Posted in: Card Games, Games, Magic: The Gathering, Tabletop, Wizards of the Coast | Tagged: magic, Magic: The Gathering, MTG, supplemental set, Tawnos, titania, Urza, vanguard, wizards of the coast, WotC, Xantcha
Magic: The Gathering: Vanguard Series 4, Part 2: The Final Batch
Hello and welcome, players, collectors, and other fans of Magic: The Gathering, the premier collectible trading card game designed and produced by Wizards of the Coast. Over these past 8 weeks, we have gone through the ins and outs of the Vanguard series of supplemental cards for Magic, starting off with a rather tame, if unbalanced, first series, delving into some of the same in Series 2, and getting a bit more experimental with Series 3. In the oft-elusive Series 4, we looked at a few rather pricey cards. We will continue to do this through to the end of Series 4 with this article, our last in the series. We've even saved the most financially expensive character for this very article. Are you ready? Let's go.
Tawnos was one of Urza's apprentices during Urza's long, ambitious life. He was the hidden love interest of Ashnod, another artificer working with Urza's brother Mishra during the Brothers' War. Beyond this, it is known that Tawnos was very illustrious and hardworking.
As a Vanguard character, Tawnos is strong as he gives your creatures, artifacts, and enchantments all the ability to be cast at instant-speed. That's definitely not nothing, and paired with three extra cards in your maximum and starting hand size, you'll be able to do a lot on other peoples' turns. a 4-life cost is small potatoes compared with the boons Tawnos gives you. It's a wonder that this card has a current market price (as of the time of our writing this article) less than $10. Well worth it!
Hooooooooo buddy. Titania stands out from the rest of these Vanguard characters, and likewise all the rest of the oversized cards in this entire supplemental release because she costs an absolutely staggering $400. To be fair, when we began covering this series back in early May, Titania only cost $350 at market. We got her for far less, but others will surely not be so fortunate. If it's a white whale you seek, Titania is one heck of one for Vanguard cards.
But we digress. Titania, the protector of the forest of Argoth, is a major player in the war between Dominaria and Phyrexia. She doesn't particularly care for Urza since he rather blew Argoth to bits when he detonated the Golgothian Sylex device, a bomb of beyond nuclear proportions. That's probably what needs to be known about Titania as a character, to be frank.
In the context of gameplay, Titania is amazing. She is an uninteractable Exploration that also gives you an extra two cards, for no cost except the 5 life she takes from your starting life total. That Exploration effect is around for the entire game. She's also illustrated by the incomparable Rebecca Guay. Did we mention that this card is now $400?
The big protagonist of the old Magic: The Gathering storyline, Urza is, decidedly, not a good person in the context of the story. He is a eugenicist almost as bad as Yawgmoth (who we are still salty about not getting a Vanguard character!), and his plans are Machiavellian and quite Darwinist at that. Nothing is important to him except destroying Phyrexia using the full potential of the best possible options for the job. Often those options are living beings, but to Urza they are simply tools. Such is the mind of a mad Planeswalker such as Urza.
By contrast, the Vanguard for Urza is… Rather abysmal. For three mana he simply pings a target for 1 point of damage, and he doesn't even add to your hand size, rather subtracting from it by one card. Sure, with Urza you'll have 10 more life, but that's not proven to be a lot even outside of the Commander format. It's a wonder that this card was around $80 when we sought to pick him up. Don't pick Urza up for $80 – if you're looking to complete your collection he's fine at $30 due to scarcity alone (which is what we got him for), but if you're not looking to do much with Urza and aren't a die-hard fan of the character, you can leave him behind.
Finally, we have Xantcha. Xantcha was a Phyrexian sleeper agent repurposed by Urza to follow him on his journeys for a time. Xantcha was actually rather fond of Urza, which was honestly rather weird in our opinion, but in the end, she sacrificed herself to make sure Urza survived. Her heartstone eventually was used to power Karn, the Silver Golem who eventually became an artificial Planeswalker.
In Vanguard-centric gameplay, Xantcha acts as a better copy of Fanatical Devotion from the Command Zone. This is a reasonably good effect. It isn't the best, but it is something we could certainly find worse effects than to run for our Vanguard. Her life total and hand size augmentations are also all net positives, leading her to be pretty strong in that way as well. For $26, this is probably a good pickup choice.
In the end, we spent a helluva lot on these very cool supplemental Magic: The Gathering cards, and we have no regrets about it. The Vanguard characters all currently join our Planechase pile and Archenemy Scheme collection. Speaking of which, we will be focusing on one of those next. Which would you like to see us cover next? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!