Home Strategy Celestial Light deck guide: Get a (lot of) life

Off to a strong start

Despite being a defensive color, Celestial Light has the potential to hit the ground with incredible alacrity. Early game Soul Wardens, Pridemates, Ascendants, and the like can quickly grow out of control, giving most decks little recourse but to take the beating (usually while you gain life in the process).

Unfortunately, these explosive openings aren’t always possible. Bad draws are always in the mix, but more likely you’ll find your opponent has answers to your early game plan. Fast decks like Goblin Gangland can force trades (removing your vital tools) or chip your life below 30 (preventing the Serra Ascendant from reaching its full potential). Slower decks like Crosswinds or Ancient Wilds can undo your progress with instant bounce or removal. Before you know it, your once powerful army is cowering in fear of much larger, more permanent threats.

For this reason, I find it’s foolish to rely too much on early game aggro. Building the deck around too many 1- and 2-turn drops is suicidal, since they won’t have any relevance lategame. Instead, your early plays should be focused on stabilizing the board, purposely drawing out removal (to ensure your angels’ safety later), and establishing a life cushion that will let you ride through stormy turns with a few extra hours on your clock.


Born… born to be alive

In the midgame, your ability to carefully evaluate threats and use utility cards like Swords to Plowshares, Day of Judgment, and Solemn Offering will be paramount to success. It’s always important to remember when playing Celestial Light that life is of little consequence, as there is always more to be gained. Wiping the board may yield card advantage, but it can be stalled quite far before it’s strictly necessary (and inherently more devastating).

In a lot of circumstances, the mere threat of a Day of Judgment, Recumbent Bliss, etc., will be enough to keep the scariest monsters away from the battlefield. As with slower decks, you must always play the metagame of extra cards in hand, extra land untapped, and extra “thinking time” to make your foes question your gameplan. Celestial Light has plenty of ways to bait card disadvantage (including White Sun’s Zenith and Swell of Courage), so don’t be afraid to bluff occasionally, as long as you don’t push your luck.


Means to an end

What Celestial Light lacks most is win conditions, i.e. viable methods of closing out the game. This has always been the downside of lifegain-based strategies; there’s no point in living forever if you can’t actually kill your opponent. Yes, there are a few powerful early and late game options for bashing your foe’s face in, but the fact that so few exists greatly limits how you can successfully build Celestial Light.

Obvious cards like Loxodon Warhammer, Baneslayer Angel, and Ajani’s Pridemate are essentially auto-include. If not dealt with quickly, these threats will pound your opponent into submission. Of course, all of them (save the hammer) are fairly easy to deal with for white, blue, and black decks – all very common in online play.

To that effect, I feel the inclusion of both copies of White Sun’s Zenith are strictly necessary. If you can stall to the late game (and you most certainly can with so much life gain), the ability to drop four or more creatures as a surprise is huge. They’re not easily dealt with by bounce or regular removal, necessitating a clean sweep. But since Infest, Day of Judgment, and the like aren’t instants, your foe will be taking a big hit at least one turn.

Another (albeit uncommon) use for White Sun’s Zenith is that it prevents loss by insanity (mill). If you’re about to draw from an empty deck, simply play WSZ and it’ll become the new top (and only) card of your deck. It won’t always work against Dream Puppets, but it could be a viable stall if the game goes super long and you’re racing your enemy to the bottom of each other’s library.

Aside from the cards mentioned, the only other ways to win are via Serra Ascendant or Felidar Sovereign. These are certainly powerful cards, but their conditional nature makes them hard to rely on. Against fast decks, you will most likely be whittled far below 30/40 life early on. Against control decks, these threats are easily removed or stolen. Still, I’ve kept at least some of them in to force an opposing play, least the game be one in short order… the cheesy way!


 Celestial Light deck list


Celestial Light card-by-card analysis

(in progress)


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22 replies to this post
  1. I will note that I’m happy to have had built my deck very similar to yours. Even had the same Soul Warden and Serra Ascendants! But mine was too creature-heavy, and I’ll admit your removal is a solid addition. Tried it out a few times and it worked wonderfully. Thanks for providing such thoughtful builds!

  2. Swell of Courage’s reinforce ability is an outstanding, extremely flexible combat trick. Adding permanent counters at instant speed can swing the balance of the game in the best case, and can protect your creatures while they kill blockers/attackers in the worst case.

  3. I used to SWEAR by the basic engine:
    4 x soul warden
    4 x ajani pridemate
    4 x serra ascendant
    But after looking at your build and suggestions, I realized that they can be swept off easily if you overreach especially against OD and Born of Flame. Your build seems more balanced; offering more win conditions that don’t seem obvious at first like Swell of Courage (Instantly place copious amounts of +1/+1 counters on a creature without further notice) and Marshall’s Anthem which restores momentum after a good sweeper like day of judgement or if your opponents plays mutilate (assuming you can affort multiple kicker costs). I agree with the inclusion of the Basilisk Collar since it lets your smaller guys take down a fattie, and if put on the Meadowgrain Knight makes it take down the fattie FIRST! Great Build…

  4. Purity is useful if your opponent is trying to burn you to the ground with direct damage. Otherwise I find it an easy target for removal or even worse a good candidate for Rite of Replication, Control Magic, the list goes on. Although I’ve seen it work in a control variant of this deck which I will post later.

  5. Swell of Courage is amazing. I’d run three if I had them.
    It can be used as multiple purposes – removal, defense, instant wipe, win condition, and can be used at different mana amounts.

    It’s the most underrated card in 2013.

    Anyway, I agree with Wing about not going overboard in the weenies, but I’d still run 4 Soul Wardens. Those guys buy you several turns against aggro every time, and if your opponent doesn’t draw tonnes of removal they become the gift that keeps on giving later.

    Additionally, their opening combo Pridemate is SO strong you need to put the max of both cards, no questions. Many decks just can’t handle having a 3/3 and a 1/1 on turn 2. At the very least you will draw out removal that would have hit your fatties almost from the get go, as well as stalling your opponent’s board development Pridemate is SUCH a threat he has to stop and tap out.

  6. I feel its a matter of taste whether or not you want to your mana curve to be heavy in the 1-2 range. Although you may find it to be very risky when playing strong opposition, especially people that are willing to take a lot of damage in order get the most value out of their sweeper cards like Chalandra and Liliana (even another Ajani player with day of judgement). If your opponent is playing heavy weenie then it may pay off with interest. However, after much playtesting I find that a more balanced approach is necessary in order to maintain constant pressure on the opposition throught the game.

  7. Although I may get criticized to death, but here it is…

    Celestial Light Control Variant (if you can call it that):

    1 x Elixer of Immortality
    4 x Serra Ascendant
    2 x Swords to Plowshares
    4 x Ajani’s Pridemate
    2 x Knight of Meadowgrain
    1 x Loxodon Warhammer
    2 x Recumbent Bliss
    2 x Solemn Offering
    2 x White Sun’s Zenith
    4 x Chastise
    2 x Day of Judgement
    1 x Rhox Faithmender
    2 x Seraph of Dawn
    1 x Well of Lost Dreams
    2 x Baneslayer Angel
    1 x Swell of Courage
    1 x Beacon of Immortality
    1 x Felidar Sovereign
    1 x Purity

    This Variant of Ajani is aimed towards staying power. The deck does have some elements of control about it, although I feel it can’t truly be labeled as a true control deck without more copies of day of judgement and swords to plowshares but that just screams “OP”.

    It does well at surviving until turn 4 where it can start playing its power cards. At the same time it can provide enough early pressure against the slower decks to detract some of their removal that may be aimed at your larger bombs. Against aggro variants I feel there are enough obstacles (Ascendant, Pridemate, and Knight plus removal) in order to stall the game to where the advantage will shift in your favor.

    If there is a Day of Judgement in hand, it may be best to try to get the most value out of it as possible by allowing your opponent to over-reach. You may have to take some substantial damage, since card advantage is rarely ever free.

    I would say the deck is weaker against Tarland & Jace, since those deck excel against other decks that rely on stalling. However it can still provide some early pressure in the form of Knights and Pridemates in order to force those decks into uncomfortable decisions.

  8. I actually don’t use Seras or Soul Wardens in my current build. I have a very different approach to this deck.

  9. Manto, I’ve run a very similar version of your build before, and I think it is extremely successful, especially against decks like OD which a lot of people think is a terrible matchup for this deck. However, I’m not sure the Beacon is necessary. A Marshall’s Anthem is a better card in my opinion, simply to recycle something like a Baneslayer that got removed, while the Beacon is just pure stall most of the time.

    I guess maybe the Beacon helps you recover from taking damage after an opponent’s overreach, but it also seems like almost every other card in the build does this, to a lesser extent.

  10. On the other hand beacon is a self replacing card… This can be extremely powerful in a deck with such a huge (potential) draw engine. I’ve seen one two or three times in a game. Sure it’s win more of the worst variety, but it can be a game changer in some conditions, albeit not that often. I like white sun and purity for similar reasons… You better not let this deck get to it’s mid/late game. This one can get super nasty. And with Elixirs, you can seriously start increasing your chance of drawing spells every time you use one. I tend to use Elixirs as soon as as start have a few cards in my graveyard that might be worth seeing again. Every time I use one I’m getting to filter out lands until eventually almost every card I draw is worth having. I dunno… I really love this deck for some reason, lol…

  11. Although it is nice though when rhox is out and u get quadruple life instead of double life…. Kinda sets ur opposition back a bit.

  12. I run with this build in multiplayer i find it works really well even if i have to go through a number of turns only being able to put down land.

    1 Basilisk Collar
    2 Elixir of Immortality
    4 Serra Ascendant
    4 Soul Warden
    2 Swords of Plowshares
    2 Divine Favor
    2 Kemba’s Skyguard
    1 Loxodon’s Warhammer
    3 Solemn Offering
    2 White Sun’s Zenith
    2 Day of judgement
    1 Marshal’s Anthem
    1 Well of Lost Dreams
    2 Archon of Redemption
    2 Baneslayer Angel
    1 Landbind Ritual
    2 Beacon of Immortality
    1 Purity
    1 Serra Avatar

    Other players tend to be forced with either trying to reduce my increasing health points or worrying about the other players around them who play more immediately threatening cards. I also built it in mind of opponent’s different ways of removal. The cards i have are less likely to be targeted and blue will find much fewer creatures they wil want to steal or copy.

    Elixir of immortality proves to be invaluable getting you health and increasing your chances of using cards again. As well as making it harder for you to be decked and weakening creatures who rely on the graveyards for their power and toughness.

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