Thursday, August 29, 2013

Deconstructing Theros: Enchantment Creatures

Let's take a brief look at the new mechanics coming up in Theros. Today, enchantment creatures.

Spoilers Ahead:

I've seen more than a few amateur designers take a crack at divine / godly beings and most of them did it by introducing a new supertype. That includes myself if you go back ~16 years. Wizards has taken a subtler approach by simply adding an existing card type to the 'divine' card. What's brilliant about that is it's 100% compatible with the rest of Magic and not at all linear/parasitic, while still differentiating these cards in a way that works both mechanically and thematically. The theme being that these things are more magical than normal creatures, and also ephemeral...

The downside to being an enchantment creature is that you're vulnerable to an entire extra class of removal, the same way artifact creatures are. What's more, that class of removal is drastically more efficient on the whole than standard creature removal (because normally it has fewer and less relevant targets). The clever part is that this vulnerability allows divine cards to be more powerful/efficient than they would be otherwise, making them more appealing and their games swingier; There will be a lot of stories told about players who were under the gun of an 'over-powered' god when they top-decked a Solemn Offering to come back and win the game. There will also be stories about players who could've pulled it out if only they'd drawn one of their three Naturalizes. Stories are good.

Tweaking the frame for these divine creatures is a nice touch, both to make them feel special and magical, and to make it much easier for players to remember which creatures can be Demystify'd. I've been saying 'creatures' this whole time, but this divine enchanting can be used on other permanents just as well. We've already seen it on an artifact, but it's also possible we could see enchantment lands. I wouldn't count on that after the way Ancient Den and Seat of the Synod went over, but then again, there's no such thing as Affinity for Enchantments.

MaRo has said that Naturalize is not as good in this set as Shatter is in Mirrodin. That tells us that there probably aren't as many enchantments as there were in Mirrodin, which makes sense, what with enchantments not being colorless. It doesn't tell us how much enchantment removal is actually in the set, or even if Naturalize itself is in there, but I don't think they actually have to reduce the amount or quality of enchantment removal to make an enchantment set work. It's not like Onslaught had less or worse creature removal. There are just more things to point your wand at.


  1. a few things to add. from blogatog: first off, maro said they are not doing enchantment lands, first because they have less impact than artifact lands because less things in the game count enchantments than artifacts and that few mechanics in the set do as well. also development put its foot down.
    also maro also said that the bident was part of a artifact enchantment cycle, presumably each associated with a god.

  2. I like that they made the enchantment creatures feel like enchantments, rather than make enchantment status a tack-on label for counting towards bonuses with other effects like affinity.

    The Gods and the God Weapons have static global effects that feel enchantment-like. The Bestow creatures act like Auras.

    1. Very good point. That makes it much more natural and interesting.