Michael Feng’s Minneapolis Weekend Tournament Report & Pummel Enigma v2 Decklist + Matchups!

Michael Feng’s Minneapolis Weekend Tournament Report & Pummel Enigma v2 Decklist + Matchups!

Michael Feng Michael Feng
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Last week, I took Enigma to battle at US Nationals and ended up in 52nd place with a 9-5 record. I made quite a few embarrassing mistakes during my CC rounds, but overall had a great time. Here’s the decklist I piloted https://fabrary.net/decks/01J0V32THPX4RB7DT6JJBFAP2J

Since I created my deck with other Wolf Pack teammates, feel free to go check out Nathan (who made top 8!)’s Deck Tech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMUBDvOvG9w My list is very very similar to Nathan’s.

My 8 rounds of Classic Constructed were as follows:

  1. Win vs. Nuu - my good friend Andrew L. I’m so sorry Andrew! I got an early natural double transcend Miragai on turn 2, and Andrew’s hands did not line up to destroy it. Ended the game 40-0
  2. Loss vs. Riptide - Paul was a lovely opponent! I made a brainfart the turn before I knew he was drawing 2x Codex of Frailty by not emptying my arsenal. I knew his hand, but forgot I was drawing into 4 blue instants. If I had emptied my arsenal, I would have likely won as I had a Down and Dirty I could grab twice off Codex and the game ended close to a fatigue state (Riptide 4 cards left, me 15+ cards left). Riptide is always a hard matchup for Enigma, and I was glad Paul was able to pull the win.
  3. Win vs. Kayo - Such a small world! This game was against Arthur who I had hung out with just the day before. A close game as always, but managed to keep Miragai around for just a little too long during the mid game.
  4. Loss vs. Dash IE - Patrick got me with a late game Max Velocity. I also made a mistake of choosing to draw instead of +2 as I had miscalculated my damage (letting Paul stabilize at 1 health instead of taking away one more card.) Definitely not a perfectly played game from either player as Paul also let me get extra 2 value off Footsteps on one of his High Octane turns.
  5. Win vs. Zen - Andrew M and I had a sloppy game with a lot of judge calls on each other. I’m grateful for this game as I felt that we had a genuine “we are both humans in a competition” vibe. I ended up winning with a similar formula, keeping a Miragai around just one extra turn, which is incredibly difficult against Zen! Thank you Andrew for reaffirming my faith in humanity during this game!
  6. Loss vs. Levia - Mark C completely destroyed me! On one of his turns, I played as if his last card + action point would be at maximum claw, at minimum pass priority + arsenal. Instead, it was Doomsday. That really made it lights out for me!
  7. Loss vs. Zen - Charles Dunn piloted the deck to perfection, showing me the power of Shifting Winds of the Mythical Beast (SWOMB). He played zero Art of Wars and never really had any ‘insane high roll’ turns but I still felt that I had no chance in this game at all. This game would cause me to rethink and change up many cards in the deck for the Battle Hardened.
  8. Win vs. Prism - Andrew Cook (my 3rd Andrew opponent of the weekend???) had a slow start with Prism and I managed to cobble together one of Enigma’s mini combos that I colloquially call “Spec Cats” - red Spectral Manifestations into Restless Coalescence.

Going 4-4 in Classic Constructed was not encouraging, but I learned a lot during these games! Riptide and Dash IE were both hard matchups during my testing, and I was sad to not have been able to utilize my experience to pull a win. Losing to Charles, though, was alarming, as I did not feel like the 80 cards I had submitted would *ever* win against Zen. So… that night I spent a few hours laying in bed thinking about Enigma… and decided to submit something spicier for the Battle Hardened. I’ve shared this on Twitter earlier, but here’s the deck list I’ll be talking about in this article. World, meet “Pummel Enigma”

https://fabrary.net/decks/01J0GHMFT6Q5V7E2EEWXT26ZSG

Since the Battle Hardened had over 300+ players, there were NINE rounds of Classic Constructed Swiss. Here’s how my tournament went (9 rounds of swiss, plus loss in the Quarterfinals of Top 8):

  1. Win vs. Azalea - big phantasm attacks that aren’t popped are quite good!
  2. Win vs. Kano - Majin Bae (aka Caleb) popped my first Red Spears of Surreality with WOUNDED BULL. But that was the last time one of my Phantasm attacks were popped. Both of my Phantasmaclasms found an Energy Potion and a late go again attack while Majin was at 1 forced him to “press the Kano button” while I still had two cards in hand - both of which were blue. I was super happy with the result as this was the first time I ever beat Majin in a rated game of Classic Constructed 🤣
  3. Win vs. Azalea - extremely close game vs Thomas B who has been an excellent opponent every time we have played. I can tell Thomas is incredibly experienced and I’m always intimidated to match against him. The game ended 1-1, but I got insanely lucky with a Phantasmaclasm that bottomed his only arrow, forcing him to block with all 4 buffs and his Skullbone Crosswrap to stay alive while he was at 1.
  4. Win vs. Kano - Braxton was definitely not ready for Command and Conquer + Pummel and Phantasmattacks.dec. I am sure he would have made the game closer if we were to play again!
  5. Win vs. Nuu - Natalie was an incredibly skilled Nuu! I felt always in a shroud of mystery “what could it be??” every turn. I do think Pummel Enigma is significantly worse into Nuu than a more ward focused Enigma, though Natalie did have one turn where her best play was to attack with a red Pick to Pieces, and that was a lot worse into my ward-light deck!
  6. Win vs. Zen - I was so happy to beat Charles Dunn here, but honestly, everything went right in my favor and everything went wrong for Charles to be just a close game. Turn 0, Charles attacked with weapon into Mauling Qi. I took 2 damage in order to play a baby Miragai (Miragai without pitching Chi.) My FIRST turn was attack with Miragai, give it an extra counter to make it 6 with Go Again. Then, pitch another blue to attack with Command and Conquer… and Pummel it with my remaining two floating resources. A backbreaking Weakest Link later and I was in a commanding position. Still… Charles brought me down to 3 and I remain very afraid of Zen!
  7. Win vs. Boltyn - I was watching Bryce H tear up other heroes with his Radyn Boltyn. I knew the game would be rough as my Enigma list basically is all attack actions so I can’t easily block Bryce. However… I was able to assemble Command and Conquer with Pummel twice, and both were so good against Bryce. Thanks for being a good sport about it! I wish you were able to make Top 8 as your gameplay was impeccable and Radyn Boltyn truly feels like an underplayed hero in the meta.
  8. Loss vs. Zen - Jacob Baugh, the architect of the US Nationals winning Zen decklist… the pivotal point of this game for me is when Jacob played Ancestral Harmony and hit a red Bonds of Ancestry and then did 30+ damage to me. I was a sad panda. If he had whiffed… maybe there was a chance. Game ended 1-1 with Jacob blocking all of his remaining armor on my last attack! (But it was not as close as 1-1, as Jacob was able to keep a 4 card hand to pressure me while I was at 1.)
  9. Win vs. Maxx - I was just barely able to pressure Tanner enough so that when he finally was ready to transform, he could not keep enough cards to do so. Tanner had one pivotal “possible” misplay where he blocked with Crown of Providence early and chose to sink a card in hand, and then was immediately punished by my follow up Command and Conquer. Close game! I definitely could see it going the other way.
  10. (Quarterfinals) Loss vs. Prism - against Andrew Cook again! This time Andrew came out of the gates with a turn 0 Soul Food, getting two figments, a ponder token, and FOUR SOUL. Next turn Andrew popped Halo, played Tome, attacked with Angel of Erudition, and ended the turn with a Genesis and Arc Light Sentinel. I tried controlling Angels and Spectra, but they kept coming back, and I eventually was simply out grinded by the value. Excellent game and I wish it was on stream as it showcased the power of Prism and how Prism can definitely win against Enigma! My main note was… I should have played AB1 into Andrew, his Merciful Retribution did a ton of work! I’m glad I learned that, and once again, awesome play from Andrew.

Why play Pummel Enigma?

  • I think Pummel Enigma has a better Zen, Kano/Riptide, and Azalea matchup. You have more disruption into Zen. You have more trickiness into Kano and Riptide that isn’t around Ward. You have more big numbers against Azalea and are less vulnerable to Murkmire.
  • I think Pummel Enigma is fun! I played a lot of Guardian last year, and one of Guardian’s best plays is Command and Conquer + Pummel using Tunic resource.

  • Pummel Enigma is “different” / “off meta”. I normally prefer just playing “the best deck” (which would be Zen in the current meta) but was feeling spicy for the Battle Hardened. I do think that since you do still have Manifestations of Miragai and Rage Specter, opponents can not completely change their game plan into you. By having both types of threats, it’s harder for you to be countered, and you also of course gain a lot of surprise equity when your opponent has not scouted you out!

What are the downsides of Pummel Enigma?

  • It has less of Enigma’s identity. Without Spectral Manifestations + Restless Coalescence and other ward, playing this version often feels like playing a “GenericGoodCards.dec”
  • You may struggle in the mirror if your opponent makes power plays that involve some combination of Spectral Manifestations, Restless Coalescence, Sacred Art: Immortal Lunar Shrine, Astral Etchings, and 10,000 Year Reunion.
  • Your Nuu and Warrior and Guardian matchups are also less good with less ward.
  • In the matchups where you bring in the big Phantasm attacks assuming your opponent is on less 6+ power attacks to pop you (such as Azalea or Kano), games can be very rough if your opponent does have a lot of poppers!
  • Pummel is quite a sus card if you don’t draw an attack action to pair with it!

Moving forward with Pummel Enigma v2

First things first, I think Enigma is one of the more powerful heroes in the current Classic Constructed meta. I think most builds of her are naturally favored into Prism, Nuu, Warriors and can hold her weight against Kayo. I think the tough matchups that require sideboarding and experience are Zen, Kano, Azalea, Riptide, and mechanologists that focus on Boosting. If you are prepping for your Nationals or a CC event, you are *not* wasting your time by playing Enigma. 

However, I will caution you that I think the Zen matchup is overall rough enough that for competitive minded folks, I would first prioritize learning how to Zen, and learning how Zen works before really focusing on Enigma. 

That being said, if losing isn’t too devastating, and fun is an ingredient to personal success for you, here is what I would bring to a local armory - I’m calling it Pummel Enigma v2. https://fabrary.net/decks/01J0V2V14YXDBGMJ129FZ3CGGT 

I have included Matchup guides for every possible matchup, please reach out to me if I’m missing a matchup! 

I wanted to talk about certain cards and certain interactions. I believe thinking about these “powerful” type of interactions gives you simple heuristics and a game plan to play toward during your games.

Combo #1: Spears of Surreality into 2-Cost Attack

Michael Hamilton once famously said “Command and Conquer is below rate unless it destroys your opponent’s arsenal” and chose to not play C&C in his famous Bullander Iyslander deck. Two card 6 damage is just simply below rate. By having Spears of Surreality, you’re able to utilize that last resource and be on rate or above rate! Other cards to think about are red Spectral Manifestations so you can go Spectral into tunic 2 cost OR an underutilized but ok card, red Come to Fight (which honestly still keeps you below rate, but pumping a Command and Conquer to 9 helps increases the chance it destroys arsenal tremendously.)

Combo #2: 2-Cost Attack into Tunic Pummel

Just a tried and true combo, the deck is playing 18x 2-cost attacks to support Tunic Pummel plays (as well as 6 more 3-cost attacks to support Pummel in general.) The deck is called Pummel Enigma. Try to Pummel your opponent!

Combo #3: Rage Specter into 2-Cost Attack, using Uphold Tradition

This interaction is one of the main reasons I keep Uphold Tradition in the deck! It does require two blue cards to be pitched! If you don’t mind losing this mini combo, having Goliath Gauntlet can really help a lot of matchups.

My thoughts on Enigma in general.

  1. Enigma has two fundamental problems in most situations.
    • She has no default weapon, so in order to attack her opponent, she needs to either create a Ward Weapon or have an Attack Action in hand. When deck designing, I think it’s paramount to make sure you have the ability to play a 4-5 card hand if given the space or if necessary. For example, I think blocking in general against Zen is a losing proposition.
    • She is Action Point gated. If her Ward Auras do not have a +1 counter, they don’t have “Go Again”. Most natural Go Again cards are some combination of the following: (a) below rate, (b) block 2 or don’t block, (c) or have Phantasm. You have to choose the downside you are comfortable with. The pummel Enigma lists is choosing to have Phantasm attacks in Spears of Surreality. Other cards to consider are: Spectral Manifestations, Waxing Specter, and red Spectral Prowler are other ideas of how to “extend” Enigma turns. (Honorable mention to Come to Fight (Red) and Give and Take, which are both below rate but block 3.)
  2. Cosmo and Enigma’s hero ability are super synergistic. Having exactly one Spectral Shield do a free attack with Go Again every turn is one of the easiest ways to succeed. Recognizing when you are able to keep the shield and when you should “cash it in” for prevention is critical to Enigma’s success. As a rule of thumb, the more damage your opponent takes to keep their hand, the less you should believe that you will be able to keep your ward.
  3. As with all heroes that play Traverse the Universe, the first time you Transcend is more valuable than usual. Prioritize the first transcend even if it’s slightly minus value to do so. This is less important against heroes that are less aggressive.
  4. Enigma is at her BEST when both players are low life. The less cards your opponent can keep, the higher chance you are able to keep your shields around. Thus, vs almost every hero, you are happy to trade life!

I hope this article and corresponding decklist is useful for you all. Please feel free to let me know your feedback on Twitter by commenting on the post where I share this article. 

Let’s go Enigamers!

-Michael

 

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