MTG Vigilance – Cards, Decks & Tips

Welcome to the first article of this brand new series focused on Magic: The Gathering; today’s topic revolves around the MTG Vigilance keyword.

In this article I’ll go over the official rules, I’ll share what I consider the best cards with Vigilance, the most useful cards that could help you raise your chances of victory, how to play against Vigilance in MTG and some general tips that you’ll find spread here and there throughout the article.

What follows are thoughts based on my personal experience of playing the game since the late ’90s, I hope you’ll find something useful!


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What does Vigilance mean in MTG?

MTG Vigilance is a static ability that can be found in Magic: The Gathering.

Vigilance allows a creature to attack without tapping.

It is one of the oldest abilities since it was introduced in the first ever Alpha set back in 1993, characterizing one of the most iconic creatures in the entire game: the Serra Angel. This ability has been around since then and in 2002 became an official keyword with the release of the Champions of Kamigawa set.
Although originally a predominantly white-coloured ability, Vigilance is often used for green and multicolour white/red creatures.

MTG Vigilance Rules

I have briefly described what Vigilance means but let’s have a look at what the official rules state:

702.20a Vigilance is a static ability that modifies the rules for the declare attackers step.
702.20b Attacking doesn’t cause creatures with vigilance to tap. (See rule 508, “Declare Attackers
Step.”)
702.20c Multiple instances of vigilance on the same creature are redundant

MTG Vigilance Best Cards (Top 5)

There are a plethora of creatures in Magic that make Vigilance their strength. They are often creatures that have a fairly high mana cost, but if placed in the right deck they can make all the difference and change the fate of the game.

Serra Angel

Serra Angel card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Serra Angel – image: Wizards of the Coast

The first card that every Magic player has in mind when it comes to Vigilance is the Serra Angel: an iconic and historic creature that is loved worldwide by every player.
Of course, it is included in the ranking more for its longevity than for its strength: it is a simple 4/4 at a cost of 5. However, think of this card included in a 1990s deck: it was the ace up your sleeve and a near certainty of winning the game.

Elder Gargaroth

MTG Elder Gargaroth – image: Wizards of the Coast

An all-purpose green beast.
With a non-prohibitive casting cost, especially in a green deck, this creature looks like a 6/6 with many abilities, both static and non-static.
Its three static abilities, vigilance, reach and trample, make it both a great attacker and a great defender, taking full advantage of the vigilance ability in each phase.
By either attacking with Elder Gargaroth during your turn or blocking in the next turn, thanks to Vigilance we are able to trigger one of his following three effects to try to gain an advantage against the opponent.

Velomachus Lorehold

MTG Velomachus Lorehold – image: Wizards of the Coast

As I mentioned above Vigilance often characterizes white/red multicolour cards and in this case, a legendary dragon that gives you cards advantage.
Its Vigilance ability combined with speed allows you to attack in the same turn you cast it, thus triggering its following ability.
Very strong and versatile, it allows you to see the first 7 cards and cast a desired one if needed.

Mainly I would recommend this card as a Commander in a commander deck, but with the right synergy and the help of a third colour, it can be destructive in other formats too.

Murasa Rootgrazer

MTG Murasa Rootgrazer – image: Wizards of the Coast

This card introduced in the second Zendikar is atypical.
In this case, we are not exploiting the Vigilance ability for the simple purpose of attacking, causing damage to the opponent while maintaining a solid defence, but exploiting its other abilities.
In combo with Landfall, a triggered ability introduced in Zendikar, this card has the leverage of creating lands advantage in the early stages of the game and then continuing to trigger abilities that rely on them.

Mantis Rider

MTG Mantis Rider – image: Wizards of the Coast

White/red/blue multicolour creature.
Essential in a Jeskai deck that wants to be aggressive from the first turns. It’s a 3/3 creature with cost 3 and three very strong static abilities: Flying, Vigilance and Haste.

How to give Vigilance to creatures in MTG

There are so many creatures that use Vigilance.
We may decide to create a deck based on that keyword and use creatures that don’t tap during an attack, allowing us to always have a solid defence.

But how can we do this if we want to add other creatures we like, that don’t have this ability?
Simple! By adding other permanent cards into our deck that enhance our creatures with Vigilance.

Permanent cards that give Vigilance

There are 2 main permanent cards that allow us to add the Vigilance ability to all our creatures:

  • Brave the Sands
  • Akroma’s Memorial

Brave the Sands

MTG Brave the Sands – image: Wizards of the Coast

It is a very powerful spell; at the cost of only 2 mana, it allows us to give Vigilance to all our creatures, granting us the ability to increase our defences.

Akroma’s Memorial

Akroma's Memorial card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Akroma’s Memorial – image: Wizards of the Coast

In this case, we are talking about a permanent Legendary Artifact.
The cost of mana is 7; not exactly quick to cast but really powerful, as it gives all sorts of abilities to our creatures. In the late game, it can prove to be a real game-breaker card.
I would personally recommend it in the commander format, which is slower than other eternal formats.

Artifact Equipement cards that give Vigilance

In addition to these two permanents, which allow us to empower all our creatures on the battlefield, we can add other types of permanents to our deck, for example, Artifact Equipment. This type of card, applied to a single one of our creatures, allows us to make it attack without tapping.
Since we want each of our creatures to have Vigilance, these two artifacts are essential in our deck:

  • Batterskull
  • Sword of Vengeance

Batterskull

MTG Batterskull – image: Wizards of the Coast

What can I say, it can win on its own! A Living Weapon; coming into play at a converted mana cost of 5, it allows us to have a 4/4 Vigilance and Lifelink on the field.
If needed, it can be assigned to another of our creatures, enhancing it, or be taken back in hand in case it is targeted by the opponent.

Sword of Vengeance

Sword of Vengeance card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Sword of Vengeance – image: Wizards of the Coast

Equipment with a mana cost of 3 that allows us to increase our creature’s strength. In addition to the Vigilance ability, it has other static abilities such as first strike, trample and haste.

There are two other very functional pieces of equipment that should be given serious consideration, not only for the simple Vigilance ability but especially for the triggering of the second skill:

  • Forebear’s Blade
  • Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms

Forebear’s Blade

MTG Forebear’s Blade – image: Wizards of the Coast

Similar to the Sword of Vengeance, this equipment enhances our creature with 2 static abilities such as Vigilance and Trample, as well as enhancing its attack.
In the event of the creature’s death, you can give this equipment to another creature without paying any cost.

Halvar, God of Battle | Sword of the Realms

MTG Halvar, God of Battle – image: Wizards of the Coast
MTG Sword of the Realms – image: Wizards of the Coast

This is a particular type of card that was introduced with Kaldheim expansion.
When you hold this two-sided card, you have the choice of which one to cast. God is very interesting, helping us to retrieve aura spells and equipment from the deck, should we play several of them, and also granting double strike to enchanted creatures.
The other side of Halvar though is the one we are most interested in. Low-cost equipment, both in casting and equipping. It boosts our creature by 2 strength points, giving him Vigilance of course, and allows us to take it back should that creature die.

Lands

A small paragraph deserves to be written for the lands. Yes, the lands. The real cards that make the difference in any magic deck.
I will point out two lands that possess the Vigilance ability, giving us the ability to attack or block and at the same time draw mana to cast spells or activate abilities:

  • Celestial Colonnade
  • Faceless Haven
Celestial Colonnade card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Celestial Colonnade – image: Wizards of the Coast
MTG Faceless Haven – image: Wizards of the Coast

And to finally close this section of the article, I’d like to mention a really powerful enchantment.

We chose Vigilance as the predominant keyword for our creatures, therefore we like to attack, but we never want to be too exposed.
We can exploit the full potential of this ability by combining it with a spell that is not much loved by the Magic community: Stasis.

Stasis card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Stasis – image: Wizards of the Coast

One of my favourite spells for a solid evergreen deck: the Blue-White deck.
With our creatures with Vigilance, we are able to get around the stasis effect. We can keep attacking, without anything on our battlefield being tapped, dealing constant damage to our opponent.

How to deal with mtg vigilance

Let’s imagine you’re up against a deck that uses Vigilance as the main core mechanic, or if you’re the one that likes using creatures with Vigilance.

Obviously, that ability has many strengths, but nothing in magic is above all. There is an answer to everything as the game is almost always perfectly balanced.

The easiest way to counter Vigilance is classic removal, which destroys one of opponent’s permanents or creatures.
There are other cards though that you can use to your advantage:

Entrancing Lyre

Entrancing Lyre card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Entrancing Lyre – image: Wizards of the Coast

This Artifact can tap the opponent’s creature as long as it remains on the battlefield, or until you decide that creature is no longer a threat.

Pacifism

MTG Pacifism – image: Wizards of the Coast

The classic aura spell of the white colour. It serves against any type of creature, so why not use it in this case?
There is no need to necessarily tap the opponent’s creature, we simply do not allow it to attack or block!

Bind the Monster

Bind the Monster card - MTG Vigilance
MTG Bind the Monster – image: Wizards of the Coast

Enchantment at cost 1, which blocks a creature without letting the opponent untap it. Very strong and quick to use from the first turns of the game.
The blue colour presents several enchantments with this specific feature. They are very versatile and widely used.

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