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Breaking Down the Decks of Avacyn Restored, Part One

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The letter O!ver the next few weeks I'm going to take a look at the top archetypes in Avacyn Restored Limited and go over some of the most important cards that lend to their success.

I plan to get through a lot of decks in a fairly short period of time, so I won't be highlighting every card you might want to play, nor will I be spending much time going into minute details about things like, "What you should consider while selecting the twenty-third spell for your deck."

What I will be doing is going over the types of cards you should be looking to fill the (many, distinctly different) decks in the format and highlighting some of the cards that are noticeably less important in specific decks than they might appear to be in the abstract.

Enough explanation, let's dive in!

Green-Blue Tempo

While I might not have as strong of an affinity for green-blue as fellow DailyMTG.com columnist Brian David-Marshall, the color combination is truly a force to be reckoned with in Avacyn Restored Limited.

Mist Raven | Art by John Avon

With an abundance of efficient creatures, evasion, card advantage, and great tricks at its disposal, it's no wonder green-blue is one of the premier archetypes in Avacyn Restored Booster Drafts. Pretty much the only thing that green-blue can't do is permanently kill creatures outside of combat.

So if you like decks able to overpower and out-tempo opponents with ease, then Green-Blue Soulbond might very well be the draft deck for you.

Enter the Battlefield!

Mist Raven is widely considered to be the best common in the format, and with good reason. If you've begun the game with an early lead, Mist Raven is a fantastic way to press that advantage. It sets your opponent back a turn while adding an evasive threat (that you can pair with your soulbond creatures) to your side of the board.

And if you're behind, there are few better ways to catch up than by bouncing your opponent's biggest threat and gaining a key blocker, all for just four mana.

If you're intent on staying away from blue, then you can certainly pass Mist Raven without feeling any regret. But if you're open to the idea of drafting a base-blue deck, then you're going to need a good reason to take anything other than one of the bombiest cards in the set over Mist Raven.

Borderland Ranger and Gryff Vanguard might not have the same immediate impact on the board that Mist Raven has, but these card-replacing creatures are nonetheless going to be valuable additions to any deck that can cast them.

Two-Drops

In some formats, you can wait a long time before drafting any 2-power, two-mana creatures. Avacyn Restored isn't one of those formats.

Timberland Guide, Wandering Wolf, and Nightshade Peddler are all worth spending early draft picks on because good 2-casting-cost creatures are so scarce in Avacyn Restored. If you don't take them early, you might end up with a deck that just doesn't have any two-mana creatures in it—and if that happens, it will be virtually impossible for you to get off to a faster start than any of your opponents.

Big and Cheap

If you're on the play and you have a 2-power creature on turn two and a turn-three Trusted Forcemage, your opponent is going to have an extremely difficult time catching up to you. And even if you don't have a two-drop to go with your Trusted Forcemage, it's still an incredibly efficient threat capable of putting a ton of pressure on your opponent.

Trusted Forcemage | Art by Cynthia Sheppard

Simply put: if you're drafting a green deck, you should make it a priority to take any copy of Trusted Forcemage you're fortunate enough to feast your eyes on.

But as much as you might want to, you aren't always going to be able to fill up your deck with stacks of Trusted Forcemages, Timberland Guides, and Mist Ravens—so you're going to need to find some other efficient cards to round out your deck with.

So while Nettle Swine isn't an all-star by any stretch of the imagination, it's an efficient enough threat that it should be a welcome addition to all but the best green-blue decks.

Pump Spells

There aren't very many instant-speed removal spells, bounce spells, or even pump spells in Avacyn Restored, so Joint Assault is going to be a good trick for you even if you don't have any soulbond creatures. But if you do have a deck full of soulbond creatures, Joint Assault suddenly becomes one of the best tricks in the format.

If you've gotten off to an early lead thanks to Trusted Forcemage, a single Joint Assault can be enough for you to put your opponents out of the game before they get the chance to take over with their expensive bombs.

While Joint Assault is clearly an impressive card, not every one-mana pump spell needs to give multiple creatures +2/+2 for you to play it in Limited. So if you need a way to put your creatures over the top in close combats, and you don't have any copies of Joint Assault, you shouldn't hesitate to sneak a Snare the Skies or two into your deck. It might not be flashy, but it still does its job.

Cards That Go Up in Value When You're Drafting Green-Blue

The first time I drafted blue in Avacyn Restored, I constructed a controlling white-blue deck full of Angelic Walls, Defangs, and other ways to stall the game out long enough for me to win with my big flying angels. The next time I drafted blue, I put together a Blue-Black Standalone deck with Fettergeist, Demonic Taskmaster, and Homicidal Seclusion.

Wingcrafter | Art by Matt Stewart

Simply put, I never would have considered playing Wingcrafter in either of these decks.

But if I'm drafting a green-blue deck with cards like Trusted Forcemage, Flowering Lumberknot, and Vorstclaw, then Wingcrafter becomes a key component I would have no problem first-picking.

Another card that can shoot up in value if you're drafting green-blue is Flowering Lumberknot. Once you've put seven or eight soulbond creatures into your deck, Flowering Lumberknot (which I had initially thought was close to unplayable) should become a very strong addition.

So while I wouldn't want to spend an early pick on Flowering Lumberknot in the first pack (before I've seen how many soulbond creatures I'm going to end up with), I have no problem grabbing it early in pack two or pack three.

White-Blue Control

It should come as no surprise that cards like Seraph of Dawn are going to be awesome no matter what kind of deck you're drafting. But once you get past the most inherently powerful white cards, you're going to have to adjust your picks considerably with respect to your strategy.

So while Angelic Wall, Defang, and Haunted Guardian are not the kinds of cards you want in an aggressive White-Red Human deck, they're essential pieces in White-Blue Control decks.


Why are these cards good in White-Blue Control decks? Because you need to stall out the game, and these are some of the best ways to slog through the early (and later) stages of the game with your life total intact.

Efficient Evasion Creatures

If you don't have any good, cheap evasion creatures in your white-blue deck, you could be in a lot of trouble.

Seraph of Dawn | Art by Todd Lockwood

But if you do end up with a couple of cards like Seraph of Dawn, Mist Raven, Latch Seeker, or Gryff Vanguard, you're going to be in pretty good shape even if the rest of your deck doesn't come together.

These efficient evasion creatures can act as the backbone of any good white-blue deck, giving you ways to close out the game quickly and acting as lightning rods for your opponent's removal spells (allowing your biggest threats to take over longer games).

Trickery

While I expect this to change soon, Righteous Blow is currently one of the most underrated cards in Avacyn Restored Limited. The ability to kill an otherwise backbreaking card like Wandering Wolf, Latch Seeker, or Falkenrath Exterminator for just a single white mana makes Righteous Blow an excellent addition to any white deck—and a particularly important piece for slower control decks.

Peel from Reality is another underappreciated trick, but it isn't the kind of card you want too many copies of in your control decks. One, or maybe two, copies of Peel from Reality can be great, as they will give you ways to deal with Lightning Prowess, save your creatures from removal spells, and mug soulbond creatures.

But if you have a bunch of copies of Peel from Reality in your deck, you better be able to kill your opponent quickly or else you're going to bury yourself with card disadvantage.

Over the Top

Okay, so you've gotten all the pieces that you need to reliably stall out the game. Now you just need to figure out a way to win.

One fairly obvious route that you can take is to fill up the top of your curve with gigantic fliers like Archangel and Goldnight Redeemer. But if you don't get those oversized fliers, you're going to need to find another way to close out your games.

And that might require you to significantly deviate from your original control shell and put together a more aggressive evasion deck that leans heavily on cards like Scrapskin Drake.

As long as you're honest with yourself about what your deck is capable of doing, and you can envision a clear way that you can win, then you should be fine. But if you can't picture a good end game for your deck, you're going to have to change things up considerably.



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