Magic: The Gathering Vanguard Series 1, Pt. 2: Unbalanced, But Fun

Hello and welcome, players, collectors, and other fans of Magic: The Gathering, the premier trading card game by Wizards of the Coast! Last week, we took a good look at the first half of the very first series of oversized Magic cards that had a playability factor. Otherwise known as Vanguards, these cards are super rare and somewhat-miraculously quite valuable despite having fallen out of the public eye lately. One Vanguard character card in particular, which we will discuss in the weeks ahead, markets for upwards of $350.00 USD as of the time we have penned this article!

However, are these Vanguard cards balanced? In a word, no. But are they fun? Yes, yes, and a thousand more times, yes! Let us go over the second half of the first series of Vanguard characters now, so that you may see a new approach to the characters that make up this game's lore.

The full art for Captain Sisay, a card from Invasion, an older expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated here by Ray Lago, Sisay shows up in the first series of Vanguard character cards for the game.
The full art for Captain Sisay, a card from Invasion, an older expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated here by Ray Lago, Sisay shows up in the first series of Vanguard character cards for the game.

#5. Mirri

We kick this article off by talking about the fifth card out of eight in this series of Vanguard characters, the Cat Warrior Mirri. In the story, Mirri was beloved by her crewmate, Crovax. Crovax eventually was cursed with vampirism by the dark angel Selenia – although alternate history accounts say that it was Mirri who took the curse for him.

Mirri, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.
Mirri, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.

As a Vanguard character, Mirri is relatively tame except in the right deck to utilize her talents. A monocolor or colorless deck would be wise to choose a different character, but a deck using two or more colors would be behooved by the mana fixing that Mirri provides. Oh, and the boost to starting life isn't bad, either.

#6. Sisay

Compared to Mirri, Sisay is an absolute powerhouse of a character. Even with a moderately lower starting hand size and a lower starting life total, Sisay's ability to effectively double your mana output from the very start of the game is not anything to sneeze at. What more would one want from the esteemed captain of the Skyship Weatherlight?

Sisay, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.
Sisay, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.

With art by the incomparable Kaja Foglio, this card is a must-have for anyone collecting this subset of cards for collectibility as well as for artistry.

#7. Squee

The seventh card in the eight-part first series of Vanguards is Squee, the Weatherlight's cabin hand-turned ruler of the city-plane of Mercadia. Squee has typically been seen as a bit of a laughingstock character from a lore perspective, but he has gone through hell and back. Cursed with immortality by the Phyrexians, he was killed by the Evincar (Crovax, as it were) repeatedly, but could not remain dead. He is currently the oldest, and by association, the wisest of the goblins of Dominaria.

Squee, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.
Squee, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.

Despite all the humor at his expense, Squee is arguably the strongest Vanguard character in the first series of the releases. For one, he starts you out with ten cards in hand, the most likely reason you're taking him! Plus, starting your life total at 36 is no downside at all when you consider that if you take Squee you're probably taking him in a control-type build. Furthermore, the ability to have a Telepathy effect from the command zone is a strong one because it cannot be removed. This in turn allows for some fantastic political plays. I might windmill slam Squee as a first pick most every time, to be frank about it.

#8. Tahngarth

Finally, we end the first series list with Tahngarth, Sisay's first mate aboard the Weatherlight. A battle-hardened Talruum minotaur, Tahngarth is an expert at dealing with the Phyrexians – quickly and with unrelenting fury. How else would you want to deal with them?

Tahngarth, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.
Tahngarth, a Vanguard character for Magic: The Gathering, a game by Wizards of the Coast.

Tahngarth in this release is a very straightforward character to pick. He gives all of your creatures haste and buffs your life total a smidge at the cost of a card in hand. He's simple, but that's how he likes it. What do you think about the Vanguard characters of Magic: The Gathering? Are they fun to you? Have you used them before? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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