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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Sep 28 2010 2:49am
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Think back to the very first time in your life you saw this card.

Searing Wind

Be honest: wasn't your immediate, gut reaction "whoa that's cool"?

Yes, I'm sure your second, more rational reaction was "whoa that's impractical," but we're ignoring that rational side today and going with the gut.  Because I'm writing about the world of vanguard, where 9 mana isn't impractical at all.  Today's three decks are all about casting those huge, timmyriffic spells that you normally can't.

Deck 1 Orcish Squatters + big dopey sorceries

It's been a long time since I featured this avatar, but if you've been reading my column since the old days you've probably seen me use it a few times.  I love this avatar.  And if it's mana you need, there's really no better place to turn.

All other things unchecked, this avatar will give you enough mana to cast Searing Wind on turn five.  But that's not quick enough!  Let's accelerate our mana even further.  My solution for this first deck:

New Frontiers    

New Frontiers.  Think about it.  Even if it's turn two and X is only three, you're accelerating your mana by SIX (the three lands you get plus the three avatar mana from your opponent's new lands).  If you had four mana to begin with, now you have TEN!  With the right draw, Searing Wind could be cast this way as early as turn three.  Hardcast.

Of course Searing Wind isn't the only trick up this deck's sleeve.  The whole thing is full of cards that are too costly for normal play.  For instance, Crush of Wurms.  And Storm Herd.  And Invincible Hymn.  And yes those last two happen to be a combo, but you don't need to cast them as one.  Either on its own is still quite wonderful.  And honestly both combined is probably overkill.  Unless you're facing against a Morinfen / Eternity Vessel deck*, 40 pegasus tokens is probably overkill.  Still, you do have the option.  And it could be funny in a multiplayer game....

    Akroma's Vengeance

* I think I just gave myself an idea.

Let's talk about Akroma's Vengeance.  Why would you, when you have 10 or more mana every turn, waste your time with Terror or Disenchant?  Or even Wrath of God?  Do everything at once!

Akroma's Vengeance actually informed a lot of the deckbuilding choices.  I wanted to maximize its effect, so I eventually tweaked the deck not to run any non-land permanents (with one purposeful exception, which I'll get to in a little bit).  Earlier drafts of the deck had Austere Command instead of Akroma's Vengeance, and a few artifacts / enchantments I wanted to keep out, until I realized that I wasn't giving myself the freedom to destroy as much of the opponent's stuff as I wanted.  The new build lets me choose all four instead of just two.  Plus, it's consequence-free for my side of the board.

Harmonize helps me get to the good stuff.  So do Tangle and Lull, in a way.  As does Mirri's Guile, a card I like more every time I play it.  And that card I was alluding to earlier, the deck's only permanent: Veteran Explorer!  Or as I like to call it, "New Frontiers-Lite."  If he does die, he accelerates your mana by four, which is a decent investment for the initial one mana.  And if he can't block into death, well, there is always that Akroma's Vengeance....

Avatar: Squatters

Land (23):
12 Forest
1 Mountain
10 Plains

Creatures (4):
4 Veteran Explorer

Noncreatures (33):
2 Mirri's Guile
2 Tangle
2 Lull
2 Harrow
4 Harmonize
4 Akroma's Vengeance
3 Vengeful Rebirth
3 Invincible Hymn
3 Searing Wind
2 Crush of Wurms
3 Storm Herd
4 New Frontiers
Storm Herd Vengeful Rebirth

What's funny about the deck is that it's almost entirely rares — and yet, except for the New Frontiers and the very non-necessary Mirri's Guile, they're very budget friendly.  Most of them are priced at what you'd expect from an uncommon!

Deck 2 Squatters + Buuuurrrn


Let's just cut to the chase.  You can do a lot of things with a lot of mana.  But don't you just want to make X=20?

This deck is all about getting your mana to as high numbers as possible as quickly as possible.  I say "high numbers" rather than "the number 21" because this is the world of vanguard — our opponent might be starting at 32 life, or gaining several life every turn.  But whatever they do to their life, this deck is designed to handle it.

"What if they start at 50 life with Morinfen and then cast Eternity Vessel, like you said earlier?"

This deck can handle it.

"What if they use a Tower of Eons with Rings of Brighthearth every turn?"

This deck handle it.

"What if they cast four Boon Reflections and then Gerrard's Wisdom up to 200??"

In fact, this deck can even handle that too.  And without using an infinite combo.

Here are the two MVPs of the deck, that let us do all of these things:

Doubling Cube  Upwelling

Yeah, for those non-100-life games (ie 99% of them), either one of these cards will be enough to burn the opponent out in one swoop.  But both of them together can take down pretty much anyone.

So what do we do in the meantime, while one (or both) of those cards sits around picking up steam?


If there's one card suited exactly for letting you sit around, it's Arboria.  Just look at this thing.  You don't have to cast another spell, and you're under complete protection for as long as you want.  Just sit there hitting F6 and gathering Upwelling mana until you're ready to go off.  Remember: with the vanguard metagame, over 90% of all decks win by attacking.  Arboria is almost as good in this format as in Tribal — where it was preemptively banned!

Sometimes you'll want to play lands or spells badly enough to break Aboria's shield.  I designed this deck to have "big turns" to play a bunch of spells and a bunch of lands all at once, instead of spreading them out during several turns.  Arboria works much better that way.  Summer Bloom covers the lands for that turn.  And the avatar covers the spells.  And since it's only a one-turn break from the shield, a single Fog can protect us through the opponent's turn.

A fear this deck has is getting its Upwelling destroyed, and losing all of that stored up mana.  There's no mana burn anymore, so we won't die from it, but that was sure a lot of wasted effort.  We also don't want our Arboria or Doubling Cube destroyed too early.  Rebuff the Wicked helps with all of these problems.  And Enlightened Tutor helps find them in the first place.

Finally to the question, which red X-spell should we use?  There are a whole lot to choose from.  Here are the top contenders:

Okay I guess there's no reason to use anything but Banefire ever, unless you're running more than 4x or have a really strict budget.  But this deck happens to run 6x, so at least I got a little diversity in.

Here's the list!

Avatar: Squatters

Land (23):
3 Jungle Shrine
7 Plains
4 Mountain
9 Forest

Permanents (12):
4 Doubling Cube
4 Upwelling
4 Arboria

Nonpermanents (25):
4 Fog
2 Rebuff the Wicked
3 Enlightened Tutor
3 Respite
3 Summer Bloom
4 Wrath of God
4 Banefire
2 Rolling Thunder
Enlightened Tutor Banefire

Deck 3 Squatters + Big Blue

Decree of Silence    

You cannot tell me you never dreamed of casting Decree of Silence.

And you also can't tell me that it wouldn't get even cooler next to a gigantic Sphinx of Magosi, protected by Inundate and copied by a powered-up Rite of Replication.  (If you can tell me that, we are very, very different people.)

Of all my decks today, this one has by far the most "pile of random good stuff" vibe going on.  There is a little bit of an instants and sorceries theme going on, with cards like Peer through Depths, Relearn, and Mirari.  And a little bit of a Fabricate-powered artifact toolbox.  But really it's just about throwing down huge bombs and seeing what happens.

But what else did you expect from the title of today's article?

Like the above decks, this one doesn't rely on Squatters mana alone to get it where it needs to go.  It uses the Squatters mana to get out cards that make even more mana.  Gauntlet of Power is the main enabler in this deck.  And Mind Stone is the first-turn drop that lets Gauntlets be a second-turn drop.  Name blue, and you'll be hardcasting Knowledge Exploitation in no time!

For such an odd pile, it plays surprisingly smoothly.  Probably because it's blue, and therefore has the best tutoring, card draw, and counterspells available.  The whole list ends up being a who's who of cool blue cards.  Give it a try — your inner Timmy will be delighted.

Avatar: Squatters

Land (23):
23 Island

Creatures (4):
2 Sphinx of Magosi
1 Sphinx Ambassador
1 Goliath Sphinx

Artifacts (6):
1 Lightning Greaves
4 Mind Stone
4 Gauntlet of Power
1 Mirari

Enchantments (2):
2 Decree of Silence

Instants/Sorceries (25):
2 Peer Through Depths
2 Fabricate
2 Relearn
2 Concentrate
1 Mimeofacture
1 Rite of Replication
1 Wash Out
2 Dismiss
1 Bribery
1 Evacuation
3 Inundate
1 Knowledge Exploitation
1 Dichotomancy
1 Distorting Wake

Mimeofacture Distorting Wake

See you next time, and have fun with vanguard!


Hey Cotton, As I've said by Xaoslegend at Wed, 09/29/2010 - 13:48
Xaoslegend's picture

Hey Cotton,

As I've said before I've always loved vanguard. Searing wind was still a big deal when I started the game, more feared in casual than plague wind was. Someday if things go well I'd love to promote some Heirloom vanguard games. Probably just make all the vanguards legal since you only need one. In any case this was a pretty good exploration of what one can do with lots of mana in a format where access to it is more available than in most.