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CardShark Content - Beatdown Bedford Crenshaw (9/3/2005)

Three months ago, I wrote an article concerning the results of the Vanguard Premier Tourneys. Since then, Vanguard has seen quite a few changes. Consider this your Summer update, with additional updates every 3 months afterwards. We’ll divide articles into three parts:

1) Look at any new avatars and see how they are doing
2) Check out the top avatars in Vanguard and any innovations
3) Look at the future

==== New Avatars ====

Since then, the two new avatars to have come out are Oni of Wild Places
Oni of Wild Places
Oni of Wild PlacesSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon Spirit
Rarity:
U
Power:
6
Toughness:
5
Text:
Haste At the beginning of your upkeep, return a red creature you control to its owner's hand.
and Sakashima the Imposter. There are two prominent Oni decks. The first is a red deck, based on pure beats and a little burn. The deck lists looks something like this

2: Akki Underling
Akki Underling
Akki UnderlingSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin Warrior
Rarity:
C
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
As long as you have seven or more cards in hand, Akki Underling gets +2/+1 and has first strike.

4: Clockwork Beetle
Clockwork Beetle
Clockwork BeetleSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Insect
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Clockwork Beetle comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it. Whenever Clockwork Beetle attacks or blocks, remove a +1/+1 counter from it at end of combat.

4: Cosmic Larva
Cosmic Larva
Cosmic LarvaSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
63
Power:
7
Toughness:
6
Text:
Trample. At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice two lands, or sacrifice Cosmic Larva.

4: Eater of Days
Eater of Days
Eater of DaysSet: Darksteel
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Leviathan
Rarity:
R
Number:
120
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
9
Toughness:
8
Text:
Flying, trample. When Eater of Days comes into play, you skip your next two turns.

4: Goblin Cohort
Goblin Cohort
Goblin CohortSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin Warrior
Rarity:
C
Number:
106
Artist:
Darrell Riche
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Goblin Cohort can't attack unless you've played a creature spell this turn.

4: Hearth Kami
Hearth Kami
Hearth KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
171
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
X, Sacrifice Hearth Kami: Destroy target artifact with converted mana cost X.

4: Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.

4: Lava Spike
Lava Spike
Lava SpikeSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
178
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Lava Spike deals 3 damage to target player.

4: Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma JetSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Text:
Magma Jet deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Scry 2

4: Seething Song
Seething Song
Seething SongSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
104
Artist:
Martina Pilcerova
Text:
Add RRRRR to your mana pool.

22: Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


Sideboard
4: Blind With Anger
Blind With Anger
Blind With AngerSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
158
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
Untap target nonlegendary creature and gain control of it until end of turn. That creature gains haste until end of turn.

4: Drooling Ogre
Drooling Ogre
Drooling OgreSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ogre
Rarity:
C
Number:
58
Artist:
Snoddy
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Whenever a player plays an artifact that player gains control of Drooling Ogre.

4: Echoing Ruin
Echoing Ruin
Echoing RuinSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
59
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Destroy target artifact and all other artifacts with the same name as that artifact.

3: Pyrite Spellbomb
Pyrite Spellbomb
Pyrite SpellbombSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
C
Number:
232
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Text:
R, Sacrifice Pyrite Spellbomb: Pyrite Spellbomb deals 2 damage to target creature or player. 1, Sacrifice Pyrite Spellbomb: Draw a card.


What I like about this deck is that it’s quick. Also, it neutralizes the drawbacks of a lot of the cards used. The Beetle will return to a 2/2 status when recast, the Cohort can always count itself when wanting to attack, the Larva’s upkeep need never be played, and a quick 9/8 flying trampler with haste makes the cost of two turns irrelevant. If an opponent plays an avatar with a reduced life total, the Oni can punish him quickly. The problem with the deck is that it has a hard time keeping more than one threat on the board. Thus, a constant supply of chump blockers can help the control player that plays with an avatar with a life increase have plenty of time to set up the defense and then win.

The other major Oni deck is a blue neo-Affinity deck, using cheap artifact creatures and Myr Matrix
Myr Matrix
Myr MatrixSet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
132
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Myr Matrix is indestructible. (Destroy effects and lethal damage don't destroy it.) All Myr get +1/+1. 5: Put a 1/1 Myr artifact creature token into play.
to build a huge army, backed up by Frogmite
Frogmite
FrogmiteSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
172
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Affinity for artifacts (This spell costs 1 less to play for each artifact you control.)
, Myr Enforcer
Myr Enforcer
Myr EnforcerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Myr
Rarity:
C
Number:
211
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Affinity for artifacts (This spell costs 1 less to play for each artifact you control.)
, and Cranial Plated Ornithopter
Ornithopter
OrnithopterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Amy Weber
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
s. However, people are prepared for artifacts as long as Mirrodin is legal and the deck is vulnerable to sweepers like Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.
and Final Judgment
Final Judgment
Final JudgmentSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
4
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Remove all creatures from the game.
. There was a third Oni variant seen once, which was a G/r deck that relied too heavily on Goblin Charbelcher
Goblin Charbelcher
Goblin CharbelcherSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
176
Artist:
Stephen Tappin
Text:
3, T: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Goblin Charbelcher deals damage equal to the number of nonland cards revealed this way to target creature or player. If the revealed land card was a Mountain, Goblin Charbelcher deals double that damage instead. Put the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order.
; I’m thinking it’s a fluke. Sakashima saw some play at first, relying on turning Ornithopter
Ornithopter
OrnithopterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Amy Weber
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
s into bigger creatures, but are too unreliable to see much play.

==== Current Technology ====

Three months ago, Elvish Champion
Elvish Champion
Elvish ChampionSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lord
Rarity:
R
Number:
186
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
All Elves get +1/+1 and have forestwalk. (They're unblockable as long as defending player controls a forest.)
was the top avatar by far. Not any more. With no hand boost and a life penalty, plus many packing shocks just to deal with the Elf token, the Champion only makes a few appearances. The new top dog is Prodigal Sorcerer
Prodigal Sorcerer
Prodigal SorcererSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Do 1 damage to any target.
, as control players find in the Sorcerer no penalty and a handy deck filtering that, with Sensei’s Divining Top, makes for a potent deck. Akroma, Raksha, and Serra
Serra
SerraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
4
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Power:
+1
Toughness:
+1
Text:
All creatures you control get +0/+2.
are the other top 4 avatars, as their starting life boosts (let’s face it, Serra
Serra
SerraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
4
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Power:
+1
Toughness:
+1
Text:
All creatures you control get +0/+2.
might as well be considered to have that status too) well protect their owners, and their opening hand bonuses (save Serra
Serra
SerraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
4
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Power:
+1
Toughness:
+1
Text:
All creatures you control get +0/+2.
) give their players an additional resource to start with.

The FTK avatar has proven to be worthless in Constructed, but it was by far the most popular avatar during the Invitational Limited Vanguard segment, as FTK was almost always able to go a-critter-killing.

I was pleased to see a couple of Viridian Zealot
Viridian Zealot
Viridian ZealotSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf
Rarity:
R
Number:
90
Artist:
Kev Walter
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
1G, Sacrifice Tel-Jilad Zealot: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
decks in Extended. These were basically Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
Goblin decks with goblin tutors like Goblin Matron
Goblin Matron
Goblin MatronSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Goblin Matron comes into play from your hand, search your library for a Goblin card and put that card into your hand. Shuffle your library afterwards.
and Goblin Ringleader
Goblin Ringleader
Goblin RingleaderSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste (This creature may attack and TAP the turn it comes under your control.) When Goblin Ringleader comes into play, reveal the top four cards of your library. Put all Goblin cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.
backing ensuring a constant supply of goblins. The Zealot’s ability removes the traditional weakness of mono-red decks (lack of enchantment destruction), making it into a powerful force, although it still has to be careful about sweepers like Balancing Act
Balancing Act
Balancing ActSet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
10
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player chooses a number of permanents he or she controls equal to the number of permanents controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Each player discards cards from his or her hand the same way.
and Wrath.

==== Immediate Future ====

Most of the current Standard Vanguard decks are based around Mirrodin, so in two months they all go bye-bye. Ninth Edition provides a stronger base set to work from, but the new Vanguard is going to be heavily influence by Ravnica, and since the first set is going to concentrate on the combinations of R/W, U/B, G/W, and G/B, you can look at these being the color combinations of choice.

Ninth’s release brings us two new avatars: Hell’s Caretaker and Maro
Maro
MaroSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
241
Artist:
Stuart Griffin
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Maro's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand.
. I like the Caretaker’s initial chances, as it can bring about CIP recursion and can quickly bring a fattie into play on turn two. I definitely see these being played where Chrome Mox
Chrome Mox
Chrome MoxSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
152
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Imprint - When Chrome Mox comes into play, you may remove a nonartifact, nonland card in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) T: Add one mana of any of the imprinted card's colors to your mana pool.
is available to speed it up. Maro
Maro
MaroSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
241
Artist:
Stuart Griffin
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Maro's power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in your hand.
looks fun, but that strong loss of life at the beginning dooms it. Just look at the dominant avatars already in Vanguard: no real starting life loss for any of them.

Anyways, that’s the current 411 on Vanguard. Watch in 3 months from now for another important Vanguard update.


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