Swiftblade Vindicator – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Swiftblade Vindicator is a two-mana Human Soldier from Magic the Gathering’s Guilds of Ravnica set. It was later seen again in the Double Masters reprint set. The Vindicator is a mere 1/1 creature, but also has Double Strike, Vigilance, and Trample. Double Strike and Vigilance makes this a pretty useful card on both offense and defense. But, you may ask yourself, why would you put trample on a 1/1 creature?

In the Guilds of Ravnica set, the Boros guild (the Red/White guild of Ravnica) has a mechanic called Mentor. Whenever a creature with Mentor attacks, it puts a +1/+1 counter on an attacking creature with lesser power than the creature with Mentor. Tajic, Legion’s Edge is perhaps the most perfect example of a creature with this ability. Tajic alone can boost a Swiftblade Vindicator twice, since he himself has 3 power. Being a 3-mana creature, Tajic and Swiftblade Vindicator are perfect companions in an aggro deck.

It’s not surprising that in pre-orders Swiftblade Vindicator and Tajic, Legion’s Edge were among the top cards players wanted to get their hands on early from Guilds of Ravnica. Swiftblade Vindicator is a powerful little creature. Indeed, both Tajic and Swiftblade Vindicator saw plenty of Standard competitive play in October 2018. However, by the time early 2019 rolled around, Boros Aggro lost its mainstay status in the format. Then, with the release of Feather, the Redeemed in War of the Spark, both the Vindicator and Tajic returned to the Top 8 Standard tables.

Once Guilds of Ravnica left the Standard format, Swiftblade Vindicator still occasionally appeared in Modern Boros Equipment decks, thanks to Colossus Hammer. Giving a Vindicator +10/+10 is excellent, since this is a creature that both tramples and hits twice in one combat phase. Also, it should be little surprise that Tajic, Legion’s Edge Commander decks have invited the Swiftblade Vindicator to be a staple creature.  

While Swiftblade Vindicator has faded a bit in Modern relevance with Hammer Time decks moving to Mono-White for more consistency, Boros Equipment is a theme that continues to be pushed by Wizards of the Coast. Many Legendary Creatures continue to be printed in Red, White, and Red/White all of the time. In particular, Bruenor Battlehammer from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set appeared set to be the next obvious home for the Vindicator. This would not happen, but two other Commanders would give regular attention to the Vindicator before long.

One Commander who has recruited Swiftblade Vindicator regularly is General Ferrous Rokiric from Modern Horizons 2. He loves multicolored spells to be played in his deck in order for him to create cheap 4/4 Golem tokens. With a two-mana spell essentially coming with a 4/4 Golem stapled to it with the General in play, how can you lose? The Vindicator joins a whole slew of cheap Red and White creatures in these decks, and it’s among the better options you could choose.

Rokiric has been a good mate to Swiftblade Vindicator, but there’s one other Commander who would soon follow from Innistrad: Crimson Vow that would take full advantage of the Vindicator’s abilities. That Commander is Odric, Blood-Cursed. While he seems a significant downgrade from Odric’s two previous incarnations, this Red/White Vampire version cares about creature abilities in order to create Blood tokens.

Blood tokens are unique to the Crimson Vow set, artifacts that you can sacrifice by paying one generic mana and one life to “loot,” drawing a card, but needing to discard one afterward. While many people prefer the first Odric, who could manipulate blockers if you attacked with three or more creatures, the second Odric is very similar to this. However, both of those Odric creatures are mono-White; Odric, Blood-Cursed takes advantage of being in both Red and White.

Swiftblade Vindicator is particularly good because when she comes into play with the Blood-Cursed Odric in play, she will trigger Odric’s creation of three Blood tokens, for the Vindicator’s haste, double strike, and vigilance. That’s a lot of value for just a two mana creature, making her pretty much an auto-include in any Odric, Blood-Cursed Commander deck.

All things considered, while Swiftblade Vindicator will never be an expensive card, it will always have a home. She may yet return to relevance in an unexpected way, but having three relevant combat abilities will allow her to remain on the lower end of mana curves for many aggressive Boros Commander decks for years to come.

Have you ever played Swiftblade Vindicator?

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