Tuesday 24 October 2017

Card Spotlight: Adanto Vanguard

Adanto VanguardI didn't know exactly where to place this on initial reviews as it has a lot going for it but is also very awkward. It is also somewhat of a filler dork akin to a Porcelain Legionnaire, Loyal Cathar or Daring Skyjek! There are lots of such cards and you just use them to pad out your deck with suitable cheap spells. Vanguard is all sorts of awkward in that he offers no human synergy, is a lame crewman for vehicles and a lame blocker for much the same reasons. He is also yet another one toughness dork that increases your vulnerability to -X/-X effects and to some degree ping effects as well. I was a little concerned that this inconveniences would stop this filler level card getting much play. Turns out however that you really don't care. This is all about being an indestructible two drop that attacks in a relevant way. I initially thought you would need to be heavily aggressive to really play this as well as four life is uncomfortable in slower decks and the card is generally a lot worse on the defensive. Wrong again! While this certainly isn't a control card I am very happy running it in a number of places other than very aggressive white decks.

True-Name NemesisI think my average life paid with this card is around ten per game in which I play it. It has been oppressive in much the same way as True Name Nemesis is. Obviously you can block this and you can interact with it much more with spells, that mostly just makes it better designed! Technically you don't have infinite life to pay to keep this indestructible either. In practice I have found that you are pulling so far ahead on the board every time you use the ability that games are won before you can do yourself critical damage. I had a situation where I was just an aggressive white deck and I had this beating down with a Declaration in Stone in Hand. My opponent just made a Flesh Carver which for most other dorks in play would have been enough to bait the Declaration so that I might keep up the pressure. I reasoned I was better off in the situation allowing him to chump and conserve my other non-life resources. While allowing him to save 6 life is a much bigger deal than paying 8 myself it not only saved my removal but more critically my mana. This let me further develop my board. Slightly later in the game my opponent made what appeared to be a big swing with a fully cast Lingering Souls. It probably would have won the game had I not been able to remove them all for two mana and continue the aggression with my developed board.

Umezawa's Jitte
True Name is a very hard card to deal with but it is three mana for the same attacking stats and more colour intense. It is also vulnerable to much more mass removal than Vanguard. True Name is good when you are threat light but if you are looking to go at all wide then it falls off a lot in value. Vanguard scales in the other direction. Both are really good for getting a very sticky cheap dork on the board and both are even better when you have equipment. It was a recent UW tempo control deck I built in which the power of Vanguard really stood out. The combination of it being so cheap and so hard to get off the board makes it a perfect thing to slap equipment on. While it might lack some synergy with some things white likes to do this matter little as it is the perfect counter to things white hate. It lets you abuse equipment with greater safety and it also lets you go wide with greater safety and they are your two main plans and an aggressive white player. If you ever stick a turn one Mother of Runes and follow it with Vanguard you have a more resilient threat than True Name! All in all Adanto Vanguard is a pretty big addition to white. It is a premium two drop threat for any aggressive strategy where white is a main colour but it also has application in other archetypes which very few other white two drops have achieved. This puts it in the same camp as Selfless Spirit and Stoneforge Mystic which is pretty impressive stuff. White cares so little for life, it has nothing much to spend it on and it great at generating it should it wish. If this were a black card, even with the more relevant tribe, it would be a whole lot weaker. Life is a more precious resource in black and they have rather more in the way of sticky dorks than don't block so well! So yeah, play this in your white decks and pay life to keep it alive often and without fear and you will do well. Put a Jitte on it and people will loath you...


  1. This is, hands-down, my favorite resource for cube theory. I have loved MtG for years, but never figured out how I wanted to play the game - until I discovered cube. This website helped me get into it, and it still is invaluable as I build my cube. I totally would have written off Adanto Vanguard if it wasn't for your analysis. Thanks! <3

  2. My pleasure! And thank you for taking the time to say so. While MtG is the best game it wouldn't be anything without the amazing community. This is my way of giving a bit back and it is encouraging and rewarding to hear it being of use.

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  4. Thanks for taking the time to point out this card, Nick! I would have also glossed over it and my Cube would have been poorer for it (here's my list: http://www.cubetutor.com/cubeblog/33973). And thank you for sharing your deep understanding of the format! While browsing your blog I thought to myself, 'man this guy writes extremely thoroughly and frequently'. Must be a lot of work but know that it's enjoyed and valued by us random internet people! I'll arrange for a beer and a Cube Draft if you ever find yourself in South Africa :)

    1. Thanks and thanks! Nice cube too. How good has Regal Behemoth been for you? It is a card I missed at the time rather. Sundering Growth seems like a really good call too now with Amonkhet block rather empowering populate.

      "Thoroughly" is a very kind term for my writing style! I obviously enjoy doing it and find it helpful trying to put my thoughts into words, the act of doing that somehow makes me understand things significantly more clearly. Despite that I doubt I would have kept up this level of enthusiasm for doing it if it was just for me so thanks for the support.

      Magic has been a pretty big aspect of my life and while the game is great it is the community that makes it what it is and so the more involvement and contributions the better!

    2. Heh, I see I am somewhat repeating myself in places now (re - MtG community...) Guess I'm old enough and this has been going on long enough it is time to start being on high alert for ramblings and repetition!

    3. Haha, thanks! Regal Behemoth is the strongest green 6 in my opinion. It generally gives you a greater mana advantage than Primeval Titan, fixes your colours and enables splashes straight away. Of course, Monarch is not everyone's cup of tea, but we love the card over here.

      As you say, Sundering Growth's stock has increased noticeably with recent sets. There are just so many cubeable token effects now, in all colours. Why so many lists still run the ol' Disenchant over this is beyond me.

      Another card that I've had great experiences with, and which doesn't get enough love, is Meren of Clan Nel Toth. Easily my #1 golgari card and a wonderful anchor for grindy stax or rec-sur-pod decks.

      Looking forward to exchanging many more ideas :) !