While  I was unable to make the PAX East Event, I did follow the live coverage of the Avacyn Restored Panel on which Magic:The Gathering’s Senior Creative Designer, Brady Dommermuth, Development Manager and Pro Tour Hall of Famer David Humpherys, Developer Dave Guskin, and Brand Manager Paul Levy were a part of.

The panel started with a behind the scenes look into the mindset that spawned the upcoming set, revealing that the team wanted to stay true to the world of Innistrad, but have a dramatic turn. I’d say that they were successful, with the disappearance of Avacyn being the handiwork of the demon Griselbrand, who tricked her into the Helvault. The team said that “The set empowers humans – things are light, instead of dark,” and harped a new empowerment of angels in the set, and a promise to have different types, as exemplified by one of the spoiler cards:

Avacyn Restored Sigarda Host HeronsName: Sigarda, Host of Herons
Mana Cost: 2GWW
Power/Toughness: 5/5
Text: Flying, Hexproof, Spells and abilities your opponents control can’t cause you to sacrifice permanents

As you can see, this angel is multicolored with white and green, and it was implied that we can expect to see more dual-colored angels, though it should be noted that as angels, one of the colors will always be white.

“Avacyn is not the only legendary angel in this set.” The Angel tribe have three flights and “each flight has a legendary messenger.” I’ll direct your attention to Angel of Flight Alabaster, who by this information is from the Alabaster Flight.

“There are Griffs in AVR – kind of like griffins, but they have heron heads.” This was interesting, and working off of the revealed Sigarda, Host of Herons, I’d expect Griffs to be closely affiliated with angels, and outfitted with Flying, and hopefully Vigilance. It would be great if they were more efficiently costed than the Griffins I’ve seen lately, so that they can make more appearances in tournament-level builds.

Dave Guskin took the floor, and speaking for the design department, talked about Avacyn Restored being a large set, which lead the design team to “make it unique while still maintaining a little mechanical flavor.” Undying was revealed to be a reappearing mechanic in Avacyn Restored and we had the pleasure of being blessed with another spoiler:

Avacyn Restored Demonlord AshmouthName: Demonlord of Ashmouth
Mana Cost: 2BB
Power/Toughness: 5/4
Text: Flying, Undying, When this card enters the battlefield, exile it unless you sacrifice a creature.

This card seems to be very powerful once his casting “cost” is accounted for. This seems to be a very usable way of handling demons and their demanding natures. It’s very thematic and translates well onto a card. I can see this being very good in Zombie decks especially, with ready to go Gravecrawlers and Messengers.

Soulbond was revealed as a new mechanic which thematically “reflects humans working together.” The team let it be known that there had been many attempts at this mechanic over the years. I believe that the next spoiler does a great job of telling us about this new mechanic.

Avacyn Restored Silverblade PaladinName: Silverblade Paladin
Mana Cost: 1WW
Power/Toughness: 2/2
Text: Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They
remain paired as long as you control both of them). As long as Silverblade Paladin is paired with another creature, both creatures have double strike.

Some quick notes: The other creature doesn’t have to have the Soulbond keyword or be of the same creature type. More details will be in an expansive F.A.Q. I think this mechanic helps strengthen the set’s theme of humans rallying against evil and makes for interesting interactions.

Dave Humphreys then talked about development.

Goals:
-Dramatic, exciting gameplay moments
-Heroism, cooperation, but awesomeness in all colors
-Angel theme, but not a white-mana-centric set

This brought about the next preview card:

Avacyn Restored Restoration AngelName: Restoration Angel
Mana Cost: 3W
Power/Toughness: 3/4
Text: Flash, Flying, When Restoration Angel enters the battlefield, you may exile target non-angel creature you control then return that creature to the battlefield under your control.

This card is great at dealing with your opponent’s plays. Equipped with flash, it can come in at any time in response to your opponent’s cards, be it enchantment or removal, or even if you’re just activating a come into play effect or resetting an undying trigger. I found it interesting that they specified that the creature targeted must be a non-angel. I guess they must have already tested and fixed a Restoration Angel/Warstorm Surge combo. I also like that Restoration Angel is just one white mana in its 4 CMC (Converted Mana Cost)as it allows for easy integration in a multicolored deck.

Another new mechanic was revealed, Miracles! Queue spoiler:

Avacyn Restored Thunderous WrathName: Thunderous Wrath
Mana Cost: 4RR
Type: Instant
Text: Thunderous Wrath deals 5 damage to target creature or player. Miracle R (You may cast this card for its Miracle cost when you draw it, if it’s the first card you drew this turn)

This card would be way overcosted normally, but with the potential to be a 1 Red mana Lava Axe, the circumstances quickly change. Excellent in topdecking situations, the miracle mechanic may end up being used in more decks than Soulbond. Many decks don’t draw outside the draw phase, and that’s what Miracle loves. I’m actually thinking that Thunderous Wrath may breathe some life into the floundering Red Deck Wins builds.

“These cards have a new frame treatment to help make sure you know to reveal it when you draw.” This is awesome. Seriously, they thought of everything with the Miracle mechanic, as I can attest to foreseeing conflicts over when what card was drawn and which one was first. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with this new set at the Prerelease.

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