Pro Tour Ixalan is around the corner and the metagame has been shaping up. It hasn't drastically changed since the World Championship and if you've been playing a bit on Magic Online you've been facing the same matchups over and over again: Ramunap Red, Blue-Black Control and Temur Energy.
So when you find a 5-0 list that's none of the above, you pay a bit more attention. Was it a fluke? Can the deck have a shot against the top decks in the format?
Last week, I stumbled upon Patrunkenphat7's Mono-White Vampires list that 5-0'd a League. In my last videos, I mentioned how much I liked Legion's Landing, so it's no wonder I had to try it.
The only change I made to the list before I recorded the videos was to add a 23rd land instead of a third Mavren Fein. The deck needs more than 22 lands (23 being already pretty low), and more Deserts. I added a Dunes of the Dead, which seemed to fit the theme of the deck.
This deck has a lot of small synergies that assemble to make a decent deck.
The deck is named after all the Vampires it's running: Adanto Vanguard, Legion's Landing tokens, Mavren Fein, Legion Conquistador, Duskborne Skymarcher and Metallic Mimic. Standard doesn't offer much more choice in terms of cheap white Vampires, so we'll have to settle with that. Metallic Mimic acts like a lord and pumps the Vampires that you play after it, including the Vampire tokens of Adanto, the First Fort.
Most creatures are white and cheap, so once you have a Monument out, you'll be able to easily generate tokens. The two most notable interactions are with Aviary Mechanic, an interaction we had already seen in the white-blue version of the Monument deck. If you have two of them, then for each white mana you spend, you'll generate one Warrior Token (play a Mechanic, create a token, bounce your other Mechanic, repeat).
You also have access to Legion Conquistador, a Pearled Unicorn with the ability of Squadron Hawk (or Howling Wolf for the old school). If you have a Monument on the battlefield and draw and play a Conquistador, you have access to eight creatures (four Conquistador and four Warrior Tokens). Since they are cheaper to play, you won't have too much trouble filling your board quickly. Note that Metallic Mimic can name Warrior instead of Vampire if you think you'll have more Warriors than Vampires in play.
With Adanto, the First Fort, Oketra's Monument and a pair of Angel of Invention, you have the possibility to flood the board with creatures. A flood of creatures works well with the pump from the Angel and Shefet Dunes. Dunes of the Dead helps to rebuy the Crusade effect with a bonus of a Zombie Token. Aviary Mechanic can bounce a Legion's Landing and generate an extra 1/1 lifelink token.
You have access to a bunch of white enchantments that help you deal with pretty much anything. Ixalan's Binding, Cast Out and Thopter Arrest will stop Hazoret, The Scarab God, Glorybringer – you name it.
The sideboard has a few good options, mainly in Fragmentize and Dusk // Dawn. Fragmentize will be a great weapon to handle token strategies (Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession) while Dusk // Dawn gives you a shot against Temur Energy.
Before I get to my overall feeling about the deck, I advise you watch the videos first.
This deck is interesting and I did win quite a lot with it. I 4-1'd a few leagues, 3-2 others without really bumming out of any.
It does feel a little underwhelming, though, for a few reasons:
In a format where your main threats are Longtusk Cub, Rampaging Ferocidon and Whirler Virtuoso, you want to be able to deal with them at instant speed and for less than four mana. This is not an option when you play Mono-White.
With 23 lands, no card draw and most of your key spells costing three mana, you can't afford to miss a land drop. You can't mulligan all the two-landers, and certainly can't win a game where you're stuck on two lands. It's one of the fatal deck's fatal flaws.
On the draw, it's almost impossible to beat Temur or Red. You're going to start the game behind and neither Monument or Conquistador will help you overcome the huge disadvantage you're facing. By the time you are able to cast one of your removal spells, you'll have too many targets for it. Your only strong late game is Angel of Invention, which is often too vulnerable.
Basically, it feels like a Zombie deck from last format (but with Oketra's Monument instead of Diregraf Colossus), with less lords and worse removal.
By dead draws, I mean the cards you draw are about as good as an Ace of Spades or a Queen of Hearts are in a Magic game. The deck runs a lot of legendary permanents, and while you don't mind drawing another Legion's Landing as it still grants you a creature even if you have one in play, drawing an extra Oketra's Monument or a second Mavren Fein feels miserable. Even worse, drawing a second Legion Conquistador – you could use a second Monument if the first one is destroyed, or play a second Mavren Fein if it dies in combat, but unless your first Legion Conquistador is countered, drawing a second one is completely useless.
One of your plans is to overflow the board with tokens and launch a lethal attack. However, card like River's Rebuke will totally wreck your plan. You build up for turns just to see your hopes annihilated by one card you can't do anything about. You could board in Gideon's Intervention, but you're going to have a hard time finding a window to cast it and name River's Rebuke.
I'm being very critical with the deck, but as I mentioned above, I didn't have such bad results with it. I did beat a couple of Ramunap Red and Temur Energy decks, and had quite a few easy matches. But it felt like none of them really came from the Vampire or the token shell of the deck.
The revelation for me is Adanto Vanguard. This card is amazing, and if you thought it was only good in Limited, you'll be surprised soon. Be prepared to fear this little guy in Constructed games soon. You read it here first.
Adanto Vanguard survives most of the removal of the format (except for Cast Out, Vraska's Contempt and -1/-1 counters from Soul-Scar Mage), and wins most combat phases as long as you have life to make it indestructible. With a +1/+1 counter from a Metallic Mimic, it's likely to go all the way.
Basically, if you manage to keep your life total healthy enough and pump it with auras, Adanto Vanguard will feel like it's coming straight out of a Bogles deck.
Before I wrap things up, here's a deck I built quickly (without too much testing yet), that can put Adanto Vanguard to a much better use.
Feel free to tweak it (while I do the same on my side) and let me know what you think!
See you after the PT!