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Gathering Deck Garage
I just started playing Magic about a week ago, and my friend gave me this deck. It's a mono white deck. From what I can see, it's designed to get humans on the battlefield and reinforce them with angels, but I'm not 100% sure. A lot of the time i either have nothing but creatures or nothing but lands, and it doesn't seem like the deck flows very well, and its not very flexible. Can you give me your opinion on its purpose and how I can fix it to make it better? The deck goes as follows:
Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
I'm glad you came to me with this deck, Brandon. White aggro has been a classic strategy for as long as there's been a White Knight. But in most Standard formats, there are enough aggressive white creatures that it can be hard to determine which ones to use.
Meanwhile, Angels have also been an icon for white decks as far back as Magic goes. But they're not at all aggressive- they rarely cost less than four or five. Better suited as late-game "mop up" creatures, decks that devote themselves to Angels frequently find themselves struggling to stay alive long enough to cast their angelic champions, or too far behind for the Angels to make up the difference once they arrive.
Avacyn Restored did a decent job of alleviating this problem by encouraging "Human/Angel decks", decks that start out like aggro Human decks but can drop Angels once the Humans start to lose their luster. It also gave us several cheap Angels that nonetheless hold their own, like Angel of Jubilation and Emancipation Angel.
Unfortunately, the divide between mortal and divine isn't the only philosophical schism your deck presents us with. You've also divided your focus between Exalted and Swarm strategies. You've got several Exalted cards, including a few that aren't even that good in a dedicated Exalted deck, but then you've also got Increasing Devotion; Commander's Authority; Odric, Master Tactician; and Angel of Jubilation; which suggest that you're trying to build an army of attackers instead of just swinging with one champion.
You're going to have to choose a tactic. And since your Swarm cards are better than your Exalted cards, I'm going to pick Swarm for you. (If you'd rather have Exalted, that's your decision to make but don't stop reading just yet-- you may still learn something.) That means we can start by removing all your Exalted cards, except for Guardians of Akrasa.
Why leave Guardians of Akrasa in? Because they're decent enough even when you're not swinging with one creature. Especially in a deck like yours, that wants creatures out ASAP but still wants the game to last until you can cast an Angel. Further, even if you don't explicitly plan to attack with one creature, scenarios will inevitably arise in which that's the best play to make. In that case, the +1/+1 from a Guardian you happen to have out will be much appreciated. Finally, Guardians of Akrasa play well with War Falcon, Mentor of the Meek, and any cards you have that care about Humans.
So that means you've removed Cathedral of War, I also want you to remove Cavern of Souls. That card only helps if you're playing more colors than creature types. Replace all lands removed this way with basic Plains-- they don't come into play tapped and they can pay for anything in your deck. The three Seraph Sanctuary should be all the colorless lands you really want to deal with, and keeping the deck at 23 lands should be a good choice.
I do want to bring the average mana cost of your cards down though, since you mentioned that you were having trouble getting the right amount of mana. Palisade Giant is the most obvious card to remove-- it just doesn't fit in with anything else here, strategy-wise. Angel of Glory's Rise can also be removed-- as great as it looks, it's a bit situational and you need cards that will help you earlier than Turn Seven. The same goes, I hate to say, for Avacyn herself. We need to get you to a point where you can live to Turn Eight before Avacyn can help you. Moonsilver Spear, Akroma's Memorial, Divine Deflection, and Commander's Authority can also be cut on these grounds. Martial Law and Growing Ranks may be relatively cheap, but they're too slow to help you-- you need cards with more immediate impact.
Ghostly Possession may look good on paper, and you do need ways to get opposing creatures out of the way without having to best them in combat, but giving your enemies a creature that can block flyers and never die from damage is a huge mistake for a deck that runs Angels. Pull the Possession, and replace it with a few copies of either Pacifism or Arrest, depending on whether you find yourself bothered by creatures with abilities that don't actually attack you. Guildmages, for example. You should also move up to a full playset of Soul Tithe-- the fact that they can affect anything from creatures to enchantments to planeswalkers means that you'll never be upset to draw one, and even if your opponent opts to pay the tithe, you've restricted their further plays considerably.
Speaking of full playsets, you don't appear to have any. Your whole deck is just one's and two's, and that's a problem because it means you can't get your good cards as reliably. I suspect this is contributing to your troubles drawing a good creature/land balance-- your spells are all over the map, meaning the amount of mana you need to draw varies wildly from one game to the next. War Falcon, Mentor of the Meek, Fiend Hunter, Oblivion Ring, Herald of War and Angel of Glory's Rise are currently the strongest cards in your deck, so fill in any remaining holes with more copies of those cards. A few more Elixir of Immortality could help too, but that's hardly a crucial card so you can afford to skip more copies of that.
Speaking of what you can afford, I understand that I just recommended quite a few chase rares, and maybe you don't want to drop the money to get them right now. I understand completely. There's plenty of budget commons that can benefit your deck as well if you're interested. Break of Day, Knight Watch, and Gather the Townsfolk are all great cards for a deck that makes tokens. Boros Elite and Daring Skyjek have the Boros Battalion ability, which meshes perfectly with what Odric, Master Tactician wants to do. Fencing Ace makes a great two-drop Human that works wonders with any card that increases a creature's power. Eyes in the Skies and Rootborn Defenses are probaby your best choices if you want to continue with the Populate mechanic, but after pulling Commander's Authority, I don't know if you want to risk drawing Populate cards with no tokens on the board. I doubt you had enough token producers to be using a Populate card in the first place, honestly.
Hopefully that helps you, Brandon. Now that Gatecrash has been released and the Boros are out in force, I have no doubt that you'll be able to put together an army to strike fear in the hearts of the rest of your gaming group.
And to everyone else out there, join me next time when I'll be fixing a deck that also greatly benefits from the cards in one of Gatecrash's Guilds.
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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes