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Theros Beyond Death Standard Set Review Featuring Ali Aintrazi
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The Dawn of Disenchantment

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Theros: Beyond Death is coming out and if you are anything like me you are excited for the set and can't wait to get to use the cards. The new Gods look exciting! Archon of Sun's Grace is going to be a centerpiece of a new deck I'm working on. Constellation is looking strong enough that many of us are going to look at builds to take advantage of it. Thryx, the Sudden Storm may be a commander for a possible Sphinx deck I'd love to put together! With several legendary enchantment creatures, this promises to be an exciting set!

The running theme through everything I mentioned above is enchantments. All of them are enchantments or will be encouraging players to run enchantments. As soon as the players in your meta start integrating the cards from Theros: Beyond Death into their decks, you should expect to see a significant uptake in the number of enchantments in your meta that you are going to have to manage.

I don't doubt for one minute that your decks can currently handle troublesome creatures. Everyone who builds a deck understands that they are going to have to be able to withstand a creature onslaught. Whether it is a wall of token creatures or a handful of huge creatures, every deck can handle creatures.

How do you do against enchantments? Metas tend to swing back and forth with various types of permanents, largely in response to the decks in your meta. Artifacts are always in decks, but the number tends to rise and fall depending on what cards are in the recent set and how strongly your meta reacts. If everyone is running eight or nine pieces of artifact removal in their decks because others are running a ton of artifacts, it doesn't take long until players start pulling their artifacts and finding other options.

However, for some reason, people haven't been responding to enchantments. For the last eight years, I have been putting more and more enchantments into my decks. Most players don't run more than three ways to deal with enchantments specifically, and this can make dealing with enchantments problematic. Do you really want to use a Cyclonic Rift to deal with a single enchantment, or Rift the entire board due to one or two enchantments that are only going to get played again the next turn?

Everyone needs to start running more enchantment removal. I regularly run at least four cards dedicated to enchantment/artifact removal and another six that can take out permanents generally. This will not be enough with the coming meta shift.

How many commanders will be enchantment creatures? Sagas and other powerful enchantments in Theros: Beyond Death are going to demand a response and your deck, as it is currently built, just isn't going to be able to handle it. Constellation is going to encourage enchantment heavy decks. Alela, Artful Provocateur, Estrid, the Masked, Daxos the Returned, Hanna, Ship's Navigator, Kestia, the Cultivator, Tuvasa the Sunlit, and even Zur the Enchanter are all going to get better and see more play with Theros: Beyond Death making the options for those decks even better.

So, what to do? Run more enchantment removal!

Fracturing Gust
Allay

Fracturing Gust has been a favorite of mine since it came out in Shadowmoor. If your deck is also abusing artifacts and enchantments this is probably not the way to go, but the mass removal, at instant speed really comes out of nowhere. I love the hybrid cost so getting the right colors in most decks isn't difficult at all. The two life for each permanent destroyed this way is nice, but don't be suckered into thinking that is anything but a bonus. It is just trying to get you to wait a turn too long to actually play it in the hopes of getting more life. Just do it when the time is right and enjoy a few extra life points. If you happen to hit an Estrid, the Masked opponent making Masks, congratulations!

Allay is a card a lot of people are reluctant to run because it only hits enchantments. I have understood this most of the time. Usually there are only two enchantments you really wanted gone, so the Buyback seemed a little onerous.

Well, the time has come for Allay to shine! With the coming wave of enchantments Allay will always have something to target. The big benefit of Allay is that it gets rid of a lot of enchantments and doesn't prevent you from running plenty of your own!

While many look at the instant speed on the card and see this as a way to surprise opponents, you should be focusing on the ability to wait to the last moment to use it. With Buyback the surprise aspect is lost as soon as you play it the first time. In fact, I'd recommend playing it earlier so everyone knows you have it in hand. This can be enough to discourage your opponents from playing enchantments at all if they know you can eliminate it immediately. When two of your opponents are both thinking the same thing, it means you aren't having to spend 10 mana to destroy two enchantments. You are threatening it, and using your mana to advance your own board state!

Calming Verse
Aura of Silence
Meteor Golem

Calming Verse is likely a card you haven't heard of, only because it was bad when it came out. It is a sorcery that demands you tap all of your mana or lose all your enchantments. When Nemesis came out manaburn was a thing. You couldn't just tap all your lands like you can now. If you had mana in your mana pool and didn't use it, you took a point of damage of each mana you didn't use.

Now, you can play it and tap all your lands to destroy all enchantments you don't control! It costs four mana, but that is hardly punitive and will likely destroy at least one opponent.

And if you are concerned about the sorcery nature of Calming Verse leaving you tapped out for an entire round of play, consider Seedborn Muse, Vedalken Orrery, and other cards like those that will allow you to untap your lands or play it as an instant.

Aura of Silence technically only destroys a single enchantment, but it has a rattlesnake ability much like Allay that makes me love it so. It is amazing how many players will choose not to play a card simply because it costs two more. They will wait, hoping you sacrifice the Aura to take out an enchantment in play, then they will play their card. In the meantime, they are losing the benefit of the card while it sits in their hand. Even the players who will pay the extra to get the effect right away are left with two fewer mana to use. This often means that they are running with their defenses down, or are simply forced to wait to play cards since they don't have the mana yet! Aura of Silence may only get rid of one card, but stops so many more.

Meteor Golem is on the list mostly as a reminder that destroying a permanent includes enchantments. This is generally how decks that don't include Green and/or White can handle enchantments. Cards like this and Scour from Existence tend to have high mana costs, but you do what you have to do.

A special note when using cards to destroy permanents: be sure you aren't wasting it! It is amazing to me how many players will use this card to destroy a creature. While there are times when that is the right play, please consider your deck and the long game. Using up one of the only ways you have to deal with a permanent that ten other cards in your deck could solve is not the optimal play. Save it for enchantments and planeswalkers or other permanents you have a difficult time removing.

Bane of Progress
Austere Command
Krosan Grip

Bane of Progress is listed here, but consider this the "creature kills an enchantment" slot. I used Bane of Progress because it destroys a whole lot of cards. The Bane gets big by feasting on mana rocks, but it will be loving all the enchantments showing up in your metagame.

For other options that are a little more pinpoint, Qasali Pridemage, Indrik Stomphowler, and the card that shows up in most of my Green decks, Acidic Slime. When a single card offers removal for an artifact, enchantment, or land, then leaves a great blocker behind, I'm going to want a good reason to exclude it.

Austere Command is a card that is incorrectly played by most who run it. Most who run it see it as a way to kill off all the creatures and occasionally take out artifacts. This card will need to be flipped on its head once Theros: Beyond Death comes out. Do not treat this as part of your creature removal package, but as a way to destroy all artifacts and enchantments, or perhaps some creatures if you absolutely have to. We have all been running it because of the flexibility of the card; maybe it is time we all used the flexibility!

Krosan Grip has to be on the list. I have tried to show you cards that can take out more than one enchantment, but Krosan Grip is simply too good. It takes out enchantments before they can be activated which is absolutely essential with so many enchantments. Commander players, like Alton Brown, like multi-taskers. Every kitchen tool needs to do more than one thing to justify its space in the kitchen. Commander players expect the same thing from their cards, so Krosan Grip is often set aside. However, think of Krosan Grip like your knife. It may only do one thing in the kitchen, but it is an essential job and does it better than anything else.

Tranquil Grove
Aura Shards

Tranquil Grove is a criminal underrated card. I understand that you are reluctant to run it since it means your other enchantments will die, but know that only you know when you are going to use it. Perhaps you value your enchantment more so you are willing to wait. That knowledge is a huge advantage. Besides, Tranquil Grove means your opponents are not playing their enchantments until it is gone. When you can wipe out their key cards for only 3 mana, then do it again on the next opponent's turn, there is hardly a reason to wait.

Running Tranquil Grove in a deck loaded with creatures or artifacts is just all upside! It will be amazing!

Aura Shards is where we are going to end. Every Commander player has watched this card machine gun artifacts off the table more effectively than anything else. It offers the benefit of a Tranquil Grove, but with the precision of a rooftop sniper. I particularly like to run it in decks that can make creature tokens at any time, rather than wait for my turn to cast a creature card. Following up Aura Shards with a White Sun's Zenith can be nightmarish for my opponents!

I've mentioned a few of my favorites here, but don't stop with these suggestions. There are all sorts of others that will fit the theme of your deck better than what is here. I encourage you, no, I implore you, up your enchantment removal and do it soon. You are going to thank me for it!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned