Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen to the final part of my Avacyn Restored set review. Here, we’re going to cover the Gold, Artifact and Land cards that the set holds. I’ve been really impressed to date with the cards that we’ve seen, and certainly, having written somewhere in the region of 25,000 words on the set so far, and it seems like a hit.
Once again, as before, I’ll happily welcome any discourse on the cards, and their applications, but I would invite you to keep said discussion entirely in the article itself. I’ve been pretty good this time round re: mistakes, I think, and I’m pretty confident I’ve managed to conduct this set review without making myself look too foolish.
Gold Avacyn Restored Cards
Starting off with the Gold cards.
First thing’s first, 7-mana is a lot. There’s no sugar-coating it, it’s huge. I think the effects are on the cusp of making this playable for retail. There are heaps of burn spells that deal 5 at the moment, be it Thunderous Wrath or a Morbid-powered Brimstone Volley, and connecting with Gisela once, and following up with either of these, and you’ve just ended the game. I can imagine a RW Control deck wanting a few of these, at least in the board to close out games. When it’s on the board on its own, it’s a 2-turn clock, which is phenomenal, and it’s almost impossible to gang-block to death, due to both damage prevention and first strike.
As I said, 7 is a lot, but it’s a lot better than people are giving it credit for. The fact that the damage it prevents is rounded up is huge, as 1/x’s can no longer hurt you, and a certain 3/2 flier suddenly only gets to deal 1 damage a turn to you.
I’m working on a RWU control deck at the moment, and there are a couple of these in the mix. I’d encourage you to spend a moment or two considering this before dismissing it out of hand, because I’m pretty confident Gisela is going to see play.
An obvious house in 40-card decks, for all the same reasons as above, plus people are far less likely to have the requisite removal spell for her.
This is the cheapest of the 3, and it’s pretty sweet as well. Turns off Liliana of the Veil’s -2 ability, and a fair amount of the blocks removal is sacrifice based, so does a pretty sweet job of protecting your team. I’ve made my feelings on Hexproof clear previously, but at the risk of repeating myself, I hate it. It’s uninteractive, and completely against what Wizards have said they want the game to be about, so I really hope that this ends up being a total bust. Sadly, as the only way you can actually kill it is Clones and Wrath effects, it’s likely that it will end up seeing play. Since it’s got a Green mana symbol, it’s fetchable by Green Sun’s Zenith, which is another plus for it.
As with the other two, it’s a massive flier, at a reasonable cost-to-effectiveness ratio, so it’s bound to be played in 40-card land, and I can’t see myself ever being passed it in Pack 1 situations, even considering its somewhat restrictive colour requirements.
I hope we can all agree that Bruna isn’t going to be lighting up the top tables in constructed any time soon, Alabaster or otherwise. As is, it seems like a poor imitation of Sovereigns of Lost Alara, which admittedly was awful until such time as Eldrazi Conscription was printed. Sadly, we’re missing a truly powerful aura, ala Conscription, which will likely result in Bruna spending most of her standard tenure in trade binders, waiting to see if a busted aura appears that can be abused. Even then, it’s unlikely, as you’ve actually got to have the aura in hand or in the yard, so it’s not looking too good.
In limited, 6-mana is acceptable to pay for a 5/5 flying, vigilant creature, however marginal the extra ability may be. Bruna strikes me as being similar to the rest of the angels, in the pretty much any white based deck is going to be trying to splash them. Any extra value you get out of it is just going to be gravy, as the stats are enough to warrant its inclusion.
Artifacts Avacyn Restored Cards
Only 3 Gold cards, so it’s onwards to the Artifacts
It’s a more restrictive Glint Hawk Idol, which has obviously proved to be a solid card in the appropriate decks. To be honest, any creature that can live through Sorcery speed removal, including Wrath of God-effects is pretty good in my book, so I’d expect this to be built around. If only there was a deck that had a Planeswalker that made creatures so as to keep this turned on. Perhaps that deck would also have a lot of tokens, that could be made at mixtures of Sorcery and Instant speed. In seriousness, BW Tokens with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad seems like a reasonable place to try this at first, but it’s possible that a Boros Tokens deck could make use of him as well.
I really like it in limited though, as it should be relatively easy for the aggressive decks to keep this guy turned on, and beating for 3.
In limited, it’s pretty much an auto-include in any limited deck though. The pump is reasonable, as is the evasion, so it’s hard to see a deck that won’t want this. Every single creature becomes a realistic threat when it’s armed with this, and can’t be ignored, or it’ll do some serious ‘arm to your opponent, and fast.
Brace yourself, because this has no business in a Constructed deck.
As above, most limited decks are going to want this, as both the up-front cost and the equip are realistic, and what deck doesn’t want bigger creatures?
This should stay in the closet, with the rest of your unplayables box. Has no business in a block with Cloudshift and all the rest of the flicker effects. Can’t see this making many waves in limited either, due to the existence of so many similar, but better cards.
It sure does make you jump through a lot of hoops to get even one use out of the card, and requires a substantial commitment to Humans, and I’d be surprised if many people had the gall to try this in serious Constructed, but some people will, but they’ll be fighting an uphill battle to get it to work.
I think you need 10-12 Humans in your limited decks to even consider this card, but the effect is powerful enough to warrant building around. I wouldn’t be ashamed to first-pick this, and try to live the dream. Fortunately, Humans are pretty heavily supported in this set, so it shouldn’t be too hard.
I’m still too haunted by the memory of how good Wall of Omens was, and how much I wanted it in this set to give this any serious consideration. So fragile, and pretty much everything that is attacking in Standard at present has some form of evasion, so it’s unlikely to see play.
I could see a slower, more controlling deck wanting one or two of these to stall the ground while waiting for their fatties to take over the late game in 40-card formats, but it’s just too fragile, and too quickly outclassed.
Constructed unplayable, but an absolute house in limited. There are literally no single cards that I want to open in a sealed deck more than this, as I would never open this and not play it. You’ll vary rarely spear your opponent’s life in games when you resolve this and equip it. Even if the creature you swing with is killed, it’s immediately replaced itself, and a 4/4 Angel is certainly no slouch.
Equipment of Saint Traft!
He’s not going to be scrapping with anything in constructed at any point, and his applications in limited aren’t that exciting either. Probably best left alone. I’d probably rather this than an extra land, for the most part, but I can’t ever picture myself being really desperate to rip this guy, even if he’s not the worst card in the set by a long way.
What world is this playable in? Perhaps another one, but it’s not playable in this. It costs 2 mana more than it would need to to warrant being built around, and 1 more if it were to warrant any consideration at all. The Fog decks are awful, and this certainly isn’t the missing piece.
I can’t foresee this seeing limited play either, as symmetrical card draw isn’t ideal, even if you do get to control the timing of it.
If you’ve just been scrolling past, to see if I’ve run out of puns yet, I’ve got bad news for you…
I don’t see this making any waves in Constructed, but I think a fair amount of White limited decks will want at least one of these. Cyclers don’t do much on their own, obviously, but if you can gain some life in the process, ala Renewed Faith, we’re in much more serious consideration. I’d expect the decks that might want one will easily be able to get the throughout the draft, as people will probably be ignoring it.
Unlike the previous Scroll, we’re looking at an easy last pick. I don’t know if there is enough support in the Demon tribe that you’re ever likely to be able to trigger the second part of the ability, nor if those decks are actually likely to want to waste a slot on a conditional Lava Spike.
It’s not likely to cause people too much torment in constructed. Swords of X + Y are much better, and far less restrictive.
In 40-card land, we’re at least able to use this to act as a facsimile of The Abyss, which is pretty sweet, but if you can strap it to something super-evasive, like Heirs of Stromkirk or a Latch Seeker, you’ve got a pretty ridiculous clock. Clearly Wizards liked losing to Butcher’s Cleaver wielding Invisible Stalkers, so we’ve got something similar, but admittedly less offensively odious.
You’d better shield your eyes from this bad card, lest you go blind from the suck-itude. Sorry, but this has no business seeing play in any decks. This is ‘I’d rather have another land than have to play this’ bad, and that’s not a good place to be.
I really like this card for constructed play, and I won’t rest until I’ve found a home for it. Obviously, it’ll be drawing comparisons to Pristine Talisman, but this one produces coloured mana, and has a realistic additional ability as well. I don’t think it’s super relevant, but randomly hitting a Desperate Ravings, or an Unburial Rites is pretty sweet gravy to go with your acceleration and fixing. Obviously, they’re better against different decks, so it’s interesting to see which one sees more play. I’d imagine that the three colour decks will pick this, while two colours will want the life gain. Time will tell.
As I’ve said about 10,000,000 times already in this set review, there are a lot of fatties in the limited environment. This makes you cast your fatties faster. This is a good thing.
Not a particularly exciting bunch of artifacts to talk about, but the ones that are good are very good at what they do.
On to the lands, and then there’ll be no more puns from me for a while, I promise.
Ah, Winding Canyons, how I’ve mist you. I can picture some sort of Bant coloured control deck using this to power out super expensive instant speed Day of Judgments and Consecrated Sphinxes, which isn’t too bad a place to be. Draw-go is probably not going to be viable while Cavern of Souls is around, which stings a bit, because this seems tailor made for draw-go decks, and there hasn’t been a good one in forever.
In limited, the threat of this is very real, but the perceived threat will often also cause misplays or questionable decisions from an opponent, and that is a very good thing.
I touched on my thoughts on Cavern of Souls in a previous article, so I might sound like I’m repeating myself here. It’s a very powerful card, and it will definitely see widespread play in all formats from Block constructed up to Legacy. I don’t think the sky is falling, control isn’t dead, by any stretch of the imagination, it just has to, as always adapt. Most of the Esper coloured decks have moved completely away from counters anyway now, because they’re not really very good against the Delver decks.
I’m expecting to see this seeing widespread play at the beginning of the format, prompting people to move away from counter magic entirely, which will, in turn result in people not having to run as many Cavern of Souls, outside of the multi coloured tribal themed decks, which will in turn mean that counter magic becomes somewhat good again. Remember last block, when everyone thought Black/White Tokens was going to be the best deck? People packed Ratchet Bombs, en masse, and effectively hated it out before it ever got the chance to exist. It’s only recently that it’s become playable again, and I’d expect something vaguely similar to happen with Cavern of Souls.
The problem that I have with it is that cards like Mana Leak were good at keeping everyone honest. Bad players didn’t play around it when you had it, so you could beat them. Better players played around it if you represented it, even if you didn’t have it, so you bought yourself a few turns to actually find it. Good players were able to tell when you were likely to have it, and played accordingly. Now, people have the opportunity to just bypass this game within a game, and run out their spells without fear, which isn’t a healthy thing for the format.
Remember how good Zendikar blocks land death cards were? We got Tectonic Edge and Goblin Ruinblaster as the Cream of the Crop, and those both saw widespread play. Could we really not have Tectonic Edge again? Was it really too overpowered? Instead, we have to make do with Ghost Quarter, and it’s an unfavourable comparison, as the loss of tempo isn’t symmetrical, and very few decks can afford to stumble in this area.
I could go on, but I don’t think people will want to read another ‘Cavern of Souls is…’ type rant. Again, the sky isn’t falling, but it’s just a card that didn’t NEED to exist, and the cure to a perceived problem is going to end up being worse for the game than the problem was in the first place, which can’t be good.
This, on the other hand, I can really get behind. To be honest, the entire cycle has been fantastic, and this is definitely one of the best ones. Anything mid-rangey or slower in these colours is going to want access to at least a couple, and if UR based control is a thing, we’re looking at a card that people are going to be experimenting with for quite some time. I’d expect this to see pretty extensive play in Modern in both Splinter Twin and Pyromancer Ascension decks, as the colourless drawback is almost negligible in a fetchland / shockland format.
Looting is always powerful in limited. Sure, you’re not going to be causing widespread desolation, but it’s a solid effect, and you’ll always be playing it, if you can get the colours to work.
Unless an Angel deck is a thing, this won’t warrant any Constructed consideration.
Limited decks might want this, assuming they’ve got a few angels to offer sanctuary to, but I’d expect those decks that can afford the lack of coloured mana production to be pretty few and far between. It’s not bad, per se, as I’ve certainly been known to play a Glimmerpost or two in my time, but context is king, and it’s hard to see this actually making the cut.
Boros tokens is one of the best decks in block, and it’s realistic to see a similar style porting into standard. I like that control decks will always have to contend with potentially hasty creatures appearing from nowhere and slaying, meaning more time for the aggro player to actually draw into more questions while the control deck fumbles around, trying to find a way to properly stabilise.
The same is true in 40-card land, though here it’s presumably more the potential pump and vigilance that will be more useful than the haste, though all three are going to be relevant. This almost always ensures your creatures will be trading up when you’re working out combat maths, and that is a very good ability to have.
Really nice that we got to close out on a winner here.
Thanks to those that have entered into sensible discussions on the cards, and the contents of these articles. I’ve really enjoyed writing them, so hopefully you’ve not been cringing too much at these awful jokes. Normal service should resume in the coming weeks. As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see me write about, let me know, either here, or through Facebook or whatever, and I’ll attempt to oblige.