An Enchanted Evening with Setessan Champion at Standard FNM
Theros Beyond Death preview season has just drawn to an end, but for the last month one card has stood out: Setessan Champion, a descendant of a long line that brought us powerhouse cards such as Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence. How does the latest entry in the series measure up?
Enchantment decks aren't new. They're perhaps not exactly commonplace, but they have featured briefly at the top tables in years gone by. Enduring Ideal almost won a Pro Tour once, and even earlier there was Enchantress … My first encounter with an Enchantress deck was back in 2003, when I helped Conor Harding tech out his Pro Tour New Orleans Extended 75 with as many shiny and foreign language cards as possible. He and Mike Hron were the only two to bring that archetype to what would be lovingly known forever more as Pro Tour Tinker. A turn too slow in 2003, it was nevertheless a powerful deck and fared better once Tinker was nerfed by the banhammer.
|Enchantress by Conor Harding, Pro Tour New Orleans 2003|
This deck worked by abusing the Urza's cycle of free spells: Cloud of Faeries and Snap in combination with Fertile Ground and Wild Growth generated excess mana, while Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence ensured you always had a full hand. Words of Wind and Serra's Sanctum ultimately resulted in you being the only player to have any permanents in play.
Theros Beyond Death brings us Setessan Champion, but free mana is not something we're really ever going to have again — see the campaign against Mox Opal, which might be banned by the time you read this. So we'll just have to try and offset this with added pressure and brute-force beats!
Theros, Born of the Gods, and Journey into Nyx gave us a total of 82 creatures with enchantment as a secondary type across three sets. There are a whopping 50 such beasties, including box topper Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, in Theros Beyond Death. But no bestow mechanic this time around. Let's see what we can do with Setessan Champion in a build focused on Auras.
Eighteen creatures, three Gods that can become creatures, recurring Auras, and ways to draw several cards a turn. Destiny Spinner makes our deck resilient against counter spells, while Bronzehide Lion can at least "persist" in a fashion should we ever leave the shields down.
There are versions one could explore, such as a green-white lifegain variant that might utilise Setessan Petitioner or go-wide strategies with cards like Commanding Presence, Phalanx Tactics, and Siona, Captain of the Pyleas. Renata, Called to the Hunt, The Binding of the Titans … all of these are going to see some play in casual Standard games. It'll be a fascinating experience at FNM.
If you'd rather be attacking from early on, there's another color combination that's known for such proclivity …
Here, we don't get to take as much advantage of Setessan Champion as we might like, but in this deck the threats are spread evenly across the table. If the Champion's in play before our various enchantments then it gets bigger, if the Champion arrives after Rhythm then it gets bigger. Omen of the Forge doubles as a two-for-one combat trick, adding power and toughness on our side of the board while simultaneously removing a blocker or assisting in trading up. Klothys is ideal in the possibly escape-heavy metagame, eating cards with escape themselves or their fodder.
And what about a Simic build? Surely Simic Ascendancy can find a home with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling's new flicker ability? Growth-Chamber Guardian or Pteramander could get you to 20 counters in short order. Polukranos, Unchained, while obviously insane regardless, could prove key in a Sultai version, maybe in conjunction with Enigmatic Incarnation sacrificing Omens to fetch up the Zombie Hydra. Or what about the Sea God repeatedly flickering Alirios, Enraptured to create a slew of 3/2 Reflections. Sage of Mysteries will be right at home in a Drowned Secret deck. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath will give us ways to sculpt hands and fill the graveyard. And all of this is before we even look at white!
I hope some of this helps spark a few brews. Leave a comment below, hit me up on Twitter, and let me know how your prereleases go!
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