Angels are among the most brewed tribes in Magic, and also a tribe with some of the most storied Magic cards from many formats. Lending a hand from on high, these are the Top 20 Angels in Magic: the Gathering.
Top 20 Angels in Magic
Angels are one expensive creature type! Their average mana value is a lot higher than the swarmier tribes like Zombies, Goblins or Elves, so they’re often in a support role, offering help to Humans against all manner of Demons, Devils, and other creatures of the night.
In the Magic universe, Angels are manifestations of the white mana on a plane. So, the Angels we know from planes such as Innistrad, Kaladesh, Dominaria, and Ravnica are all celestial beings guided by the whims and prejudices of white mana. Their mirror, Demons, are likewise born from black mana. Some Angels dip into other colors, too, with the most recent depictions in Kaldheim showing us black Angels. These Angels – Valkyries – have a role as Reapers, and they work alongside the white-aligned Shepherd Valkyries of the plane in a cycle of life and death.
Picking a definitive list of Top Angels is no easy task, especially given so many of them are powerful legendary creatures that see a lot of play in Commander. The cards I’ve picked today are certainly Commander-weighted, but I’ve also included some other noteworthy cards, too. Here are the best 20 Angel cards in Magic.
HONORABLE MENTION: ANGEL TOKEN MAKERS
Before I can get stuck into this list, there are a few cards I’d like to mention. The first are the many Angel token makers that have seen play in Standard and Commander. Angels are the best creature token in white; whether they’re 3/3 or 4/4 flyers – or whether they come bundled with vigilance, too – they’re always a great way to close games. While Luminarch Ascension is a classic for Enchantress and Pillowfort decks, you can’t deny the popularity of Divine Visitation. There are many more cards that deserve a shout-out here, from Standard all-star Firja’s Retribution to the original geist-ster Geist of Saint Traft. In Standard of old, Geist won by creating and slapping face with Angel tokens – check out a Craig Wescoe special at Worlds 2011 for a slice of Magic history:
Crazy times before the Legendary rule change, right?
HONORABLE MENTION: IONA, SHIELD OF EMERIA (ZENDIKAR)
Iona, Shield of Emeria shares the title of Most Expensive Mana Value Angel in Magic with Reya Dawnbringer, and it’s easy to see why. Locking opponents out of the game is a truly game-breaking effect, and it led to what many consider a controversial ban in Commander in 2019 when Painter’s Servant was unbanned. For every game Iona dominated, she was also a liability, with opponents eager to reanimate your Iona to lock you out of the game.
Nowadays, she sees some play in Reanimator and other mana-cheating-style decks in formats like Legacy.
20. Angel of Finality (Commander 2013)
Let’s start things off with Angel of Finality. Debuting in Commander 2013 and a staple of preconstructed products since, this Angel keeps on top of graveyards while providing a great blocker or evasive threat. Removal on Angels helps tribal decks succeed, with the newest offering, Angel of the Ruins, proving to be an already popular include.
The artwork for Angel of Finality is done by the ever-impressive Howard Lyon, and it depicts the angel Isobel from Innistrad. He has painted her a total of four times, and the cards Angel of Flight Alabaster, Flameblade Angel and Clip Wings showcase her rise and fall through the events of Shadows over Innistrad. I do love those narrative touches.
19. Restoration Angel (Avacyn Restored)
A powerhouse in Standard back at release, Restoration Angel is the good Angel behind every Thragtusk. It’s fair to say that without Restoration Angel, Thragtusk might never have been so popular. Decklists of the day included Craterhoof Behemoth as a win condition, and Unburial Rites to keep the deck grinding out the game.
Nowadays, Restoration Angel is perhaps one of the most popular white includes in Cubes, given the heavy focus on enter-the-battlefield effects in modern card design.
18. Shalai, Voice of Plenty (Dominaria)
Shalai is an excellent option for Commander, both to lead a deck and within the 99. She saw plenty of Standard play, too, given the heavy focus on cheaper planeswalkers in Standard at the time. +1/+1 counter decks love Shalai, but so do Enchantress decks, Angel tribal, and hatebear-heavy builds. Don’t sleep on her giving you hexproof, too.
17. Akroma, Vision of Ixidor (Commander Legends)
This list wouldn’t be complete without an Akroma, and though Angel of Fury and Angel of Wrath are a little outmoded these days, Vision of Ixidor offers a lot. Whether partnered with Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, played with Odric, Lunarch Marshal, or just buffing other Angels, Akroma is a force to be reckoned with.
Angels have long lent combat prowess to decks, and the likes of Sublime Archangel and Angelic Skirmisher skirt the same design space, and could lend a lot of potential to the right build alongside Akroma.
16. Righteous Valkyrie (Kaldheim)
Angels suffer from being expensive to cast, and Righteous Valkyrie is one of the better Angels below four mana. Gaining life is something most Angels decks want to do, and turning that lifegain into a teamwide buff of +2/+2 is really quite strong. There’s not much more to be said here — it’s a stellar card.
15. Resplendent Angel (Core Set 2019)
It seems good to check out another three-mana powerhouse now, so let’s look at Resplendent Angel. It’s a token-making machine in the right decks, and can enable itself with a strong activated ability. It saw niche play in Standard at the time, but was way more relevant in EDH and still is today.
14. Karmic Guide (Urza’s Legacy)
Unlike the rather niche Angel of Glory’s Rise that is found in Human tribal builds, Karmic Guide is an all-star Reanimator spell in white. While the echo cost is rarely paid, it can stick around to block for a turn cycle in Commander, and offers one of the more efficient and repeatable graveyard recursion options in white without going into black.
Karmic Guide is also part of many combos, mostly involving Reveillark, Fiend Hunter, and Altar of Dementia or Goblin Bombardment. Why not check out Commander Spellbook, an EDHRec-based tool which can give you the lowdown on such combos?
13. Baneslayer Angel (Magic 2010)
No Angel list can be complete without Baneslayer Angel, another classic from Magic’s storied past. Though not as powerful in Core Set 2021 as it was back in the day, Baneslayer Angel is emblematic of all things Angels. Baneslayer is such an iconic design that some of what makes it great was lifted to Lyra Dawnbringer in Dominaria.
Lyra is one of the most popular mono-white Angel Commanders. She also proved to be a great choice in Standard throughout its time in the format, lending power to decks as diverse as GW Legendaries and Jeskai Control.
12. Linvala, Keeper of Silence (Rise of the Eldrazi)
The more controlling Angels like Linvala and Angel of Jubilation see a lot of play in EDH, offering sweet hatebears that stop many tactics, from mana dorks to combos. It’s a shame Angel of Eternal Dawn is digital only, because it would help a lot with the current state of the format. Liesa, Forgotten Archangel is another controlling piece, one that could easily make this list, were it written a little later down the line. At time of print, she’s seen minimal play so far, powerful though she is.
11. Archangel of Thune (Magic 2014)
Like many Angels on the list today, Archangel of Thune has seen some Modern play. More commonly, however, it’s a top end to lifegain decks, offering a serious buff that can trigger multiple times each turn. You can also drop in Spike Feeder for an infinite combo, if that’s your jam.
10. Platinum Angel (Mirrodin)
At the heart of many a combo, Platinum Angel deserves a spot on this list. Giving this thing hexproof and indestructible is a great way to keep yourself alive against the odds in Commander – at least until someone casts Cyclonic Rift. What brings Platinum Angel its fame, however, is the legendary standoff of Pro Tour Honolulu. It’s quite the tale.
9. Archangel Avacyn (Shadows Over Innistrad)
It’s hard to find a more iconic Angel than Archangel Avacyn. She entered a Standard with no clear deck for her, but nonetheless was played plenty at the Pro Tour, mostly in Black-White Angels. Avacyn here is the vanguard of the story for the block, and her tale is told on cards like Avacyn’s Judgment and Anguished Unmaking.
8. Emeria Shepherd (Battle for Zendikar)
Despite being pretty expensive to cast, Emeria Shepherd might have one of the best landfall abilities of all time. Returning any nonland permanent to play by dropping a Plains is outstanding, and even returning one to hand for playing a non-Plains land is nothing to sniff at. What takes this card to the next level is when you can throw in cards like Burnished Hart, Sun Titan, Karmic Guide and fetchlands – offering you a way to bring back a multitude of cards in the blink of an eye.
7. Feather, the Redeemed (War of the Spark)
Feather, long exiled, was brought back to us in War of the Spark by the unlikeliest of creatures – Krenko. Feather is one of the strongest options for a more focused and decisive Boros list in Commander, and was heralded as a breath of fresh air. A typical Feather deck is full of instants and creatures that want to be buffed with them, which is exactly the kind of fresh deck that Boros needs. It’s even fringe playable in cEDH.
6. Avacyn, Angel of Hope (Avacyn Restored)
While Archangel Avacyn is iconic in her own way, Avacyn, Angel of Hope is the scariest Angel to see across the table. She gives all her controller’s permanents indestructible, which can lead to some massive blowouts. While it might start as innocuous as allowing creatures to attack with impunity, it quickly snowballs. Casting Hour of Revelation or even Armageddon when Avacyn is in play can win you the game pretty decisively.
5. Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice (Commander 2016)
Yes, she’s an Angel. A horrific one, a terrible one… one you never want to fight… but an Angel, nonetheless. Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice is maybe the most infamous entry on this list. The resident menace when it comes to counters decks, planeswalker decks, and many builds in between, Atraxa has proliferated in usage since release, enjoying multiple reprints. What top Angels list could be complete without the Phyrexian nonpareil?
4. Brisela, Voice of Nightmares (Eldritch Moon)
There’s only one thing gnarlier than a Phyrexian Angel Horror, and that’s an Eldrazi Angel. As horrifying as it is magnificent, Brisela is one of my favorite ways to close a game with an Angels list. Using cards like Entomb or even Final Parting makes assembling Eldrazi-Angel-Exodia pretty easy in Commander, and there aren’t that many ways to stop it, especially given it stops a Cyclonic Rift (because the spell’s mana value is still two, even when overloaded).
Of course, to have Brisela, you need Bruna and Gisela. Gisela is fairly vanilla when it comes to EDH creatures, porting Baneslayer Angel onto a four-mana card. Bruna is a little spicier, with an on-cast reanimation trigger. Bruna is more playable if you only want one, but why settle for one when you can build Brisela?
3. Sigarda, Host of Herons (Avacyn Restored)
Sigarda is a creature that I’m not sure would be printed as written today; she’d probably have Ward 4 or something instead of hexproof. That alone can clue you in to just how powerful this card is, and she’s a lynchpin for Voltron strategies in Commander, either leading the deck or within the 99.
My favorite place for her is leading an Aura-based Enchantress deck, which I’ve covered in detail in my article about playing more Auras in Commander. The ability to negate sacrifice effects, such as Dictate of Erebos, is truly a blessing, but it can be a curse if you aren’t careful – Torment of Hailfire will still force you to discard cards or lose life, so watch out.
2. Gisela, Blade of Goldnight (Avacyn Restored)
Another angel from Avacyn Restored – what an absolute banger of a set! In the penultimate position on this list is Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. Gisela is what I’d affectionately call the “Boros Praetor.” Much like Elesh Norn, Vorinclex and their ilk, Gisela provides a magnification of an effect for you, and a nerf to the same effect for opponents. In Gisela’s case, that’s double damage for any source damaging opponents or their permanents, and incoming sources of damage halving, rounded up.
In practice, it means an opposing Blasphemous Act will only deal five damage to your board, and a Chandra’s Ignition will deal double damage to everything that isn’t yours (and incidentally, only half to your creatures). Gisela is a great way to close a game, and a must-answer threat.
1. Aurelia, the Warleader (Gatecrash)
My number one pick will surprise absolutely nobody that knows me, but Aurelia, the Warleader truly is the best Angel in Magic. Not only does she grant additional combat phases, she untaps all creatures you control when she attacks – not just the ones that attacked. She has vigilance and haste, too, meaning opponents need an answer pronto.
In decks as varied as Angel Tribal, Extra Combats, Voltron, or any number of Naya Midrange shells, Aurelia is a slam dunk pick.
She can also win the game in short order, being a combo piece in the command zone. Using either Helm of the Host or Sword of Hearth and Home (plus another creature to flicker Aurelia), you can achieve infinite combats, which isn’t too shabby. She can combo in other ways, too: Adarkar Valkyrie + Altar of Dementia or Goblin Bombardment, or with Brago in Jeskai builds. She’s the most impactful Angel, and the one I’d first pick any day of the week.
Thanks for joining me to count down the Top 20 Angels in Magic: the Gathering today. Angels are a great creature type, and I’m hoping we see some more solid additions with New Capenna later this year.
What’re your favorite Angels? Let me know on Twitter!
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.