How do, guys and gals! Unmistakable here bringing you your Points of Synergy! This week is another bulk Points: In my quest to analyse every Commander, I hit Akroma, Angel of Wrath (though, that’s not that much of a jump from last time’s Commander, Akroma, Angel of Fury). As I looked over lists and lists of White Akroma, I found a common theme: She, and many mono white angels, are chosen as the leaders of Angel Tribal decks. Rather than go through repeating myself a couple times (Once for each of the THREE Avacyns, at least), I thought I’d go for them as a glorious flock – so now, join me in welcoming to Points of Synergy the ten angels: Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Archangel Avacyn, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Avacyn, Guardian Angel. Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade, Iona, Shield of Emeria, Linvala, the Preserver, Radiant, Archangel and Reya Dawnbringer!
The Commander(s)Akroma, Angel of Wrath
While not a popular choice in this Angel Tribal race, She has her place: If you want to run a splashy, hard hitting Angel out of the command zone, but your playgroup doesn’t like you having Avacyn, Angel of Hope on tap, the other options don’t get much splashier. She has a couple flavour wins going for her too, as I’m certainly not going to be mad getting slapped by an Akroma’s Vengeance with the big lady herself sweeping in for cleanup detail.Archangel Avacyn
The newest (and most likely final) addition to the Avacyn line, she distinguishes herself by being a R/W angel commander, similar to Aurelia, the Warleader, but with a built in boardwipe effect too. She can come out with flash to save your team, acting as quite the defensive Boros option (About time, am I right?); she can also get quite tricksy with her flip trigger – a Cloudshift effect after she flips with the boardwide damage on the stack has two effects: One, it resets her to use it again. Two, it makes your guys indestructible again, helping them survive the fire while raining down destruction on your enemies. Just as notably, her damage erupts from her, so Basilisk Collar does double duty by destroying on hit and healing you for three times as much as she has targets!
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
The typical Angel of choice for Commander, Avacyn Senior provides a splashy effect, and can easily overwhelm opponents with her incredibly splashy ability. While her mana cost is restrictive in mono-white, there are easy ways to get through that; Notably, Endless Horizons helps her come out on time, while also helping you draw into fuel. Also, I would be remiss to not mention her… competitive implications: Notably, Armageddon, Catastrophe and Ravages of War. Her effect reaches ALL of your permanents, including lands: and this in turn sets you up to take away the lands of others. This isn’t for everybody, but it IS somewhat satisfying.Avacyn, Guardian Angel
…Yes, this card exists. Remember her? No? I don’t blame you. The Red-Headed step child of the Avacyn family isn’t popular by any means, and doesn’t offer too much that her sisters don’t (Unless you like cards that are VERY similar to Serra Angel in statline, without being identical). Regardless, the Guardian Angel has her own niche. While she’s down, her overcosted fog on players can be hugely reduced by using Pariah and other similar effects like Veteran Bodyguard or Kjeldoran Royal Guard, meaning she never has to use her second ability! Unfortunately, otherwise Avacyn, Budget Alternative comes across as an overcosted Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, without the offensive capability.
I clubbed these two guys together because they are never seen without the other: Bruna is more popular out of the Command Zone, both due to her useful ETB effect and due to being able to resuscitate her partner Gisela once she hits the yard; and, when you play either of these in the Command Zone, lets be honest – you are really wanting to play Brisela. Because this meetup is necessary to hit their full potential, they synergise with tutor effects (which are few and far between in monowhite) such as the recently printed Thalia’s Lancers or the even more recently printed Planar Bridge.
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Potentially the only Angel on this list less popular than Big Bad Avacyn, Iona is an instant target from the Command Zone due to her incredible effect (that is active AS SOON AS she hits – no responding to this lady!), and often she is passed over as a choice of commander because of it. Make no mistake, she’s a hot topic when the banlist discussion comes around (as discussed in this relic from the whirlwind that was the dismantling of Eldrazi winter last summer); her builds often remain generic as it goes; though spells to protect her such as Gods Willing or Rebuff the Wicked may be necessary, as she can easily be turned against you – and a Mind Control on an Iona naming White can get very uncomfortable for you very quickly.
Linvala, the Preserver
We’ve really been hitting the legendary angel streak in recent sets, haven’t we? Linvala, Angelic Equaliser (My second favourite Linvala, behind her staxxy sister, Linvala, Keeper of Silence) is better the further behind you are; this isn’t particularly conducive to a gameplan, but she’s a fine backup plan when things don’t go your way (as a Monowhite Deck, you aren’t exactly coming out swinging). With her powerful ETB effect, she synergises well with engines such as Conjurer’s Closet, and this is made even more powerful by the recent standard staple Panharmonicon.
Coming at you from Urza’s Saga, we have Radiant, the Angel from before Legendary creatures existed properly. She’s a fantastic beatstick commander, coming out as fast as a Serra Angel (or Avacyn, Guardian Angel) and getting bigger with creatures with flying. Sure, she needs two other flyers to become bigger than a Serra Angel, but this is accelerated by flying token producers, especially those on angelic wings like Luminous Angel or Emeria Angel.
The only Angel Commander I have been on the receiving end of, Reya is a resilient option for the long game (partially because she costs so much), who is a surprisingly large threat on a modest stick. Her reliance on an upkeep trigger to gain value is difficult, particularly as her mana cost can get unwieldy once Commander Tax racks up – I think she could really be helped by Vedalken Orrery, flashing her in at an end step to gain a guaranteed trigger seems great to grind out value once removal options are dwindling in the late game.
So we have our commanders, what can we do with them? Well, Angel Tribal has a couple of things going for it:
Urza’s Incubator – The first one is a general tribal staple, but the Incubator is a great addition to an Angel deck. Most angels, by virtue of being white’s iconic creature, are expensive, speaking from a mana cost perspective. With the Incubator, a land drop allows you to power out a Deathless Angel, an Angelic Skirmisher, or perhaps something bigger like Iona, Shield of Emeria with early mana rocks as early as turn 4. Unfortunately it doesn’t affect noncreatures (potentially relevant for things like Crib Swap), but cheating on a couple of creatures makes this artifact way more than pay for itself.
Moat/Magus of the Moat – Ok, this one’s a bit pricey, so I offered the Time Spiral block reference which is a fraction of the price as well. This is great for the main reason that in an Angel deck, most if not all of your creature base are rocking a set of shiny white wings, and could care less about a teeny moat. Your opponents, however, may not share this thought. This can shut some decks completely out of combat, being unable to block your flyers, while unable to attack. This can shut down things like Darien, who mostly work off of ground-based tokens; or even stompy things like Ruric Thar (Crazy covered something like this) are rendered unable to go on the offensive until they can deal with your enchantment/creature.
Akroma’s Memorial – in this week’s Flavour Corner, Akroma’s Memorial. Being a fairly expensive commander, Akroma may well get out of reach quickly if she’s being focused down by nonred, nonblack removal. So, what better way to remember her, than to construct a memorial? This particular memorial is a death sentence, giving all of your angels (all of which are typically pretty large) all of Akroma’s flashy abilities making even a single angel a force to be reckoned with (and very difficult to deal with once it hits the board. It has particularly nice synergy with Reya Dawnbringer, as even when they become removed they are never far off of a triumphant return to battle.
That’s it for this round, guys! What do you think of Angels? Like them? Think they’re a bit plain? Be sure to let me know on our Facebook Feed! I’ll be back soon with another Point of Synergy; for now though, Unmistakable out.