Looking at a Random Card: Verduran Enchantress
(What am I doing here? Read here!)
Verduran Enchantress: Writing entries in this category with high frequency until the non-creatures finally somehow catch up with the creatures really isn’t working out…
This is the first in a long line of enchantresses somehow rewarding you for playing with enchantments. That ability branched out into White and is nowadays, as far as I can tell, considered to belong to that color’s part of the pie, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it return to Green again.
Verduran Enchantress shows excellently (with the help of her much more succesful successor, Argothian Enchantress), how problematic cards can be which are designed to be the centerpiece of strategies in constructed: If a deck built around it can keep it on the battlefield for a turn or two, it will most likely win in short order. If it can’t, it will most likely lose pathetically. If you’ve read anything I ever wrote about Magic, you will know that this is exactly the kind of card I despise, making the whole game revolve around it and marginalizing everything else which is going on.
It’s not the concept itself which is broken, though, but its execution. By this I don’t just mean that the power level is too high: There’s actually no room between “too unreliable and thus bad” and “too good and thus broken” – a card can even manage to fall into both categories at once, being to unreliable to allow your deck to have a decent winning percentage, but working often enough to be annoying and frustrating to play against! The problem is that free card draw – “free” in this context meaning that it doesn’t cost you mana – always tends to set up games where one player is doing everything, while his opponent can only watch and wait for his inevitable defeat. The concept of investing resources to draw extra cards is fine, but the payoff has to be gradually and take time. An Enchantress deck, if it works at all, will spin out of control almost immediately. (This could be prevented if a mana cost was required for the draw, or if the Enchantress just drew you one card at the end of each turn where you cast at least one enchantment, for example.)
This is a card with the potential to actually ruin a constructed environment (although it has proven to be too fragile to do so, but the Argothian Enchantress, which didn’t have that problem, has terrorized various formats), and that is something inciting to me to downgrade if heavily, even though I primarily rate cards for their usability in limited environments. Here, though, the card is excellent, for the following reasons:
1. It is a card for which you’ll probably have to work hard to get value out of it, but which will reward you satisfyingly, if you do so.
2. It is unlikely, though, to spin out of control in any decently designed environment – it will be just good, but not broken.
3. If you do not have it, your deck will – unless you screwed up really badly – still work fine, since in limited, you cannot build your whole game plan around it the way this is possible in constructed. The Enchantress will enhance your deck, not BE it.
Cards like this are excellent tools to weave synergies into a limited environment and give people an incentive to draft an archetype if they see them early. Thus, card evaluation becomes more dependant on context, and draft decks will differ more from one another than in an environment featuring only generic cards. There’s also nothing wrong with the flavor of this card.
That said, I don’t actually use it in my next level cubes, but this is pureley because of a more interesting alternative: Enchantress’s Presence is even more synergetic in an enchantment-based deck for obvious reasons! Also, her white sister, Mesa Enchantress, helps me to establish this effect in another color. I found that, with the addition of other cards working well with Enchantments (like Yavimaya Enchantress), I just don’t need the original Enchantress anymore.
So how does it all come together? Verduran Enchantress deserves an E- for constructed purposes (if it wasn’t so fragile, this would be an F), but a B for limited purposes. Since I care more about limited, I will condense this into a C-.