Estrid the Enchantress
Hey gang, David here again with a new commander decklist, this time Estrid the Masked. That’s right, it's enchantress time, one of my favorite strategies. I started playing the game right in the middle of the first Theros block so maybe it's some magic nostalgia but I’ve always been drawn to enchantress strategies. And by my estimation, Estrid is the most powerful enchantress commander. Sythis in the new Modern Horizons 2 set is a close second but having access to blue is an absolute game changer, and I don’t even mean counterspells. If you look over the decklist at the end of this article, you’ll see that I run zero counterspells. In fact I run very little interaction at all and literally only one instant, and it isn’t even a great card. I have purposely reduced the power of my Estrid deck by intentionally not putting interaction in, and even through that, this is my second most powerful deck. Upgrading this deck is a simple matter of taking out some of the weaker cards and putting in interaction in basically any form. That being said, this deck packs an absolute wallop with what it’s running. Let’s take a look
Firstly, Estrid is a planeswalker that can be your commander which means a few things. Being a planeswalker means that she is both harder and easier to take care of than creature commanders. There are very few kill spells that can hit her, but she can be attacked and targeted with burn spells. If you ever get to be the lead threat at the table, something that is trivially easy to do, it is hard to keep Estrid alive through the entire table just attacking her. Next is what she actually does. Having three abilities there are three things to break down. Starting with her plus ability, it’s a +2 which means she is going to get to her ult quickly, and it’s a powerful meaningful one to use at that. Untapping any enchanted permanents is huge when you can run auras that attach to your lands. Often she is just completely free to cast when you can untap your lands, and if it’s later into the game she straight up ramps you after casting her. Her -1 is interesting on paper, but I find that I never use it. Totem Armor doesn’t protect her from the most common way she dies, by combat, and delaying her ult is not worth it for what it gives. Speaking of her ult, that -7 is incredibly powerful. Milling the top seven cards of your deck is nice with some graveyard recursion but slapping everything onto the battlefield for free that you just milled along with anything your opponents have spent time and resources getting rid of throughout the game is often enough to put you in charge of the game. Since you don’t cast the enchantments, they can’t be countered, and since you don’t pay mana for them, you are incentivized to put in big mana big power enchantments. And since her +2 ramps you, you aren’t even punished if you draw the cards you want to mill. Overall she is an incredibly powerful commander and you are always working towards that ult. I have literally never lost a game where I ulted her twice, and there's been a few games where I’ve ulted her 4+ times.
These are the cards you want to see in your opening hand the most, primarily the first two. Playing an aura ramp card on turns 1 or 2 means Estrid comes down a turn earlier than normal, as well as letting you untap that land and put out a cheap blocker to protect her. A turn 3 Estrid with a blocker is incredibly hard to stop and is your best opening hand with no questions asked. The other ramp cards here cost too much to play Estrid a turn early but they give you more mana to work with once she has come down. Having multiple of any of these above cards means that you almost always have more mana than any other player at the table, including the landfall guy. Mana is crucially important in enchantress strategies because you draw an insane amount of cards with even just one enchantress effect on the board and you need to be able to use your cards as you draw them.
These are the enchantresses that I run in my build. You could easily run more, but three or four I’ve found is a good number. If you draw too many cards during a turn and have to discard, just discard enchantments that you want to bring back later with Estrid’s -7 ability for free. Satyr Enchanter is clearly the weakest of this bunch and honestly should be Setessan Champion. Everything about enchantress decks synergises with itself, which is one of the reasons I love the deck. Your enchantments make you mana that lets you draw cards that lets you cast enchantments that make mana…. And all the while you’re getting value on enchantments hitting the field or making something huge to crush your opponents with.
Most enchantress decks at least have a small aura package to put on their creatures. I like the aura gameplan over the stax gameplan, the other typical route for enchantress decks to take, mostly because Big Number Feel Good, and these definitely help with that. Aqueous Form is one of the strongest ways to give a big creature evasion, something that big numbers still need to be able to do is hit the opponent. For just one mana, you get enchantress triggers, an unblockable creature, and a consistent scry setting you up for the next turn. Spectra Ward is more of an investment mana wise, but oh lord does it pay off in a big way. Protection from all colors is something you see on Emrakul, not any random creature I wanna give it to. And on top of that it gives the creature +2/+2, an absolutely phenomenal card. Bear Umbra lines up with the mana ramp plan and can lead to some insane turns where you triple your available mana between this and Estrid untapping everything. Ethereal Armor is a classic staple in enchantress strategies as it turns any creature you want into a massive threat and efficient blocker, both things this deck loves to have.
Once you have auras, you need creatures to put them on. Theoretically, anything that’s big can hold most aura’s well, but what makes a great creature over a good one? Something with some form of evasion, vigilance, or lifelink. If you have any of those then you can attack your opponents and not generally care what they have on board. You’re avoiding it, still able to block, or gaining so much life you don’t care to block. Elderwood Scion almost perfectly fits this criteria, only missing vigilance but Estrid can just use her +2 to untap him after combat. Trample, lifelink, and making it both easier to enchant as well as harder to remove make this creature an absolute all star when you are pushing for the win. Hydra Omnivore is also a great target even though he comes with none of the above mentioned criteria. If he hits one person, he hits everyone, which means lifelink will trigger three times putting you well above anyone else and out of the red zone. Often you can make him big enough and grant him evasion through your auras so that if one person doesn’t have suitable blockers, everyone dies and you win. Bruna lets you cheat in the more expensive auras from your hand straight onto her and comes with evasion and vigilance. Tuvasa is already huge if your deck is even slightly working so making her even bigger means that she forces a blocker or someone dies. Whitewater Niads makes anything unblockable whenever you play an enchantment, often you won't have enough creatures to keep up with its triggers, especially after ulting Estrid, but the evasion is crucial to actually dealing damage. Daxos is the quirkiest inclusion in this list but even one aura that increases his power means he must be blocked by things that can’t kill him by themselves. And if he hits someone, you gain life and might even be able to play their best cards, yet again all that mana ramp comes back into play.
What are we looking to hit off of an Estrid ult anyway? Well, these cards are some of the best out there often resulting in at least one player losing that turn. Overwhelming Splendor often takes one player completely out of the game, especially if they are a creature based deck. They will never pose a threat until they get rid of it, so you can focus your attention on the other players at the table. Archetype of Imagination and Nylea’s Colossus perform similar functions, allowing any established board you already have to push for the game right then and there. Kestia is nice because she allows you to draw a card for each enchanted or enchantment creature that’s attacking, and while you don’t go very wide in this deck, this criteria hits basically anything you are attacking with. Sphere of Safety and Karmic Justice don’t win you the game, but they try to hedge against losing it as much as possible.
Unless you are incredibly unlucky when you mill your seven cards, you will now be the biggest threat at the table and have three people looking to take you out. This is why taking someone out as soon as possible is the main priority moving forward, playing against two opponents is significantly easier than three. Like I said at the top of this article, using Estrid’s -7 twice in a game has always won me the game, often on the spot. This is primarily because after they’ve dealt with all your threats the first time, they now all come back with even more support. You don’t really care if your enchantments die, they are just coming back in a few turns anyway. Ulting Estrid often takes her completely out and this is a good thing because you can then recast her that turn and untap all your threats post-combat. Also she is now back at 5 loyalty and is going to ult in two more turns. Every other turn, Estrid brings back your whole graveyard and then some. If you have Forge of Heroes on the board and a way to untap it, either by enchanting it or through something like Bear Umbra, she ult every single turn. And that’s basically Estrid. Slam enchantments, big dudes and big auras, then play them for free every now and then to win the game out of nowhere. Thanks for reading and happy enchanting.