Archetune-Up - A Starry Night

(Kestia, the Cultivator l Art by Zezhou Chen)

An Evening Most Enchanted

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

Anyone who knows me at all is aware that my favorite thing in Magic is drawing cards. One card per turn is never enough. Give me two, three, four, the more cards the better!

With that said, there are so many decks that revolve around just drawing cards, and have issues closing out games because of that. They end up being so hyper-focused on card advantage that they never add to their board or progress their game plan. They just spin their wheels while doom closes in around them from all sides. This week's deck looks to remedy both these issues by applying pressure to opponent's life totals and drawing cards.

Kestia the Cultivator encourages attacking, rewarding us with a card for each enchantment or enchanted creature we control, which, as discussed in my Neyith article a few weeks ago, is exactly what I like to see. Due to Kestia's wording, it would be super easy to dive into the Aura Theme and call it a day, but I wanted to try and do something a little different.

Before getting too deep into it though, lets take a peek at the average Kestia deck and see what I'm working with:

Average Kestia

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Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Enchantments (23)
Artifacts (3)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (35)

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This deck knows what it wants to do, and does it well. The name of the game here is enchantments, but like I said, I want to go a bit off the beaten path with this deck. I don't want to just use enchantments or Auras, I want to focus on enchantment creatures, since they too will trigger Kestia.

For as robust as EDHREC's Theme Pages are though, we don't have an "Enchantment Creature Tribal" page. We have an Enchantment Theme, and an Aura Theme, but neither of those can give me what exactly I'm looking for... so where do I go from here?

Scry Me a River

When EDHREC can't give me exactly what I need, I turn to Scryfall next.

Scryfall is an incredible search engine with ton of different advanced options that can help narrow down searches so you can find exactly what you need! In my case, I wanted to see all of the options for Enchantment Creatures, and I was not disappointed! It was tough, but from the 79 creature available, I narrowed it down to six.

When thinking about enchantment creatures, I would be remiss if I didn't start at the top: Gods.

While I didn't add in every God available in these colors, I wanted to make sure that I added a couple. Nylea, God of the Hunt, and Kruphix, God of Horizons were perfect for this deck. Since this is a deck that wants to attack, Nylea's trample ability is great, especially when you consider all of the power-pumping Auras and Bestow creatures in the list. Kruphix, meanwhile, helps us with Kestia's ability to draw cards at a rapid rate, providing us no maximum hand size, as well as a strong, indestructible body that will hold our mana. While they do two completely different things, both of them help our gameplan in different ways, and have direct synergy with the deck. This is why chose them over Gods like Heliod, Sun-Crowned, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, who, while being solid cards on their own, don't push our plan forward as easily, and would need more assistance.

Card draw is only half of the equation, though. If we are able to consistently maintain a grip full of cards, that's great, but what if we don't have the mana to cast them? That is where Nyxbloom Ancient comes in. This Ancient is a mess of a card, providing triple mana on any permanent that produces it. This synergizes particularly well with our brand of ramp in the deck, since we want to enchant lands to produce more mana anyway. Now our Wild Growthed land give us six mana! Have a Dawn's Reflection on a land? Now it taps for nine! With Kestia and Ancient online, we can easily start dumping our deck onto the board and overwhelm opponents!

With every card that we draw, we are more likely to pick up a land. Lands are nice, especially early in the game, but after a while, they will just get clogged in our hand, especially when we are drawing three or four cards a turn. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove helps remedy this letting us play up to two lands per turn, allowing us utilize more and more of them, while also providing a nifty bonus of fixing our mana as well! Much like Nyxbloom Ancient, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove gives us the mana to play all of the cards we draw, which is incredibly crucial for this deck. Exploration and Burgeoning are also potential inclusions for the deck if you want to capitalize on this kind of synergy.

Nyx Herald is essentially Nylea-lite. We want to attack to draw cards, so giving an already-enchanted (or enchantment) creature a stat boost and trample every one of our combats is exactly what we need! Herald definitely isn't flashy, but it gets the job done, helping us apply pressure, draw cards, and threaten life totals. One of the nice things about Nyx Herald is that is can also target itself! A 2/3 for three mana may not be a lot to look at, especially by EDH standards, but a 3/4 trampler for four mana is quite a bit better, especially since it can shift the additional +1/+1 and trample around to other creatures. Nyx Herald is definitely a real workhorse - or, well... workcentaur - in this deck!

Alseid of Life's Bounty is the final card we glean from this Scryfall search. Alseid is similar to Dauntless Bodyguard and Selfless Savior, a one-mana creature that provides some form of protection for creatures on our side of the board. What's particularly nice about Alseid, though, is that it can provide both offense and defense. Using its ability, we can sacrifice Alseid to either protect a creature from removal or make it unblockable by creatures of a certain color! This little fella also has lifelink, making it a potential target to Bestow Kestia onto to gain us some life when we attack, and is a great little package deal all around!

Seeing Stars

Now that the deck was chock full of enchantment creatures, I decided to round it out with some picks from EDHREC's Enchantment Theme page, and found five cards that fit perfectly into this build.

Remember when I mentioned my insatiable appetite for card draw? Well, whatever that amount is, let's double it! Teferi's Ageless Insight is a cheap spell that will turn the deck's draw power up to 11. Card advantage is incredibly important, so why not go wild with it?? With that said, there is a decent chance that we may actually run out of cards in the deck when we include spells like Teferi's Ageless Insight, so Jace, Wielder of Mysteries or Thassa's Oracle may also be good inclusions if you want to try and have an alternate way to win that also works with the deck.

Speaking of alternate ways to win, Approch of the Second Sun is great here! In this deck, much like in Varina, Lich Queen or Azor, the Lawbringer, Approach can be set up very nicely. Cast it, tuck it, then draw a full grip of cards, and then cast it again on the following turn! This gives the deck a bit more teeth and a secondary game plan if our main strategy doesn't pan out. I always find that secondary strategies like this are crucial for a deck to function efficiently, and I am happy to include Approach because of that.

The final three cards are in a class similar to Nyx Herald: they are all flexible workhorse cards that can fit into most decks. Not all of them have a lot of synergy, but they have a singular function and do it well. I want run through these quickly, so let's not waste any time:

  • Omen of the Hunt is an enchantment that ramps us a land, and has utility later in the game when we want to Scry 2. Omen triggers our Enchantresses, gets us ahead on land, and fixes a draw later in the game. Love it!
  • We are drawing a lot of cards already, but sometimes we need cards that grease the wheels. Thirst for Meaning is perfect for this. It digs through our deck, lets us see a handful of cards, and can even set up Open the Vaults shenanigans if we want. Just a great draw smoother.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again, people don't run Negate enough! That goes double when you have access to Dovin's Veto. Veto hits every spell type but one, and can't be countered. There is no reason to not run it if you can fit it into your deck, and you should definitely be fitting it into your deck.

Starlight, Starbright, We're Beating Face Tonight

This week's deck reminded me of both Inniaz, the Gale Force, and Isperia, the Inscrutable, who I've written about previously. "Tribal decks" that are built around creatures that share a certain theme, instead of their creature type, are some of the most interesting decks to me. Yes, we don't get powerhouses like Kindred Discovery or Shared Animosity, but instead we get an entire "tribe" that triggers Argothian Enchantress or Sigil of the Empty Throne!

This strategy isn't without its downsides, of course. A lot of the enchantment creatures available are vanilla ones, like Nyxborn Colossus, or they're a bit underwhelming, no matter how much I want to talk them up, like Nyx Herald. We just simply haven't had enough quality enchantment creatures printed to easily flesh the deck out. That doesn't make it bad, of course, but it's just a limitation that should be mentioned and that's fun to build around.

I had a fun time throwing this deck together and seeing what I could fit in. I love drawing cards, and I love getting a game moving, and Kestia is perfect for both! She is also the least built of the three enchantment commanders from Commander 2018, so for that reason as well I am happy I could feature her on this series.

If you’d like to reach me, I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

A Starry Night

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Commander (1)
Creatures (27)
Artifacts (3)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (6)
Enchantments (20)
Lands (36)

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Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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