Alright, first things first, I know why you're all here today. Thanks to Wizards of the Coast I have the opportunity to reveal to you all Calix, Destiny's Hand!
If you're still here after frantically copy-pasting the image into your various Twitter feeds, Discords and group chats, today's article is going to be a full rundown on Calix and his potential in Standard and Pioneer. Let's dig right in:
Calix's first ability look fairly powerful, but asks a lot of you in return. Four cards is a lot to look at, but enchantment is a pretty narrow set of cards in most decks. You need to build your entire deck around enchantments if you want this ability to consistently draw you a card. To get 90% odds of finding an enchantment in the top four cards, you want at least 26 enchantments.
Normally that would be a steep number, but Theros Beyond Death contains a host of new enchantments and enchantment creatures for Standard. Pioneer will have four full Theros sets to pull from. There's going to be a lot more to work with than you'd expect.
Three might be a lot of loyalty, but turning any enchantment we control into a Banishing Light is pretty big game. Exile removal on a four-mana planeswalker that sticks around is a pretty big deal. Unlike Vraska, Golgari Queen there's no converted mana cost restriction. Any opposing creature or enchantment is a pretty big range, especially when there are some pretty powerful enchantment engines in Standard and Pioneer already.
That said, this ability comes with a considerable drawback. You must have an enchantment in play, and you need to keep it around. Banishing Light was good before and will be a strong returning card in Theros Beyond Death, but Thrashing Brontodon and a host of Disenchant effects in the format make this type of removal a lot riskier than it has been in previous formats. As more decks include powerful enchantments, more players will run efficient enchantment removal.
With 4 starting loyalty it's not unreasonable for Calix to hit 7 loyalty in short order. Three turns of drawing enchantments and then bringing back even a few is a strong swing in card advantage and tempo. You won't need to work too hard to enable this, and while there are ways to fill your graveyard in the set, this is a powerful ability even in a normal interactive game of Magic. Dedicated brewers will still try to find a way to combo kill with this (myself included) but with a three-turn delay I think it's better to just use Calix's abilities to draw cards and restrict the opponent's battlefield.
So now that we've dissected Calix, Destiny's Hand and his abilities, I want to go into deckbuilding with Calix. First I want to give you a pair of helpful Scryfall searches:
Standard-legal enchantments by CMC
Pioneer-legal enchantments by CMC
With a powerful planeswalker to build around, our enchantment decks are going to want a few things.
Removal: We want to keep opposing threats and engines in check.
Board Presence: We want to protect our planeswalker and our life total.
Card Filtering & Advantage: We want to make sure we find Calix, our other threats, and our answers on time.
Many Calix decks will also need to have mana fixing because fitting all of these things into a deck often requires additional colors beyond just green and white.
Let's start with removal, because in both Standard and Pioneer white actually has the best enchantment removal available. In Standard there's Banishing Light, the clear best option, with Sky Tether, Prison Realm and Conclave Tribunal as additional options. In Pioneer you also gain access to Oppressive Rays, Baffling End, Silkwrap, Quarantine Field, Desert's Hold, Stasis Snare and Cast Out.
Outside of white and green, Standard has Mire's Grasp, Omen of the Forge, Inevitable End, Oath of Kaya and Doom Foretold. Pioneer gains access to an awful lot, but Chained to the Rocks, Oath of Chandra, Demonic Pact, Doomwake Giant and The Eldest Reborn stand out.
So we've got some pretty good options for removal. What can we get on the board to protect Calix?
First and foremost are going to be the strongest, cheapest enchantment creatures we can get our hands on. In Standard, a lot of this is going to rely on the cards we haven't seen yet. However, we have seen several Sagas already that provide a board presence in creature tokens. Both The Birth of Meletis and The First Iroan Games provide a sturdy body on the second turn and Omen of the Sun provides two smaller bodies. This is enough to make an initial sketch, but keep an eye out for sturdy enchantment creatures that aren't as restrictive as the Demigod cycle.
In Pioneer though, there's plenty to work from. Courser of Kruphix, History of Benalia, Nyx-Fleece Ram, Legion's Landing and Eidolon of Countless Battles are all reasonably strong options in just green and white. Black is the most appealing splash color, with Brain Maggot, Nyx Weaver and Pharika, God of Affliction.
Calix, Destiny's Hand actually has a lot of existing support in both Standard and Pioneer, so let's look at the final piece: card advantage.
Calix himself is a pretty strong card advantage engine, so we're mainly looking for supplementary advantage or ways to find Calix. The First Iroan Games can draw two if uninterrupted, and Siona, Captain of the Pyleas can find an Aura if you're willing to work for her (16 Auras for 90% hit rate). Setessan Champion cuts into our valuable non-enchantment slots but will provide an incredible amount of card advantage if left unchecked. Branching out from white and green gives us access to Treacherous Blessing or Thirst for Meaning, both pretty powerful draw spells at three mana.
In Pioneer there's far too much for me to cover, but Commune with the Gods, Kruphix's Insight, Oath of Jace and Eidolon of Blossoms all stick out as powerful card draw, and Starfield of Nyx is a secondary engine that allows you to recur enchantments or finish off your opponent with them.
So where would I start with Calix Enchantress as an archetype? I'll leave you with my initial sketches for both formats, and this will kick off my usual brewing challenge of 50 decks before the Early Access event on January 15th. Let me know what you like, what I can improve, and send me your own builds of this archetype!
Adam "yoman5" Hernandez is a streamer, brewer and competitive player with a keen sense for what makes a deck tick. He writes about changes in Standard and Pioneer and the art of deckbuilding.
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