Baneslayer Angel: It has been called by our most recent Pro Tour Champion possible the best large creature in the history of Magic. Baneslayer Angel, a card that I just haven’t managed to put into any decks, ever. Baneslayer Angel–a mismatch in the quick Zoo archetype? Baneslayer Angel… Criss-cross applesauce. Baneslayer Angel!
Har har har.
The context of this post will be even more hilarious when I write about the Nissa Revane and re-vamped G/W decks based on Evan Erwin’s “Conqueror’s Sledge” that I worked on this week 🙂
Anyway, here is a very good deck:
3 Ajani Vengeant
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Scute Mob
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Baneslayer Angel
4 Path to Exile
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Arid Mesa
1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Sunpetal Grove
It is based somewhat on Brian Kowal’s Naya Excalibur deck from around US Nationals 2009 and somewhat on Brian Kibler’s Pro Tour winning deck from Austin.
Incidentally I watched this movie with my daughter this weekend:
Gold star to the first person who notes in the comments why I pointed that out.
Anyway, the above Naya deck is super good. I borrowed most of the cards from Kibler’s deck; that is, Noble Hierarch up. The presence of Noble Hierarch makes Ranger of Eos particularly attractive. The question was what to play with the Ranger. In Kowal’s Naya Excalibur deck, he had an absolutely brilliant mana base around Rootbound Crag and Sunpetal Grove where Figure of Destiny was perfectly positioned alongside the Plains and Mountains for Wild Nacatl. This deck doesn’t have the luxury of the near-Tarmogoyf Figure of Destiny, but Noble Hierarch is very good (along with Wild Nacatl)… My preference for playing three copies of Ajani Vengeant left just enough room for one Scute Mob.
If there is anything my playtesting has taught me at this point, it is that I often want a second Scute Mob!
Scute Mob is absolutely rapturous. As a post attrition play, Ranger of Eos is an absolute game-shatterer; particularly because it can get the solo Scute Mob. Mother loving monster in this deck. However sometimes you draw it and are forced to trade with an Elite Vanguard early; then you want another Scute Mob to draw later… and you don’t got it.
I went with Woolly Thoctar, like Naya Excalibur, as the only three drop in the deck (Kowal played his Great Sable Stags in the main… I don’t see that as particularly attractive, even with the prevalence of Vampires in Standard). I would actually prefer to play Knight of the Reliquary (like Kibler did in Extended)… But there aren’t many natural advantages in this deck. I only play–and can only afford, really–the four Arid Mesas.
These kinds of lands carry with them particular dependencies. In Extended you can play a bazillion Verdant Catacombs, Marsh Flats, whatever, what have you, and get away with it with only a few mana producing lands in your entire deck. That is because your Arid Mesa can point at your Hallowed Fountain, and so can your Misty Rainforest, and you have to draw through some insane percentage of your deck (in a format that sometimes ends on the third turn) before it catches up with you. But in Standard, if you play with four Arid Mesas in any deck but Boros Bushwhacker (which itself is quite quick to the quick), you have to play with more than four Mountains-plus-Plains to reliably not get thrown off the Island math-wise, if you take my reality show meaning. So anyway, with only four Arid Mesas, Knight of the Reliquary will probably start off as only a 2/2 (maybe a 3/3), but will only rarely get serious in size ahead of time; yes, Oran-Rief, the Vastwood is an absolutely bonkers weapon and tool… But there is only the one in this sixty, and it is not strategic to Naya Lightsaber. It isn’t like in Extended where Ghost Quarter can swat off an entire Dark Depths deck.
So the reason we don’t have room for that other three (Knight of the Reliquary or not) is Baneslayer Angel… baneslayer angel, Baneslayer Angel, BANESLAYER ANGEL! News flash: This card is really good. You get it online with the Noble Hierarch, or just by peeling lands off the top. It is great in attack-on-attack; a very good trump card after a lot of trading. It is a must-deal-with card, and a card that can dig you out of a great many holes. By this point you should know I am up for Baneslayer Angels not just in beatdown, but in Cascade decks, along side Ob Nixilis, just about anywhere.
The main under-performer in this deck, if there is one (this is one of those decks where Ranger of Eos is the clear over-performer) is his fellow four, Bloodbraid Elf. Maybe I am just used to always hitting an awesome two-for-one Esper Charm or the incomparable Blightning… But in this deck, not so much. Half the time it’s just another Noble Hierarch (though to be fair, that makes for a 5-power hasty muffin in the Red Zone, and sometimes Oran-Rief is even online). But you can’t really complain about hitting a Lightning Bolt, I guess.
Path to Exile? Another story entirely.
But not a reason to cut either.
As for the sideboard, I like most of the cards but I don’t love the sideboard in its entirety. Burst Lightning is an excellent card but I would prefer a card that could deal three on its lonesome for Vampire Nighthawk, earlier in the game. Goblin Ruinblaster, on the other hand, is a blaster of all different kinds of ruins; for example, Emeria, the Sky Ruin.
More later. This is a good and also fun deck!
Currently Reading: Captain America: The Man with No Face