M14: Follow-up on the Gladecover Scout deck

I attempted to draft the Gladecover Scout deck at a casual draft yesterday. My first pick was Garruk Caller of Beasts, but the next few packs had very little to offer, so I took 2 Gladecover Scouts, Elvish Mystic, 2 Verdant Havens, and Howl of the Night Pack (not in that order). At this point, I figured I could easily splash strong enhancing Auras from most colors, so I was planning to take them, and any additional Gladecover Scouts, over anything but bombs. I stuck to that plan, taking 2 Trollhides over Pacifisms, even though I knew could splash the latter. I was monogreen until the middle of pack 2, when I finally saw some non-green enhancing Auras in the form of Mark of the Vampire, Dark Favor, Lightning Talons, and Illusionary Armor. (At that point, I had 4 Verdant Havens, so I had no concern about splashing cards from multiple colors.)

Unfortunately, I never saw any more Gladecover Scouts, or any Witchstalkers. I did pick up a Ranger’s Guile (and passed a second one) which someone else suggested is equivalent to a Gladecover Scout in my deck since I also had 3 Trollhides. I disagree with that assessment, however, because the creature can still be shut down by Pacifism, Claustrophobia, Time Ebb, Disperse, and a few other spells that regeneration doesn’t protect against. I didn’t want to splash the non-green Auras since there was a high likelihood that I would not have a Gladecover Scout in my opening hand, and I would not be excited to put these Auras on the other creatures in my deck.

Luckily, I had enough decent green cards to build a monogreen deck. I did run the 2 Gladecover Scouts I’d drafted, and they worked quite well with my Accorder’s Shield, 3 TrollHides, 3 Hunt the Weaks, and 3 other pump spells. The deck’s only paths to victory were Gladecover Scout + Trollhide, Garruk Caller of Beasts, or Howl of the Night, but I still managed to win all 4 matches I played, probably because no one at the table had a particularly strong deck. Also, this was a very casual draft, and you shouldn’t expect to do particularly well with a monogreen deck like mine at most drafts.

Conclusion: it’s risky to attempt to draft the Gladecover Scout deck. An average 8-person draft will have only 2.4 Gladecover Scouts. That number goes up to 2.8 if you include Witchstalkers, but that is likely to be drafted highly by other green players, and possibly even raredrafted if you’re at a casual draft. Even though I had 2 Gladecover Scouts before we were halfway through the first pack, I never saw another one, even though I was one of only 2 green drafters at the table, and there aren’t any good alternatives to him in M14.

M14: The Gladecover Scout deck

The Gladecover Scout deck involves putting Auras on a Gladecover Scout or a Witchstalker and smashing in with a large hexproof creature. I’ve been meaning to try this deck out for a while, but haven’t yet been willing to prioritize Gladecover Scouts highly enough, and this deck obviously does not work without them. A friend recently assured me that this is a strong deck, so I will try to give it a shot at some point and report back. Meanwhile, the goal of this post is to figure out what colors this deck usually is and which other cards I’ll need to prioritize when attempting to draft this archetype.

This spreadsheet lists all the Auras, global enchantments, instants, sorceries, and planeswalkers that can enhance a creature’s power/toughness or grant it additional abilities, whether temporarily or permanently. Green and white have the most cards that go in this archetype, but black also offers some key cards at uncommon, especially Mark of the Vampire, which can make it very difficult for your opponent to race.

  • Green (permanent effects): Hunt the Weak, Trollhide, Oath of the Ancient Wood (rare), Primeval Bounty (mythic)
  • Green (temporary effects): Giant Growth, Ranger’s Guile, Enlarge (uncommon)
  • White (permanent effects): Divine Favor, Blessing (uncommon), Indestructibility (rare), Path of Bravery (rare), Ajani Caller of the Pride (mythic)
  • White (temporary effects): Fortify, Show of Valor
  • Blue: Zephyr Charge, Illusionary Armor (uncommon)
  • Black: Dark Favor, Mark of the Vampire
  • Red: Lightning Talons, Shiv’s Embrace (uncommon)
  • Artifact: Accorder’s Shield (uncommon), Fireshrieker (uncommon), Door of Destinies (rare), Haunted Plate Mail (rare)

Looking more closely at the cards listed above, it seems that this deck should usually be G/B, with Trollhide and Mark of the Vampire being the key commons, as well as Ranger’s Guild if you are running several creatures without hexproof to complement your Gladecover Scouts. At other rarities, Oath of the Ancient Wood, Primeval Bounty, and the artifacts listed can also contribute to a strong deck. The deck is also happy to splash white, blue, and red for Divine Favor, Illusionary Armor, and Lightning Talons respectively.

When playing this deck, you need to be very careful to not walk into Celestial Flare when either attacking or blocking. Shrivel can also be an issue if your Gladecover Scout is enchanted only with Lightning Talons and/or Indestructibility. This, along with the fact that you won’t always draw Gladecover Scout (or be willing to try to mulligan to it) means that the deck also needs other creatures. The deck generally wants to run cheaper creatures so it can put an Aura on them and start attacking, so here are the 1-3 mana creatures in green and black that seem to be good candidates for this archetype:

  • 1cc: Elvish Mystic, Festering Newt, Tenacious Dead (uncommon)
  • 2cc: Child of Night, Corpse Hauler, Predatory Sliver, Gnawing Zombie (uncommon), Manaweft Sliver (uncommon), Voracious Wurm (uncommon), Scavenging Ooze (rare)
  • 3cc: Brindle Boar, Rootwalla, Lifebane Zombie (rare), Syphon Sliver (rare), Witchstalker (rare)

Blightcaster is also a key card since the deck already runs several Auras. If the deck has sufficient mana fixing, other cards from the enchantments and lifegain decks can also be included.

M14: Reevaluating Sanguine Bond

In my post about the lifegain deck, I had evaluated Sanguine Bond as playable in the right deck. I had a great opportunity to test it out this weekend when I opened Sanguine Bond in pack 1 of 2 consecutive drafts and tried to build around it. I even drafted a late pick Congregate to go with it both times. Unfortunately, I lost in the first round of both drafts. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong, and whether we need to reevaluate Sanguine Bond.

The first draft was just terrible all around. The best cards in the second pack were Predatory Sliver, Manaweft Sliver, and Battle Sliver, with the best W/B card being a Divine Favor, so I took the Predatory Sliver, just in case Slivers ended up being open, and hoped that the Divine Favor would table (it didn’t). I got passed a Pacifism third pick, one of my favorite cards in W/B since it also triggers the cards that care about enchantments. Unfortunately, the person to my right was B/G and decided to switch to B/W after being passed a tenth-pick Celestial Flare. Blue was wide open, but I was trying to make the lifegain deck work, so I only picked up a late Time Ebb and a late Traumatize in the first 2 packs. While reviewing my picks at the end of pack 2, I realized that my deck was quite weak and had few win conditions, so I took the Jace Memory Adept I opened in pack 3, a Jace’s Mindseeker third pick (over Air Servant and Claustrophobia!), a Messenger Drake, a Millstone, and 2 Tome Scours, and passed the Angelic Accord I saw since I knew it was too late to make that deck work. The deck lacked early defense and sufficient playables, and rolled over to Predatory Slivers in 2 games.

The second draft went a little better. I drafted 2 Blightcasters to go with 6 enchantments. Unfortunately, at the end of the draft, my only lifegain was the aforementioned Congregate, a Divine Favor, and 2 Dawnstrike Paladins, and I really didn’t want to play the Dawnstrike Paladins. I did consider playing just the Sanguine Bond/Congregate combo since I had a Diabolic Tutor to fetch the missing half of the combo, but decided I would be very unhappy if I drew only 1 of those 3 cards. I was tempted by the fact the Sanguine Bond triggers the Blightcasters and that Congregate can swing some game, but decided that they weren’t good enough to merit inclusion, so I left them out and focused on building a W/B enchantments deck with a good mana curve. I lost round 1 again, but at least I got to win a game this time.

I still think Sanguine Bond is playable in the right deck, but I think you need to be very committed to making it work if you decide to go down that route. The only common lifegain cards in white and black that are good enough to play on their own merits are Divine Favor, Child of Night, and especially Mark of the Vampire, so you need to draft these cards highly, sometimes over better cards, even before you know whether you will be passed any of the other uncommons/rares/mythics that care about lifegain. Diabolic Tutor also goes up in value in this deck as it allows you to tutor for Sanguine Bond if you don’t draw it, or for Congregate or Corrupt if you do.

M14: Maindeck enchantment removal

Now that we have evaluations for all the enchantments in M14, let’s figure out whether it makes sense to run maindeck enchantment removal. Note that this won’t be a complete assessment because all the enchantment removal spells in M14 also destroy artifacts. However, the only scary artifacts in M14 are Door of Destinies (in the right deck) and Haunted Plate Mail, so our conclusion probably won’t change. We’ll evaluate all the remaining TBD artifacts next week (I’m especially interested in analyzing Millstone and Strionic Resonator) and then revisit whether that makes Solemn Offering and Naturalize more playable in the maindeck.

This spreadsheet has the updated evaluations for all the enchantments in M14. Of these, Quag Sickness often kills the enchanted creature and so enchantment removal isn’t usually effective against it, so I will not include it in the analysis. That leaves 10 common, 4 uncommon, 6 rare, and 1 mythic enchantment that are not unplayable. That means that an average 8-person draft will have 31 such enchantments, or about 4 per player. Even if we only consider playable and exceptional enchantments in M14 (I don’t consider any of them bombs), a typical 8-person draft will still have 27 enchantments, or about 3.5 per player.

3.5 – 4 enchantments per player feels somewhat high for a limited environment, but it makes sense given the various enchantments-matter cards in the format. The enchantments deck at the table is likely to have a higher proportion of enchantments, but we can still expect the remaining decks to have about 3 enchantments each. Is that enough to justify running enchantment removal maindeck? My answer would be No, especially since none of the enchantments are bombs, and the exceptional ones are mostly 1-for-1 removal. (Domestication can net a 2-for-1, but there are a lot of answers to it other than enchantment removal, as we determined previously.)

The other thing to look at is whether the enchantments are concentrated in particular colors or color pairs so we know whether to side them in proactively against certain opponents even if we haven’t seen any particularly scary enchantments yet. For instance, most of the playable enchantments in Scars of Mirrodin were in white and blue, so I would sometimes side in an enchantment removal spell against W/U decks in that format, even if I hadn’t seen any enchantments that I was particularly worried about, because I knew that my opponent was likely to have targets. The playable enchantments in M14 are fairly well distributed across colors, with green having slightly fewer than the other colors. However, it might still make sense to side enchantment removal in against W/B decks, especially if you’ve seen some of the enchantments-matter cards and know they’re playing the enchantments deck, since those decks are more likely to play cards like Dark Favor and Mark of the Vampire which can sometimes be problematic.

EDIT: M14 has very few playable artifacts, so Solemn Offering and Naturalize are not any more playable in the maindeck by virtue of being able to destroy artifacts. Also, there are very few cases in M14 where you would want to destroy a land — usually only 5-color green with Verdant Havens or Shimmering Grottos — and the average 8-person draft will only have one planeswalker, so Bramblecrush is essentially a 4-mana sorcery-speed Naturalize. Start it in the sideboard and bring it in for things that Naturalize can’t handle, or if you need multiple enchantment/artifact removal spells, but don’t have enough Naturalizes.

M14: Barrage of Expendables and the B/R sacrifice deck

The final enchantment left to evaluate is Barrage of Expendables. Its value will depend on 6 factors:

  • How many must-kill creatures and flyers have 1 toughness.
  • How many spells steal opponents’ creatures.
  • How many cards can an opponent play that would cause you to want to sacrifice a creature.
  • How many creatures provide a benefit when sacrificed.
  • How many creatures don’t mind being sacrificed.
  • Its effect relative to other sacrifice outlets.

Referring back to the spreadsheet of creatures in M14, we see that of the must-kill creatures, 2 of the 8 commons, 2 of the 6 uncommons, 4 of the 15 rares, and neither of the 2 mythics have 1 toughness. This means that 27% of the must-kill creatures in an average draft will have 1 toughness. Similarly, of the flyers in M14, 3 of the 10 commons, none of the 5 uncommons, 1 of the 7 rares, and none of the 3 mythics have 1 toughness, so 23% of the flyers in a typical draft will have 1 toughness. In addition, Barrage of Expendables can work with Shock and other removal spells to take down larger creatures. You can also sacrifice 2+ creatures to kill an opposing creature, but that’s unlikely to be a common occurrence.

Sacrifice effects combo especially well with effects that steal creatures temporarily and M14 has Act of Treason which is also red. In fact, unless you’re playing R/B, the only sacrifice effects a red deck has access to are Barrage of Expendables, Bubbling Cauldron, and Trading Post (a rare), and neither of the artifacts offer an impressive benefit for the sacrifice. If you have a couple of Act of Treasons, Barrage of Expendables could be worth picking up, especially if you don’t have other sacrifice effects yet. M14 also has Domestication, which steals the creature permanently. However, as we determined previously, there are a number of ways for the owner of the creature to pump its power and get the creature back, and Barrage of Expendables can help protect against that too.

M14 also has a few effects that may cause you to want to sacrifice a creature in response to an opponent’s spell. While M14 doesn’t have anything like Pillory of the Sleepless, you may want to sacrifice a creature that your opponent is trying to steal with Act of Treason or Domestication. In addition, you may on rare occasion want to sacrifice a creature in response to Congregate if your opponent is at a low life total and there aren’t many other creatures on the board.

Next, let’s look at creatures that you might want to sacrifice anyway because they provide a benefit when they die:

  • Blue: Messenger Drake (common), although you’d usually rather have a 3/3 flyer than do 1 damage to a creature
  • Black: Festering Newt (common), Dark Prophecy (rare), Xathrid Necromancer (rare)
  • Red: Pitchburn Devils (common), Dragon Egg (uncommon)
  • Green: Vastwood Hydra (rare)

Then, there are creatures that you don’t mind sacrificing, such as Tenacious Dead and Chandra’s Phoenix, or the tokens produced by Molten Birth (which produces an average of 4 tokens) and Sporemound. You might also want to sacrifice creatures if you have Planar Cleansing, Rise of the Dark Realms, Scavenging Ooze, or Haunted Plate Mail, although these are all rare/mythic so that board state won’t arise too often. Of these, Barrage of Expendables works especially well with Tenacious Dead since you can repeatedly do 1 damage to a creature or player for 1BR.

Given the analysis above, it seems like Barrage of Expendables would work best in a B/R deck since that has access to Act of Treason as well a handful of common and uncommon creatures that you’d want to sacrifice. Black does provide access to several other sacrifice effects (Altar’s Reap and Blood Bairn at common, and Gnawing Zombie and Vampire Warlord at uncommon), but Barrage of Expendables would be one of the better sacrifice effects in such a deck.

M14: Zephyr Charge

The value of Zephyr Charge is determined by a few different factors:

  • How many blue creatures already have flying
  • How likely blue is to be paired with another color that would benefit from Zephyr Charge
  • How many cards provide a benefit if you have more creatures with flying
  • How many blockers/answers are there for flyers

This spreadsheet of M14 creatures tells us that among blue creatures, 4 of the 9 commons have flying, as do 2 of the 5 uncommons, 2 of the 5 rares, and the only mythic, so 56% of the blue creatures in a typical draft will already have flying. The rest of the creatures are likely to be blockers for opposing ground creatures and don’t usually need flying, so a monoblue deck wouldn’t really benefit from Zephyr Charge.

Among the 4 possible color pairings, U/W and U/B decks in M14 already have access to sufficient numbers of flyers. U/R has access to Goblin Shortcutter, Seismic Stomp, Lightning Talons, and Shiv’s Embrace as cheaper ways to get through opposing defences, although Zephyr Charge might work in a deck with multiple Regathan Firecats and Marauding Maulhorns, or as a sideboard card against a control R/X deck to get your Academy Raiders through. I can imagine a U/G deck that uses Deadly Recluse, Seacoast Drake, Wall of Frost, and Giant Spider to stall the board and Zephyr Charge to get large green creatures past opposing blockers. However, this requires drawing your defensive creatures early and having both large creatures and Zephyr Charge before you can start attacking, so I would rather draft a G/R or G/W Slivers deck, or a G/R Beasts deck instead.

M14 has 2 cards that benefit from creatures having flying: Warden of Evos Isle and Windreader Sphinx. Warden of Evos Isle only affects flyers not in play, so it doesn’t benefit from Zephyr Charge. And if you’re attacking with Windreader Sphinx, you’re probably already winning, so Zephyr Charge would usually just be a win-more card.

Finally, M14 has a number of answers to flying creatures, including Deathgaze Cockatrice, Deadly Recluse, Giant Spider, and Plummet, in addition to the normal removal spells.

So Zephyr Charge is filler, at best. It is a common and comes around reasonable late, so you shouldn’t spend a high or even a mid pick on it. You should only consider it if it’s late in the draft and your deck don’t have many win conditions.

M14: Domestication

Like most Control Magic effects, Domestication is obviously a very good card. Normally, such effects are better than normal removal spells because they not only neutralize an opposing creature, but add a creature to your side and thereby provide card advantage (a 2-for-1) unless the enchantment is removed. However, M14 has a lot of Auras that increase a creature’s power, so the goal of this post is to determine whether Domestication is exceptional or just playable in M14 drafts so we know whether to pick it over Pacifism or Quag Sickness, for instance.

Let’s start by referring to the spreadsheet I’d previously created with a breakdown of all creatures by power and toughness. Of the must-kill creatures in M14, all 8 commons, 4 of the 6 uncommons, 13 of the 15 rares, and 1 of the 2 mythics have power <= 3, so Domestication can handle about 90% of the must-kill creatures in a typical draft (accounting for rarity). Of the flyers in M14, all 10 commons, 2 of the 5 uncommons, 4 of the 7 rares, and 1 of the 3 mythics have power <= 3, so Domestication can handle about 84% of the flyers in a typical draft.

Those are pretty good numbers, but we need to also account for effects that increase a creature's power. Since Domestication checks the enchanted creature's power at the beginning of the controller's end step, instant-speed pump spells (and some Auras like Blessing where the creature doesn't receive any benefits until you choose) are very effective against Domestication since you can pump the creature after its controller's combat step. Auras that increase a creature's power and sorceries that add +1/+1 counters are also quite effective; while they give your opponent a turn to attack with the enhanced creature, the enchantment remains when you get the creature back, so you've dealt with the Domestication without spending a card. Finally, certain spells are ineffective against Domestication: spells like Fortify and Ranger's Guile that only pump creatures you control work only if cast in response to Domestication and so cannot be relied upon to neutralize it, and sorcery-speed temporary pump spells like Enlarge don't work at all (unless used with Quicken) since the creature's power returns to its original value before your opponent's turn.

That means there are 14 spells that can effectively deal with Domestication even after you no longer control the creature:

  • White: Show of Valor (common), Divine Favor (common), Blessing (uncommon), Ajani Caller of the Pride (mythic)
  • Blue: Illusionary Armor (uncommon)
  • Black: Dark Favor (common), Mark of the Vampire (common)
  • Red: Thunder Strike (common), Lightning Talons (common), Shiv’s Embrace (uncommon)
  • Green: Giant Growth (common), Trollhide (common), Briarpack Alpha (uncommon), Oath of the Ancient Wood (rare)

So white, red, and green have the most number of effective ways to deal with Domestication. Not including the unplayable Oath of the Ancient Wood, there are 8 commons, 4 uncommons, and 1 mythic in the list, so a typical draft will have 24 spells that can potentially combat Domestication. That’s a lot of maindeck-playable answers to Domestication (an average of 3 per player) before we even account for Solemn Offering and Naturalize. While these spells won’t always increase a creature’s power to 4 or more, they will do it often enough for creatures that matter, so Domestication isn’t guaranteed to stick around even if you do have a good target.

In addition, black has a number of sacrifice effects that can turn Domestication into “just” a removal spell (Blood Bairn and Altar’s Reap at common, and Vampire Warlord and Gnawing Zombie at uncommon). Blue has Disperse which can be used after the fact without incurring card disadvantage. And while Ranger’s Guile has to be used in response to Domestication, it only costs one mana.

None of this means that you should not draft or play Domestication, but based on the analysis above I would rate it playable instead of exceptional, and would take Pacificm or Quag Sickness over it early in a draft; while they’re less likely to have as large an impact on the board state, they’re more likely to deal with a creature permanently. If you are playing Domestication and your opponent knows that, they can save their pump effects to deal with it, and side in additional pump effects and enchantment removal, so you might also considering siding it out, especially if you don’t have other enchantment or artifact targets (all enchantment removal in M14 also hits artifacts).

M14: Dismiss into Dream

As a precursor to determining whether it’s worth running enchantment removal maindeck, let’s complete evaluating the remaining enchantments whose quality is still to be determined (listed as “?” in the spreadsheet).

The first of these is Dismiss into Dream. 7 mana is a pretty hefty price tag for a enchantment that probably won’t affect the board on the turn you play it, and may not affect it at all unless you have the right cards to go with it. If you get passed it late, you can determine whether your deck has is sufficiently slow and has enought targeting effects to take advantage of this, but I’d like to determine whether it’s worth taking a little earlier in the draft.

Let’s start by looking at the reusable targeting effects in the format, along with their rarity and the mana cost associated with the ability and any restrictions:

  • White: Master of Diversion (common, 0), Ajani Caler of the Price (mythic, 0)
  • Blue: Zephyr Charge (common, 2), Air Servant (uncommon, 3, flyers only)
  • Black: Blightcaster (uncommon, 0, when you cast an enchantment spell), Liliana of the Dark Realms (mythic, 0, if she has 3+ loyalty counters)
  • Red: Barrage of Expendables (uncommon, 1, requires sacrificing a creature), Chandra Pyromaster (mythic, 0), Scourge of Valkas (mythic, X, when a Dragon enters the battlefield under your control)
  • Green: Oath of the Ancient Wood (rare, X, when an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control)
  • Artifact: Rod of Ruin (uncommon, 3)

So there are 2 common and 3 uncommon reusable targeting effects. The 2 commons are in white and blue, but a W/U deck would prefer to run tempo spells like Disperse, Frost Breath, and Time Ebb to fend off the largest creatures temporarily while it wins in the air. There are also 3 uncommons, but Rod of Ruin is the only one I’d be happy to use with Dismiss into Dream, and it won’t usually kill a creature until the turn after Dismiss into Dream is played.

Let’s look at the remaining targeting effects. I won’t list removal that can usually handle large creatures by turn 8, even if it is slightly conditional (e.g., Doom Blade), requires a permanent to remain in play (e.g., Banisher Priest, Pacifism) or requires a condition that can usually be met on turn 8 (e.g., Hunt the Weak), since those would often be just as effective without Dismiss into Dream.

  • White: Divine Favor (common, 2), Show of Valor (common, 2), Blessing (uncommon, 2), Indestructibility (rare, 4)
  • Blue: Disperse (common, 2), Frost Breath (common, 3), Time Ebb (common, 3), Illusionary Armor (uncommon, 5), Domestication (rare, 4)
  • Black: Dark Favor (common, 2), Festering Newt (common, 1, has to die for effect), Mark of the Vampire (common, 4), Wring Flesh (common, 1)
  • Red: Act of Treason (common, 3), Goblin Shortcutter (common, 2), Lightning Talons (common, 3), Pitchburn Devils (common, 5, has to die for effect), Shock (common, 1), Thunder Strike (common, 2), Flames of the Firebrand (uncommon, 3), Shiv’s Embrace (uncommon, 4), Thorncaster Sliver (rare, 5)
  • Green: Giant Growth (common, 1), Trollhide (common, 3), Briarpack Alpha (uncommon, 4), Enlarge (uncommon, 5)
  • Artifact: Vial of Poison (uncommon, 1+1)

Blue and red have the most number of playable targeting effects at common, but M14 U/R decks are usually aggressive and would prefer to use cards like Goblin Shortcutter, Trained Condor, Lightning Talons, Seismic Stomp, Disperse, Frost Breath, and Time Ebb, to underrun the opponent, than to cast a 7-mana enchantment that allows you to remove the opponent’s creatures permanently.

In short, M14 does not have a lot of cheap, reusable targeting effects to support Dismiss into Dreams. It may be playable as a sideboard card in certain control mirrors, but is otherwise just as unplayable as you probably think it is.

M14: The enchantments deck

Okay, now that we know how to value Angelic Accord and Path of Bravery, it’s time to get to a post I’ve been wanting to write since I first read the spoiler. White and black have 3 cards that get better if your deck has more enchantments: Auramancer (white common), Blightcaster (black uncommon), and Ajani’s Chosen (white rare). How early should you take these cards?

I believe that white and black also have the best common and uncommon enchantments, such as Pacifism and Quag Sickness, so I will only look at these colors when determining how viable the enchantments deck is. I will evaluate enchantments of other colors in another post in the near future, primarily to determine whether Solemn Offering and Naturalize are worth maindecking. It is worth noting that Auramancer works best with enchantments that are likely to end up in the graveyard (such as Quag Sickness) and Ajani’s Chosen works especially well with Auras that enhance your creatures (but not with removal Auras like Pacifism and Quag Sickness or non-creature Auras like Awaken the Ancient and Verdant Haven), so we will treat each of them a little differently.

This spreadsheet lists all enchantments in M14. Note that I have changed some of my evaluations since I first posted the list:

  • Angelic Accord and Sanguine Bond were TBD. After my last post, I now consider them conditional, since they are playable in the right deck.
  • Blessing: I’d initially evaluated this card as filler, but it’s actually dropped in my estimation since I feel that W/B decks in this format tend to run more swamps than plains, in order to maximize Quag Sickness and Corrupt. Also, it doesn’t confer evasion like Shiv’s Embrace or change the race like Mark of the Vampire can.
  • Quag Sickness: I’d initially evaluated this card as playable, but it’s risen in my estimate, partly since most black decks I’ve seen are W/B with more swamps than plains. This means that Quag Sickness can kill larger creatures than I’d expected, and can be retrieved by Auramancers.

The other table in the spreadsheet shows the enchantments pivoted by color, rarity, and my updated evaluation. Let’s consider the white and black enchantments that are not unplayable (minus Indestructibility, which you’ll only rarely sideboard) to see how well they work with each of the enchantments-matter cards:

  • Divine Favor (white common, playable): enhancing Aura
  • Pacifism (white common, exceptional): somewhat likely to end up in graveyard due to enchantment removal, bounce, or sacrifice effects
  • Angelic Accord (white uncommon, conditional): potentially playable since the lifegain deck is also usually W/B
  • Path of Bravery (white rare, exceptional)
  • Dark Favor (black common, playable): enhancing Aura, but I’d rather put it on a creature with evasion
  • Mark of the Vampire (black common, playable): enhancing Aura, but I’d rather put it on a creature with evasion
  • Quag Sickness (black common, exceptional): likely to end up in graveyard
  • Dark Prophecy (black rare, exceptional)
  • Sanguine Bond (black rare, conditional): potentially playable since the lifegain deck is also usually W/B

So there are 5 common, 1 uncommon, and 3 rare enchantments in W/B that are exceptional/playable/conditional, meaning that an average draft will have about 14 of them. All work well with Blightcaster and Ajani’s Chosen, but Divine Favor works especially well with Ajani’s Chosen (I’m likely to want the other enhancing Auras listed above on creatures with evasion rather than a vanilla 2/2). Auramancer mostly combos with Quag Sickness but can also return Pacifism or one of the 3 enhancing Auras if the enchanted creature dies. All 5 of these are common, so an average draft will have 12 of these cards.

Furthermore, many of these cards are not always high picks so you are likely to be able to get your hands on a fair number of them (Quag Sickness requires heavier black, Angelic Accord/Sanguine Bond are only playable in the W/B lifegain deck, and the enhancing Auras are not usually early picks). This means that it’s possible to pick up the enchantments-matter cards early since you are likely to be able to get enough enchantments to go with them over the course of the draft. Sometimes, of course, this won’t work out. In my most recent draft, I took a Blightcaster pack 1, pick 1, over a Battle Sliver. My final deck also had an Auramancer, but I only had 3 enchantments in my deck: a Quag Sickness, a Mark of the Vampire, and a Dark Favor. (I did see a second Quag Sickness but took a Shadowborn Demon over it, and I passed a Pacifism for a Imposing Sovereign.)

It’s much more difficult to do the opposite, since an average draft will have only about 4 cards that care about enchantments. However, most of the white and black enchantments are playable on their own merits, and if you already have a few of them, you can value the enchantments-matter cards more higher if you see them later in the draft.