The world of Innistrad is changed, and humanity now has a chance of survival as Avacyn, Angel of Hope emerges from the Helvault in Avacyn Restored. But the fight is far from over, as you may experience on prerelease and release event all around the world. The forces of darkness are still powerful.

   As the prerelease date is next week and really a lots of information is already available about the set, it’s time to take a look at the set ourselves. What new mechanics it offers, and what common tactics could you face (or employ) during an upcoming event ? Let’s see…

New and returning mechanics

Miracle – this new mechanic enables you to play some sorceries and instants for a much lower cost, if that’s the first card you draw that turn and you play it instantly. This inflated cost make this card highly dangerous, as there are removals, direct damage, and +6/+6 trample for 1 green mana are all possible with this effect.  Thankfully the most powerful effects are from high rarity, but even then, this mechanic will win games here and there.

Soulbond – This is a very interesting mechanic, which enables to a creature to use an ability and share it with another one if they get “paired”. Two creature could get paired if one of them (the one of the soulbond ability or the other one) enters play, and they are not paired already with someone else.

   There are many interesting and powerful effects there, including flying, double strike, deathtouch, and +2/+2 boost among others. While most of the Soulbond creatures are small, what makes them dangerous is that they can share their ability with a hand-picked ally, and providing a boost or double strike to something evasive your opponent can’t block, or giving deathtouch to a first strike creature is evil. Of course, you may Soulbond two “donor” creatures with each other, but I think it’s not always a wise decision.

Returning mechanics – First, this include Undying, which is still present but less prevalent than before. In this set only 6 creatures have this ability, and one of them returns into play to help the opponent, so it’s definitely not the same as before. Another returning thing is “flickering” : you exile something from the game, and it’s return to the battlefield later. I think it’s a very useful and versatile mechanics, which interacts with undying, soulbond, “comes into play” abilities, targeted spells (including enchantments) and combat.

Other things to look at

   If you going to an Avacyn Restored event there are many things to get ready. Maybe the most important : be able to deal with big flyers as I predict that many matches will be decided by the new (often very powerful) angels and the removals targeted at them. And if “normal” angels are not enough :  a common enchantment and an uncommon artifact could turn any creature into a flying angel (and of course, don’t forget about the Wingcrafter above)

   Red and black has some direct damage (and loss of life, which is the same for this regard) which could be surprisingly effective in the right build. Of course, is somebody is lucky enough to get the cards in the limited environment. Thankfully (or not, if you play against them) many of these cards are effective without a dedicated direct damage deck, and there are two red sorceries which could mean instant win in many cases.

   Overall I could say that there are many “bombs” in this set : between Avacyn, the trifecta of mythic-rare multicolor angels, multiple mass removals and the not-yet mentioned Craterhoof Behemoth (5/5 haste with a built-in overrun effect) among others many games will be decided by your pulls and those lucky top-decks. I really recommend to not overextend yourself, and keep some backup creatures and/or instant removals at hand if possible. Ok, I know it’s a good idea for every set, but now it’s really important.

   For deck-building don’t overlook the Soulbond creatures, as they could turn mediocre creatures into good ones, and your already strong monsters into even more dangerous. Vigilance, hexproof, first strike, flying, reach, trample, +1/+1 boost and deathtouch all could be provided by common cards ! I think all decks will feature at least some of these “donor” creatures.

Well, this is all I can say for no about the new set. For further information you may check the product info on Wizards own homepage, here.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros