At the time of writing this, the deck will cost you 9.59. Rancor has risen steadily in price since I started putting the deck together, as a similar deck to this has made some waves in constructed.
The general idea of the deck is to pile a lot of enchantments on a viable target like Gladecover Scout and smash face. Other cards like Verduran Enchantress care about enchantments on the battlefield and provide further bonuses so we don't run out of gas. 'nuff said.
Let's have a look card by card:
These two ladies are part of our trio of enchantresses and our main source of card advantage. While being only 0/2 themselves, each enchantment card put on them replaces itself. The Verduran Enchantress has been a staple since Alpha and was used in some of the first combo decks, until it was finally color-shifted to white during Planar Chaos. Due to the more recent printings the Mesa Enchantress is by far the cheaper one of the sisters, so we play four of her.
Wizards R&D has made the decision to replace shroud with hexproof in recent sets. Cards like Gladecover Scout, Invisible Stalker, Sigarda, Host of Herons and Geist of Saint Traft have led to a backlash and we will probably see hexproof dialed back a bit. But as always, in eternal formats R&Ds mistakes are just par for the course. And while Gladecover Scout is probably the least among the aforementioned creatures, it provides this deck with an early drop which is resilient to all targeted removal. If the scout comes out the first turn, it is not that unusual to stack two enchantments on it the second turn and get it to four power or better. Just watch out for Diabolic Edict, Wrath of God and similar effects.
While the Fencing Ace is less resilient, it packs more of a punch than Gladecover Scout. With double strike every point of power granted by an enchantment translates to two points of damage. An enchanted fencing ace can get ridiculous pretty fast. It can also die pretty fast, but for that there is Hyena Umbra in the deck, which acts like a get out of jail free card.
Arguably the best aura ever printed, Rancor is just a beating. It adds two power and grants trample, making sure this power gets where it belongs (in your opponents face). And on top of that, Rancor mitigates the one disadvantage of auras: The inherent two-for-one if the enchanted creature is killed. But beware, Rancor is only returned to your hand if it is put on the battlefield. If the soon-to-be-enchanted creature is killed before Rancor resolves, Rancor will remain in the graveyard.
In this deck, Rancor is best used to top off the other auras, as it does not grant any toughness. Of course, if your creature has already first or double strike, toughness won't matter that much.
While Hyena Umbra provides only a comparably small boost to power and toughness, its totem armor ability allows your creature to live and fight another day should anything go wrong.
If you have multiple auras you want to stack on the same creature, cast Hyena Umbra first in case your opponent has removal.
This card is a beating. By itself it is a slightly worse Hyena Umbra without the totem armor. But in this deck, it will not be by itself very often. As you pile more and more enchantments on your creature, this will often grant upwards of +4/+4 more often than not. Especially in multiples or combined with Yavimaya Enchantress you can expect your lowly elves and humans to reach Emrakul levels.
If you have already a sufficiently enchanted beater in play, you can use this to turn an enchantress or otherwise harmless creature in a giant thread practically out of nowhere. This is especially useful to get the last bit of damage through some chump blockers.
The third in our ensemble of enchantresses. This one grows in power with each enchantment on the battlefield and while some may argue that drawing a card is better than a measly +1/+1, I found the Yavimaya Enchantress a valuable addition to the deck. In general, there are two options. Either cast all Enchantments on her to get one absurd beatstick or have her grow as a byproduct of another creature getting enchanted. If possible, favor the latter as two beaters are better than one and the Enchantress, lacking any kind of removal protection is a bad basket to put all your eggs into.
What kind of removal do you play in a deck that cares about enchantments? Removal that is an enchantment!
Oblivion Ring hits everything, while Journey to Nowhere is cheaper and can only hit creatures. As soon as you have one of your enchantresses out, you can use these more offensively, as they pump your creatures and/or draw you more cards. There is no need to save your removal, if you can end the game fast.
Last month I had to travel a lot and took some Duel Decks with me to play with more casually oriented fellow travelers. One thing that keeps these decks interesting is that they contain some very strong singletons which only come up some of the time. This brings us to Story Circle. When I was a child and started playing Magic during fourth Edition, there was nothing we hated more than Circles of Protection. It went so far that anybody who played them got ostracized, because our terrible (mostly mono-colored) decks just couldn't beat them. Siding in some Enchantment Removal of course didn't cross our minds. Where do I want to go with this? I think one Story Circle is fine as it provides some insurance against matches going bad and an occasional random win against mono-colored decks. Having a playset and thus getting one out almost every game may get old pretty fast.
Sigil of the Empty Throne is another card that cares about enchantments being cast. For each enchantment you get a 4/4 angel. The sigil can provide you another creature to enchant, help you punch through ground stalls and can result in massive tempo swings. Another one-off, because of the expense, both in mana and in money.
As this deck has a lower mana curve, it plays only 22 lands. Our dual land of choice is Brushland, due to its cheap price and the ability to tap for colored mana on the first turn. Other budget means of mana-fixing like Terramorphic Expanse etc. were omitted because the deck needs to utilize its mana in the first few turns and thus cannot feature lands that enter the battlefield tapped.
The deck features two copies of Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree.While this land only produces colorless mana, it can help you get off the ground again after a board wipe or something similar. Playing with auras is a linear mechanic. You need a creature to enchant or your auras are dead cards. Vitu-Ghazi can provide a saproling token if you only draw auras or, in case of a close race provide some chump blockers.
See the deck in action
So much for the theory of the deck, let's see how it actually performs in the casual Just For Fun room.
But at first, if you dislike reading or skipped to this part, here is a decktech video explaining the deck:
Game 1 is against a green black Glissa deck.
In the second game I face a cool Painter's Servant deck. My opponent paints it black and ramps the hate up to eleven. Very interesting game to watch!
The third game is against a green/white deck.
The fourth game is against a tribal knight deck. Can a single Gladecover Scout prevail against an order of indestructible knights?
In the fifth game the enchantresses work hand in hand towards a quick finish.
The sixth game is probably the most exciting of the bunch. Did you know that Library of Alexandria is not restricted in Classic? Yeah, after this game you will know. Unfortunately my microphone decides to stop working halfway through, but this one is still worth watching.
The final game is against a very strong, mostly black control deck.
At the end of the day, the deck went 5-2, which is quite good. One thing to notice about the deck is the high variance. If you get a good start, the games tend to be lopsided and over pretty fast. If you opponent has a way to disrupt you or you draw badly, the deck collapses like a house of (Magic) cards. One contributing factor is that most cards in the deck, while synergistic, are terrible cards to topdeck on an empty board.
Cards to keep
As well as the deck performed, one of our goals is to build a collection. If we only buy deck-specific cards, we might as well play limited.
Taking a page from Mark Rosewater, I "invented" a scale for card reusability: The ally scale. In general, the more linear a card is, the less likely is it you will reuse it in other decks. A linear card encourages you to play more cards like it. One prime example for this are tribal lords like Sliver Queen, which will mostly be played in a sliver deck. The opposite are modular cards, cards that do not rely on synergies and work on their own. Examples for modular cards are removal spells like Terror and Lightning Bolt, powerhouse creatures like Baneslayer Angel and dual lands.
Let's have a look how our enchantress ensemble fares:
Let's first have a look at the most reusable cards in the deck.
Almost half of the value in the deck rests in the four copies of Rancor. Fortunately, Rancor is a card which is played in many decks, amongst them (casual) infect as well as many pauper decks.
Story Circle is a good utility/sideboard card which has a place in some other decks.
As always, Brushland is a good investment, at least unless you have access to better dual lands.
This is the "maybe" pile of cards which may find a place in other decks.
Gladecover Scout is the cheapest hexproof creature available and may be used in other decks which stack bonuses like +1/+1 counters or equipment. Similarly Fencing Ace has good synergy with any creature pumping, though with Equipment you might want to favor Kor Duelist.
Utility lands like Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree can be played in any deck which can deal with the color restrictions. What makes me doubt Vitu-Ghazi is that its more or less outclassed by Gavony Township.
Hyena Umbra is one of the cheapest and most offensive Umbras and can be used if you absolutely need to protect something. Though, Mother of Runes may be better for this purpose.
Unless you want to build a similar deck, the enchantresses will not be useful. Similarly, Ethereal Armor demands a similarly constructed deck to shine.
If you have money to burn
While I am bound by my budget of ten tickets, you may have some more money available or some cards lying around. Here is what you may add to make the deck better:
As always, a better mana base will make a deck much more consistent. As the first turns are crucial, Razorverge Thicket may be a good choice. Temple Garden is relatively cheap as long as Return to Ravnica is drafted, so if you're into Standard of Modern, it might be a good time to pick those up. As always, the original dual lands reign supreme.
The more expensive trio of enchantresses. For good reason, I might add.
Argothian Enchantress trades a point of toughness for a reduction in mana cost and shroud, which protects it from your opponent's removal as well as from your own enchantments.
Enchantress's presence is an enchantment itself and thus counts towards your total. It does not provide a body, which makes it immune to creature removal but also removes the possibility of adding auras.
Femeref enchantress makes the deck more resilient. If it dies along a stack of auras, you just draw a new hand of cards.
As you see, none of them is a strict upgrade for this particular deck, so choose wisely.
A long time pauper staple, Armadillo Cloak is not quite as good as Rancor, but it provides lifelink, which can be a huge factor in races.
Daybreak Coronet recently exploded in price, due to the growing popularity of the all-in auras archetype. If you can get your hands on some, they will be an excellent addition to the deck.
That's it for this time. Our ensemble of enchantresses performed admirably and I have to say, all things considered, this is a very fun deck to play. I hope you had fun reading the article and got some ideas for decks or cards to try.
Comedy Corner - Gatecrash Prerelease
Unfortunately, my good friend Wollo didn't have an opportunity to play the final deck. We did some preliminary tests with a non-budget variant of the deck, but they are in German. Anyway, you may find them here. As for other comedic content, I could tell you that enchantress translates to "Verzaubererin". Try saying that ten times fast.
Speaking of German cards, Wollo and I went to the Gatecrash prerelease, or Gildensturm as it is called in Germany. Wollo played Dimir and I played Simic. Here are some photos:
There is Wollo, after I instructed him to present his Dimir Prerelease Kit to the camera.
My German Simic Prerelease Kit.
Some pool registering later, we both ended up with pretty decent decks.
My Simic deck had an unfortunate lack of early drops, but the only things worth splashing were in Boros and Orzhov and playing a 4-color deck was a little too risky for my taste. Note the Simic mythic rare, the only one opened among us that day.
Wollos Dimir deck had a far better curve and a fair amount of bombs. In addition Wollo played pretty well and actually went 3-0-1, thus winning our prerelease flight. I went 3-1, so for both of us the day was a success!
Of course such a victory has to be celebrated. In Wollos case this was a Bigger Big Mac, which according to him is the size the regular Big Mac had before they started shrinking it. Or he just started growing...
And there he is, proudly presenting his price boosters. But Karma finally struck, when we opened our combined nine price boosters. No more mythics or shocklands to be found... But who wants to complain, especially with a set as fun as Gatecrash!