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Standard Rite of Harmony Enchantments Deck Guide: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Linear Strategy

Need an explosive deck to obliterate midrange in Standard? Find out how Chris Botelho is building his Selesnya Enchantments deck to do just that, and more interestingly, why he's playing not one, not three, not five, but SIX lands in the sideboard!

I know this might sound absurd to some of you, but have you ever gotten a bit tired of endless midrange mirrors? Now before you cart me off to the madhouse, I’m just saying that, sometimes, some variety lets you appreciate the particular flavors of a midrange mirror with a refreshed palate. It just so happens that today we’re taking a deep dive into Selesnya Enchantments, which gives us that exact opportunity! Golly, what a swell coincidence.

I promised something that isn’t a midrange deck, so: How is Selesnya Enchantments not a midrange deck, and aside from my amusing oasis analogy, why should you bother playing it? Well, Selesnya Enchantments is a linear deck in a reactive world and that’s a powerful unfilled niche.

Midrange lists are busy one-upping one another trying to answer two for one threats with cost effective interaction while sneaking in their own threats, alternating back and forth between those two modes depending on their draws in each particular game.

Being linear gives enchantments an advantage that those midrange decks could never replicate. Cost reducers like Jukai Naturalist pair with cards like Hallowed Haunting and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr to accelerate out advantage at a speed midrange decks that are obliged to play reactively simply can’t be built to equal.

Essentially, enchantments is a deck that’s staking its win rate on the gamble that it doing its thing is going to be better than whatever the opponent is doing, end of story. Good news: that’s usually the correct bet!

Let’s break down exactly what that is card by card, and then we can double back to talk about why it is that enchantments (in my opinion) is a linear deck and why it explicitly shouldn’t try to be a reactive one.

Rite of Harmony Enchantments
by Chris Botelho
Buy on TCGplayer $220.87
Standard
Combo
best of 3
6 mythic
31 rare
7 uncommon
16 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Wrenn and Seven
$17.98
Creatures (10)
Instants (4)
4
Rite of Harmony
$3.96
Lands (26)
9
Forest
$2.25
7
Plains
$1.75
60 Cards
$225.08
Sideboard
2
Destroy Evil
$0.50
1
Adarkar Wastes
$2.49
3
Yavimaya Coast
$1.77
1
Deserted Beach
$7.99
15 Cards
$50.85

The Cards

Starting off with the synergistic engine pieces that reward us for going so all-in on one strategy at the expense of everything else.

Payoffs

Rite of Harmony is the defining card of the new wave of Standard enchantments decks, and it. is. busted. Frankly, I’m out of my depth here. I’m just a pro magic player trying to write a serious absolutely-no-nonsense mechanical breakdown and what this card deserves is a poet to capture in prose the beauty of a Rite turn in action.

To give you the slightest insight into what makes Rite of Harmony such an archetype defining card advantage engine, you need to know is that it draws you a card whenever a creature or enchantment enters the battlefield. Kamigawa sagas like Azusa's Many Journeys, as it just so happens, enter the battlefield when they hit their third chapter.

This means you get to set main phase stops and decide (after you see what you drew for the turn) whether you want to play Rite of Harmony and start storming off.

Did you set up multiple sagas to hit chapter three on the same turn? That’s multiple draws. Did you play Teachings of the Kirin That’s two draws! Attack with an Architect of Restoration? That’s a draw. Have a Jukai Naturalist in play, drop a one mana Azusa's Many Journies, and draw a land? That’s a free Growth Spiral!

Rite of Harmony is the kind of endorphin filled card drawing frenzy that makes us keep coming back to this game. For some reason they gave it Flashback, so have fun finding it every. single. game, as between Teachings of the Kirinand Wrenn and Seven we’ve got oodles of redundancy.

Hallowed Haunting pairs deliciously with Rite of Harmony, giving us an additional card draw with every enchantment we cast. Let me tell you, if casting Azusa's Many Journeys to draw a land and put it into play for no cost feels great, drawing two cards at no cost feels like incandescent bliss.

At some point I need to buckle down and actually describe these engine pieces in a vacuum instead of getting sidetracked into a minor in poetry.

Hallowed Haunting serves three main purposes in this list that make it irreplaceable. First, it gives the deck an additional payoff for all of the enchantments we’re running that, while serviceable on their own, do not technically add up to the power level needed to equal what the midrange decks are all putting forward.

Instead, Hallowed Haunting lets all of the enchantments in our deck scale multiplicatively, which will be the reoccurring keyword for how this deck operates. Where midrange decks try to get a two for one out of every card, we’re going to be trying to get two, and then four, and then eight, and- well, you get the picture.

Basically Hallowed Haunting goes wide with spirits, and as we go wide with spirits those spirits go tall, and then once we’ve gone wide enough we also go over- with flying and vigilance. In a nutshell, if we do our thing hard enough we go literally and figuratively over the top of what every midrange deck is doing and Hallowed Haunting is our ticket up.

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr rounds out the trio of engine pieces in a way that’s a little bit different from the rest. Katilda is the closest thing this deck has to interaction, because her function is to directly invalidate what other decks are trying to do to stop us- namely, making our life total 0.

Katilda gets big fast and then attacks to gain a ton of life. She grows with spirit tokens from Teachings of the Kirin and from Hallowed Haunting. She can’t die to vampires (too bad Bloodtithe Harvester), and she comes back after getting removed. Need to gain life this turn before you die to Sheoldred? Mill her with Wrenn and Seven or Teachings of the Archaic, or discard her to The Restoration of Eiganjo and then throw her on to any random creature and cash in that hasty lifelink goodness.

You’re going to win a lot of games by playing a turn three Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr and then witness, bemused, as she singlehandedly does 20 points of damage to your opponent and races their entire army while doing so. It won’t even be that rare. Enjoy.

The Mana Acceleration

We’ve touched on how we’re using enchantment synergy to go far over the top of what midrange decks are doing, so let’s talk about how we’re going to do that fast.

Jukai Naturalist is the lynchpin card of enchantments as an archetype. We make our cards all cost less, and then we starts chaining them off in combination with one of our payoff cards, or else just as a pile of midrange-esque two for ones when we’ve got nothing else to do. Sometimes playing stuff cheap with no synergy beyond that just overwhelms decks that are trying to play slow and interactive.

Azusa's Many Journeys is the best card you can play on turn two in the majority of situations. If you don’t love this card then the most valuable thing I can give you to take away from this article will be that you’re underrating it. If I’m going to do that, we need to break down exactly why this card is everything this deck is supposed to be doing.

Like I’ve touched on already, enchantments is a deck that’s about accelerating explosively. We want to draw as many cards as possible, we want to play as many cards as possible, and we want doing each of those things to let us do more of the other.

The limitation on both of those things is our mana. Azusa's Many Journeys is the only thing we can play on turn two that lets us ramp our mana without any risk of an opponent’s removal spells undoing that. On later turns, it starts synergizing with all of our payoff pieces in powerful ways by drawing multiple cards and giving us permanent mana advantage at literally no opportunity cost.

Basically, Azusa's Many Journeys is the safest option for ramp we have on turn two, and great when we’re doing explosive combo turns, but it’s pretty bad in situations that fall in between those two extremes. If we’re struggling to put together the pieces to an engine while low on resources and with our backs to the wall, Azusa’s is the worst draw in the deck.

I think that’s acceptable. We’re a linear deck, and while Azusa isn’t winning games where we’re behind, it makes up for that by how it puts us ahead during development or locks up games completely when we’re winning.

Win-more is a pejorative term for Magic cards and rightly so. Conventional wisdom would have us discard such cards as correct choices for our decks in favor of cards that are good when we’re struggling. In general: rightly so.

But – I would implore the kind reader to consider that, at some point, we must conclude that a card that takes a game we are 75% to win and makes us 90% to win is more valuable than a card that takes games we are 20% to win and makes us 30% to win them. Where exactly those numbers need to be for you to reach that “some point” is ultimately up to you. For me, Azusa's Many Journeys hits the threshold where it’s good enough at winning more in enough situations for it to be better than all the other two drop options.

As an aside, this deck is completely about acceleration. It lives and dies by how often it gets to play a two drop. It desperately wants to keep that two drop count high, especially ones that ramp and synergize with our payoffs. We don’t really get other options that do all of those things. Something like Kami of Transience looks like a good fit for that kind of slot, I know, but it’s ultimately a card that doesn’t grow everything else the deck is doing explosively enough to go over midrange decks reliably. Lean into going big and explosively synergistic, don’t settle for less, because less has an unfortunate habit of not being good enough.

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime is the card in this list I’ve put in the least reps with, and the card that I’m least certain on. It fills an important role and fills it well while contributing some valuable tangential value to the deck, but it does so with an opportunity cost. Let’s break all of that down (because the process of these decisions is oftentimes more insightful than simply the conclusion after all!).

The alternative to Katilda that I originally played with was a fourth Azusa's Many Journeys and a 27th land. The benefit of that is fewer hands you need to mulligan due to a lack of lands, and more draws where you have a turn two Azusa's Many Journeys which is generally far less vulnerable (and better anti-aggro) than Katilda.

The drawback is more games where you flood. This deck has some serious concerns with a large portion of its losses being to draws where you flood (a consequence, perhaps, of winning such a large percentage of the games where you draw a nice mix of lands a spells).

Enter Katilda, Dawnhart Prime. Compared to the Azusa's Many Journeys plan, we keep our healthy number of turn two plays in a deck that really hates doing nothing on turn two (improves it, even). We cut back the number of lands in our, admittedly, very mana hungry deck. We gain the benefit of allowing our Jukai Naturalist, flipped Azusa's Many Journeys, and Wedding Announcement tokens to tap for mana (have I mentioned we love having huge amounts of mana?) As the capstone, we get access to Katilda’s ability as a manasink when we have excess mana.

So what’s the problem? Katilda isn’t an enchantment, and that truly is that significant. The most common way this deck loses is to itself. The cost of explosive synergy is that we do a lot of nothing if we draw precisely the wrong mix of unsynergistic pieces, and while we’ve minimized that as much as possible- cards like Katilda provide a benefit while implicitly increasing that risk.

Ultimately, I’ve concluded that I think those gains are worth the risk, but if you’ve fallen in love with the deck and want to mess with the recipe to come to your own conclusions: Hell yeah! That’s the best part of Magic. Let me know what you end up thinking and why. I love changing my mind on stuff like this, it’s the only way you ever get better at anything.

The Best of the Rest

The Restoration of Eiganjo is the glue that holds more opening hands together than any other single card in this deck. I suspect if one were to calculate “What percentage of games where this is in the opening hand do you win”, this would likely top the charts (although it may perhaps be beaten out by a two drop, if only because Restoration is a good deal less impressive with no two drops).

This enchantments deck has the most impactful lineup of two drops of any deck in Standard and it’s not particularly close. Restoration is your ticket to get back the pieces your opponent has killed or to reanimate the pieces you milled yourself. When you’re not using it to fuel your mana engines, it can be used to loop Teachings of the Kirin as a hyper efficient way to trigger Rite of Harmony (or to dig for it, or Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr for that matter).

It flips into Architect of Restoration, a creature with vigilance (not today, The Wandering Emperor) that makes spirit tokens. (Remember those? They’re the things that grow our Katildas and our Hallowed Haunting tokens. Fancy that, more incidental synergy.) So it’s pretty much the single best thing to put a Katilda’s Rising Dawn on that we could ever ask for.

Teachings of the Kirin is yet another “The best card in this deck”. Self mill is a shockingly powerful source of card advantage thanks to Rite of Harmony and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr having such powerful flashback options. It’s two permanents for Rite of Harmony triggers, two buffs for Katilda, an enchantment, a fantastic suite of defensive options, protection from Liliana of the Veil and Invoke Despair, and it hates on the opponent’s graveyard to boot for some reason.

It’s everything. Love the Kirin and let it love you.

Wedding Announcement is a card I’m actually a little surprised didn’t just get banned. We’re playing three copies. Not four. No room. Everything else is too good to cut with all of the synergies we have going on. I feel like that says a lot more about the power level of this deck than anything else I’ve included in this article.

Wedding Announcement makes creatures, draws cards, sometimes makes mana, plays well with Rite of Harmony (although doing so half at end of turn is a little disappointing for the whole combo turn thing), and grows our often very wide board dramatically. The biggest problem with it in this list is that our abundance of Kamigawa sagas with delayed flip-into-creature status means that we can have a lot of games where we struggle to develop blockers in a timely manner.

That’s not as much of a problem against aggressive decks, because we do get chump blockers out of Wedding Announcement, but it can be a problem specifically versus Fable of the Mirror-Breaker where we have incredibly limited capacity to stop the Goblin Shaman from creating multiple treasures worth of difficult to overcome acceleration.

That’s not really a problem with Wedding Announcement specifically, per se, but it’s a concern, and Wedding Announcement doesn’t really address it. Unfortunately, no card that I’ve been able to find that synergizes with our overall plan address it effectively – so Wedding Announcement is the powerful catch all that’s mostly just good everywhere instead.

Wrenn and Seven is… odd at first glance. It’s not directly doing anything obviously synergistic with the deck at first glance, and it intuitively feels like there ought to be something we could play instead of it that “synergizes” better.

Weirdly enough, there isn’t really. As I mentioned earlier, the most frequent source of losses for this deck is when its own engine stutters to a halt because it’s missing one part of the enchantments / draw / giant-possibly-lifelinking-boardstate trinity. Wrenn’s a top end choice that allows you to create a giant creature, even with no other enchantments that blocks fliers (extra relevant against Esper, my pick for deck-to-beat in this metagame) while also milling you into card advantage via Rite of Harmony and lifelink via Katilda’s Rising Dawn (on that giant creature you just made).

Wrenn is a one card tool to dig you out of those non-functional funks. The deck needs some amount of that, and there aren’t really any other options that do it. So, here we are. The world’s most synergistic no-synergy card.

Removal: Why not? (We’re a linear deck)

We’ve wrapped up the cards that are in the deck, so now I must address the cards that aren’t in the deck and explain the most conspicuous absence that I know most players will by default disagree with.

Why do we not want to kill Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Raffine, Scheming Seer when they are the two cards that most often defeat us (other than Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, but removal is bad there so whatever)? Why do we not play any of the enchantment (that means synergistic, right?) removal spells that can cleanly answer those problem permanents? Doesn’t Sheoldred single-handedly counter our Rite of Harmony game plan?

Because Sheoldred, the Apocalypse doesn’t counter our gameplan as reliably as you would think, and because we *are* planning for how we beat those cards. Critically, we want to beat them, and that isn’t the same thing as removing them.

The crux here is that we are a deck that wants to grow our advantage multiplicatively. If we’re firing on all cylinders, then we’re going to grow so fast that Raffine, Scheming Seer doesn’t matter. When we play removal like Borrowed Time, Leyline Binding, or Prayer of Binding, we’re left with scenarios where they’re too expensive or too awkwardly timing-restricted to play well with the specific turns we want to go off with Rite of Harmony.

Weighing the times where removal spells would give us an advantage versus times where more general purpose spells like Wedding Announcement or Wrenn and Seven are better is tough. I’ve put in a pretty large amount of games trying out both configurations of the deck and I’ve come to the pretty firm belief that overall you win more games if you just stay in your lane and do your strategy better than if you do your thing worse, but sometimes stop theirs.

The key piece of information here is understanding how much Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr defines this deck. Functionally it is four copies of removal by virtue of how it completely counteracts the things Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Raffine, Scheming Seer are trying to do. We get more out of having reliable access to it and the synergies it provides than we do out of removal. Luckily for us, we get to play cards like Wrenn and Seven who’s mill provides us redundancy for finding Katilda – a benefit we don’t get if we try to answer threats with removal.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Art by Manuel Castañón
Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Art by Manuel Castañón

The sideboard here is… odd. We’re an intensely synergistic deck and the risk of us overboarding in ways that hurt us and our linear game plan more than help it is ever present. That creates some really unusual incentives.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. We’re playing six lands in the sideboard and that sounds insane. Why?

Because we’re incredibly fragile to strategies playing Farewell. Particularly strategies playing lots of copies of Farewell. The most effective strategy I’ve found to counter that is to board in counterspells.

Why not play the lands in the main deck? Because the lands that allow us to splash blue make us much worse against decks that pressure our life total. Our options for sideboard cards against those decks basically don’t exist. We gain more overall percentage points by main decking a mana base that saves us life than we would by playing anti-aggressive sideboard cards with deeply specific and minor applications.

Versus Pretty much any deck with Farewell

InOut
+3 Disdainful Stroke-3 Azusa's Many Journeys
+1 Adarkar Wastes-2 Plains
+1 Deserted Beach-3 Forest
+3 Yavimaya Coast-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
+3 Anointed Peacekeeper-2 Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr

It’s incredibly difficult for us to rebuild after Farewell unless we’ve already gone off with Rite of Harmony, have left ourselves with seven excellent cards in hand, and have a ton of onboard lands from which to rebuild instantly. Even then, we’re probably dead to a second Farewell.

Luckily, if we’re firing on all cylinders, we can do a pretty good job of holding up the mana for a Disdainful Stroke every turn while still powering out way more advantage than the opposing deck can handle. As a side benefit, most of the decks playing Farewell are also playing other haymaker top end cards like Sanctuary Warden where a well timed Disdainful Stroke will leave them vulnerable to a lethal crackback.

The rationale for cutting Azusa's Many Journeys is that, against control decks with lots of removal and counterspells, we’re frequently more concerned with our ability to keep playing a spell every turn to pressure them more than our ability to blindly accelerate our hand onto the board where they can then focus on denying us our card advantage tools.

The more the opponent leans on planeswalkers like The Wandering Emperor and Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset, the more you should value Anointed Peacekeeper over Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr. On the other hand, the more they threaten your life total with aggressive cards like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, the more you can’t afford to cut the Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr.

Farewell is a somewhat wildcard, err, card right now. It’ll randomly show up in a lot of lists, and you’re going to need to adapt to changing metagames as time goes by. Hopefully this is a decent set of heuristics to get you started on figuring out what kind of answers you prefer.

The Mirror

InOut
+4 Anointed Peacekeeper-2 Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr
+2 Destroy Evil-1 Forest
+1 Boseiju, Who Endures-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
-1 Azusa's Many Journeys
-2 Wrenn and Seven

Naming Rite of Harmony with Anointed Peacekeeper is incredibly backbreaking in the mirror and shapes the entirety of how you have to plan for the matchup. Denying, functionally, the entire card advantage game plan of the opponent’s deck with a single aggressive card reshapes the way their deck is allowed to function or not function from the ground up.

Hallowed Haunting is the way most mirrors eventually end. One player develops a posse of spirit tokens, gives them flying, and runs away with things, but getting to that point when Rite of Harmony is taxed can actually be pretty challenging. Haunting relies on critical card flow to get enough spirit tokens, and to get to the seven enchantment threshold.

Destroying opposing Hallowed Hauntings is eventually a priority, so we want Destroy Evil and Boseiju, Who Endures for mana efficiency. Bonus points when, in a pinch. they remove opposing Jukai Naturalists who threaten to snowball advantage.

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr can carry a slightly advantaged board state into an easy win, when not countered by an opposite Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, and yet it must be cut in favor of having access to more reliable access to Anointed Peacekeepers.

Versus Mono Blue

InOut
+4 Anointed Peacekeeper-2 Wrenn and Seven
+2 Destroy Evil-1 Hallowed Haunting
-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr
-2 Azusa's Many Journeys

Mono Blue has the unique distinction of being the scariest matchup for almost every deck I build. Although, amusingly, I don’t typically find it to be a bad matchup. I think it just tends to occupy the role of being the deck where I feel the least in control of the result of the match, and where the outcome is largely determined by the draw their deck decides to give them.

Our general philosophy when sideboarding here is that we want to answer early copies of Haughty Djinn if they find it, and start slipping spells through Spell Pierce and Make Disappear as early as possible.

To that extent, Anointed Peacekeeper is excellent at pressuring the opponent’s life total, taxing the critical cards in their hand (although beware of Thirst for Discovery, which can allow them to loot away cards you’ve locked down), and giving us critical information to sequence our plays.

We side out expensive spells to limit our potential of being blown out by a single counterspell when tempo is everything.

Hallowed Haunting isn’t as fantastic as you’d typically assume in this matchup because it’s very difficult to get seven enchantments into play when they’re countering everything we do. We rely on reaching critical mass to turn Rite of Harmony into a busted draw engine and that’s tricky to reach here.

Yet, jamming impactful spells every turn and hoping they resolve is ultimately the most effective strategy against Mono Blue. Their deck has an incredibly high density of cantrips in an attempt to be as consistent in finding Haughty Djinn as possible. The downside of that is that when forced to counter things turn after turn, they tend to fall apart if given no opportunity to actually cast those cantrips.

Push that pressure point as much as you can. Don’t try to play the usual anti-control game of waiting around to cast your spells. In almost all scenarios, keep jamming and make them have it.

It’s not particularly engaging gameplay, but to my chagrin, it’s the most effective strategy I’ve found.

Versus Bant Midrange

Depending on how stock this list is they may be playing Farewell, or may not. If they’re playing Farewell, refer to the above guide on how to board against Farewell decks.

If they’re not playing Farewell, run it back. Be mindful of the fact that they will almost certainly be playing Anointed Peacekeeper against you, and plan accordingly around the pain that is Rite of Harmony that costs as much as it probably should have to begin with.

Versus Gruul Aggro

InOut
+2 Anointed Peacekeeper-2 Hallowed Haunting
+2 more Anointed Peacekeeper (on the draw)-2 Wrenn and Seven (on the draw)

This is a matchup where it’s easy to fall into the trap of overboarding. Peacekeeper’s a good way to slow them down so you have time to breathe and assemble a good Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr.

Hallowed Haunting isn’t useless, but it’s much much to slow to ever play two copies of. So we need to cut some of it in favor of lower cost cards.

On the play, I feel you have enough time to keep in Wrenn and Seven, and in doing so, have more reliable access to Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr (and a valuable reach creature). On the draw, you just don’t have time for that to come online, so out it goes.

Versus Rakdos Anvil

As of the writing of this article, The Meathook Massacre has been announced as a ban but hasn’t gone into effect. Rakdos Anvil is the deck that simultaneously made the best use of The Meathook Massacre, but was also the most hindered by it. I’m not entirely sure what to expect of this deck going forward as a result.

For reference’s sake, here’s how I was boarding before the ban, but take into consideration that adaptions could possibly render this outdated.

InOut
+4 Anointed Peacekeeper-2 Wedding Announcement
-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
-1 Hallowed Haunting

Generally speaking, there’s less need for us to “outvalue” Rakdos Anvil compared to most midrange decks. They can have draws with a lot of resource advantage, but generally speaking, their average draw gets invalidated if you keep threatening to gain significant amounts of life every turn until they run out of removal.

Anointed Peacekeeper is particularly noteworthy here for how it taxes the activated ability on Oni-Cult Anvil. A two mana activated ability is considerably slower than a zero mana one. Consider sometimes naming Oni-Cult Anvil even when they have none in play or none in hand as a result. Peacekeeper also does an exceptional job blocking Fable of the Mirror-Breaker tokens, which can otherwise spiral out of control pretty fast.

Versus Grixis Midrange and Rakdos Midrange

InOut
+3 Anointed Peacekeeper (on the draw)-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime (on the draw)
-1 Wedding Announcement (on the draw)
-1 Wrenn and Seven (on the draw)
.

So… This is another pretty weird sideboard setup. The gist against most of these black midrange decks is that we’re pretty much main decked for where we want to be in the matchup – doing our linear thing over the top of them.

The problem is specifically Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. If they play that card on turn three and we’re on the draw, we have incredibly few good answers.

We can trade off a Jukai Naturalist and then get it back with The Restoration of Eiganjo at best, or else trade off with a Teachings of the Kirin, but no matter what that leaves them at a tempo advantage and resource parity.

So: Anointed Peacekeeper. The only way we can respond to a Fable of the Mirror-Breaker that threatens to eat their token without losing us development. Challenging to remove with a Bloodtithe Harvester, Voltage Surge, or Cut Down. Plus it taxes their followup spell and gives us information while doing so.

On the play we have the advantage of flipping a turn two Azusa's Many Journeys in time to block the Fable token, so cutting into our ability to out-value them in order to increase our answer density isn’t as necessary.

Versus Esper Midrange

InOut
+2 Destroy Evil-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime (on the draw)
-1 Azusa's Many Journeys (on the play)
-1 Azusa's Many Journeys (always)

Honestly, this is the one matchup that gives me pause with this deck. The big question for enchantments’ role in the metagame is “Does Esper main deck 4 Destroy Evil right now?”.

Destroy Evil is backbreaking for us as a reliable answer to Hallowed Haunting and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr – either side. If Esper Is main decking four copies, this matchup is going to be rough.

Destroy Evil comes in as an answer to both Raffine, Scheming Seer and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. It can hit a Wedding Announcement in a pinch, but unless you had nothing to do on turn two (which is its own problem), you’re probably not going to have the ability to do that before it gets a trigger. At that point, you’re usually better holding your Destroy Evil to answer a bigger threat while you develop your own enchantments instead.

The reason we bring in removal here when we don’t in so many other situations is because Esper gives us two problems. One, a critical density of threats that we can’t chump block into irrelevance – Sheoldred because of the ability and Raffine because of the flying. Two, a critical density of answers to our Katilda that prevents us from reliably ignoring the former problem. Destroy Evil is the main offender here, but to make matters worse, they’ll sometimes play even more removal like Infernal Grasp, The Wandering Emperor, or Soul Transfer. Furthermore, starts with Raffine, Scheming Seer tend to dig reliably enough that they find as many of those tools as they need.

Despite all that doom and gloom, the matchup still isn’t actually all that terrible. Largely because, much like Mono Blue’s singular weakness, sometimes they don’t actually have the perfect draw to cast Raffine on turn three. When they don’t have that engine filtering their draws, they often can’t actually develop their board at a meaningful pace, which means they just fall apart to the generic Rite of Harmony game plan.

Versus Jund Midrange / Reanimator

InOut
+2 Destroy Evil-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr
+1 Boseiju, Who Endures-1 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime (on the draw)
-1 Forest
-1 Azusa's Many Journeys (on the play)

Jund’s been a tricky matchup for me to navigate, and I’ve tested out a few different iterations of sideboard plans. At one point, I was bringing in the Disdainful Stroke package, but for the time being, I’ve settled on this as the best option.

The major problem in this matchup is that, like Esper, they have pretty reliable access to enchantment destruction in the form of Tear Asunder and Unleash the Inferno. That makes relying on Wedding Announcement and Hallowed Haunting tricky.

Despite that, we would generally still be able to outscale them eventually if it weren’t for the problem posed by Titan of Industry. Specifically, multiple titans thanks to Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.

Hence, the sideboard plan where we board into Destroy Evil and Boseiju. Which are, oddly enough, not actually to answer the Titan of Industry, but rather to answer the Fable.

My experience has been that you can actually weather a single hardcast or reanimated Titan if they’re not copying it (or, in the case of an early reanimated titan, as long as they’re not also casting Tear Asunder and Unleash the Inferno).

So, why are we not boarding in the Anointed Peacekeeper package on the draw against Fable of the Mirror-Breaker like we did against Grixis? Because I haven’t actually played against Jund in the 15 matches since I decided I wanted to start experimenting with that sideboard strategy and have no idea if it works!

It might though, it’s on my list of things to test. It’s been promising against Grixis and I feel like it would probably hold up here. My first instinct is to start by trimming Wedding Announcement for the Anointed Peacekeeper as it takes a while to kick in and is really vulnerable to their efficient enchantment removal. Hallowed Haunting could be a trim for similar reasons.

Be cautious though, because bringing in all four Anointed Peacekeeper alongside the Destroy Evil almost certainly runs over the line into “Overboarding and rendering your underlying strategy dangerously nonfunctional” territory.

If you venture into the unknown in pursuit of information here, let me know how it goes.

Versus most everything else

As a final word of caution, when in doubt- keep it out. By all means experiment with different sideboard packages in the myriad of other matchups I’m unlikely to have seen yet. But do so only while bearing in mind that this is a synergy deck in which the threat of overboarding is ever looming. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re doing something wrong just because you submitted zero changes from your main deck.

Tips and Tricks

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime Art by Bryan Sola
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime Art by Bryan Sola
  • When playing Jukai Naturalist against Bloodtithe Harvester on early turns, it’s often correct to attack with the Naturalist and trade. If you don’t make this attack they’ll have the option to sac their Harvester and kill your Jukai Naturalist regardless, except in this case, you don’t gain any life. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing your opponent to make choices hoping they make the wrong one (unless you have no other outs). That’s a bad habit that will “work” against weaker players, but set you up for failure when you start playing better opponents.
  • Build up a habit of setting stops in your first main phase with this deck. You need to do this if you want to cast Rite of Harmony in response to your Saga transformation triggers. Setting an upkeep stop wont work, because you want to see the card you draw for the turn before deciding whether to cast Rite of Harmony.
  • Followup note: You can’t set a first main phase stop for your next turn if you’re currently in your first main phase. Skip forward to combat before you try, otherwise, when you leave the first main phase, arena will remove the stop you tried to set.
  • When playing against Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, keep in mind that you can cast Rite of Harmony at instant speed after you cast a spell and some of the triggers resolve. Use this to gain precise control over how many cards you draw and how much life you lose.
  • Similarly, remember that if you cast Rite of Harmony you might draw more cards than you were expecting – Architect of Restoration and Wedding Announcement can surprise you if you’re not careful.
  • It can often be correct to jam Hallowed Haunting into counterspells early. While it might feel natural to bait out counterspells with less impactful cards so that your Hallowed Haunting is more likely to resolve, remember that it’s actually pretty tough to get a ton of cards into hand in those counterspell matchups, and that Hallowed Haunting can actually be really low impact when it’s your last card in hand. Sometimes you have to go big and force them to have it.
  • Both Katilda, Dawnhart Prime and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr have protection from creature types that are common in this Standard. You’re going to have a lot of 3/3s attacking into 1/1s where your opponent misses your free block – make sure you don’t miss them too.
  • You’ll often need to buy just one more turn against a Sheoldred while at 2 life so that you can swing with a Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr. Remember that you’re allowed to swing with Jukai Naturalist even if it just runs into Sheoldred and dies – you still earn that critical extra turn.
  • When tapping your mana during Rite of Harmony turns, it can be important to consider what colors your existing creatures could tap for if you happen to top deck Katilda, Dawnhart Prime. Wedding Announcement tokens, specifically, can leave you with a lot of extra white mana floating around, and Green mana tends to be the color you’re restricted on the most during combo turns. Consider and tap your mana accordingly.

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Chris Botelho
Chris Botelho

Professional Magic: The Gathering Player, 2022 Magic Pro League Member, Jank aficionado.
On a quest to become good at this game, even if that means making every mistake possible to get there.
Most of all: I'm hoping that helps you get better with me.

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