Magic: The Gathering: Vanguard Series 2, Pt. 2: The First Uptick

Hello and welcome, all players, collectors, and other fans of Magic: The Gathering, the premier collectible trading card game by Wizards of the Coast! These past three weeks, we have covered the basics of the first two series of Vanguard cards for the game, most recently discussing the first half of Series 2. The oversized supplemental cards we have discussed so far are relatively easy to obtain on websites like eBay on the cheap. However, in this article, we shall discuss the one exception to this (thus far, so knock on wood). Are you ready? Are your wallets ready? Let's dive in!

The full art for Volrath, the Shapestealer, a card from Commander 2020, a supplemental Commander set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Heonhwa Choe.
The full art for Volrath, the Shapestealer, a card from Commander 2020, a supplemental Commander set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Heonhwa Choe.

#13. Orim

Orim, the Samite healer and medic aboard the Weatherlight, is decidedly not the culprit of price spikes for this series of characters from the Vanguard series. She gives your creatures reach (and without the keyword, so in some ways worse than reach) and you an extra 12 life. That is all that Orim grants to you.

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

Despite this, I personally know of players who have collected cards like Orim because of her artist, the incomparable Rebecca Guay. So while it is true that Orim is a rather weak Vanguard character, it's not necessarily an undesirable card. It may well be the next character in the series to spike, for all we know.

#14. Selenia

Our next foray into Vanguard characters has us looking at Selenia, the dark angel who cursed Crovax with vampirism in one timeline, and the cat warrior Mirri with it in another. Truly, Selenia is one bad cookie who you would not want to encounter in your travels across the Multiverse.

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

However, this brings us to the snag in some of our field research, and the hook of this article: When we made a purchase of the entire Vanguard gamut, we found the first and second series of characters available with ease for approximately $40 together. This lot listed all of the characters in Series 1 and 2 for this price, save for one. You guessed it, that one character missing was Selenia. Looking on for other lone copies of Selenia, we found her for $34 alone. That was somewhat of a shock because it signaled to us that the cards were only going up from there.

So, why is Selenia almost as much as the first two series of other Vanguards combined? Hard to say. She is all upside, though, so it isn't a stretch to assume that this plus the great artwork by Quinton Hoover had a part to play in that fact.

#15. Starke

Starke is a great improvement over Gerrard from Series 1, whose ability is hindered by an egregious decrease in starting and maximum hand size. Starke gives a player card selection rather than straight-up card advantage but doesn't hurt your hand as Gerrard does. However, he gives a slight downside (very slight!) in the form of a decrease in starting life total of -2.

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

In our studies of how this affected games, players actually had a pretty easy time controlling their games when using Starke. He's definitely a huge improvement over the hero of the Weatherlight Saga, which is rather unfortunate considering how Wizards painted Gerrard as a character, all those years ago.

#16. Volrath

Our final entry for this article and for Series 2 is Volrath, Gerrard's brother and the evincar of Rath (succeeded by Crovax nearer to the end of the Weatherlight Saga). Volrath is a shapeshifter and a major antagonist for the crew of the Weatherlight for the better part of their story arc. But better known than Volrath himself is his stronghold. It's even the location that the set Stronghold is named after! The card itself goes for over $110 market at the time of writing, and as it's on the Reserved List, it's only inevitably poised to spike further given time.

For this reason, many Magic: The Gathering enthusiasts might be inclined to assume that Volrath is the Vanguard character that spiked away from Series 2 lots as a whole. This is not the case, but Volrath is still a decent character to utilize in his own right.

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

As you can see, Volrath is as strong as, or perhaps even stronger than, his Stronghold with his ability in mind. A starting life total depreciation of just 3 life is nothing compared to an extra two cards in hand and the ability to return any creature from death at your whim!

What do you think? Is Magic: The Gathering's oversized supplemental cards something that should see a resurgence in the game? Do you think the secondary cost of Vanguard characters is too darn high? You might in the coming weeks, once we publish our articles about Series 3 and Series 4! In the meantime, let us know your thoughts 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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