Two Enchanting Sisters and You

Posted in Feature on April 18, 2002

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

Four sisters: Argothian Enchantress, Femeref Enchantress, Verduran Enchantress, and Yavimaya Enchantress. Their presence in almost any deck causes the number of enchantments in that deck to rise dramatically. In addition, any of them usually means that no matter what clever name you’ve given your deck, your friends and opponents will refer to it as an “Enchantress deck.”

In recent sets, the Enchantress corps has dwindled to two. Only Verduran Enchantress -- the eldest Sister -- and Yavimaya Enchantress -- the big, beefy tomboy -- are in the Basic set and in formats like Type 2. Gone too are many of Enchantress decks’ most fun tools: No more Endless Wurm, Exploration, and Eladamri's Vineyard. Far more importantly: No more Rancor and Ancestral Mask.

Although clearly Enchantress decks revolve around one or more of the Sisters, what really makes them tick is the quality of enchantments generally and creature enchantments specifically. So in a week dedicated to Enchant Creature spells, I think it’s appropriate to focus on what modern Enchantress decks currently posses in terms of tricks and tools.

Rules of Sisterhood

First, some general guidelines in choosing creature enchantments for your Enchantress decks:

• Cheaper Is Better

An Enchantress deck built with recent cards will probably rely on Verduran Enchantress to draw multiple cards a turn. To draw cards, though, you need to actually play multiple cards a turn. Having lots of mana accelerators in your deck -- Llanowar Elves, Fertile Ground, Harrow, etc. -- is one solution. In addition, Enchantress decks are generally better off with cheap enchantments that can make them virtually explode with cards once they get going.

• Useful Is Better

In order to really load a deck up with enchantments, you are often forced to use sub-par cards, especially in the creature enchantment category. That’s okay since these less-than-stellar cards look terrific in combination with the Sisters. Still, in any deck you usually want to have cards that will stand on their own. Sometimes you won’t have a Sister on the table, which makes all of those Leshrac's Rites in your hand look pretty silly.

• Enchantments Should Stick Around

Some creature enchantments are meant to kill off opposing creatures. Others can be sacrificed for some neat effect. If you are playing with Yavimaya Enchantress, however, you probably want to have those enchantments stay in play. So instead of controlling opposing creatures with cards like Patriarch's Desire and Sleeping Potion, consider using Pacifism, Persuasion, and Mourning.

• Minimize Card Disadvantage

This guideline might as well be called “The Rancor Rule.” One of the reasons that Enchant Creature cards are often frowned upon is because they can easily lead to card disadvantage. That is, a single Dark Banishing will kill an enchanted creature in a 2-for-1 trade. Sometimes a card, like Armadillo Cloak, is worth the danger. Usually, though, the idea is to minimize card disadvantage as much as possible. Recurring enchantments are good. Cantrips are also good (and help you dig through your deck in search of Sisters).

With these guidelines under my belt, here’s a look at the state of Enchant Creature spells today and how they might be used to spice up an Enchantress deck...

Yavimaya Sister Gets Fat

Sure, Yavimaya Enchantress becomes an efficient fattie with multiple enchantments on the table. But why wait? Slap a Sinister Strength on her and she is a whopping 6/4 monster that will only grow with additional enchantments. Try Serra's Embrace and she’s a 5/5, non-tapping, flying monster. Whoah.

Probably the single best enchantment to bestow upon a Yavimaya Enchantress is Armadillo Cloak. With a Cloak, your Sister will quickly win the game if an opponent can’t cough up an answer. For another ridiculously big creature, use Blanchwood Armor in a monogreen deck or Shade's Form in a mostly-black deck. Fat has never looked so good.

Other possibilities include: Crackling Club; Crown of Flames; Ghostly Wings; Granite Grip; Holy Strength; Kamahl's Desire; Keldon Mantle; Maniacal Rage; Scavenged Weaponry; Seton's Desire; Sinister Strength; Squee's Embrace; Strength of Isolation, Strength of Lunacy, and Strength of Unity; Tattoo Ward; Unholy Strength; Wings of Hope.

Verduran Sister Draw-Fest

Yavimaya Enchantress might be the big club in an Enchantress deck, but her Verduran Sister is often the engine. With enough cheap enchantments in a deck, it is possible to play and draw multiple cards a turn, slashing through your library for ways to pound on your opponent. (And here's a rules tip: Verduran Enchantress says draw a card when you play an enchantment spell. The spell doesn't ever need to resolve -- the target can be killed in response, or the enchantment can get countered by instants like Counterspell -- you still draw the card. The draw triggers off you announcing the spell, so if you want to get technical, you draw the card before your enchantment resolves.)

Invasion, however, brings a cycle of common enchantments that allow for a card-drawing machine all by themselves. Drop Whip Silk on you Verduran Enchantress for , draw a card, pick up the Silk by paying and start the whole process over again. Whip Silk is the most obvious choice here because it is green and inexpensive. But Crown of Flames offers offensive punch, Mourning and Shackles neuter opposing creatures and Shimmering Wings gives your creatures evasion. As a result, all can be playable in the right deck.


All the old Verduran Enchantresses now have errata to be creatures of type Druid. A handy bit of information.

Fly, Sisters, Fly!

If there is one knock on the Sisters it is that they sometimes can be an offensive liability. Yavimaya Enchantress -- while huge -- can be held off indefinitely by a lowly Drudge Skeletons. Enter Enchant Creature cards that bestow evasion. Give your Sister a way to get by opposing blockers and you have a much more effective Enchantress.

Evasion comes in many flavors. You can try flying a la Aboshan's Desire, Flight, Ghostly Wings, Serra's Embrace, Shimmering Wings, or Wings of Hope. You can try “fear” via Cursed Flesh, Fear, and, best of all, Sleeper's Robe. Protection from opposing creatures comes from Floating Shield, Pledge of Loyalty, and Shield of Duty and Reason. Trample over blockers via Armadillo Cloak, Keldon Mantle, and Primal Frenzy. Or you can go for landwalk via Leshrac's Rite and Traveler's Cloak. All of these options help ensure that either your 30/30 Yavimaya Enchantress of your more reasonable 2/4 Verduran Enchantress can have an opportunity to reach out and bop someone.

More Than Just a Sister

Another reason to enchant a Sister is to make that Sister more than just a card-drawer or fattie. Sometimes you want that Enchantress to protect you from damage, gain you life, draw you even more cards; make squirrels or mana, or kill off opposing armies at once. In these cases, consider spells like Bloodfire Infusion, Coalition Flag, Druid's Call, Foul Presence, Lure, Multani's Harmony, Pariah, Psionic Gift, Quicksilver Dagger, Sisay's Ingenuity, Soul Link, Spirit Link, and Whip Silk.

The Sister Shield

The underlying message here is that Enchantresses are worth having around. If you have included them in your deck, you probably get very sad when they die. And unlike a lot of recent cards, the Sisters just don’t help you that much from the graveyard. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your pretty little Sisters are protected from harm. Some ways to keep the home troops safe include: Ghostly Wings, Floating Shield, Pledge of Loyalty, Regeneration, Shade's Form, Shield of Duty and Reason, and Squee's Embrace.


With Enchantresses in play, all your enchantments give you extra value.

Sisters Love You Too

Finally, I should point out that Enchantresses are fairly indiscriminate about whether you enchant them or not. Several Enchant Creature cards are designed to befuddle, frustrate and downright steal opposing creatures. After all, Magic is supposed to be a game about player interaction, right? So go on out there and interact with your opponent’s creatures!

Some options: Hobble, Kirtar's Desire, Pacifism, Immobilizing Ink, Insolence, Manacles of Decay, Mourning, Pariah, Persuasion, Shackles, Shade's Form, Stupefying Touch, Yavimaya Embrace.

Certainly all of the creature enchantments I’ve mentioned so far aren’t equally valuable. But Enchantress decks are funny things; Even a simple Aboshan's Desire can be immensely frustrating in the right deck when it allows you to draw a card, gives your Yavimaya fattie flying and protects her from harm later in the game for a single mana. So try and use a different lens when evaluating Enchant Creature cards for an Enchantress deck than your normal deckbuilding fare.

And one final caution: Many people send me decklists by e-mail*. One common problem I see is too many creature enchantments without enough creatures to enchant. The cards listed above are options, but be sure to be selective in how many you use in any one deck and include either other creatures or plenty of global enchantments in your Enchantress decks too.

Below are some of my thoughts on Type 2 Enchantress decks. I hope they stimulate some creativity and inspire you to go beat on someone with a pack of Sisters.

Next week: Return of the “unplayable” rare.

-j

Sister Act

Sparkle

4cSister

Y-Force

Instant (4)
4 Aura Graft
Land (23)
4 Yavimaya Coast 12 Island 7 Forest
Other (2)
2 Yavimaya Embrace
60 Cards

Wicked Sister

*: Unfortunately, I’ve made it a rule not to give comments to people on their specific decklists. I looooove deck analysis, but being a “free deck doctor” is a little too time consuming. So please do send me neat deck ideas, but expect comments from me on the ideas, not specific card choices.

Jay may be reached at houseofcards@wizards.com.

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