What You Haven't Heard on High

Posted in Serious Fun on June 22, 2004

By Anthony Alongi

Angels that should get more casual play

In a column entitled Serious Fun, you might expect to hear a great deal during Angel week about the great champions of casual play – stuff like Akroma, Angel of Wrath; Platinum Angel; Blinding Angel; Radiant, Archangel; and so on...

Eh. Not so much.

I'm sure the more popular, prettier angels will get plenty of attention from my fellow magicthegathering.com writers this week. I'll spend today talking instead about those angels that don't see much current play in casual circles.

How would I know what is played and what is not? Am I omniscient, like an angel? Do I have a guardian angel who whispers decklists from around the world into my hallowed ear? Do I use angels like carrier pigeons to send certain cards out to casual players, while denying them others?

No. I'm sort of guessing. But I base these guesses on three things: (1) the decks our large (13+) group plays, (2) the large quantity of emails I continue to get with decklists, (3) what I read on the Internet, and (4) what I see at local tournaments and in shops, when I can still get out there.

I'm surprised I don't see some of the seven heavenly creatures below more often, in those contexts. (In fact, I was surprised to learn I didn't even know one of them, until I did some research.)

7. Silver Seraph

Silver Seraph

What a splash this made when Judgment came out! Everyone talked about squirrel tokens and threshold decks and how eight mana wasn't really that much. Then Akroma, Angel of Wrath came along, and showed us what eight mana can truly buy.

This thing's been buried so deep since then, I actually had to read the description before I remembered what it does. Heck, Akroma's so unbelievably good, I had to read the Seraph's description before I remembered what threshold does.

But let's not completely forget this Odyssey block gem. Last I checked, Mirrodin block was chock-full of useful 1/1 creatures...and they're mana accelerators. Drop mana myrs (e.g., Gold Myr) as fast as you can, you can get Silver Seraph out by turn 5 with mana to spare. Of course, it won't be as impressive until you have seven cards in your graveyard – that's why you'll use another Mirrodin tool, Mesmeric Orb, to help that happen. Or use a million spellbombs. Or Wayfarer's Bauble.

Silver Seraph is good, people. And Mirrodin block made it even better. Play it!

6. Angelic Curator

Angelic Curator

Okay, I'm technically cheating on this one, since it's not an angel. But it is angelic, and like Silver Seraph, Mirrodin block makes it a whole lot better...though for the opposite reasons.

Angelic Curator blocks Darksteel Gargoyle, Razor Golem, Platinum Angel, and a host of other impressive creatures without breaking a sweat.

Many veterans played this with Caltrops back in the day, and that's still a nifty little trick. I'd also suggest some Mirrodin tech, in the form of Culling Scales, for some excellent early-game control.

5. Crypt Angel

Crypt Angel

It's not always easy to remember some angels don't do white. Crypt Angel is a heck of a bad girl, and she's only going to get worse as more red and blue creatures show up with comes-into-play or leaves-play abilities. Flametongue Kavu was an early favorite, but you don't have to stop there. More recent cards (or reprints) include Clone, Sage Aven, Goblin Pyromancer, and Embermage Goblin...and those are just the ones that fit neatly in the four-mana slot...

Oh, she also has protection from white. I'll bet at least one opponent forgets that, the next time you break out this beauty. Don't remind them.

4. Haunted Angel

Haunted Angel

Not just good in decks sporting Confusion in the Ranks (though watch what happens when all of those angel tokens show up!), Haunted Angel was immediately underrated as soon as it was printed. A simple blue-white deck with stuff like Man-o'-War and Rushing River should be able to handle the drawback to this cheap and powerful flier.

Of course, you can always be trickier, and play her with Tainted Aether, Sunken Hope, Hidden Spider, Lethal Vapors, Intruder Alarm, or Spreading Plague. Heck, even Story Circle or Voice of Grace will probably work.

3. That 4/4 token from Angelic Favor

Angelic Favor

So many of us forget the hidden treats of Masques block. Prime among them are the alternate play cost spells. White actually has a couple of really clever ones – I love Reverent Mantra – but one worth mentioning this week is Angelic Favor.

A 4/4 token in the air is a mighty blocker. (With Anger in your graveyard and a mountain in play, it's not a bad attacker, either!) Opponents continually gauge their attack schemes on variables like: Does he have any flyers? Is he tapped out?

As soon as they see your lands tapped out and creatures miserably tied to the ground, they send that wimpy little Gaea's Skyfolk sniffing around. But alas for the Skyfolk – the tiny Eager Cadet far below has an answer. He lies down to take a nap, and WHAP! His guardian angel flies up and smacks the smug look right off that waterlogged elven face.

This is a card that works well with non-tapping creatures – e.g., Razor Golem or an equipped Leonin Den-Guard.

2. Guiding Spirit

Guiding Spirit

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even know about this card until I did research for this article. That doesn't happen much, anymore. By that I mean there are plenty of Magic cards I still don't know about or have forgotten, I'm sure; but very few I'd expect to care about. How did this one slip past my sensors?

You can target any player with this, which makes it ideal for team play – or for really kicking a mana-screwed opponent as they discard over-expensive creatures on turns three and four. (Yeah, I know, that's really mean. But tell me you wouldn't like to try it, at least once.)

And of course, you can also use it on yourself! Nice for white and blue to have access to a miniature Volrath's Stronghold. I like this with Raven Familiar and Radiant's Dragoons. It's also a worthy addition to your Reya Dawnbringer deck (if you're already splashing blue), since there are very few creatures that can bring Reya herself back from the dead.

Mirage block. Huh. Who knew?

1. Copper-Leaf Angel

Copper-Leaf Angel

The artwork was always beautiful; but the Copper-Leaf Angel was always the signature card of Prophecy: not enough power in an overhyped rare.

Well, maybe it's improved a bit since then. See if this little ditty appeals to you:

Copper-Leaf Angel Deck

Download Arena Decklist

Yes, modular creatures and Crucible of Worlds have made Copper-Leaf Angel quite good. You can also play the Angel in more protective environments – that is, with stuff like Leonin Abunas – to make sure your investment of lands isn't wasted. Heck, you can even sack a bunch of lands to the Angel and then use one or more Power Conduits to direct charge counters onto a Darksteel Reactor. But that feels like a different deck...

Bottom line? This angel, like the other six, has lots of new skies to explore. You don't have to wait for a "tribal format" night. Just pick one or two, grab a harp, and go!

Anthony cannot provide deck help, no matter how many heralds sing.

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