Pioneer Selesnya Angels Deck Breakdown & Sideboard Guide
07/01/2023 · 12 min read
The State of the Pioneer Metagame
Continuing on in Pioneer , I've been saying for a while now that the top decks of the format are basically Mono-Green Devotion, BR Midrange, and Mono-White Humans, with RG Midrange coming in just behind as the big predator, and others like UR Phoenix, Abzan Greasefang, and Lotus running on the outside. But in the last few Pioneer tournaments , a new archetype has been standing out, even taking first place in the last Magic Online Super Qualifier, and has been my choice for daily grinds: GW Angels.
GW Angels' Game Plan
The game plan of this deck is fairly straightforward: take advantage of card synergy, create large creatures that come to life and become even bigger, and swing through blockers. This deck has seen a lot of success in recent editions with the addition of Giada, Font of Hope, which is an excellent two-drop that bolsters your angels and serves as a mana dork, allowing you to make multiple plays in a turn. Even though she is legendary, four is the right number, since it also comes with a big target on its head and is the only card in the deck vulnerable to Stomp, dying easily.
My current version
|2 Masked Vandal||$0.79|
|4 Giada, Font of Hope||$2.99|
|4 Youthful Valkyrie||$9.99|
|4 Resplendent Angel||$42.99|
|4 Righteous Valkyrie||$5.99|
|4 Skyclave Apparition||$2.79|
|4 Bishop of Wings||$5.49|
|4 Collected Company||$16.99|
|1 Emeria's Call||$7.99|
|4 Kayla's Reconstruction||$0.49|
|1 Boseiju, Who Endures||$42.99|
|1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx||$42.99|
|1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire||$8.99|
|4 Temple Garden||$14.99|
|4 Overgrown Farmland||$5.99|
|4 Branchloft Pathway||//||$4.99|
|1 Reidane, God of the Worthy||$0.69|
|1 Brutal Cathar||$6.99|
|2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride||$6.99|
|2 Rest in Peace||$7.99|
|2 Deafening Silence||$1.49|
|3 Pithing Needle||$0.99|
|4 Shapers' Sanctuary||$5.99|
Let's review the other options available on the card besides Giada that we have already discussed.
Other two drops are also very strong; Bishop of Wings provides huge life gain for each Angel that enters the battlefield and also helps with resilience against removal, creating a Spirit token every time an Angel is destroyed.
Youthful Valkyrie may look weak at first, but it's another card that benefits from Angel tribal synergy, growing bigger and more dangerous with each Angel.
Masked Vandal is a very interesting two drop, dealing with multiple cards in the format such as Fable of the Mirror Breaker, Leyline Binding, Fires of Invention, Esika's Chariot and is still an Angel, maintaining the tribal synergy of the deck.
With CMC 3, we have Righteous Valkyrie, which is like a lord for the deck. With the absurd amount of life we can gain, it easily outclasses bigger creatures when we have 27+ life.
Resplendent Angel leaves 4/4 tokens each turn we gain 5 or more life, which in this deck is also not hard.
Skyclave, despite not being an angel, is a very important card for dealing with practically any permanent that gets in our way and Realmwalker is that 1-of that we generally never feel bad about casting, being able to give us information and table advantage by playing angels or any other creature we name (a tip is that we can see what's on top before naming, so depending on it we can take advantage of playing it on the same turn it comes into play).
At the top of the curve, the deck was already running Collected Company, one of the best cards in the format. Being able to put two creatures out at instant speed, or even on the same turn to take advantage of the synergy of gaining life and putting more bodies on the board.
Now, the deck has gained a lot more firepower with the addition of Kayla's Reconstruction, which acts as four additional Collected Companies.
It can be even better than Company, as in the late game we can play more than two creatures at once, giving us an enormous board advantage. I believe the deck should take full advantage of being able to play these cards, even with the potential for some to fail, 8 is the right number.
Below, I will list some of the main decks in the format and how I have sided against them.
This is a slightly favorable match-up, but an early board presence of Cavalier of Thorns can give them the necessary time to combo with Karn, the Great Creator.
We're sideboarding Needle because, as stated, the best way for the opponent to win is by comboing with Karn, and even then they can still use Nicol Bolas to "dodge" our move.
This match is a good example of when we should take out Collected Company when we have sided too many non-creatures. However, since we play Needle, we can put in more Kayla's, since it can be one of the targets.
Ajani is a great Plague Wind when the game gets too stalled due to their Knights and Brutal Cathar also helps against them. In general, we have many tools to win, but it is always important to respect the fact that the deck can quickly generate tons of mana.
This is one of the matchups where Collected Company provides such an advantage that we can almost entirely forget about playing any non-creature spells. Extinction Event is one of the best cards against us, so it's usually best to cast Collected Company at the end of your opponent's turn.
Giada is the weakest card and highly vulnerable to Stomp, so she's out. This is one of the best matchups for the deck, even more so if we open with Shapers on turn one. We have to weather some damage in the early game, have some creatures removed, but if we can hold out the pressure, we have plenty of cards that will trade 2-for-1 and give us an edge in the match.
Our creatures have high thoughness, so he can only be effective with Lightning Axe removals, or copying a removal with Galvanic Iteration. However, since we have plenty of flyers, Arclight Phoenix's plan is not ideal, as it does not have very effective attacks.
Thing in the Ice is a real nuisance, as it can bounce all of our creatures and potentially deliver a lethal attack in the late game. Therefore, it's wise to hold a Skyclave for it, but don't hesitate to remove Ledger Shredder as well.
The number of noncreature spells has drastically increased in this match, so we also have to decrease the number of Company/Kayla cards. However, these spells are really powerful, giving us card advantage with every removal played, preventing absurd plays in a single turn, and diminishing the power of cards like Treasure Cruise and Temporal Trespass.
One of the worst match-ups in the deck. It really doesn't care what we do, as at some point a Supreme Verdict or Farewell can just end our plans. This is one of those games where we need to know when to throw everything we have on the table to pressure faster, or when to play threats and pass the turn with open Company when possible.
Typically, we don't have many chances to stick with the Company's plan, as cards like The Wandering Emperor and Shark Typhoon punish this type of strategy heavily. Bishop of Wings is a key card against Verdict, but against Farewell we can't do much. Post-side Reidane helps a bit by slowing down the wraths and Pithing Needle locks down the planeswalkers, but again, Farewell deals with all of this.
This matchup isn't ideal, but our hate cards are strong. Game 1 doesn't give us much to work with, just trying to go for quick kills with the help of Collected Company. Post-sideboard, we have a lot of hate cards: Needle for Thespian's Stage, Rest in Peace against Lier and Dig Through Time and Deafening Silence to stop kills from Emergent Ultimatum. But as it is known in Magic, hate without a clock won't do us any good, and our clock isn't the best, plus it has Arboreal Grazer to give our opponent time.
This match is good for us, as we don't care too much about certain cards like Esika's Chariot and The Akroan War. But if we don't open with at least one drop, we can fall behind in the game. Giada is cut again, due to Bonecrusher Giant, and we take out some Companies as we've increased the number of noncreature spells. Needle is necessary to lock down Skysovereign, which is troublesome as it is one of the few flying attackers and blockers. Shapers is effective when they play lot of removals, punishing this kind of strategy.
This match is one of the best for us. We gain enough life to not be raced and have the advantage of being able to block while not being blocked. Thalia is one of the cards that can be troublesome, as it delays Collected Company and Kayla's Reconstruction, but even so, we shouldn't take any of them out, as the game drags out enough for us to gain the necessary mana. There's not much of a secret to it, and post side we just add in one more removal spell to help against cards like Adeline and Thalia.
Mirror matches can be a nightmare. Both players can reach exorbitant life totals and put up massive blockers. We must save Skyclave Apparition for our major threats, such as Righteous Valkyrie and Resplendent Angel. Collected Company and, above all, Kayla's Reconstruction are the best cards, so whoever gets more of these cards in the match will have a huge advantage. After sideboarding, Reidane, God of the Worthy helps lock down these cards, but Ajani, Strength of the Pride truly shines. Essentially, whoever casts Ajani first will likely get an instant win.
GW Angels came as a big surprise in the last tournaments and if you're expecting a more aggro field, with fewer control and combo decks, it could be a great choice.
Until next time!
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Published: 2023-01-07 00:00:00