Archangel Avacyn In Commander

She’s not just another competitive Magic face. Bennie Smith examines the Archangel that is on everyone’s mind! See what he does with her in Magic’s most fun-oriented format!

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<h2>Sorry About Modern</h2>
<p>Before I get to the topic at hand, I wanted to extend my deepest apologies. You see, apparently I broke Modern and they had to issue an emergency rules change.</p>
<p><div align=Modern Reparations

No, it wasn’t the Eldrazi that were so bad. It was my crazy Necrotic Ooze deck I wrote about a month or so back. If you missed my column about it and don’t feel like clicking on the link, here’s the short version: I kind of broke Necrotic Ooze copying the activated ability of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to mill my entire deck in one fell swoop and win on the spot. The “trick” is that Jace’s ability to loot, exile, and come back transformed doesn’t work exactly that way when Necrotic Ooze is copying the ability; instead it would loot, exile and come back as Necrotic Ooze untapped.

Since all the Modern Top 8s have been flooded with Necrotic Ooze decks, Wizards decided to act and act quickly. As of the prerelease for Shadows over Innistrad, that trick no longer works. As Matt Tabak explained over on the mothership:

“Starting with this set, we have a new rule that if you’re told to put a card that isn’t a DFC [Dual-Faced Card] onto the battlefield transformed, it just stays where it is. This may affect a few cards in this set, but I think the Magic Origins planeswalkers illustrate the change nicely…Say you control a Necrotic Ooze that’s copying Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and you activate Ooze copying Jace’s ability with four thousand cards in your graveyard. Well, four thousand is “five or more,” so Ooze-Jace dutifully exiles himself. Then he tries to return transformed, but in exile he’s just a single-faced Necrotic Ooze. He’s not a DFC, so he gets detained at the border and remains in exile.”

Note that I may have taken a few liberties with the exact wording Matt gave, but you get the gist. Now, while this rules change feels a little weird and forced, it was a deliberate – and dare I say rather vicious – response to a really cool interaction and I’m sad that I won’t be able to rock this deck in a couple of weeks. I guess I’ll have to stick Necrotic Ooze back on the shelf and wait for the next cool and powerful activated ability to come down the block.

The good news is that, with this emergency rules change, maybe the price for Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy will come down!

Commander Avacyn – Third Time’s the Charm

The first time we caught a glimpse of Avacyn, she was impressive. Avacyn, Angel of Hope is 8/8 and has flying vigilance, indestructible, and she gave all your permanents indestructible, a very impressive collection of abilities for a likewise impressive mana cost of eight mana. Not that that cost is unreasonable for that package of abilities, but eight mana is a lot even in Commander.

I’ve played with and against Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and I have to say the games where she sticks around aren’t really very fun as an opponent. Yes, you should have exile effects in every deck, but sometimes you haven’t drawn them, Avacyn comes down and gets equipped with Lightning Greaves, and suddenly none of your opponent’s permanents can be answered.

But then there are the games where she doesn’t stick around, you and your opponents have Swords to Plowshares at the ready, and you hit Avacyn the first few times she enters the battlefield. Those games aren’t very fun for the player who’s running her since it is such a giant mana investment each time you cast her. You can’t afford not to deal with Avacyn, but you feel bad when you do. It’s just bad times all around.

The second time we saw Avacyn, she’s considerably powered down. Avacyn, Guardian Angel costs a lot less mana to cast, but her activated abilities are incredibly mana-intensive, and when you activate them, the effect isn’t particularly impressive. I’m not saying she’s a bad Commander card, but as the flagship creature to build your whole deck around? No, she’s better as a Soldier in your tribal Angel deck.

But Avacyn is such a cool character in the Magic multiverse, Wizards couldn’t let Avacyn the Card(s) just limp into Magic history without trying to get her right. Her spectacular spoiler rollout during the Shadows over Innistrad Weekend Experience a couple of weeks ago with cosplayer extraordinaire Christine Sprankle highlighted that Wizards indeed had finally gotten Avacyn done right!

Christine Sprankle as Avacyn 1

Christine Sprankle as Avacyn 2

Archangel Avacyn is the Avacyn we’ve all been waiting for, and boy was she worth the wait! If you’ve been following my adventures in Standard, you know I’ve been rocking Eldrazi Displacer, and I cannot wait for Displacer shenanigans with Archangel Avacyn in Standard in the coming year. I’ll talk more about that and other Shadows over Innistrad cards for Standard next week, but today I wanted to focus on Archangel Avacyn in Commander.

Saving the Team

Cloudshift, Nim Deathmantle, Whitemane Lion, Eldrazi Displacer, Arcbond; Jaya Ballard, Task Mage; Stonecloaker, Erratic Portal, Wrath of God, Chain Reaction, Magus of the Disk, Rout, Chandra’s Ignition, Worldslayer, Blasphemous Act

The most exciting part of Archangel Avacyn is her ability to flash in at instant speed and save your entire team from any sort of removal spell. In most formats, not knowing whether you have her in hand or not is going to make playing around her quite difficult, but when she’s your Commander, the surprise factor is gone. However, having her sitting there and staring down your opponents from the Command Zone once you have five mana available is sure to have an impact on how your opponents play their game.

Say they have too many cards in hand and need to either discard or burn off a removal spell. If you’ve got open mana and Archangel Avacyn available, they may as well point that spell at someone else’s creatures. This rattlesnake effect can seriously warp the way other players play without you ever having to cast her.

Of course, saving your team from removal is just scratching the surface of potential for Avacyn. Much like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, you can leverage the moment when your creatures are indestructible to break the symmetry on removal spells like Wrath of God or Blasphemous Act. What’s particularly sweet to contemplate is Magus of the Disk. Its activation doesn’t require sacrifice, so you can activate Magus of the Disk while your team is indestructible to blow everything else up while you get to keep your team and your Magus of the Disk. Being indestructible also means you get to keep your team when you cast cards like Arcbond or Chandra’s Ignition, which is pretty cool.

Since Archangel Avacyn only costs five mana, the indestructibility only works on the turn she enters the battlefield, so I’ve included some ways to reuse her ability outside of her dying and being recast from the Command Zone. We’ll certainly want to port our future favorite tag-team member Eldrazi Displacer to our Commander deck, and we can have a surprise one-shot with Cloudshift. We can also bounce Archangel Avacyn back to our hand with Stonecloaker or Erratic Portal and flash her back onto the battlefield. Nim Deathmantle can be combined with a sacrificial effect to “blink” her from the graveyard back onto the battlefield.

Why Should Avacyn Have All the Fun?

Stoneforge Mystic, Oreskos Explorer, Wall of Omens, Dualcaster Mage, Mangara of Corondor, Angel of Finality, Solemn Simulacrum, Karmic Guide; Linvala, the Preserver; Sun Titan, Angel of Serenity, Sandstone Oracle, Quarry Colossus

Since we’re already interested in ways of reusing Avacyn’s enters-the-battlefield trigger, I figured why not pepper in some other cards that can take advantage of those cards when we don’t necessarily need to trigger Avacyn. These include “just good value” creatures like Wall of Omens and Sun Titan, but also potent cards like Angel of Serenity and Quarry Colossus. In particular I’m excited to try out Mangara of Corondor in tandem with Eldrazi Displacer!

Mowing Down Creatures

High Market; Miren, the Moaning Well; Basilisk Collar, Mogg Maniac, Spirit Loop, Generator Servant, Goblin Bombardment, Loxodon Warhammer, Brion Stoutarm, Spitemare, Stuffy Doll, Shard Phoenix, Bloodshot Cyclops, Bloodfire Colossus

Even if Archangel Avacyn were a single faced card, I’d be interested in playing her, but she’s got a whole other side to consider! First off, since the other side is red, it opens up a whole second color of spells we can have access to, which is another big upgrade from previous versions of Avacyn, though you could just play white spells and white mana sources if you wanted to.

With access to red, though, it makes it easier to trigger the condition to flip Avacyn by having a creature die on demand. Goblin Bombardment is the poster child for such a thing. You can also “chuck” creatures with Bloodshot Cyclops or Brion Stoutarm, or have creatures sacrifice themselves like Shard Phoenix or Bloodfire Colossus. Generator Servant is a neat card to include in this deck: not only can it power out your Avacyn early and give it haste, but you can just sacrifice it to trigger Avacyn’s transformation, or use the mana for something else—it is colorless, so you can use it to activate Eldrazi Displacer.

I wanted to include some cards that better leverage the damage dealing aspect of transforming into Avacyn, the Purifier. Since she damages your own team too, I included Mogg Maniac, Spitemare, and Stuffy Doll in order to double the damage done to another player. Enchanting Archangel Avacyn with Spirit Loop or equipping with Loxodon Warhammer before she transforms can net you a ton of life. So can Basilisk Collar, but it has the added benefit of actually killing all other creatures when you really do need to purify the battlefield.

Angel Stuff

Cavern of Souls, Seraph Sanctuary, Scroll of Avacyn, Moonsilver Spear, Archangel of Thune, Herald of War, Adarkar Valkyrie

Having a Boros-color-identity Archangel Avacyn makes a fantastic Commander for a tribal Angel deck if that’s what you want to do. I didn’t really push too hard in that direction, but I did dabble a little bit into Angel themes, and Moonsilver Spear is all flavor. Adarkar Valkyrie is a fantastic angel that also happens to play well with what we’re trying to do with this deck, especially when we’re breaking symmetry on cards like Wrath of God and Adarkar Valkyrie can choose the best creature that hit the graveyard to come play for the winning team.

I will certainly be working hard to get multiple copies of Archangel Avacyn for Standard, but in the meantime, once I acquire my first one, I’ll have all I need to play this deck:

Archangel Avacyn
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 03-18-2016
Magic Card Back

I’m curious to hear what you think of the deck. Are there any cards you have questions about? What about other cards that you’d want to put in the deck?

Join me next week when I talk about my experience at this weekend’s Standard PPTQ I’ll be attending, as well as thoughts on new deck possibilities that Shadows over Innistrad brings us!

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visionary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)

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