Avacyn Restored is the final set of the Innistrad block and it sure is a holy Magic set.
Set Name: Avacyn Restored
Game: Magic the Gathering
Release Date: May 4, 2012
What is this set about?
Avacyn Restored turned the whole Innistrad block around. Instead of the horror theme, Avacyn Restored introduced numerous angels and spirits more aligned with the holy side of the Innistrad world. Meanwhile, the “unholy” monsters are grouped as endangered species. New mechanics in this set are ‘Miracle’ and ‘Soulbond’. Only ‘Undying’ made a return from the previous sets and the others, including transformation cards and ‘Flashback’, are discontinued. Other pseudo mechanics are “flicker” (or blinking as I’d like to call it) which sends a creature into exile for 1 turn, and “loner” which benefits players who control only 1 creature.
I find ‘Miracle’ to be heavily dependent on luck. ‘Miracle’ cards are extremely expensive spells with a devastating effect. If you draw a ‘Miracle’ card during Draw Phase, you may cast it at a low discount cost basically being able to turn the duel around easily. ‘Soulbond’ is more of a strategic mechanic which pairs your ‘Soulbond’ creature with another creature. Paired creatures share an effect bonus and if the recipient creature dies, you can ‘Soulbond’ with the next creature that comes into play so long as you still control the ‘Soulbond’ host. To play ‘Soulbond’ effectively, it relies on you having a creature in play to pair with which means it is useless if you cast a ‘Soulbond’ creature as your only creature.
The top 5 cards in my opinion are:
Restoration Angel – This angel is the best in the set. It is at a reasonable cost, can be cast anytime and it gives “blinking” effect. It has the power to reset many “enters the battlefield” effect triggers and also renews ‘Undying’ effects.
Temporal Mastery – Temporal Mastery costs 2 more mana than its predecessor Time Warp. The reason it is good is because of its ‘Miracle’ chance to play it for 2 mana like the legendary “Power 9” card Time Walk.
Vexing Devil – No matter how you look at it, this card is 4 damage to your opponent for 1 mana. This card also presents a psychological mind game to your opponent. For your opponent, 1 mana for such a strong creature may be too much to keep but 4 damage is also painful.
Wolfir Silverheart – Wolfir Silverheart is a little slow to come out but it is usually a game finisher. Its ‘Soulbond’ ability gives it and another creature a mighty +4/+4. With it being a 4/4 to start with, that’s 12 powers worth of creatures for 5 mana.
Cavern of Souls – This land is a staple to any creature based tribal decks. It is very flexible and your creature spells cannot be countered meaning you are safe from control decks. Even if you have no creatures to cast, it still performs as a generic land.
I noticed that all cards on the above list are rare or higher. Here’s a budget friendly top 5 list:
Latch Seeker – Yes this is no Invisible Stalker, however stealth blue decks could use an extra hand. It does require 1 more mana compared to Invisible Stalker but trading in the ‘Hexproof’ ability for 2 extra power is a fair bargain.
Tandem Lookout – Tandem is a deadly card if used correctly. Imagine soulbonding this card with the above Latch Seeker. You are guaranteed to net a card every turn.
Barter in Blood – Barter in Blood is a tricky card to use. With good timing, you can have your opponent sacrifice 2 creatures and you sacrifice none. Combine this with previous sacrificing cards like Geth’s Verdict and Smallpox and your opponent will be in for a major headache.
Pillar of Flame – At first this card seems to be an inferior Shock. Upon closer inspection the exile effect really helps in Standard format. Target creatures with a graveyard effect such as Chandra’s Phoenix or Strangleroot Geist and you’ll never have to hear from them again.
Abundant Growth – Normally I would be against mana generators that are not in creature form. However, Abundant Growth not only accelerates mana, but it fixes mana color. Also the cantrip on this card really helps.
Is this set worth my time?
Monster players stay out of this set. This set supports angels and humans over monsters.
Strengths: I’ll start by saying this set is the most balanced and it goes back to the generic side of Magic sets. White players are very happy with the number of new cards available. Red players are also very happy because this set printed several interesting cards for them (such as a planeswalker that costs only 2 mana).
Weaknesses: Black players will be very disappointed. The vampires and zombies are dreadful in quality. Also, I feel that the many cards host unnecessarily long and complex effect text. Werewolves and other double-sided cards are dropped out entirely meaning you may never get that chance to pull 2 rares in 1 pack nor get an increased chance of a foil card.
Rating: I feel like this set tries too hard to balance out the horror monsters. At the same time, I think it is necessary because Avacyn Restored will transition us smoothly into the upcoming ‘Return to Ravnica’ set.
The rares in this set are really good and they deserve to be rares. Financially, there are many rare and mythic rare cards sitting at the $5+ range so achieving a gain is easier. The top value cards are Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Temporal Mastery tied at $30 at the moment. Overall, Avacyn Restored feels like an average set with a few more angels. I definitely recommend picking up a few packs if you feel like a change from the horror theme.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree with something in my review.
(Source: Wizards.com and TCGplayer.com for estimated card prices)
I just realized that I’ve misread Abundant Growth’s effect. Like many others, I assumed it accelerates mana but it does not.
The card to replace it on the top 5 list is Borderland Ranger. He is a reprint and probably the best reprint of the set. Borderland Ranger tutors a basic land to your hand. Not bad for a common.
Nice review! I wish I had the time to get back into TCGs
Thanks for reading.
It’s never too late to start playing again. Magic 2013 core set will be released this summer which will be a perfect chance to start up again.
Plus there are casual crowds who prefer to use older cards (or on a budget like me).
Solid article, keep’em coming. I think I have a few boosters to pick up in a bit.
Let me know what you pulled when you get the boosters. I lucked out (yet again?) with getting 2 mythics from 6 packs not to mention several good rares as well.