By: Cliff Daigle
So back when the Commander 2015 preconstructed decks were announced, I thought sure we would get Serra and a deck full of Angels.
Instead we got some equipment and it was disappointing, Containment Priest notwithstanding.
Monday, Wizards announced that this summer’s From the Vault series will be Angels! This is both better and worse than being in a preconstructed deck. Thank goodness we’re no longer getting preview cards in the FTV series, as the slots are just too precious.
So what are the rules for FTV? How can we know what will be in this? The last three sets have been Realms, FTV 20, and Annihilation. So we have to go back to 2011 to find a creature-based set. Since that was from a while ago, and focused on multicolor cards, I’m not treating it as a hard and fast guide, but there’s a few key points.
#1: Increase supply of some hard-to-find cards. This is straight out of Gavin Verhey’s article on FTV: Annihilation last year. This is the category that I’m least sure about, as most of the Portal Angels have already seen a reprint. FTV represents one way to get foil versions of cards that couldn’t be put into a Standard set or a special set (Conspiracy, Modern Masters)
#2: Appeal to the casual and tournament players. This usually means that there will be one valuable card and a few of other semi-pricey ones, and then cards that are almost like filler, but fun filler.
#3: Represent a range of colors and strategies from the past. I love it. This is going to be a primarily white set, as white has nearly all the Angels. So the non-white Angels are going to be a bit more likely.
Let’s go over some honorable mentions. I feel these could make it in, but they are not my #1 pick for one reason or another.
Razia, Boros Archangel
Angel of the Dire Hour
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Archangel of Strife
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Archangel of Thune
Angel of Light
Angel of Despair
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Iona, Shield of Emeria
These cards represent the ‘I wouldn’t be surprised’ tier of Angels. All of these would be worthy inclusions in detailing the history of this iconic tribe. Copper-Leaf Angel is a good candidate for a surprise, but I’d really be shocked if that was in over Platinum Angel. Luminarch Ascension is a hard card to leave out, but it’s a ‘target acquired’ sort of card that if you play it, you’ll be punished all game for it. It’s a bit punishing for casual players, too.
The last two, Linvala and Iona, are a strong hunch on my part. Linvala is rather reprintable, even as a legend. She’s not more powerful than High Sentinels of Arashin, for example. I’d expect to see Linvala in another set soon, maybe even MM2015 this summer. Iona has the distinction of being one of the most unfun and non-interactive cards ever printed, allowing you to have an answer in hand but sorry! you can’t play it. I don’t think Iona will be in this set. Her price and casual appeal don’t demand a reprint the way Avacyn does.
With regard to my picks for the set, I’m going to list what I think the value will be initially and what the value will end up at. I’ll also give the financial effect on the originals, foil and nonfoil. For reference, I’m looking at things like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, who took a hit in foil and nonfoil when FTV:Twenty came out. Many cards do take a hit to the foil and nonfoil prices, Maze of Ith and Armageddon among them. I expect a similar path for these Angels.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope – The lock of the set. Avacyn is ridiculous in any deck that can play her, and the reason why your EDH decks need to be packing non-destructive answers like Terminus or Hallowed Burial. She’s iconic, has a great story, and is incredibly powerful.
I would expect Avacyn to be the chase card of this set, and have a price to match. History, with Jace and others, suggests that her price will be at the highest immediately and come down gradually, and in her case, very slowly. The nonfoil will drop somewhat, to about $20 or so, but I think the foil version will rebound to its current level within a few months.
Serra Angel – You may not agree with its inclusion, but the story cannot be told without the original, overpowered version. Yes, she’s overpowered. She is nearly on par with Wingmate Roc, and she was an uncommon! In many ways, removal had to be good to deal with creatures this good, which is a history Magic has spent the last couple of years overcoming.
There are a lot of promo versions of this card out there, with lots of different art. The ‘redeem’ foil featuring the original Douglas Shuler art won’t be affected at all by this printing. Every other version will take a hit and stay low, considering the sheer number of sets this card has been in: sixteen of them, not counting duel decks!
Angel of Finality – This is the first of three ‘has never been foil’ cards I’m picking for this set. It’s a surprisingly underplayed sideboard card in Legacy (you can’t pay two colorless more than Rest in Peace to get a 3/4 flyer?) and it’s a card I really like in my Kaalia deck. More people should be playing this card in Commander and Cube.
The nonfoils from Commander 2013 will lose some value, but I expect this foil to keep a surprising price for a while. A bit of warning: I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up in a regular set sometime soon. Four mana for a 3/4 flyer plus upside is Restoration Angel.
Silver Seraph – This is a card that is more fragile, more expensive, and less surprising than Dictate of Heliod, but it remains a really awesome card. Threshold is a very easy condition to satisfy in casual formats, and this does a lot of work for you despite costing eight mana.
I think that this will be one of the more expensive cards initally, as the foils are just tough to find, being from a low point in Magic’s sales. I doubt there will be much effect on the prices of the pack foil and the nonfoil, though.
Seraph – Seven mana for a 4/4 flyer. Sure, you get to keep anything it kills or helps to kill, but it’s still a lot of mana for not a lot of effect. This has not yet had a foil, its only printings have been in nonfoil sets to date. This is exactly the sort of card that Wizards likes to dig up and put into an FTV set, just as a reminder of days gone by.
Despite the fun flavor of an angel killing a creature and then enslaving it, I expect this to be one of the cheapest cards from the set and there will be downward pressure on the nonfoil’s price as a result.
Angel of Fury – Angels have had all sorts of abilities to show that they are spirits of the next world. Angels allow others to be reborn, and this one gets reborn. It was one of two Portal candidates, and while you might not like the cost or the shuffle, it’s another card that hasn’t had a foil version yet.
The price of this card is mostly due to the low supply of Portal cards out there. Not as rare as the Three Kingdoms cards, but still not easy to find. I expect this nonfoil to take a significant hit and not really recover.
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls – Kaalia’s compatriot in the Heavenly Inferno deck, Tariel is a very busted card if you ever have it in play. Unlike Seraph, the cards it gets will stay even if Tariel leaves play, so it’s Wrath or bust once this gets going. It’s a random effect, but in a couple of turns, you’ll just have it all.
Price-wise, this is likely to be one of the stronger cards if the set shakes out as I expect it to. Tariel is easy to include in Kaalia decks, and this will be the only foil version available for some time. The FTV price will be reasonable, but the nonfoil is going to lose value.
Akroma, Angel of Fury – The only mono-red Angel, she’s color-shifted and has Morph. Bringing back this mechanic right now is a little too perfect. She also adds a nice touch to casual decks with Morphs in them, because your Morph can now be super-terrifying. It’s always baffled me a bit that this Akroma lacks haste.
This will cause a hit to the price of the Planar Chaos foil, but it will recover. Remember that a lot of people really don’t like the foiling process of the FTV cards, so they will pay a premium to get the pack foil. The nonfoils, including the Commander 2011 version, will lose some of their value but not too much.
Aurelia, the Warleader – The red/white slot is surprisingly contested. Razia, Aurelia, Basandra, and Gisela are all fine cards, but I’m going to let personal bias win this one. Aurelia is a house, capable of ending games out of nowhere, and requiring an instant-speed removal spell.
I will be sad to see her reprinted, for I picked up ten of her around $3 each and I have been pleased to see her growth. I think her nonfoil takes a small hit, but will recover in a year or so. The foil will recover faster, and be more stable.
Jenara, Asura of War – It’s tough for me to put this in over the equally-mythic Empyrial Archangel, but being a legend, and from a smaller set puts Jenara over the top. Jenara also plays well with the Tiny Leaders format, though I don’t think this set was designed recently enough for that to have been a factor.
Her price will fall slightly but it’ll go back up fairly quickly, and Tiny Leaders will help with that. I suspect the FTV price will stabilize nicely between the current foil/nonfoil split.
Desolation Angel – It’s tough for me to include this over Fallen Angel or Angel of Despair. The effect that Desolation Angel offers is unique, though, and this has one of the biggest foil/nonfoil splits around. I don’t think nonfoils will be hurt at all, but the foils will take a big dive and might not recover.
Iridescent Angel – Pristine Angel was in Conspiracy, so now the broken predecessor can have a chance to shine. I really hope this has new art, as the blue line doesn’t really say iridescence to me. This can wear an Equipment for pure profit, as only colorless flyers (or colorless reach) can block it.
This is already quite cheap in nonfoil, but expect the foils to lower by a couple of dollars for a year or so.
Maelstrom Archangel – Another card from Alara block, with the price to match. It’s the only five-color Angel ever, and I imagine if they had the chance, they would go back and make this Legendary for Commander players. This is a card that Kaalia of the Vast would dearly love to have on the team, but it’s just not to be.
I think that this has the most to lose when it’s reprinted. The foil is currently only about twice the nonfoil, and both of those will be hit hard by an appearance in this FTV. Supply has never been big for Conflux, so adding this special set will do significant damage to the prices. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was down half its value in either foil or nonfoil.
Angelic Destiny – This is the good way to turn your non-Angels into angelic beings, and do so over and over again. It’s got a certain level of inevitability, but not on the scale of Rancor. Just four mana to add flying, first strike, and +4/+4 is pretty bonkers, even for a mythic.
This is another card that will take a beating price-wise, I think. Magic 2012, being from nearly four years ago, is not as common as you might think. I love this art, and especially in foil. I don’t believe it’ll be as bad as Maelstrom Archangel, but it will be down for a long while.
Entreat the Angels – I really love the Miracle frame in foil, and the Terminus from last year looks good to me. Entreat has popped up a few times in Legacy Miracles, and it’s a card I love in any deck with white mana.
I actually don’t think the nonfoil price will be budged at all. This is an easy card to add to any casual deck, even Tiny Leaders! The foil will take a minor ding in price, but it won’t stay down for long.
Join me next week as we look ahead to one very expensive summer!
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