Born of the Gods Preview – Vanguard of Brimaz

For our exclusive Born of the Gods spoiler, for the first time ever, we decided to have Dave Lee feature our card in his Durdling Around series. Check it out!

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We also got part of our team over here at ManaDeprived.com to break down the card from a Constructed and Limited perspective.

But first, here’s the card in its full glory:

21Jan-Vanguard of Brimaz-ManaDeprived_EN

Constructed

For constructed, we turn to Jay Lansdaal and Alex Bianchi, who will be discussing the Vanguard mostly in terms of Standard.

Jay – Standard mostly indeed; I don’t see much happening with this card in Modern (or Legacy, for that matter), or it has to be as an alternative to [card]Kor Spiritdancer[/card] in Hexproof, but I’m pretty sure drawing cards is better than making 1/1s. Just imagine if [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] turned all your spells into catnips- eh, I mean, cantrips!

For Standard though, this kitten could make some waves alongside the recent spoiler Brimaz, King of Oreos. Together they can pump out a ton of extra troops for other Heroic cards like [card]Phalanx Leader[/card] and [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] to turn into real threats.

Nyxborn Shieldmate

Nowadays, a 2/2 vigilance for double white isn’t good enough to see play unless it does *something* well. Gone are the days of [card]Steadfast Guard[/card] being played in constructed, so if we were to build a deck with the Vanguard we will need plenty of ways to trigger its Heroic ability. Preferably, we want to trigger it with Bestow creatures. One of the downsides to the Vanguard is that a 2/2 with Vigilance doesn’t tangle with creatures very well, so you’d prefer ways to trigger him that buff his stats. Sadly enough, there are very few playable Bestow creatures. However, there is a new option coming out with Born of the Gods: Nyxborn Shieldmate. It’s not great as “just” a creature, but it’s cheap enough to Bestow that it might actually be playable. Perhaps a deck like this could work?

[deck]
[Lands]
1 Boros Guildgate
10 Plains
1 Mountain
2 Mutavault
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
4 Boros Elite
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
3 Nyxborn Shieldmate
2 Phalanx Leader
4 Precinct Captain
3 Vanguard of Brimaz
3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Anax and Cymede
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Dynacharge
4 Gods Willing
4 Titan’s Strength
3 Boros Charm
[/Spells]
[/deck]

Notice the lack of [card]Favored Hoplite[/card]s in this Heroic deck. I’ve seen many casual players build a Heroic deck, often jam-packed with Heroic creatures. The problem is that you only have so many spells to target them. I’d rather have a bunch of “normal”, good creatures and a single Heroic creature on the board, than a ton of Heroic creatures. Which one gets to benefit from my spells?

What do you think, Alex?

Alex – It’s obvious that you are going to want to target this guy a lot for the Heroic trigger for him to be worth playing. This might lend itself toward an Aura strategy with [card]Ethereal Armor[/card] plus cards like [card]Gods Willing[/card] and [card]Boros Charm[/card] to protect Vanguard of Brimaz. His ability does a nice job of protecting himself from [card]Devour Flesh[/card] and providing chump blockers.

[deck]
[Lands]
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Temple of Triumph
8 Plains
6 Mountain
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
4 Hopeful Eidolon
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Vanguard of Brimaz
4 Fiendslayer Paladin
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Chained to the Rocks
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Gods Willing
3 Boros Charm
4 Madcap Skills
[/Spells]
[/deck]

Jay – [card]Ethereal Armor[/card] is a great idea, I didn’t even think of that one despite mentioning the Modern deck. Now that we’re throwing decks around, I do have one more, but not for Standard. With the recent spoilers in mind, it seems like White Weenie might be a force to be reckoned with in Block Constructed. While not a popular paper format, plenty of people play it online, so here’s a deck idea for them:

[deck]
[Lands]
14 Plains
5 Island
4 Temple of Enlightenment
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
3 Hopeful Eidolon
3 Nyxborn Shieldmate
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Hero of Iroas
4 Vanguard of Brimaz
4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 God’s Willing
2 Chosen by Heliod
3 Ephara’s Enlightenment
3 Spear of Heliod
2 Ephara, God of the Polis
1 Heliod, God of the Sun
[/Spells]
[/deck]

Ephara, God of the Polis

The Ephara cards work very well with Vanguard of Brimaz and Brimaz himself. Cast the Enlightenment on the Vanguard, make a token, attack with the Vanguard and the King of Oreos, another token enters play, you can then return the Enlightenment and do it again next turn for more and more tokens, all the while drawing cards with the god Ephara. Heliod also works well, turning into a card draw engine with Ephara. [card]Chosen by Heliod[/card] might look underwhelming, but I think it and Nyxborn Shieldmate are going to be essential in keeping your heroes from being Drowned in Sorrow.

Alex – Yeah, Nyxborn Shieldmate is great as a cheap Heroic enabler that doesn’t expose yourself to removal. It seems that there will be a whole cycle of cheap creatures with Bestow, so there’s plenty of potential for one to exist that is as Constructed playable as [card]Boon Satyr[/card]. That would immensely increase the power level of Vanguard of Brimaz and other creatures with Heroic.

White looks to be getting a lot of great cards in Born of the Gods – Brimaz himself being the biggest one, with Spirit of the Labyrinth also deserving a mention. Vanguard of Brimaz will be in good company; the future looks bright for 1/1 Cat tokens!

Limited

For a limited perspective we’ll turn to our resident draftcasters, Travis “Semulin” Sowers & FlamingSheep.

Semulin – OMG! Cats! I love cats! My first commander deck was a cat deck and this guy is IN!

Phalanx Leader

Looking at Vanguard of Brimaz from a draft perspective, I don’t see him being a real powerhouse, nor is he a “build around me uncommon.” That said, he does bring a lot to the table. The easiest comparison is with [card]Phalanx Leader[/card]. Quite frankly, I think Vanguard of Brimaz and [card]Phalanx Leader[/card] are going to be best friends. They are both uncommon, both cost double white and have a heroic trigger. Do I hear wedding bells? Vanguard of Brimaz also has a lot in common with [card]Akroan Crusader[/card], in that he makes cat tokens when he is targeted.

Sheep – I agree with your comparisons, Semulin. In fact, I’ll be the first to make an awkward, drunken speech at the Brimaz/Leader wedding reception.

Vanguard is a very efficiently costed creature. 2 cmc for a 2/2 vigilance creature? That is a sweet deal for any aggressive deck. Pound for pound, Vanguard is more impressive than the wimpy 1/1 body of the [card]Phalanx Leader[/card]. Although the Leader’s heroic ability has more impact the longer the game goes, the Vanguard is the better standalone card as it makes an army, instead of needing one to be good. In terms of the Vanguard vs. Crusader match, I actually prefer the Crusader for one big reason – it’s a human. And as we (and Cavalry Pegasi) know, humans are superior to cats.

Semulin – That’s racist! Cats are people too!

Sheep – No, they are not! Full disclosure: I’ve never liked cats since one scratched me as a child. I’m secretly afraid this card will give me full on PTSD night terrors.

Semulin – So what are we gonna do with this guy? Well, let’s take note that he’s already vigilant! This is one ability that is often underrated. A 2/2 vigilant creature isn’t much to be impressed with, but bestow something on him and now you’ve got something that can attack and block, not to mention a free pet cat on the table. There are already plenty of ways to target him in Theros, and we’ve seen three mana bestow cards in Born of the Gods already.

Sheep – I could not agree more. I think vigilance is the most exciting part about this card, especially when the vigilant creature is wearing pants. Wearing pants is something that is both socially acceptable and desirable in Theros. Most people would describe Therosian Magic as “Battleship” Magic. Players have big fat creatures that they go all in on with auras and slam into the red zone turn after turn. The downside to Battleship Magic is that if all your eggs are in one creature-shaped basket, then your opponent could chump block and then swing back at a defenseless board. But if your battleship has vigilance, you just changed up that game. The cat token is just gravy.

Spear of Heliod

Semulin – What we need is a way to abuse those tokens. Now don’t go around telling people that good ole’ Semulin suggested you abuse cats. Let’s just get that clear from the get go. But what are we going to do with those 1/1 vigilant kitties? Well, if you were lucky enough to open up Ephara, God of the Polis, you’ve got a few extra cards. If you get a [card]Spear of Heliod[/card], it gives your kitties a buff. And even a lowly 1/1 can buy you some time, with a chump block here, or a body to use a combat trick on there. If I ever have the opportunity to overwhelm my opponent in cats, you will see that one in a video here on ManaD!

Sheep – Besides the Spear and [card]Phalanx Leader[/card], there hasn’t been much that really capitalizes on utilizing a swarm strategy. Perhaps Born of the Gods will give us token-philes more tools? A [card]Fortify[/card] / [card]Trumpet Blast[/card] effect is probably out of the question, as I imagine all combat tricks in this block will trigger heroic. Word on the (DailyMTG) street is that there is an “Archetype” cycle that gives a keyword ability to your team. I can see a game where an Archetype of Imagination lifts all your felines in the air to punch through damage, while still letting them block, thanks to vigilance. Though in all likelihood, your token will be a chump blocker, which is not a bad thing if it effectively gains you 8 life for free.

Semulin – All and all, I don’t see myself slamming Vanguard of Brimaz pack one pick one. I do see keeping my eyes open, because if I see one later than 4th pick it may be a sign that white is open. White in Theros had some amazing commons, and some other ones I hated main decking. If I can determine that it’s open with the aid of my new cat friend, then I’ve got a much better chance of seeing late [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card]s instead of main-decking the [card]Decorated Griffin[/card] of shame.

Sheep – I see Vanguard of Brimaz as a solid role player in a White-based heroic deck. Aggro decks need 2-drops, and this is a pretty nice one. Token swarm strategies and monstrous all-in strategies seem to be diametrically opposed, but Vanguard has managed to firmly plant one traumatizing-to-a-5-year-old-razorsharp-paw in each of those doorways. I look forward to future drafts where I’ll get to bestow a [card]Heliod’s Emissary[/card] on it to make a 5/5 tapping vigilant attacker, and get a free redshirt to throw under the bus at a later date.

Semulin – I’d just like to clarify that no cats were harmed in the making of this article!