Posted in Feature on June 14, 2006

By Chris Millar

Welcome to Akroma week! I had big plans for this week. This was supposed to be my first all-talkin', all-singin', all-dancin' column - a live webcast from my living room in the style of the Hollywood musical. Called “Angellzapoppin'”, it would've featured me swing-dancing with a life-size inflatable Akroma doll (not yet on the market). Unfortunately, I ran into a few snags. On the day the performance was to take place, my piano man called in sick, the costumers could only find nine-gallon hats, and, as it turned out, I was completely making the whole thing up.

It's hard to dispute that Akroma, Angel of Wrath is one of the wackiest cards ever made. Whether it's a madcap attack for six, or a screwball block, or the outright zaniness of being reanimated on turn 2, it's clear that lost among her many abilities is an overpowered funny-bone. As the kids say, she's all that. Some would also say that she's a bag of chips, but that seems a bit farfetched to me. When Akroma's not slicing and dicing, she's making very thin French fries for some reason. I guess she likes potatoes.

How do you build a deck around a tuber-loving vengeance-seeker? However she wants you to.

Rock and Roll Lobster Girls

Compare Akroma to, say, Trained Orgg. Each of them can flex some 6/6 muscle, but for one more mana, Akroma gets infinitely more abilities and is three times more photogenic. I'm not sure what happened to our Red friend after seeing that quack Orgg psychologist. Sure, he got over his crippling fear of Elves, his Llanophobia, but he lost his mean streak in the process. Trained Orgg's Beastly brother in Blue, Vizzerdrix, has the same stats, but without all the training, something I credit to home-schooling. Sadly, my math-major friends tell me, without hyperbole, that Akroma is a million times better than Vizzerdrix and Trained Orgg put together.

Now compare Akroma to Fallen Empires favourite, Deep Spawn. One is arguably the best creature ever printed, while the other can be found on the menu at Big Daddy's Crab Shack (and Oyster Bar). Did you know that when Deep Spawn was a little craw-boy, he'd lie in his sea-bed and dream of becoming an Angel of Wrath?

Well, Deep Spawn, it's your lucky day! I'm here to make your dreams come true! All I need is a little help from our graveyard-dwelling friends, the Judgment Incarnations! With Valor, Wonder, and Anger in the ol' discard pile, Deep Spawn becomes a 6/6 Flier with First Strike, Trample, and Haste. Activate Glory two times and you have a Homarid with Protection from Red and Protection from Black. All that's missing is the Vigilance, but I'll let Serra's Blessing take care of that. Add a little seasoning and Bam! The Lobster from the bad part of town becomes the superstar he always knew he could be!

To get those Incarnations where they need to be, I turned to old standbys, Merfolk Looter, Careful Study, and Buried Alive. With those pieces of the puzzle in place, it just made sense to pursue a Reanimation strategy. Sure, you could cut out the middle-man and just reanimate Akroma, but that'll get you zero points for style. We want chrome on those rims! Besides, doesn't it bring a tear to your eye watching has-beens like ol' Vizzy, Trained Orgg, and Deep Spawn take off their thick black-rimmed glasses, squeeze into that phonebooth, spin around a couple times, and come out looking like angels? It's a little cramped in there, but no pain, no gain.

Akromarids – Casual Legacy

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The deck is legal in Extended if you take out the Deep Spawns. I've been playing a version on MTGO with three of both Vizzerdrix and Trained Orgg, in place of the Homarid.

Enchantment Under the “O”

It's one thing to turn a jumbo-sized crawdad into the villain (?) of the Onslaught Block story line, but it's another thing altogether to build fair Akroma out of a paper-clip, a stick of gum, and everyday household enchantments. You know, like Opalescence. I'm going to be using a lot of enchantments in this deck, so Replenish seemed like a good choice, allowing to put many of them into play at once. To get said enchantments into the graveyard, I turned to Attunement. Luckily for me, this combo is in no way overpowered and did not, as a result, dominate the tournament scene during the time it was legal. Okay, maybe it did, but I'm much too young to remember that, Gramps.

“But Opalescence is just a vanilla 4/4,” I hear you say. Sure is, Jonesy, but what if we add a pair of Glorious Anthems to the mix? Opie would become a 6/6, that's what. That's pretty sweet, to be sure, but Akroma is still sweeter. After shopping around, I discovered that all of Akroma's keyworded abilities come in the form Opalescence-aiding Enchantments. Serra's Blessing grants Vigilance, of course. Knighthood, Primal Rage, Fires of Yavimaya, and Levitation have your First Strike, Trample, Haste, and Flying covered, while Absolute Law and Absolute Grace will make sure your makeshift Angels don't meet their demises at the hands of some Black and/or Red party-poopers.

Compulsion is there to back-up Attunement, while Collective Restraint should help to keep your enemies at bay while you set things up. If the whole enchantment angle doesn't work out, you can turn to the place of worship of those six-legged Monks of the Krosan forest, the Nantuko Monastery. With Compulsion and Attunement filling up your graveyard, you should be at Threshold in no time. Since the Monastery has First Strike built right in, you won't even need Knighthood to start bashing your opponent, Akroma-style.

Angelescence – Casual Vintage

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A is for Akroma

One of the best things about Akroma is that her name starts with “A.” That's “A” for awesome, “A” for amazing, and “A” for apopleptic, which is what your opponents might be when you play Akroma for the umpteenth time. With the Angel leading things off, I decided to build a deck based around Legendary Creatures. Those with superior pattern-recognition skills will quickly realize that the deck is based around a system of ancient Roman symbols. Scholars call this obscure system The Alphabet.

Hazduhr the AbbotHazduhr never gets any love.

With “A” out of the way, I moved on to “B.” I decided on Bosh. I like his Artifact-flinging and his tenacity on the boards for the Toronto Raptors. Captain Sisay is a no-brainer for this deck (did I mention that it was full of Legendary Creatures?). Dromar, the Banisher, Ertai, Wizard Adept, and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV were also easy choices. “F” presented a bit of a problem, with only Frankie Peanuts and Fumiko the Lowblood in that slot. Rather than strain the mana-base even further or fraternize with Tusk-any gangsters, I opted to play latent-Legend Faithful Squire, otherwise known as Kaiso, the Unflippable. Hanna, Ship's Navigator might be a controversial choice, since I know how beloved Hazduhr the Abbot is, but I like her interaction with Bosh and the Terrarion I intend to use in the deck. Can you say “Card Drawing Engine”?

Isamaru, Hound of Konda and Jareth, Leonine Titan were the next two to make the team. “K” was a difficult choice. In order to keep the mana-curve from looking like Cliff Hangers on The Price is Right, I chose Kira, Great Glass-Spinner over Keiga, the Tide Star, among others. For the same reason, I went with Lieutenant Kirtar over pricier choices like Lord Magnus.

“M” had to go to Mistform Ultimus, who, I'm told, wields a mean bo staff and is a wizard with a set of nunchucks. At the same time, he makes all of the Legendary tribal lords one-twenty-sixth better (I'm looking at you, Nagao, Bound by Honor and Zuberi, Golden Feather). “O” went to Opal-Eye, Konda's Yojimbo, furthering a Samurai sub-theme with Nagao and Takeno, Samurai General.

Phelddagrif is awesomeness-in-a-can, so in it went. Unsurprisingly, the next letter was lacking in Legendary options. Flavour aficionados get on the horn and alert your local congressperson that we need a “Q” Legend, stat! In the meantime, here are my suggestions:

Quigley, Who is Down Under
Quizzledorf, Devourer of Souls.
Quartenov, the Milk Bottler.
Queen Winnifred, Master of Ponies.

Hrm, maybe I'll leave the naming up to the Creative Team...

Phelddagrif is one of the best Hippos of all time, and it's becoming increasingly clear that its all-marble diet has led to some useful mutations, including non-Legendary status and some niftier abilities. That's why I opted to fill this slot with his Questing cousin. Did you know that Questing Phelddagrif is an anagram for Pig Squandered Flight? Another R & D secret exposed.

Reki, the History of Kamigawa is Card Drawing Engine number two (How could this deck not be good?). Sakashima the Impostor does the letter “S” proud, and allows you to have two “Akromas” on the table at once! “U” and “V” aren't Legend-heavy letters, but Uyo, Silent Prophet and Vhati il-Dal went in next over the Sewerdreg-foiling Ur-Drago and something I probably couldn't cast. Like “Q”, “W” is utterly lacking in Legends. How about Winnifred, Queen of the Ponies? Or not. You don't have to decide right away. With no good Legendary Creatures, I went with the potential mana-fixer, Weathered Wayfarer. Portal Three Kingdoms has a couple of “X” Legends, but I chose Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed because this deck needs more Horsemanship and less eyeballs. Compared to “W”, “Y” has a relative abundance of creatures, but I'm sure as Shimatsu not picking Yukora (see last week's article for reasons why). Instead I went with Yosei. Zuberi, Golden Feather filled in the “Z” slot.

I rounded things out with some much-needed artifact mana and a handful of Legend aids. Concerted Effort and Akroma combine to make all of your other creatures into little Angelings, while Day of Destiny and Vassal's Duty make Akroma and company even harder to successfully dispatch.

Alphabet Status – Legacy Casual

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Since the deck was already slated to have twenty-six one-ofs, I decided to build a full-blown Singleton deck.

Until next time, choose wisely!

Chris Millar

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