tax. While that certainly contributes to the high ranking here, an even more timely reason is the amazing interaction with madness cards. I’ll stick to that theme for the partial deck. Apologies for using “4 Basking Rootwalla” and “4 Arrogant Wurm” in two decks within the same article, but who are we kidding: the interaction is insane. To make up for it, I put Rites of Spring, so that with a Land's Edge out, you can play four Rootwallas and then deal eight damage, all for the low, low price of .

Partial Deck -- RootwallaRites.deq
4 Land's Edge
4 Fiery Temper
4 Violent Eruption
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Yavimaya Elder
4 Rites of Spring

4. NETHER VOID

Nether Void
The Void is one of the ultimate slowdown cards, especially when played on turn two with a Dark Ritual. I’d like to play this with a bunch of stuff that can’t be countered by abilities. (The Void’s counter is a triggered ability.) We’ll cross a couple of colors, but it should be worth it. We even get a green counterspell -- Avoid Fate -- that should protect the Void from unnecessary abuse.

Partial Deck -- CounterCounter.deq
4 Nether Void
4 Blurred Mongoose
4 Scragnoth
4 Kavu Chameleon
4 Urza's Rage
3 Avoid Fate
2 Shivan Gorge
2 Volrath's Stronghold


Anthony's picks for the "real power cards," culminating with the insane Abyss.

3. CONCORDANT CROSSROADS

Concordant Crossroads
Who can pass up the chance to play four successive Birds of Paradise on turn two? (Or turn one, if you have a Mox Diamond or some such.) Okay, that may not sound impressive; but the Thorn Elemental, Pit Spawn, Shivan Hellkite, Serra Avatar, or Palinchron you hard-cast on turn three will get sufficient attention. Let’s set aside the practical considerations of how you’ll protect that early creature, and just dream for a while:

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

Living Plane
The original “Wrath of God = Armageddon” card. The same guy I mentioned at the start of this article did the ol’ Simoon trick with a Living Plane, which is well-worn but probably still one of the slickest acts in existence. Here, we’ll explore the possibilities with other red cards.

(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.)

Partial Deck -- LandsRising.deq
4 Living Plane
3 Keldon Warlord
1 Battle Squadron
4 Last-Ditch Effort
4 Mob Justice
4 Sandstorm
2 Volcanic Wind
2 Caltrops

1. THE ABYSS

The Abyss
The classic control card. The Abyss is a natural fit with artifact creature decks, or creatureless decks…or three-color decks? Sure, why not? In fact, why not all three? Here’s a variant of a three-color, creatureless deck that my brother-in-law and I designed not long ago with, yes, artifact creatures:

Partial Deck -- ChimericAbyss.deq
4 The Abyss
4 Spreading Plague
4 Chimeric Staff
4 Chimeric Sphere
4 Chimeric Idol
4 Dingus Staff
4 Illusion/Reality

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 seriousfun@wizards.com.

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