One of the things that struck me about Magic early on was how quickly the game managed to build on its own mythology. Though mostly centered on relatively generic fantasy tropes, there was just enough uniqueness that players glommed onto that necessitated more exploration. The first set to do so (Homelands) built the lore and the flavor around a trio of particularly resonant fan favorites from Alpha: Sengir Vampire, Hurloon Minotaur, and Serra Angel

Serra—the Planeswalker who created her Angels—was brought back again during the Urza's Saga Block with a little more flavor. Urza, fleeing the Phyrexian Negators, took refuge in Serra's artificial plane made up of White mana to rest and recuperate. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the Phyrexians attacked, killing a bunch of Serra's subjects and corrupting the pristine sanctum she created. She got mad and left, leaving her archangel lieutenant Radiant in charge. ...It didn't go great from there. Poor Radiant got super paranoid, and her mismanagement allowed Serra's realm to get totally overrun by Phyrexian spies and agents. Urza ended up having to collapse the entire plane and evacuate its citizens on The Weatherlight's maiden voyage to prevent the Phyrexians from completely overrunning the place. 

Despite that total bummer, Serra is still really cool. Her Planeswalker abilities represent 3 different cards associated with her: Serra Aviary, Serra Angel, and Worship. Her first ability definitely incentivizes us to play some flying creatures, and her second ability indicates angels. Are there enough Angels to even make a deck like this?

Cue the heavenly choir:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Serra the Benevolent by Andy Hurst

'Serra the Benevolent' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $45.20

Cards

Angelic Edict

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216544_200w.jpg

Exile target creature or enchantment.

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Pacifism

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216154_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't attack or block.

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Serra the Benevolent

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $8.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/185803_200w.jpg

+2: Creatures you control with flying get +1/+1 until end of turn.
−3: Create a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying and vigilance.
−6: You get an emblem with "If you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead."

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Evangelize

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14219_200w.jpg

Buyback {2}{W}{W} (You may pay an additional {2}{W}{W} as you cast this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Gain control of target creature of an opponent's choice they control.

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Archon of Redemption

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216356_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Archon of Redemption or another creature with flying enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain life equal to that creature's power.

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Angel of Vitality

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192522_200w.jpg

Flying
If you would gain life, you gain that much life plus 1 instead.
Angel of Vitality gets +2/+2 as long as you have 25 or more life.

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Kabira Crossroads

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140110_200w.jpg

Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield tapped.
When Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
{T}: Add {W}.

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On Serra's Wings

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227267_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature is legendary, gets +1/+1, and has flying, vigilance, and lifelink.

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Sejiri Steppe

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/46808_200w.jpg

Sejiri Steppe enters the battlefield tapped.
When Sejiri Steppe enters the battlefield, target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
{T}: Add {W}.

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Soulcatcher

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118644_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever a creature with flying dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Soulcatcher.

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Serra Angel

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216563_200w.jpg

Flying, vigilance

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Malach of the Dawn

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14756_200w.jpg

Flying
{W}{W}{W}: Regenerate Malach of the Dawn.

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Squadron Hawk

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161898_200w.jpg

Flying
When Squadron Hawk enters the battlefield, you may search your library for up to three cards named Squadron Hawk, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle.

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Voice of All

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132211_200w.jpg

Flying
As Voice of All enters the battlefield, choose a color.
Voice of All has protection from the chosen color.

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Healing Salve

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93583_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Target player gains 3 life.
• Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to any target this turn.

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Seraph Sanctuary

Market Price: $0.78

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/113315_200w.jpg

When Seraph Sanctuary enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
Whenever an Angel enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {C}.

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Melesse Spirit

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/5140_200w.jpg

Flying, protection from black

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Righteous Cause

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132136_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature attacks, you gain 1 life.

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Redeem

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/10997_200w.jpg

Prevent all damage that would be dealt this turn to up to two target creatures.

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Angelic Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/116027_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a permanent.
Exile target artifact, creature, or enchantment.

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Serra Bestiary

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/2364_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Serra Bestiary unless you pay {W}{W}.
Enchanted creature can't attack or block, and its activated abilities with {T} in their costs can't be activated.

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Segovian Angel

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191063_200w.jpg

Flying, vigilance

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Answered Prayers

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191208_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life. If Answered Prayers isn't a creature, it becomes a 3/3 Angel creature with flying in addition to its other types until end of turn.

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Planar Collapse

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6364_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, if there are four or more creatures on the battlefield, sacrifice Planar Collapse and destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/6364/magic-urzas-legacy-planar-collapse

Serra Paladin

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/2365_200w.jpg

{T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to any target this turn.
{1}{W}{W}, {T}: Target creature gains vigilance until end of turn.

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Sustainer of the Realm

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145392_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Sustainer of the Realm blocks, it gets +0/+2 until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/145392/magic-iconic-masters-sustainer-of-the-realm

Borrowed Grace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120462_200w.jpg

Escalate {1}{W} (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or both —
• Creatures you control get +2/+0 until end of turn.
• Creatures you control get +0/+2 until end of turn.

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Serra's Boon

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93601_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2 as long as it's white. Otherwise, it gets -2/-1.

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Radiant, Archangel

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $25.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6370_200w.jpg

Flying, vigilance
Radiant, Archangel gets +1/+1 for each other creature with flying on the battlefield.

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Sunblade Angel

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188311_200w.jpg

Flying, first strike, vigilance, lifelink

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/188311/magic-war-of-the-spark-sunblade-angel

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/242996_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/242996/magic-adventures-in-the-forgotten-realms-plains-263

Disenchant

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227260_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Radiant's Judgment

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6372_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature with power 4 or greater.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Serra's Blessing

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12815_200w.jpg

Creatures you control have vigilance. (Attacking doesn't cause them to tap.)

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/12815/magic-9th-edition-serras-blessing

Emancipation Angel

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216550_200w.jpg

Flying
When Emancipation Angel enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner's hand.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/216550/magic-jumpstart-emancipation-angel

The Game Plan

Our goal here is to use the dinky flying creatures to keep the pressure off until our bigger, beefier flying creatures show up to lay down the law. Beware: some of our early drops are not that impressive...but they are annoying! Hopefully they're annoying enough to buy time until the much more powerful high drops show up. Keep in mind that most of our creatures have evasion, so getting in for some pot shots shouldn't be terribly difficult. 

Once we get to the later stages of the game, our powerful late game creatures can make an impact. Voice of All is an absolutely phenomenal defensive creature. Serra and Sunblade Angels are big and vigilant (and Sunblade Angel in particular plays very well with Serra's Plus ability). On Serra's Wing can turn one of your more pedestrian creatures into a force to be reckoned with. Keep in mind that your Emancipation Angel can free up Pacifism and Serra Bestiary if you end up with better creatures to incapacitate, and can do the same with Serra's Boons that may be enhancing your forces. There's also the trick of using Serra to make an angel token, then returning it to your hand with Emancipation Angel for more token action in future turns. You can play that lady on Turn 3 if you like, but there are a lot of synergies within the deck that are best explored elsewhere. 

The removal package is fairly strong. Although somewhat unwieldy, Angelic Edict and Angelic Purge can hit a wide variety of permanents, regardless of size. Pacifism is the same as it's always been—efficient but limited in effectiveness. On that note, Serra Bestiary is the inverse: extremely effective, but the upkeep cost is a pain in the butt. It's not removal, but our combat tricks like Healing Salve (Urza's Saga, art of course, since it depicts Lady Serra), Redeem, and Borrowed Grace can function as removal when your opponent expects a trade. 

The Rares

According to the lore, Radiant, Archangel is Serra's top lieutenant in Serra's Realm and the one who inherits the big job of leadership when Serra decides to peace out. In the games, Radiant is set up for success in this deck. 17 of our 18 creatures have flying, so it wouldn't be unfair to expect Radiant to be a 5/5 or bigger when she hits the board. Our biggest beatstick. 

As mentioned just above, almost all of our creatures have flying. Serra makes flying tokens and then pumps them up for good measure, so rewarding and synergizing with flying creatures seems like a good idea. Archon is a perfect fit! While not technically an angel, it does allow for us to gain a comfortable amount of life as the game goes on while also presenting a reasonably sized body. 

This card depicts the very moment that ends Serra's Realm. Woof. Hopefully, you're able to play this after our initial wave of crappy creatures have served their purpose but before the big reinforcements have hit the board. Getting to 4 total creatures might be tricky on some board states, so this will require a bit more planning than other reset buttons. That said, it should still be very reasonable to expect it to hit more of our opponent's creatures than our own. 

Serra inspired religions on Dominaria and Ulgrotha, so it seemed fitting to include White's version of a religious nod. Expensive and unwieldy, this can be an extremely powerful effect, and even if your opponent gets to choose which of their folks to tithe over to your cause, you still get a creature out of it...permanently! If you reach the point in the game where this can be bought back, the effect goes from "fine" to "very potent." 

Unsung Hero

Squadron Hawk

I have no idea how popular or notorious this card is to the current player base—especially since it isn't effective in Cube or EDH. But the Hawks here are deceptively powerful. They once ruled the roost in standard in Caw Blade, although their synergies with Sword of Feast and Famine and Jace the Mind Sculptor aren't shared here. Still, they present a way for a White deck to get ahead on cards and have plenty of reliable early plays. They also get considerably more fierce if Serra comes down. Do not be afraid to cash them in for good blocks or padding your life total as you buy time to land your bulkier air force!