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What Wizards Did Right with AVR (and What They Did Wrong) - John Mourino (5/31/2012)

I really wanted to enjoy Avacyn Restored. I really did. Innistrad was such a fun drafting set that I was pumped for Avacyn Restored. How could Wizards screw up the conclusion to such a cool set? I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t entirely excited for Innistrad, especially the practicability of the flip cards. I believed that they would have been more trouble and less fun to play with, but boy was I proven wrong. The flip cards were all great; not only did they have decent power in draft, they added a little bit of flavor to the Magic storyline and I appreciate that. But Innistrad suffered one huge setback and that was its lack of money cards within the set. Dark Ascension suffered the same symptom which was unfortunate because players weren’t motivated to spend money on drafts. Don’t get me wrong, breaking even moneywise is my goal in Magic, and for that to happen Wizards needs to print enough money cards for these packs to be worth $3. There were fun combos to play with in Innistrad/Dark Ascension, and it felt pretty satisfying to play with some of the bomb mythic rares, but I was hoping that Avacyn Restored would renew the “fun” aspect of the game as well as offer exciting chase rares where sellers like us could at least attempt to get back some of the money that we sink into this game.

And this is where I realized something. Avacyn Restored has its share of money, but there's something it lacks, and it lacks something huge. It lacks archetypes, it lacks power, for goodness sake it feels like I’m drafting a core set all over again. Remember self mill decks in Innistrad with Memory’s Journey and Spider Spawning
Spider Spawning
Spider SpawningSet: Innistrad
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
203
Artist:
Daniel Ljunggren
Text:
Put a 1/2 green Spider creature token with reach onto the battlefield for each creature card in your graveyard. Flashback {6}{B} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
? Even black/white Humans was fun, I remember this one draft where I had triple Village Cannibals
Village Cannibals
Village CannibalsSet: Innistrad
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human
Rarity:
U
Number:
125
Artist:
Bud Cook
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever another Human creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Village Cannibals.
with like 15 other humans. What does Avacyn Restored offer? Soulbond and Miracle and Wizards decided to favor only 3 colors when it came to printing these mechanics. I admit the soulbond mechanic is pretty fun, but the best decks usually degenerate to Red/white decks where the curve consists of a bunch of vanilla 2 or 3 drops with the lone Thunderous Wrath
Thunderous Wrath
Thunderous WrathSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
160
Artist:
Adam Paquette
Text:
Thunderous Wrath deals 5 damage to target creature or player. Miracle {R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn.)
. Dang, I don’t know what Wizards has against black, because black is by far the worst color to draft in triple Avacyn Restored. Ironically, black has Griselbrand
Griselbrand
GriselbrandSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
8
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
M
Number:
106
Artist:
Igor Kieryluk
Power:
7
Toughness:
7
Text:
Flying, lifelink Pay 7 life: Draw seven cards.
, which I feel is gonna stay in the $10-15 range for a long time(Pay 7 life for seven cards? Sign me up!). In Standard you could argue that it's slightly clunky, but I feel that graveyard recursion decks in Legacy/Commander just got that much better, especially Commander where paying 7 life is hardly a drawback.

What do I think that they should have done differently? For one thing, stop reprinting bad cards. A 5 mana vanilla 5/3 wasn’t good in Kamigawa and it definitely isn’t good now (This means you Renegade Demon
Renegade Demon
Renegade DemonSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
C
Number:
118
Artist:
Tomasz Jedruszek
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
). When creating a new set, you should always be looking to print synergistic cards. I mean seriously you guys hit the nail on the head with Innistrad. Avacyn Restored, unfortunately, leaves something to be desired. Even the prerelease event was a load of bull. The Helvault
Helvault
HelvaultSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Legendary Artifact
Rarity:
M
Number:
151
Artist:
Jaime Jones
Text:
{1}, {T}: Exile target creature you control. {7}, {T}: Exile target creature you don't control. When Helvault is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return all cards exiled with it to the battlefield under their owners' control.
thing was a cool concept, but the prizes were so off. Why did I spend $30? For a bunch of token cards that are useless, and whats the deal with oversized cards anyway? No player, not Commander/Standard/Legacy will ever use those things so they’re permanently useless. Remember Zendikar? Remember when you were rewarded with alternate art card designs and you weren’t even expecting it? Now that set was a set done right. It was a ton of fun to draft, there were synergistic cards and fun archetypes, and the prizes were pretty sweet at the end. What did you get at the Avacyn Restored prerelease event? A bunch of useless oversized cards/tokens that are worth zero dollars. At least the extra dice was a nice touch though.

I don’t like complaining just to complain, but I feel that with all of these sets Wizards should have developed a sort of checklist by now. We all know that Magic can be quite an expensive hobby, and many have joked that Wizards has found a way of printing money, but there are plenty of things that Wizards did right in this set, and I intend to list them.

First, they succeeded in printing cards that are powerful but fair in terms of gameplay. Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
Cavern of SoulsSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
226
Artist:
Cliff Childs
Text:
As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type. {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool. {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell of the chosen type, and that spell can't be countered.
, although it hoses one archetype pretty significantly, still has a drawback of limiting colored mana to cast spells. Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sigarda, Host of HeronsSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
M
Number:
210
Artist:
Chris Rahn
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying, hexproof Spells and abilities your opponents control can't cause you to sacrifice permanents.
is 5 mana for a 5/5 flying hexproof. Wizards has to be very careful with Hex
Hex
HexSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
89
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Destroy six target creatures.
proof because if a game changing creature is given hexproof, the game begins to revolve around that creature. Sigarda is powerful for what it is, but not too powerful to lead to gamechanging formats much like other offenders(I’m looking at you, Skullclamp
Skullclamp
SkullclampSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
140
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Text:
Equipped creature gets +1/-1. Whenever equipped creature is put in a graveyard from play, draw two cards. Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
and Jace!). Wizards was also successful in creating two cool and very fun to play mechanics; soulbond and miracle, although miracle can be slightly annoying if you’re too quick with your draws (once the card goes to your hand it’s too late to cast it for its miracle cost). However, Wizards made a huge mistake in not balancing out these mechanics between all the colors. Indeed, the amount of good miracle/soulbond cards are predominantly in red, green, and white, making blue and black the weakest colors in the format at least as far as Limited is concerned.

In conclusion, I feel Wizards was so close to creating a perfect format, yet they still need to tweak a few things. They need to be able to print cards that players want to play with, this is the only way to keep longtime players but it also keeps the game fresh and inviting to new players. They also need to realize that Limited formats are just as important as Standard in regards to the health of the game. Probably more so since it's more popular and doesn’t require as much money to play. Nevertheless, drafting triple Avacyn Restored isn’t fun period, because we already deal with 1 core set every year. We don’t need another!


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