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Top 10 First Picks for Avacyn Restored Draft (Review, Strategy, & Tips) April 26, 2012

Posted by James in : all, reviews, previews, strategy, tips, limited, draft , trackback

When drafting it’s important to know what cards are best in order to start taking colors other players aren’t taking, send the right signals to other people that a color is not wide-open, and just because you should be taking some good cards anyway. If you are passed a very good card in a certain color, then the odds are that more good cards will be passed in that color.

It is obvious that many rares are very powerful, but what is more important is to know what commons and uncommons are best because you’ll be seeing them a lot more than the rares.

This is a list of my top 10 common and uncommon cards in Avacyn Restored:

1. Thunderous Wrath

thunderous wrath

For six mana, you get a decent finisher or removal spell. For one mana, you get the most powerful burn effect ever made. This card illustrates why certain people think Miracle cards should be banned in competitive limited events.

2. Banishing Stroke

banishing stroke

Banishing Stroke will often be a very expensive Oblivion Ring, which is no big deal, but still worth playing. However, for one mana you get an effect that is totally ridiculous — better than certain cards in the power 9!

3. Blessings of Nature

blessings of nature

Blessings of Nature would have been a lot better if it was an instant, but it is still a very good card that can turn your army into a much more impressive army. (Or creature into a much better creature.) For five mana, it’s worth it. For one mana, this thing is so good it’s silly.

4. Goldnight Redeemer

goldnight redeemer

Goldnight Redeemer is not always going to be better than a Serra Angel, but so what? Serra Angel is one of the best uncommons for draft ever made. And sometimes Goldnight Redeemer will be even better.

5. Seraph of Dawn

seraph of the dawn

I once playtested a card just like this one and decided it was too powerful. As a blocker, it can ruin an opponent’s army of 2/2 creatures. As an attacker, it swings 4 life points a turn. And it’s just a common.

6. Barter in Blood

bater in blood

There will be many situations that Barter in Blood is just as good or better than a Day of Judgment. First, it can cause indestructible creatures to die. Second, players don’t always have more than two creatures. Third, you might have more than two creatures in play when the opponent doesn’t. The fact that Barter in Blood is not my number one choice should say something about how powerful many of the cards are in this set.

7. Emancipation Angel

emancipation angel

Emancipation is very powerful and the drawback is minor.  In some cases the drawback will actually be very helpful. (For example, when a creature you control is ruined from an enchant creature spell.)

8. Demonic Taskmaster

demonic taskmaster

Demonic Taskmaster is one of the best black creatures I’ve ever seen, but it’s drawback can be very important. If you’re playing a control deck or the opponent is playing a lot of removal, then the drawback isn’t so bad. If you are racing one aggressive deck against another, then the drawback will be important.

Demonic Taskmaster actually features a major new theme in black — having only one creature. I don’t think that theme is very fun because it encourages players to stop playing creatures, which is boring. However, the theme might be worth playing.

9. Fettergeist


Fettergeist is a very powerful creature with a potentially important drawback. The drawback will be important in the same situations as Demonic Taskmaster — it’s not very important against opponents playing heavy removal (or in a control deck with few creatures), but it can be devastating when you race one aggressive deck against another.

10. Vanishment


Vanishment can be a timewalk when it assures you that the opponent can’t do anything better than play the same spell again, it can slow the opponent down, and it can remove a blocker from the battlefield. This isn’t bad for a five mana instant, but it’s great if you can play it for a single mana.

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1. Alex C - April 27, 2012

I think you overvalue conditionally powerful cards. The blue and black undercosted fliers (especially the black one) are not as good as you are estimating because it seems like this format wants you to have a lot of creatures so they create a conflict of interest. Soulbound especially influences this. I also think Barter in Blood is very conditional - it’s good in the same situations as Day of Judgement except it can’t get you out of very tight situations, which is mostly what Day of Judgement was good for in the first place. If your opponent has two creatures and you have none, the card is amazing. In most other situations it’s just OK, and a lot of the time it is bad or useless.

I think Gryff Vanguard needs to be on this list, because it generates card advantage (you’re lacking a lot of that on this list), and because it synergizes so well with all of the bouncing and blinking effects in the set. Into the Void is an amazing tempo card, as is Mist Raven, and I think they will play a key role in aggressive strategies. I would have them on the list as well. Lastly Nephalia Smuggler is a powerhouse and I think one of the better non-rares in the set. Death Wind is another nice removal spell although I’m not sure if it is worthy of this list. Basically I think the blue tempo cards are insane and will make blue a very good color for aggressive strategies.

2. James - April 27, 2012

Alex, how exactly would you change the list? I agree that the blue and black fliers aren’t great if it’s always two aggro decks going at it.

Gryff Vanguard doesn’t seem that great to me, but it is good. I would rather have an Archangel, even though it’s expensive.

3. Nick - May 24, 2012

I think you’re really overvaluing the Miracles. There’s a sweet spot for them but many times when you “Miracle” it, you can play it for its full cost anyway. All the cards you list (besides Blessings) are basically 1-for-1s. Also, you left out arguably the best uncommon in the set. Here’s my list

1. Druid’s Familiar (stupidly good. don’t overlook it)
2. Mist Raven
3. Into the Void
4. Emancipation Angel (especially with Abundant Growth)
5. Seraph of the Dawn
6. Barter in Blood
7. Trusted Forcemage
8. Blood Artist
9. Peel from Reality
10. Death Wind

Interesting that Black is basically the weakest color, but it does have some very powerful cards in Uncommon. Death Wind makes the list as it’s very splashable.

4. James - June 14, 2012

I haven’t got a chance to play much green yet and have never had the pleasure to play with Druid’s Familiar. I would like to play it and I agree that it’s good. (Same goes for Trusted Forcemage.)

Mist Raven might be better than I thought.

Into the Void is very conditional, so I almost never use it.

Blood Artist can be good, but I’m not sure how good it is yet. I don’t think I’ve used it yet.