Avacyn Restored MTG Set Review – Blue by Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


Hello again.

Last time, I covered the White cards of Avacyn Restored. I’ve got to say, I was pleasantly surprised. While the average CMC of the cards seemed pretty high, the cards looked pretty sweet. I generally quite enjoy 3x Large set limited formats, and hopefully this one will be no different.

As I said previously, I’d appreciate if any discussion on the cards took place in this article, as obviously the purpose of an article such as this is to spark conversation, and it keeps things both easier to keep track of, and visible to more people. Plus, any mistakes I make will make me look foolish to a larger audience, and I could do with being taken down a peg or two.


Blue Avacyn Restored Cards

Onwards and upwards. To the Blue cards

Alchemist’s Apprentice

I thought this card was a reprint, but it turned out I was thinking about Hapless Researchers. Blue isn’t really the colour that wants to trigger morbid particularly often, and there are better options if it’s card filtering that you’re looking for, which is essentially what we’re looking at here. The 1/1 body isn’t big enough to justify his inclusion over, say Think Twice.

To be honest, this might actually end up being ok, as a kind of pseudo blocker to stall for some time against the aggro decks, but I don’t think he’s going to see play over say Oculus, which only really sees play in Birthing Pod decks anyway.

Limited-wise, I’d expect he’s fine. He’ll be better in sealed as a way to dig to your bombs or removal, but I don’t think I’ll ever be excited to see him.

Amass the Components

I used to play Sift when I was a nipper, and I was grateful for it. I’d expect that Wizards had amassed enough data to decide that we couldn’t get Compulsive Research again, and I suppose that would make a deck like Solar Flare a bit on the good side. The problem with a card like this for constructed reasons is that Forbidden Alchemy is going to be occupying a similar place throughout Amass the Components entire tenure in constructed formats. I like that it’s any card from your hand that you can put back on your library, allowing you to get rid of your inopportune Miracles, or other lategame cards, but I can’t envisage this seeing widespread constructed play.

Limited wise, Card draw is usually tricky to evaluate at first glance. Generally, the faster the format, the worse card draw is. If, as my initial impression suggests, the format is quite slow, this will be a fine to good card. If I’m wrong, and we’re all attacking for 2 with Goblin Pikers and friends, it’ll be unplayable. Time will tell.

Arcane Melee

This is a strange card to look at. It does an awful lot of nothing on its own, but can make your other spells a lot cheaper. Look at how much play Rooftop Storm sees in the format, as something that’s relatively similar. Given that pretty much everyone’s just playing the cheapest things that they can, it’s difficult to see this finding a home. Once you’re at the stage where you’ve got 5 mana to cast your do-nothing enchantment, what instants and sorceries are you actually going to be getting much benefit from in the reduction? Sure, Temporal Mastery is a card now, and that sure costs a lot when you’re not Miracleing it, but what else?

It seems to me like constructed decks are generally pretty tight now, and I can’t see this winning any melees for space. I’d rather have a card that does something than trying to get a reduction on any future spells.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is unplayable in limited. Seriously, run more lands instead of this.

Captain of the Mists

I read this card a couple of times, to make sure I hadn’t mist anything, but I didn’t. This is a really good limited card, and nothing else. Tappers are pretty much always good in limited, and I don’t see this one being an exception. The only ones that are good enough to see modern constructed play cost 1 mana, ala Gideon’s Lawkeeper and Goldmeadow Harrier etc. The Goblin Sharpshooter-esque ability isn’t likely to be particularly relevant due to the high cost of actually activating the captain, which is a shame, because it’s a pretty sweet concept for a card.

Crippling Chill

I think that comparisons with Frost Breath will be a crippling setback when it comes to constructed potential. It’s obviously quite a powerful effect, and in a different format, it would be really good, but at present, we’re not in a format that’s really looking for this type of effect.

Limited wise, it’ll be good in blue-based aggro decks, if such a thing is viable, but slower decks are going to want a more permanent solution to troublesome permanents.

Deadeye Navigator

It took me a while to understand this card, but I think I’m dead on the money now. The ability will allow you to flicker your paired cards out of the way of removal spells, and block indefinitely, and if you’re flickering the Navigator himself, will allow you to re-pair with another creature, that’s potentially about to die.

This is a really sweet trick to have access to in limited, and will function as a more expensive Neurok Stealthsuit for the most part. In constructed, we’re obviously competing with Titans, and I can’t see this guy edging out any of these any time soon in any but the most ETB-centric decks, which I would expect to fall far more on the casual end of the spectrum. Standard is a really difficult environment to navigate successfully, and it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize, or you’ll end up dead in the water.

Devastation Tide

I’m a sucker for Evacuation, I’ll admit it. I built an Ebony Owl Netsuke EDH deck a couple of months ago, because people love that sort of thing, right? Evacuation and Sunder were key cards in that deck, and I wouldn’t have minded another one. Something like this, in combination with a Wheel of Fortune-type effect will be a pretty sweet way for blue decks to restart the game. For that reason, I’d expect this to find a home in blue ramp decks. There was already some buzz about adding blue into a Wolf Run Ramp, and I can definitely see a couple of these making the cut.

In limited, we’ll be looking at a card that varies from fine to total devastation of the token-based strategies, assuming there are any. It’s not quite a wrath effect, but it’s pretty close, and that type of thing is almost always sweet in limited. I’m happy to pay full retail for this, and the Miracle cost is just gravy. Sweetness.

Dread Waters

I dread having to evaluate a card like this. In a triple set limited environment, I can see myself being able to get 3-4 of these in a draft without working too hard, in which case it’s a legitimate end-game. In conjunction with a Stern Mentor or two, plus a bunch of dig and cards to stay alive, we’re looking at not a bad deck. They key, as with all gimmick draft decks is to be able to notice when it’s open, and react accordingly. 1 or 2 is no use to man or beast, but if you can acquire enough of them, you can easily attack an opponent from an angle that they’re ill-prepared to defend.

Elgaud Shieldmate

I hate Hexproof as a mechanic. It seems so counter to what Wizards have said they want from Magic, which is interactive games. Hexproof removes an opponent’s ability to interact with you. We’ve presumably all been beaten up by Invisible Stalker with a toy at this point, whether it’s a Sword of War and Peace in constructed or a Butcher’s Cleaver in draft. Can anyone honestly say they felt good while that was happening? Thrun, the Last Troll is one of the most egregious offenders, in my opinion, and just screams ‘Don’t interact with me’, which isn’t what we’re looking for.

Now this chyk not only has Hexproof herself, but she’ll proof-up a mate, and that’s even less fun. What are we supposed to do here? Sure, we can block the Shieldmate, but what about the Avacyn, Angel of Hope that’s now Indestructible AND Hexproof?! And it’s a stupid name for the mechanic. Humph.

Favorable Winds

Will this card see play? Signs look favourable. In a block with Lingering Souls, they’re effectively porting Honor of the Pure into blue. At least it’s banned in block, or I’d expect that we’d be looking at an almost overwhelming token presence. If Tempered Steel’s dominance in the last block has taught us anything, it’s that Anthem effects are really good in smaller constructed environments. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t replace Intangible Virtue in the standard decks that are running them, ie Spirits, so as to further pump Drogskol Captain and friends.


This is a card I can get excited about. It’s important to not let his potential upkeep fetter your judgment of how good this is. If this is the only creature you’ve got, you’re free-rolling him, and he’s big enough to block a Delver of Secrets favourably, while providing a not insignificant clock himself. I’d be happy to have a couple of these guys on my side of the board.

This is going to be an early pick in draft, I think. I don’t expect to see these going particularly late.

Fleeting Distraction

The effect isn’t particularly powerful, and there’s no distracting from that. Even drawing a card isn’t enough to make this playable. I can see it seeing play in limited decks that have bombs to dig to, but even then, I’d probably rather have an extra land than this.

Galvanic Alchemist

She’s got a nice, big backside, which will allow her to hold the ground pretty well. If there’s any creatures that have good tap abilities, she’s going to galvanise them to further action, as well as being able to turn any creature into a pseudo-vigilant one. To be honest though, it’s one of the worse Soulbond cards. Horned Turtles are seldom exciting, but serve their purpose well enough. She’ll be a lot better in sealed than in draft, for certain.

Geist Snatch

Obviously, while Mana Leak is still legal, this won’t be snatching any constructed slots away, but this occupies a strange place in smaller formats. In the previous sets, we got Dissipate and Bone to Ash as our better counter-suite, and this doesn’t really compare favourably to either of those, which is a shame.

In limited, similar to card draw, countermagic is almost entirely format dependent. There are blocks where Cancel is a fine card, and there are blocks where it’s unplayable. My instincts tell me that Cancel would be fine in this environment, but I’d be surprised if a 4-mana counter was good enough. It’ll serve purpose against decks with big, dumb monsters, so I’d like to at least have access to 1 after boarding, but I’d expect it’ll spend most of its time in sideboards.


It’s a cute trick in limited, but with Feeling of Dread in Innistrad, we’re not looking at anything that’s going to bother constructed. I think Feeling of Dread, and Nightbirds Clutches, for that matter are underplayed in constructed currently, but having to spend a whole card, rather than just half of one is a pretty big strike against this. I think, to paraphrase Captain Jas Hook, it’s pretty poor form to include this in the same block as these two superior Falter effects.

Ghostly Flicker

There sure is a lot of Flickering in this set. Like tonnes of it. This card isn’t going to bother any constructed decks, but the effect is powerful enough to see limited play. We’re looking at a format with a bunch of ETB triggers, and the Soulbond mechanic, so we’ll potentially be able to re-pair our creatures to allow for favourable Soulbonded shenanigans. I think I’ll need to play with the card to properly evaluate how good it is, but at first glance, it looks like it’s one of the better blue commons.

Ghostly Touch

Creature Enchantments generally have to do something ridiculous ala Armadillo Cloak or Rancor to see constructed play. Spectral Flight sees fringe play, but that’s due to stupid Hexproof rather than being actually good in and of itself. This is not good enough, and I’d expect someone would have to be touched in the head to consider running it, in both constructed and limited, as the potential for 2-for-1ing yourself is just too great.

Gryff Vanguard

Recently, we got Mulldrifter. Now we get this. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s not good enough for constructed. It’s going to be a pretty good curve-topper in most blue draft decks, and I think that’ll be the extent of its impact. You’re not going to want more than two of them, and most decks will only want one. The problem I have is that it doesn’t interact favourably with the white cards in the set. Seraph of Dawn is just so much better than this, and is cheaper.

I was going to make a ‘joke’ about this, but the name is enough of one for me to be happy enough just to move along without doing so.

Havengul Skaab

So much, for so little. I guess that even with Avacyn’s return, we haven’t seen the last of the Zombies. This isn’t good, at all, and shouldn’t be played. I honestly don’t know how many ETB guys I’d need to consider him at all, but I think it’s somewhere in the region of ‘all of the other ones’. If he cost 4, we could talk, but it’s too expensive for what is, comparatively weak stats.

Infinite Reflection

How much play is Essence of the Wild seeing? None, right? This is worse that Essence of the Wild, right? Yeah, this is a bulk rare, if ever I saw one. I don’t even think casual players are going to be excited about this, but then some people thought Call to the Kindred was worth looking at, so perhaps I’m not the best judge of what the casual player likes. Don’t take this as a negative reflection on you, casual players, but I’d expect that there are enough Angels and Devils in this set to keep your interest without having to waste time on cards like this.

Into the Void

I thought this was an Instant at first, so I thought it was better than it is. It’s fine, I suppose, but it’s a bit expensive as a Sorcery for what it does. Sure, it can rebuy your Snapcaster Mage, or other ETB guy while you bounce one of theirs, but I think in general, it’s constructed applications are null and void.

In limited, it’s going to be a sweet tempo swing, if they need to spend a turn or two replaying their two biggest guys, and you’re swinging over the top while they’re doing so. Probably one of the best blue uncommon to open. Shouldn’t go past 3rd-5th pick, and any later can be taken as a pretty strong signal that blue is open.

Latch Seeker

What deck in constructed has been seeking this kind of card? Invisible Stalker has stupid Hexproof, which is probably better than effectively coming pre-equipped, and he’s not exactly everywhere. I can’t see this guy unlocking the door to 60-card deck land.

Unblockable guys are always welcome in limited decks, as it’s the best evasion ever, and the 3 power isn’t an insignificant clock. I’ll probably always play this if I’ve got a sizable commitment to blue.

Lone Revenant

I hope I’m not alone when I say that this isn’t good enough for constructed.

In limited, I’m going to need to play with it to see. It seems powerful, just in terms of the body, and I don’t think that you’ll need to actually activate the ability for it to be fine. I doubt it’s a windmill first-pick, but I can see getting passed this as a pretty strong signal to be in blue.

Lunar Mystic

I don’t think that Lunar Mystic’s power level is sufficient to be considered a Lunar Mistake, and I wouldn’t expect much argument. Again, he’s an over-costed guy with a marginal ability that I just can’t see making any waves in constructed, and he’s a bit on the pricy side in draft too. I don’t know how many instants I’d need, and what I’d want to be digging to to actually justify running this, but I don’t think there’s enough pull in blue to make me want to jump through the hoops that he’s asking me to.

Mass Appeal

I hope we can agree that this isn’t what constructed decks are looking for. In limited, we’re looking at a card that varies in power quite wildly. I’m not a fan of running anything that doesn’t do something on its own in my draft decks, and this is no different. There are the sub-section of players that will love this card, and what it does, but for me, I can’t see the appeal of running a dead card.

Mist Raven

Ah Man O’War, how I’ve mist you… Yeah, I like this card. Aether Adept doesn’t see much constructed play, and I doubt this will either, but it’s definitely one of the best blue commons in the set, and I’ll play pretty much any number that I can get my grubby little hands on. It’s the type of effect that everyone’s seen a lot, but that doesn’t make it any less good.

Misthollow Griffin

I see a lot of people excited about this guy, but it seems like hollow chatter to me. Sure, you can pitch it to Force of Will, or exile it to a Skaab of some description, but it’s still just a 3/3 for 4 mana. Perhaps I’m missing something big here, but I just don’t see it. The stats alone aren’t enough to justify much discussion.

Nephalia Smuggler

Another flicker type card. Seems like blue creatures are going to be really difficult to remove once they hit the table. This guy, in conjunction with all the other flicker cards seems to indicate that traditional removal effects will often Fail’ya, not to mention generating a lot of awkward combat steps.

Again, it’s a card that I’ll need to play with to fully judge, but I think it’s pretty sweet.


In or out?

Out. Next.

Peel from Reality

‘Bounce my Snapcaster Mage and your Insectile Aberration’ seems like a pretty realistic use of this card, and I expect it to be doing so quite a bit in coming months. I don’t expect it to replace Vapor Snag entirely, but I can certainly see a split occurring. Again, this type of effect is really difficult to get excited by, but as before, it doesn’t make it any weaker for being commonplace.

Rotcrown Ghoul

The deck that I discussed above, with Dreadwater’s will make pretty good use of this guy. He’s reasonably sized enough that he’s not embarrassing in a normal deck, so you’ll end up having access to less of them, but he’s not exactly going to be the crown jewel of any deck that he’s in, so 1-2 isn’t unrealistic to expect.

Scrapskin Drake

It’s a Cloud Elemental, with a more relevant creature type. That’s either a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. I can see him as a potential sideboard option for Zombies to scrap with Delver of Secrets, but I doubt it’s actually necessary, as that match is pretty firmly slanted to the Zombie end of the table anyway.

Aggressive blue decks will want about as many of these as they can get their hands on.

Second Guess

At first glance, it looks awful. At second, it’s still pretty bad. I really can’t see anywhere that this is useful in constructed in limited, and it’s pretty much the worst card you can imagine to draw when you’re top-decking, so I’d be surprised if it saw any play at all.

Spectral Prison

So we’ve had a worse Frost Breath, now we’re looking at a worse Ice Cage. It’s not like either of those cards were over-powered, and I don’t see why we’re having to make do with these pale imitations of them. Lock these away in your constructed unplayables box.

Spirit Away

It’s like a super Control Magic, and that’s not a bad card to be compared to. Control Magic effects are almost always powerful in limited, and I don’t think that this is going to be any different. Sure, it costs a lot, but it pumps the guy as well as stealing him, so you’ll not feel as bad stealing a Hill Giant as you might with a more traditional Control Magic.

It’s going to be dependent on the format as a whole how good this is, and I don’t want to get pre-emptively carried away, but I think this card is definite first pick material.

Stern Mentor

I’m actually quite excited to try and draft this mill deck. It’ll probably be terrible, as there’s not too much support for it, so I wouldn’t suggest forcing it. Stern Mentor’s good enough as an alternative win condition in a more controlling deck anyway, and it’s an uncommon, so there’ll be far less of them in the draft than the other pieces, but every now and then, it’ll come together, and you’ll really spoil peoples days. And what else is playing blue about that ruining other peoples fun?

Stolen Goods

I don’t expect this to be stealing many games in the near future. Neither us, nor our opponents are able to manipulate the top of our libraries enough to make this worthwhile. Another obvious bulk rare.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

The first new planeswalker, and she’s a doozy. If she’s a Moon Sage, and a Planeswalker, I guess you could call her a Moonwalker, and keep something akin to a straight face. Card alterists, DO IT!!!

Her plus ability is basically the same as Ajani Vengeant, but that’s not a bad place to be. She does cost 5, which is a awkward number for a Planeswalker, but she DOES protect herself reasonably well. It’s important to remember that her minus ability can target yourself, so if you’ve got a large board presence, presumably involving a number of tokens, you can use her to refill your hand.

I like that she’s got applications in both aggressive and control decks, and that’s not even touching on her ultimate. In a similar vein to Venser’s ultimate, it’s difficult to envisage a board that can profitably interact with a Tamiyo emblem. Unlimited removal, card draw, plus whatever else your little heart desires is seldom bad.

Tandem Lookout

Making this and one of your other guys into Ophidians seems like a pretty good deal to me. It’s a shame he’s so fragile. He’s a fine card in an aggressive blue deck, but he’s not going to be a flagship card in any archetype. Pairs up with fliers really well, and I’d like one or two to go with the multiple Mist Griffins that I’m always going to be trying to grab.

It shouldn’t take much saying that you’ll not need to look out for him in any constructed formats.

Temporal Mastery

This seems to be one of the flagship cards of the new set, but I’ve got to be honest, I just don’t see it. All too often, it’s just going to act as an Explore, and the fact that we’re unable to reliably manipulate the tops of our decks means that we really can’t maximise its impact.

As ever, an effect like this is only as powerful as what we’re doing with our turns. If the best we can manage is attacking for 3 and playing an extra land, is it really worth playing so many cards that effectively auto-mulligan us in our decks? I think the answer is ‘no’.

I’d liken this card more to Time Reversal in terms of impact. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to shift a bunch of these when they were worth more than £20, and I’ll be looking to do exactly the same with any copies of Temporal Mastery I acquire.


I love the name. It’s fine for the retail, and nutty when it’s Miracled. I can’t see it making any constructed waves, but it’s going be a pretty high pick in draft.

Wing Crafter

I can’t imagine crafting a board state that would benefit from having this guy, and I’d expect any decks that are relying on him to be held together by a wing and a prayer.

I can imagine some UG Dinosaurs style deck that would be able to make use of him, but honestly, UG is seldom good in draft, so I’d be surprised if he took off. (God, that one hurt)


Top 5 cards I might play in constructed

1. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2. Devastation Tides
3. Peel from Reality
4. Favorable Winds
5. Temporal Mastery (Maybe I’m wrong)

Top 5 Commons

1. Mist Raven
2. Ghostly Flicker
3. Amass the Components
4. Peel From Reality
5. Gryff Vanguard


Till the next one, stay classy mtgUK.





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