A Cynic’s Guide to Avacyn Restored Constructed – Journey to Somewhere with Ben Heath

Journey to Somewhere – Developing Tempered Steel by Ben Heath


This edition was going to about how my friend, who classifies himself as a ‘casual gamer’, came so close to a fantastic result at GP Manchester (X-1-1 before 0-3 the second draft pod -megasadface-), but unfortunately Avacyn Restored came up, and boy, was I massively disappointed. If only I had a platform to vent my frustration…

Grant Hislop is doing the Complete Set Review, but I’ve decided to do my own ‘Constructed Abridged Review’. Basically, Ross Silcock and I rifled through all the cards we acquired from the prerelease weekend (ran by Fanboy3, and I must say that the judge for the Saturday prerelease was excellent and explained Soulbond immaculately. He’s so dreamy).  Be warned, you’re bound to disagree with some of this, so let the debate begin!

[card]Emancipation Angel[/card]

Nice bad [card]Kor Skyfisher[/card] you got there. The difference between 1W and 1WW is huge, and for just 1 more power? I’d rather play [card]Fiend Hunter[/card] or [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] in that slot. Or even…

[card]Silverblade Paladin[/card]

Do not underestimate the power of double strike. Especially if the creature you’re giving double strike has a Sword of X and Y on it. Double Sword Activation (deserves capitals) is the nuts, I hear. On it’s own, distinctly average. In the decks it’s designed to go in, pretty damn good, I think.

[card]Restoration Angel[/card]

Flickers awesome ‘Enter the Battlefield’ effects, can reset Soulbond if you so wish, can counter a removal spell targeting one of your creatures. Oh, and it’s a 3/4 flyer. For four mana. And it’s easily splashable. Midrange decks and Control decks, rejoice! Flicker that Titan! Flicker that [card]Acidic Slime[/card]! Flicker that [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]! It’s blinking madness!

[card]Angel of Jubilation[/card]

Aggro decks just got their Lord. Well, white aggro decks did. Shuts off [card]Birthing Pod[/card], your opponent can’t utilise [card]Mortarpod[/card] to turn on Morbid. They can’t cast [card]Altar’s Reap[/card] (although having said that, there’s only one person I know who’s playing that card right now…). It seems like a good card, but only for white decks due to it’s mana cost, but they already have [card]Honor of the Pure[/card] and [card]Intangible Virtue[/card]. I think this is a 2-of, if that.

[card]Angel of Glory’s Rise[/card]

Oh boy, white just got a hate card for Zombies! Wait a minute, you’ve already got [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. My bad.

[card]Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/card]

Oh boy, a new reanimator target! Wait a minute, you’ve already got [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card]. My bad (again).

[card]Divine Deflection[/card]

I’m unsure on this one. If it let you split the damage, I think this would be nuts. Except you can only choose one target to redirect, too. I’d rather just play…

[card]Righteous Blow[/card]

KABOOM! White just got a new [card]Sunlance[/card]. Combat trick o’clock over in UW Delver land. Remember how good [card]Harm’s Way[/card] was? Yeah, this is just as good, if not better.


See [card]Restoration Angel[/card], but without the creature bit. Not sure how I feel about this ability without the body, but [card]Momentary Blink[/card] saw play, and you can flash it back thanks to [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], so I’m gonna put this in the good category.

[card]Defy Death[/card]

Yes! A reanimation spell! HOORAY! Wait. What do you mean ‘[card]Unburial Rites[/card] is just better’?

[card]Entreat the Angels[/card]

Brutally unfair in Limited. A game finisher in Standard when backed up with counter spells. Many people are saying [card]White Sun’s Zenith[/card] is better because it’s instant speed and a combat trick, in addition to shuffling it back into your deck. But, sometimes 4/4 Angels with flying  > 2/2 Cats with flash. Sometimes it’s the other way around. So run both.

[card]Banishing Stroke[/card]

I think this is an OK card. Nothing more. As with all the miracles, I certainly wouldn’t want to see this in my opening hand. For that reason alone, it’s a 3-of at most. The fact you can’t hold onto it and then pay for it’s miracle cost  means it’s not as great as you may think.


A one-mana mass removal spell? Seems perfectly fair. This is even good for the six mana you’d have to pay to non-miracle cast it. There are hardly any ways of shuffling your deck right now, thanks to the lack of fetch lands, so this card seems really strong. UW Control players rejoice!

[card]Favorable Winds[/card]

Because a 3/2 flyer for one and [card]Lingering Souls[/card] weren’t bad enough, here’s another affordable anthem for them. Fan-f***ing-tastic.

[card]Second Guess[/card]

Ross wants to give this card a chance. I just think it’s garbage. How often are players playing two spells a turn in Standard, Modern or Legacy right now? Rarely. Unless it’s a combo deck, and there are better counter spells for those *cough* [card]Mindbreak trap[/card] *cough*

[card]Mass Appeal[/card]

Another card that’s on the list only because of Ross, but he did say it was cute (translation = probably crap). But, you could potentially make a control deck with Human token generators and then draw a lot of cards. It’s unlikely though.

[card]Misthollow Griffin[/card]

LOL [card]FOOD CHAIN[/card]. Next.

[card]Tamiyo, the Moon Sage[/card]

There is a massive comment thread on the mtgUK Players’ Facebook Page, where it feels like it’s Me and Rob Wagner vs. The World on this card. This. Card. Is. Insane. Wolf Run Blue is now a real deck. Control just got [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card] back, and it’s better simply because it’s blue. This card gets better the longer the game goes on, and this card will definitely prolong the game if used correctly. A few synergies for you to consider:

1) Attack with some Lingering Souls tokens, then draw some cards. See also [card]Grave Titan[/card]

2) Tamiyo taps some creature down. [card]Gideon Jura[/card] kills it.

3) [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] is in play? Tap that mofo down (I’ll get to that later).

4) Dat emblem. INIFINITE [card]MANA LEAK[/card]S/-insert awesome card name in capitals here- TROLOLOLOLOLOL.

Seriously, this card is good. Not just ‘good’. Good. Got it? Cool.

[card]Devastation Tide[/card]

[card]Evacuation[/card] on acid. Reset the board state? Don’t mind if I do! It’s also a token wrath (I hear token strategies are legitimate right now, amirite?), and those flipped Delvers? Yeah, they’re 1/1s again, and if they DO flip again, 3/2s are a lot easier to deal with at that point.

[card]Temporal Mastery[/card]

There is no good reason to play this card outside of Legacy, where you can set up a [card]Time Walk[/card] with [card]Brainstorm[/card]. Early game? It’s only really an [card]Explore[/card]. Late game? If you’re blue, shouldn’t you have control of the board by now? I can’t really think of a situation where this is useful. Maybe this into [card]Grave Titan[/card] into attack on extra turn, maybe?

[card]Appetite for Brains[/card]

A real dark horse. Worries about that turn 4 Titan off a [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]? Just rip it out of their hand with this after you’ve boarded them in. Also good against reanimator, since this exiles the chosen card, not just discarding it.

[card]Barter in Blood[/card]

Just play [card]Geth’s Verdict[/card]

[card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]

Nick your creature, attack with it. [card]Cloudshift[/card] it. Keep it. Go. I did this multiple times at the prerelease, and I’m sure that if you really try, you could make it work in Standard. Cute (remember the translation)? Most likely, but if someone pulls it off, I’ll probably find it pretty funny. Unless it happened against me. In reality, probably not good enough. But we can dream.

[card]Pillar of Flame[/card]

[card]Shock[/card] + [card]Magma Spray[/card] – Instant speed = This. I really like it. Another answer to [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card] and [card]Gravecrawler[/card].  I really don’t like it.

[card]Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded[/card]

Reanimator players and Assault Loam players should be jumping so high, their heads should be consistently banging against the ceiling. Niche card? Sure, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Terrible abilities? Maybe if it had cost you five mana. But it doesn’t, it costs you 2 mana. TWO MANA. TWO FRICKIN MANA. Holy hell.

[card]Dangerous Wager[/card]

I have no idea why this card is in this pile. I think it’s simply because it’s a very pretty foil.

[card]Thatcher Revolt[/card]

See [card]Dangerous Wager[/card]. If this was instant speed, and they hung around, I’d be saying something different.

[card]Burn at the Stake[/card]

An excellent card to go into token decks. Two questions, however.

1) Are you willing to run the risk of running into a counter spell?

2) How greedy are you prepared to be with your mana base?

Ross likes this card, and will probably be tinkering with it for a bit.

[card]Reforge the Soul[/card]

Red players rejoice, this is better than you think. Ran out of gas? I’ll draw seven more, thank you very much. Sure, your opponent gets a fresh seven as well, but you weren’t going to get anywhere with no cards in your hand and playing top deck hero, were you? That’s what I thought.

[card]Thunderous Wrath[/card]

Red players calm down, this is worse than you think. In your opening hand? Man, what a downer. Top deck it? Sweet! Five to the face! Wait, I wish I could have saved it for that -insert really good card with 5 or less toughness here-. But that’s not how the miracle mechanic works, kids. I’d rather have [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] reprinted than this. How many are you willing to play? Four? And auto-mulligan when it’s in your opener? Three? Maybe, it’s nice to see it once a game. Two? You won’t see it as often as you’d like. One? Why are you even playing it, then? I think three or none is the right number. Your call.

[card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card]

OMG ONE SIDED WRATH. This card is ridiculous in Wolf Run Ramp, and will be more of a threat than, you know, that other card.

[card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card]

Pair this with [card]Silverblade Paladin[/card] or [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] (it works), or even a small flier such as [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] and have fun giggling like Luis Scott-Vargas/a little schoolgirl (I’ve been on the opposing end of an LSV giggle, but that’s another story for another day). Sadly, it doesn’t have trample, which I think stops it from being playable. A shame, as I have a soft spot for fatties.

[card]Soul of the Harvest[/card]

If this card didn’t say ‘nontoken’, I’d be writing something completely different. There are also better cards to pod into at 6 mana *cough* [card]Massacre Wurm[/card] *cough*

Aside: [card]Massacre Wurm[/card] is now 5.5 tix on MODO. [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], in comparison, is 6.5. WTF?

[card]Abundant Growth[/card]

It’s like [card]Spreading Seas[/card], except it helps YOU. With a lack of Land Destruction in the format, I really like this card in colour greedy decks. But the fact that it’s a cantrip is what really draws me to this card.

[card]Druids’ Repository[/card]

Green token decks, rejoice! Wait, there aren’t any? Oh…

[card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card]

Looks great, but we’ve had a card like this before, and it was [card]Tower Above[/card], which saw no play in Constructed. I don’t think this will, either.

[card]Primal Surge[/card]

A winmoar card. If I was a green deck, and I had 10 mana in Standard, I really should have killed you by now. If not, I’m probably dead. RG Tron in Modern? Sure hope you don’t hit those ramp and sweeper spells…

[card]Desolate Lighthouse[/card]

LOOT! LOOT! LOOT! Grixis Control and UWR Control players rejoice! This is a damn fine card. UWR Delver in Modern? It may be a bit too expensive for that, but it’s certainly something to think about.

[card]Sigarda, Host of Herons[/card]

I keep on joking that with [card]Invisible Stalker[/card], [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card], [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] and this, along with a counter spell and spot removal suite, you can make a Standard Haterator deck. Somebody do it. Please! Otherwise, this shuts down [card]Geth’s Verdict[/card] and other Edict effects, of which there are a few.

[card]Vessel of Endless Rest[/card]

Just play [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card]

[card]Moonsilver Spear[/card]

I’ve been saying that this might be a one-of in Standard as a finisher. But seriously, just play [card]Batterskull[/card]


Well, that’s all for this week. Wait, there’s one more? Are you sure? Oh…that…

[card]Cavern of Souls[/card]

I could write an essay on this card, but Zac Hill has already done that for me, and I’m on his side. Some of you have been discussing this card with me on the mtgUK Facebook Page, and saying that ‘this won’t be the end of control‘, before arguing as if this will be the end of control and that the world of blue is nigh. I won’t name you, and I’m sorry to call you up on this, and I’m also sorry if you feel that I’m singling you out.

I’ve discussed why this card isn’t that great AT LENGTH already, so here’s a highlights package of my comments.

On it warping the format because it will push Wolf Run Ramp over the edge:

‘It won’t warp the format, anything that plays [card]Primeval Titan[/card] (and therefore, by default, ramp) can only afford to play two [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] if they want to play coloured spells to protect themselves. [card]Slagstorm[/card] is hard enough to cast right now without more colourless lands entering the format, and ramp players should be playing [card]Slagstorm[/card] over [card]Whipflare[/card] every day of the week.’

On control being nerfed:

‘Blue and white decks get all these toys to play with in Avacyn Restored which should delight control players (like Tamiyo, who is the stone cold NUTS, [card]Restoration Angel[/card] and [card]Devastation Tide[/card] and [card]Terminus[/card]!) in ADDITION to [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], and you’re complaining about a LAND? I rate [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card] and [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card] above [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]. Really.’

But the best comment on this that I saw didn’t come from me, it came from Mark Gunther, and I honestly couldn’t have put this better myself:

‘I think there’s a real sense here of control players whining because for once the hate is against them, and not for them. I’m not trying to throw a fit myself here, or pointlessly hate on control, but as an Aggro player I time and time again have to change huge quantities of my deck to try and survive the new hate. Whether it’s [card]Kor Firewalker[/card], [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card], [card]Leyline of Sactity[/card] or [card]Engineered Plague[/card].

This card hoses [card]Counterspell[/card]s hard. But how many [card]Counterspell[/card]s do you run? Between 5 and 7, I imagine.

OK, so this card is good either way.

But you can have the same number of [card]Ghost Quarter[/card]s as other decks can have of [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]. There are more elements to control than countering every spell played, so use them. You have spot removal, board wipes, immense card advantage source in [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] (oh yeah, remember him? that FAIR card?), [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] (another FAIR card you get to use) and in Legacy you get [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] (fairest card of them all).

This is ONE card that hoses ONE tactic and in itself can be destroyed with less hassle than it ever was for your unfortunate opponents to spend the whole game adding a virtual [3] to the converted mana cost of all his spells.’


Final Thoughts

That’s all for this edition, and plenty of food for thought. Man, that comment section (below) is gonna fill up quickly (and you’d better make sure by letting me know what your thoughts on any of this).

Thanks for stopping by, mtgUK.





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