Winning the Standard Challenge with Mardu Angels: In-depth & sideboard Guide

Alessandro Carvallo
14/12/2022 · 9 min read

State of the Standard Meta

Greetings everyone!

The Standard format  has started to take shape as the days go by, new strategies have emerged and some classics from the past season are still relevant. at the moment Midrange decks are still defining the format, personally I love a Midrange format as it rewards players much more for their decision making skills and how they handle long games.

Last weekend I emerged victorious from the Standard Challenge  with a very particular and risky deck for this type of tournament, that deck was Mardu Angels... a midrange-control strategy. Personally, I wasn't sure how powerful this deck could be and today I'll be talking about my experiences playing Mardu Angels , the advantages and disadvantages, and what my definitive list would be for future tournaments.

My current version of the deck

I'll start by showing my definitive list of Mardu Angels. I made quite a few changes to the 75 I played last week – the focus remains the same, Idecided to cut some cards that didn't seem very efficient and added some cards that I thought could improve the potential of our gameplan.

Mardu Midrange. Builder: Cabezadebolo.MTGO - Magic Online
1st in MTGO Standard Challenge #12499785 04-Dec-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [17]
1  Serra Paragon   $12.99
2  Sanctuary Warden   $1.99
2  Ao, the Dawn Sky   $3.49
4  Archangel of Wrath   $0.35
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $27.99
4  Steel Seraph   $2.29
Artifact [4]
4  Reckoner Bankbuster   $3.49
Instant [6]
2  Go for the Throat   $0.35
2  Infernal Grasp   $2.49
2  Abrade   $0.25
Sorcery [2]
2  Depopulate   $0.39
Planeswalker [5]
1  Elspeth Resplendent   $6.99
4  The Wandering Emperor   $29.99
Land [26]
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $7.99
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $3.99
2  Roadside Reliquary   $0.39
2  Plains   $0.01
2  Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire   $7.99
2  Battlefield Forge   $0.79
4  Caves of Koilos   $0.69
4  Haunted Ridge   $14.99
4  Sundown Pass   $8.49
4  Shattered Sanctum   $10.99
Sideboard [15]
1  Liesa, Forgotten Archangel   $2.29
1  Serra Paragon   $12.99
2  Cut Down   $1.29
2  Unlicensed Hearse   $16.99
2  Destroy Evil   $0.29
2  Abrade   $0.25
2  Farewell   $11.99
3  Duress   $0.25
Buy this deck:

$169.39 Tix @cardhoarder   $4.23 / Week @cardhoarder   $393.69 @tcgplayer   $542.97 @cardkingdom  

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This deck is characterized by being a Midrange deck with high drops, beginning to structure its game plan from turn 3 onward and from this point we will be presenting all of our threats turn by turn.

I'm incredibly impressed by how this deck incorporates cards that are not usually seen in Standard format yet mesh so well with the other cards in our list.

Playing with Fable and The Wandering Emperor in the same deck always provides a satisfying experience, so based on that, I'm confident that this deck could be a major force in Standard.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
21.74 Tix
The Wandering Emperor
8.85 Tix

Deck breakdown


Archangel of Wrath

I'm really impressed by Archangel of Wrath; it's been undervalued lately, but it looks like this creature can solve many of the current metagame matchups. My favorite play with it is to Kicker it for six mana, taking down Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and Blootithe Harvester or occasionally going for a lethal four damage.

Archangel of Wrath
0.04 Tix

Steel Seraph

Steel Seraph is a new addition to the line of Angels from last season, at first glance it doesn't seem like an impressive card... but it's doing its job stealthily. The fact that it gives us flexibility in our attacks is a great plus. I really value its ability to give lifelink to an attacking creature; these details can give us the time we need to prolong the game and improve the quality of our threats.

Steel Seraph
0.21 Tix

It is also worth noting that Go for the Throat is the premier removal spell in Standard right now, so we have evasion against this removal spell. My favorite play with Steel Seraph is T2 Reckoner Bankbuster T3 Steel Seraph, crewing up with Reckoner and giving Lifelink to Reckoner Bankbuster; these 4 life points will be very important for the rest of the game.

Loran of the Third Path

My new drop 3 suggestion for this deck is Loran of the Third Path, and there's a reason for it. When we start the game on the draw and our opponent casts Fabe of the Mirror Breaker T3, we can find ourselves in serious trouble since we don't have a way to counter it.

Loran of the Third Path
2.18 Tix

This is where Loran will give us some support when we find ourselves in this situation. by destroying Fable the Mirror Breaker prior to Chapter 2 and take Loran's Blocker body to make the exchange against the Goblin Shaman. Additionally, Loran can answer all of the Prototype creatures that are becoming increasingly powerful in Standard lists.

Edgar and Serra's

Edgar and Serra's singletons are very valuable cards against Grixis Midrange or decks that play a lot of removal spells.

Serra Paragon
3.47 Tix
Edgar, Charmed Groom
0.54 Tix

Ao and Sanctuary Warden

Ao and Sanctuary Warden are our highest drops, very strong cards that we always want to play on curve or perhaps as topdecks that may give us the victory.

Sanctuary Warden
1.47 Tix
Ao, the Dawn Sky
0.3 Tix


The Wandering Emperor, Reckoner Bankbuster and Fable of the mirror-breaker are staples of the format and I think they are a must-have in your 75 if you want to be competitive in your next tournament.

The Wandering Emperor
8.85 Tix

Gix's Command is an interesting card; I appreciate the flexibility it provides. It has great synergy with our strategy, although we're only running one copy right now, we'll see how it performs in future tournaments.

Removal spells

Infernal Grasp
0.03 Tix
Go for the Throat
0.03 Tix

For this deck, I decided to only use hard Removals. A resolved Sheoldred can be a challenge for any deck, so I feel more secure with this setup.

Playing the deck


  • This deck has a robust mana base, providing ample resources to draw from.
  • A strong midgame offers an impressive capacity to extend into a successful late game.
  • Powerful topdecks every turn.
  • A flexible sideboard enables players to make changes to their deck as the game's format changes.
  • We have some evasion against removal spells, and many of our cards offer a 2-for-1 or even a 3-for-1 in some cases.
  • Favorable Matchup vs aggro decks.
  • We have creatures with Lifelink, which will give us an edge to withstand our opponent's aggressive plays or to cut the clock set by Sheoldred the Apocalypse.


  • Counterspells can throw a wrench in our gaming strategy.
  • We play a heavy curve, sticking to playing just one spell per turn.
  • Our gameplan begins on turn 3, so turns 1 and 2 will be empty or reactive at best.

Additional Comments

Many people have been asking me about these two cards and why I didn't include them in my 60. This week I've been working hard on optimizing my definitive list, so I had the chance to try out these two cards.

Giada, Font of Hope
0.32 Tix
Inspiring Overseer
0.02 Tix

Giada has some synergy with our line of Angels, but she's one of those cards that does nothing most of the time (drop 2 blank). Even when she does achieve synergy with our Angels, it's not particularly potent. To get the most out of this type of card, you have to cast it on turn 2, and that means playing 3-4 copies in the maindeck, which isn't feasible. I have a lot of respect for those who use Giada, but personally I don't trust her, so I don't include her in my 75.

The Inspiring Overseer was a highly debated card in this deck; I personally prefer playing cards that have a major impact on the board rather than a 3-drop that draws a card... We already have card advantage in our deck, so I don't think Inspiring Overseer has enough power to face the current Standard metagame .

Building a Mardu Angels deck with more aggressive curves might not be the wisest choice, as it would simply be a less effective version of Grixis Midrange or Esper Midrange. Instead, I suggest a plan that puts your opponents in a tough spot, with menacing threats that must be taken care of every turn until you have the game firmly in your control.

Sideboard Guide



  • 4 Steel Seraph
  • 1 Infernal grasp


  • 3 Duress
  • 1 Serra paragon
  • 1 Edgar Markov



  • Serra Paragon
  • Edgar Markov
  • Go for the throat


  • 2 Farewell
  • 1 Elspeth Resplendent



  • 4 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • 2 Loran of the third path
  • 2 Sanctuary Warden


  • 3 Cut down
  • 2 Abrade
  • 2 Temporary Lockdown
  • 1 Edgar Markov



  • 2 Loran of the third path
  • 1 Serra Paragon
  • 2 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • 1 Infernal Grasp
  • 1 Sanctuary Warden


  • 3 Cut Down
  • 2 Temporary Lockdown
  • 2 Abrade



  • 2 Loran of the Third Path
  • 1 Serra Paragon
  • 2 Archangel of Wrath


  • 3 Cut Down
  • 2 Farewell

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Temur Creativity Primer & Sideboard Guide [Modern], Hardened Scales In-depth & sideboard guide, Modern Izzet Murktide Tips Tricks & Sideboard Guide By Mogged, Modern Rakdos Scam primer & sideboard guide, Pioneer Boros Heroic In-depth & Sideboard Guide

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Alessandro Carvallo
MTGO Grinder
Alessandro Carvallo, better known as Cabezadebolo on MTGO, is a very well-known grinder and deckbuilder on MTGO. Carvallo has been playing Magic: The Gathering for many years and has been involved in the competitive scene since a long time.


Published: 2022-12-14 00:00:00

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