Wrestling With The Angels
Since the rise of the Titans in Magic 2011, Wizards has been carefully managing the power level of freshly-printed core set cards. Mythics in particular have been very tame, being more of the ‘giant monster that costs seven mana and fifty cents’ than the ‘wtf, it searches for ANY two lands? I’m gonna fetch me some Valakuts’ variety.
Somewhere in between the two is today’s preview, Archangel of Thune.
It has the exact same mana cost as original core-set haymaker Baneslayer Angel, and, like Baneslayer, is vulnerable to removal due to a lack of an enter-the-battlefield effect. The two cards also share the word ‘life’ in their rules text, a creature type, and a mythic rarity.
The similarities end there. Baneslayer was a Standard powerhouse not just because it was extremely efficient — when I first looked at that card, after ten years away from the game, I thought it was someone’s cruel joke about power creep — but because it ‘went in everything.’ Mid-range decks loved it as a threat, and control decks as a finisher.
Archangel of Thune takes a little more work to support. Since it pumps your guys, you should have some guys to pump — think of it like Gavony Township in that way. Since it triggers on life-gain, you should have some nice recurring ways to gain life. The two I have in mind are
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
A rough draft of a deck might look like:
4 Blind Obedience
4 Syndic of Tithes
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Elvish Mystic
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Silverblade Paladin
4 Selesnya Charm
3 Archangel of Thune
3 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
2 Restoration Angel
23 Lands (including Gavony Township)
Archangel of Thune has some obvious synergy with Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant. The easiest comparison is with Ajani’s Pridemate, which is locked in as a 4-of in Soul Sisters decks and is one of their best clocks against combo. Archangel of Thune turns out to be a dead end, though, since that deck doesn’t play enough lands to cast a five-drop.
I think the Archangel is most exciting in B/W Tokens, which plays Auriok Champion and could benefit from a less clunky anthem effect. Some builds play Ajani Goldmane, which functions similarly, and that deck’s high land count lets it play five-drops like Cloudgoat Ranger or Elspeth Tirel already.
Melira Pod, which gains life infinite times and tutors for creatures effectively, might also be interested. Some ado has been made about the infinite combo with Spike Feeder, and it might be a natural fit for that deck.
My Cube has a reasonable density of life-gain effects — 22 cards out of 405 — so Archangel of Thune certainly makes the short list of Magic 2014 cards I want to test. Gavony Township and Ajani Goldmane are two of the Cube’s stronger cards, so though Archangel of Thune appears to be clearly worse than Reveillark and around the same power level as Cloudgoat Ranger, it’s at least worth a try.
I could write any number of words about how it could or couldn’t fit in, but there’s only so far ‘theorycrafting’ can take you. On the forums we’re all about experimental Cube design. Will Archangel be worth a slot in your Cube? There’s only one way to find out.
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