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Avacyn Restored Cube cards – White!

April 23, 2012

It’s been a while but in an attempt to work on my writing, I’m going to try post in the blog more often, so might as well start now! I’ve made a few other changes since my last update, so the list on the right may not be up to date. Hopefully, sometime after the pre-release this will be corrected. Instead of posting like for like changes, I’m going to discuss the cubeability of cards as I haven’t made my final decisions and want to do some more testing. I’m hoping to do a color a day plus artifacts/multicolor/lands on Friday.

There has been a push recently for G/W to find it’s place in cube with token strategies. Recent sets have given quite a few cards to support this, with Gavony Township, Midnight Haunting and Shrine of Loyal Legions all contributing. Angel of Jubilation’s second ability is only marginally relevant to most cubes, with Birthing Pod and Force of Will coming to mind. AoJ is an extra mana compared to most cube anthem effects, but that extra mana buys a bigger, and evasive, body. The only four mana anthem I have is Wilt-leaf Liege, which is a very comparable card. I don’t think AoJ will make it into my cube in the first rotation, only because the 4 spot for white is extremely deep, but could see this making it into larger cubes.

The flagship card for this set, Avacyn is much like the rest of the angels in Magic’s history, expensive with flashy effects. Akroma has been a popular finisher for W/x control decks in cube, as well as a solid reanimator target. Akroma’s protection from red and black meant it was practically indestructible, but Avacyn takes it to the next level by actually making everything indestructible. Both are pretty close in terms of quality, with Akroma finishing quicker but Avacyn protecting the rest of your board. If you run Akroma, give Avacyn a test just to see how it works out.

Having not actually played a game with miracle cards, I have a feeling all of them are at least limited playable. A lot like DFC, I don’t think they would use these as skill-testers in packs. I’m interested to see how the common/uncommons play out in the AVR limited environment to see how good they all are. I think miracle cards need to be evaluated for their full cost only, as it’s too difficult to consistently setup in cube. 6 mana for the versatility of this card is probably good enough for regular limited environments, but I’d be surprised to see it break into full cube. It will have a place in common/uncommon cubes, as they tend to be slower, more removal heavy environments.

“Flicker” is surprisingly a very popular mechanic amongst a lot of players. I say surprisingly as you often feels helpless as your opponent gains incremental advantage unless you have a removal spell. Cloudshift works to re-trigger ETB effects as well as protect creatures from removal spells. Cards like Vines of the Vastwood have seen play in full powered cubes, and with ETB cards like Wall of Omens, Blade Splicer, Stoneforge, Cloudgoat Ranger, Geist-Honored Monk and especially Reveillark all being played in full cube, this card has potential. It will definitely be a strong card in commons/uncommons cube and could make the jump to full.

Divine Deflection has two similar cards in Shining Shoal and Harm’s Way to be compared to. When I originally built my cube, I had both Shoal and Harm’s Way in, and both eventually ended out. This effect is very powerful in creature based match-ups, more specifically against red decks. They usually end up being a 2 for 1, protecting your creature and killing one of theirs, or being a 2-3 damage burn spell. If you’ve found success with these effects in the past, Divine Deflection will be a good fit.

If you can’t tell by now, one of the easiest way to evaluate a card’s power level is to find similar cards/effects. Emancipation Angel reminds me of Kor Skyfisher from Zendikar, adding an extra white mana for an extra power. In Zendikar standard, Skyfisher was powerful for bounding lands, more specifically Teetering Peaks, back to hand in order to re-trigger landfall. In limited, the 2/3 body is often worth the set back of a mana. However, for three mana in cube, you have access to a lot more effective and powerful creatures like Mirran Crusader, Blade Splicer, and the new Silverblade Paladin. I don’t think the extra white mana is worth the power, which means this will be relegated to commons/uncommons cube as well.

Hello Decree of Justice 2.0! The full cost of Entreat the Angels is a full mana better than Decree, as the cost of trading colorless for white. I know I just mentioned using full cost to evaluate miracle cards, but hard casting Decree is the secondary mode to cycling it, which means we need to compare cycling to miracle. Both fill different rolls, as an end of turn Decree can be a powerful uncounterable finisher in the control mirror, or cycled early to buy a turn or two with chump blockers to draw into a wrath. Entreat will fit best in a U/W control deck, where you have access to Top, Brainstorm, Jace, Ponder and other library manipulators. The miracle cost even on turn four with a signet can be enough to win most games. I’m not sure where this fits in, but I will be testing it for full cube.

Another 4 mana anthem effect, kind of. Outside of flash creatures or token cards, this will only be pumping on your turn, but it can easily act as an overrun for white with a few creatures, or some choice spells (Elspeth 2.0, Cloudgoat Ranger and Lingering Souls come to mind) It’s worse than Angel of Jubilation, but I can see this card helping white aggro decks push through clogged boards in commons/uncommons.

Restoration Angel feels like a Briarhorn on crack with a little Ambush Viper and Village Bellringer added for good measure. The ability to flash in mid-combat to block a creature, “untap” a creature you control by blinking it, blanking removal, or retrigger ETB effects means Restoration Angel is one of the most versatile cards available. The fact that it’s on a 3/4 flying body and is splashable at 3W is even better. As I mentioned before, 4 is stacked in cube for white, but this card is powerful enough to deserve testing.

The size of creatures in C/UC cube are small enough to warrant the inclusion of Righteous Blow. Like most of white’s removal, it is situational, but removal is removal is removal.

One of the few cards from Avacyn Restored that I have cubed with already, and it was quite impressive in it’s first go around. Giving any 2 or 3 powered double strike, or better yet, an Isamaru equipped with a Bonesplitter, is nuts! The thing most people miss on Soulbond is that you don’t need another creature on the battlefield to get value. Drop this on three and another on turn four and attacking for 4 is fine too. I initially replaced Paladin en-Vec, and for the time being, this will stay in. I’m only bummed I missed out on the buy a box promo.

For the extra mana, wrath effects that cost more than four need to have something special tacked on. Austere Command lets you deal with artifacts or enchantments on the right board state, Akroma’s Vengeance deals with all three and cycles, and Hallowed Burial keeps things out of the graveyard and handles persist/undying. Terminus’ attempts to do its best Hallowed Burial impression will be better in Standard against Geralf’s Messenger and Gravecrawler, but it’s still good enough for full cube. The miracle cost feels awkward without setup, since it needs to come on the perfect turn to get maximum value. Being able to cast this plus hold up Counterspell for their next threat is a powerful 1-2 punch. Terminus is at least worth trying in place of one of the aforementioned 4+ mana wraths.

Tomorrow will be blue, where an ol’ Efreet is seeing a psuedo-reprint and yet another difficult to pronounce Kamigawan shows up! If I missed some cards for commons/uncommons cube, let me know in the comments. I don’t draft the format too often so this is based on those experiences. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Kyle Engleson
@Kengy5 on Twitter

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