How They Brew It - The Saga Begins

Michael Celani • June 21, 2021

Hex Parasite by Raymond Swanland

The land decays. The seas acidify. The winds are still. Fire is also goddamn broken. These omens only herald one thing: the prophecy.

Thousands of years ago, a wise sage known only as Jebediah Gosheven von Dunkaccino foretold that a savior would arrive. Clad in shining armor, they would carry in one hand the ancient Crystal Orb, which housed the very essence of the cosmos themselves, and in the other the mythical Smith and Wesson M&P® 40 pistol, an affordable gun precision built to be one of the world's most accurate firearms. With these two sacred treasures, they would vanquish the darkness and save the world once and for all.


Greetings, traveler. My name is Michael Celani, and unlike other writers, I actually finish my sagas.

Everyone loves a good story, which is why I own all seven Twilight books. I'm all about corrupt kingdoms, mysticism, and using powerful weapons to vanquish a great evil, so I've got a new favorite fantasy novel you should all check out. But I don't just pretend to read fantasy novels and then use CliffsNotes to fake a book report; I can spin a great tale myself, too. Let me bring you into a realm of dragons and dungeons.

Tayam, Luminous Enigma removes counters from creatures you control, mills you for three, then returns a permanent card with mana value three or less to the battlefield from your graveyard. Since saga enchantments provide powerful effects and sacrifice themselves once they're completed, they're the perfect permanent to reanimate!

Romancing Saga

It was the fated hour. The iridescent glow of the sun dipping below the horizon was matched only by the brilliance of the fire gorilla army. Each flame-wreathed ape stood stoic and brandished its feral weaponry. Boomerspears, slingshotguns, and axe-bows all glistened in the twilight. A hush fell over the battlefield. The only clue which belied that time itself stopped was the shrill howl of the dark wind.

"It's time to fulfill Dunk's prophecy," Ascetylydoparacetemol whispered. The Crystal Orb orbed in agreement.

That was just another excerpt from my book Ascetylydoparacetemol and the Prophecy of Ages, third in the Ascetylydoparacetemol series. You can check out some of these other sagas I'm interested in here, too:

  • Sing yourself a Song of Freyalise to turn all your creatures into dorks for a few turns.
  • Like my birth, The Birth of Meletis is low-impact and likely not to be of much consequence in the grand scheme of things. However, you'll still get a Plains, a decent blocker, and two life for the low cost of two mana, as opposed to me who cost thousands of dollars and did nothing.
  • Ascent of the Worthy is quite worthy of a slot in this deck. It's a cheap reanimation spell in its third chapter and it protects Tayam for its first two.
  • History of Benalia hooks you up with a set of decent attackers. If Tayam's out, they'll enter with additional fuel for its reanimation ability, too!
  • Sagas tend to make tokens, and Battle for Bretagard is no exception. Clone your Walls, Soldiers, Knights, and Angels to win the war as well as the battle.
  • It might be Elspeth's Nightmare, but that doesn't mean it's not a value dream come true. Take out a small creature, Thoughtseize the combo player, then exile graveyards to hit your opponents in a myriad of ways.
  • Enter a Human Soldier into The First Iroan Games, give them a bunch of steroids, and win yourself cards and a gold token!
  • In addition to being the name of the first installment of my new theology-themed romance trilogy Worship Me Harder, Binding the Old Gods is a flexible removal spell that ramps you on turn two. (I feel good about this series after the success of my science-themed romance trilogy entitled Don't Thinkshame! with Bill Nye.)
  • A Serra Angel for four is not a bad spot to be in, but Firja's Retribution ups the ante by letting that angel punch something in the face as well.
  • Reading the scriptures explains the scriptures, so you'll be surprised to learn that Phyrexian Scriptures is a board wipe that protects Tayam from its wrath. Just don't try to knock out the Traxos player with it.
  • One of my favorite movies contains the line "My whole body is still paralyzed from this death experience." That has little to do with Elspeth Conquers Death, but it's so absurd I couldn't stop thinking about it when writing this segment up.
  • Speaking of revivals, The Eldest Reborn is so slam-packed with value it's impossible not to include.
  • Once your graveyard is stocked with land, bring them all back with the final chapter of The Mending of Dominaria.
  • One very important land you can return is Urza's Saga, which proves that I'm keeping up to date on Modern Horizons 2: Golden Receiver. Not only will it fetch you Sol Ring when it's finished, it also creates a plethora of powerful Construct tokens.

Gregorian Enchanting

Of course, since we're running a total of twenty-six enchantments, we'll be including some low-cost enchantresses. Let's get some extra value out of our permanents!

  • Mesa Enchantress and Satyr Enchanter draw cards when you cast enchantments. Make sure you don't accidentally draw when an enchantment enters the battlefield thanks to Tayam.
  • Of course, if you're using Setessan Champion and Eidolon of Blossoms, you do draw when they enter the battlefield. Office hours are at 5 PM for when this inevitably causes confusion.
    • Keep an eye on Setessan's +1/+1 count; that's valuable reanimation fuel.
  • Sythis, Harvest's Hand proves that I'm keeping up to date on Modern Horizons 2: Die Harder. For only two mana, you'll get an enchantress that's also an enchantment herself, and can be easily brought back from the grave!
  • And for even more counter goodness, Celestial Ancient pumps your entire team when you cast an enchantment.

A Real Page Returner

"It was you all along, wasn't it?" Ascetylydoparacetemol uttered, stunned. The crystal sphere's reflective sheen mirrored the betrayal worn on their solemn face.

"I'm sorry, Assy," the orb cried as it was forcefully pulled through the air toward its true owner. "This is what I was built to do. But over our adventure I grew to admire your... our beautiful world, and I wished for a miracle that would stop Jebediah. I'm so sorry I couldn't do more!"

The long dead sage cackled as he absorbed the essence of the cosmos, itself enhanced by the power of friendship the orb had amassed. Each of his seventeen eyes glowed a deep salmon color. "It's mine," von Dunkaccino yelled, victorious. "It's finally mine!"

Wow! I gave myself chills. I need to go back and read that again! But it's impossible to go back in time and experience stories with fresh eyes. Or is it? If you can clear your sagas of lore counters, then their chapter abilities will trigger as if they're brand new!

  • Hex Parasite and Thrull Parasite are the go-to counter-removal creeps. Take lore counters off your own sagas, but don't forget you can also target enemy permanents (including planeswalkers) like Rosewater intended.
  • With Nesting Grounds, you don't have to move lore counters from one saga to another. Try moving it from a saga onto a creature, then eating it up with Tayam!
  • For a less...subtle method of counter control, try Thief of Blood, which was actually my job description before becoming a writer. (Don't worry; I only stole it from hospitals, not people. Officially, anyway.)
  • And finally, no need to ask watt's up when Power Conduit hits the field. This is the Tayam EDH dream artifact: it resets lore counters and puts +1/+1 counters on your creatures.

Nyx Are For Kids

I love telling stories so much that the last three articles of How They Brew It actually contained a complex alternate reality game. For those of you in on it, the username is username and the password is fettucine. You all on the Discord know where to log in.

Of course, no tale is complete without a plot twist. So while we can remove counters from creatures with Tayam to retrieve sagas, wouldn't it be much better to just remove counters from sagas directly?

Starfield of Nyx is no consolation prize for playing enchantress with a reanimator commander. It's a constellation prize. In addition to bringing back one saga per turn, it also turns all your enchantments into creatures, meaning the counters on them can be removed by -- you guessed it -- Tayam, Luminous Enigma. But five mana is a lot, and an entire turn cycle is a long time to wait. Enter the defining characteristic of my stories: the second plot twist.

Lost Auramancers is so blatant it makes a tank seem stealthy. It takes not one, not two, but three turns to pull an Academy Rector and tutor an enchantment onto the field. Surely, nobody would let it live that long. Luckily, vanishing doesn't care if it's the upkeep trigger or something else that removes that last time counter, and conveniently, Tayam has to remove three counters to activate its ability. Putting the pieces together, for seven mana you can tutor any enchantment into play. So you'd get Starfield of Nyx, right?  Enter the defining characteristic of my stories: the third plot twist.

Why not Animate Dead? That card costs only two, which means you can return it to the battlefield with Tayam's ability. Removing the counters as the cost causes the vanishing ability to trigger, causing Lost Auramancers to sacrifice itself, searching your library for an enchantment. Then, Tayam's ability resolves, allowing you to return Animate Dead to the field!


von Dunkaccino stood triumphant over the hero at his feet.

"Did. You. Think. You. Would. Win?!" he screamed, punctuating each word with a kick in the stomach. Casually, the sage strolled over to the dropped pistol and picked it up. He turned it once over in his hand and giggled. As he pointed the firearm at the fallen warrior, Jebediah cocked his head back. "Both 'legendary treasures'... how ironic they'd be your undoing!" He cackled and fired a single solitary bullet.

Content that he had conquered the universe and destroyed the chosen one in one day, Jebediah turned to sit back on his throne when a hand grasped at his cape. "Impossible!" he cried.

With a look of fury in their eyes, Ascetylydoparacetemol spoke. "You took everything from me. My village, my family, my life. But there's one thing you can never take from me, and that's the indescribable rage I've felt every second of every hour of every day since this all began. Imagine how hot it burned once I realized just how worthless you truly are. You should have used something stronger than a gun to try and stop me, von Dunkaccino. Vengeance is bulletproof."

In an instant, the Smith and Wesson M&P® 40 disappeared from Jebediah's hand in a flash of light and reappeared in Ascetylydoparacetemol's. They smirked, and pulled the trigger.

"...Hah! You missed!" cackled the sage.

"No, I don't think I did."

And then the Crystal Orb exploded.

Man, I really should get a job.

The Saga Begins (Tayam, Luminous Enigma EDH)

Commander (1)
Creatures (16)
Sorceries (5)
Instants (8)
Artifacts (7)
Enchantments (25)
Lands (38)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.