"The problem is that it's not just one thing. There are a lot of cards that are annoying, and none of them are terrible on their own, it's just the fact that there's always something" - an irate friend, 2018
The Brute on my Gray Ogre, and then he gets even bigger when I swing because of Orcish Oriflamme. I should put them all in a deck!" And as he thought, he did. Granted, his deck wasn't particularly amazing, to say the least, but this anonymous (and, quite frankly, fictitious) trailblazer set the stage for what was to come.
The power of the enchantment is not to be underestimated. After all, Orcish Oriflamme was immediately restricted along with the Power Nine... but on a more serious note, cards such as Necropotence and Fires of Yavimaya definitely left their mark on Magic's history. Decks built around enchantments hover around somewhere on the outskirts of 60 card constructed, with legacy leylines and enchantress probably being the most established. There's also a cute mono-white niche brew floading around modern, stalling for time with Suppression Fields, Runed Halos and Oblivion Rings until it lands a Sigil of the Empty Throne.
The archetype also translates well to EDH. Enchantress decks, named after a long line of potent draw engines, are typically GWx. The green brings most of the enchantresses whilst white brings the bulk of the meat-and-potatoes enchantment power lifters. When the two cross, ungodly beautiful abominations like Sterling Grove, Aura Shards and Mirari's Wake are born. Blue can also contribute nice things (Rest in Peace + Energy Field says hello), making Bant arguably the best colour combination for raw enchantment strength in a deck. However, I'm here today to show you a path less travelled and point out the merits of an Orzhov underdog.
Daxos the Returned looks outclassed in just about every manner imaginable. Other Orzhov legends, such as Karlov of the Ghost Council, offer punchier decks with faster clocks. At the same time, setting out to do an enchantress deck with the fourth best colour accompanying white appears to be suicide. However, upon closer inspection, Daxos turns out to be more viable than most give him credit. Hear me out here, I'm not saying he's strictly better than GWx and the new go-to enchantress commander, just that he doesn't suck.
First and foremost, Daxos's ability results in a good degree of potent late game inevitability. A number of enchantress decks struggle with closing out the game, especially in a way that would be considered "fair", but churning out 10/10s for three mana each after setting up a number of enchantment pieces definitely falls under properly threatening. Also, black isn't even that bad for an enchantment deck, especially one that packs its own mana sink lunch. You get access to tutors (Demonic Tutor, Razaketh, the Foulblooded), insane mana (Urborg + Coffers), draw (Bolas Rock, Necropotence) and some ridiculous constellation effects which Daxos can abuse at instant speed whenever desired (Agent of Erebos, Doomwake Giant, Thoughtrender Lamia).
Combine Daxos's ability with what white and black have to offer and a deck builds itself - soft faux-stax, a list full of "speed bumps" such as Oppression and Rule of Law that perfectly symmetrically claw away at non-mana resources. This slows everybody down... except your commander can use all the unoccupied resources to generate a board state. Buffer the 99 with (preferably enchantment-based) draw, removal, tempo hits, recursion, pillow fort and a splash of late game and you get the perfect "fly under the radar" list.
Sram white would develop a slow, fair board, leaving a lot of time for a wipe that it'd have trouble bouncing back from. Then C15 happened, and I hopped on Daxos to keep up with some friends who bought precons. This allowed me to cheat a bit and get something part-white in the roster, while scratching my enchantment itch and then-current black kick. I fiddled with LGS cards for a few rounds of swaps, which was admittedly fun, but the build eventually got all the high-end stuff as I became further enamoured with it.
Daxos has become my pet deck, leading to me acknowledging off-colour shenanigans as an easy way into my heart for future legends (Feather says hi). The list's gone through multiple primary strategic focuses, starting out as a classic pillow fort shell before going deeper into disruption. Nowadays it's exploring standalone high-end haymakers supplemented with shielding, active pursuit of big mana and card selection. All the prior directions retain their strongest components in the list, resulting in a somewhat varied gameplay experience that might choke the game with a Rule of Law or shred through the 99 with Bolas Rock. Meanwhile, Daxos just ticks up inevitability in the background. A number of useful utility pieces have been printed since 2015, the most notable of which is the crazily underrepresented Big Ole Raz. How in tarnation does he have a sub-2% include rate on EDHREC?!
The following subsections feature a sizeable list of options for each card group, including cards I currently run, cards I ran in the past and cards that will likely never grace my 99. My opinion isn't be-all, end-all, and whilst I can voice my thoughts on Humility and Contamination that doesn't mean you can't come up with some angle where they will work. Cards only present in the spell throttling or friendly version of the build are denoted as such.
1. Ramp/Land Drops
Daxos is mana hungry, got to keep them lands/rocks flowing. Land-based ramp is preferred as it's harder to interact with, but some choice mana rocks, preferably of the enter untapped variety, can be a solid boost too. Plus you get the oddballs that generate mana-equivalent value via other means. All are welcome.
- Anointed Procession - Twice the spirit friends, twice the fun! Surprisingly more than a mere token doubler, as it grants an unexpected amount of flexibility with play/body sequencing in the early game. Plus hey, doubling any future army generation also scales pretty well into the late game. Also works with Smothering Tithe, a fact I may have forgotten a few times.
- Arcane Signet - Hey look, they printed the perfect two-drop rock. Hey look, we're not running it. Weirdly enough, I could come up with more scenarios where Orzhov Signet was beneficial to the list due to its general colour hunger, potentially converting colourless rock mana into a dual colour burst for a spirit or something, than cases where this outperformed the classic. And then Rampant Hawk came around and ate up the slot anyway. One of the first rocks you should add if you go for more rocks in your list, unless it costs a fortune in the timeline you're reading this in. Dammit Gavin.
- Black Market - Forcing you to expend mana in the main phase is a down side you can live with once this goes off. However, it's not necessarily guaranteed to go off. Creatures need to die, and this is not your archetypical Bx stream of murder sort of deck. Requiring five mana and a subsequent juicy wipe, or someone else helping stuff die, makes this a bit too fickle for my liking.
- Bolas's Citadel - Oh, Bolas Rock. Where do I even put you? You technically ramp by cheating casting costs, so you'll live here rather than card draw. Sticking this thing is akin to flipping on turbo mode, just sit back and watch as the deck accrues an insane amount of advantage off the top. All the shuffle and topdeck manipulation effects (Sensei's Divining Top, Doom Whisperer) present in the 99 double up as handy ways to keep the gravy train going. You know you're a crazy card when Necropotence plays support for you, and Top offering up a sorcery speed Yawgmoth's Bargain is similarly bonus perk territory rather than main feature. Try to land some lifegain with this around to keep going unharmed. Wins games quickly if unanswered, puts you in an incredibly solid position even if blown up.
- Burnished Hart - Let's be real for a moment. Sure, we want land ramp, but not when it comes with the need of two inflexible chunks of 3 down the drain with a window of opportunity to be dingused in the meantime. A bit of a sad, no man's land card. The decks that are the best at abusing it are not super dependent on it due to having green in their identity.
- Cartographer's Hawk - Wait, what are you doing, Rumpy?! You just disqualified an Elk for being delayed mana, yet you run this? Yes, yes I do. It costs two to get out, so it can come out ahead of Daxos, poke someone for a Rampant Growth and retreat to hand for later redeployment. Daxos does little actual ramping, and metagaming the format's unpunished drive for land ramp can turn Rampant Hawk into more lands further down the line if desired.
- Chromatic Lantern - While the fact it makes all your colour woes go away with the flick of a wand is wonderful, its mana cost of three is not. Sequences a bit awkwardly in the early game, and doesn't provide a tremendous payoff later on either. Still a hell of a rock, and the more colours you have the more you should be running this.
- Chromatic Orrery - Let's not beat around the bush, the deck likes its mana big. Daxos is not done at seven mana, and Gilded Lotus++ offers a hefty boost to push further into the ludicrous. The remaining text is a bunch of neat perks - suddenly Serra's Sanctum can generate guys on its own, independent of black access, and the world's priciest Divination can also sometimes come into effect. On that note, if you're leaving up mana to turn into dudes later, try to keep Trap Rock up so it can do the thing if a wipe appears.
- Commander's Sphere - The free cycling works well with repeatable recursion, which the list doesn't currently support. Add the fact it's ultimately a typical three-drop rock, and its position in the rock waiting list hierarchy becomes not that good. There are a few two-drop options (e.g. Arcane Signet/Orzhov Signet) that are kicking around on the bench.
- Crucible of Worlds - Given the full seven fetches and bits of symmetric discard, Crucible offers a hefty helping of value. Pitch a land to Oppression and then play it to circumvent the disadvantage in yet another way, keep on recurring that fetch to make land drops you otherwise wouldn't have been able to, protect your big mana lands, just all around good times.
- Crypt Ghast (friendly version) - We have swamps, this makes swamps tap for double, profit. Bonus profit with Urborg. However, as a measly 2/2 creature, is extremely soft to disruption, and doesn't leave anything after it's gone.
- Endless Horizons - Whilst the filtering and extra land supply are nice, the card is asking for trouble and will often eat removal, leaving all the lands you dug up in exile. And, to top it all off, it just grabs plains. We're a two-colour shell, and whilst plains have the potential for some nice synergies (Emeria, the Sky Ruin, Emeria Shepherd) the limitation pushes this into "almost certainly not worth it" territory.
- Expedition Map - Digs up the big mana lands. Seeing how the list's idea of a good time features said big mana lands tapping for much mana, this is a pretty good fit in here.
- Gilded Lotus - Super sturdy rock, three coloured mana that takes us from 5 to 8 opens up a lot of possibilities (or just hastens spirit production). Best pals with Skybind, as it flops back onto the battlefield untapped. You'll rarely be unhappy to see this.
- Hedron Archive - Two Mind Stones glued together is quite useable, probably more so than the original and definitely more so than the triple edition. Pity about it being out of Sun Titan reach.
- Land Tax - A ridiculous value engine. Seeing how there's only so much land ramp here, there will almost certainly be someone at the table with more land than you (at least in the early-mid game), and this allows you to keep your hand buffered with basics at your disposal. Don't go for any of the balanced knock-offs like Gift of Estates though.
- Mana Crypt - Eternal Masters dipped the price enough for me to hop onto the wagon, and now I own this crazy EDH status symbol. Please be wise and don't follow in my footsteps, especially now that the required monetary investment has boomeranged back into the absurd.
- Mana Vault - We're not really racing to any high-CMC play here, and those sort of decks are where this mana rock shines.
- Manascape Refractor - Hello trap rock! Copying a Serra's Sanctum or Cabal Coffers is great and all, but if you have big mana you're already somewhat okay. Without big mana, this is essentially a CIPT Manalith. While it does admittedly do fine when you get going with big lands, it's not worth the investment in the situations you crutch on rocks most.
- Mind Stone - Another classic cycling mana rock, but this time producing colourless mana and actually requiring a mana investment to crack. Still pretty solid, but the deck prefers its mana coloured.
- Orzhov Signet - Lovely colour fixing on a two-drop rock, to the point where it actually somehow survived over Arcane Signet (before eventually succumbing to Rampant Hawk). The deck likes utilising coloured mana for Daxos spirits and isn't hyper picky about proportions, so this can siphon colourless from another rock into two relevant bits of mana. Probably start here if going for more rocks.
- Smothering Tithe - A very interesting card, as its payoff tends to scale with how well your opponents are doing. If everyone's drawing very little and diligently paying you off, you'll probably manage to eke out advantage off having a command zone mana sink without the treasures. If someone just ripped a Scapeshift and drew a bonkers grip with Tatyova, Benthic Druid, that's a wall of mana to jump-start responsive action from. In a regular EDH turn cycle, you're likely to get a few tokens off everyday things. It's pretty common to sit on the treasures and bank them up into a single game-stealing explosive turn.
- Sol Ring - Well, duh. We may be coloured-hungry, bur not to the point where we'd say no to a Sol Ring.
- Solemn Simulacrum - The fact the guy's payoff is immediate, and there's a second value helping when he dies, makes him marginally preferable to Burnished Hart. Plus, sometimes you get to flicker him with Skybind a bit for extra lands.
- Song of the Worldsoul (friendly version) - A spirit is nominally worth three mana, so every single thing you cast going forward comes with that much payoff tacked on for free. Two spells down the line, this thing has effectively paid for itself. A crazy high-end bomb of a card, if you can cast stuff. As such, it's absent from the spell throttle version due to its unreliability there, but it's an all-star in the friendly build. Bounce stuff off Cloudstone Curio for maximum hilarity, or even just tap your Top every turn for an effective two mana spirit discount.
- Starfield Mystic - While the enchantment medallion is nice, the fact he doesn't assist body making in the slightest is suboptimal. Probably best to devote the slot to something that just flat-out makes mana instead.
- Sword of the Animist - Sword of Rampant Growth is a natural fit for a shell like this. Fun, unthreatening pokes with a 3/3 or 4/4 get completely neglected as you slowly amass a ridiculous land count, and soon enough you've got mana out the wazoo and everybody is scratching their head how you got there.
- Talisman of Hierarchy - A two-drop rock that not only doesn't come in tapped, but offers you both colours for the meagre investment of a single life point. One of the first includes you should be making if you decide to add more cheap rocks.
- Thran Dynamo - Pay four mana to permanently gain three colourless. While this deck may prefer its mana coloured, the net total boost single-handedly carrying the list into a very comfortable spot of operation is quite decent. Acted as a gatekeeper for various trap rocks until Chromatic Orrery rolled around, and apparently Daxos Anno Domini 2020 gets to seven mana quite easily.
- Wayfarer's Bauble - A tiny, unassuming land ramp spell that colour fixes like a champ. Worth a slot in most decks not running green.
- Weathered Wayfarer - Like a repeatable Expedition Map, this thing is worth its weight in gold with a mana base filled with big mana producers and some utility options. Will win you the game if it sticks around for a few activations.
- Worn Powerstone - the "balanced" Sol Ring's CIPT downside is something the deck isn't particularly keen on, but it did good work when I ran it.
Somewhere within the 99, a card likely lurks that can answer whatever is going on right now.
- Academy Rector - Allocating four mana for a crummy 1/2 seems like a bad deal... until she dies. Then you get whatever you need out of your deck at instant speed and with no counter window, allowing for some cheeky unforeseen responses that wrench enemy plays as they happen. Cards like this are evidence that Urza Block was initially meant to be enchantment-themed, and by golly is it sad that they got sidetracked from that vision. Pity about sacrifice effects being very scarce in the 99, making the timing of her ability sit more in the hands of your opponents than your own.
- Demonic Tutor - We're in black, there's literally no (non-monetary) reason not to run this. A stupidly awesome tutor that has your back at any stage of the game.
- Diabolic Intent - This seems like a fantastic deal until you realise that it's sorcery speed and the creature you're most likely to be sacrificing to this cost you three mana to make. Suddenly Diabolic Tutor looks better, and that's not really something you'd consider running, would you?
- Diabolic Revelation - The hyper mana intensive top-end tutor that always sits in the back of your mind when you brew a deck, but then you never end up running it. Ironically, its main purpose seems to be dismissing all sorts of other gimmicky high-end tutors as you realise this would do the job better. A perfectly valid consideration in more budget builds.
- Enlightened Tutor - The white part of the Mirage tutors gets to dig up an artifact or enchantment. How handy for us!
- Grim Tutor - Three mana tutors are tricky business, as they can't be deployed super early in the build-up. This one over here at least has the benefit of being unconditional, and I've blown my share of these sort of spells on getting the big mana online. If I freely sink three mana into Expedition Map, including at later stages of the game, then making the casting cost a bit harder to clear and adding infinite range to compensate sounds like an acceptable sacrifice to make.
- Idyllic Tutor - Oh boy, another three-drop tutor in rapid succession. It lacks the flexibility of the unconditional tutors (which can be used early to help set up a good mana base, as mentioned) or the stupidity of Raz, but still has reach to any of the high-end haymakers, silver bullets, or a nice mid-game Necropotence.
- Open the Armory - The aura/equipment range seems limited at first, but you could run a nice toolbox for this to hit within the deck - Lightning Greaves for survival, Sword of Rampant Growth for ramp, Flickering Ward for "Daxos storm" building or protection, Darksteel Mutation for solid removal, Skullclamp for draw and Animate Dead for resurrection for the modern salaryman. Not bad for a two mana white spell.
- Plea for Guidance - Sounds like a great idea until you recall Diabolic Revelation, and then recall you don't run that, and then you still don't run that. See, like I said when I discussed Diabolic Revelation, its main boon is dismissing other expensive tutor options that look like they're playable.
- Razaketh, the Foulblooded - Probably the most game-ending card in the deck, if you have the real estate to support him. Daxos makes this fellow read " , pay 2 life: Demonic Tutor". That's pretty damn good, even if it comes with the steep overhead of being an eight drop. The possibilities are kind of silly, but that's pretty much the joy of repeated easy tutoring on a stick.
- Scheming Symmetry - Ridiculously good in two-headed giant games, a very risky tool otherwise. Sure, you could try to politics your way around it, or give it to the guy who's behind, but a free Vampiric Tutor handed out to an opponent is not where you want to be. Don't forget the sorcery speed - a nontrivial amount of the strength of Enlightened Tutor/Vampiric Tutor stems from their instant nature.
- Sidisi, Undead Vizier - A phenomenal tutor engine in decks that can guarantee her bouncing back and forth between the graveyard and the battlefield. This is not one of those decks.
- Vampiric Tutor - Black shows the Mirage tutors how it's done. One mana and two life are a pittance in EDH land, and your next topdeck is set to whatever you want. Lovely stuff.
Enchantments hit the battlefield, stuff happens. Daxos makes this work at instant speed.
- Agent of Erebos - Selective graveyard hate. We keep our things for recycling later if so desired, but the guy who just tried to pull a reanimation number gets nothing. Good day, sir! If you feel you need more grave hate, there are always static effects like Leyline of the Void to check out. Rest in Peace is a bit more questionable as it turns off various recursion shenanigans we might be trying to do.
- Angelic Chorus - The first of what I'll call "honorary members of the constellation toolbox", in that they don't formally have constellation but they trigger in a similar fashion in this list. This one gets us life off bodies entering on our side of the fence, and whilst it's nifty there are stronger options to run in the 99, especially as it requires an upfront investment of five mana.
- Cloudstone Curio - Another honorary member of the constellation toolbox, it's the second dumbest engine piece in the deck after Skybind. The bodies Daxos makes are both creatures and enchantments, allowing you to protect most of your board against removal if needed. Also, if you get some cheap enchantments, you can bounce them off each other to build "Daxos storm" in a heartbeat. However, my favourite use has to be resetting ETB things or making symmetric hate asymmetric. Sponge up Oppression or Rule of Law back to your hand in the end step of the guy just before you, do your thing, replay them, pass. A mainstay of enchantress decks for a reason, and we get to add a whole new layer of dumb to the equation.
- Court Street Denizen - One more honorary constellation card, works as a mini-Skybind by allowing instant speed creature tapdown. Very fragile though, as it's just a bear like our commander. And, unlike our commander, we can't guarantee this will keep coming back.
- Doomwake Giant - A repeatable board thinner and the absolute bane of all sorts of swarm/weenie/token/small-creature-tribal decks everywhere. True, it likely won't eat that fat Eldrazi sitting diagonally across from you, but it does make the board considerably more manageable.
- Dreadbringer Lampads - Offers intimidate to one creature. Not particularly handy, especially given the investment cost, and yet another pang at not having green as that got the far superior Primal Rage for a fraction of the mana.
- Grim Guardian - Cheap, but the one-life ping isn't likely to matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Running things just because they are cheap isn't the best idea, and the constant life trickle may pull aggro.
- Harvestguard Alseids - Damage is but one of many ways to mess up a creature in EDH. As such, more versatile protection options should take priority over this one.
- Skybind - This card could get its own section. What doesn't it do? Flick your own lands/rocks for more mana (multi-mana all-stars Serra's Sanctum, Cabal Coffers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Gilded Lotus love this). Flick an opponent's lands to keep them off mana. Flick any problematic nonenchantment permanent you don't want them to have right now. Flick things in the end step before a turn to have the things be absent for a whole turn (good against planeswalkers in particular). Flick away a fat attacker coming at you. Flick away a blocker you don't want them to have. Flick the target of a kicked Rite of Replication. Flick things for ETB value. Flick Daxos away from removal or a wrath. Keep flicking that Nevinyrral's Disk so it doesn't go pop. Flick away Cloudstone Curio as you return this to your hand in response to a Bane of Progress. Flick your own lands to get Land Tax/Weathered Wayfarer online if needed. Flick the stax piece that's freezing the game shut and continue with your day unimpeded, possibly the only one to truly do so. Flick a loaded Everflowing Chalice and get kicked out from the table. It's like a wonderfully busted and far less goodstuff value Roon of the Hidden Realm that can target far more things and is only constrained by your mana pool. Whatever is going on, you're likely to have some degree of interaction with Skybind. The card will surprise you time and time again, I keep finding myself using it in new ways just as I thought I exhausted its potential.
- Thoughtrender Lamia (spell throttle version) - Costs a whopping six mana, but completely shatters the game if left unanswered. Soon enough, all of your foes' hands are gutted, and if you can muster three mana per player then you can strip whatever they draw just as they draw it as you get priority in their draw step. I am yet to lose a game that I've managed to reduce to that state, as everybody is stuck trying to topdeck an instant speed answer to the situation, and those don't always come. Just remember to beat down on the guys who are more likely to answer you first when you manage to land in this realm.
- Underworld Coinsmith - Cheap, but also rather underwhelming. The subtle lifegain trickle is not going to make huge splashes, and paying two mana to slug everybody for one seems like a waste when compared to paying three mana for a growing spirit token.
Daxos offers spirit making as a useful way to offload mana. Keep people off cards/spells to further amplify this fact, and make it more difficult to interact with you. This can make foes irate, proceed with some level of caution.
- Archon of Emeria - A Rule of Law with extra nonbasic hate tacked on. Alas, in true 2020 Magic fashion, it comes in the form of a body rather than an enchantment. A potent option if you're trying to maximise cast throttling and you can scrounge up a satisfying number of enchantments elsewhere.
- Bottomless Pit - The fact it eats a random card makes for some pretty nasty disruption and can lead to fantastic random wrenching of opponents' game plans. Don't forget it also affects you, so if you have something particularly bombastic in your hand aim to get it out sooner rather than later.
- Contamination - Technically can throttle spells as it locks mana access. The commander is a token engine, so it must be great to run this massively fair and fun card, no? No. You'd essentially need to go heavy on the rocks to sustain token production under the lock without dwindling your board away, and that opens up a whole slew of problems. Plus, it shuts off your big mana lands. As such, you'd have to pursue an entirely different game plan.
- Chains of Mephistopheles (spell throttle version) - The cutting edge draw denial card, as with this on the field the only source of hand size increase becomes your draw for the turn. Gets sidestepped by Necropotence, like all the other draw control options brought up later. Uba Mask puts on a pretty close impression of this, and is even meaner in some ways because it also mauls the draw step. You should probably run that instead.
- Deafening Silence - Oh wow! A Rule of Law for one! Hold your horses, fella, this only chokes noncreatures. We're made of noncreatures, so for us this is essentially a full version of the effect, while your stereotypical power appropriate opponent will still probably get in a couple spells a go. Not the best. Reach for this in a spellslinger-heavy meta, or if you're crazy and want to take Daxos to some higher power tables.
- Eidolon of Rhetoric (spell throttle version) - Rule of Law in creature form. Seeing how the effect is bonkers in this deck, there's no reason to not run him. The fact he's got four toughness is also pretty handy at dodging the occasional bolt.
- Larceny - We're not going wide enough to make this as dumb as it has the potential to be. Parting with five mana for this doesn't help either, we're probably better off sticking with more reliable options.
- Mind Slash - Paying four mana to repeatedly eat creatures instant speed (Attrition) is serviceable, but the same mana commitment for a single shot of targeted sorcery-speed discard is less enticing.
- Mindslicer - A lovely hand gutter, but he's not an enchantment and there's not enough sacrifice outlet density to ensure he'd work. Having control over when his effect fires is critical, as he doesn't work well as a defence-duty rattlesnake blocker.
- Myojin of Night's Reach - A one-shot no-questions-asked asymmetric hand gut, typically hobbles the opponents enough to let you get a solid leg up on the game before they stabilise. If you open him in the starting grip, the plan becomes to rush him out pronto, and there's no shame in tutoring for mana rocks to make it happen. A bit of a letdown if encountered later, especially if the rest of the deck got some discard going already.
- Necrogen Mists - Whilst it may be lacking the wonderful random aspect of Bottomless Pit, it's still a card dribble that depletes resources over time. That's fewer cards for everybody to play, fewer ways to answer you, and more advantage gained through spirit tokens.
- Oppression (spell throttle version) - Don't forget to play this as the last spell of the turn you play it. People like playing spells, and this forces them to assess what to pitch with frightening regularity and may lead to some misplays in your favour. Or, if you dungoof, some misplays in someone else's favour. This card is only second to Thoughtrender Lamia for discard-based disruption, as even a draw-happy shell is constantly gutting itself to do things.
- Painful Quandary - Take the prior effect, add two more mana to make it asymmetric as per current Magic design, and let the foes make a choice - lose five life unless you drop a card. People tend to be very light-hearted with their life totals, and may only realise quite a bit down the line that they shouldn't have just handed out all those life points to the Quandary triggers. On the other hand, if they choose to pitch cards, they stifle themselves like under Oppression. Wonderfully lose-lose.
- Rule of Law (spell throttle version) - Everybody only gets one spell a turn now. May not seem like a big deal at first, but it adds up over time, and even the hyperactive Ux player juggling instants in other players' turns like nobody's business will probably want to play more than one spell at some point as well. Just about every deck is wrenched by this to some degree... whilst you just keep pumping out fat spirits to run people over with.
- Spirit of the Labyrinth (spell throttle version) - A modern-day recreation of Chains of Mephistopheles on a hatebear. The hatebear is, regrettably, woefully soft to a ridiculous number of things (being a 3/1 gets you killed quite a bit easier than a 1/4). Still, the combo with widely understood casting impediments is real, keeping people's options at bay. Doesn't get along with Mesa Enchantress, but you can just hold whichever one you didn't play in your hand for a change of pace when the first one gets answered. Keep in mind Necropotence gets around this limitation.
- Uba Mask - Hello there, fine individual, once the turn you drew the card in is over you shall permanently lose access to said card. Impedes hand size development like a boss, the discard pieces quickly slide way up the annoyance scale, and Skybind in the draw step can keep them off what they drew if you'd rather they didn't get it. Also doesn't hurt that Necropotence is completely unfazed by this as well, just like the other options of a similar nature mentioned earlier.
Don't shake a stick at actually drawing some cards yourself, or manipulating your topdeck for maximum gain. The deck's quite good at this "shuffling" thing, so the Tops of the world do just fine here.
- Arguel's Blood Fast - A handy card dispenser that can be used to refuel whenever, including after a surprise wrath that left you with a lot of open mana that you held up for interaction or body creation. The fact it's the cheapest to play of the Greed variants leads to a marginally smoother early game experience (although this class of effect is largely a late-game ordeal), and the panic button Diamond Valley flip could help you stay afloat the one time it ever happens.
- Azor's Gateway - The pre-flip form is an unassuming exile-loot engine. Smooth out any stage of the game, cashing in any silver bullets that may be unneeded, whenever a stray bit of mana hangs around. And if you get it to flip, the cries of geegmas will come pouring in. Not bad for something that comes down for two mana. It should be noted that the feelbad when this gets offed close to flip time is soul-crushing though.
- Disciple of Bolas - The window of opportunity where he shines the brightest is very narrow, as you need to have a fat disposable token. If you have a fat disposable token, you're probably doing okay.
- Doom Whisperer - A surprisingly flexible bugger, can either function as a faux-Top in more established game/board states or offer pretty deep dig in dire times. Gets silly with lifegain, albeit possibly in a slightly winmore fashion. The bits of the deck that can reach the graveyard don't mind either.
- Erebos, God of the Dead - The fact that this Greed variant comes on a cute anti-lifegain hatebear body makes surprisingly little difference, and the body part isn't super easy to get online.
- Graveborn Muse (friendly version) - Daxos is a zombie, so this is essentially a double Phyrexian Arena. Splash in Agent of Erebos and it gets tripled, but there's no way to go higher than that without outside help.
- Greed - The fact it's cheaper to activate than Erebos/Blood Fast makes this preferable in the late game scenarios where these cards really come online. However, as a trade-off, that's literally all this thing does.
- Idol of Oblivion (friendly version) - Costs two, so can come out ahead of Daxos, and then taps for a free extra card whenever a token is created. I don't know if you noticed, but this deck tends to make tokens quite frequently
- Liliana's Contract - Not quite as efficient as Promise of Power, but makes up for it with an enchantment body. The experience counters need to come from somewhere, plus this opens up the potential for recursive/bouncing value. It's not worth pursuing a demon sub-theme for the alternate win on this single card.
- Mesa Enchantress - Granting cantrips to a third of the deck is pretty good in terms of keeping the grip topped up with options. Gets kind of silly with Cloudstone Curio or Flickering Ward. Plus hey, what's an enchantress deck without an enchantress?
- Necropotence - I mean, it's Necropotence. Keep yourself constantly topped up, whether you have a draw lock down or not, and if you dip too low life-wise you've hopefully drawn some way of getting some life gain online. The fact it's an enchantment is just gravy. Wonderful, fitting, experience-granting gravy.
- Phyrexian Arena - Draw an extra card at the cost of one life each turn. Simple and awesome. Just about every deck that runs black and isn't lightning-fast can be seen sporting a copy of this little ditty.
- Read the Bones - A solid draw spell, but the list evolved towards continuous card economy value. If you were to insert a cheap one-shot, this would probably be the preferable one.
- Sensei's Divining Top - A virtual card advantage superbeast, especially given the amount of shuffling in the deck and the forecast length of the games. A cool way to sink excess mana trimmings (including during pre-Daxos early game awkwardness) in return for added planning depth. Works quite nicely with the discard elements of the list in a vacuum, unlike Scroll Rack.
- Skullclamp - Good ole 'clamp provides more value in this shell than one would actually expect. When on one experience counter, dispenses as many Divinations as you need, when higher up just slam it on a blocker and let it ride. Nevertheless, it's not quite as efficient at netting the cardboard as it is in a more sacrifice-heavy deck, often leaving a lot of the payoff decisions to your foes.
- Treacherous Blessing - Appropriate name! Drawing cards encourages casting stuff rather than going for a card/spell chokehold, and then the drawback on this bad boy becomes an active hinderance. Could be averted and milked with Cloudstone Curio, but that's just one synergy piece. Maybe some day in the future, when there's enough dumb Orzhov engine pieces to strip out the Rule of Laws.
- Underworld Connections - This is not strictly crappier than Phyrexian Arena as sometimes you can untap the land with Deserted Temple! Okay, fine, that's grasping at straws. This mainly serves as a way to dismiss inferior draw options, kind of how Diabolic Revelation safeguards against various tutoring jank.
- Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - Looks like a hell of an include at first glance. Then you remember Greed exists and you don't run that, and this effectively costs three mana per card. True, you can use it to slurp cards in response to a wipe, but it seems quite inefficient otherwise. The proliferate is not too shabby either, but it's ultimately a mixture of two okay modes on a four drop non-enchantment. Big Ole Raz this is not.
Orzhov is incredible at removing things, and removing things is good. Comes in enchantment flavour too!
- Act of Authority - Perma-exiles an artifact or enchantment on ETB, and sticks around to boost devotion/enchantment count. Can be passed on if something REALLY needs to go, or help dismantle a fort as you got for a lethal blow, or do disgusting things with Cloudstone Curio.
- Anguished Unmaking - The gold standard in non-cEDH removal, three mana, instant speed, hits anything that isn't a land, and it exiles. Well, the life loss of three isn't ideal, but it's something that can be survived. Ridiculous card, and sure to be a staple in anything WBx for years to come.
- Attrition - Sacrificing dudes for repeated removal is a great deal when your commander is a dude dispenser. Makes for a fantastic on-board rattlesnake, stopping people from messing with your stuff by threatening to mow their board as a thank you.
- Aura of Silence - A multi-purpose bugger that can act as taxation or a one-off nuke. A surprisingly large number of decks will be somewhat perturbed by the former, as just about everyone has some artifacts/enchantments they want to get out.
- Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim - Looks like a wonderful value engine at first glance, as she can gain you life and then turn bodies into Vindicates. Now, take a step back and assess the condition on the Vindicate. Sinking six mana (as you need the body) isn't that bad, but you have to be at 50. This is not trivial to do as the shell isn't particularly lifegain-centric. As such, you're probably going to have to expend a massive chunk of resources to crawl to 50 off her Diamond Valleys. Not ideal.
- Cast Out - It may lack the abusive wording of the original Oblivion Ring, but the flash makes it reasonable. Combine with Cloudstone Curio to potentially reset the removal to a more needed target at instant speed.
- Council's Judgment - A wonderfully dumb political spell that can end up generating tremendous value and sneak around hexproof. However, it is sorcery speed. Seeing how I'm enchantment tribal, if my removal is sorcery speed then it's an enchantment. The non-enchantment options have to be well-costed instants. Maybe it'll worm its way into the deck at some point...
- Darksteel Mutation - Any problem creature becomes an irrelevant insect. Great tool to lock down commanders, and responds to Open the Armory as well if you've got that toolbox going on. Note the interaction with Doomwake Giant - whilst it may be desirable to eat a fat Eldrazi, you're not going to get as much value as hoped for if it goes on a commander (as the commander instantly dies, and the goal is to keep him out of reach of the player).
- Deadly Rollick - Free is good. However, costing four is less good. You do tend to keep Daxos out more often than not, but the actual mana cost on this makes it unpleasant when he's not around. Especially since this is a Wx deck, so you get both Swords and Path instead.
- Despark - The low mana cost, the limited range is surprisingly bad. You'd think that the high CMC stuff would be what you'd want to blow removal on, but quite often it's some cheap utility/engine that this won't touch.
- Generous Gift - Beast Within is a shoe-in in anything running Gx. This is a white version of that, and similarly shoe-in.
- Grasp of Fate - Whilst the wording might be tame, the card is tremendous value. You hit a thing per player, so you're likely to amass a super fat amount of value under this enchantment, and then you can use the value belonging to other players to deter people from blowing the Grasp up. It usually works.
- Nevermore - Technically kind of spot removal. Proactively shut off any sort of nastiness. Typically it gets aimed at a particularly painful commander, but I've shut off all sorts of spells with it.
- Oblivion Ring - The problem with O-Ring is that it doesn't handle the problem in a permanent manner, and if removed the threat comes right back. It's a single target, so you can't politics your way around it like Grasp of Fate. This hurts particularly bad if this happens through some sort of Austere Command. However, the screwy wording makes the thing stay exiled when you die, and allows for Cloudstone Curio shenanigans.
- Path to Exile - No, you may not have that creature, but you can have a Rampant Growth instead. Not much to say about this one-mana treasure that hasn't been said a thousand times before.
- Prison Term - The possibility to flip this onto new creatures makes this one of the finer Arrest variants. However, commanders are better kept down with Darksteel Mutation, and everything else is better removed in a more permanent fashion.
- Profane Procession - While it may cost a bit more to activate than Attrition, it fires in a chump-independent manner, exiles, doesn't care about the blackness or lack thereof of the target, and once it flips you get to make active use of what you got rid of. This makes it act as a bit of an insurance policy for things going south, making it good for the deck's overall well-being.
- Quarantine Field - Would require a tremendous mana investment to get Grasp of Fate tier value, and even then it's likely to not be as symmetrical (as some people are naturally more threatening than others) and more likely to get removed. Do not want.
- Seal of Cleansing - A really good value piece of artifact/enchantment removal, but I've currently got enough in the 99 (Aura of Silence plus all the hit-all stuff).
- Seal of Doom - While the same old recursion shtick as always can make this be a wonderful value house, there's only so much creature removal a deck can hold. It was in the list for a long time and always performed fine.
- Soul Snare - It's cheaper than the above, but it comes with the drawback of only hitting creatures attacking you. Potent rattlesnake? Yes. But sometimes things need to go boom and waiting for them to attack you isn't going to do you any favours. Also, you'll still eat lovely, lovely annihilator triggers and things of that nature.
- Swords to Plowshares - Giving a land too generous for you? Fine, here's an even more "fair" option where you just hand out some life instead. Same story as Path, ridiculously good, run anywhere Wx.
- Teysa, Orzhov Scion - While the value looks real, take a step back once more. Our bodies cost three mana to make and it would take one hell of a resource expenditure to get things going with this lady, even including the 1/1 flyers on the rebound. Decks built around her make better use of her unquestionable goodness.
- Utter End - Two blocks before there was Anguished Unmaking, there was this. And this is still pretty good and lives in the 99.
- Vindicate - Both Anguished Unmaking and Utter End are blatant heirs to this. And then Generous Gift happened.
Sometimes stuff needs to go boom. Often this is followed by you rebuilding at a disproportionate pace.
- Consulate Crackdown - Vandalblast is a no-brain include in the vast majority of decks with red in them. This is white's Oblivion Ring-flavoured take on the idea. Usually the wiping will be asymmetric, but at the same time it's quite probable that the deck that got hurt the most by this happening will have the hardest time removing it. You can usually politics a bit to keep it alive, similar to Grasp of Fate.
- Dusk // Dawn - Daxos is a bear, so he gets to live through this mass destruction of everything hill giant and above. If your spirits were caught in the explosion, you can rebuild quickly. The aftermath thing may be value every now and then as well. Slightly preferable to the other effects of this kind (Retribution of the Meek, Citywide Bust, Elspeth, Sun's Champion) due to the more stringent criteria, but largely outclassed by Slaughter the Strong.
- Extinguish All Hope - A card that feels tailor made for this deck. True, the wrath lacks a no-regeneration clause as it's a new offering, but it still usually wins games on the spot when used as an alpha strike enabler. Obviously can also be used in less advantageous board states to avoid getting melted.
- Merciless Eviction - Mass exile is even more effective than a mass destroy, and the wide array of choices mean that you'll usually find a way to make this hurt the table quite a bit. The fact the list doesn't crutch on rocks quite as hard as it used to means that the artifact mode isn't quite as suicidal as it may seem. I ran it for a few years, and it served me fine.
- Rout - You get a Wrath of God for 5 which you can optionally flash in for 7. The flashing is a very valid line of play here as we often hold mana to interact with people that we can subsequently convert into spirits if interaction turned out to be unneeded. Incredible for punishing (or, better yet, following up expertly baited) horribly overextended plays out of nowhere.
- Single Combat - If undisrupted, you scrape the board clean, stop it from rebuilding, and have dibs on poking people with spirits largely unimpeded if desired. If someone pops Daxos with this on the stack, that's you keeping a spirit token, missing a turn of experience buildup no matter what, and everyone else having priority in rebuilding. I don't live life dangerously enough to try this.
- Slaughter the Strong - Guess what natively comes with four or less power? Daxos. The most ruthless board unclogger from all the "big dudes must die" options. If encountered early, feel free to take a while to maximise mana expenditure on experience-granting enchantments and then blow up the world at minimal tempo loss to you.
- Toxic Deluge - Probably the best damn wrath in the format. The life loss is not ideal, but the variable degree of debuffing makes up for that. Eats all sorts of indestructible nonsense, and can potentially be used later on as a faux-Extinguish All Hope to leave your swarm standing. Plus hey, three mana.
- Tragic Arrogance - The beauty of life is that you get to make all the choices, but the fact that it gobbles up your enchantment state is typically far from ideal.
- Winds of Abandon - The ultimate alpha setup, as for six the foes are all ripe for the killing while your board is completely untouched. The ramp drawback is nontrivial, as you're suddenly feeding your opposition a ton of extra mana, but some non-alpha use is still acceptable if it catches some crucial engine pieces on the way out. Also comes with a crappy Path to Exile in case you need to surgically remove something earlier.
- Wrath of God - An oldie but a goodie. Good old unconditional wiping of the board clean for a very sensible cost of 4.
General category for everything that makes it less pleasant to swing into you or makes you swing better into others.
- Aurification - Disincentivises swinging into you as the creatures become walls... until this is removed. Which is not all that hard to do. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
- Authority of the Consuls - The value this pulls in over the course of a game is incredible. The CIPT clause makes it more difficult to put up defences, hoses hasty beats, and even incidentally turns off some infinite combos. The life gain is nothing to sneeze at either. And all this for a meager one mana!
- Blind Obedience - Costs one more mana than Authority of the Consuls to tweak the lifegain mechanic and add a CIPT clause on artifacts. The extort is nothing to sneeze at either, in particular if Bolas Rock comes out to play. Decent low-cost utility.
- Cathars' Crusade - While often associated with extreme go-wide strategies, the Crusade also offers quite a bit of utility in this shell. The ability to generate meaningful amounts of power regardless of experience counter state works great as both an offensive and defensive tool, helping you close out games early or get back on the horse after a shaky Daxos hate start. Stock up on the tokens though, the logistics are a bit on the wild side due to our incremental body generation.
- Cover of Darkness - And for my next trick, my spirit army will get fear. Not ideal, as black and artifact (even black artifact!) creatures exist, but very solid for a two-drop nevertheless. Slot it in if you want help with connecting.
- Crackdown - A wonderful lid to slam down onto a tapped board. Out of nowhere, all that glorious EDH fat is frozen shut as you retain access to your wall of 8/8s as they're part white. True, there may be some other part-white stuff at the table, but this is likely to heavily skew the board state in your favour when it resolves, and it works together wonderfully with Authority of the Consuls. Even if played on curve with nothing around, it acts as means to persuade the EDH fat to stay untapped, i.e. not attacking. That's still pretty good for you.
- Ethereal Absolution - A mini Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite with some grave hate tacked on because yes. Brutal in Humility builds, but too costly for our operation here.
- Ghostly Prison - Pillow fort is another soft form of stax, as your foes have to actively expend resources to try to damage you. Two mana per swinger may not seem like much, but it does add up across most stages of the game and your opponents may find their game plan warped by this tax if they choose to go after you. The fact it's a three drop doesn't hurt either.
- Gossamer Chains - The fact it keeps bouncing itself to your hand to be replayed is lovely, but the trade-off comes in the narrowed window of potency when compared to more "global" pillow fort effects or even something like Righteous Aura.
- Koskun Falls - The original Ghostly Prison from Homelands. See, Homelands was useful! The tapping of a creature in the upkeep is an unfortunate cost to have, though, as this falls off and dies if somebody wraths the board.
- Marchesa's Decree - Replaces itself, and then sends the table on a goose chase to get value. In theory, that is. In practice, whenever I got this out I'd get continually punched even sans crown. Probably a local quirk. One way or another, you need to do more at four mana to merit consideration.
- Mystic Barrier - This can sometimes handily wrench game plans of opposing decks by forcing them out of where they want to attack (Marchesa comes to mind) and/or protecting you from things you don't want to get hit by. Other times, you have fat armies on your left and right. Its inconsistency makes it not merit the five mana price tag.
- No Mercy (friendly version) - The main leg up that this has over Aurification is that the creatures die on impact. True, it does nothing against indestructibility or a one-shot alpha, but on the whole it's a far more solid option to set down as just removing the enchantment doesn't fix the effects it's had. Likely to underperform in higher power settings where chip damage is less common, and as a result can serve as a sort of measuring stick for whether it's necessary to pursue spell throttling.
- Reconnaissance - A lovely little combat-related mess, grants all your stuff vigilance as you can pull the guys who deal damage out of combat after damage but before combat is over. Also, you can remove disadvantageously blocked fellows from combat before they fall. And all of this wonderful offensive/defensive nonsense, useful at any stage of the game, for one mana!
- Righteous Aura - For a white and two life, anything coming your way gets absorbed. Turn off voltrons, fireballs, even the occasional too-fat swinger. Just setting this down discourages a lot of stuff from coming your way, and on top of that it's more versatile than a typical pillow fort deterrent.
- Sphere of Safety - Takes the idea Ghostly Prison had and knocks it out of the park. Don't forget that your spirits also count for the total. I routinely manage to slam down enough enchantment total that people physically cannot afford to swing into me. Or if I'm not quite so lucky (yet), the tax typically is so fat out of the gate that it heavily maims their entire turn to try to do something to me with even one creature.
- True Conviction - This card wins games almost as well as Thoughtrender Lamia. All of a sudden the spirit horde slams twice as hard and gains you ridiculous amounts of life. The first game I drew it after putting it in, I was on single digits against an opponent on three digits. I momentarily stabilised and two turns later he was dead while I was the one on triple digits. I don't run much life gain or plain pump, but this is the best of the best and can do things beyond belief even when played on a modest board of small spirits.
Pick up the fallen pieces and keep going like nothing happened. That, or just nope the attempt in the first place.
- Alseid of Life's Bounty (friendly version) - Reactive colour protection is a decent way to shield stuff from spot removal. Notice the Alseid's ability mentions enchantments, which extends the range of the insurance to key pieces that could get surgically popped to dismantle your board. Combine that with netting an experience counter on cast and you get a solid low-cost option. That said, being an x/1 is not great for survival.
- Animate Dead - The best of the reanimation enchantment variants that responds to Open the Armory. Mentioning it here as that's a good toolbox to maintain in a Daxos deck, and you may desire a reanimation aura.
- Argivian Find - A one-shot recursion of any artifact or enchantment back to your hand for a measly investment of one mana. Reasonable if I say so myself.
- Auramancer - Lose some range, gain some CMC, but also pick up a body. Compensate with added value with some outside help, as it works well with both recursion and the standard "engines" (Skybind, Cloudstone Curio).
- Brought Back - If encountered early, line up a Rampant Growth (or two!) by popping this after you fetch. If encountered later, just hold it as a shield for any key pieces propping up your contraption. What a flexible card.
- Cosmic Intervention - Note that the recursion bubble lasts until the end of the turn, while any recurred stuff returns at the start of the end step. As such, combine this with a solitary fetch and you've got a Skyshroud Claim, and the cost can be split across two turns as well. Assembles big mana with Expedition Map (albeit in a mana-intensive fashion). And this is just the ramp application - this can act as an even wider shield than Brought Back if need be. Another neat flexible card for the arsenal.
- Debtors' Knell - Repeatedly probe graveyards for choice creature cuts. Once upon a time, a guy had Winter Orb going with a ton of mana rocks and was drawing loads off a Jin Gitface. Another guy had a Mindslicer in his graveyard. I repeatedly gunned down the Jin with an Attrition, keeping him off cards, until he couldn't do it anymore. I then rode some other sweet graveyard value ponies to victory. Nothing else in this list, or most of my other lists, would have won that game. Whilst this may not be as game-ending as its CMC would like it to be, the steady Daxos-independent trickle of value is a decent thing to have access to in the 99.
- Emeria Shepherd - A member of the general Sun Titan family, with its recursion being triggered by landfall. While not quite as reliable as the Titan on her own, a number of synergy pieces peppered in through the 99 make her take off and do all sorts of fun things, be it whipping out Rule of Law at an inopportune time during an opponent's turn, buffering your hand with discard fodder, or just being able to reach the high-CMC game-ending haymakers that the original Titan can't touch.
- Etchings of the Chosen - An indestructibility shield for the low low cost of a spirit token, as you're naming spirit with this when you cast it. Indestructibility shields are reasonably useful, granting survival from most wipes and increased efficiency of early-game chumping. You even get an extra virtual experience counter to compensate. However, the combination of needing mana to activate and the three-mana investment add up to just enough incovenience.
- Flickering Ward - Protection from a colour is a woefully underrated thing, if placed correctly you turn off the most likely avenue of spot removal and/or enable Daxos to act as a fearless blocker. And if a wrath hits the table, you just soak it right back to your hand. Or, if you're bored, you cast it over and over again to build "Daxos storm", which can get silly if you also happen to have Skybind. But what doesn't get silly with Skybind, really. Or you can draw a bunch of cards with Mesa Enchantress. Good times are likely to be had.
- Greater Auramancy - A literal lightning rod of all targeted enchantment interaction until dealt with. True, it does nothing if you get wiped, but forcing your opponents to expend some of their limited supply of spot removal on this is not too shabby for two mana. Gets particularly funny with Karmic Justice or a bit of recursion.
- Karmic Justice - Effectively a similar removal lightning rod to Greater Auramancy, coming with the upside of punishing your foes for destruction effects. A lot of enchantment wipes and abusable nonsense like Aura Shards tends to destroy rather than exile. Oh no!
- Kaya's Ghostform - A lovely cheap shield against anything that may happen to your dude, exile included. You get the con of it being an aura, but most of the time you were going to put it on Daxos anyway. Not a bad way to get a super cheap experience counter.
- Mother of Runes - The fact the ability can shield any creature is nice, the fact it's once per turn cycle, does nothing against wraths and is prone to summoning sickness is not.
- Necromancy - If I ever add a one-off reanimation spell, it will probably be this due to potential instant-speed shenanigans.
- Phyrexian Reclamation - It comes down for one mana and makes sure Daxos never costs more than five. Simple as that. The fact it can recur other fallen creatures every now and then is just gravy.
- Open the Vaults - A more balanced version of the card below, I'm not quite as keen on it even if it also returns my artifacts as others also get to have their stuff back.
- Replenish - Let's not beat around the bush, stuff will land in your graveyard. The enchantments can be countered, destroyed, discarded, milled, whatever. And then you land a single glorious Replenish and they all fly back onto the field. Only in Urza Block, ladies and germs. If it resolves, your chances of losing the game dramatically decrease, and if you have constellation stuff in the graveyard or on the field you may have just sealed the deal right then and there. Doom Whisperer feeds this like crazy as well. Holding it backs for a fat graveyard is not always the play though - I've used it to literally just get back a Darksteel Mutation, and that won me the game too.
- Silent Sentinel - The fact it doesn't care about CMC is lovely, but the fact you have to wait for an attack isn't. Sun Titan and Emeria Shepherd are both preferable.
- Starfield of Nyx - It's a trap! Due to layers, this nopes all your tokens. Even if it didn't, you don't want to animate all your important enchantments as it's far easier to sweep the board from creatures. Stay away! Unless you're consciously running it to do disgusting things with Grave Pact variants! But then how do you win! Exclamation point!
- Sun Titan - Not much can be said about this guy that hasn't been said already. Works well with a lot of the discard/fetching/value present in the list, and even picks up Serra's Sanctum if somebody cracks a Strip Mine. His only con is that he can't do anything about a fallen Skybind, Thoughtrender Lamia, True Conviction or any other high cost game ender, whilst some of the inferior options can. He more than makes up for it by putting on a weird ramp face with fetches though. Served diligently for many years.
- Teferi's Protection - A one of a kind bizarro cardboard that leads to wonky interaction with everything from Cyclonic Rift to Exsanguinate. Holding up three mana for this will make you feel about as safe as you ever will playing this list, and then if it turns out to not be necessary and you're not paranoid about Rift you can just sink the mana into a body.
- Treasury Thrull - Swinging with a non-vigilant 4/4 is considerably worse than swinging with a vigilant 6/6, let alone a flying 4/4. You're going to have trouble keeping this fellow alive to get maximum value out of him.
At the foundation of every reasonably playable deck sits a reasonably playable mana base. We're missing out on a lot of good lands as we're an enemy pairing, but you can still piece together something pretty sensible. My build runs a Scrubland and all the fetches as I've gradually pulled out all the stops for a pet deck that's been around since 2015, but for the longest time I made do with a setup that topped out on a Godless Shrine and Fetid Heath. Splurge on as many big mana pieces as you can.
- Bojuka Bog - It slides in, somebody's graveyard slides out. Don't forget you can re-use it with Skybind and Cloudstone Curio (although the latter is admittedly pretty shoddy).
- Cabal Coffers - The trick to running Coffers in a non-mono-black list is to not treat it as a land drop per se. That seems to work, somehow, and Coffers becomes this weird sort of acceleration or filtering play you make when needed or you run out of other lands. Getting three swamps, enough to make this effectively tap for one, isn't too hard with the duals, fetches and basic acquisition. And after that, if you land Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, things get funny.
- Caves of Koilos - While being optional makes this better than City of Brass variants, I found myself using the colourless mode a lot and this became a better nonbasic once one rolled around. Easy include for mana bases without a fetch focus.
- Command Tower - 2+ colour commander deck? Check. Even more auto-include than Sol Ring.
- Concealed Courtyard - Drops the ball the split second you have enough lands to cast Daxos. If anything, we're more likely to stomach a tap land in the very early turns, and this is going to actively get in the way at any later stage of the game. No thank you.
- Deserted Temple - A tried and true mono-black staple, where it untaps Cabal Coffers (and sometimes Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx) for stupid mana. Gee, what could it untap here? We have both of those, and to top it off we have Serra's Sanctum. So maybe we should run it? You're a freaking genius, you idiot!
- Eiganjo Castle - Incidentally protects Daxos every now and then, comes in untapped, so worth a slot. There are only so many good utility lands, so worth considering if the basic count isn't too endangered.
- Fabled Passage - Given the deck's low levels of early game activity, pretty much the only truly bad time to play this is as a third land, impeding Daxos that turn. Yay, another fetch for various shuffling/Crucible action!
- Fetid Heath - An unsung hero in the land department, can convert a mana of one colour to two mana of the other colour. Works solidly with Skybind and Serra's Sanctum as it turns a Sanctum white into two black and you can flicker both the Sanctum and the Heath away from the spirit ETB triggers. Army in a can mode is go, even if no other big mana is present! Thankfully relatively affordable, as the enemy representatives of the cycle got reprinted.
- Flagstones of Trokair - Cute minor land destruction protection, but we're not running any shenanigans that would enable it to be truly silly. No need to dig into the basic count for this.
- Godless Shrine - The flexibility is nice. You can slide it in tapped if the opportunity presents itself, or shock yourself if you need the mana right here, right now. But you know that already, shocks are everywhere.
- Hall of Heliod's Generosity - An Academy Ruins for enchantments, offering recursion of key pieces at the relatively low opportunity cost of a colourless land. Skybind will never die! Unless you exile it, I guess. But then does it even count as dying? Still, run this bad boy.
- Isolated Chapel - Another unsung hero in two-colour decks, what a wonderful land cycle. They lose some shine as more colours come into the equation, but at two they're perfect. The shadow lands with the inverse of this ability don't do nearly as much for me.
- Karn's Bastion - Proliferate can hit experience counters, which is pretty cool. However, if things are working, you'll have other stuff to do. If things are not working, you can likely spend that mana on trying to get back on track.
- Marsh Flats - Run the fetches if you have them, especially if you have the fetchable duals and Crucible of Worlds to go along with them. The mana base can be perfectly functional without them though, they do improve the experience a bit but are more of a vanity item than anything.
- Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - We tend to develop a fat board state with heavy devotion, so Nykthos is a natural match. Complements Serra's Sanctum wonderfully, as you can use some of the Sanctum's white mana to activate this for black devotion.
- Orzhov Basilica - Karoos are one of the better tap land cycles, but come with nonzero risk. True, you can spin it as card advantage, but they're asking for trouble. One Strip Mine, or even just an opportunistic bounce effect later, the tempo slug will be painfully apparent.
- Prismatic Vista - A Marsh Flats that can't get duals. Still pretty good, and works just as well with Crucible of Worlds.
- Reflecting Pool - Incredible in 2+ colour. This is 2+ colour. Hence stick it in here. True, it can't offer you a colour of mana you can't make, and this will occasionally rear its head, but most of the time you'll have at least one land granting white or black respectively.
- Scrubland - Let the urge to make a dad joke about Daxos being a scrub commander flow through you. I mean, like all the other fat money cards on the list, if you have it, by all means put it in. Nevertheless, this is about as vanity as it gets, with very little functional return for your monetary investment. I guess it makes Coffers come online a bit easier sans Urborg?
- Serra's Sanctum - The one most broken beyond belief land in the deck. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx has the decency to at least require an upfront investment of two mana to do something, Cabal Coffers is a story unto itself. This doesn't care. This just taps for bonkers amounts of mana and things get stupid. Things get even more stupid with Skybind, of course, but that's the norm. If you don't have one, and you're drawn to the enchantment side of the force, consider getting one. Unfortunately, the reserved list buyouts have driven this fellow's price tag way out there.
- Silent Clearing - Daxos likes mana, you're not saccing this for cards any time soon. As such, this is pretty much just a City of Brass variant, and we're not running those as the game goes long and the life adds up.
- Snowfield Sinkhole - Hello typed land. Rampant Hawk gets you, you can be fetched in when there's no need for you to be tapped, and you fuel Cabal Coffers. Not glamorous, but works.
- Strip Mine - Pop goes the land weasel. While there's the potential for recursion with Crucible of Worlds, the lack of extra land drops per turn makes this reasonably safe from abuse. Nevertheless, the ability to neuter problematic lands is a good thing to have available somewhere within the 99.
- Tainted Field - The perks of being in black is that you get this neat unconventional dual cycle. Only comes online when there's a swamp around, but there are nine of those, seven fetches to get them, and an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Netting one swamp is far easier than netting a load to make Cabal Coffers work, and we run that bad boy, so the overwhelming majority of the time you won't be stuck with this making colourless.
- Temple of Silence - Turns out scrying is a pretty okay thing to do. However, the deck does not like its lands tapped. You should still considering slotting this in if you strip out all the vanity lands, as this is up there as far as tap lands go.
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - Everything is swamps now. If you've got a Weathered Wayfarer, Sword of Rampant Growth or something, it's fine to shift your focus to Plains now and rush out a party invite for Cabal Coffers.
- Vault of Champions - A perfectly good untapped dual, but by the time it came out the deck's land base was super chiseled and nothing stood out as deserving offing. Feel free to slot it in, it's good stuff.
- Vault of the Archangel - As True Conviction taught us, lifelink is a really good thing to have. Deathtouch is also a good thing to have. Let's put them both on a utility land then.
1. Early Game (Turns ~1-4)
True Conviction is, if that's how you plan to get Daxos his first counter then you're gonna have a bad time most games. If you open a flexible hand with versatile tutor/removal/ramp pieces but no enchantments, you can probably get away with keeping it as well. There are plenty of enchantments in the 99, so you're likely to pull some up at some point. If you get a grip like that, don't chase Daxos out onto the field prematurely unless you need someone to pony Sword of Rampant Growth into battle.
Once the actual game commences, immediately slip under the radar. In the overwhelming majority of games this should be trivial to do, as you're WB. Other decks might explode out of the gate while you take a leisurely stroll and set up some basic stuff like the occasional mana rock. However, if other people are threatening a very quick kill, you have a fair share of instant speed removal with broad applications. Sometimes one of your enchantment speed bumps may prove absolutely lethal to a particular strategy (Rule of Law's a common culprit), if that is the case then feel free to invite them to the party. Try to trip your rapid foes up it a window of opportunity presents itself. If it doesn't, shrug it off and shuffle up for the next game. After all, you're only a fringe WB enchantress deck, there's only so much you can do.
If nobody explodes and doesn't get contained, continue your derpy early plays. You've got the impact of a kitten holding a carrot. Try to hold off casting enchantments until you have Daxos out to make the most of them, but feel free to set down all sorts of artifact/creature utility. Nothing says "I'm a silly deck, don't mind me" like a turn two Sword of Rampant Growth, which Daxos then carries to battle at someone turn four. Something else that also tends to throw people off you is following a turn three Daxos with a turn four non-enchantment. I guess it's something to the effect of "wait, so you built a Daxos deck, and you don't even sling enchantments?" going into action. I'm not saying you should prioritise those over actually getting experience onto Daxos every single time, but it's a subtle ploy that sometimes lets you slide a bit further under the radar.
Your main early game goal is to ramp a bit, if possible, and crank Daxos out. This should be easy to do, as he costs three mana. If the coast is clear (stronger decks drawing attention, or nobody particularly removal-trigger-happy), feel free to churn him out turn three without backup. If you can sense that he's going to die, sculpt your board a little bit more and plop him onto a field with more mana, followed by holding priority and casting a cheap enchantment. This will get a single counter on him, making his spirit generation work at any point thereafter. This is of utmost importance in a game where Daxos will be difficult to keep around, as if a window of opportunity presents itself you need to be able to slide him in with little notice and go as wide as possible.
All in all, the early game is a time of little glamour for the deck, and you should consider it done when you have an experience counter on Daxos, with Daxos preferably on the field to make use of it. Hopefully your board also includes some mana acceleration or land fetching. Weathered Wayfarer is likely going to be doing work all game long, as you're unlikely to outramp green unless you keep getting that Sword of Rampant Growth value in addition to constantly hitting your regular land drops. A turn one Sensei's Divining Top into turn two spent fixing draws is a commonly mocked line of play, but is actually perfectly serviceable here as you want to hold cheap enchantment plays until Daxos is out anyway. You should appear a bit behind everybody else, and that's a good thing. Your time will come, and you need to lay low while you're at your weakest.
2. Mid Game (Turns ~5-9)
Flickering Ward from time to time.
When sequencing the enchantments in your hand, keep a few things in mind - how optimally are you using your mana? How badly do you need the enchantment down? Do you need to generate some presence with spirit tokens? Are there any power plays coming that your current options may disrupt? Balance all of the above out as best you can as you chain your plays. Typically, if you're in the possession of a card/spell disruption outlet that isn't Thoughtrender Lamia, you should set it down as quickly as possible. This way, you start actively digging into your opponents' options and lines of play, often leading them to prioritising developing their own boards over trying to answer you. After all, there's not all that much for them to answer - some random suboptimal commander, possibly a few spirits, a couple of enchantments of varying levels of annoying. Some people will snap and remove these speed bumps. You're okay with that - that's less removal for your game-enders further down the line. If the spell disruption outlet sticks, that's more and more incremental advantage for you with each go around the table as you potentially drum up the spirit attendance rate. Only consider delaying those if you've got a crazy engine piece in hand that openly clashes with the brand of disruption you've drawn. For example, Necropotence is kind of inconvenienced by Oppression and completely ignores Spirit of the Labyrinth, while the latter would turn off Mesa Enchantress. The big ticket nonbo comes from Bolas Rock/Big Ole Raz versus Rule of Law variants. Try to plan ahead either way, assess your playmaking ability against what an un-stifled table is likely to accomplish, and see what feels best.
The second order of business is explicit card advantage stuff for you. Slapping down a Phyrexian Arena is good, as having more options is good. Just keep in mind that usually others having less options is even better when sequencing these. Card quality also fits here - Doom Whisperer is a good way to ensure you'll get what you need going forward, and tossing spare mana at Top is never a bad idea. After that come all sorts of defensive measures. There's not a lot of pillow fort here, but it's some of the best there is, and deterring swings into you until it's too late is a good thing to do. People won't want to pay your Ghostly Prison tax or just have all their effort blanked by a Righteous Aura. That should buy you time to continue setting up all sorts of other speed bumps, which should be applied as needed. If there's a Xenagod, you'll likely want to plop down that Authority of the Consuls ASAP to buy the table some time to react to the plays. If someone's doing graveyard shenanigans, eating the graveyard with Agent of Erebos becomes the name of the game. You have a wide variety of answers in the deck and a decent helping of tutors to help you find them.
Of course, don't forget about the stuff you started on in the early game. Diligently punch people with the Sword of Rampant Growth/Rampant Hawk, amassing your lands. Play out more mana rocks, as some of the best ones are quite top-heavy. Prioritise getting some big-mana lands and flirt with recursion if needed. Cloudstone Curio makes for good removal protection, and can make the spell disruption wonderfully asymmetric if desired. Continue to apply removal where needed, as things that more or less incidentally hamper your game plan are likely to arise. Don't get completely lost in the enchantment moment as you have the capacity to interact with others around you, and you probably should. Hold back some panic button removal if you expect Aura Shards. A good wrath isn't bad either. Sitting on Slaughter the Strong incentivises you to avoid squandering mana on spirits, efficiently pouring it into enchantments and experience, and subsequently destroying multiple ripe boards at minimal cost to yourself.
The end goal of the mid game is a reasonably functional board with a sizeable mana pool, some good midrange enchantments and decently sized spirits. Ideally your opponents will have been stifled a bit by now through some spell availability disruption, but simultaneously their plays should have been splashier than yours, drawing attention away from your developing board. Time to put the developed potential to use and try to run away with the game.
3. Late Game (Turns ~10+)
Skybind turn four. Some games you drown people in 12/12 spirits without extending beyond 4 CMC of the enchantments you play.
The only cards in the 99 that effectively usher in the late game all on their own are Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Bolas Rock. When the former is combined with Daxos, the pair spits out repeatable instant speed Grim Tutors whenever desired, and the beauty of Big Ole Raz is that he also works perfectly fine with whatever is around when he resolves. I imagine that he won't be your first play, and there will be some bodies kicking around for him to chew up if needed. Even if someone predictably wraths the moment he hits, you just sac your board to him, untap with a sculpted as hell grip and have the win in the bag. And if Big Ole Raz gets to stay around unimpeded, that's a constant stream of whatever you need for a very meagre cost, entirely defeating the randomness of a 99 card singleton format. You have your whole answer toolbox at your fingertips, Teferi's Protection, all of your big mana, the standard power lifters... I'm sure you'll figure out a functional path to victory.
Meanwhile, Bolas Rock is the deck's speed cheat code, allowing you to sidestep a lot of development states and barf a board out of nowhere. In theory, this thing bricks when you hit land when you can't play a land anymore. In practice, you run a ton of shuffles and topdeck editors, so you can often find a way to keep going. It's not uncommon to pour 20-30 life into this and accrue an absolutely insane, effectively game ending board state off this thing. It helps to have a little army of spirits when you get this thing online as well, as the life loss can add up. This way, you can secure some lifelink, heal back up, and keep going like nobody's business. The topdeck tutors are a pretty solid synergy here - you can get True Conviction to refuel, or hold for Teferi's Protection in response to the inevitable attempt to answer you. Sensei's Divining Top becomes a sorcery speed Yawgmoth's Bargain. And the funny thing is that it's mainly used to skim dead stuff off the top in this form! Necropotence can play a similar support role. Bolas Rock is truly bananas in the shell, strapping a turbo boost to the game and making you feel like you're running a "proper" deck for a moment.
There's a certain five-drop enchantment that will probably show up, likely sooner than later, when you start going ham with either of those two (it's typically my second Big Ole Raz tutor, right after Serra's Sanctum). Skybind is a world of its own, a card that makes the deck come online and do insane stuff it otherwise wouldn't have the power to do. From the moment Skybind hits the field, whenever something you care about happens, think about how you could apply the flicker to improve your situation. You can bounce your own mana rocks/lands for extra mana, you can bounce other people's mana rocks/lands to fence them off mana, you can flicker anything on the field that isn't an enchantment. It opens up a ridiculous number of possibilities that can't all be written up. The card will surprise you time and time again. One of its nicer uses is that if you're trying to recuperate from a rough start and Daxos getting hated out, it enables you to easily protect him once you get him back on the field. The single experience counter, which you made sure you put on Daxos, makes sure you can flicker him as soon as he hits. A good rule of thumb is to get Skybind on the field when you'll have at least three extra mana so it can double as Daxos protection, regardless of the roughness of the start. If you add Cloudstone Curio to the mix, your stuff becomes just about impervious to removal. You can Curio enchantments back to hand if needed, and Skybind the Curio away in a similar fashion.
Another thing that can usher in the resource discrepancy representative of the late game is a well-placed burst of recursion. There's something incredibly exhilarating about sneaking in a Replenish and dumping back 10+ enchantments that were answered through various means at all stages of the game. This gets understandably more insane if the constellation big hitters are also involved, or Doom Whisperer is around to thicken the pile before the spell resolves. Whilst less flashy, a constant stream of value off Hall of Heliod's Generosity/Phyrexian Reclamation can be yet another avenue for accruing advantage. The deck's not exactly swimming in perpetual recycling, but the handful of engines can keep bringing back various reachable haymakers. Crucible of Worlds can similarly shield the big hitter lands when not recycling fetches for the umpteenth time. A steady trickle of card selection can also add up to a surprising amount of advantage over multiple turns, sculpting a flexible and robust game plan that fits most with what's going on at the moment.
And that's about it. Ideally, you slid under the radar early, then set down some speed bumps to slow people down and answered some problems, only to end it all in a flurry of huge spirit tokens which may or may not have caused hilarious flickering, board wipes, graveyard exiling and hand gutting. Sometimes you get caught in the crossfire of "proper" decks, but that's okay. After all, this is a format about doing whatever you want, and the times you manage to cruise to victory on the back of a suboptimal commander in a suboptimal colour combination for the deck archetype (happens more often than you'd think) earns you a very healthy helping of swag points.
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