Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

When it comes to Magic: the Gathering, my primary hangouts in terms of color are blue and white. Blue, because the mind is a powerful tool in general and usually pretty flexible in the game & its planes in particular; and white, because I’m one of those incurable optimists who believes light can triumph over darkness. One of my favorite creatures back when I first played the game in the early 90s was the Serra Angel, one of the first examples of the Vigilance mechanic back before it had that name and a flying creature outshone (at the time) only by the Shivan Dragon.

The Innistrad block, for me, has been an interesting change of pace. I started out with a blue and red deck for Standard, but never quite found the right balance or tempo with it. For a while I kicked around an idea for a spirits deck, with my personal favorite planeswalker [mtg_card]Venser, the Sojourner[/mtg_card] at its heart, but most of the necessary rares elude me to this day. When Dark Ascension hit and I cracked open my box, the playset of [mtg_card]Markov Blademaster[/mtg_card] appealed to my inclination towards elegant yet vicious vampires, and before I knew it [mtg_card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/mtg_card] and I were allies in battle. I continue to tweak that deck, and hopefully I can play it a bit before Friday’s Avacyn Restored pre-release event.

I sometimes forget just how powerful planeswalkers can be. The fact that Sorin created the archangel Avacyn is somewhat mind-boggling, and makes me intensely curious from a lore standpoint. How did he go about this process? Was she summoned from the aether, or was a worthy mortal imbued with divine power? Who is Avacyn, and who was she before? Does she know she serves a creature that drinks the blood of the living and has lived as a planeswalking vagabond for centuries? In addition to all of these questions, there was one other unrelated to lore that prodded my mind: How can I get this righteous minx into a deck?

Avacyn Restored is all about humans fighting back against the forces of darkness. Dawn is breaking all over Innistrad, and as much as my vampires will be pleased that their investments are receiving more protection, it is clear that the common man (and some uncommon men and women as well) are taking back what they’ve lost since [mtg_card]Liliana of the Veil[/mtg_card] and the other malevolent forces of the plane began pushing their boundaries. New champions are emerging, the angels are returning, and the townsfolk are bolder than ever.

Into all of this I intend to introduce [mtg_card]Elspeth Tirel[/mtg_card], Venser’s erstwhile traveling companion and another planeswalker I really like. A warrior maiden of the highest order, she seems to draw inspiration from other ladies of war such as Eowyn of Lord of the Rings, Joan of Arc, and Brienne of Tarth. The deck I’m working on covers two of the three colors associated with her native plane shard of Bant, white and green. To be honest, green is probably the color I use the least, and facing it is always a challenge for me. A savvy green player can ramp up mana very quickly, making it difficult for players in other colors to keep up. This, combined with effects that dump commonplace humans onto the battlefield and emboldening or empowering them, should create the basis for a formidable army, one to which I will introduce one or more of the angels restored along with Avacyn, if not the Angel of Hope herself.

Provided, of course, I actually see her when I start opening packs.