Hello, my friends. Derrick "BadMoonMTG" York here again with more Standard content for Cardsphere. I made a promise, the last time I was here. I told you that I would bring a brew for you all. I've brought some tribal fun for you today. Let's take a look at the list and then we can talk about some of my choices.
3 Alseid of Life's Bounty 4 Angel of Destiny 4 Eradicator Valkyrie 2 Legion Angel 2 Renegade Reaper 4 Resplendent Marshal 4 Righteous Valkyrie 4 Youthful Valkyrie 3 Firja's Retribution 4 Heartless Act 2 Raise the Draugr 4 Brightclimb Pathway // Grimclimb Pathway 2 Castle Locthwain 4 Fabled Passage 4 Shimmerdrift Vale 6 Plains 4 Swamp 2 Deafening Silence 2 Doomskar 2 Haunting Voyage 2 Kaya the Inexorable 2 Legion Angel 2 Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector's Shield 3 Weathered Runestone
If you read my last article, you may recall that
Righteous Valkyrie made the list of cards that I was excited to brew with. The core of this deck revolves around this Angel's abilities.
First, when an Angel or Cleric enters the battlefield under our control, we gain life equal to that creature's toughness. The Angels in this deck mostly have 3-4 toughness, with one topping out at 6. We're going to be gaining a lot of life, if
Righteous Valkyrie is on the battlefield.
The second ability of
Righteous Valkyrie kicks in when we have 7 more life than our starting total. If we can get that high, all of our creatures will get +2/+2. The deck is full to bursting with Flying creatures, so this anthem effect is going to be especially effective.
Righteous Valkyrie has a partner with some combo potential. At the very top of our curve we have
Angel of Destiny. This Angel has a strange ability. Whenever a creature we control deals combat damage to a player, we gain that much life. The player we attacked also gains that much life. That means we can't easily kill our opponent with combat damage, because any damage that isn't immediately lethal will be undone by lifegain. So why do we want to play this Angel?
Angel of Destiny's second ability says that if we have at least 15 more life than our starting total, then, at the beginning of our End Step, any player that the
Angel of Destiny attacked this turn loses the game. The more life we can gain, the easier this is to pull off.
This deck contains a broad assortment of Angels. These not only trigger
Righteous Valkyrie to gain life, they also serve as powerful attackers in their own right. The combo I highlighted earlier is only one way we can win the game. The first win condition is just Angel beats.
At the low cost of 1W, we have
Youthful Valkyrie, which is a 1/3 with Flying. Whenever another Angel enters the battlefield under our control, it gets a +1/+1 counter. This inexperienced Valkyrie becomes a huge threat the longer it hangs around.
We can add even more +1/+1 counters to our creatures with
Resplendent Marshal. Whenever it enters the battlefield or dies, we can exile another creature from our graveyard. Any creatures we control get a counter, as long as they share a creature type with the exiled card. That isn't difficult in a deck full of Angels, but it does require that some of them are in the graveyard to begin with.
To help with that, we have
Renegade Reaper. When it enters the battlefield, we Mill 4 cards. If at least one of those cards is an Angel, we gain 4 life. This ability does a lot of different things that are all beneficial for us, so don't fear the Reaper.
Our other Black Angel is
Eradicator Valkyrie, which is not only a 4/3 with Flying and Lifelink, but also has Protection From Planeswalkers and the ability to make our opponent sacrifice creatures or planeswalkers. This can be a very powerful creature in the right circumstances.
Our last true Angel is
Legion Angel. When it enters the battlefield, you can grab another copy out of the sideboard and put it in your hand. There are two copies in the main deck and two in the sideboard.
I also want to talk about
Firja's Retribution here. This Saga creates a 4/4 Angel token when it enters the battlefield, so it is basically an Angel in its own right. The second chapter allows each of our Angels to destroy a creature with lesser power. This helps clear the decks, if we need to do a little crowd control. The third chapter gives all of our Angels Double Strike until end of turn, easily ending the game if we have even a few Angels on the battlefield.
About Basic Lands
You may have noticed that I chose to use regular Plains and Swamps in this deck, even when Snow-covered variants are available. The reason for this is that there is a very small amount of risk to playing the Snow lands. I looked at that risk and weighed it against the potential reward of making an opponent have to consider what Snow matters cards we might have. In the end, I decided to go with regular Basics. I would encourage you to consider this for yourself and, if you decide differently, sub in your Snow Basics.
As with all sideboards, this is more of a guideline than anything else. Shifts in the meta will make it necessary to change your sideboard plan. That said, let's talk about a few cards I've picked and what they might be useful against.
Weathered Runestone was the first card I put in the sideboard, because it is most likely going to be necessary as long as Theros Beyond Death is in Standard. This artifact prevents the Escape mechanic from returning creatures to the battlefield. It also has the added benefit of stopping
Realmwalker from generating card advantage.
Control decks are likely to deploy board wipes against our Angels.
Haunting Voyage will undo the board state loss by bringing all creatures of a chosen type back from the graveyard to the battlefield. Surprising absolutely no one when we choose Angel.
Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector's Shield is a versatile card. The front-side of the card is a God that can slow down Snow decks. It also makes expensive spells even more expensive. The biggest things hit by that second ability include
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and the Ultimatum cycle.
The back-side is an artifact that has a damage reducing ability. That could be useful against a Burn strategy if not for the 4 CMC holding it back until it's too late. The second ability counters spells and abilities that target us or a permanent we control, unless our opponent pays 1. This ability is aimed at control decks with a lot of targeted removal. It isn't going to stop them, but sure will slow them down.
In the same vein as that artifact is
Kaya the Inexorable. Kaya comes in against control decks. Her +1 gives our creatures some recursion to counter removal and board wipes. She has a -3 that exiles any nonland permanent, which is a great answer for whatever our opponent is up to. Hopefully opponents won't put us on any planeswalkers, and Kaya can go unanswered.
Tibalt's Trickery starting to make its presence known, we want a way to interact with that.
Deafening Silence keeps our opponent from comboing off with Trickery by limiting them to a single spell per turn. It does make Trickery a better counterspell, but that is a trade I would make any day of the week.
This deck is probably a little too slow to be truly competitive at the highest levels, but it's a solid tribal strategy that should be fun to play against your friends or on the Arena ladder. What tribe is your favorite to play? Let me know and be sure to join me next time.