– From the Vault: Angels
November 25, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.50
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I like some Baneslayer Angel or Lyra Dawnbringer action. But I think we’d do well to remember that neither was the first angel to elicit players’ jaws to hit the floor and cause them to gasp “Can they really print that?” That would be today’s Card of the Day, which was not only the most dominating high-end white creature since Serra Angel, but the face of Onslaught‘s morph mechanic and a long-time powerhouse in Standard and Extended. Paying six mana for a 4/5 creature with flying and pre-lifelink is probably fair (though I think we’re somewhat clouded by the aforementioned Baneslayer), but she’s even more devastating when the morph mechanic is used as massive cost reduction. You can flip her on turn three if your second color is green, and because of the way flickering effects work, sometimes you can even pay less than four mana. Astral Slide decks used to take advantage of this by cycling a land, using the mana they saved to cast a damage-based sweeper, and leaving the table empty except for the scariest big creature in Onslaught under their control.
The fact that she isn’t played nowadays in eternal formats is deceptive, as it’s more about how ridiculous eternal formats have become. Anywhere else, Exalted Angel is still a high-tier play.
Back in the debut of the morph mechanic in Onslaught, Exalted Angel was probably one of the strongest cards with the mechanic, largely because of how aggressively the morph ability was costed at the time. The “five mana to beat a 2/2” rule that was put in for Tarkir was nowhere to be seen, and so we had a 4/5 with flying and pseudo-lifelink that can attack on-curve on turn 4. Spending 7 mana seems a bit pricey to do this, but splitting the cost over 2 turns and using the advantage of hidden information as to what the morph is can be a massive advantage.
As a note, Exalted Angel’s ability was not changed to be lifelink, but it’s still a triggered ability that functions like lifelink, more or less. If you’d die to combat damage, you won’t be saved by the lifegain trigger…but this does stack with lifelink, so giving it to Exalted Angel gives you more life than you’ll have a use for.
While a 6-mana 4/5 with flying isn’t remarkable by today’s standards, Exalted Angel was an absurdly aggressive creature in an era where creatures were still rather weak as a whole, to where she earned a spot in two of the commemorative World Championship decks of the Onslaught era (part of the winning deck in 2003, and part of a semifinalist’s deck in 2004). Her era has long passed in terms of play; she hasn’t rejoined Standard or debuted in Modern, as she wasn’t reprinted in Time Spiral and was both too out-of-flavor and too powerful for Tarkir, and she’s way too fair and slow for Legacy. That said, Exalted Angel was one of the Onslaught era’s best creatures, and it’s possible that she’d be playable even in this Standard if she were legal.
Hey guys! We have another Card of the Day Review and today we’re looking at Exalted Angel!
Back in the day Life Gain was considered mostly a gimmick, it had to be placed on an exceptionally powerful creature to be considered worthwhile, and that’s exactly what happened with Exalted Angel.
She is a legend in the ranks of ‘Standard Powerhouse’ that had come in the days of yore and while the lifegain is trinket text, her real strength comes in her ability to go on curve. Turn 3 morph, turn 4 flip into a 4/5 flier that could race against aggro decks!
While her prime is long gone, in the spirit of Thanksgiving we should be thankful for all the old timey cards that set the stage for the creature power creep we see today!
Constructed – 5/5 During her time in Standard she was amazing!
Commander – 3/5 Fine creature if you’re going with an Angels Theme
Limited – 5/5 If you’re doing Onslaught Draft and you open this, it’s a P1P1 for sure!
Cube – 2/5 There’s much better options now for cube, unless you’re going for an old school theme
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