Last night I was playtesting Todd Anderson’s UWr control deck against Chris Pennock, piloting Chris Weidinger’s Reanimator from SCG Cincinnati. I was firmly behind with essentially no board and a sparse two life remaining against a couple of green monsters. I drew my card for what I thought would likely be my last turn and Miracled an Entreat the Angels for nine. Everything was finally coming up Milhouse!
Or so I thought.
Chris casually untapped and Angel of Serenity’d away three of my angel tokens. This put me on blocking duty, as he had gained a grip of life off of some Thragtusks. On his next turn he swung his Angel into my army. I blocked with all of my man’s and cast Azorius Charm to gain 24 life. At this point he cast a second Angel, putting the one from his graveyard under it as well as killing two more of my 4/4s. Killing me from there was all too easy for him.
I cast Entreat the Angels for nine and I still lost. I can’t say that it was particularly close either.
That wasn’t the first or last time Angel of Serenity proved its worth in our playtest session. It seldom mattered what else happened when the game entered the Angel phase. I hit my mark when I said on Good Luck; High Five! that the card would be worth money, but I completely missed by not declaring that it was going to be the best endgame in Standard.
It’s really a card that you have to see in action to fully understand its power. After a few matches, you’ll find that the anecdote I included above isn’t an extreme case, but is rather pretty close to the norm.
This, and a few other forthcoming notes in mind, I’m going to present some revised opinions about cards that I’ve previously discussed, in addition to suggesting some cards that I haven’t yet talked about that are worth looking at.
Let’s start with Restoration Angel.
Former Standard roleplayer, current Modern all-star- we’ve seen plenty from this card. As much as it pains me to write this, I don’t think that Restoration Angel is good enough anymore.
In the games when your Healers and Thragtusks aren’t good enough on their own, they generally don’t survive long enough to be blinked anyhow. In the games where they are good enough, just adding a 3/4 flier to the mix doesn’t change things that much. For the record, this line of thought also makes me lose interest in Disciple of Bolas.
Whether you’re winning or losing with your early creatures, Angel of Serenity is a fantastic top-end. When your ground guys are sticking around you just Fiend Hunter* your opponent’s team. When your ground guys die, you get to Raise Dead them and probably get a Fiend Hunter* or two in on top of that.
*Well, upgraded Fiend Hunter.
The power level of Angel of Serenity also makes me lose a lot of respect for Armada Wurm. There is only so much room for top-end in a deck, and Armada Wurm is so much more than one mana worse than Angel of Serenity. Against the aggressive decks the two are somewhat comparable, but against a control deck a single Supreme Verdict undoes your Wurm, and its little friend too. Wraths on Angel of Serenity are considerably worse, particularly Supreme Verdict, as having an Angel in your graveyard is pretty ideal for when the time comes to play a second copy.
Because of Angel’s ability to “chain” with redundant copies in your graveyard, the best answers are going to be things that don’t put it in the graveyard. That more or less leaves these as the best options:
Sphere, Sever and Terminus have the added ability of completely blanking Entreat the Angels, and with Miracles winning the first week of the format that’s a very good place to be. Sphere and O-ring obviously work well as answers to Planeswalkers too, another mainstay of Miracles.
On the topic of Sever the Bloodline, I think that this was the most glaring omission from Chris Weidinger’s maindeck. If you’re going to be casting Mulch and Grisly Salvage, you may as well include the best removal spell with flashback to answer any opponents trying to go as big or bigger than you.
With these points about the format in mind, here is an updated Junk list:
The only change to the list not previously discussed is the addition of Farseek. With Angel of Serenity being the endgame of choice, it stands to reason that mana acceleration/ having more virtual mana sources in the deck will benefit this game plan.
I have to say that this list is dramatically better than the previous version. It doesn’t really lose much against decks like Zombies, while gaining a much stronger endgame.
Now the question for this deck, and a question that I know I’ll find myself asking about every deck that I build in the immediate future, is whether or not this is the best Angel of Serenity shell. As with all things Magic, time and testing will tell.
Personally I won’t be able to make it out to play States, but I feel confident recommending this deck for this weekend. For all of you battling, good luck; high five!
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