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Angel, Angel, What Have I Done?

Modern Angels Control Mono-White Tempo Tribal


Serra Angel

Angel, Angel, What Have I Done?

Angel, angel, what have I done?

I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire

I've conquered country, crown, and throne

Why can't I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you've won

It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle

Open your heart and hands, my son

Or you'll never make it over the river

It'll take a lot more than words and guns

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we'll cross the river


I am leaving the hobby for good, but before I go, I wanted to share with you this incarnation of my favorite deck ever. It's a tempo control deck in mono-white, utilizing the power of Angels and some surprising disruption options. The song is so relevant, because this deck doesn't win on pure muscle or numbers. You win by slowing your opponent down and getting to what you need, then crushing them late game.

This is a very unique deck born of a lot of wandering through thought and creativity outside the flow of time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, or that it inspires you to try something unique.

Let's take a look at how to cross this river.

The Divine Plan

Your goal here is to slow your opponent down and then put out powerful Angels to seal the game up in your favor by hitting through the air. This is a deck that relies on disruption for advantage, but does so in unique ways.

River's Current: The Control Package

How do we control the flow of the game? With these spells (and one interesting creature) to make sure that the early half of the game remains in your control.

Chancellor of the Annex is a strange and potent Angel. While it is great when you have it out on the field, it's also 7 CMC, so not something you can count on reliably being able to cast. However, like all Chancellors, it has an opening-hand effect, and this one serves our purpose well. Have one of these in your opening hand and your opponent has to play around a 1-mana tax on their first spell of the game. That doesn't seem like much but it can really make a big difference in a game where turns unfold in a highly-measured formula for success. Later, when you actually have the Chancellor on the field, she starts to make it difficult for your opponent to respond, and if you have multiple, well, you've kind of won the game.

Mana Tithe is a card that no one expects. Many players don't even seem to know the card exists: "Have you ever heard of a 1-mana white counterspell?" Again, in Modern, when you're measuring the game by strict turns and what you want to accomplish, having a spell countered in those first few critical turns is crucial. Even just taxing someone the extra 1 might mean the difference between two spells in a turn and just one, which you can then deal with afterward.

Lapse of Certainty is also really a lot better than it looks. Sure, your opponent gets the card back next turn, but where this is really potent is if you know they need to draw something else. Your opponent stuck on lands and really needing to draw one? Cast this to get something they don't need right back on top. The goal is to gum up the works, and just putting one of their less useful cards right back on top is great, or it can buy you a critical turn to get to an answer while knowing what's coming.

Speaking of buying time, let's discuss Silence . This card is traditionally used in combo decks, true, but its applications are far more versatile than that. I even once approached SaffronOlive about this and he said he'd never thought about using the card this way, and that he liked the idea, that it had potential. Because Silence can do many things. It can make sure that you're going to get another spell off in a turn by denying your opponents interaction. But it's also very potent against aggro, especially. Think about it: use this on your opponent's upkeep and that's no creature spells for the turn, unless they all have flash and he casts them in response.

In fact, it disrupts many gameplans. Sure, the opponent can respond at instant speed, but you're forcing their hand for 1 mana: Do everything during upkeep or cast nothing this turn. In the first few turns of the game, a Silence used offensively during your opponent's upkeep can be great for slowing them down, which you need to do. In conjunction with these other control cards, you can buy yourself a lot of breathing room.

Rebuff the Wicked is here mostly to prevent the opponent from easily dousing your key pieces. For 1 mana, being able to protect your Amulet , Angelic Arbiter , or Endless Horizons is pretty nice.

Finally, we have Austere Command . Isn't this card too slow for Modern? Well, your whole deck is designed to slow the opponent down, and its versatility makes this card worth consideration. It's easily subbed out for Wrath of God or Cleansing Nova if you need something faster, but you can also make Austere Command rather one-sided. All your creatures are 4+, so you can blow up all their creatures and leave yours untouched, while going after artifacts or enchantments (whichever you'd rather not lose, or don't have on the field). With Avacyn out guarding your stuff, it's fully one-sided.

Sunlight Over the Horizon

Endless Horizons is a very interesting card with some fun card advantage potential. Some folks shy away from it due to it being "risky," but you're not looking to empty every Plains out of your library (though as we'll see below, even that is a good idea in some situations). Typically, you pull 3-5 Plains with this card, thinning your library and guaranteeing a land drop until the enchantment is destroyed or runs out of fuel. You're basically getting to draw an extra card each turn and guarantee one is a land.

If you're casting this, you're already at four lands, at least, which combined with Quicksilver Amulet means you can potentially get out any creature in your deck, so you're not exactly hosed even if it gets blown up. And if you're at 6-7 lands due to slowing down the game enough to survive properly, well, heck, take out every Plains you have! You don't need to worry about it after that point; if Endless Horizons stays out, great, it's a nice bonus, but you're drawing basically all business at that point. Card advantage, indeed.

In most situations, pulling 3-5 Plains from your library isn't really any risk, and potentially grants you a lot of card advantage.

Like a Flash of Quicksilver

Quicksilver Amulet serves two important purposes here: It can cheat out big creatures , and it also lets you cast them at instant speed. This is helpful in many ways, but combos with Sunblast Angel particularly well.

Your opponent swings in with all their creatures, but you have 4 mana up. You Quicksilver out a Sunblast Angel and sweep their attackers. Awesome!

But what if your opponent doesn't swing in with everything? Also great! That means you're slowing them down, disrupting their plan, making them hold back out of fear of playing into a wrath.

The ability to put out Iona, Shield of Emeria turn 5 can just outright win you games. Against mono-color decks, it's the death knell. Even against multicolor, if you know the most dangerous color (the one that can potentially get rid of Iona, say!), you can shut that down and still have the advantage of a 7/7 flyer with that godlike power.

Flash in Avacyn, Angel of Hope to make a trade favorable, effectively counter a destruction spell (even a board-wide spell), or on your opponent's end step to have an 8/8 flying vigilant indestructible attacker next turn.

You can also use it for some tricky plays with Angelic Arbiter . Your opponent cast a spell this turn to buff all their creatures? Cool. Flash in Arbiter and they can't attack. With her hovering over the battlefield, your opponents can either attack or cast spells, but not both!

Arbitrary Arbitration!

Speaking of Angels....

Radiance of the Morning Sun: The Angels

What do we do to win the match with so few creatures? We make them count. Each of these Angels has some power that is incredibly useful to our gameplan.

Chancellor of the Annex is here to slow your opponent's casting. Later in the game, if you flash some of these out via the Amulet , having a Mana Tithe (or even a Mana Leak !) on each of their spells is quite the drain.

Angelic Arbiter is another card that is very expensive, but when she's out, she has a surprisingly disruptive effect. The opponents can attack or cast, but not both. With the ability to potentially flash her out, you can keep your opponent guessing and hamper their very decision-making, much less the actual outcomes of those decisions!

Sunblast Angel is part wrath, part flying body. She works especially well with Quicksilver Amulet but also as a response to an attack in general. Your opponent may start committing less to their attacks if they fear that they'll lose out a lot on them, which is exactly what you want.

Mighty Among Angels Akroma, Angel of Wrath is here to do pure aggro work. She is scary and gives you lots of pressure immediately.

Power, Danger, Beauty in Equal Measure Avacyn, Angel of Hope is here partially because it's my favorite card in Magic and because she's just a beatstick. She makes all your stuff indestructible, so you have less worry about Endless Horizons or your lands getting targeted. She also makes so you can wrath away without hurting your own stuff. If you need a specialty answer, she's also a great side-out target.

Bow Before Her Majesty Iona, Shield of Emeria . I mean, what can I say? This power is godlike. Against mono- or dual-color decks, she's almost a guaranteed win. Even against something colorless, like Eldrazi, she's a 7/7 flyer game 1, and then a good target for sideboarding out in game 2 and beyond.

And that art. Seriously. Jason Chan is also godlike.

Across the River: Lands

Your land base is simple: Plains-heavy, with Emeria, The Sky Ruin to make your creatures difficult to put down if the game goes late...and your deck is designed to make it go late! A copy of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is there because once you have a couple creatures, it does give you a massive amount of mana, but by that point, you probably don't need it. Still, it does give you an extra option after you've cheated out something big.

River Forks: The Sideboard

This deck is meant to specialize through judicious sideboarding, using every bit of white's versatility and key answers.

Path to Exile if you find potent creatures getting through to you before you can wrath them.

Leyline of Sanctity is there to get discard and burn off your back until you can get your shutdown pieces in play.

Wrath of God is there to replace Austere Command if your slowdown isn't working enough.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence can hose entire deck strategies by herself if need be.

Field of Ruin can replace some Plains if you need to target lands.

Stony Silence shuts off your own amulet, but is generally more of a hoser for your opponents.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben adds to the slowdown for spell-heavy decks.

Back to the Sky

Fare Thee Well!

Thank you for coming along for the ride. If you have any input for how to make this deck better, while keeping the general concept, please share it. I'm far from the only Angel lover in Magic, and your input might help someone else realize a deck that they love as much I've loved playing this one through all its incarnations.

And there have been many of those! At one point, I had tons of different legendary Angels in it with the goal being to get the one that answered your opponent's strategy, and cheated them out (mostly W, with some RG in the deck as well) via Amulet , while using Sacred Foundry and Temple Garden for thematically-fitting and mechanically-relevant Plains duals. Other versions were more aggro-based, utilizing Baneslayer Angel to simply outmuscle the opponent.

As I said at the outset, this is my last contribution to the world of Magic. This concept, tempo control plus Angels, is my favorite by far in the game. This deck is special to me because when I returned to the game after experimenting with it during my teenage years, this is the one I put together after months of research, planning, and thinking about how to make something flavorful and unique.

I hope you enjoy the idea as much as I do, and by all means, if you can help another player customize this thing into something truly powerful, please do!

After all...

The hands of many must join as one, and together we'll cross the river.


Updates Add


Date added 1 month
Last updated 1 month

This deck is Modern legal.

Rarity (main - side)

3 - 1 Mythic Rares

23 - 7 Rares

3 - 1 Uncommons

8 - 2 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 4.28
Folders Angels
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