Before I started actually playing with Enchanter’s Arsenal, I can’t pretend I was hugely excited for the premise. After all, both Magic 2014 and previous versions had offered decks that relied heavily on auras to create single, unbeatable creatures and bludgeon opponents with it. It wasn’t a particularly deep or dynamic gameplay approach.
So you can imagine my delight when I first realized Enchanter’s Arsenal is based on regular ol’ enchantments, and not auras. There are a few auras, sure, but the majority of the deck’s tricks are based on slow attrition and and board control, not romp-and-stomp tactics.
Hold the line!
The first thing you’re going to notice when you peruse the deck list below is that Enchanter’s Arsenal is very light on combat-worthy creatures. A large number of its “fighters” are actually daintily-clad enchantresses with 0/1 or 0/2 bodies… not exactly touring duty fitness. Sure, you’ve got a handfull of midrange creatures, but they’re relatively weak – most are just 3/3 flyers at best.
The obvious question here is how this deck can survive early pressure, and the answer is (surprise!) enchantments. You’ve got many, many copies of auras that will stop your opponent’s non-hexproof creatures easily. Pacifism, Shackles, Journey to Nowhere, and Faith’s Fetters are abundant, and it’s not uncommon to draw into three of them by your fourth turn or so. Each has its merits: Pacifism is cheap, Shackles is re-usable, Journey to Nowhere is hilarious, and Faith’s Fetters offers lifegain and stops non-creature permanents. Of course, these cards aren’t going to stop you from getting absolutely swarmed.
You’ve also got a few strong deterrents to punish opponents who press on too relentlessly. Hidden Gibbons, Hidden Spider, and Opal Titan are all cost-effective ways to block (or tax) your enemies for playing things you don’t want them to play. They may scoff at the idea of a 4/4 creature, but an activated Titan that’s immune to all their spells and creatures is nothing to ignore. Then you’ve got two copies of False Prophet, a pontiff so pious he cleanses the souls (and bodies) of everything in play when he heads to the afterlife.
Draw it out…
As all that stalling is going on, you’ll be drawing tons of cards, thanks to your enchantresses. Argothian Enchantress and Verduran Enchantress both offer draws whenever you cast an enchantment spell (normal or aura), as does Enchantress’ Presence. Having even one of these in play will give you insane, long-term card advantage – don’t be surprised when you have to pitch your hand down from eight or nine cards every turn. Three copies of Wall of Blossoms pitch in
a hand a leaf to hold back attacks while also netting even more cards.
So what’s all this stalling for? Well, Enchanter’s Arsenal doesn’t have any one particular endgame. You can topdeck or tutor a Sigil of the Empty throne to generate a stream of 4/4 Angel tokens, or land a Mobilization and flood the battlefield with 1/1 soldiers. You can land a hugely protected Oversoul of Dusk and let it swing just 3-4 times for the win, or go with the previously mentioned Opal Titan. Or hell, just let everything die then recover from a board wipe with Open the Vaults or Marshall’s Anthem!
The bad with the good
I want to get this out of the way and say that Enchanter’s Arsenal is probably a mid-tier deck for FFA matches. With great draws it can certainly hold out against simple assaults, but board wipes, sac effects, or particularly nasty rushdowns will be difficult to contend with. Stopping a few of the game’s nastier enemies is going to be hard unless you land an Oversoul of Dusk at exactly the right time.
That said, I do want to point out that Enchanter’s Arsenal is most likely a beast in larger Magic games of three or four players. Your defensive tools and deterrents are strong enough to ward people away, and stuff like Oracle of Nectars can buy you (and/or your teammate) a lot of time over the course of just a few turns. Nobody really likes using Path to Exile on a 2/2 lifegain dork!
Overall, I expect to see Enchanter’s Arsenal cause the most headaches for decks that rely on early removal and late-game bombs to win. Demons and Eldrazi are easily shut down by Pacifism effects, and targeted removal doesn’t work on hexproof creatures or (better yet) enchantments. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing your opponent has a handful of spells she’ll never get to use!
Since this deck is so new, I’m not going to offer a sample build just yet. Instead, you’ll find the full list of cards available and my ratings of singles, card-by-card. That should give you a damn good head start on the competition when you first buy Enchanter’s Arsenal. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Enchanter’s Arsenal decklist and unlocks
Not familiar with a card? Look it up on Gatherer.
- 2 Centaur Safeguard
- 1 Daybreak Coronet
- 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne
- 4 Yavimaya Enchantress
- 2 Verduran Enchantress
- 2 Enchantress’ Presence
- 1 Ethereal Armor
- 1 Celestial Ancient
- 1 Idyllic Tutor
- 4 Lucent Luminid
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Privileged Position
- 1 Auramancer
- 1 Ivory Mask
- 1 Angelic Chorus
- 2 Faith’s Fetters
- 1 Lurking Predators
- 3 Journey to Nowhere
- 1 Sterling Grove
- 3 Wall of Blossoms
- 2 Qasali Pridemage
- 4 Evolving Wilds
- 10 Forest
- 10 Plains
- Argothian Enchantress
- Spirit Loop
- Leyline of Sanctity
- Oracle of Nectars
- Eternal Witness
- Martyr’s Bond
- Oracle of Nectars
- Hidden Spider
- Leyline of Sanctity
- Open the Vaults
- Hidden Spider
- Oversoul of Dusk
- Opal Titan
- Primal Rage
- False Prophet
- Endless Wurm
- Field of Souls
- Hidden Gibbons
- Marshal’s Anthem
- Eternal Witness
- Argothian Enchantress
- Oversoul of Dusk
- Oracle of Nectars
- Marshal’s Anthem
- Martyr’s Bond
- Open the Vaults
- Endless Wurm
- False Prophet
Enchanter’s Arsenal card-by-card analysis
Angelic Chorus: 3.5/5.0
Ever since I started playing Magic, I hated this enchantment. It’s costly and slow, so what’s the point? But in Enchanter’s Arsenal, getting this into play is not a stretch, and once you’ve got it out, it greatly extends your ability to not die. Pair this with Sigil of the Empty throne and insanity ensues. Your Lucent Luminids will net you a horse, an angel token and seven life. Not bad for five mana. Still, you’ll might be playing enchantments more often than creatures, so make your decision based on your total critter count.
Meh. A 2/2 body for three is underwhelming, and you’d be surprised how infrequently you actually have enchantments in your graveyard, especially early in the game. In an ideal world she’ll bring back your Opal Titan, then die valiantly while wielding a Rancor in battle. In most situations, however, she’ll sit in your hand useless until after you’ve lost the game.
One of the worst picks in the deck. Against opponent’s creatures, you’ll have little control of when this triggers. On your own creatures, it’s basically a shitty insurance policy (you’d be better off with almost any other aura that actually does something). Just leave it out, okay?
Celestial Ancient: 3.0/5.0
This is one of those cards that looks a lot better than it is. By the time you play it, getting a 3/3 flyer isn’t really that exciting. And sure, +1/+1 counters are great, but only if you already have both a bunch of creatures on the battlefield and a bunch of enchantments in your hand. More likely, you’ll be sitting around wishing you drew your other five-mana creatures (you know, like the 5/5 with protection from everything or the enchantment horses that trigger your other effects).
Centaur Safeguard: 4.0/5.0 (3.5/5.0 multiplayer)
There’s nothing exciting about a 3/1 creature for 3 mana, but the fact that he trades with much more important critters while netting you life is a major boon. This guy can erase the first two turns of damage, and even help soothe the pain of removal hitting him a bit. Throw a Rancor and Ethereal Armor on him and you’ve got a nasty offense… though that’s pretty much true for any creature with those boons!
Daybreak Coronet: 2.5/5.0
When it comes to auras, Daybreak Coronet is really, really good. Unfortunately, Enchanter’s Arsenal doesn’t really have enough other auras to make it worth putting this crown in your loadout. The odds that you’ll draw it when you have an already enchanted creature are low, and the WW casting cost doesn’t do you any favors either.
Enchantress’s Presence: 2.0/5.0 (vs beatdown), 5.0/5.0 (vs control), 4.5/5.0 (multiplayer)
Hey look, it’s all the card advantage of the other enchantress cards, but none of the removal vulnerability. This pretty little permanent can help you draw through your deck quickly, though keep in mind playing it on turn three is basically a forfeit of board presence. If you played an Argothian Enchantress turn 2, followed by this, you’ll be ready to draw lots of cards, but will most likely be facing down a barrage of threats by then. This is great against midrange and control decks, but terrible versus beatdown.
Endless Wurm: 1.0/5.0
This would be great in a deck with four copies of Rancor. What’s that, you’ve only got one? Oh…
Eternal Witness: 5.0/5.0
Another overpowered card from days of Magic past, Eternal Witness pays for herself by borrowing an oldie/goodie from your graveyard. Even on turn 3 she can recoup a copy of Evolving Wilds, but late game she will do major work by recycling something tantalizing and forcing your adversaries to relive old headaches.
Ethereal Armor: 5.0/5.0
Auras always carry a certain amount of risk, but when an aura can turn even a meek enchantress into an unstoppable killing machine for one mana, you’ve gotta seriously consider its power. This card can instantly turn around the board state if it isn’t answered, making any creature huge and hard to deal with.
Evolving Wilds: 4.5/5.0
Since Enchanter’s Arsenal has no real turn 1 plays, it’s pretty safe to run three of these. You won’t have color issues too often, but a handful of Evolving Wilds can help get you off to the right start.
Faith’s Fetters: 5.0/5.0
It stops threats dead in their tracks, including non-combat creatures. Hell, it stops enchantments, artifacts… you name it! The small life boost is nothing to sneeze at, especially since that will often be the exact amount of damage you’ve taken by the time Faith’s Fetters hits play. Use all your copies and don’t doubt your decision. In other words… have some faith.
False Prophet: 4.5/5.0
Dare your opponent to cross the red zone with a messiah that will literally take them to a new plane of existence… exile! This Wrath of God on-a-stick can ward off huge hordes of creatures, often buying you the time you need to set up your next move. Throw a Rancor on him and kamikaze in to force an unfortunate lose/lose proposition for your enemies! This is a must-have defensive ace for your deck.
Field of Souls: 2.5/5.0
Field of Souls is a decent card, but this deck doesn’t really have the creature count or token gimmicks to take advantage of it.
If Enchanter’s Arsenal had a lot more tiny creatures, this might be worthwhile. The effect is certainly powerful, but it’s kind of wasted when you don’t have tricksy critters to drop it on.
Hidden Gibbons: 3.5/5.0 (5.0/5.0 in multiplayer)
For one mana, you get to shut your opponent out of using instant spells. And considering most instant spells in Duels are removal, it’s also pretty hilarious that these monkeys are immune to death until they’ve already been activated. As such, your foe will have to go through an extra copy of burn/path/doom if they want to rid themselves of these hate chimps.
Hidden Spider: 2.0/5.0 (3.5/5.0 in multiplayer)
Against many decks, this is a dead card. And even if it triggers, you get a creature that’s not particularly scary out of it. In three or four player games, the odds of triggering are obviously much better. Still, most of the other “hidden” creatures in this deck are better picks.
Idyllic Tutor: 3.0/5.0
You’d think an enchantment tutor in an enchantment deck would be automatically amazing, but Enchanter’s Arsenal relies a lot more on overall synergy than it does on single, game-winning bombs. If the deck had stuff like Worship and/or Pariah in it, fetching a single card might save your life. But in most instances, you’ll be using two turns to garner a mediocre effect. Go with card draw instead and cross your fingers.
Ivory Mask: 2.0/5.0 (4.0/5.0 in multiplayer)
Against most decks, being untargetable is not going to save your life. Sure, it’s a headache for Masks of the Dimir, but if you can’t beat MotD without this, you’re probably not very good at Magic: the Gathering. Keep this out of your deck unless you know it’s going to wreck your opponent or if you’re playing larger matches where this tech can discourage players from taking out their anger by burning your face.
Journey to Nowhere: 5.0/5.0
It’s a two-mana exile removal that’s also an enchantment to trigger all your enchantment-happy stuff. Since most Duels of the Planeswalkers decks don’t have a way of dealing with this card, it’s basically a free permaban to whatever you point it at. Use this early and often.
Leyline of Sanctity: 3.0/5.0 (4.5/5.0 in multiplayer)
This is exactly like Ivory Mask, except it will be free to play about 15% of the time. That doesn’t make it great, it just makes it “not bad.” Still hoses certain decks, just not enough of them to be worth it for 1v1 duel inclusion.
Lucent Luminid: 3.5/5.0
We already discussed how paying five mana for a 3/3 flying is boring, but this 3/3 flyer is also an enchantment. That doesn’t automatically make it a powerhouse, but it does mean that even if it’s removed or forced to chump block, you’ll usually get something out of playing it (like card draw or life gain). Running four of these things seems stupid, but one or two might help round out your deck.
Lure is a great card in offensive, stompy decks. This isn’t an offensive, stompy deck.
Lurking Predators: 4.0/5.0 (5.0/5.0 in muliplayer)
This is a little slower than Sigil of the Empty Throne, but is still a great way to gain the momentum needed to end the game. Lurking Predators can put your opponents in a rough spot while giving you either free creatures or free topdeck filtering. There’s the minor downside that your enemies will gain free intel on what’s coming up next, but if “what’s coming up next” is an Oversoul of Dusk… good luck stopping that.
Marshall’s Anthem: 4.5/5.0
I’m not sure if this is Lose Yourself or Purple Pills but this track has the bass necessary to get your creatures dancing… even from beyond the grave. You can’t go wrong with something that enhances your army, increases your numbers, and triggers your enchantresses (who are now big enough to actually fight). Get a bowlful of mom’s spaghetti and get ready to charge into battle, yo!
Martyr’s Bond: 4.0/5.0 (5.0/5.0 in multiplayer)
Like Lurking Predators, Martyr’s Bond gets to the party late, but boy does it know how to party. This is like Grave Pact on steroids, “protecting” all your permanents with the threat of reciprocity. The fact that several of your cards can be sacrificed at will makes Martyr’s Bond even better. I wouldn’t run every five-and-up-mana enchantment in the deck, but I sure would put this one on the short list.
Sure, it gives your opponents’ soldiers a small boost. But it also gives you a hard-to-kill, endless supply of token fighters. If the game drags on, these guys can eventually swarm even the nastiest weenie decks. And against bigger threats, they make for perfect chump blockers.
Opal Titan: 4.5/5.0
Opal Titan is one of those cards where your opponent will read it once, trigger it by mistake, then realize just how bad they fucked up after it’s beating them to death for the rest of the game. Due to its very nature, it can basically hose any deck (other than perhaps Mul Daya), making it a nasty play at any point. It won’t save you from an existing board state, though, so don’t pray for this as your last-ditch topdeck.
Open the Vaults: 3.0/5.0
This is a hard card to evaluate, because its utility depends greatly on how you built your deck, which deck you’re facing, and what the game state is. Open the Vaults has the potential to greatly sway the course of the game, though sometimes that won’t be in your favor. I lean against this card since a lot of your best cards aren’t likely to end up in the graveyard anyway… it’s not like you’re going to win the match by bringing four enchantment ponies back to life!
Oracle of Nectars: 4.0/5.0
So, normally lifegain kind of sucks. But every now and then you get a card like this, which is just LOL-level lifegain. If your opponent can’t stop it from tapping, it can net obscene amounts of life over just a few turns. Even if you can only activate it for 2 or 3 each turn, it can easily pay for itself quickly. If you have to, throw this in front of a brute as a chump and tap out before damage resolves for maximum utility.
Oversoul of Dusk: 5.0/5.0
Ultra easy to cast. Basically counters 80% of the decks in the game. Wins in just a few attacks. Acts as a nearly invincible blocker. You should use this card.
You can never go wrong with Pacifism. Played on turn 2, it can stop early damage that puts you in the danger zone. Late game it can shut down Eldrazi or other game-winning bombs instantly. And no matter when you play it, this card can boost all your enchantments matter cards.
Primal Rage: 1.5/5.0
This was a bad video game, and it’s also a bad Magic card. Your deck doesn’t need it. Hell, most decks wouldn’t need or want it.
Privileged Position: 4.0/5.0
Giving all your stuff (including your lands) hexproof can be pretty damn powerful. Sticking that ability on an enchantment that’s ultra-easy to cast makes it better. That said, the importance of this card will depend greatly on the matchup. If you’re facing down illusions, you’ll be overrun anyway. Dodge and Burn can still nuke your creatures without targeting, or just throw fire at you. Still, this will be a big help in most matchups.
Qasali Pridemage: 5.0/5.0
Almost all the two mana cards in Enchanter’s Arsenal are amazing, and this guy’s no exception. He’s a solid 2/2 beatstick. He boosts himself (or any other attacker) just by existing. And… oh yeah… he can also provide instant-speed removal for one mana. Thematically this lion-bro has nothing to do with the deck, but I’m not complaining.
This shouldn’t require an explanation. Rancor is one of the best auras ever printed. You would be a fool not to include it in your deck. The hijinks you can pull with enchantment casting triggers pushes this past the normal score cap. Yep, I can do that.
Not as good as Pacifism or Faith’s Fetters, but Shackles is still pretty much required for shutting down opposing threats. The fact that you can bounce it when bigger baddies arrive on the battlefield is a plus. The fact that you can bounce it for no reason other than to recast it and get free cards/life/angel tokens is also a plus! Note that Shackles won’t shut down creatures with vigilance.
Sigil of the Empty Throne: 4.5/5.0
You might be wondering just how you can win games when your deck is built extremely light on creatures. How about the option to pump out an army of angels whenever you cast another enchantment? This card’s expensive, but since most Duels decks can’t stop it, it’s a huge threat. This is particularly evil with Rancor and Shackles, since you can play them multiple times to further boost your angelic ranks.
Spirit Loop: 3.5/5.0
It’s like Rancor, except it gives lifelink. Unfortunately, lifelink isn’t as cool as +2/+0 and trample. If Spirit Loop offered a toughness boost to go with the healing factor, it would be way better. Not that it’s bad, but neither is it amazing. Only take this if you’re hurting for auras.
Sterling Grove: 4.5/5.0
This is the much better version of Idyllic Tutor. First of all, it’s an enchantment that triggers all your toys while also giving half your permanents shroud (including your enchantment/creature hybrids). It can be popped for the deck search, but sometimes you won’t even need to do that. Overall, it’s versatile, easy to cast, and helps keep your deck consistent.
Verduran Enchantress: 3.0/5.0
It’s easy to draw comparisons with Argothian Enchantress, and the reality is that this slightly plumper sister just isn’t as good. Sure, she can block 1/1 weenies and live, but she’ll die to every type of removal thanks to the lack of shroud. That, paired with her higher, harder casting cost, makes her a much harder pill to swallow. Personally, I’d stick with the Argothians and call it a day.
Wall of Blossoms: 5.0/5.0
For two mana, you get a wall that will keep out most threats while also generating instant card equity. The flower power contained in this creature is remarkable, and it will win you the game on many occasions. Early on it’s solid defense versus weenies; late game it’s an almost free topdeck that chumps the biggest thing on the board. Beautiful.
Yavimaya Enchantress: 3.5/5.0 (4.5/5.0 multiplayer)
With even two enchantments on the board, you’ll be getting ahead of the curve by dropping this equally curvy enchantress. They don’t have to be yours, either, so it’s not uncommon to play this forest sorceress as a 6/6 or bigger, especially in multiplayer. That said, she’s an easy mark for removal with no built-in defenses. I wouldn’t advise throwing all four of these in your arsenal.