Last updated on August 2, 2023
Bonfire of the Damned | Illustration by James Paick
Fear not, people of Innistrad! The big, flying, and good-aligned angels are coming to save the day, led by no one other than Avacyn herself now that she’s restored. Avacyn Restored is the set that concludes the original Innistrad block, which was probably the biggest hit outside of Ravnica that MTG’s ever had.
Like Rise of the Eldrazi before it, Avacyn Restored broke the Large Set – Small Set – Small Set format, so Innistrad block had a Large – Small – Large set model. That brought along a Limited format that was all Avacyn Restored, which is the norm nowadays but wasn’t back then (and the Draft format admittedly had some problems).
AVR was awesome aside that small detail, and the theme is spectacular. I’m here to tell you everything about it, the story of the set, the money cards, available products, and why you should care about it. With that in mind, let’s see what this set has to offer!
Cavern of Souls | Illustration by Cliff Childs
|Number of cards||244|
|Rarities||101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 15 basic lands|
|Mechanics||Miracle, soulbond, undying|
|Prerelease week||April 28 to 29, 2012|
|Paper release||May 4, 2012|
|Launch Party||May 4 to 6, 2012|
|Pro Tour Avacyn Restored||May 11 to 13, 2012|
|Release on Magic Online||May 17 to 20, 2012|
|Game Day||May 25 to 26, 2012|
Terminus | Illustration by James Paick
Avacyn Restored is the third set of the original Innistrad block and concludes the block’s story.
Things look dire for Innistrad’s human citizens because the monsters are stronger than ever. Liliana Vess is interested in liberating Griselbrand from the Helvault so that she can defeat him and be released from the demonic contract she once made. Liliana then forces Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to open the Helvault, liberating the creatures inside.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope, the protector of humanity, is also trapped with Griselbrand, so her liberation helps the humans to fight back and empowers other angels like Sigarda, Host of Herons and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. The “restoration of Avacyn” ultimately helped the plane of Innistrad to restore the balance between humans and monsters until the events of Shadows over Innistrad.
Miracle is one of the main mechanics in Avacyn Restored. When you draw your first card for the turn, if draw a miracle card, you can reveal it and cast it for the miracle cost (which is always way cheaper than the original cost).
For example, Terminus costs but has a miracle cost of . You can’t play the miracle cost from your hand or any other game zone. One typical way to abuse the mechanic in older formats is to put it on top of your deck with Brainstorm to draw the next turn and activate the miracle.
Soulbond is a mechanic that establishes a link between two different creatures. When you cast a creature with soulbond, you can pair another creature you control with it. As long as they’re paired they share an ability.
Elgaud Shieldmate gives both paired creatures hexproof while Druid's Familiar gives both creatures +2/+2. The pairing is broken if either of the paired creatures leaves the battlefield, and the creature with soulbond can only bond again when another creature ETBs. Deadeye Navigator is probably the most famous card with the mechanic since its ability allows for infinite ETB loops. Other good examples are Wolfir Silverheart and Silverblade Paladin.
Undying is a mechanic that debuted in Dark Ascension, the set before Avacyn Restored. Undying brings back a destroyed creature to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter, but only if said creature didn’t have a +1/+1 counter before. Only a creature can have undying, but some other spells can grant a creature undying.
Powerful cards with the mechanic are Vorapede, Young Wolf, and Geralf's Messenger. One of the best cards with undying from Avacyn Restored is Butcher Ghoul, a cheap creature used in zombie and aristocrats decks.
There are 11 cards with the miracle mechanic in Avacyn Restored, and they all have the special miracle frame. It’s easier for the player to associate that frame with miracles and avoid missing the miracle trigger. Today’s sets have lots of alternate card frames, but at the time the miracle frame was noteworthy.
Angel of Jubilation is a nice generic lord in EDH; you’re probably not putting it in an Orzhov ()-based deck. It adds devotion to your white decks if you want to and is a stax piece that prevents opponents from doing stuff like aristocrats or paying life to draw cards.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope is a big flying 8/8 creature that can be your commander or be played in angel decks or reanimator decks.
Cathars' Crusade is a nice intersection between a creature-heavy deck and a +1/+1 counter synergy EDH deck. Like Doubling Season, usually, these decks are very interested in Cathars' Crusade because it snowballs when you make lots of tokens or many creatures ETB at once.
Griselbrand is one of the best reanimator targets because you get a big flying and lifelink body and the possibility of spending 7 life to get seven cards, even if your opponent has the removal for your huge demon.
Vexing Devil is a spell that causes four damage to your opponent’s face for a single mana, most of the time. It used to be a staple of monored aggressive and burn decks.
Craterhoof Behemoth is a well-known win condition for green creature decks, not only in EDH but also in Modern and Legacy.
Descendants' Path is a form of cheating expensive creatures in EDH. You can put a creature into play almost every turn in tribal decks that are creature-heavy decks.
Bruna, Light of Alabaster is one of the few Azorius () commanders that lets you build aura-based decks and get value based on them.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is a good commander or Boros () card in EDH decks that are interested in extra-attack steps.
Sigarda, Host of Herons used to be a nice sideboard creature for midrange Modern decks since it’s hard to deal with and it counters popular cards like Liliana of the Veil. It’s a nice card in an EDH Selesnya () angels deck or as a Commander.
Avacyn Restored finishes the cycle of 10 rare lands with activated abilities. These cards have seen Constructed play across different formats, and Slayers' Stronghold is an important part of Modern Amulet decks.
Cloudshift is a cheap way to blink a creature, or “exile a creature card and return it to the battlefield.” This is used to protect your creatures and abuse ETB effects, and it’s a staple of EDH and Pauper decks.
Entreat the Angels was a premier finisher in white control decks, especially when miracled, and it saw extensive play in Legacy miracles decks.
Restoration Angel is also a staple in Constructed 60-card formats, going together with Thragtusk in Standard or with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker in Modern. Restoration Angel is a Cloudshift attached to a 3/4 flying body.
Silverblade Paladin is a nice way to give a creature double-strike without the risk that a similar aura would have. Plus, it’s a knight for knights tribal decks.
Terminus is one of the cheapest ways to deal with a problematic board since its miracle cost is a single white mana. The ability to put creatures on the bottom of their owners’ decks deals with indestructible and death triggers too.
Ghostly Flicker is a staple of Pauper Constructed since it allows you to blink two creatures at once. When one of those creatures is a card like Archaeomancer, you’ll get the Ghostly Flicker back in order to loop the effect. It’s usually played heavily in EDH Azorius blink decks.
Misthollow Griffin was the first creature that you can cast from exile. This can be abused with cards like Food Chain that exile a creature to obtain a certain benefit or Manipulate Fate, which finds all your Griffins and exiles them to cast at a later time.
Blood Artist is a premium creature in aristocrats decks. It’s one of the few creatures that allow you to drain your opponents whenever a creature dies, and it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or your opponents’. Costing two mana doesn’t hurt either.
Bonfire of the Damned is a one-sided sweeper that can be extremely efficient if cast with miracle. The fact that it deals damage only to your opponents and their creatures is very noteworthy.
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded is the first ever planeswalker to cost two mana. It’s admittedly a little weak, but it can be a discard outlet.
Soul of the Harvest draws you a bunch of cards in green EDH creature decks.
As you’d expect from a Standard set, Avacyn Restored had draft boosters with 15 cards each, broken down into a rare or mythic rare card, three uncommons, and 10 commons alongside a basic land. You could also get your traditional booster box with 36 AVR boosters.
- Contains 36 booster packs
Avacyn Restored fat packs came with nine AVR boosters, a player guide depicting story and card arts, 80 basic lands, and a spindown life counter.
- 9 Avacyn Restored booster packs
- The Avacyn Restored Player's Guide
- 1 pack of 80 Avacyn Restored basic land
- 1 Avacyn Restored Life Counter
- NOTE: This product can ONLY be shipped the United States, Puerto Rico, APO/FPOs and USVI.
Avacyn Restored had five intro pack, which are 60-card decks in two colors.
Solitary Fiends is a Dimir () deck that represents the loner theme from AVR. There are a bunch of black cards that are stronger if you only have one creature. Demonic Rising gives you a 5/5 demon, while Havengul Skaab won’t have to return other creatures to your hand.
- The key to playing the "Slaughterhouse" deck is to kill creatures early and often.
Bound by Strength
Avacyn Restored also had two event decks, which are slightly more powerful Constructed decks aimed at FNM Standard competition.
Death’s Encroach is a mono-black zombie tribal deck with powerful and Constructed-playable zombies like Gravecrawler and Geralf's Messenger combined with black staple removal spells like Dismember and Go for the Throat. Rounding the rares are Gloom Surgeon, Lashwrithe, Surgical Extraction, and Cemetery Reaper.
You’ll win via zombie aggression, zombie recursion, and using your removal spells wisely.
- Magic the Gathering - Avacyn Restored Event Decks - Death's Encroach
- Contains a 60 card deck with a 15 card sideboard
- Also has Spindown life counter and strategy guide
- Death’s Encroach Time to devour the living! ....
- NOTE: This product can ONLY be shipped the United States, Puerto Rico, APO/FPOs and USVI.
Humanity’s Vengeance is a Azorius deck that features humans fighting the monsters back.
You get a combination of cards with good ETB effects like Fiend Hunter and Blade Splicer along with effects like Cloudshift and Nephalia Smuggler. Lots of soulbond creatures help you on your way, like Wingcrafter and Tandem Lookout. Mirran Crusader backed up with good soulbond abilities is a nice threat, especially with flying or lifelink.
Craterhoof Behemoth | Illustration by Chris Rahn
And there we have it folks, everything to know about Avacyn Restored! Its Limited format is very much maligned because soulbond can make some games one-sided, but that Standard Constructed era is largely considered one of the best. There are a bunch of hits in AVR including the very popular angel theme and impactful card designs like Griselbrand or Craterhoof Behemoth.
What were your favorite memories of Avacyn Restored? Which AVR staples do you still play in your EDH decks? Let me know in the comments below, or over on the official Draftsim Twitter.
Stay safe and healthy folks, and until the next time!
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