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Archive for the ‘Finishers’ Category

The most pressing question for standard players at the moment is: do you want to play Jund, do you want to play a deck with Baneslayer Angel, or do you want to play an underpowered deck? Now, for players who will play $20 fetchlands in their monocoloured decks playing an underpowered deck is not the preferred option. Baneslayer Angel, however, costs fifty dollars. That’s $200 for a playset, or roughly 2 booster boxes of Zendikar. So assuming we don’t want to play Jund mirrors all day, is there an alternative to Baneslayer Angel as a huge, cheap evasive finisher?

Public Enemy #1

Public Enemy #1

First lets examine why this under(mana)costed babe is so expensive. At 5 mana for a flying 5/5 with two other excellent abilities, she is obviously a bargain. Almost no damage based removal kills her, importantly none that gets played in standard – Bituminous Blast, Lightning Bolt, and Burst Lightning are all excellent spells against most creatures but her 5 toughness butt puts her out of range for these spells. If you want to kill a Baneslayer Angel you’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way – with Doom Blade or Terminate. But Doom Blade is bad against Jund and Vampires, meaning it is not a good maindeck choice. Terminate means you probably are Jund, in which case you can find an anti-Baneslayer plan from a more competitive focused article. The best way to kill her is with a Path to Exile, which is her Achilles Heel. A 5/5 first strike flier is also nearly impossible to kill in creature combat for obvious reasons.

We’ve established that she is very hard to kill and that she’s cheap, but on top of that she wins races with ease – Attacking each turn with her is a 10 life swing, 5 off your opponent’s life total and 5 more on yours. At Pro Tour: Austin, an extended pro tour, she outraced the mighty Progenitus in the top 8, which is just insane. Being in a pro tour winning extended deck and plenty of strong standard decks has done wonders for her reputation, and her price.

Having such obvious in game power its not surprising she is so expensive. But that’s not the be-all and end-all of the Baneslayer story. Casual players love Angels, so Ben Bleiweiss tells us. This means they’re unlikely to want to give up their ultra powerful, ultra cool angel card that is just dominating their kitchen table, which lowers supply. On top of that she’s a mythic rare, which show up in packs even less frequently than normal rares, further reducing supply. This high demand and low supply has combined to create the $50 mythic rare the doom sayers prophecised when mythics were first announced.

So, should we just shell out the $200 and accept it as the price of being competitive in standard? Heck no! There are several other options available, which I believe are worth considering.

Sphinx of Jwar Isle, $2

Contender #1

In a different colour to Baneslayer and 1 mana more, but IMO not much more difficult to cast, the Sphinx is a 5/5 flier just the same as our girl. It lacks lifelink and first strike but gains the all important shroud, which renders the targeted removal that Baneslayer is vulnerable to completely impotent. Sphinx will kill your opponent just as fast swinging through the air, and though it’s vulnerable to Vampire Nighthawk it trades that for immunity to Terminate and the like. For 1/25th the price, the Sphinx is a real underrated gem.

Sharuum the Hegemon, $4

Contender #2

Popular as an EDH general and a strong card with combo applications, Sharuum shares the basic stats of Baneslayer with an unfortunately more difficult mana cost. Her second ability is very strong though, and if you have another artifact threat in your graveyard she can be a better Broodmate Dragon. Requires a bit more building around but is certainly a strong finisher.

Malakir Bloodwitch, $6

Contender #3

With a price held down by her presence in a preconstructed deck, the Bloodwitch is a serious contender for Baneslayer’s crown thanks to her protection from white ability. Bloodwitch can’t die to Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt, the two most commonly played removal spells, and she can block or attack through Baneslayer as required. She does have a vulnerability to Bituminous Blast, however.

The rest

Stoic Angel $1.50, Guardian Seraph $1.50, and Ethersworn Adjudicator $2.50 are all cards I would also consider. Stoic Angel is a very strong card just not well positioned in this metagame. Guardian Seraph looks very good against the Bushwhacker deck if you can keep it on the board. The Adjudicator is particularly interesting if rather speculative, as if he untaps you can kill your opponent’s Baneslayer.

So there we go, my first post with content. Baneslayer is extremely strong for her mana cost, but I believe her to be overpriced thanks to PT: Austin and that there are much more budget friendly options on a similar power level. Please let me know what you think in the comments, and if you have other suggestions for finishers to replace the mighty Baneslayer post them too!

Recommendations

Baneslayer Angel: Hold/Sell. If you intend to play standard for the next couple of years she is going to be first name on the team sheet for any deck playing white. There are cheaper options available though and if you can make $200 off your Baneslayer Angels you could buy 10 of any fetchland.

Sphinx of Jwar Isle: Buy. This guy is creeping into more and more netdecks from such well respected deckbuilders and writers as Patrick Chapin and Conley Woods. I expect the price to gradually rise, and if he is a hit at Worlds then the price will shoot up. Blue is also extremely weak at the moment but if Worldwake brings some goodies this guy will find a good deck to fit in.

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