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Teaching an Old Deck New Tricks



I don't need to keep telling you this but I will anyway because I love saying it - I love Enchantments. Enchantments are the primary way I want to gain advantage in a game of Magic. Enchantments do not go to the graveyard once cast but rather stick around and trigger often, giving you a lot of bang for your investment. They're generally a bit slower than an Instant or Sorcery as a result, making Commander, generally a slower and more forgiving format, the perfect venue for big, splashy, expensive Enchantments like Mind's Dilation and Thousand-Year Storm. When a commander comes along that lets me build a deck with a lot of Enchantments in it, I want to build that deck. The thing is, I build the deck kind of a lot.

Here's the deck with Estrid at the helm.

Here is Morophon Squirrel Nest.

Here is Saskia Squirrel Nest.

Here is Xyris Squirrel Nest.

Genju of the Realm.

Sisay Genju of the Realm.

Umori Enchantress.

The list goes on. The point isn't that I lack originality as a deck-builder, I maintain that I know what I like and brewing 52 decks a year gives me ample opportunity to try out a lot of new ideas. However, when I saw the commander I want to brew with today, my mind immediately went "I could build Enchantress with this," and while I'm still going to very much do that, I also want to be cognizant of the fact that it would be VERY EASY to not be terribly creative here.

Amareth, the Lustrous

I could take Estrid and The Chain Veil out of the Estrid deck, plop this in and it would be very good. Estrid is good at the controls, but Amareth is a card drawing machine in the deck. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in the deck is get Serra's Sanctum and Heliod out and just start firing off tokens which count as Enchantments when they come into play. I added Wilderness Reclamation to the deck so I can do that more often. Amarerth is very good in that scenario, giving me a ton of value for spitting out an Enchantment token, something I was going to do anyway. Anyway, here's the decklist.

Estrid the Masked Amareth, the Lustrous | Commander | Jason Alt

See you later, everybody!

Not satisfied? Yeah, neither am I. I think it's obvious that Amareth works very well in the existing infrastructure of Enchantment deck that I have built over the years. Who doesn't want Opposition and Glare of Subdual and Squirrel Nest and all of those shenanigans all working together? I think maybe we can keep a lot of that stuff, but we can also look at what Amareth specifically is going to give us that some of those other commanders (Looking at you, Morophon) couldn't give us and build to Amareth's strengths. Let's actually do some work, shall we?

In an Enchantment-heavy deck, it seemed pretty clear to me that I will just draw a ton of cards if I can keep casting Enchantments every turn. That much is pretty obvious and it's the first thing most people notice when they look at the card. However, while getting to potentially draw more Enchantments when you play Enchantments is cool, what if we played a few Enchantments we could make sure we could play over and over for cheap to draw a lot of cards? Just playing the stuff we were going to play anyway is cool, but a card like Flickering Ward can protect Amareth and also draw us a bunch of cards. Leave the ward on there to get your commander through unblocked or make it much harder to kill and flicker as needed to keep our hands full. In this way, we can eschew cards like Rhystic Study that seem like staples in an Enchantress deck but could free up a spot for us to run some gas. Running a few recursive cards in this deck specifically will help us keep our hands full in a way that they wouldn't in a deck like Estrid (or Saskia Squirrel Nest). A lot of the cards can overlap between decks, but there's no reason not to play to Amareth's strengths. We can use Flickering Ward to draw a ton of cards, provided the top card isn't a land...

...or so I thought. Looking at Amareth again, it occurred to me that while I'll want to run cards like Sylvan Library and Mirri's Guile as well as Abundance to make sure the top card of the deck is something I want to draw, a Land on top isn't the end of the world. We can run bounce lands, Ghost Town and cards like Exploration and Burgeoning to make sure we can always hit a land drop. Not only will the land coming into play help us develop the board, we can draw that land off of the top with Amareth's ability, meaning we can clear a path to start making the draw Enchantment machine go brrrrrr again. We'd run a card like Burgeoning anyway because it's a great way to get off to a good start, it's never a dead draw late if we have Amareth out (so it's better in here than in Estrid) because it a 1-mana way to trigger Amareth's ability and drawing extra cards means our hand can get kind of crowded. Using bounce lands and Ghost Town makes Retreat to Coralhelm something we might want to consider because we can manage the top card of the deck with the scry ability or untap a creature we want to re-use. We're not trying to be a hybrid landfall deck or anything, but if our deck is running Opposition and Verity Circle, even untapping a squirrel token is worthwhile, so Retreat is fine here.

Like so many other Squirrel Nest decks we run, we'll want to generate a ton of tokens. Those tokens will keep their stuff tapped with Opposition and Glare of Subdual and they'll also serve as win conditions. Court of Grace joins the "ways to make 4/4 angels" party and Monarch in this deck seems particularly good because we should be fairly difficult to attack with cards like Sphere of Safety and Opposition. One thing I don't think will be as effective in this deck is Helix Pinnacle, a spell I really like to run in Enchantress decks. We may have to win by doing fair deck things like attacking with creatures, but that's not the end of the world. Starfield of Nyx wraps games up very quickly sometimes.

As always, the deck's Achilles Heel is going to be Merciless Eviction. We can run Replenish to get our stuff back if they cast Austere Command or Cleanfall but if they exile everything, we're toast. I like to run Counterspells and Nevermore for Eviction insurance. It's a pretty unfun way to lose a game of Magic, but we will have a full grip and a 6/6 flying Dargon to try and recover with so you can still probably pull off a comeback some of the time. I have never used Nylea's Colossus in a deck like this before, but I think it could really do some work here since you only need 2 triggers to kill someone with Amareth. I'd recommend sandbagging Colossus to see if someone goes nuclear against you and run the Colossus out and surprise them with 24 commander damage out of nowhere. We aren't a Voltron deck, but with the ability to add so much damage so quickly, we can easily audible to deleting someone with commander damage with only one extra card, so it's a nice Ace in the hole to hold onto.

I don't want to run a ton of Instants and Sorceries in a deck like this, both for thematic reasons and also because they gunk up the top of your deck. You can draw cards a lot faster if you only have to worry about whether you have Enchantments or Lands up there. This is one reason I'm not including Enchanted Evening/Cleansing Meditation in this build. I've suggested it in the past as a possibility and I don't think doing that is necessarily a violation of any of our 75% principles. Games have to end, and if that Cleansing Meditation clears the board for you to smack them down with a ton of commander damage and an army of angels and Starfield-animated Enchantments, the game will end. If you think the pod you're playing in may be a little juiced you may want to run the combo just because you may need to do something that unfair to win. I'm addressing this specifically because I don't want anyone to think that omitting the combo from my list means I don't think it's a 75% thing to do. I think it's fine. It's not friendly, but it's fine.

If we're building to maximize the value we will get from Amareth, the deck will look quite a bit different from our typical Squirrel Nest Enchantress Build. How different?

Better than the 'Reth | Commander | Jason Alt

This is a good template but you should, as always, take the deck in a direction most satisfying to you.

You can do a pretty decent Voltron sub-theme in a deck like this. Since you're going to draw a lot of cards, you'll be able to run fewer Voltron cards, packing a bigger punch with a smaller commitment to the subtheme. Seriously, Ancestral Mask and All that Glitters may be enough on top of Nylea's Colossus to get there. You might want to run a Bear Umbra - that has totem armor, reduces the number of swings to kill a player by 1 and can untap your lands. We'll want a ton of tokens and this deck can make a lot of tokens happen with more mana.

Do you want more tokens? There are a ton of ways to do it. This deck has a minor landfall subtheme as I mentioned before. Scute Swarm is going to do a ton of work here, if you can get the Ghost Town shenanigans going. You could add Avenger of Zendikar to the deck because it makes a ton of tokens and can be a win condition all on its own. You could even look at how to make Enigmatic Incarnation work in the deck since you run so few creatures. You're running some fairly expensive Enchantments and could get some meaty creatures out of your deck pretty easily. The more large creatures you run, the better Court of Bounty gets (the Blue one still isn't good). If you run a significant number of creatures, you can still reliably get Amareth triggers because you do a decent job of controlling the top of your deck. If you want to go this route, Landfall creatures will serve the deck as built with almost no modification, but I'd love to add cards like Mycoloth and Tendershoot Dryad, especially if you add a bit more totem armor to protect your investment.

If you wanted to cut all non-Enchantments, I don't recommend it, but it could be super fun. You don't need Enchantress effects other than Enchantress's Presence because you'll be drawing plenty of cards if every Enchantment you play draws another one and can justify running Heliod since it's also an Enchantment. It's not a not creature and that is good enough for me. You leave yourself vulnerable not running the counterspells, but you could see your way clear to running Decree of Silence in the deck, although that's tough to keep mana up for. I live Nevermore in the deck almost exclusively to name Merciless Eviction.

You could make this a lot more of a pillow fort deck, too. Sterling Grove, Privileged Position, and Greater Auramancy can keep them from picking your Enchantments off and you can run Ghostly Prison and Propaganda, War Tax and other effects to make sure they can never connect with you so long as you have a big enough fortification. There are ample cuts. I consider Opposition a Pillow Fort card but I'm a goof.

That does it for me. I think playing to the strengths of this commander can teach an old deck a few new tricks and give us a few more axes to win the game, namely commander damage. I still love my Estrid deck and I'll never take it apart but I'm really considering putting this deck together as-is, Sanctum and Earthcraft and all. Leave me something in the comments and don't forget to share this on social media. Until next time!

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