Hey everyone and welcome to another Modern Musings! This week we are going to talk about the sudden resurgence of Lightning Angel in Modern and what it means for the format.
Where Did This Come From?
A long time ago, in Time Spiral Standard, she would often show up in burn lists as a resilient threat as most of the removal in that format was based on three toughness. That and she was a good addition to the Tribal Flames decks that were so popular back then.
Flash forward to Khans of Tarkir, when Mantis Rider was spoiled, and people were excited for the “lightning angel curve” in Modern, where you could go T3 Mantis Rider into T4 Lightning Angel. In a vacuum, that’s a pretty scary curve. It was briefly tested and people quickly discovered that tapping out on turn 3 or 4 for a creature was a very bad idea against then-legal Splinter Twin. People have lately realized that the deck has become viable, now that more people are playing fair decks like humans, and combo isn’t so prevalent. The deck now looks fairly reminiscent of the old standard decks with Lightning Angel. Lets take a look at what they used to look like:
Not too dissimilar from what’s being played now:
I really like this deck, as it gets to play some sweet creatures like Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier and Mantis Rider in Modern, while still playing counter-magic like Mana Leak and the ever popular Spell Queller. The deck above is a variation on the current UW/x Midrange decks that have been floating around recently, but a variation that I feel is superior to the original. While the deck is rather straightforward, what it lacks in cute tricks it makes up for in raw burst damage from hasty creatures. 11 out of the 20 creatures have haste, but the remaining 9 all have flash, which functions similarly. It’s pretty scary once you start to realize that this deck can deal upwards of 13 damage from an empty board state. One such instance would be Snapcaster Mage, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Angel. End of your opponent’s turn, bolt them, then flash it back with snapcaster, untap, cast lightning angel, and attack for 5, dealing a total of 13 damage.
So why play this deck? What is it good against? As of the writing of this article, it seems to be doing well against Tron and Eldrazi Tron, and other control decks, while being slightly favoured in Elves and Merfolk matchups.
The deck seems to be less good against Abzan Midrange and combo decks like Storm and Abzan Counters. The Storm and Abzan Counters match-ups make sense as combo decks were this deck’s weakness to begin with. As for the Abzan Midrange, I haven’t played the matchup, but I imagine it gets very hard to win through all their targeted discard and lifegain via Kitchen Finks and Siege Rhino. Plus, many of their creatures sit fairly comfortably outside burn range, straining your Path to Exiles.
Still, I feel like Jeskai Midrange is a solid deck to play in the metagame right now, especially if you enjoy playing tempo burn decks.
Anyway, that’s all for this week. Let me know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned for next time when we look at some more cards I think have potential to do something exciting in Modern.