Feature Article from Cassidy Silver

Fat Stacks — Archangel Avacyn

Cassidy Silver

3/8/2016 11:00:00 AM

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Hello! This week, we are going to check out the freshly spoiled Boros legend from the upcoming Shadows Over Innistrad: Archangel Avacyn. That's right, Avacyn is back for a third printing, but this time she is a DFC (doublefaced card), much like many of the Werewolf cards from Innistrad. I am always looking for the perfect Boros commander, so let's see what we can do with the newest incarnation of Avacyn.

Archangel Avacyn by WriterofWrong
Main Deck
1 Angel of the Dire Hour
1 Aurelia, the Warleader
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Containment Priest
1 Dualcaster Mage
1 Dust Elemental
1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 Hixus, Prison Warden
1 Hushwing Gryff
1 Masako the Humorless
1 Restoration Angel
1 Reveillark
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Stonecloaker
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Whitemane Lion
Creatures [18]
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
Planeswalkers [1]
1 Abeyance
1 Aether Vial
1 Artifact Blast
1 Ashnod's Altar
1 Aurelia's Fury
1 Austere Command
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Burnished Hart
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comet Storm
1 Council's Judgment
1 Dawn Charm
1 Day of Judgment
1 Expedition Map
1 Faith's Reward
1 Fated Retribution
1 Fork
1 Lapse of Certainty
1 Mana Tithe
1 Miraculous Recovery
1 Myth Realized
1 Path to Exile
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Pyroblast
1 Rebuff the Wicked
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Return to Dust
1 Reverberate
1 Rout
1 Scroll of the Masters
1 Spirit Bonds
1 Sunforger
1 Sunscour
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Tithe
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Warping Wail
1 White Sun's Zenith
1 Wild Ricochet
Spells [40]
1 Arid Mesa
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 High Market
1 Keldon Necropolis
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Mirrorpool
11 Mountain (265)
1 Needle Spires
14 Plains (253)
1 Plateau
1 Rugged Prairie
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Slayers' Stronghold
1 Temple of the False God
1 Winding Canyons
Lands [39]
Deck Total [98]

1 Archangel Avacyn
Sideboard [1]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Archangel Avacyn costs 3WW, with flying and vigilance — in other words, a Serra Angel. She also has flash, which is not something Angels usually do. I suppose I don't have to go super in-depth on why flash is good, I think you smart folks get the idea.

 Archangel Avacyn
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Adventure Games Osh 1 $4.15
DMComics 1 $4.95
TheGloom 1 $4.96
SwordAndBoardTCG 1 $5.14
Darkember 1 $5.47
Ashleys Card Store 2 $5.50
The Dark Side 1 $5.51
PlusOneMetairie 3 $5.66
Midwest Jedi 4 $5.66
TopTierBoardGames 1 $5.66
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Archangel Avacyn Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Flash is relevant because of her ETB (enters the battlefield) ability, which gives your team indestructible until end of turn. Much like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Archangel Avacyn is all about protecting her friends. Mercifully, it is temporary this time, whereas sometimes Avacyn, Angel of Hope can be oppressive. The Avacyn Restored version feels like a big blunt hammer, while Archangel Avacyn has a lot more finesse to it.

Archangel Avacyn is a Boros commander... even if her casting cost is completely white. You see, once she flips to the other side, she becomes completely red. Much like Garruk Relentless and Elbrus, the Binding Blade, the two different color faces create a multicolor card, (or in Elbrus's case, an artifact with a black color identity). This is the first time it is relevant as a commander, but it will follow some of the same logic as legends like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest or Tasigur, the Golden Fang.

Boros legends are all really cool, and though they are all slightly different and unique, they tend to work well together. My go-to Boros legends are Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, and Aurelia, the Warleader. I prefer Gisela, Blade of Goldnight a bit more, but can't fault anyone who goes Aurelia, the Warleader. There are also guys like Brion Stoutarm, Iroas, God of Battle, or Tajic, Blade of the Legion for a different feel, and even cards that I didn't like much initially (Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas) are pretty solid.

BUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT... none of them have flash. Most of them are horribly weak to Cyclonic Rift, not to mention sorcery-speed board wipes/mass bounce. I remember trying so hard to make Munda, Ambush Leader good, mainly because haste is so good. In this case we can make flash a form of haste.

The more I think about it, the more I like the flash motif for the entire deck. White and red are not known for overpowered spells, but there are certainly enough good ones to build a unique deck. There are quite a few Boros cards with flash that are pretty good, and most of them have a controlling theme. Cards like Bogardan Hellkite, Angel of the Dire Hour, Containment Priest, and Aven Mindcensor are all very powerful control pieces that can flash right in. I also included Hushwing Gryff, though it’s really an emergency card, as it turns off most of the cards in the deck. I am also wiling to test out both Hixus, Prison Warden, and Masako the Humorless. Masako the Humorless in particular will be good on turns that Archangel Avacyn’s ETB trigger resolved.

Store QTY Price  
Graham Collectables 1 $0.07
DreamDaze CFG 1 $0.10
BaT Comics Games 5 $0.11
DojoTradePaperOutlet 2 $0.12
Western Ohio Gaming 2 $0.14
White Lion Games 4 $0.15
Heros Ink 4 $0.15
Aether Gaming 1 $0.16
Green Tower Games 1 $0.18
Good Times 11 $0.18
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Stonecloaker Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

There are another class of white creatures with flash that all have a similar ability. Cards like Dust Elemental or Whitemane Lion bounce creatures back to our hand, whether to save them from harmful magic, or so we can reuse their ETB triggers. If an opponent tries to board wipe, we could easily flash in Whitemane Lion to bounce Archangel Avacyn back into our hand, and then recast Archangel Avacyn to get another crack at her WTB trigger. Stonecloaker is awesome because it also doubles as repeated graveyard hate. I put in Purphoros, God of the Forge mainly as a way to take advantage of these cards, because we can basically pay 1W with the Whitemane Lion over and over to keep triggering Purphoros's ability.

After I found all the cards with flash that I needed, I moved onto the cards with built-in flash... instants! White and red instants are mainly control cards too, like Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, or Chaos Warp. There are a few instant speed board wipes as well, such as Rout, Fated Retribution, or a souped-up Comet Storm.

Cards like Abeyance, Artifact Blast, Dawn Charm, Lapse of Certainty, and Mana Tithe are all cheap enough to cast to help force through a creature or keep them in play. Warping Wail also makes the list, and will require us to add some lands that make true colorless. Finally, I added both Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast, as they are great for counter-control, as well as toasting a surprising amount of good permanents. R to blow up Animar, Soul of Elements? Yes, please.

Store QTY Price  
Fonzy MTG 2 $14.99
Cosmic Narwhal 1 $15.00
Game Cafe 1 $15.26
Adventure Games Osh 1 $15.65
IWantMoreComics 5 $15.67
GenX Games 1 $15.99
GenX Games 1 $15.99
Land In Front 1 $16.33
Top Deck CGAZ 1 $17.18
CloudCityGames 3 $17.21
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Fork Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

I wrote about Fork last week, and I think it makes sense in this deck. This time, we won't necessarily want to target our own spells with the copy, but rather, copy opposing countermagic to nullify it. If someone goes to counter Archangel Avacyn, we can simply Fork the countermagic, and choose the countermagic for the target. This won't work with countermagic that only counters creatures, but the general principle is solid. Reverberate and Wild Ricochet also makes the list, as does the handy-dandy Dualcaster Mage.

We discussed board wipes briefly in the instant section, but I think the strategy is great with Archangel Avacyn, so I want to explore it further. Since we want to board wipe on the same turn as casting Archangel Avacyn, the cheaper versions will definitely be better. Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, and Blasphemous Act all fit the bill as cheap cards, though Blasphemous Act can be expensive on an empty board. I assume that we will only want to cast these spells into large board states, but you never know. Sunscour might be worth it if we are really tight on mana and need to blow up the universe ASAP. I avoided using cards that destroyed more than just creatures, like Oblivion Stone, but those are options as well.

There is one aspect of Archangel Avacyn's ability that I had mostly ignored until now, and that is the fact that she has a trigger that is a bit awkward. She needs one of our creatures to die in order to go She-Hulk, but she gives those same creatures indestructible, which is almost like an internal non-bo. In order to transform her right away, we need some way to sacrifice a creature.

There are actually not a lot of great options when it comes to sac outlets in Boros colors. Phyrexian Altar and Ashnod's Altar are pretty standard for a deck that wants to sacrifice creatures, but the main source of creature sacrifices will be lands. High Market and Miren, the Moaning Well are the best options because they sneak under the radar, whereas both Altars are combo pieces in many decks, and are therefore prime targets for removal. Expedition Map is in here to find either of the sac lands if needed, but it has a lot of versatility depending on need. Brion Stoutarm is in here as a sac outlet as well.

I felt like we had the traditional Boros options of physical domination with Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Aurelia, the Warleader in here, but it still needed something more. I wanted something that worked like prowess to take advantage of all the spells, but I wanted the power and toughness boosts to be permanent. Luckily, there are two Jeskai cards that transmute prowess into permanents: Scroll of the Masters and Myth Realized. They both function in roughly the same way, though each has its own specific benefit. Being able to give Archangel Avacyn a huge damage boost will certainly end the game quickly, but an enchantment that will fly under the Grixis radar is also pretty sweet.

A lot of the spells make the deck play a little more like a blue deck. I am not sure if Archangel Avacyn has replaced Gisela, Blade of Goldnight as my top Boros commander, but she at least has enough uniqueness to build around her abilities. I tend to test Boros commanders more vigorously than most, so you can expect an update on the new Archangel Avacyn in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!
- Cassidy Silver