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April 4, 2018

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The most underrated ability in Commander?

Are you not the biggest fan of the politics in a Commander game? Do you like attacking? Then you’ll want to take advantage of what is possibly the most underrated ability in Commander… Vigilance!

Sure, there are players out there who’s decks aim to combo out by turn three or four, and attacking anyone is the farthest thing from their main strategy, but most Commander decks, I’ll wager, still turn creatures sideways. Just imagine if you didn’t have to!

Since we play in a multiplayer format, being able to attack someone and still keep that/those creatures back to block, or to deter future attacks, is a big bonus. A creature can only attack one player per turn, but an untapped creature can block in multiple skirmishes. You either need to go all out attacking, or split your forces into attackers and blockers. Unless you have Vigilance!

I’m always so happy to have it when it comes up, but I never seem to brew with it in mind! Most of us will run a Sun Titan in a white deck. We definitely want to be attacking with this giant, and having a 6/6 back on defence also (plus whatever three-cmc friend Mr. Sun brought back) feels great! I’ve also brewed an Aurelia, the Warleader deck in the past, but that deck was so aggressive, I didn’t care what other decks’ creatures were doing, so the Vigilance was basically moot.

I’d like to highlight some fun creatures that I’d want on my team, to slightly push forward for attacks, rather than fully turning them sideways.

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn seems like a powerhouse. I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, but it seems like an ideal threat that does it all. Heaven forbid you have any equipment in your deck. Depending on how many colours you’re running, Woodland Wanderer is likely a 5/5 Trample, Vigilance for four. Especially if your deck has any sort of +1/+1 counter theme. Once again, Planar Chaos and its colour bending flavour is a win for branching out. Blue mages get to run their own Serra Angel with Serra Sphinx. It’s quite an elegant card if you think about it.

It’s not just creatures that need to bear the non-tapping load. If we restrict ourselves to just creatures with native Vigilance, we’re going to be a bit too restricted. Fortunately, they’ve printed cards like Always Watching. Not only does it give the team that ability we’re looking for, but it’s an anthem too.

Are you mostly a token deck? Then how about Intangible Virtue instead?

Mammoth Umbra is an excellent way to give a specific creature a significant boost as well as Vigilance. Just in case you haven’t learned why auras aren’t ideal, it’s because when an opponent spends one card to get rid of your creature, they get the aura with it. Two for one. That’s why the Totem Armour aspect of this Umbra helps out.

In case you haven’t noticed, white gets the lion’s share of Vigilance. Is it a coincidence that white is the colour with the most lions in it? Who can say.

So, how can other colours get a Vigilance boost? Although it’s not one of the all-star swords of this and that, Sword of Vengeance turns any creature into a formidable fighter that will rarely stay home during combats. Except it’s untapped, so it’s sort of still home. You get what I mean.

Avarice Amulet is another piece of equipment that does the trick while drawing us an extra card each upkeep. And as long as you leave it attached to your Commander, who never technically dies, the drawback is nonexistant. Even if very few of our creatures come with Vigilance, Sight of the Scalelords does the trick. It only provides a p/t boost during our combat phase, but we get the effect we were looking for.

Once we’ve begun to think about having more Vigilance, we should think about cards like Odric, Lunarch Marshal. There’s a soldier that likes his keywords! I’m also a big fan of Brave the Sands, because one of the main reasons we wanted Vigilance in the first place was to be able to hang back and block, so why not double that effectiveness? And lastly, If we’re planning on leaving our creatures untapped most of the game, why not throw in a Cryptolith Rite to cast all of our instants just before our turn begins without affecting any of our ability to get into combat.

There you have it! If you often play in a meta with lots of attacking and blocking, consider some of these cards. If you’re already a pro-Vigilance player, let me know about your experiences with it in the comments below! Happy attacking!