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Avacyn Restored Final Thoughts
Here we are- April 23 (when I began writing. It is now April 25), five (now two) days left until midnight pre-release events begin at card shops and game stores everywhere. Are you signed up? I sure am! I've been signed up already for a while; my spot is reserved and I'm ready to go.
All that excitement I felt, that perhaps you all felt; is it still there? Are you guys still holding your breath with anticipation? Perhaps some have heard rumors of what is actually inside the hyped-up Helvaults; if you haven't, well, I shall save my spoilers until I see for myself if it will be all its cracked up to be.
Now, for those of you who may have read my previous Avacyn Restored articles- you are probably wondering what happened to part two of last week's previews- and why my writing does not sound quite so ecstatic this time around. If you're like me, you probably kept up to date every day with all the new releases on the Card Image Gallery at Wizards'. If you're also like me, you're probably going... wait what? Maybe it is just me, but I am left with a little more disappointment and a lot more questions. What I will be doing in this particular article is going through my predictions, back from Awaiting Avacyn, and see what stood up and what didn't. I'll also go through color-by-color with thoughts and conclusions on how each color will play in the flavor of the Innistrad block.
Tastes of Angels
The first prediction I made about AVR lay within the mechanics. Needless to say, hardly any of the mechanics stayed the same in the third Innistrad set: Undying is the only actual mechanic that is still being used; though Flash and Fight have been tinkered with briefly with a few cards in the Avacyn Restored set, they are there and have the potential to help out any existing decks.
As for Transform, I really had hoped to see a different use of this in the new set- to apply perhaps to "good" creatures, not just "evil" ones. In Innistrad and Dark Ascension, the creatures were all Vampires, Werewolves, or Demons that could transform- the only Humans to do so were werewolves or possessed by a spirit. I had hoped to see the transform mechanic pumped up to possibly include Angels- flavor that could include the soft-hearted sad Angels transforming into Angels prepped for battle.
I was not expecting gold Angels, however- that was a pleasant surprise. Sadly, only three could exist unless they went with a black/white Angel. And honestly, after Sorin was made into a black/white Planeswalker, I was sort of hoping they would! A B/W Angel would be kick-ass and not entirely against the flavor that Innistrad brings us. Perhaps a cursed Angel that fights for redemption? Or are we getting a little too deep here? Well, in any event, I still thought it would be a really neat addition to the other legendary Angels out there.
Then, of course, the Demons are also a power player in this set; there are few demons out there that are not worth playing in a good mono-black or black-splash deck. And then of course the Humans have a significant number as well, for they will be good to use either in a sacrifice deck or in an Angel deck. Unfortunately, however, none of the others have a significant number of good cards- there are some, of course, but off-hand it doesn't seem like enough to make a really good Vampire or Zombie-themed deck out of just Avacyn Restored. Of course, that is supposed to be the flavor of the story.
In white we see the biggest powerhouses- stuffed to the brim with Angels. This is awesome; for me, anyways. While white has never been my first choice of deck color, the deck I currently play with is mono-White, so AVR is gifting me with a lot of new toys to play with in my deck. White is also giving us a bit more control in this set; cards like Terminus, Righteous Blow, Divine Deflection, Cursebreak, and a few others, so you can splash some inexpensive control or removal in with your flying, all-powerful Angels. Since creature removal often lies in black and red, and blue tends to be in "control" of opponenets spells (yes, pun intended) seeing white get a little more leverage is a good thing. Unfortunately, to make good use of a lot of the abilities of some of the Angels and Humans, splashing a second color is almost required. Also, as per usual, white leads to a lot of gain life cards, which may help you with the gain life achievement at the pre-release.
A couple of last remarks for white- I'm really wondering where Angelic Wall came from. It just seems like a really, really random addition to white. Like the R&D added it in last minute to fill their quota. It just seems to me that with all these high-toughness Angels that are available, and all the vigilance out there, having a single defender card, a single Wall, is just silly, when there are no cards that benefit defenders, save the enchantment Builder's Blessing, which will give your wall an extra 2 toughness. The Wall isn't really a big deal, but I just thought it should be mentioned.
Blue, on the other hand, I am really liking what I see. There is a ton of draw card in blue, as well as flicker effects. The draw/discard stays good for all those self-mill or graveyard-based decks that many players have in Standard right now, so even though AVR is supposed to be a stand-alone set, it can still work really well with its predecessors. I also like that there are still blue cards with a lot of tap/untap control. For the most part, its seems like blue is sticking to its usual deal- control and card advantage.
Black also seems to be filled with control, namely creature sacrifice and discard. This keeps with Innistrad's ongoing theme as well as black's general play. What I like about black is while there are few Undying creatures in AVR, there is a lot of return creature "under your control." Cards that either make your opponent sacrifice or exile, and the chance of you pulling that creature back, to be on your side the next time around.
Green is another power-player in AVR. What really ticks me off though about green in this set is the lack of wolves. When cards like Wolfir Silverheart were revealed, and the storyline was continued, Wizards of the Coast seemed to make an awfully big deal out of the wolfir- new wolf warrior creatures that were created when Avacyn returned. So, like a lot of players, I assumed that while we would not see anymore Werewolves, we would see a lot of Wolfir. Unfortunately, only a big grand total of two made it into the set, amongst an overwhelming amount of Beasts, a couple of bears, a boar, a wurm and a dragon or two; but none of these awesome Wolfir and hardly any wolves. Other than this mini-rant green does look pretty solid here and it seems really ready to cast some hard-hitting creatures, and unlike black, it thrives on having as many creatures out as you can keep.
Red in this set is seeing not only its standard burn, but also a surprising amount of control- random, risky control but still control. The draw card/discard effect especially is fairly strong in red. Unfortunately, the vampires are not so strong this time around. Again, this is due to the flavor and storyline of Avacyn returning and making peace within Innistrad, but being the flavor-seeker that I am, I was hoping for some good Sorin-like vampires. Sorin did not come back to Innistrad to completely kill off his own kind, yet somehow he's letting the humans do just that. Vampires and werewolves, the two races that made up most of the creatures in red, are non-existant at this point, which makes me quite sad to see them go.
Lastly of course we have the "other" category, consisting of dual color creatures like the Angel trio, artifacts, and lands. Since I've already spoken about each of the three Angels, nothing more can really be said here except in the case of the revealed artifacts. There are a couple of artifact creatures- neither of them really good: a 5-cost for a 3/3 that can get +1/+0 for (2) and a 2-cost 2/1 defender with first strike. Looking at some of the other artifacts though, like Conjurer's Closet and Vessel of Endless Rest seem too good. Closet allows you to flicker each turn (on your endstep only) which works really well for a lot of cards in this set (like Vessel, for example?). For me, I'm glad to see few artifact creatures- I hate them with a passion. I don't play artifact decks and I almost always lose to them- and I can hold a grudge for quite a long time! I digress; the artifacts in AVR look good in general, as do the lands. In this aspect, I actually hope I do pull some at the pre-release!
While I am still excited for the pre-release, because it is always a fun experience, I really feel like Avacyn Restored was very over-hyped for what eventually was given to the players. After Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and the Liliana and Garruk versions that were printed, Tamiyo and Tibalt are just not as interesting, though Tamiyo does have a LOT of potential and I would love to have a copy or two of her in my control deck.
While I wanted, and anticipated, to see Angels and Demons become major deck themes in AVR, I had not expected them to completely dominate the sets. This was slightly disappointing but I guess not entirely unexpected. My biggest disappoint comes from the lack of Wolfir/Werewolf creatures. Oh well; they had a good run.
To me, Innistrad and Dark Ascension, at this stage before their respective pre-releases, were much more interesting, and much more exciting. Avacyn Restored just seems boring in comparison, again, I think due to over-hyping the set.
Either way, happy building, and I look forward to hearing your pre-release stories! I will keep close tabs on my games throughout the events (as well as the FNM before hand) so that I will be able to give details on how exactly my games went. Since I did really bad with Innistrad and kind of bad with DA; I'm hoping to do not too bad with Avacyn Restored, so do wish me luck, and I wish you the same!