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Angels in Standard


Hello everyone. Core Set 2021 has officially released and it's got some exciting reprints that I can fully support. One of those reprinted cards is Baneslayer Angel. Back when Magic 2010 came out, Baneslayer Angel was one of the most exciting cards you could pull. While some have expressed their doubt whether Baneslayer Angel still has what it takes to be a contender in our current Standard environment, I have no doubts at all that she'll fit in nicely. This week, we'll be taking a look at some decks that feature Baneslayer Angel.

Mono-White Angels

We'll start this week with a Mono-White deck featuring an Angel theme. Let's take a look at the deck.

Angel of Vitality
Baneslayer Angel and Angel of Vitality work nicely together. Baneslayer Angel can go on the offensive since it has both lifelink and first strike. Then, once it has dealt damage, Angel of Vitality boosts the amount of life gained by one additional point. Just doing this attack once could be enough to get you over the 25 life needed for Angel of Vitality to get a +2/+2 boost, making it a 4/4.

While there are only two actual Angel creature cards in this deck, the theme of Angels shines brightly in this deck. Bishop of Wings gives you four points of life whenever an Angel enters the battlefield. Speaker of the Heavens is able to create a 4/4 Angel creature token simply by tapping itself, provided that you have at least seven more life than your starting total. With the amount of lifegain available in this deck, you should be able to reach this total easily, which will put you in a good position to win the game.

Orzhov Lifegain

The next deck I have for you adds Black mana and a considerable amount of lifegain. Let's take a look at it.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned
By combining the abilities of Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Heliod, Sun-Crowned, not only will you gain a fair amount of life, but you'll also be able to buff your creatures with some +1/+1 counters. Being able to give these counters to a creature like Speaker of the Heavens, who has both vigilance and lifelink, turns this meager 1/1 into a powerful blocker.

By adding Black to this mainly White deck, you're able to play Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose. With Vito in play, whenever you gain life, your opponent will lose an equal amount of life. That ability, in and of itself, makes Vito worth playing, but Vito also has another ability that can often act as a finisher. For five mana, creatures you control will gain lifelink until the end of the turn. Assuming you've already dealt some damage to your opponent throughout the game, even if your opponent blocks and kills all of your creatures, they'll still take damage thanks to Vito's first ability.

Esper Midrange

The next deck I have for you adds Blue to the Orzhov mix for a few specific reasons. Let's take a look at the deck.

Dream Trawler
While the previous two decks were more aggressive decks, this Esper deck prefers to let the game go on for a little longer. As I mentioned before, the addition of Blue mana allows us to play the powerful planeswalker, Teferi, Time Raveler. If you've played any amount of Standard during the past year, you've no doubt faced this problematic planeswalker. Not only does Teferi act as a means of creature removal, thanks to his -3 loyalty ability, but he also shuts off your opponent's ability to play instant spells on your turn. I know I won't be sorry to see this Teferi rotate from Standard in a few months, but until that happens, enjoy using him in this deck.

The Blue mana also provides you the ability to play two important creatures for this deck. The first is Brazen Borrower. Thanks to the Adventure side of this card, you'll have an additional way to remove opposing threats. The other creature that needs Blue mana is Dream Trawler. While some people believe that Baneslayer Angel might find little traction in Standard thanks to Dream Trawler already being a viable finisher, as an aggressive player, I prefer Baneslayer Angel over Dream Trawler. That's because Baneslayer Angel has first strike, allowing it to come out on top the majority of times during combat. While it may lack the hexproof that Dream Trawler can get, it's still difficult to destroy and I would often rather have a creature like Baneslayer Angel in my graveyard that I can return with cards like Liliana, Waker of the Dead and Elspeth Conquers Death.

Mardu Angels

The final deck I have for you this week replaces the Blue from our previous deck with Red, making it Mardu. Let's have a look at it.

Offspring's Revenge
By adding Red mana to an otherwise Orzhov Angels deck, you gain access to a pair of important removal spells. Since many of the creatures in this deck have a toughness of four or more, you'll often be able to cast Deafening Clarion for both of its effects. This can act as both a way to remove smaller creatures your opponent controls from the battlefield, as well as a means of gaining additional life for yourself. The Red mana also allows you to play Angrath's Rampage, which is one of the most efficient and versatile removal spells in Standard. It can deal with an artifact, creature, or planeswalker, and the best part is that the spell forces the player to sacrifice the chosen permanent, rather than destroying it. You'll really notice the difference when your opponent has ways to make their permanents indestructible.

The Red mana also allows you to play Offspring's Revenge, which is a great way to continue utilizing the abilities of creatures that have gone to your graveyard. While the token creature will only be a 1/1, it's the perfect size to be mentored by Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. Every creature in this deck offers a great ability that happens when it enters the battlefield, when it dies, or at other points during the game. Offspring's Revenge is like getting double value out of your creatures.

Wrapping Up

If you didn't think Baneslayer Angel had what it takes to be a contender in Standard, hopefully seeing these decks has changed your mind. Even though she appeared on the scene over ten years ago, Baneslayer Angel still has what it takes to be a powerful threat in Standard today.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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