Aaaah, yes. Drinking hot chocolate from my favorite cup, while writing about my favorite subject. It’s been not just a while. It has been crazy long! Not only from my last larger blogpost, but especially from the latest MEGA article. We have to go all the way back to April! Well, that’s not impressive. I comfort myself by the fact, that there probably are not that many people out there, who have been waiting anxiously for the next piece.
But, finally we’re back! The long-awaited latest episode of my quest to Make Enchantress Great Again.
This time it is about prison decks. Or, maybe, rather, hardcore control decks. I don’t know. We will probably get to a small definition in a few lines of text, if I know myself…
But before that, just a bit about my feelings for prison decks. Simply: I love it. Yes, this may come as a surprise to you, knowing that I am such a good guy and all that. But as I have mentioned several times throughout my posts, I enjoy playing prison or stax-like decks along with combo decks. It is always my go to types when building decks for an unknown format or an unknown metagame.
I have always felt that creatures – especially in Old School, where most of them don’t do much else than attack – are lackluster. For some reason, I don’t think summoning a monster is very Wizard-like. But wielding a cavalcade of deadly spells or stacking countless nigh-forgotten artifacts and enchanting the world around you with life-altering magic. That is wizard-like, and very much to my taste!
A short definition
Yep, there it was – always with the definitions. I don’t actually consider myself a very learned man or an academic at any length, but I DO like to have my definitions in order, so that everyone knows what I am talking about.
In very short: A Prison deck is a deck that seeks to “imprison” the opponent, so he or she is unable to play the game effectively. Often a prison deck contains one or more locks, that, by itself, will lock one or more parts of the game down, and often the prison deck, makes these locks asymmetric, so the prison player him- or herself will not be affected by it.
There you have it. This is what we are going for today. And of course, the deck-building rules and guidelines from the original article are still in effect: Each deck presented has to contain 4 Verduran Enchantress and 13-15 Enchantments; I will not splash all restricted cards in all decks; one deck will be the tier1-contender.
Of course I have to start out with Stasis! What else?
Stasis is the epitome of prison cards! It is where it all began, and so, of course, it will also be where we begin today. The easiest way to make Stasis a lot less symmetric, is by adding Kismet:
If you also happen to have a Birds of Paradise enchanted with an Instill Energy in play, you can keep the Stasis going forever. Find 5 lands and an Angel, and we’re good.
This is not the most creative of today’s decklists. It is probably one of the best, though. There is just no denying it, that if you manage to lock your opponent down with Stasis – preferably while he/she is tapped out and you control one of the beautiful flying 4/4’s that need no tapping – you are in it to win it!
Of course the above mentioned situation needs some time, work and luck to pull off, but it is by no means impossible. Quite the opposite. Especially when you play both Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, Control Magic and Kismet. My numbers are all over the place for these cards, and of course the deck would benefit from adding some more Swords and Disenchants, but when you also need to play a certain amount of Enchantments it gets difficult.
I took this sweet deck for a spin at one of my Wednesday Wizard gatherings. And as this picture should show, and show in strength, I won:
Now, I can’t claim I have tried every possible Stasis deck in the format, but I have tried some (I know, I know, but Stasis is just such a unique, great, one-of-a-kind card that I have to play it sometimes). This version – filled to the brim with beautiful ladies as it is – is without a doubt my favorite. And as I mentioned before, it also packs quite a serious punch.
UG Winter Prison
On to the next one. This one is maybe even more un-creative than the former. But I thought I would get rid of the boring decks before getting to the veritable spice bazaar down below.
This deck looks a lot like one of the control decks from my MEGA 3 article. The real difference, of course, is the prison engine of Winter Orb and Relic Barrier / Icy Manipulator. So that is our prison for this deck.
The deck also has some sweet synergy between Powerleech and the Artifact tappers. Yep, you read it here first. Well, probably not, but it is actually rather useful in long, grindy games.
And as you would imagine most of the games with this deck go long. First I build a version without the Triskelions, but it was simply unbelievably slow. It is one of those decks that have serious trouble against Underworld Dreams and burn decks. Atog decks are not the most fun either.
But the general powerlevel of the cards in this deck is very high. And I’d say you will be able to win some matches fielding these 60 pieces of beauty.
There is a lot of power in this deck, and it is the Tier contender of this MEGA-post.
Yes. You read that right! Or, quite probably, you didn’t but this is Barbs, Baby!
Manabarbs is such a sweet card, I have been wanting to play for some time now. It is just evil, if you are able to make it one-sided. So how do you do that?
Or moxes, but that is just boring. So in this deck, I play no less than nine dorks.
Yep, again I can assure you, that your eyes did not deceive you. 9.
Enter the legendary SUNASTIAN FALCONEER!
YEAH! Now we are talking. He taps for 2 colorless! And only costs 5 mana to play. For a 4/4?! He is actually half-decent, I’d say.
But without further ado – the above ado must be enough for a couple of months, I believe – this is my take on a Dorky-Barbie-Chantress deck:
So the prison here is I want my opponent to be unable to play spells without getting damage, and at the same time, take damage from the Black Vises. Arboria even makes sure, that our opponent cannot attack us. In other words, this deck is capable of building quite the pillowfort. With spiky pillows! And Falconeers!
I added the Blood Moons as some of the last cards, but I think it was a mistake. Not sure though. I just really don’t want to turn my Maze of Iths into mountains before I have secured a rather hard lock on my opponent! One of them could turn into a Fireball and the deck could of course use some Chaos Orb action, or just some Shatter. Gravity Sphere or Caverns of Despair could also potentially see a bit of play here.
In this dec, Ivory Tower may be better than Powerleech, but we need those Enchantments to get our draws.
It is a fun deck to play. And it really makes your opponent rip out some hairs, if you get your engine/prison going. And one of the best things about it, is that it can be built very cheap, if you eschew the Moxes.
Oh yes, now we get down to it.
When I first saw Worms of the Earth a couple of decades ago (I am old…) it was the first, and still only, magic art to instill in me real nightmares.
I think Anson Maddocks’ art here is so eerily disgusting and downright terror-infusing, that when I first witnessed it at the tender age of about 12-13 years, I seriously had nightmares about it. Just think about it! What if the earth we walk on is really only a couple of inches of dirt, and underneath that, there are worms the size of grown men! And what is it about that sole dude, standing there in the misty night all alone, digging for these things? Does he know that something is crawling up on him from behind?
Just writing this gives me the creeps.
So, a year or so ago, when I read the card again for the first time in maybe 15 years, I immediately thought it had some nice, evil prison potential. So now, here we are.
It is not that easy to break the Worms (yikes!), and this may not exactly be a prison deck in the old sense of the word – nor in my definition above – it may be more akin to some weird kind of land destruction deck. But nevertheless – it is a beauty to behold (especially if my lighting-foo was just a little better!):
The plan here is to keep the opponent from building a board presence. Especially by attacking his lands while you build you own board. At some point Skull of Orm into Blight and an active Icy is a cool way to slowly make your opponent cry, while he succumbs to bad dreams of the undies.
Skull of Orm into repeated Worms is also a sight to behold. But I reckon it is very slow. The deck fields some ramp and some ways of stopping an early onslaught, but against a fast aggro deck, you would probably only win points for style. A lot of points, though!
Smoke is another one of those old Enchantments that just scream PRISON! Together with Kismet and Icy Manipulator, our opponent doesn’t have much possibility to attack us.
But we can attack him with our feisty angels! That doesn’t seem fair, now does it? No. It does not. But it does seem like what you want to do, in this hard and unforgiving world, right. Of course it does!
Anyway, my build looks like this:
Yep, not exactly something you see every day, I believe. Not exactly a deck I would field if I was seriously in it to win it either. But as I have mentioned before, there is just something magical and very beautiful about non-blue decks, I think! Of course all the white Revised borders are not quite to my taste, but the cards are just so iconic. The art of these early expansions! Damn.
I was debating a lot amongst myself, how to build this deck. It is difficult to figure out the right composition of enchantments. I ended up opting for Circle of Protection: Red and Powerleech, but these may not be the correct choices. Especially the CoP should probably be something else, but these are not the best colors for powerfull enchantments. I tried Damping Field, and they may deserve a spot somewhere. But they are not great with Powerleech, who should then be swapped out for Living Artifact maybe.
I can assure you, that there is some brewing space left here…
GWR GravityIsland (uuh, these names – half the fun, I tell ya!)
No, you are right. An article about prison decks in Old School without an Island Sanctuary deck just doesn’t feel right. It wouldn’t really hit it.
The two Mana Flares should obviously be Gravity Spheres, to form an evil alliance with the Island Sanctuaries, making it impossible for our opponent to attack – unless playing Lords of Atlantis or other devious nastyness.
Here the two main deck Circle of Protection: Red play several crucial roles, while both negating the negative part of Orcish Artillery, and making sure, that our opponent will not just burn us to death in our sanctuary.
Oh, and yes, you are also right, that this deck is (also) really stretching it. Casting cost wise; kill-condition wise; logic-wise. And yes again, you are so absolutely right, that this deck would be a lot better if the Island Sanctuaries was just swapped out for Moats. I know. But as you see, I didn’t even want to commit hard enough to shell out the cash for 2 Gravity Sphere – what are the odds, that I would buy 3 Moats?!
Anyway. Deck is a blast. It may not be good, and it may be the most blatant example (in this article, at least) why you should not try to push Verduran Enchantress into every deck, you build. But don’t tell anyone. As you know, this whole series is almost exclusively about showing fine forest ladies into everything!
So enjoy some Orcish bombardament, while hiding in your solitary Island. Just do it. It is great fun.
Enchantress prison – is it really such a great idea?
Well, the short answer is – of course – yes! It is a great idea. There are so many quirky enchantments that, if used correctly and to their full evil extent, can really mess an opponent’s game plan up. You only have to find out how!
And I know, for example, that there is some great synergy between the two blue Enchantments Mana Vortex and Land Equilibrium, but it is just such a beautiful deck as is, and I have made so many other UG decks in this series, so I didn’t want to make that deck here.
For some of these hilarious prison Enchantments, it is easy to figure out, how to ruin your opponents day, for others you have to take some serious detours and really hope that Magical Christmas Land comes early this year. Because if not, you will be screwed, chewed and eaten alive by practically any deck playing anything just resembling a tier1-3 plan.
But when did such sentiments ever stop us? We are here to have fun and play strange cards that way too rarely see the daylight. Well, not exactly daylight, maybe, but you know what I mean.
Until next time! Thank you for reading my crazy thoughts on how to build Enchantress Prison decks in the Old School format. I hope I have sparked some interest or maybe even a bit of inspiration. Brew on.
Please find the other parts of the MEGA-series here:
Part 5: The Combo deck (NOT YET WRITTEN)