Top 10 Global Enchantments of All Time

I often discuss the value of subtlety in my columns. Controlling a permanent good enough to impact the board without being egregious enough to be whacked is part of winning. Subtlety is very important to surviving. However, there is something to be said for simply having the biggest and best stuff around and smashing your way to victory. Therefore, for day’s article, we will be looking at the global enchantments that are the most powerful plays in multiplayer. These are the big guns.

Aura Shards
After looking deeply into my lists, I discovered something very interesting. Almost every one of the top global enchantments I considered was printed a long time ago. The vast majority were printed in old borders. I created a short list of finalists, and that list contained twenty-seven cards. I had to winnow that list into a list of the best global enchantments of all time, bar none. To do that, I had to be absolutely ruthless. On this list of twenty-seven, no commons made the cut, and only a handful of uncommons charted. Of this list, only one card was printed in the last five years.

There were a few sets that had multiple entries for my consideration—Legends had four, Tempest had three, Stronghold had two, Exodus had three, Ravnica: City of Guilds had two, Urza’s Saga had two, and Urza’s Legacy had two. As you can see, from the eighteen months or so from Tempest to Urza’s Legacy, ten of the strongest global enchantments of all time were printed. Other sets with an entry include Urza’s Destiny, Limited Edition Alpha, Mirage, Apocalypse, Invasion, Ice Age, Judgment, Onslaught, and Magic 2013.

It’s time to look at the Honorable Mention cards that just narrowly missed the Top 10.

Honorable Mention 1 – Aura Shards

Sliding in basically at number thirteen is our only uncommon to chart. This makes the cut because you can slide it into any deck with the right colors and go to town. Every creature becomes an Indrik Stomphowler; they rack up card advantage quickly. It works with in-color themes such as spitting out token creatures. Plus, you don’t have to destroy anything if you don’t want to. This is a reliable tool for ending a lot of problems at the table.

Honorable Mention 2 – No Mercy

I am a sad Abe that this did not make the Top 10. I figured it would; it’s an Abe-favorite. But after looking at the competition, it just fell out. This is an amazing house in multiplayer, and I’ve written pages on it. Basically, it works because it kills a creature only after it smashes your face. This encourages people to attack elsewhere, but it does so with a lot of subtlety. Opponents can always attack if you become a problem, but instead, they just go somewhere else. It’s an amazing rattlesnake on the board, keeping away attackers with the threat of death.

Honorable Mention 3 – Exploration

Here’s another card that I thought had the power to make my Top 10 but just didn’t. Playing an extra land every single turn works in every deck. It is broken in decks that abuse it with cards that put a bunch of lands into your land. Even cards like Sindbad and Fa'adiyah Seer are downright awesome with this. Especially since it’s a 1-drop, the pain will come quickly.

All right, now it’s time for the Top 10!

No Mercy
Sylvan Library

10 – Sylvan Library

My guess heading in was that this was an honorable-mention-level card, but after consideration, I just like it too much. As a 2-drop, it arrives very early. It allows you to sort your cards and ensure a good draw time after time for no mana down. And then, in extreme situations, you can pay 4 life to net an extra card or two from it. That ability to audible into more cards grants this an extra bit of potency to push it past cards such as Mirri's Guile. The power level is often just enough to slide under the radar. Note that this tendency has been dropping, and my enemies have been destroying it on sight increasingly over the last year or so. It is that good.

9 – Moat

Despite the prevalence of flying creatures in multiplayer, there are still a metric ton of nonflyers running rampant. This shuts every one of them down. Sure, they can tap for abilities; otherwise, they are not attacking. And since all attackers have flying, they are not blocking either, barring reach. No one slips past a Moat, not Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, not shadow or unblockable creatures, and not big, stompy, green dudes. The only access is to fly over. This changes the game every time it hits the board.

8 – Future Sight

Are you playing blue? Then this amazing card will break the game in half. The massive amounts of card advantage one gains each turn varies, but it usually ends in the three-to-five range. From playing a land to dropping extra spells and creatures, this will rule the school. And if you have anything from Sensei's Divining Top to Sylvan Library or even a fetch land, crazy time is about to happen. Even without those adjuncts, the Future Sight is a potent card-drawing tool all on its own, and that solitary power pushes it into the Top 10.

Future Sight
Sneak Attack

7 – Sneak Attack

Yes, the Sneak Attack is broken. For {R}, you can put any creature into play from your hand. It has haste, and it dies at the end of the turn. With it in play, people will fear death and often will keep their shields up by not attacking. If they attack into you, you can make a blocker very quickly. My favorite use is to make an instant creature with an enters-the-battlefield (ETB) trigger. About two weeks ago, I was attacked by some giant beater, and I activated this, dropped a Gravedigger to block, brought back a big flyer from my graveyard (Hellkite Overlord), and then at the end of the turn, I had swapped a Gravedigger for a large beater and prevented a bunch of damage all for the cost of a lowly red mana. This card abuses your opponents with potential, and that scares them. It wins the psychological game.

6 – Yawgmoth's Bargain

The only thing to keep this card out of the Top 5, and frankly, from being in the conversation for the top spot, is the fact that it’s banned in many casual formats. It’s the Contract from Below question. Contract from Below is by far the best card-drawing spell of all time, but people tend to think of Ancestral Recall because you can actually play it in some formats. People often miss the Bargain because it’s illegal in a lot of formats, including ye olde Commander. That does not deny its sheer power at any multiplayer table that allows it.

Now let’s look and see what cards made our Top 5!

5 – Grave Pact

This old star is still every bit as awesome as It always was. Just like Future Sight is a bit heavy on the blue, this is a bit heavy on the black, but oh, what a black card it is. If you can manage to fit it into your deck, this will emerge as the belle of the ball. Forcing every single player at the multiplayer table not named you to sacrifice a creature whenever one of yours bites it is true justice. (Doesn’t this sometimes feel white? “You slew one of mine? Justice demands you all lose one as well!”) Grave Pact is amazing in any deck that features ways of sacrificing your own creatures. You can imagine it alongside Blasting Station or Attrition. Even when you don’t have those elements, you will see your creatures bite it. Opponents become more selective about killing your guys. You often sneak in a few extra punches to the face because people don’t want to block and kill your attacker! This is a game-changer, and that makes it Top 5 material.

Yawgmoth's Bargain
Grave Pact

4 – Fastbond

The very first set wants to tell you, “Howdy!” Despite all of the enchantments made after Fastbond saw print, virtually none are better. Again banned in some casual formats, (which keeps it out of the Top 3), it still is available in many of them. When you play this at a multiplayer table, you can skip ahead three or four turns very quickly. That’s worth a bit of life lost. It’s almost like three Time Walks. At the end, you can play big creatures or power spells turns before your opponents can manage more than a Steel Wall. Untapping and having five lands on turn two is just downright insane.

What cards made the Top 3?

3 – Recurring Nightmare

Another commonly banned card, I find that casual tables tend to allow it more than Fastbond. The ability to sacrifice a creature to recur a creature is just powerful. Even if you can only do it on your turn and even if you must bounce this enchantment, it’s worth it. The ability to regurgitate ETB triggers for 3 mana each destroys a game. The ability to bring back a large beater for another go is awesome. But bouncing is actually an advantage not a disadvantage. By bouncing the enchantment as a cost, opponents cannot respond to it with instant removal, and it cannot be removed by sorcery removal on later turns. Therefore, it is protected from everything save countermagic and discard. And if those ETB creatures include something like, say, Eternal Witness or Auramancer to bring it back . . . 

2 – Pernicious Deed

Not banned at all, you can play it at your leisure. There is not a single B/G deck I can think of that does not improve by the addition of this enchantment. It was once called the best card in multiplayer by no less a luminary than Anthony Alongi. It is the card that will save you with mass removal, and it is among the best rattlesnakes of all time and a sweeping card that is often clinical in what it takes out, enabling you to occasionally keep going while devastating others. My nickname for this card is Deus ex Awesome. It will save your life over and over again.

Recurring Nightmare
Pernicious Deed
Survival of the Fittest

1 – Survival of the Fittest

This is not a dominating number one, and frankly, any of the Top 3 could be here. However, the ability to reliably tutor for any creature card for the investment of {G} and a creature discard is downright broken. It works with everything from cards that were in Standard at the time of printing (Living Death, Recurring Nightmare) to strategies recently printed (Boneyard Wurm, Spider Spawning) and everything in between. From dredge and scavenge to Ashen Ghoul and Bloodghast, this is an amazing engine at filling up the graveyard, finding the right creature, and shattering any game into little pieces over your knee.

Privileged Position
And that concludes our article for today. Some of the cards that were on the short list but that did not make the cut included Mirari's Wake, Privileged Position, The Abyss, Land Tax, and recently printed bomb Omniscience.

I also had many amazing combo engines to consider: Oath of Druids, Aluren, Doubling Season, Cadaverous Bloom, Dream Halls, and others. At the end, I felt that none of the combo engines gave me the consistency of these thirteen cards, which usually don’t require certain decks to work. All of these engines are massively powerful, but they tend to require cards to build around. They can’t slide into any deck. But you can add Pernicious Deed into any deck with the colors. The same is true of cards such as Future Sight, Recurring Nightmare, and Grave Pact. But you have to run the right deck for these combo powerhouses that were considered but that just didn’t have enough general reliability to make it.

Some of the cards that almost made my short list included Mana Reflection, Mind over Matter, and Sterling Grove.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed our little tryst into yet another Top 10 list. Which global enchantments are your favorites?

See you next week,
Abe Sargent