Magic: the Gathering has taught me a lot about making commitments. I’ve found that if I commit to a strategy, a synergistic relationship forms. The more I play the deck, the better the deck becomes. The better the deck becomes, the more intimate my knowledge of how to operate the deck. I get better and the deck gets better.
If I don’t commit to a deck—if I waffle between various decks, try those decks out for a day and a night, throw them by the wayside—after all, it was the DECK, not ME, that failed in that tournament. If I fail to commit, I fail to form a synergistic relationship. I can never contribute anything to the deck and the deck can contribute very little to me. This is what happens when you fail to commit.
Sure, sometimes you need to move on. The seasons change. The world changes. You change and the deck doesn’t change with you. Then the time is right for you to start fresh with a new deck. That happens, and sunk costs are left behind. But if you don’t have to move on, and you commit, that synergistic relationship will continue to build. If I fail, the deck fails. If the deck fails, I fail. Blame is shared. Rewards are shared.
Obviously I feel this is true of relationships, hobbies, and life’s work as well. In general, the more you commit and the longer you go, the better. But sometimes you need to recognize when change is in there. When it’s time to move on—not because you want to, but because you have to! This is one of those times.
Well, I am ready to commit again. I know it’s early, but I’m confident. I am confident that this card is as powerful as I believe it is. I’m confident that this card is as fun as I think it is. This is the card I am committing to play with and work on in Standard until Gatecrash.
Angel of Serenity
This is everything I want in a Magic card. It is a creature. It costs 7 mana. It is huge and it flies. It generates MASSIVE tempo when it comes in, even if our opponent is able to kill it. It offers card advantage. It offers flexibility. It offers INSURANCE. A second Angel of Serenity is the clincher. This is the card I have commitments to.
I am committing to you guys as well. I know how it feels to buy a deck, only to have that deck become irrelevant the next week. It’s a horrible feeling. That’s not going to happen with this card. This card is the real deal. Not only that, but however much the card is lacking, I will work on it and figure out how to shore up its holes. This is THE card, and if you are the committal type like me, you are safe with this card.
Today we are going to look at two strategies that abuse the crap out of Angel of Serenity in Standard. Before we revisit Rampnica, I am going to unveil a white/blue control deck I have been working on.
The game plan is simple. Buy time in the early game with Azorious Charm and Syncopate. Sweep their threats with Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict, and Terminus. Stabilize with Thragtusk. Pull ahead with Angel of Serenity and Sphinx's Revelation. Continue to pull ahead with Angel of Serenity and Sphinx's Revelation. Draw your deck, gain 40 life, kill the opponent. Rinse and repeat.
This card! THIS CARD! This card was supposed to be an enemy card, but I have been the only guy talking about it so maybe it is an ally card after all. Ari Lax got me in the habit of calling this card “Sphinx’s Ultimatum” and that’s not far off. It is insanely powerful. Sometimes it will draw you 7 cards and gain you 7 life. Sometimes it will help you along in the mid-game.
It’s flexible and powerful. It’s easier to cast than Blue Sun's Zenith ever was. We haven’t seen a card draw spell this good in a long while, and it might be a long while after. This card is BANANAS.
I have tested this deck against BG Zombies, UR Delver, and my own Rampnica deck. I found that this deck can survive the early rush of the aggro decks and go over the top of even the big ramp deck. What can trump 4 Sphinx's Revelation, 4 Angel of Serenity in the late game? Not much, and we can prepare for that.
It’s still early in the season so I am going to hold my tongue on an exact list, but I have some early ideas.
If anyone is going over the top of us it is with a giant monster forced through with a Cavern of Souls. We can probably beat most things with our removal and superior card engines, but there is some scary stuff out there. If we want to prepare for that, we don’t need much more than some well-timed Ghost Quarters and Essence Scatters.
Against Zombies we probably want to bring our curve down a smidge to reduce the risk of dying early. If we make it to the late game, we will be fine. It’s all about getting there. Realistically, we can only make room for a couple slots after board, but it would be handy to have a couple of these laying around.
This planeswalker has a sick effect when it comes down against other control decks. It can immediately draw 2 and slowly draw you more and more. Having a full playset of these after board would be reasonable.
Against decks that can actually exile 4 Angel of Serenity, we might need more ways to kill them. This could be Entreat the Angels or maybe Tamiyo. The idea here is to have a card that we can board in to increase our threat density.
The Future of WU
I haven’t considered myself a control mage in a while, but now might be the time. I want to play with Angel of Serenity and this feels like the way to do it. It can go bigger than anything and it has a solid early game as well. There’s a good chance you see me playing this at States. If you have any questions about the deck for your State Champs or other tournament, get at me!
Rampnica is alive! In fact, it’s starting to take on a life of its own. Last week Brian Kibler wrote about a GWb ramp deck with some differences. Some of those things I don’t like, but some of them are stellar.
This is for the green Timmy mages out there. This past week I have worked hard on the deck. Here is the current list:
The game plan is the same. Ramp, buy time, stabilize through massive life gain and Angel of Serenity. Byam!
I tried cutting these cards for Chromatic Lantern to see how Terminus felt in the deck. The reality is that you need the one-drop accelerators in order to compete with the fastest of the Zombie decks. Starting to play on turn 1 is a must against these decks.
Sure, they can get removed, but our opponent will have to slow down and waste crucial early game time. If we hit our land drops their removal is irrelevant. We are a little weaker to Bonfire of the Damned and sweepers ourselves, but I think that is fine. The benefit outweighs the cost.
Centaur Healer made it into the deck because Lingering Souls wasn’t cutting it. There are a lot of 2/2s and not very many 8/8s to chump. There are a lot of Bonfires as well. Five mana for 4 power just isn’t very good right now. Lingering Souls is not well positioned. Maybe later.
Obviously he is weak against control decks in the first game, so he will have to get subbed out some of the time.
You may have been one of the people outraged that I wasn’t touting this card in Rampnica last week. The only reason he is in the deck now is because of the curve of Centaur Healer into Restoration Angel. That is a sick turn 2-turn 3 against early game decks!
Restoration Angel can also be a sweet topdeck later. You can blink Thragtusk, Armada Wurm, or Angel of Serenity. I didn’t think that this would be very relevant, but people are going to try to go BIG and this is a good way to go bigger.
The drawback of this card is that sometimes you have only 4 mana and nothing to blink. Sometimes you have to play it as-is. In this deck, a 4-mana 3/4 flier is not very good. It’s not the worst, but I wouldn’t put it in my deck.
Sideboarding with Return to Rampnica
Yes! For decks like WU, we will need a way to go BIG! Cavern of Souls into Griselbrand is the way to do it! If they have Ghost Quarter, we will have to hold Cavern, but it will be worth it when it happens. This guy is not necessarily going to win us the game when he comes down, but he will bring us close. We have a high life total, and seven cards is a LOT. Which late game is more powerful? 4 Angel of Serenity, 4 Sphinx's Revelation, or this? It’s hard to tell!
Lingering Souls is not good in the main deck, but it’s probably reasonable in the board. I’m not sure what we want it against but I don’t want to forget about it.
This guy got moved to the board. He is going to be good when Thragtusk could use an improvement. He is for when our life total doesn’t matter that much, and we want to get down and dirty on the ground. Wolfir Silverheart, or The ROFLstomper, has not been forgotten.
Terminus out of this deck would be a big surprise to Zombies players. A big unpleasant surprise. Six mana is a lot to sweep away our own guys too, but I think there are decks out there that we would want this against.
This card is just good against Zombies. We would have to play either this or Terminus. Probably this.
The Future of Rampnica
I am going to keep working on this deck but there is a chance that WU takes over and I go blue/white. Seasons are changing! I will keep you guys updated.
And now for an exciting announcment!
WOO BREWS GOES LIVE
See this?? This is my new stream set up! I am going to be playing LIVE MAGIC: THE GATHERING starting this Wednesday 2pm PST. I am going to be playing decks so ugly only a monster could love them. The action is going to unfold at twitchtv.com/traviswoo. Make sure to tune in, and say what’s up in the chat!
Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I forgot?