Avacyn Restored Tops and Bottoms
As I sit here writing this article, I can’t help but kick myself for not having the desk space to run dual monitors. Mental note: Purchase 24” LCD LED with bonus check at the end of the fiscal year. That aside, I’ll be covering the top 5 and bottom 5 cards of Avacyn Restored. I am rating these cards based on my own personal use for them (mostly standard applications). I am somewhat biased towards blue, but I found myself with no problems finding some of the best cards in the set. My ratings are in no particular order.
It was really hard to cut this list down to just 5 cards total. I had listed 5 cards right out of white when I first started this list and realized I wanted to narrow it down to the card I believe will make the most impact for me and for standard. With that being said, I can’t think of any other card in white that will make more of an impact than Restoration Angel. The truth is what hasn’t already been said that I can say about this card? It has a ridiculous amount of applications. At its worst, it is a 3/4 with flying. Not bad in a metagame filled with 3 power critters! I believe this card will be its absolute best in a control shell, but think of the aggro applications this card has. With flash, it is a combat trick pairing with cards like Riders of Gavony to give your guys protection. How about blinking in another human to pump Champion of the Parish to block and kill one of their dudes? How about Vexing Devil, Zealous Conscripts? The list goes on. Where I want to really see this card is in a Venser Control deck. I want Aether Adepts and Stonehorn Dignitaries and Sun Titans. This card is going to be a beast and you’d best find a way to deal with it because it will be in most decks that splash white.
I think the next card is also going to make an impact on standard as well as commander. Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is going to be everything we hope she will be. I was her biggest skeptic at first and honestly I had said that I will need to actually use the card. Well…I put her in a control shell and the very first game I played, she went ultimate. Do you have any idea how amazing her ultimate is with Day of Judgment in hand? Sweep every turn, swing with Gideon Jura. These two are made for each other like peanut butter and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tamiyo is going to make an impact as an Icy Manipulator in the same fashion that Ajani Vengeant made. So she costs 5? With the right support team, she will be a threat and will need immediate attention. Let’s talk about her -2 ability because let’s face it, planeswalkers live and die by their first minus ability. How about this, I swing with my team knowing that she isn’t going to make it another turn, target myself, and draw 3 cards? Would you pay 5 to draw 3 cards? I would!
The next card I have absolutely fallen in love with. And by love I really hate it as well. I’m talking about the best Miracle card in the set. Entreat the Angels? Temporal Mastery? None of these compare to Bonfire of the Damned. This card is absolutely everything you want in an aggro deck. It is my personal opinion that Miracles are going to ruin the fun level of magic. Miracles reward luck, not skill. That being said, this Miracle card is hardly ever bad. In hand you can sweep a board of pesky 1/1 creatures for 3 mana. Off the top of the library that turns into a Pyroclasm. Oh yeah, lets also not forget it deals damage to my opponent too. At 7 mana, you have a Slagstorm that hits in both modes, but only for my opponent. Off the top you sweep the board of most threats in standard. This card has so much reach. Out of gas and just need that last 4 damage to kill your opponent, Miracle off the top! This is easily my most favorite of the Miracle cards and I see it fitting into any aggro deck that splashes red.
Now i’d like to talk about the big guy. Not Craterhoof Behemoth, not Avacyn, I want to talk about Griselbrand. Frites decks are going to be cheating this guy out for a while, black control decks are going to curve into this guy, and I even see black/green pod decks with him at the top of their curve. In a meta where aggro is so prevalent, lifelink is going to be all the more relevant. But seriously, who cares about his lifelink? Ok maybe I do a little bit, but I much prefer his draw ability. In Frites, you stick him, you will draw 7 more cards. If they target him with a spell, you can pay 7 life and draw 7. The only card I see shutting him down is Angel of Jubilation (keep that in mind kids). Griselbrand is going to be drawing cards in commander, in standard, and perhaps even modern. He is everything a Mythic Rare should be. Beefy, mythical, strong, and at the very least, he is incredibly flavorful.
The next card I’m going to discuss is probably going to slip under the radar a bit. I’m talking about Champion of Lambholt. This fragile 1/1 for three mana is an absolute beast. If you cannot kill this card the turn it enters the battlefield, it will be big and you will not be blocking your opponent’s creatures. Unblockable is a VERY strong ability—giving it to your team is just phenomenal. In a couple of goldfished games, I’ve seen this card get up to a 7/7 with a team of 3/3s and weenies crashing in for the kill. Do not underestimate this card. I see a demand for this card if GW Aggro becomes the real thing. She will be the keystone of this deck. With all of the token creators this color combo can support, she can get out of control fast. This is my sleeper pick of the entire set.
I want to discuss Desolate Lighthouse real quickly. I think this is the card that UR Delver is missing. Late game when this deck runs out of burn, lighthouse can pitch a land and grab something relevant. I think this card is probably the strongest land in this set’s cycle.
Ok, now that I’ve got all of the good stuff out of the way, I want to talk about my bottom five cards of Avacyn Restored. What the hell, I’ll start with the most controversial of my bottom five cards. Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is entirely overhyped. What deck plays her? Pod? Frites? Boros? 7 mana for a card that doesn’t have an absolute immediate impact on the board isn’t that great. Ok, I just spent 7 mana to cast her. I’ll crash in with my team. Chump block? Kill her next turn? She doesn’t protect herself except from burn. And seriously if you are a burn deck and haven’t won by the time your opponent has hit the mana to cast her, you’re doing it wrong. She doesn’t pass the Dismember test. You’re more than likely tapped out after you cast her with no way to protect her either. The only deck I see her really going into is a Commander deck. Kaalia of the Vast loves Avacyn Restored, but I am going to say that standard does not love Gisela. There I said it!
The next card I’m going to discuss is also probably loved by many, but after some brief play testing with it, I’m convinced it too is awful. Not Gisela awful, this card is a trap. Demonlord of Ashmouth looks amazing on paper. 5/4 Flying Undying for 2BB. Let me tell you why this card is a trap. Let’s talk about how much of a blowout it can be. I cast Demonlord with only one critter to sacrifice against Delver. They Vapor Snag my dude. Not only am I now tapped out, I’m down 1 life, and I’ve completely lost a card and an entire turn. Turns against tempo decks like Delver are critical; Demonlord is not going to battle well against them. I think that Demonlord is best left on the sidelines. He’s not good in Pod, he’s not good in Mono Black, let’s face it, short of token or weenie strategies, how often do you have a ton of creatures in play by turn 4? He might find a home, but I feel like people will see the light and realize he just isn’t that great.
So let me tell you a story about Alchemist’s Refuge…At prerelease I pulled this card. Awesome it’s going to work great for me! As the day went on and my tiltness (its a word now!) grew, I began to accidentally call this card Alchemist’s Refuse. This card is garbage. The extra 2 mana investment is just not going to work to flash in non-land cards. Its just not worth it. Even a card that costs 3 mana now costs 5. How am I supposed to properly curve out with this?? I’d rather just cast my Oblivion Ring on my turn and keep Mana Leak mana open. I used it once in limited and even then the best I could do with it was flash in an enchantment that pinged a dude for 1. Whoopiedie do! For those of you talking about flashing in Prime Time at 8 mana, you’re smoking crack. Being fancy with this card is only going to lose you the game, I promise.
This just in, Enchantments that do nothing the turns they come into play are probably really bad. Compound that with the fact that all this Enchantment does is give you a 1/1 body each turn and you have a recipe for an absolutely terrible card. Wait it costs 5? Wow, pay 5 essentially tapping out and maybe get a 1/1 next turn? I’ll pass. Commander’s Authority is just not good; I wouldn’t play it in my sealed deck!
The next card I’m going to touch on is Dreadwaters. How is this a good mill spell? There are tons of other good mill outlets and this sure isn’t going to get the job done. Even in a game of Commander, what is this going to do at best, 15? Bad spell is bad, I’m not even sure if it gets the job done in a limited match. Curse of the Bloody Tome kicks the crap out of this card. Next!
Finally, for my bonus card, I’m going to nitpick. I am beyond sick of seeing Demolish printed. This spell is WotC’s way of saying, “well, we won’t print good land destruction because the masses just don’t like it. So let’s instead print a versatile land destruction spell and attach artifacts to it and cost it one more.” This card is way too slow to make an impact on any format. In a set with Ancient Grudge, you’re really going to say, here, take strictly worse artifact destruction. Shatter is even better than this nonsense. Bring back Stone Rain. Quit whining newbies, the game was a lot more mean back in the day, Counterspell was a real card, Force of Will was a real card, Stone Rain was a real card! Stop nerfing good spells!
That’s all I’ve got. When I’m done drowning my sorrows from my less than stellar 2-3 per-release I’ll have a brief account of how terrible my sealed pool was and my impressions on the set as a whole and the metagame shift that it brings.
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