Avacyn Restored Casual & Commander Review: White

With Avacyn Restored just being released, it seems oddly unanimous that this set is all about casual and Commander players. Much like Rise of the Eldrazi, Avacyn Restored throws the classic block format out of whack, so if you want to learn all about awesome drafting strategies, I would advise going elsewhere. If you want to know which gems in this set will drive your opponents mad in a game of Star or be just the cog you’re looking for in Commander, we’ve got you covered.

Once again, I will be doing this on a card by card basis, and that means I’ll do my best to say something about every card.

Casual and Commander Review: Avacyn Restored
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts & Lands

Angel of Glory’s Rise

The other side of the Zombie Apocalypse coin, Angel of Glory’s Rise is the first gem that will often result in me saying “this goes in Kaalia.” Sadly, none of the really fun stuff like Xenograft or Conspiracy works with her which is a real shame – unless you name Human.

A one-sided Patriarch’s Bidding is deadly (or if you want to get really mean, check out Artificial Evolution to change either part to something else). At the end of the day though, she’s a 4/6 flier for seven, which isn’t the most exciting creature in the game.

Angel of Jubilation

Mana cost aside, this angel is the whole package! She evades, she pumps the rest of your team and she hoses some deck strategies. If Survival of the Fittest/Recurring Nightmare decks are an issue, she stops those. And Birthing Pod. And all Phyrexian mana.

But she’s another Glorious Anthem for your commander decks! Sure, Kaalia and she might not get along perfectly, but that’s not the Angel of Jubilation’s problem.

Angel’s Mercy

I firmly believe that any card can shine in multiplayer, but if you play this, my homarids are going to crush you.

Angelic Wall

For angel decks that want to stay on theme but desperately need something costing less than 4, this wall works well. A fine reprint, but Wall of Omens is better.

Archangel

Serra Angel’s bigger sister, Archangel still isn’t anything special. But now that she’s an uncommon, she’ll do wonders but she isn’t a Baneslayer.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Any legendary creature is going to get special treatment now since all of them are potential commanders. But here’s the biggest problem with Avacyn, she still costs 8 mana. In some wonky reanimator deck where you can get around that obscene casting cost, she’s excellent. If she resolves, you pretty much win but by now, most Commander players know to pack plenty of bouncing and tucking to keep girls like this under control.

Banishing Stroke

As the first miracle in the set, Banishing Stroke is the perfect card for Commander. First, it’s a fantastic piece of removal that prevents anything from coming back for a long, long time. Second, even at 6 mana, I would still pay it for the effect! Finally there is the miracle ability. Hopefully, it won’t become too big of an issue at the kitchen table, but the ability to top deck this and swing the game just makes it feel right.

I still think the frames look weird though.

Builder’s Blessing

For the two of you who really wanted to run a second Castle, you’re welcome. To everyone else, I guess we can talk about how Wizards didn’t like the idea of a castle being an enchantment.

Call to Serve

Another common to add into the Holy Strength inspired auras. Call to Serve just isn’t exciting enough for me, the bonuses all are okay but nothing is crazy good. If you want to get really mean though, toss it on your opponent’s creature and then play Halo Hunter.

Cathar’s Crusade

I am terrified of this card. Allies can quickly get out of control, and this just gives them another way to get even more absurd. Or any token deck would love this. It’s a fantastic rare for the casual table, so please make sure you pack a Tranquility or two.

Cathedral Sanctifier

Healing Salve on a stick? That isn’t terribly exciting.

Cloudshift

This card is so appealing. For the straight forward Spike who just wants to attack, it’s a great way to dodge spot removal or get a do-over of a combat that didn’t quite go as planned. For Johnnies everywhere, this card is our bread and butter of weird enabling. Flickering any creature with an enter or leaving the battlefield trigger allows this to quickly rise in value. If the card has evoke, think about running it with this! Or you can get really mean with stealing your opponents’ creatures permanently.

Commander’s Authority

At first glance, I thought this was a Verdant Force enchantment, like Verdant Embrace, only worse. Turns out I severely underestimated how much worse. Five mana to get a 1/1 only on YOUR upkeep just makes me disappointed. Nothing says commanding like keeping a creature behind because you made a bad play.

Cursebreak

If enchantments are such an issue, you should probably look into some mass removal.

Defang

A pseudo-Pacifism, Defang can be useful in a pinch but I prefer more lasting removal. Unless your entire plan is to stall the game until everyone teams up to kill you.

Defy Death

Any card that allows Commander players to get a little bit more consistency is a good thing, so getting an ever-so-slightly more expensive Resurrection isn’t a bad thing. If you’re playing angels, the bonus is great. If you aren’t playing angels, this is still an interesting way to play around with white reanimator.

Devout Chaplain

I want to love cards like this since recursive removal is absolutely amazing. However, tapping THREE creatures is very, very expensive. If you’re running a human-tribe deck, this is fantastic. If you aren’t, this gray ogre isn’t worth it. If you’re looking for a new Advocate, this isn’t it.

Devine Deflection

As a red mage at heart, this scares me. All I can think of is pulling off my Chandra, the Firebrand’s ultimate and having it blow up in my face. For white mages looking for an aggressive take on Reverse Damage, here you go. I don’t see this card taking center stage of any deck, but the ability to turn a losing proposition into a deadly one is a must consider.

Emancipation Angel

Note: you must bounce a permanent when you play this. With a few ETB tricks, that isn’t such a bad cost. I still think this card needs a chinstrap beard and top hat.

Entreat the Angels

Even without miracle, a 4/4 flier for 5 isn’t an awful deal. Getting two of them for 7 is pretty good. And then this card quickly gets absurd. In formats where infinite mana is far too easy to pull off, Entreat the Angels will quickly replace White Sun’s Zenith.

But the miracle cost just puts this over the edge. Worst case, you get a 4/4 flier for three mana! Back in my day, three mana got you a useless unicorn and you were happy about it!

Farbog Explorer

Clearly part of some weird mega-cycle alongside Koth’s Courier and Glissa’s Courier, this is one of those weird commons I really like. Around my table, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is pretty much guaranteed to get played.  And for mono-white players, you’ve only got this guy and Marsh Threader. This card isn’t good, and you’ll probably end up playing it the one time no one is playing black, but I still really like him.

Goldnight Commander

If I’m paying 4 mana for a 2/2, he better do something better than maybe pump my creatures.

Goldnight Redeemer

Know what the biggest problem with Congregate and Divine Congregation were? They didn’t come with a 4/4 flier attached for only two extra mana! In Kaalia decks, I quickly see this as being a staple because the ability to gain 10 life for free is bound to make white mages so happy I want to punish them repeatedly.

Herald of War

You’ve got to be kidding me. First, you’ve got a giant Slith – only better because it just needs to attack. Then you’ve got the part where it makes the rest of your army cheaper to cast! I see this becoming a huge danger with proliferate. Or really anything that makes +1/+1 counters.

Holy Justicar

If you’re paying 4 mana for a 2/1 tapper, you’ve got bigger issues. Unless zombies are a really big issue at your table. Or if you’re pairing this up with Unnatural Selection.

Leap of Faith

If you’re giving a creature flying, it probably isn’t because you want it to be blocked.

Midnight Duelist

Sorry Sanctuary Cat, you’ve been beaten already. If vampires are an issue still, this is a decent way to throw a kink in their plans. Until you remember Vampire Nighthawk has flying.

Midvast Protector

If this card had flash, I would absolutely love it. Sadly, it doesn’t so you’ll need to make due with flickering it on your own. And if you’re going through that much work, just run Mother of Runes.

Moonlight Geist

This ability only prevents combat damage, so your opponent can still easily pick it out of the sky.

Moorland Inquisitor

NOBODY EXPECTS THE MOORLAND INQUISITION!

It’s a bear.

Nearheath Pilgrim

Soulbond is an interesting mechanic. Granted, it is just Banding 2.0. I really like the idea of how these cards play out, but the simple fact is they don’t do anything when they are on their own. A single piece of removal can really mess up your day. That said you’re paying 2 mana to get a 2/1 and give your best creature lifelink. That isn’t too shabby and gets rid of the inherent card disadvantage of auras.

Restoration Angel

I love this card. It’s Cloudshift attached to an angel! As some crazy combat trick or combo enabling machine, Restoration Angel is so good. I quickly see Kaalia decks wanting this for some even more absurd abuse.

Riders of Gavony

Get your smartphones out because you’re going to need them to settle those arguments about whether or not Order of the Ebon Hand is a centaur or a human (it isn’t either). But the fact that this card essentially gives protection from your opponents’ biggest bad is a great political card to drive people away. For four mana, this is a great bargain.

Righteous Blow

One of my favorite white cards is Harm’s Way, and I love the new addition to the White Shock family. The ability to use direct, targeted damage off color is amazing. In Commander, this won’t see much, if any, play, but in casual 60, I see this becoming a great one-drop trick.

Seraph of Dawn

The rules text of this card might as well just read “Don’t bother attacking me.” The high toughness and lifelink make this card a lightning rod for removal. Play this to draw those spells out, and then go crazy with something big – like Avacyn.

Silverblade Paladin

Now this is worth soulbonding! Double strike is still one of those rare abilities that you don’t see that often at the table, but the ability to permanent give another creature double strike is terrifying. I love white weenie, and Silverblade Paladin may be just what was needed to give it the push it wants in multiplayer.

Spectral Gateguards

Please remember that this card doesn’t have vigilance until it is paired. Also, remember not to play it.

Terminus

Holy crap, this card is good! My general rule of thumb on a miracle card is would I cast it without miracle? And this is a resounding yes! The ability to tuck all creatures can be devastating to many decks. Being able to do it for 6 mana is a deal, especially when it allows Commanders to double up on Hallowed Burials.

But the miracle just makes it obscene. The real question about this card isn’t are you going to play it, but when are you going to play it.

Thraben Valiant

Vigilance on a creature with one toughness seems like a cruel joke.

Voice of the Provinces

Hi Ambassador Oak! I like this card, and would love it, if it cost 1 mana less. As a common, she isn’t doing enough for me to be excited.

Zealous Strike

Because Skillful Lunge wasn’t good enough, for the record, this isn’t either.

Overall, Avacyn Restored provides white mages with a handful of spells that will really change the kitchen table dynamic. Miracle is exciting, but not for the cheap mana, but for the simple fact that it allows Commanders additional ways to double up on some excellent spells.

Top 5 Avacyn Restored Cards for Commander & Casual

5. Riders of Gavony
4. Banishing Stroke
3. Cathar’s Crusade
2. Herald of War
1. Terminus

So what are your favorite white cards in Avacyn Restored?

Casual and Commander Review: Avacyn Restored
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts & Lands