Magic Basics: Enchantments & Auras for Amplified Effects

Worship - an Enchantment in MTG. Art by Mark Zug

Magic Basics: Enchantments & Auras for Amplified Effects

In the real world, we like to “cast a spell” on someone, as though enchanting them with magical powers or some sinister effect for our benefit. That’s exactly what Enchantments are in Magic: the Gathering – a spell with long lasting effects, more permanent than Instants and Sorceries as they stay on the Battlefield.

One of the best things about an Enchantment is it does not count as a Creature (mostly, see exceptions below). Hence specific removal cards for Enchantments have to be used. And since most players prepare for Creature removal, using an Enchantment can provide long lasting benefits with no way for the opponent to counter.

While all colours of MTG use Enchantments, it is often associated with White, and Black and Red have very few ways to get rid of them. Now let’s take a look at the various type of Enchantments, which has grown slowly over the years:

Global Enchantments

When MTG was new, the term “global Enchantment” was used to signify a board-wide effect. Today it’s simply called Enchantment. Dawn of Hope creates a trigger whenever you gain life, and it even has an second ability that you, as the controller, can activate.

Moat on the other hand, affects all players as it does not specifically mention “you,” or “opponents.” Its negative effect – “cannot attack” – supersedes other Enchantment effects that might say “all Creatures must attack if able.”

Auras – Enchantments for Creatures

In the old days, these targeted Enchantments were called “Enchant Creature,” “Enchant Artifact,” etc., and today it’s simply called Auras.

Auras are placed on right below the Creature to indicate that it’s been enchanted. As long as the Aura is in play, its effects are applied to the enchanted Creature, and multiple Auras can be stacked onto the same Creature, even by different players.

The most basic of Auras give Power and Toughness boosts, as well as additional abilities like Flying and First Strike. Others, such as Pemmin’s Aura, gives the enchanted Creature new activated abilities for you to utilise.

Enchantment Creatures – What Are They?

These are hybrid card types – and count as both Enchantments and Creatures. While that may be good for triggered effects affecting either type, it also has a downside because any spell that targets either Enchantment or Creature can affect an Enchantment Creature.

Heliod is a hybrid Enchantment Creature, but his Creature side only exists if there is enough Devotion to the white colour.

Constellation Mechanic

One particular mechanic – Constellation – greatly rewards the usage of Enchantments. It triggers when an Enchantment enters the Battlefield (ETB), and the rewards could be drawing additional cards or receive some kind of boost.

Although Constellation has only been seen in a few sets – mainly in the Theros world – it is a useful mechanic to build around in Commander as the payoffs start to stack, giving immense value.

Sagas – Multi-Stage Enchantments

In 2018, during MTG’s 25th birthday year, WOTC released a new type of Enchantment – a Saga that had multiple chapters, each creating some kind of value for the controller.

Each step is triggered after the Draw phase, and after the last step concludes, the Saga is sacrificed. Sagas brought immense value, and despite not able to stick onto the Battlefield like regular Enchantments, players easily found ways to blink them or return them from Graveyards.

These Sagas also carried within them lots of flavour from MTG lore, as each is read like a story (hence the chapters) and recounts historic moments in MTG’s history.

End Step

Enchantments are a integral part of MTG’s gameplay, and has been around since the game’s beginnings. Commander decks focused on Enchantments can be particularly strong as most players prepare for Creature removal spells but less so for Enchantments.

It’d be interesting to see what new kinds of Enchantments are created as MTG grows. Sagas were a great addition, many players love them, especially with their scroll-like inscriptions and paintings.

If you’re still learning about MTG, we recommend some more articles from our Beginner’s Learning Guide:

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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