5. Mist Raven
Last but not least, we have the best common in Avacyn Restored Draft: Mist Raven. Since Man-o'-War was printed back in Visions, cards with the bounce ability have traditionally proven incredibly powerful in Limited. Evasion, such as flying, has also always been a chase commodity in Limited. When you get to combine the two together, you get something really special. Think Hunting Drake from Planeshift, but without the restriction and a mana cheaper.
Even under normal circumstances, Mist Raven would be an amazing card. When it is in a set that has a flickering theme, it gets even better. Now you get multiple uses out of the bounce ability, a way to protect your important flier, and a way to put your opponent so far behind that it makes it very difficult to catch up. Plus, with soulbond hovering around, it can occasionally be beneficial to return your own creatures to your hand to repair them.
Mist Raven is just an incredibly versatile card, with incredible implications for the tempo of the game, and it also wraps up the Top 5 Cards from Pro Tour Avacyn Restored!
Borderland Ranger is an innocuous looking card. It comes into play, does its job, and then often fights for a couple of turns before dying. It doesn't look like Top 5 Card material. But it pulled some serious double duty this weekend, and it deserves some recognition for that. First, it was a key card in many Block Constructed decks this weekend. For three mana, and often on turn two, Borderland Ranger could search out a basic land, opening many players up to the possibility of playing more ambitious mana bases. Without this little guy (and Evolving Wilds), the mana bases of many decks in the field would just be impossible, even with the new dual lands like Clifftop Retreat. In addition, he serves as a target for Wolfir Silverheart or a blocker for when an opponent gets their Silverheart first. Lastly, he was a wonderful card in the Reanimator strategy that was represented well here at the Pro Tour. In Semifinalist Ken Yukuhiro's deck, for example, he served as both a way to fix mana, as well as biding time before an Unburial Rites brought Angel of Glory's Rise back, often returning a sacrificial Ranger in the process!
In addition to the Block Constructed role, Borderland Ranger was a wonderful role player in Avacyn Restored Draft, as well. Green is viewed as one of the more powerful colors in the format, and Borderland Ranger fills an important role, where thinning decks, grabbing extra lands, and providing a warm body is even more important than in Block Constructed. While not quite as powerful as cards like Trusted Forcemage or Druid's Familiar, the Ranger still filled an important role in many a deck during the Limited rounds of the Pro Tour.
You know how we mentioned those subtle cards when discussing Wolfir Silverheart? Well this is one of those cards. It may seem a bit oxymoronic to claim that a card as devastatingly powerful as Bonfire of the Damned is subtle, but it was the effect of its power that may have gone unnoticed. Coming into this event, the deck to beat was clearly WR Humans. It was everything a deck needed to be: lethally fast, terribly consistent, and with enough reach to finish games off on the back end. It was a machine.
And then Bonfire of the Damned was printed. All of a sudden, decks had a way to completely wipe away the army of creatures on the table, and in an efficient manner. Giving it miracle made it even more efficient at causing a problem for the hordes in the early game. The presence of this card in the format almost single-handedly kept WR Humans at bay. In large part because of Bonfire, only 40% of the WR players made it through to Day Two. This card turned the Day Two metagame of the Pro Tour into a completely different one from the previous day. Because of this powerful, yet subtle, ability to shape the format in this manner, Bonfire of the Damned easily took the third slot in the Top 5 Cards.
Throughout the weekend, you could hear cries echo through the hall as the Canadian White-Blue Miracle deck piloted by Pro Tour Avacyn Restored champion Alexander Hayne won another match. While it was other miracles, such as Devastation Tide and Terminus, that kept opponents at bay and let the deck to its thing, nothing, and I mean nothing, sticks out like the number of sick turns he took using Temporal Mastery, including his amazing double-Mastery run to win Game 5 of his semifinals match.
It's easy to see why this card is so memorable. I mean, it's Time Walk. You take an extra turn. You break the symmetry inherent in Magic, and when you get to do that, you have officially stopped playing by the same rules as everyone else. In fact, that's why this Miracles deck was so fun to watch: it didn't play by the rules. Terminus is supposed to cost six, not one. Devastation Tide is supposed to cost five, not two. Every time a Miracles player drew a card, time slowed down and everyone held their breath, anxious to see what was coming. Miracles create tension and excitement. They create the same feel and the same moments as now infamous moments in Magic history, like Craig Jones's Lightning Helix, or Gabriel Nassif's Cruel Ultimatum. You can't argue with that. That's why they ended up second on our list. They don't just create disparity in games; they create memories.
Sometimes, there are cards in the Top 5 Cards list that are subtle, like Geistflame at Grand Prix Brisbane or Galvanic Blast at Pro Tour Dark Ascension. This is not one of those cards. Wolfir Silverheart is about as blunt an instrument as you could hope to ram down a poor opponent's throat. For five mana, you get to add twelve power to the table, four of which can be used immediately. Pair it up with even a lowly Avacyn's Pilgrim, and you have a terrifying attacker. Pair it up with Invisible Stalker or Geist of Saint Traft, as Pro Tour Finalist Gaudenis Vidugiris did, and you have a combination strong enough to win a Pro Tour.
Silverheart changes the way creatures look in this format. Even innocuous creatures have the potential to become monsters, and you get an extra monster in the 8/8 Silverheart to boot! Because of Silverheart, players went from taking damage in chunks of 2 or 4 to dying in two turns. Because of the power of its impact, the immediacy of the effect, and the lasting mark it leaves on the game, most players in the Pro Tour looked to Wolfir Silverheart as the best card in the Avacyn Restored Block Constructed format, and we chose it as the best card of the weekend.