Smi77y’s Angels – Avacyn Restored

Looking for new brews with Avacyn Restored cards? Then look no further as Jesse Smith tells you his three favorite cards from the new set along with decks he’s excited to try them out in. Consider playing one at SCG Open Series: Providence!

Before we begin, let’s look at a quick snapshot of my Smi77y’s Angels — Dark Ascension picks:


Looking forward… With Avacyn Restored we have an incredible pool to choose from; it’s rather overwhelming. In fact, I’m not sure in my time that I’ve seen a set with so many options for Constructed playable cards, and I often am a little down on some sets. This is not one of them.

Triumph of Ferocity

I’m serious! I had the pleasure of running this card in my Prerelease pool, and it’s a complete blowout in a Limited environment. But playing with it had me thinking about its applications in Standard. Mostly this card will be a sideboard card in longer, drawn out battles, presumably against control. Even a turn 1 Birds of Paradise into turn 2 Triumph of Ferocity sets you up for drawing two cards turn 3 with four mana up.

Despite Birds of Paradise being a 0/1, it’s still a creature and would most of the time be the only creature on the board, therefore drawing you a card. This allows you to overextend and continue to force your opponent to answer everything you’re throwing at them. And when you throw hexproof guys out, those answers become less and less.

Here’s yet another Hexblade update that includes Triumph in the sideboard.

You’ll also notice I included Wolfir Silverheart. The amount of damage he gets in is simply incredible. There’s the argument that he’s a vulnerable five-drop creature, however, his upside completely outweighs his downside. I also mention him because of his synergy with Triumph of Ferocity. Even if your opponent has some big creatures on the board, if you’ve stuck a Wolfir Silverheart you’ll almost always have the highest-powered creature and will end up drawing more cards off of Triumph.

Triumph of Ferocity is a very powerful effect that hasn’t been looked at yet; I recommend you do. It’s not going to win games on its own, but it does do a specific job very well (one that green hasn’t had for quite some time). Lead the Stampede and Hunter’s Insight were both misses compared to Triumph. I think it will pan out as being one of the better green card draw spells in quite some time.

Restoration Angel

I’m not the first one to mention the power of this card, but I’m not sure anyone has gone out on a limb yet.

I believe this card is the strongest card of the set for the Standard environment. This is partly speculation, but I’ve had the chance to play games both with and against Restoration Angel and it’s, quite simply, powerful.

A line of play that really stood out to me that is very relevant to the Standard format is a play involving Delver of Secrets. If your opponent has a flipped Delver and you have four open mana up, the Delver of Secrets attacker can get really blown out by a Restoration Angel. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s incorrect to attack into four open mana against someone who might be playing the Angel unless you’re packing a Dismember, Vapor Snag, or Mana Leak because if they have it then the tides of battle will certainly turn.

Restoration Angel doesn’t make Vapor Snag bad, but it does make it less good. I actually think Restoration Angel is a sign of Dismember restoring its power.

Last week I included a G/W Aggro deck that starred Restoration Angel. I had the chance to play more games with it, and I’m very happy with it. The one card I might change is Mirran Crusader over Silverblade Paladin if I end up incorporating Wolfir Silverheart. Did you guys know soulbond doesn’t target!? Wolfir Silverheart and Mirran Crusader can put in some work!

But perhaps the best Restoration Angel deck I’ve seen to date comes from Brian Kibler, who last week wrote about this Naya list that uses Restoration Angel.

To date this is the best idea and has the most synergy while being aggressive enough to combat the rampant ramp decks we’ll be seeing. Kibler may have hit the nail on the head when it comes to Restoration Angel’s power and utility.

Blood Artist

My favorite choice is a card that may or may not have jumped out at some people, but once you really begin thinking about what it says and the decks he’d go into you really tap into his potential.

Blood Artist is a very aggressive card. I’m not up on all my Magic history as far as cards go, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a 0/1 look scarier. (<3 you Avenger of Zendikar).

If you read this card closely, you may notice that it says when any creature dies; this ability to life drain can hit for huge points of damage and turn a race into a blowout. The obvious deck I see this in is a B/W Tokens strategy. Here’s an update of Faithless Tokens, a deck I built about a month ago that was putting up some Magic Online results.

A version of tokens like this can easily race a ramp deck, and that’s potentially a big deal. Blood Artist is also a large advantage in the mirror and sets you up for favorable trades. However, Blood Artist fits in many types of creature strategies.

This Prerelease weekend I went hard at work on another deck that included Blood Artist, not just because I enjoy the card but because it’s one of the key ways to combat ramp’s red board sweepers. If I was guessing what the format was going to be like in the coming weeks, I’d probably say that you either need to have a really good board control plan, particularly versus ramp decks, or you need to be a fast deck or a deck with a lot of reach. The following deck, which I like to call Kamikaze, does both well.

This style of deck means you’re the beatdown 100% of the time. The deck is fast enough that maybe only Tempered Steel could rival it. I’ve tried Mono Red, and it’s not fast enough in comparison.

Without playing the deck, most will probably say, “How is this deck aggressive when it’s using a

0/1?” I could explain it to you all, but in all honesty it’s very difficult to explain just how much work Blood Artist puts in. There have already been plenty of naysayers; however, I’ve shown a few people and a few others have tested it. My favorite response? “Wow.”

The deck borderlines on setting up as a combo deck or an aggro deck depending on your hand. Stay with me; it will make sense. Blood Artist does so much damage in multiples that you can quite literally “one shot” your opponent. For instance, let’s look at a board of three Blood Artists, a Gravecrawler, and a Geralf’s Messenger. Having three Blood Artists isn’t actually that difficult to achieve when you have Phantasmal Image in your deck.

In fact, Phantasmal Image is far better in here than it ever was in the U/B Zombies of the past. Targeting Blood Artist and Soulcage Demon is mostly better than cloning Diregraf Captain. So a board as mentioned before would deal seventeen damage (if this is incorrect, it’s a testament to me speaking about how difficult Blood Artist is to play against) if you can cast Killing Wave for only a single black mana. Oh yeah: it gains you fifteen life as well.

The idea of this deck is similar to what Zombies wanted to do all along. Swarm the board and keep coming at you—even in death! What’s so great about this new version of Zombies is that you can overextend, which is rare for an aggro deck. Actually you want to overextend, because in those situations your opponents only have a few outs that include Terminus, Devastation Tide, and about three Wurmcoil Engines on the board at once! No really, that’s how much damage a board full of Demons and Blood Artists will do.

It’s for this reason the deck runs blue to get access to Phantasmal Image. When you have two or three Blood Artists on the board, you can comfortably attack with Gravecrawlers to get in two damage guaranteed; it’s a great form of evasion for your small ground creatures. Pair that up with Soulcage Fiend getting in for an easy three damage and Diregraf Captain also plinking some additional damage on your Zombies’ death, and you get some damage that adds up incredibly fast.

What’s really interesting is Killing Wave from the sideboard. This is exactly the kind of deck it fits in. It’s the only effect where you can sacrifice your entire team for a black mana, but it also doubles up as additional damage or an entire board sweeper versus a field full of Lingering Souls. Many times your opponent will end up with a Wurmcoil Engine or a situation where you just can’t attack into them, but Killing Wave lets you hit for incredible amounts of damage by just wiping your own board without giving your opponent the chance to get you with a combat trick.

A side note about Blood Artist. In the early weeks of Standard, you’ll really be able to catch your opponent off guard with misplays when it comes to this card. Be careful with your math and opponent’s life totals because Blood Artist gets very complicated, especially once you have two or three on the board. It will be easy to attack into your opponent and let them decide what to do; my bet is that until people realize how much damage he’s really doing, they’ll misplay most of the time.

To date, this is my top idea and plays out much like Vampires did in our last Standard rotation. Blood Artist plus Soulcage Fiend sets this strategy completely over the top. There’s depth in the black cards of the set, and Blood Artist is one of those cards.

These are some of my favorite cards of the set as well as a couple of sleeper cards that fall in line with my style of play and what I enjoy. If I had to choose one card out of the bunch that I enjoy the most and think will have some of the highest impact on the aggro archetype, it has to be Blood Artist. Who knew one could love a 0/1 so much! Try it, love it, and profit!

Hope you enjoy the remainder of Avacyn Restored Week here on StarCityGames.com, as well as your release weekend. Let me know how B/U Aggro (Kamikaze) works for you!