Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MTG Constructed: Avacyn-Led Angels

When it comes to building constructed Magic: The Gathering decks, I tend to prefer working with cards I already own, rather than designing the optimal deck and purchasing the cards I need.  I see it as a different kind of challenge - it's an optimization problem given the constraints of my decently-sized collection instead of the full set of MTG cards available.  Plus it has the added bonus of being cheaper and easier to put together, since I don't have to go searching for $20+ cards.

With that in mind, my decks end up being unique specimens.  They may not be the best, and they may not work for other players, but they satisfy my goals using what is readily at my disposal.  I also tend not to worry about standard or legacy or whatever rulings; I just like to build casual decks to sling at my friends.

Most of my deck ideas come from one of two sources.  The more common is that I'll open some bomb that will inspire me to build a deck around it.  That's what happened with the deck I'm presenting here, as you will shortly see.  The other source, less common but probably more effective, is based on a draft deck that works particularly well.  For example, I'm looking at putting together a Simic deck based on my first Gatecrash draft, and I made a zombie deck after using Call to the Grave pretty effectively in an M12 draft.

This deck happened because I opened Avacyn, Angel of Hope at one of our sealed Avacyn Restored nights.  I wanted to put her to good use immediately, but as I kept opening rare Angels, it seemed like an angel deck would be a good move.

But there were some considerations that needed addressing.  The first is that Avacyn is a costly investment, requiring 8 total mana to play.  Ideally, I'd want some way of cheating her onto the field, so that needs to be built into the deck.  Secondly, Angels in general are pretty expensive, so I'd either want some sort of mana ramping (so mixing with green might be a good choice) or some good way of stalling through the first several turns.  Thirdly, although Avacyn is definitely a win condition, it's a little risky to put all hopes into managing to get her into play, especially if I'm going to be using tricks that make it a 2+ card combo.  Instead, I'd like to have several decent plans for finishing my opponent.

It turns out that adding some blue can work towards solving all of those problems.  I have a copy of Call to the Kindred, which has the potential to sneak Avacyn onto the board three turns before I'd have the mana to hard cast her (and generally lets me get angels in play for free, which is awesome).  Including some cheap control can protect me during the early game, and I usually prefer that kind of thing to straight removal anyway.  And as other win conditions, Call to the Kindred is a pretty big deal if it lasts long enough to slide some angels into play, but I also opened Bruna, Light of Alabaster, which combined with some useful auras (like Eldrazi Conscription, which itself is a nasty win condition) can be brutal.

To fill out the rest of the deck, some Humans work well, particularly with something like Angel of Glory's Rise to add some synergy.  Plus they're pretty cheap, so they make the early game a little easier to survive.

What we have is a deck with a lot of power, assuming you can mulligan into a decent starting hand if needed.  It's pretty dependent on being able to play something on turns 2 and 3 so you can survive, but it can get pretty rough for your opponent if you can start dropping Angels.

Gideon's in trouble...

Champion of the Parish
Doomed Traveler
Konda's Hatamoto
Tandem Lookout
Restoration Angel
Seraph of Dawn
Guardian of the Gateless
Angelic Skirmisher
1 Bruna, Light of Alabaster
Sunblast Angel
1 Angel of Glory's Rise
Angel of Serenity
1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Mystical Tutor
Turn Aside
Vapor Snag
Mana Leak

Detention Sphere
Angelic Destiny
1 Call to the Kindred
1 Eldrazi Conscription

Entreat the Angels
Temporal Mastery

9 Island
13 Plains
Seachrome Coast
Terramorphic Expanse

The Mystical Tutors are there to ensure the shenaniganry of Entreat the Angels and Temporal Mastery, which add yet another possible win condition.  It's not the greatest deck in the world, but it is one that I've spent a lot of time tweaking.  There's certainly room for improvement, but as I'm determined to get a deck with Avacyn and Bruna to work, this deck seems to be heading in the right direction.

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