Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That
“If you look at the numbers on my face, you won’t find thirteen any place.”
Throughout my years in the community of the greatest game ever made, I have developed a notoriety for playing or netdecking the best decks of any given format. From time to time, ideas find their way into my brain and I do what anyone else does, I brew. The majority of these brews never see the light of day. Sometimes it is because I have lost faith in the initial idea or something else has caught my attention. Regardless of the reason for such abandonment, it’s not always because the deck is “bad”.
The inverse of this, which happens very rarely, is that I work on a deck and I just can’t let it go. No matter how much I try I can not get that earworm out. So I have decided with this latest “song stuck in my head” build, I will finish it, work on it and pilot it at a future FNM at the Goblin Traders. Without further ado…
“Tear one off and scratch my head; what was once red is black instead.”
In the beginning, I knew I wanted to build a deck with the new enchantment Enigmatic Incarnation, I just didn’t know where to start. I originally had a deck with some of the more powerful creatures in standard and some smattering of enchantments that may or may not be useful outside of sacrificing them to the Incarnation. This proved to be a good idea in theory, but the enchantments fell short of my expectations. I was doing my best to limit myself to the Bant (white, blue, green) shard of Magic. What I eventually identified as the missing piece to Bant builds was black enchantments. In standard, these are some of the most powerful tools and I was cutting myself off from them.
The core creatures that I search up most of the time are Deputy of Detention and Elite Guardmage. The effects that these two creatures give to this deck are irreplaceable. In a way I guess they are the original effects of the black spells and adding black to the deck gave me more virtual copies of the same effects. The enchantments that have stood the time of testing were that same ones that the popular Azorius Control decks are built around. Those enchantments are The Birth of Meletis, Omen of the Sea (Seaordain) and Elspeth Conquers Death. What more can I say about these powerful spells that haven't already been said? I honestly don’t know. They’re all fantastic, don’t cut them.
The black cards that I tested out first were the black cards that ended up staying in the deck to this day. Oath of Kaya and Treacherous Blessing were fantastic from the first game that I played them in. The oath serves as a removal spell and buffers your life total against aggressive decks, thus allowing us to reach the late game. Treacherous Blessing is our card draw spell and we don’t have to worry about the draw back of the enchantment since we can sacrifice it to Enigmatic Incarnation the same turn it comes down.
Along with the above additions, I also decided to try out some creatures in black as well. This does make the deck more of a four color deck rather than a three color deck with a splash. Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths is a card from the latest expansion that I have been wanting to try out. This Fact or Fiction impersonator does not disappoint. This is yet another way for us to keep the action flowing while we get our engine going. Through various testing sessions, it occured to me that all of my creatures had enter-the-battlefield effects. That led me to two different legendary creatures that I tried out. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling did not end up being that optimal of a choice unfortunately. Yarok, the Desecrated however, is fantastic as a one-of. The toolbox ability of this deck allows us to search up Yarok when we want it. The lifelink and deathtouch don’t hurt either.
“The eight of us go forth, not back, to protect our king from a foe’s attack.”
So at this point in the brewing process I have a full four colors in the deck. Though the requirement for the black spells is low. Given this, I looked towards another card that I have been meaning to play. Kenrith, the Returned King is a powerhouse and it’s well known at this point. This is a deck that cares about all of the abilities we can activate in this deck. Placing counters on my creatures through the green ability, drawing cards with the blue ability, gaining five life from the white ability and reanimating creatures with the black ability.
Decks that have used Kenrith in the past generally only used one of the activated abilities, which happens to be the only one that we do not have access to. The ability to give all of your creatures haste with the red activated ability is definitely a powerful one. So powerful in fact, that I have been wondering if I should play a red source or two in my mane base. I want to first say that I am no “mana base scientist”. That may end up being a stretch too far for the mana bases of standard. Kenrith, the Returned King is almost always lights out for your opponent if they let you untap with him in play. He also serves as a last resort of sorts. If everything is going your way, you may not have a reason to search up The King.
“We’re five little items of an everyday sort; you’ll find us all in ‘a tennis court’.”
In the interest of transparency, I haven’t found a match-up that is glaringly bad. This very well could be a product of testing the deck solely on MTG Arena. I’m still working on finalizing the numbers in the list, but at the moment I’m happy with the list I’ve provided above.
This deck has been a strange labor of love for me, something I don’t indulge often enough. It felt like a continuous puzzle, during deck construction and playing the games. That being said, I would like to encourage you all to try out your ideas. You never know what could come of the process of working on your own ideas and decks. Most of us only lack the faith in ourselves to take the chance and build something of our own creation. I have previously spoken at length about curbing one's expectations when it comes to transferring a deck from Arena to tabletop events. Just because your brew does well in one of Magic does not mean that it will translate to the other.
As a final thought, one could say that the exact optimal build of the deck is an enigma. Speaking of enigmas, the section headings that I have used throughout this article are each a riddle. If you know the answers let me know in the comments. If you would like, send me your brew as well. Let me know what cards you’ve been wanting or meaning to try out in any format.
Good luck, I hope you lose!