Shadows over Innistrad: Angelic Fury Review (Part 2 of 2)
At last! We’ve had an unprecedented string of deck reviews without their corresponding playtests, but I’ve finally managed to get some games in. Joining me at the table is Josh, a good friend whose previous focus is on more competitive Magic, but has enjoyed the opportunity to playtest some preconstructed Magic as well. For our look at the Red/White Agnelic Fury, he’s opted to pilot the delirium-themed Horrific Visions.
A turn-3 Tooth Collector stops the Fox dead in its tracks, leaving the lane open for the Skinner to draw first blood. I replace my loss with a Howlpack Wolf, then end my turn. Next turn, Josh has an answer for that, too- Dead Weight– which doesn’t kill it, but takes it out of contention. That lets him slam in with both creatures for 5, sending me to 13. I counterattack with the much-reduced Wolf for 1, then drop an Ember-Eye Wolf and Unruly Mob.
Now turn 5, Josh swings for 5 more, leaving me at 8. I counter again with just the enchanted Wolf for 1. Next turn, Josh presses his advantage, but this time I have to act. I block the Collector with my Ember-Eye Wolf, then pump it to force the trade. To save the Collector, Josh then snipes the Wolf with Throttle, giving a +1/+1 counter to the Mob. I only take 2 from the Skinner, and fall to 6. I return fire with the 1/1 Wolf, then shore up my defenses with the Flameblade Angel.
That stays Josh’s attack on turn 7. Instead, he plays a Vessel of Nascency and pops it, hitting delirium. He then summons a Moldgraf Scavenger. Over to me, the Tooth Collector- empowered by delirium– kills off my poor enchanted Wolf once and for all. By way of revenge (and heading off a potential threat), I reply by killing the growing Obsessive Skinner with Inner Struggle.
Now turn 9, Josh adds a second Moldgraf Scavenger, immediately a 3/4, then sends in the Swine for 6. I gang-block it with the Runaway Carriage and Flameblade Angel. It’s a painful trade, but with me on the ropes those are the kinds of plays you have to make to stay alive. On the upside, Josh takes two points of damage from the Angel’s retributive effect, and my Mob gets two more +1/+1 counters, ending as a respectable 5/5. Over to me, I simply summon an Inspiring Captain, who’s temporary enters-the-battlefield buff is wasted.
Next turn, Josh lands a Crawling Sensation and passes. My turn is a blank. Back to him, he then mills two during his upkeep, hitting a land to trigger the Sensation. That gives him a 1/1 Insect, but it’s his only play. I continue my rebuild with a Cathar’s Companion.
Now turn 12, Josh summons a Wild-Field Scarecrow and passes. I draw and do the same, with nothing to play. Josh hits another Insect token next turn, then ends his turn after drawing. I test his lines by sending in the Companion, and when he opts to block with a 1/1 Insect, I cast Rush of Adrenaline. Not only does that pump the Companion and give it trample, but it also makes it indestructible. The Insect is splattered, and Josh takes 4 damage to fall to 11.
Seeing an opportunity, Josh makes a run on turn 14, sending in an Insect, both Scavengers, and his Tooth Collector, which has thrown its debuff onto the Mob. I play Dance with Devils in response, then proceed to rout the attack. First, I block the Insect and the Collector with Devil tokens, insuring I’d take no damage from them and both Devils would perish. Then, I block one Scavenger with the Mob, and the other with the Captain. The Captain is killed by its Scavenger, but then dies in return to the death trigger of the Devil that traded with the Insect. The beefy Mob eats the Scavenger it was assigned to block. The Tooth Collector kills its blocking Devil, but it becomes a trade as the death trigger finishes the job off, so as a result all four of Josh’s creatures don’t survive combat, while my Unruly Mob gets three more +1/+1 counters. It’s now nicely Eldrazi-sized. Josh finishes with an Explosive Apparatus, and I send the Mob in on the attack. Josh chumps it with the Scarecrow, but the tide has turned.
Now turn 15, Josh gets an Insect off the Crawling Sensation, then plays a replacement Moldgraf Scavenger. I swing in for 8, and he shoves the Insect in front of the rampaging Mob (there’s a visual). Josh’s next turn is a blank, but at the end of the turn I pay full retail for a Lightning Axe to kill his Scavenger. Back to me, Josh activates the Apparatus on my turn to try and kill the Cathar’s Companion. I respond by casting Lightning Axe (throwing away a Mountain) to hit my Unruly Mob. That doesn’t kill them, but it does make the Companion indestructible. With no defense, I swing for lethal and the game is won.
Josh leads off with a Vessel of Nascency, and hits the mother lode on turn 2 when he pops it and hits delirium. He keeps a Loam Dryad from the Vessel’s top four cards, and summons it on turn 3 alongside a 3/4 Moldgraf Scavenger. A dream start!
For my part, I simply drop land until a turn-3 Cathar’s Companion. Josh then swings in for 3 on turn 4, taking me to 17 life. He then summons a Crow of Dark Tidings. Back to me, I simply add a Howlpack Wolf and pass.
Now turn 5, I fall to 12 life off a 5-point attack from the Crow and Scavenger, but I get in for 3 of my own off the Wolf. Next turn, Josh brings out Crawling Sensation, then attacks for 5 more. I respond with Dance with Devils, blocking the Scavenger with a Devil and the (now-indestructible) Companion. That kills the Scavenger, and the death of the Devil snipes the Crow out of the air. Or at least it should have- we both overlooked that. At 10 life, though, things are stabilizing. I then return fire for 7, attacking with the Wolf, the Companion, and the remaining Devil. Josh blocks the Companion with the Dryad, hoping for a trade. I fire off another Dance with Devils, again making the Companion indestructible, eating the Dryad and taking Josh to 13.
The Crawling Sensation offers Josh a 1/1 Insect on turn 7, after which he kills the Companion with Rabid Bite (off that pesky Crow I forgot to kill). He then attacks for 2 with the Crow, and I’m down to 8. I then bring out the Flameblade Angel, then swing for 6 with three Devils and the Howlpack Wolf. Josh chumps the Wolf with the Insect (taking a point of damage from the Angel’s triggered ability), and Josh is now at 9.
Josh firms up some defense on turn 8 with a Groundskeeper and Wild-Field Scarecrow, but I have the win in hand. First I pick off the fortunate Crow with an Inner Struggle, then cast Magmatic Chasm. With none of his creatures able to block, I’ve got lethal on the board.
Thoughts & Analysis
I may have been a little harsh on Angelic Fury in my first pass of the deck. That’s not to say it’s a great deck, or even a good one, but it may be a little more decent than I thought given how it plays. In hindsight, I may have been more put off by the lack of a theme or identity, which is why the playtest is always an integral part of the review.
Rather, Angelic Fury plays out like a different kind of deck, the “good stuff” deck. A “good stuff” deck’s philosophy is that if your cards are better than your opponent’s, then you’re going to win more often than not. It doesn’t much matter if there isn’t a lot of synergy in your cards if they’re simply better than what your opponent is playing.
That isn’t to say that there are no overlaps here. Any instant-speed combat-applicable spell essentially can “combo” with the Cathar’s Companion, for instance, but that doesn’t mean it’s the basis for the deck. The same goes for Dance with Devils and Unruly Mob. These might be termed “micro-synergies,” different in scale and scope from decks that are inherently synergistic (think the tribal decks of Lorwyn for some extreme examples here).
That said, there’s still plenty of clunkiness in the deck as well, as evidenced by cards like Murderer’s Axe and Stern Constable. I actually played quite a number of matches with Josh using these two decks, and only consistent threat I could bring to bear was if I found- of all things- Gryff’s Boon, made one of my 3-power critters evasive, and outraced him before he found a way to deal with it. Not for nothing, Horrific Visions is fairly removal-poor, and low-toughness creatures are just the ticket for Devil token creatures. The matchup, in other words, flatted this deck a little.
Hits: Devil token creature generation is a delightful component to the deck, and often worth the expense of the card; Cathar’s Companion with instant-speed tricks can be a headache for your opponent
Misses: Too much filler and inferior cards, such as the discard-demanding Murderer’s Axe or the one-shot Runaway Carriage; removal package is very clunky and uneven; deck emphasizes short-term playing (mainly through self-discard effects) but not aggressive enough to capitalize on it
OVERALL SCORE: 3.60/5.00