Avacyn Restored Mechanics

I haven’t had a chance to really go through the whole card list for Avacyn Restored yet, but a quick glance through, plus spoiler season, hasn’t gotten me too excited. The impression I got with my quick glance through was ‘lots of limited fodder,’ which is probably to be expected from a ‘stand alone’ third set, but I’ve made my feelings known on that topic before. For me, Mr. Super Casual, the question with each new set is really whether there is something thematic and mechanically interesting to build new decks around. Sure, there will always be at least a few cards that either will fit right into a deck I already have, or may beg to be built around in true Johnny fashion, but what else is there?

In recent sets, for example, I just had to build a werewolf deck full of transform cards–unlike most pros, I’m sad to see that there aren’t anymore in the third set, although there may still be a couple of wolfir cards that could go in the deck–or a self-mill graveyard-pumping deck, or back even further, a Myr deck with the Mirrodin watermark and a Phyrexian watermark Poison deck. What does Avacyn Restored have for us? To start with, there are the angels vs. the demons for a thematic/tribal direction, then there are the soulbond and miracle mechanics. (Undying is also back, but it didn’t do much for me in Dark Ascension, and it doesn’t seem worth another look here.)

Angels vs. Demons

Apparently some Magic players really love Angels. I suspect what many of them really like is the amount of bare leg and/or bosom they tend to show in their artwork (all going back to the original busty angelic babe, Serra Angel). I’m not sure I like Angels all that much, and there doesn’t appear to be much incentive to create a tribal Angel deck. That is, there are very few cards that really care if you are playing Angels, which means that the Angels you like can just go into any deck you want with no reason to have them congregate in a single deck beyond purely thematic reasons. The three multi-colored ones might be interesting commanders, though.

Demons do even less for me. The art is rarely pleasing to look at or exciting: that Griselband is just plain ugly–frankly, he looks like a ‘demon dork’–big head, mishappen horns, bad dental hygiene, etc.–he seems to be saying, “run away and hide, not because I’m a murderous demon, but because you don’t want to have to look at my ugly face anymore!” There may be a ‘build around me’ demon in there somewhere, but nothing that says, “Man, I need to build a Demon deck!”

Soulbond

I don’t think soulbond is a bad mechanic, but it’s not registering much on the Super Casual excitement meter. This seems like one of those mechanics where a few cool cards might slot into some other decks, but a lot of the soulbond dudes are probably just ‘limited fodder’. Again, nothing is screaming out to me, “Build a soulbond deck!” Chances are, the coolest soulbond creatures will be overpriced while in standard, so I’ll have to wait to even get them. Nothing particularly Johnny-tastic is jumping out at me either. I’ve seen some people talk about blinking these guys in and out to change up the pairings, but I think they were thinking mainly about limited; still, I may add a couple to my Venser blink deck.

Miracles

I just read an article today suggesting that Miracle is another bad mechanic that messes around too much with how Magic actually plays. It doesn’t strike me as all that amazing or bothersome (even Temporal Mastery–as others have pointed out, an early Time Walk is probably just an Explore). It certainly isn’t begging me to build a Miracle deck. Obviously the miracle cards want to be in a deck with a little library manipulation, a la Ponder, but the effects are of such varying nature and quality that putting a bunch in one deck doesn’t even make much sense. So, there may be a few that slot into one of my decks, but that’s about it–the card has to be good enough to play at its regular cost to really consider it.

Conclusion

So, overall, Avacyn Restored is looking like a yawner sort of Super Casual set. It may or may not make waves on the tournament scene (looks like a few cards will for sure, as always–wonder how long until Cavern of Souls gets abused and then banned in at least one tournament format?), but it seems unlikely to make any here at my house. I will look forward to going through the spoiler to find the few Super Casual gems I’m sure are in there for me. I do know that I will be collecting a copy of all the AVR lands to go with their Innistrad counterparts in my collection, as per today’s Magic Arcana.

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