Fans of legendary angels will be excited to see the new M15 incarnation of a character originally introduced in Innistrad block: Avacyn, Guardian Angel.
There's a few things that jump out immediately here: this is a rare, which means it will not have the financial upside of its predecessor, Avacyn, Angel of Hope. The mana cost is very color intensive too: Avacyn 2.0, if she sees play, will be in base-white decks and base-white decks only. And in my opinion, this art is a strict upgrade over the old version. The jury's still out on the frame, though—I want to hold the new cards before I proclaim love or hate.
So is Avacyn, Guardian Angel likely to see a lot of play? At minimum, she's a five-mana 5/4 flyer with vigilance, which passes the vanilla test quite nicely. Her activated abilities are upside at that point, which means at the very least, Avacyn 2.0 is a bomb in Limited. That could be said of a lot of less-than-stellar cards, though.
In Commander, Avacyn 1.0 is probably more appealing to the majority of players. Guardian Angel's abilities to protect other creatures as well as her controller could be powerful mana sinks in the format, but she doesn't protect herself and requires a lot of mana to be at her most effective. Dedicated angel fans will want a copy in their decks, but it's unlikely folks are going to be switching generals of their Avacyn, Angel of Hope, decks.
This is no Baneslayer Angel, which means the possibility of seeing Modern play is out. It's nowhere close to even thinking about the chance of an opportunity of seeing Legacy play even one time.
So Standard is really the place where Avacyn has a chance to make a name for herself. The heavy-white mana cost is definitely a deterrent to this possibility, but a control player with lots of mana at her disposal could easily keep herself alive while also killing opponents with a vigilant flying angel. Whether that's a better line than just playing Elspeth, Sun's Champion, is questionable at best. Control decks don't really need or want too many win conditions.
What about in an aggro deck? It would have to be a white-based weenie deck to accommodate the mana requirements, but a five-drop isn't exactly what those decks want. And there's not really a midrange deck in Standard that plays a mana base with enough white to support this card. If Avacyn, Guardian Angel, is going to see play in Standard, it will have to be in a new deck. We'll see if Khans of Tarkir offers anything that will make this more attractive, but don't expect the card to see much play before then.
It says a lot about the recent power creep of creatures that a five-mana 5/4 vigilant flying angel with upside is probably not good enough for competitive Magic outside of Limited. Without an immediate impact on the board, Avacyn 2.0 is like many creatures—she boasts powerful stats but has no immediate, unique effect on the game. This hasn't proved good enough in recent years.
With SCG starting preorders at $2.99, I expect this to be near-bulk at best once the set has been drafted for a while. At that point, Avacyn 2.0 will be worth picking up as a throw-in in trades, since angels will always be popular with casual players, and this one could be worth a few bucks a couple years down the road. But despite the character having a popular first incarnation, don't expect big things from Avacyn, Guardian Angel in anything other than kitchen-table games.
Have any thoughts on the playability of Avacyn 2.0 in your favorite format? Sound off below!