• derek

Angel Ambush - Standard

This deck was submitted by Matt Milliard.

One of the funnest archetypes that Guilds of Ravnica Standard has to offer us is GW Tokens. I had contemplated building a list like this, but never really gotten around to it. Luckily, our friend Matt Milliard submitted a deck list that hits the nail on the head. And for those who listen to our #MTG #Podcast, The Main Phase, he's actually running a few cards in here that we think has been under played recently. So let's delve into the deck and see the various strategies within.

Token Generators.

This deck is running a total of 7 different cards that can create tokens.

A minor payoff and token generator for the deck is 4 History of Benalia. Everyone knows the power level of this card. For 1WW, you get a saga enchantment that on its first 2 chapters gives you a 2/2 knight token with vigilance. Then when it ultimates, it gives your knights a +2/+1 boost until end of turn. This card is fantastically powerful and can win games on its own.

We are running 3 Emmara, Soul of the Accord and 2 Trostani Discordant. Emmara is a great card in a list like this. It comes down early and can attack, creating a 1/1 lifelinking token. It can also be tapped to cast convoke spells or in other ways to produce the token as well. Trostani is great in the meta currently. With cards like Thief of Sanity or The Eldest Reborn, having a way to gain control of your creatures at the end of turn is not an insignificant effect. Trostani also comes in with 2 1/1 lifelinkers and will bump your whole team (sans her) +1/+1, literally doubling the power of your 1/1 tokens on the field.

We also are running 4 Karn, Scion of Urza, a card that JB and I think is underplayed. This is the only real source of card advantage that we have in the deck. It also is a great way to produce tokens for its -2 ability. Karn is extremely easy to cast as it is 4 mana of any color, and can steadily provide you with card advantage throughout the game. The list also runs a full play set of Legion's Landing. Legion's Landing provides a great turn 1 play that provides us with a lifelinking token and the ability to flip it into a land that taps for white, or paying 2W and tapping Adanto, creating a 1/1 token at instant speed. This is one of the cards that allows us to get an "Ambush" angel.

Lastly, we are running a play set of Saproling Migration. This card gives us either 2 1/1 saprolings early game for 1G, or 4 late game by paying an additional 4 colorless mana. Playing Saproling Migration also has another important role. It gives us the ability to flip Legion's Landing on turn 3! This in turn gives us the ability to either hold up token creation or ramp toward a Karn on turn 3.

The Payoff.

So really, we have 1 major payoff for playing tokens and 2 minor ones. The major payoff is actually a card we've seen before on Land Say Go: Divine Visitation. Divine Visitation is a 5 mana do nothing enchantment that says whenever a token would enter the battlefield under your control, it becomes a 4/4 vigilant, flying angel token instead. So, this deck really focuses on generating a ton of small tokens, only to make them larger in the late game.

We see a minor payoff in Flower//Flourish. Not only does it fix our mana, and find one of our few lands for one hybrid G/W, it also has a great overrun effect on the other half of the card, granting our whole team a temporary 6 mana +2/+2 boost at sorcery speed. This card is a fine card, and I'm surprised it hasn't seen more play. I definitely this its worth the slots. Our other minor payoff also fits into our next category of strategy.

Big or Alternative Mana.

When creating so many tokens in this deck, we want a way to be able to utilize them in more ways than just attacking. We want to be using them to cast more of our spells. One of the ways we can do that is with Song of Freyalise; for 1G your get an saga enchantment that gives your creatures the ability to tap for mana of any color on its first 2 chapters (much like a temporary Cryptolith Rite) and then eventually perma-buffing your team with a +1/+1 counter and giving them trample, vigilance, and indestructible until end of turn. This allows you to freely swing in and deal vast amounts of damage, retain your board, and stay untapped to cast spells with either Convoke or at instant speed. This card is extremely powerful and with the explosiveness of the deck, can be positively devastating. We also see some alternative costs for our only removal spell in the main deck. Running a play set of Conclave Tribunal, this allows us to tap our Emmara for value but to also utilize a lot of our tokens to cast it for cheap, or even free by using Convoke. 3W (or tapping 3 creatures of any color and 1 white creature), we get the ability to exile a nonland permanent an opponent controls.

The True Ambush.

Of course, we really need more instant speed token generators to really call this an Ambush deck. Luckily, Guilds of Ravinca gave us just such a card: March of the Multitudes. For XGWW we get an instant speed token generator with Convoke, allowing all of our other tokens to power out an even larger board of tokens. And when we have a Divine Visitation on the battlefield, those tokens immediately become 4/4 flying vigilant angels. If cast on your opponent's end step, will allow you to sneak a game wining amount of flying power onto the field, able to swing in next turn. Even better, since your angels have vigilance, on the event of a Settle the Wreckage, you can use them to power out an even larger March of the Multitudes in response. Or on a massive attack from your opponent, instant speed a Multitude of angels for some spectacular blowouts.This card has great play, and will win you games.


I think the mana base is pretty good. Currently, we are running 21 lands, which can feel fairly light. However, knowing that we are running 4 Flower//Flourish and 4 Karn helps. Remember, on Karn activations, most of the time the opponent will flood you with mana. This basically will fix our issues. I would however like to see a couple Plains removed for 2 Memorial to Glory. I know they come into play tapped, but having another ambush prepared of potentially 2 4/4 angels is really good. Other than than, running a Field of Ruin or 2 to handle some of the pesky flip lands is a strong possibility as well.

The Sideboard.

This deck has an interesting sideboard. To start, it runs 4 Kraul Harpooners and 1 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants. Kraul Harpooner are a 3/2 creature with reach for 1G that gives us an enter the battlefield effect to get +X/+0 for each creature in our graveyard and then fight a flyer an opponent controls. Personally, I'm not sure if the Harpooners or Ajani are the best choices for this deck. Ajani's ultimate can be great with Divine Visitation, but we need to judge it for it's first 2 abilities. While the +1 does work well with the deck by buffing 2 of your small token creatures. My problem is when looking at the -2 ability, there is only 1 legal target in the main deck (Emmara). If we then board in Kraul Harpooners, it does add to the count of creatures, but there aren't a ton of creatures in the deck to synergize with Kraul's ability. Instead, I'd like to see more spell based removal.

I'd personally add an additional Settle the Wreckage to the sideboard, upping the count to 2. I'd also Add in Vivien Reid to the mix, perhaps running a 2/2 split of Vivien Reid and Crushing Canopy. Vivien acts as additional card advantage when you get her down and can handle a lot of the troublesome enchantments, artifacts, and flyers in the format as well as being another win condition on the ultimate. I like Crushing Canopy because it also answers things like Ixalan's Binding as well as those pesky flyers at instant speed. I like the 3 Knight of Autumn we are running in the board. It is additional incidental enchantment and artifact hate, can gain us 4 life or become a big 4/3 beater. Another card to consider would be Deathgorge Scavenger, as it also gains life and becomes a giant beater, but in addition to that can be a great answer to graveyard strategies. However, if you still want the ability to blow up artifacts and enchantments, consider running Sprouting Renewal, a new uncommon sorcery for 2G that gives you the option to create a 2/2 token (yay synergy!) or destroy an artifact or enchantment. I think this should be worth a consideration.

I am a little surprised at the 3 Baffling End in the sideboard over Seal Away. I believe I understand the reasoning though. I think the specific match up you'd play that is in Golgari. Exiling the Stitcher's Supplier or the Glowspore Shaman with Baffling End will permanently remove them from the game, mitigating any additional enter the battlefield triggers from them should Baffling End see an Assassin's Trophy; it also can hit creatures that just don't tap like Militia Bugler, Relentless Raptor, or Swiftblade Vindicator. However, I personally think that not being able to hit creatures higher on the mana curve (plus being sorcery speed) is a major downside to Baffling End. I'd say, if Golgari isn't really in your meta, I think you'd have better success with Seal Away.

Lastly, in the sideboard we have 2 Sorcerous Spyglass and 1 Immortal Sun. Immortal Sun may be hard to cast, being 6 mana, it also shuts down our planeswalkers, regardless. However, I'd still play it in superfriends lists, ever along side Karn. The ability to shut down your opponent's planeswalkers is key, and getting the added card advantage for the extra draw, and the mana reduction and team boost, makes it a great include here. Sorcerous Spyglass also makes a great inclusion, as not only does it give you information on your opponent's hand but also shuts down anything with an activated ability, including but not limited to: Doom Whisperer, Azcanta the Sunken Ruin, Nicol Bolas, all pl