The Spirit of EDH – Avacyn, Wrathful Archangel

Hello everyone! I’m Literally a Ghost That Pushes Over Candles and welcome back to The Spirit of EDH. This week we’re going to talk about Archangel Avacyn, a very flexible Boros commander. Some Legendary Creatures point you in a direction of a deck, like Nekusar or Kumena, and others have a lot less of a clear direction. Archangel Avacyn is one of the latter: some people run her as a tribal Angels commander, others as an equipment theme, and still others as tribal Humans. So it took me some time to come up with a direction for the deck that interested me and this is what I arrived at:

Spells (34)

1 x Basilisk Collar
1 x Cloudshift
1 x Path to Exile
1 x Skullclamp
1 x Sol Ring
1 x Swords to Plowshares
1 x Boros Signet
1 x Darksteel Mutation
1 x Declaration in Stone
1 x Lightning Greaves
1 x Mark of Asylum
1 x Scythe of the Wretched
1 x Thaumatic Compass
1 x Unexpectedly Absent
1 x Coalition Relic
1 x Commander’s Sphere
1 x Eerie Interlude
1 x Loxodon Warhammer
1 x Sunforger
1 x Sweltering Suns
1 x Sword of Fire and Ice
1 x Teferi’s Protection
1 x Wear // Tear
1 x Worn Powerstone
1 x Day of Judgement
1 x Marshal’s Anthem
1 x Return to Dust
1 x Wrath of God
1 x Mind’s Eye
1 x Reforge the Soul
1 x Stolen Strategy
1 x Austere Command
1 x Hour of Revelation
1 x Blasphemous Act

1 x Archangel Avacyn

Planeswalker (1)

1 x Nahiri, the Harbinger

Creatures (27)

1 x Weathered Wayfarer
1 x Dismissive Pyromancer
1 x Generator Servant
1 x Knight of the White Orchid
1 x Remorseful Cleric
1 x Selfless Spirit
1 x Stoneforge Mystic
1 x Eldrazi Displacer
1 x Feldon of the Third Path
1 x Frontline Medic
1 x Hanweir Garrison
1 x Imperial Recruiter
1 x Magus of the Wheel
1 x Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 x Angel of Finality
1 x Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
1 x Gisela, the Broken Blade
1 x Magus of the Disk
1 x Karmic Guide
1 x Lyra Dawnbringer
1 x Thalia’s Lancers
1 x Sun Titan
1 x Wurmcoil Engine
1 x Bruna, the Fading Light
1 x Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 x Avacyn, Angel of Hope
1 x Kozilek, the Great Distortion
Lands (37)

1 x Ancient Tomb
1 x Arcane Lighthouse
1 x Arid Mesa
1 x Battlefield Forge
1 x Boros Garrison
1 x Clifftop Retreat
1 x Command Tower
1 x Endless Sands
1 x Flamekin Village
1 x Hanweir Battlements
1 x Inspiring Vantage
1 x Kor Haven
5 x Mountain
1 x Mistveil Plains
1 x Needle Spires
8 x Plains
1 x Plateau
1 x Ramunap Ruins
1 x Rugged Prairie
1 x Sacred Foundry
1 x Sea Gate Wreckage
1 x Shefet Dunes
1 x Slayers’ Stronghold
1 x Temple of Triumph
1 x Vesuva
1 x Wind-Scarred Crag

The deck is very focused on Archangel Avacyn’s both faces, either helping facilitate an unfair board wipe with her front side or swinging the game in your favor with her transformation into Avacyn, the Purifier. We’ll talk about cards in that order, first about synergies with the front face then with synergies with the back face.

Archangel Avacyn

“When Archangel Avacyn enters the battlefield, creatures you control gain indestructible until the end of turn.”

Eldrazi Displacer and Cloudshift — These two cards are both easy ways to blink Archangel Avacyn to retrigger her ability to make your board indestructible. Cloudshift can catch people off guard in response to a removal spell of theirs or, even more of a blowout, a board wipe. Eldrazi Displacer can’t catch people off guard in the same way but can certainly feel backbreaking to deal with. They have to have enough ways to destroy it to get past the mana you’re leaving up.

Magus of the Disk — In the same way that Nevinyrral’s Disk, the card this Magus is emulating, this ability doesn’t sacrifice the creature. Instead, the effect is intended to destroy the Magus when he uses his ability. However, Archangel Avacyn can protect all of your creatures from the Magus’s draconian judgement, letting you clear the board of the unbeholden and still rattlesnake your opponents with a repeat performance. Draconian indeed.

Day of Judgement, Wrath of God, Hour of Revelation, and Blasphemous Act — Cheap board wipes are a boon to the Archangel as you can both cast or flicker her and then follow it up with casting a newly-made Plague Wind. Day of Judgement and Wrath of God are the cheapest unconditional board wipes, Hour of Revelation can be cheaper if there’s enough things to destroy and Blasphemous Act generally costs a single Red mana in a commander game.

“When a non-Angel creature you control dies, transform Archangel Avacyn at the beginning of the next upkeep.”

Dismissive Pyromancer, Generator Servant, Remorseful Cleric, and Selfless Spirit — Cheap creatures that offer two uses: They all have activated abilities that you want to make use of, such as exiling someone’s graveyard to keep it in check, generating mana, or rummaging through your deck, but also sacrifice themselves so we can transform Archangel Avacyn when we need to. Generator Servant let you power out something like a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight or Bruna, the Fading Light in addition to transforming Avacyn and Selfless Spirit can either trigger the transformation or protect some of your smaller creatures from Avacyn, the Purifier’s wrath.

Feldon of the Third Path — Feldon can both recreate machine versions of creatures you have lost, allowing you to reuse their enters-the-battlefield abilities or benefit from keeping them for a full turn, as well as sacrifice them at the end of turn. Effects like his usually end with exiling the created token and you need to find a different way to sacrifice the creature for your benefit, but Feldon crushes his creation at the end of each turn, allowing you to trigger Archangel Avacyn’s transformation. Just be careful to have some way to protect Feldon if you take this route, as he only has 3 toughness.

Avacyn the Purifier

“When this creature transforms into Avacyn, the Purifier, it deals 3 damage to each other creature and each opponent.”

Lyra Dawnbringer — A powerful attacker in her own right, turning your commander into a 7/6 flier with lifelink is a strong boon as well. However, if Lyra Dawnbringer is on the battlefield when Avacyn, the Purifier torches the battlefield, you can gain a ton of life. Ten creatures and three opponents will put you up 39 life from that transformation.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight — A classic Boros legend, doubling the damage that is dealt to your opponents and their permanents and preventing half the damage that is dealt to you and yours, Gisela also turns Avacyn’s transformation into a near-Plague Wind by doubling the damage to 6.

Basilisk Collar — Similar to Lyra Dawnbringer’s ability to give Avacyn lifelink, same with equipment like Loxodon Warhammer, the true power of this equipment is giving deathtouch to your commander. While nothing on your board will survive the damage without a Sword of Fire and Ice or Mark of Asylum your opponent’s creatures stand even less of a chance of surviving the wrath of Avacyn’s purification.

Scythe of the Wretched — You might remember this equipment from the Rakdos deck from last week, helmed by Kaervek, Scythe of the Wretched has a more one-shot type effect. Yes, if something is blocked and killed by Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier you do reanimate it under your control. The real blowout strength, however, is the transformation damage. The Scythe will reanimate every creature killed by the damage, turning the purification into an mutiny and a stylish Basilisk Collar will make it a true insurrection.

Cards to Consider

Weathered Wayfarer — A powerhouse of a card, so long as you’re not the person with the most lands. If anyone in your playgroup is playing green, or if you just activate it before you play your land drop for the turn and didn’t go first, you’ll be able to grab any land from your deck and put it into your hand. It does count as card advantage and mana fixing, as well as being able to grab any of your utility lands.

Frontline Medic — A duplicate version of Archangel Avacyn’s effect, Frontline Medic allows you to make your team indestructible before playing a second main phase board wipe, making it one-sided. The Medic can also act as a Mana Leak for spells with X in their cost, at the cost of his life, which will also flip Archangel Avacyn.

Imperial Recruiter — A card that was prohibitively expensive until its reprint in Magic 25, Imperial Recruiter tutors up any creature in your library with power 2 or less. Recruiter of the Guard is a similar creature, but tutors for toughness 2 or less instead. The difference is huge, because a decent number of utility creatures have higher toughness than power. This unassuming recruiter can grab every 1- and 2-drop creature, Feldon of the Third Path, Hanweir Garrison, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, Magus of the Disk, and Karmic Guide. The fact that she can be tutored for with the Recruiter is the reason I’m trying out Aurelia in the deck, and I’ll talk more about her in a moment. Keep in mind, the Recruiter can also get Stoneforge Mystic, which can, in turn, tutor up an equipment. Red/White card advantage, baby!

The Spice Corner

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice — Aurelia can be tutored for by Imperial Recruiter, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try her. She comes out on curve with Avacyn and can turn Avacyn, the Purifier into an 8/5 flier with trample, which is a three turn clock instead of a four turn clock. Aurelia also plays well with the equipment we have access to, and can turn Gisela, the Broken Blade, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. So far, she’s been a brutal card to drop, since her ability works even if she still has summoning sickness and she’s still quite strong on an empty board.

Hanweir Garrison and Hanweir Battlements — Hanweir Battlements is a perfectly solid card, able to give haste for the low cost of two mana, it and a Red. Hanweir Garrison is a less solid inclusion, even if it is able to be tutored up for by the Recruiter as it does die to an Avacyn flip. However, the meld cards are so much fun to play with that including one slightly weaker card, the creature, for the opportunity of having Hanweir, the Writhing Township is worth it to me. Its part of the reason, as well, that I included Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light. However, both of those creatures are solid inclusions as Gisela is on curve and a strong threat, and Bruna has a lot of reanimation targets even without the promise of Brisela, Voice of Nightmares.

Kozilek, the Great Distortion — Some of the plays this deck wants to make are expensive, so there is a solid dose of colorless or Boros ramp in the deck, but Kozilek is the most expensive play by far. The reason this titan is included is the ability to refill an empty hand all the way up to seven. He can also turn your dead draws into opportunistic counterspells, something that a lot of decks won’t be able to play well against seeing as they weren’t prepared for a counter-war with a Boros deck. So far, every game where I’ve cast Kozilek is a game I’ve won, so he’s proven his value to me.

Endless Sands — A small opportunity cost, Endless sands is a backup backup plan. If Avacyn can’t protect your creatures, or is otherwise occupied, and you don’t have something like Eerie Interlude or Teferi’s Protection, you can always tuck your cards away in the desert. It isn’t the most efficient way to rescue and replay your creatures, but the opportunity cost of having it is so very low. You’ll tend to know before it happens if you need to leave mana up to send creatures into the sands.

Other Considerations

White red can have some glaring weaknesses, card draw certainly being one of them. Wheel of Fortune is an expensive card in paper but much more affordable online. Chandra, Flamecaller is another consideration to accomplishing a wheel effect. If you want to make sure you have a game in the bag, Armageddon type effects will secure your position once you have a solid board state. There is also the ability to pivot into a tribal deck or an equipment deck, changing out some of the spicy cards like Hanweir Garrison for more equipment synergies.

Parting Thoughts

Archangel Avacyn certainly looks like an eclectic combination of cards on paper, but the synergies are so multitudinous that it’s a blast to play, every time. In addition, some of the natural strengths of some of your cards are enough to end the game on their own. Sometimes, your opponents stumble and a 6/5 flier for 5 is just enough to win it out. Just be mindful of how you use your cards and your wheel effects, refilling your hand when its best to do so.

If your playgroup has a slower game plan, then, by all means, shave off some money on the land base. If you’re starting to feel the drag of your guildgates on your tempo, however, a powerful land base is an investment you won’t regret.
So tell me, what did you think? Did I offer information you thought was helpful, raise some insights you might not have thought of, miss stuff you thought I should mention, or any other thoughts I didn’t call out? Leave a comment below to let me know, or you can haunt me directly on Twitter (@FrigglishTGhost) or spook my email (
Make sure you join me next week, where I’ll be talking about Queen Marchesa, my favorite deck!

Until then, may the Spirit of EDH possess you with creativity.
— Literally a Ghost that Pushes Over Candles

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