Pillowfort

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Pillowfort is an archetype that aims to keep itself defended against opponents by preventing those opponents from being able to attack them. By creating a 'fortress of pillows' the Pillowfort player is insulated from unfriendly aggression. This leaves the Pillowfort player free to enact their own plans, unhindered by the acts of their enemies.

Pillowfort strategies are frequently found in color combinations that include white and blue.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Examples of Pillowfort cards include:

Examples of Pillowfort commanders may include:

Strategy

Unlike other archetypes, Pillowfort is purely defensive, and does not inherently present its own proactive way to win the game. In this way, Pillowfort can sometimes be considered a subtheme. For instance, a Superfriends deck may include a Pillowfort subtheme to lock down combat and keep their planeswalkers safe, allowing them to freely accrue value over time.

Pillowfort decks are extremely pacifistic, and do not tend to engage in combat. They also seek to avoid drawing attention to themselves, often sandbagging powerful cards and saving them for much later, so opponents do not perceive them as a threat.

There are four main parts that form the core of the Pillowfort archetype:

Pillowfort Cards

Pillowfort cards are cards that make it difficult for opponents to kill their controller. Most commonly this takes the form of a card, especially an enchantment, that prevents enemies from attacking. Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, and Sphere of Safety are the most common examples. These effects can also appear on creatures, such as Windborn Muse and Baird, Steward of Argive, as well as artifacts, such as Crawlspace and Norn's Annex. While many Pillowfort cards incur a tax on players' mana, others are able to stop attacks altogether, such as Solitary Confinement and Blazing Archon. Some hyper-defensive creatures like Fog Bank and Spike Weaver may also make an appearance in Pillowfort decks to provide extra defense.
Note that effects such as Crown of Doom or Dread may not fall under the definition of 'Pillowfort'. Encouraging opponents to attack other players can be a useful means of deterring aggression, but it does not prevent them from attacking the Pillowfort player. Similarly, effects that punish opponents for having attacked, as seen on cards like No Mercy, is more akin to a punisher strategy than a Pillowfort strategy, since it also does not specifically prevent opponents from attacking in the first place. These effects may occasionally appear in Pillowfort decks, but they are not necessarily Pillowfort cards themselves.

Protection

To further insulate themselves from harm, Pillowfort decks add an extra layer of protection on top of the defensive enchantments by using cards that make those enchantments more difficult to remove. Cards such as Privileged Position and Sterling Grove can protect the board from enchantment removal. Other cards like Greater Auramancy or Karmic Justice may also be used to ensure the Pillowfort's survival. Many Pillowfort decks also include the color blue, which gives them access to counterspells that can keep their fortress from being destroyed.
These enchantments should not be confused with the Stax archetype, which also constructs additional barriers to prevent opponents from taking dangerous game actions, but which uses a much more proactive form of suppression, such as Rule of Law or Stasis.

Value Engine

To ensure that the game remains firmly under the Pillowfort player's control, Pillowfort decks have many ways to draw cards or gain incremental advantages over the course of the game. Since they cannot be meaningfully attacked, they use cards that provide gratuitous value over a long period of time. This may include cards like Rhystic Study, keeping hold of the Monarch mechanic (as seen on cards like Protector of the Crown, or creating lots of tokens with Sandwurm Convergence. Since many Pillowfort cards tend to be enchantments, Enchantress cards such as Enchantress's Presence may also be utilized in this category. It is very common for a Pillowfort deck to use their commander as a means of accruing these extra advantages, rather than using the commander for protection.

Win Conditions

Win conditions are deployed only once absolute safety has been guaranteed. This is the most variable piece of the Pillowfort strategy, and there tend to be many different potential routes to victory. Planeswalkers may be used to create valuable emblems that opponents cannot overcome. Enchantments such as Starfield of Nyx or Sigil of the Empty Throne may be used to turn defense into offense. Some Pillowfort decks may even make use of an infinite combo or Voltron strategies to finish the game. A well-built Pillowfort deck is able to enact a hardy and efficient win condition after they have established control.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Pillowfort is extremely effective against decks whose primary win condition involves combat, such as Voltron or Tribal strategies. If they have been allowed to set up their defenses, it will often take a concerted effort from all other players to attempt to break through the pillow fortress.
  • Since Pillowfort players plan to accrue lots of value over a long game, they are able to run a smaller number of cards that are dedicated win conditions, which tend to cost a lot of mana, as they can reliably find those cards in due time. By contrast, other archetypes often have to run a high density of dedicated win conditions, as they are less able to dig for those options. This reduces the density of cards in the Pillowfort player's deck that only have one purpose, and allows them to run a larger number of versatile and interactive spells that can protect their own game pieces or respond to the actions of other players.
  • A Pillowfort player's strategy tends to take place in their hand, rather than on the battlefield, which makes it difficult for opponents to know what they are up to. Once they've established a good defense and engine, Pillowfort players are often able to respond to any game action they desire.

Weaknesses

  • Pillowfort decks struggle to slow down or defeat other decks whose win conditions do not involve combat.
  • Pillowfort decks are very slow and gradual. An aggressive deck may be able to deal significant damage to a Pillowfort player before they can establish a solid defense.
  • Pillowfort decks often rely upon a high density of enchantments, which makes them susceptible to mass removal (such as Bane of Progress) if they have not managed to find one of their protection pieces.


References: