Birthing Pod was banned in Modern a long time ago and players have been searching for a deck that would scratch the same itch. Admittedly, Wizards of the Coast has been trying to step up their game and meet the players’ expectations by releasing cards akin to Pod. Arguably, the most playable one is Enigmatic Incarnation that promotes deckbuilding that intersects creatures and enchantments. There are a plethora of versatile enchantments and powerful silver bullet creatures to be found off of Incarnation.
The main strength of the deck is that it plays individually strong cards so it works perfectly fine without the namesake. However, as soon as Incarnation hits the battlefield, you can search out the perfect solution to the problem on the field – a removal spell, hate piece, or card advantage engine. On top of that, you are a deck that can really dominate any game that goes long thanks to all the value creatures. Last but not least, the deck is interactive and adaptable – you can add or remove certain pieces to adjust to what’s happening in a given metagame.
Let’s start by looking at the namesake enchantment!
This Pod-like card does not work immediately, but on the end step, and we don’t have to pay for the activation. It has multiple gameplay implications. First, it works profitably with Yorion, Sky Nomad as we can blink stuff, return it, and then sacrifice it. Additionally, we make the decision on the sacrifice as the turn concludes with full info on what has happened and what the game state is. Thanks to the fact that we don’t need to pay any additional costs, we can play Incarnation on turn four and get the sac on that same turn.
The downside is that we can’t do anything more with the creature that we found as it’s end step already as opposed to a main phase when we could follow up with, say, Yorion and blink it. On top of that, the opponent gets priority and can destroy Incarnation, which they wouldn’t be able to do with a card like Birthing Pod where the opponent does not get priority until you’ve used it.
The deck is built in such a way that you have numerous options when it comes to the creatures that can be found off it. Deckbuilding-wise, when you make any changes, you have to consider Incarnation chains. An example of a bad deckbuilding choice is adding a strong two-mana silverbullet creature as there is no way of tutoring it due to the lack of one-mana enchantments that could be the fodder.
Fires of Invention is our mechanism for multispelling in a deck that’s otherwise very heavy on expensive spells. Arguably, the most powerful sequence is turn four Fires into Incarnation, at which point the opponent is either very behind or is in a squeeze on which enchantment to get rid of.
When your cards draw more cards, it makes it very easy to have a steady flow of cards. Then, Fires of Invention is an insane way to cheat on mana. In an average game, I’d say it gains you 10-20ish mana that you would otherwise have to pay.
As Fires allows us to play spells for free, it makes our lands always free to use for other purposes. Those purposes include cycling Triomes, activating Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, or taking the companion to hand.
This is the best removal spell for such a deck for multiple reason. First, the deck plays a lot of Triomes and Shocklands anyways to make its mana better which means that Leyline Binding will very often cost just two mana and frequently as low as a single white. It can tag any nonland which allows us to interact on multiple axes regardless of what the opponent is doing – we can exile opposing enchantments, planeswalkers, creatures, etc.
On top of that, it technically costs six mana so we can sac it to Enigmatic Incarnation to get a seven-drop. My two favourite choices are Titan of Industryand Agent of Treachery which I will talk about later. It works best when you cast Binding on a small creature early in the game, and later give it back whilst tutoring a big threat for yourself which heavily outsizes their threat.
This card is probably the least synergistic card in the deck as it does not really fit the Incarnation chains. This deck mainly sacs two and four mana enchantments to find three and five mana creatures. This does not fit into this scheme. However, it’s generically a very solid card that provides a body, card filtration, and a threat at the end. It’s mainly a bridge between early game and our snowballing. In addition, Reflection of Kiki-Jiki’s copy ability is nuts in this deck as we can get another enter the battlefield effect of cards like Titan of Industry or Agent of Treachery.
This is a new addition from Anthology II and is a very innocuous addition to the deck. There is one in-your-face use of the card – mana fixing. However, there are two more important aspects. It gives any land all the land types which allows Leyline Binding to be always cast for a single white mana. Moreover, it draws a card which means it’s great fodder to be sacrificed to Incarnation – not only have you drawn a card from it but also going to get a body tutored out.
At first glance, you’d want to play as many Wolfwillow Havens as possible to speed up the deck and be able to deploy either Enigmatic Incarnation or Fires of Invention as soon as turn three. However, it’s not such a amazing deal. If you play Fires ahead of schedule with Haven, it explicitly means that you have three lands in play, which in turn limits what you can play off Fires. If you play Incarnation and sac Haven to find a three-drop, you’ve still lost a card to have played Haven. With other cards, they cycle so you’re never down a card – with Haven you would. It’s still fine, but it does not provide such an initial advantage as it may superficially seem.
It’s a generically versatile early-game removal spell, it has no synergy with the deck. We play it to ensure that we stay alive until the crucial turn four. Remember it can tag any nonland, not only creatures. This can be relevant against Trail of Crumbs Witch's Oven, or Wolfwillow Haven out of Green Devotion.
This is a relatively new tech in the deck. You can play it on curve to smooth out the draw and later sac it to Enigmatic Incarnation, but that’s just the baseline of what it can do – I found two better uses for the card. It filters unneeded lands when you have Fires in play as all the spells are cast for free. Furthermore, it gives haste to creatures we play so we can instantly bash in and turn the corner. All of those uses make me like the card a lot, although I would be willing to trim it down.
Let’s take a look at the creatures in the deck that we can tutor out.
Knight of Autumn is essentially an enchantment/artifact removal on a creature. Sometimes you will choose to gain life, but the situation has to be truly dire. I have never chosen the counters mode.
It’s a tax piece. We want to slow down the opponent and make them unable to go over the top. It’s most useful against UW control and Green Devotion.
This creature might as well read ‘put Enigmatic Incarnation or Fires of Invention on top’ as it’s its main use. Remember that if you put something on top and later use Incarnation, it will mess up the prior Cleric search as the deck is shuffled.
A piece of tutorable, versatile removal. We find it when we need a generic removal spell that makes sure a threat does not come back.
One of the most important cards to include in Enigmatic decks. You want to have access to it to copy the utility silve rbullets like Skyclave Apparition or Knight of Autumn and get another piece of our big payoffs like Titan of Industry
It’s almost a second Skyclave Apparition. It’s better against tokens and multiple same-name permanents – like how it’s particularly good against Food decks. Remember that the opponent may get rid of the permanent you’re targeting and you won’t get to exile the other ones then.
Another tax piece that slows the whole game down. It’s an anti synergy with Fires of Invention, so find it only when you are sure it hurts the opponent more than you.
It’s an alternative axis to win the game. It enables turns when we animate a bunch of enchantments and attack in, seemingly out of nowhere.
There are no Fabled Passages in the deck so it will only draw a card and later gain four life every turn. However, against aggressive decks, that’s exactly what you need. It’s not a deck that abuses Omnath; it’s just a solid creature here.
Yorion is our companion in this shell – some decks even play a single copy in the main deck. It’s indisputably great in a deck that has a ton of enter-the-battlefield triggers. It has other uses such as:
- reset Glasspool Mimic so we can copy something else
- turn Reflection of Kiki-Jiki back into the Saga
- temporarily get rid of Fires of Invention so we can multispell
A threat that gains life, grows board presence, and is a potential removal against smaller threats. I really like it against Humans, Mono Red, and other aggressive strategies.
A different take on the effect that the aforementioned Friend to Wolves provides. Gargaroth has no immediate effect, but dominates the battlefield if unchecked as it will keep gaining life, drawing cards, or making more creatures.
This is a combo-esque card. With Fires on the battlefield, we have got a lot of spare mana floating around. The usual play pattern is to play Kenrith and activate a bunch of its abilities. For the aggressive turns, it’s going to be haste and counters. For longer, grindier positions – drawing cards and reanimating creatures. It’s a very powerful one-of that cannot be replaced.
A big version of Skyclave Apparition. It unconditionally kills a permanent and itself is a 4/6 vigilance creature.
The first of two seven-mana payoffs. It completely dominates battlefields due to its immense size. When you’re behind and potentially losing to a creature deck, getting another body and 5 life is usually enough to stabilise. Reach is a great icing on this industrial cake to ensure that no creature can slip through.
The dirty angle of the deck. You will often Leyline Binding something, sac Binding to Enigmatic Incarnation, and take it with Agent. Later, you can tutor Glasspool Mimic to get another Agent. The agent can also be copied with Reflection of Kiki-Jiki or blinked with Yorion, Sky Nomad. When you’re getting into that territory, the game is probably over.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
In most matchups, you will cut the one-offs that don’t provide utility. If you tweak the deck to your preferences, the logic stays the same.
Mono White Humans
|+2 Deafening Clarion||-1 Reidane, God of the Worthy|
|+3 Rending Volley||-1 Agent of Treachery|
|-1 Archon of Emeria|
|-2 Bitter Reunion|
We want to be very interactive in this matchup. With the main deck quad Portable Hole and Leyline Binding, we are already okay-ish, but siding in mass removal and even more spot removal makes us much better post-board. At some point, creatures like Omnath, Locus of Creation or Cavalier of Dawn will stabilise the game and turn the corner. Our greatest enemy is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben as our already expensive cards are even costlier. Thankfully, creatures aren’t affected.
Disdainful Stroke is, in my opinion, the absolute best card against Green Devotion. On top of that, Portable Hole can disrupt their early ramp and Leyline Binding tags any planeswalker that’s problematic. Skyclave Apparition and Deputy of Detention also cause some serious headaches for them. Agent of Treachery can take their Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx which can be a big deal.
Our spot removal won’t be good against creatures, but will be solid against their permanents like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Witch's Oven. Gaining life is going to be key in the face of their drain with Cauldron Familiar. A very important tip to remember – you sacrificing permanents to Enigmatic Incarnation triggers their Mayhem Devil.
I’ve found this matchup to be solid thanks to the amount of interaction we have. One big trap is playing Fires of Invention as it stops you from interacting instant speed. Other than that, we should be good. Titan of Industry is so big that with its reach it can outmatch Parhelion II. You could sacrifice Rest in Peace to Enigmatic Incarnation, but don’t be too hasty – they can rebuild pretty fast.
Mono Blue Spirits
|+3 Mystical Dispute||-1 Bitter Reunion|
|+3 Deafening Clarion||-1 Agent of Treachery|
|+3 Rending Volley||-3 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker|
|-1 Kenrith, the Returned King|
|-1 Knight of Autumn|
|-2 Fires of Invention|
Tricky matchup. We play 4-mana enchantments and they play Spell Pierce. That’s why post-board, I want to transition into a four-colour control deck almost. They will have to counter your interaction, at which point, they will have fewer counterspells. On top of that, you can play removal on their turn to force them to tap out so that on your turn you have a free reign and can do anything. I trim on Fires of Invention as I don’t really want to limit my instant speed possibilites. I keep some of them in as I can sac them in a pinch to Enigmatic Incarnation to unlock instant speed interaction.
Tips and Tricks
- If Glasspool Mimic enters play simultaneously as another creature, you cannot copy that creature. This happens most often when you play Yorion, Sky Nomad and you blink multiple creatures.
- You can play Archon of Emeria as your second spell on a given turn to circumvent its restriction. If you play it first, you won’t be able to play anything else.
- You may want to pay mana for a spell with Fires of Invention in play e.g. Leyline Binding. It’s going to take a long time to assemble seven lands, but you can easily cast it for 2-3 mana.
- You may destroy your own Fires of Invention with Knight of Autumn to be able to play more spells on that turn or free up instant speed interaction on the opponent’s turn.
- You might want to destroy your own permanent with Cavalier of Dawn to get a 3/3 Golem.
- You don’t have to use the fight ability with Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves trigger.
- Play out redundant copies of Enigmatic Incarnation and Fires of Invention as you can still sac them to Incarnation.