Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Avacyn has been fully previewed and the release is just around the corner. The card I am most looking forward to is Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. Between the amazing art and the colorful flavor this 7 mana legendary angel has caught my attention and I just have to build a deck around her. Now that the general is picked where do we go from here?


Every deck needs a theme. With Gisela at the head there are a few themes that spring to mind.

Angels: the first thing that a player sees when they see most generals is their creature type. Tribal decks are fun to play with and against and the angel tribe just received a lot of great additions. The largest weakness of a tribal deck is that you need to be able to recover from a board wipe while also being careful about overextending.

Damage manipulation: Gisela has two abilities that manipulate damage, and she is red/white both colors excel in this department. We could fill a deck with cards that redirect damage (captain's maneuver) and manipulate how much damage is being done (furnace of wrath).

Aggro: Boros is known to be an aggressive color match. With efficient creatures running around and following it up with burn to finish off an opponent. This strategy does not translate to multiplayer very well, but is sometimes fun to play a deck that has the goal of getting reactions out of players rather than sitting back. Gisela would be a great general for this deck as she can give you the late game power to break through once things have stabilized.

Control: Red and white can be used very effectively as control. Together they have no trouble taking care of any permanents and they work well together to stay alive by reacting to any threat. Control is typically the strongest archetype in commander and Gisela has the late game body/ability to back up a control plan.

The deck I'm envisioning has a subtheme of damage manipulation while playing a various assorted army. I will take a look at an angel subtheme as we go along.


While many deck builders may look at lands as a last step in the deck building process I want to start here. Mana is your second most important resource in Magic (the first being cards) and I feel that too many players ignore the land base. Most commander decks want approximately 40 lands. As you add more mana sources you can take away a few lands, but lands are still the more important section here. Mana isn't the sole use for land though, many lands can help in other aspects as well.


Lands that do something else when we don't need them for mana. These cards are awesome to play with because when we need mana they help to provide it, and later they repeatedly give us other options to use extra mana on.

Slayer's Stronghold; Eiganjo Castle; Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion; and Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep- all lands that buff our creatures. Shinka doesn't help our commander, so we only want to play it if we have other legendary creatures in our deck.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin - while has a heavy reliance on plains, the ability is strong.
Hall of the Bandit Lord - Paying 3 life to give our creature haste seems viable to me. Then again there are other, better ways in our colors to do this so I am going to avoid.
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea - Other decks will likely have an easier time drawing cards than us. This makes this really good in our deck. As always using the ability is optional.
Miren, the Moaning Well - not one of my favorite cards, but being able to sac a creature that is going to die anyway for a little life can be quite helpful. definitely worth a slot.
Mistveil Plains - If we decide to use sunforger, this card gets really strong. Never hurts.
Mystifying Maze - Annoying card that I feel is played too much. While I don't want to use it, I wont condemn someone who does (except by killing every one I see)
Shivan Gorge - funny that with our commander it's twice as good. not a great card, but if you have one laying around, may as well put it to use. Other damaging lands will be more useful in this deck than other decks as well. include them if you want to.
Spinerock Knoll and Windbrisk Heights- should be easy to pull off the alternate costs on these, I suggest running both (esp as we will be low on draw)
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle- very dependant on mountains. I'm not sure I want to play it, depends on how many mountains end up being run.
Vesuva - Should always have a viable target.

Dual color:

Being a 2 color decks means we only need a minor amount of color fixing. I recommend about 1/4 of your land be able to tap for both colors. With 10 duals, 10 utility lands, and 10 of each basic we can probably support both Valakut and Emeria. Dual lands are: Ancient Amphitheater, Arid Mesa, Battlefield Forge, Boros Garrison, Clifftop Retreat, Plateau, Rugged Prairie, Sacred Foundry, Scabland, Reflecting Pool, City of Brass, Command Tower, Vivid Crag/meadow ...

My land Suggestion:

Ancient Amphitheater, Arid Mesa, Battlefield Forge, Boros Garrison, Clifftop Retreat, Rugged Prairie, Sacred Foundry, Command Tower, Vivid Crag, Vivid Meadow, Vesuva, Spinerock Knoll, Windbrisk Heights, Emeria,  Slayer's Stronghold, Eiganjo Castle, Sunhome, Valakut, Mistveil Plains, and Mikokoro
10 Mountains, 10 Plains

10 cards:

Next I want to find 10 cards I want that fit into my selected themes.

1) Pyrohemia: is the first card that jumps out at me when I look at Gisela. With her in play it does 2 damage to all of my opponents and their stuff while me and mine take 0, all for 1 red mana a piece.
2) Captain's Maneuver: This is the kind of damage manipulation I want to utilize.  hmm Devine Protection will go here too...
3) Reflect Damage: While it can not kill a creature, this can deal alot of damage to an opponent and save their target...
4) Sunforger: Yes we need to devote a small package to get this to work properly, but I think it will be worth it here. Also, I've never used this in commander yet.
5) Restoration Angel : I like how it doesn't say creature you own. I can borrow creatures and return them to myself
6) Defy Death: I will want a few resurection cards like this.

7) Razia's Purification: By far my favorite Red/White card.
8) Herald of War: making angels cheaper seems like a great way to explore the angel subtheme.
9) Waves of Aggression: This will be a nice finisher
10) True Conviction: Doubling doublestrike and gives me a lot of life to boot.

Support the 10:

At this point we need to pick cards from the 10 and find more cards that either play nicely with it or duplicate their effect.

Herald of War:

I'll start with Herald of War and the angel subtheme. I feel like I want around 10 angels for the deck. We already have Herald of War and Restoration Angel, so we need about 8 more.

Adarkar Valkyrie: Can double in this deck in other areas like Defy Death's or Restoration Angel's.
Admonition Angel: Very powerful, not sure it fits this deck as we have little in the way of land manipulation. Still a viable choice I think. Playing it fairly it's still a good card.
Akroma, Angel of Fury: The morph on this angel stands out to me. Being able to use blinking to flip it seems like a viable way to play her.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath: I would play this just to have both Akroma's if I was going to play the red one.
Angelic Arbiter: Nice effect on a creature, slowing down opponents aggro. Not sure that it is needed for this deck though.
Archangel of Strife: Nice power boost to your side of the field, or it can be used to help you keep your stuff alive.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope: Flashy and new, could see play in this deck if we wanted a place to put her. I wouldnt go out of my way to get her at this point. (not for this deck anyway)
Baneslayer Angel: She has been looking for a new home for a while, I cant see any reason not to include her here.
Basandra, Battle Seraph: Solid creature, has the ability to get people who don't want to play in the red zone to play there. I'd run her in here.
Chancellor of the Annex: A solid maybe for the deck. While not an ability we are focusing on she has a strong body and a viable ability.
Exalted Angel: If running Akroma of Fury, you want to run at least 1 more morph.
Firemane Angel: Dont know why I like her, I would really only add to the deck for the look. She looks very R/W.
Goldnight Redeemer: I hate that it says other creatures. Was another 2 life by including her really to much to ask? She is a maybe.
Iona, Shield of Emeria: Iona draws too much hate to run her I think. Unless you are building around her may as well leave her out.
Karmic Guide: fits into the small GY res theme. I really hope they reprint her in an upcoming set (vs or commander/planechase) so we can get a copy that shows she is an angel.
Luminarch Ascension: Always a fun card to hit the table and see if anyone has an answer to, I feel.
Pristine Angel: Able to hold off opponents for days. Not sure that it is needed, but included in the maybe list.
Radiant, Archangel: She fits into the deck as another maybe. I just wish I knew where my copy went...
Razia, Boros Archangel: Fits the deck to a tee. Not only is she the prior great RW legendary angel, but her ability manipulates damage. A bit on the expencive side, but she isn't our commander anymore.
Reya Dawnbringer: Must include with a GY res theme...
Seraph of Dawn: A simple early drop that should be great at keeping away a small horde of small attackers.
Shattered Angel: Comes down fairly early and should gain you some life. hopefully your opponents will ignore the life gain aspect.
Sunblast Angel: Good with the blink and GY res aspects.
Voice of All: While Im not likely to include any of the voice series due to space. I would start with this one if I was.
Thats over 20 angels. I'm picking the top 8 and a few standbys for if we need cards later.
Baneslayer, Razia, Sunblast, Reya, Karmic, Basandra, Seraph and Adakar are in.
Admonition, double Akroma, and exalted are on standby.  puts us at 18/59 non land cards.


Let's go another direction and look at our mass damage spells. Pyrohemia is king here, once it is out we don't need any more. But let's see if we can find another 5-8 cards to fill in when we dont have pyro.

Earthquake and Faultline: start us out as an effective way to clear some creatures, the side effect of not hitting our angels is icing.
Volcanic Fallout: does smaller damage, has the side effect of being searchable by sunforger.
Lavaball Trap: Also kills 2 troublesome land. most of our angels will live through the 4 damage.
Inferno: 6 damage is too much, without Gisela in play this kills most of our creatures.
Brightflame: Needs a lot of mana, but the effect can be so swingy...

I think I will run with these 5 (-inferno). This puts us at 23/59


We are not building around sunforger, but it's a great card to include and we can find a handful of cards that will be great once it is in play and still viable if it is not.

Increasing Vengeance, Reverberate, Reiterate, and Fork: a few copy target spell cards are a great idea. I esp like Reiterate (yes you can buy back off sunforger) and Increasing vengeance for their extra usefullness.
Shunt: Sometimes you just need to redirect the origional spell.
Aura Barbs: Great against voltron decks utilizing auras. if uril is giving you trouble run one of these.
Oblation, Chaos Warp: Take away any problem card
Mages' Contest: Counterspell in red, make sure they really want to cast that spell.
Rally the Righteous: Will most likely untap all your creatures at instant speed.

Brave the Elements: So far this would include all of our creatures...
Condemn: Solid removal card, even better against voltron type decks.
Enlightened Tutor: We don't currently have alot of tutor targets, but lets keep this in mind.
Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares: Always solid creature removal
Otherworldly Journey: Helps with the blink subtheme
Crib Swap: Another removal, the others above are probably better.
Ghostway: save from wrath and supports blink.
Wing Shards: for when you can not target and need them to sacrifice
Orim's Thunder: I really want one disenchant variant in this list. This is the one I like the most.
Lightning Helix: I also want to see a direct damage spell, this one feels right.

This is a large list for a subset of cards. Most are control cards we want in the deck reguardless of sunforger. But we need to limit it to around 10 cards.
Top 10- Orim's thunder, Swords to plowshares, wing shards, oblation, chaos warp, reiterate, increasing vengeance, ghostway, otherworldly journy, and Lightning helix. We are at 33 of 59 cards. 26 left to go.

Restoration Angel

Here I want to take a look at the Restoration angels ability to blink creatures and the ability to keep stolen creatures.

Non angel 187's
Bogardan Hellkite- 5 damage any way you chose, yes please
Duergar Hedge-Mage: destroying an artifact and an enchantment is great
Glimmerpoint Stag: Spreads the blinking out to angels.
Knollspine Dragon: good way to refill your hand
Kor Cartographer: note it can get mistveil or foundry
Magma Giant: fits the deck theme
Stonecloaker: a little GY hate can go a long way
Wall of Omens: Not amazing card draw, but it's something.

Borrow creatures:
Flash Conscription: it costs 3 more than typical, but instant speed and lifelink are possibilities to think about.
Grab the Reins: Gains control at instant speed but doesnt untap. yet the fling makes this highly playable
Traitorous Blood: Addition of trample
Word of Seizing: Can borrow non creatures too (like planeswalkers)
Zealous Conscripts: creature version

Cloudshift: I'd run the instants over the sorcery Flicker
Sudden Disappearance: A little on the extreem side, but could be quite effective.
Galepowder Mage: repeated effect all you have to do it have an open target.

Thats another 16 cards brining us up to 49, 10 cards left to find.


Chandra, the Firebrand: The copying spells stood out here, as well as the ultimate to really blow some things up.
Chandra Ablaze: Her - ability can help to refill your hand, something RW despeartely needs. 
Lightmine Field: Seems useful
Urabrask the Hidden: Haste
Scourge of Kher Ridges: Should go in the pyrohemia section, but I just found it.
Shivan Hellkite: goes really well with
Basilisk Collar: Really good on the last 2 guys.

Enlightend Tutor: has a few options to find now.

2 Mana rocks to finish it out:
My choices are Boros Signet and Sol Ring- not very inspired but they get the job done.

This finishes out the deck here is the final list

Land: 40
Ancient Amphitheater, Arid Mesa, Battlefield Forge, Boros Garrison, Clifftop Retreat, Rugged Prairie, Sacred Foundry, Command Tower, Vivid Crag, Vivid Meadow, Vesuva, Spinerock Knoll, Windbrisk Heights, Emeria,  Slayer's Stronghold, Eiganjo Castle, Sunhome, Valakut, Mistveil Plains, and Mikokoro
10 Mountains, 10 Plains

Creatures: 23
Baneslayer Angel, Razia, Sunblast Angel, Reya Dawnbringer, Seraph of Dawn, Karmic Guide, Basandra, Adakar Valkyrie, Restoration Angel, Herald of War, Bogardan Hellkite, Duergar Hedge-Mage, Glimmerpoint Stag, Knollspine Dragon, Kor Cartographer, Magma Giant, Stonecloaker, Wall of Omens, Zealous Conscripts, Galepowder Mage, Urabrask the Hidden, Scourge of Kher Ridges, and Shivan Hellkite
Non creature Permenants 9
Pyrohemia, Sunforger, True Conviction, Chandra, the Firebrand, Chandra Ablaze, Lightmine Field, Basilisk Collar, Boros Signet, and Sol Ring 
Instants/Sorceries 27
Captain's Maneuver, Reflect Damage, Defy Death, Razia's Purification,Waves of Aggression, Earthquake, Faultline,Volcanic Fallout, Lavaball Trap, Brightflame, Orim's thunder, Swords to plowshares, wing shards, oblation, chaos warp, reiterate, increasing vengeance, ghostway, otherworldly journy, Lightning Helix, Flash Conscription, Grab the Reins, Traitorous Blood, Word of Seizing, Cloudshift, Sudden Disappearance, and Enlightend Tutor

No comments:

Post a Comment