If you’ve been following How They Brew It since this site opened, you’ve only read half the series.
I got my start on Reddit, and many of my earlier articles are still locked up in their San Fransisco offices, guarded heavily by legions of Snoos. I’ve rescued a few of them, but death by snoo-snoo is not something I’m particularly keen to experience. It’s been one year since I started writing, and to celebrate, I’m going to ask you all the same question I did then:
What, you’ve never heard of Gabriel Angelfire?
We Didn’t Start The Angelfire
That’s right: meet Gabriel Angelfire, your new favorite commander.
This monstrous beast has four power, four toughness, and no abilities when he enters the battlefield. That’s okay: Gabriel is a fast learner, as he gains either flying, first strike, trample, or rampage 3 (more on that later) at the beginning of your upkeep. He may not keep that ability forever, but at least he makes up for his slow start on the battlefield by costing a mere seven mana. This angel is the perfect commander, provided you disregard his massive array of flaws.
Surely you’d have to be an absolute buffoon to think that this endeavor is worthwhile, but I am one. Not only is this deck playable, I’ll go one step further and guarantee that we are going to kill the entire table specifically with Gabriel Angelfire. Don’t believe me? This is How They Brew It.
Seven Mana In Heaven
If our plan is to play a seven-mana commander that does absolutely nothing when it enters, we’re going to have to build carefully. That’s why I’ve taken a page from the Kennedy Interchange and made ramping an integral part of the experience. While most decks are content to shove a Rampant Growth in and call it a day, much like the Kennedy Interchange, only the correct ramp will get us where we’re going. Anything else means we have to visit Louisville, and personally I’m here to have fun.
- Sol Ring and Cultivate are present, because otherwise I’d get murdered.
- Instead of running Arcane Signet, we’re running a copy of Thought Vessel. This deck often finds itself in scenarios where it’s drawing twenty cards in a turn, and I’m self-conscious about the size of my hands.
- The vast majority of our ramp will be enchantment based. Not only are Wild Growth, Fertile Ground, Wolfwillow Haven, Overgrowth, and Weirding Wood great ways to describe the state of my beard, they’re also all aura enchantments that make your lands big and strong.
- Once our lands are loaded up with enough auras to make a Lucario blush, Arbor Elf and Magus of the Candelabra each untap them to double-dip on those mana abilities.
- Saryth, the Viper’s Fang can also untap a land, but she has the added benefit of protecting the rest of your creatures and making attacking much more potent.
- Sanctum Weaver will add one mana for each enchantment you’ve got on the field. It’ll consistently net you two mana and can go up to five in a lot of games!
The Enchantress Under the Sea Dance
If you assumed we’d abuse our abundance of auras to assist our acquisition of assets, you’re absolutely accurate. White and green are well known for their power to turn enchantments into engines, so here’s the selection of sorcerers we’ll run to keep our hand stocked:
- Kor Spiritdancer may only power up when auras are attached to her, but her cast trigger is less self-centered. Casting Wild Growth is valid enough to net you a card!
- Sram, Senior Edificer also triggers off any aura as well as any equipment. While Gabriel is less concerned with carrying trinkets, we still run a few pieces of equipment in the deck.
- Sythis, Harvest’s Hand wasn’t out when I originally built Gabriel, proving that this is a new version of the deck and thus this rewrite was totally justified.
- Mesa Enchantress and Satyr Enchanter are true enchantresses that work whenever you cast any enchantment.
- Setessan Champion and Eidolon of Blossoms differ slightly in that they trigger when an enchantment enters the battlefield. If your spell gets countered, you won’t get a card.
- Rite of Harmony not only works as an enchantress for a turn, it also triggers off creatures entering, too. It even has flashback, though its high cost may make that course of action difficult to recommend.
Move over, Geocities
Nothing I’ve said so far seems to relate to our commander at all. Why not substitute him for Sythis, Harvest’s Hand and call it a day? Well, like a blind man at a mural’s unveiling, you’re not seeing the big picture.
The good cards we’re playing only serve to set up an engine for Gabriel Angelfire, and now that it’s online, we can unleash the beast. Our first point of order is to give Gabe trample. Don’t rely on his triggered ability for that; you’re almost always going to want to give him rampage 3 (more on that later). We specifically need trample, too; a Rogue’s Passage or Whispersilk Cloak is going to be counterproductive to our gameplan of killing your opponents with commander damage.
- Behemoth Sledge and its copycat-criminal version Unflinching Courage grant stat buffs, trample, and lifelink so you don’t have to worry about the sweet embrace of death for a little longer.
- Dragon Fangs gives only trample, but it comes back from the yard if a big enough creature like Gabriel enters the battlefield.
- Nature’s Blessing is a funny little card that lets you discard a card to give a creature a +1/+1 counter, first strike,
banding, or trample. Oh, no, that’s not until the end of the turn; that’s permanently. Pitch Rite of Harmony, Riftstone Portal or the aforementioned Dragon Fangs for a one-two punch from the graveyard.
- Seedling Charm is a surprisingly flexible card for green-based enchantment decks! It’s not just limited to giving a creature trample; it can save one of your auras or even creatures for a single green mana.
Rampage 3: The Search For Block
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Like a horde of wildebeest, Gabriel Angelfire is ready to rampage and trample over your opponent’s poor Savannah Lions. But what is a rampage (more on that later), and what does it do? Rampage 3 is a triggered ability that reads “Whenever this creature becomes blocked, it gets +3/+3 until end of turn for each creature blocking it beyond the first.”
Most Voltron commanders loathe fighting an army of blockers to get damage in. Gabriel loves it.
- Lure will force all of your opponent’s blockers to block Gabriel Angelfire and trigger his rampage ability.
- Seton’s Desire is more finicky since it needs threshold to lure, but it gives you +2/+2 for your trouble.
- Indrik Umbra is worth its cost as it tacks on +4/+4 and first strike, which is huge if Gabriel otherwise couldn’t muster the toughness to survive the crackback. Its totem armor also discourages your opponents from trying to remove Gabriel directly.
- Not only auras grant lure; Nemesis Mask sticks around even if its wielder bites it.
- Fetch it out with Stonehewer Giant to really catch your opponents off-guard!
- Roar of Challenge is always going to grant Gabriel indestructible, making diving into a horde of deathtouch blockers more palatable.
- Very little compares to the all-in-one power of Revenge of the Hunted. A significant power and toughness buff, trample, and lure together represent Gabe’s dream sorcery.
- Channel Shinen of Life’s Roar or bestow Noble Quarry to attack profitably, but don’t be afraid to cast them as creatures if you found Infiltration Lens early enough.
- By the way, Infiltration Lens works for each blocker.
- Tempting Licid is a strange creature that can transform into a lure aura for a green mana. You can pay to end this effect as a special action, so you can still respond even if a Sudden Death is pointed your way.
- Finally, Odric, Master Tactician puts your enchantresses to work and grants you full control over the blockers step as a reward.
These three creatures share one thing in common: they obliterate your opponent’s board when they become blocked. Elven Warhounds is especially devastating, as it also ruins their draws for several turns afterward. Now, you may be worried that these aggressive attackers will leave Gabriel unable to trigger his rampage. The solution to that is beautiful in its simplicity, and yet it will still blow your mind: Let’s make the lure work for both creatures simultaneously.
It’s simple; if Gabriel Angelfire has banding, he could attack in a band with one of those other creatures. Since each creature has to block Gabriel if he’s enchanted with Lure, the rules of banding mean those blockers also simultaneously block your Engulfing Slagwurm. Gabriel’s rampage resolves, making him a gigantic threat, then the Slagwurm’s trigger resolves, removing your opponent’s entire board. Gabriel is now free to trample through absolutely nothing to thoroughly punish your opponent for their hubris.
There’s Always Next Year
Thanks for sticking with me this past year. It’s been a rough one, what with the pandemic and ██████████ █████ ███████ causing ███████████ and confirming the inevitable destruction of Jupiter. Don’t worry, though. Things are gonna get better. It’s been a pleasure building jank decks for you all. Here’s to more of that.
Rampage 3: The Search For Block
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