Hey all, cailtis (KALE – tiss) here for the first time on MTGCasualPlay.com. For simplicity’s sake, my alias online has been shortened to just “cail” (a nickname for a nickname, if you will), so that make addressing myself easier :). I am a student in the United States with a long-standing relationship with games of all sorts — I have had family members within the video game production and software industry, I have groups of friends to play several PC games with online, my extended family for board/card games for family functions, and of course — my playgroup for Magic and other tabletop games. As a more reserved casual player now, I mainly just play EDH but I still enjoy sealed and draft events for new set releases and the like.
My interest in EDH lies within similar incentives that most others play — we planeswalkers like to create and test decks, find card interactions, build themes, and assemble ridiculous board states that simply are not feasible in any other format setting. My favorite color combinations within the format has to be Sultai (BUG) with Esper coming in for second. My favorite commander since my first game in the format has been Damia, Sage of Stone and will probably remain her for a really long time (essentially until another Sultai general is printed with her kind of versatility and resilience). I also like to name my decks based off of tunes that come to my head when I think of the atmosphere of the deck (“Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head for a WB deck, for example).
Now let’s sling some spells, already!
You Want To Build What?
My first deck to present to this platform is my 5-color monstrosity, called It Ain’t Like That (named after the Alice in Chains song of the same title). It is perhaps the most exploratory list I’ve created thus far, primarily due to the amount of risks that were taken to streamline its victory potential — it’s a deck idea that could have been (and has been) played much more conservatively, but with less variance and less intrigue overall.
I hadn’t yet built a deck that focused on capitalizing on one specific card type yet. I looked at enchantment-oriented decks, and they all were lame voltron-style aura-stack decks or combo-wacky builds fronted by Hanna, Ship’s Navigator or Zur the Enchanter that had a bit too much firepower for my liking. Previously-made “enchantress” decks I looked for inspiration either were geared towards aggressive tutoring and comboing, or pillowforting and then spamming ways to play and buff tokens. The latter deck had the right idea, but I disliked rolling the dice on trying to win with tokens — it would also force me to allocate a great deal of cool enchantment slots to stupid anthems or similar enchantments. I wanted to explore the variety of global effects that non-Aura enchantments could offer — I was intrigued by somehow including cards like Quest for Ancient Secrets and Possibility Storm in the same build for wide versatility. I needed all five colors… removal, mana and hand fixing, board control, defense, and a way to win. Jank was born.
What enchantments in every color didn’t provide me was time and agility. On top of the typical challenges for builders of 5-color decks (obtaining the necessary mana fixing, balancing tempo with card/graveyard advantages, unifying a theme), I had given myself the added inconvenience of having to balance these sorts of needs with perhaps the most underrated and inflexible permanent type in the game of Magic. Enchantments with Flash (useful enchantments, at that) were few are far between, and it appeared that my old-trusted reliance on countermagic and permission-denying instants was no longer any help. I was forced to reevaluate the balance the ability to prevent defeat and the ability to avoid defeat.
There are few 5-color generals that would directly benefit this deck theme. In the least, Child of Alara can be used as a last-ditch equalizer for hairy boardstates, and with indestructible effects on the field, this baby can pull off a one-sided board wipe. But alas, the chances of that are incredibly slim. Hell, the chances of being able to pop the death triggered ability are fairly unpredictable for this deck as is. Scion of the Ur-Dragon was also considered as an evasive beater and also to shuffle sometimes, but Soothsaying and cascade deck-manipulation was too infrequent… and, you know, Soothsaying can already shuffle. Progenitus was ultimately chosen, but it’s clear there is really no clear commander choice for a deck of this type.
All My Favorites In One Big Mess
I got to play enchantments. I got to play control. I got to play politics. I got to play some resource/tempo denial like stax decks. I got to sit behind an unanswerable pillowfort wall. I could also win, or put up at least one hell of a fight. Perhaps the greatest success of sitting down with this deck every week with my playgroup (I try to crack it out for at least one round on our weekly game night) is its ability to play almost entirely on the main phase of my turn — allowing me to enjoy the social aspect of casual EDH play (one of my other favorites of bringing the planeswalkers together every week to play) like no one else — but also interact with the board, experience successes and failures, and even unleash some chaos every now and then on the battlefield.
Deck Composition and Goals
It Ain’t Like That is built almost entirely out of enchantments — with only a few exceptions for the blow-out Enduring Ideal, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and a little mana fixing. Almost every spell in the deck is played during the player’s respective main phase. A typical opening hand consists of lands and either a controlling global enchantment or a shielding global enchantment, possibly both. A defensive strategy of deploying self-interested defenses is first displayed which aids the player in avoiding fire from across the table. As the match continues, enchantment effects stack up and opponents are given less opportunities to cast spells, respond to the player’s spells, and attack through the player’s network of pillowfort-like walls. The deck succeeds when it can establish a boardstate seemingly untouchable by the opposing planeswalkers — a grindy win is then revealed through the use of upkeep-based damage or swarms of growing token armies. Most enchantments in the deck provide utility in protecting the player, controlling the actions of the other players, or providing the means to theoretically win.
It Aint Like That: 5-Color Enchantment Control
A Game Plan
What the deck effectively does for the first few turns is fix its own drawing power, find the colors and lands it needs to play early-game walls (actually fairly easy with fetching and triple-color lands), and play those early-game walls. It should be established around the table at this point too that your deck is simply “just another shitty pillowfort deck”. The middle of the game is designed to observe the threats currently on board, investigate who currently have targets painted on their heads, and establish a more specific game plan… depending on your draws here, one might have to resign to a more grindy game that relies on seeking political alliances and paying attention to little upkeep effects. Ideally, drawing into one of the “punter” cards (the last couple in the “Fixing and Advantage” section of the decklist) (Enduring Ideal, Maelstrom Nexus, Dream Halls) at this stage in the game will fast forward you into the late game as a real contender for last man standing. This is also usually accompanied by one’s first few cloak effects for their rather-large commitment to the board (Sterling Grove, Privileged Position) and the first (if not the few first) globally-controlling enchantments of the player’s game, that will warp the tempo of the match in the player’s favor (Rule of Law, Possibility Storm). Sadly, sometimes the player can be gunned down during this mid-game stage as well, either due to being preyed upon by a more aggressive player that is simply trying to move the game along or due to a far too aggressive start (remedied by holding excess walls and oppressive control elements in hand for later — don’t overextend!).
The late game is usually the fun bit for this deck. Where the beginning parts of the match allows me to lean back in my chair and play backseat conscientious objector, I now lean in on the table and the poker face comes out. There is longer any mistaking it; the deck can steal a win at this point, and its boardstate says no different. If opponents are still too concerned with each other (perhaps an explosive Genesis Wave is resolved or something similar), precious time here can be made to either recover from an enchantment wipe or fill in the necessary holes in the player’s boardstate for inevitable victory. In the perfect boardstate, two different cloak effects compliment one another so that no enchantments on your board can be targeted at all; a fallback trench of protection is held within either an indestructibility-giver or a clutch Faith’s Reward cast. Engines to draw cards, gain life, vomit tokens, deal damage, and the like will be in place and will continue to stack on top of one another. Lastly, a negation of combat or any damage at all (the infamous Solitary Confinement) is set in place so that a pure feeling of doom sweeps the battlefield and disheartens your opponents. Ultimately, this deck never has seen a victory firsthand; despite this, it still has the ability to win a grindy victory, which is all opponents need to see to scoop after fully realizing the extent of your untouchable board state.
Suggestions For Establishing The Lockdown
– Make sure to only cast Enduring Ideal when you are ready to search up the last one or two pieces of an invincible board — protection is priority!
– Solitary Confinement is arguably the strongest catch-all protection card to cheat into play or to fetch for. Don’t forget to have another way to draw cards before casting though! (Honden of Seeing Winds or Enchantress’s Presence)
– Didn’t think enchantments had counter magic? Lilting Refrain would beg to differ. Get that bad boy down ASAP. An ability that counters is even more evasive that casting a spell! It’s our only counter though — don’t forget to use it as a political tool if possible, but it should be used strictly for interrupting a spell that will cost you the game.
– Dream Halls can usually just instantly pull a win if there is a strong draw engine in place already — stacking protection at that rate is just too insane.
– Progenitus can and has been hardcasted before. Unless your group has sacrifice-based tech show up commonly for threats like him, the Soul of the World can sometimes just beat your opponents hard enough to win that way. After all, you probably only need to swing 3 times or less on one or two opponents.
This deck still may get some tweaks in the future — I found myself making adjustments as I typed out this decklist, after all. Overall, it’s a terribly fun deck that capitalizes on subtlety to draw out hilariously dynamic boardstates. At its worst, you get to enjoy a casually-paced game full of laughter while other players are having to worry about every little nitpick — cards in hands, bombs on the board, and so on. For the player of this deck, It Ain’t Like That. We only need to worry about doing stuff on our turns during our main phases — anything else is icing on the cake. At its best, we get to frolic in the successes of such an effortless game. Sometimes we’re even granted a win with Progenitus — disregarding the failures of our main plan of attack. It Ain’t Like That succeeds at placing some of my most important priorities of gaming first in EDH – variance, fun, socialization, and casual competition.
That sort of sums up my first primer and my first act for this site — how did I do? Does the deck suck? Please give me feedback and constructive criticism in the comments below!