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Vigilance in MTG – Rules, Best Cards + Decks!

One of Magic: The Gathering’s oldest and evergreen keywords is vigilance. Your creatures can attack and then still block because they don’t tap! This article takes a look at what vigilance does in MTG with examples, the best vigilance cards, vigilance decks, and how to play against vigilance. I cover frequently asked questions for vigilance in MTG too.

Gallant Cavalry MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Craig Spearing.
Gallant Cavalry MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Craig Spearing.

MTG Vigilance Rules

What do the Magic rules say about vigilance?

Attacking doesn’t cause creatures with vigilance to tap.

Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules 702.20. “Vigilance”.

Vigilance means that whenever a creature with the vigilance keyword ability attacks, it does not become tapped. Vigilance creatures don’t tap to attack.

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The vigilance mechanic has been in the game since Alpha itself (the first-ever Magic: The Gathering card printing), where it appeared on Serra Angel. However, the vigilance keyword itself was only introduced in the Champions of Kamigawa set. Since then, many older cards with this ability have retroactively been given vigilance.

Vigilance is an evergreen keyword. You can expect it to appear in every set on at least a few creatures. Although it is most common in white, large green creatures occasionally have it too.

Vigilance Example

Murasa Rootgrazer MtG card
Murasa Rootgrazer MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

For example, let’s say I control Murasa Rootgrazer. Not only is it 2/3 with vigilance, but it also has two helpful tap abilities. They synergize very well with the landfall ability that other cards in the Zendikar Rising set have.

Wanting to get the best value out of this creature before activating one of its abilities, I attack with Murasa Rootgrazer. Because it has vigilance, Murasa Rootgrazer doesn’t tap to attack. As such, I can then tap it to use one of its abilities during the same turn it attacks.

Vigilance and Blocking

The main strength of vigilance is that it allows me to use my creatures to block, even though I’ve also attacked with them because they remain untapped.

For instance, let’s say I attack again with Murasa Rootgrazer. When my opponent attacks the next turn, I can use Murasa Rootgrazer to block the attacking creature. Because blocking doesn’t cause creatures to tap, after blocking, I can still tap Murasa Rootgrazer for its abilities.

Vigilance doesn’t create any special rules for blocking. It’s not an evasion keyword. As such, if I attack with Murasa Rootgrazer, an opponent can block it with whatever they want, regardless of whether Murasa Rootgrazer is tapped or not.

Vigilance and Tap Abilities

Keep in mind that vigilance doesn’t mean you can activate tap abilities without actually tapping the creature. Vigilance simply allows me to use a creature’s tap ability after I’ve attacked with it.

Let’s suppose I want to put a land onto the battlefield with Murasa Rootgrazer, as it has an ability that lets me do this. After I’ve attacked using this creature, I tap it to play my second land for the turn. However, now that I have tapped the vigilance creature, I can’t use it to block.

Vigilance and Exert

Introduced in Amonkhet, exert is a keyword ability that allows me to choose whether or not my creature will untap during my next untap step. If I choose to exert my creature, this means that I don’t untap it during my next untap step and gain the benefit on the card.

Now we know what exert does, how does it interact with vigilance which prevents a creature from tapping when it attacks? Both keywords work the same as usual because vigilance doesn’t care when a creature will become untapped next.

Watchful Naga and Sentinel's Eyes MtG cards
Watchful Naga and Sentinel’s Eyes MTG cards. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

For instance, I imagine I enchant Watchful Naga with Sentinel’s Eyes, to give it vigilance. When I attack with it, I exert it to draw a card. Watchful Naga doesn’t become tapped, though. Essentially making the exert benefit free. On my next untap step, I can attack with it again.

Vigilance lets me attack with them two turns in a row and use the exert ability each turn.

 

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Exert abilities are linked to either the attacking creature or to one of its tap abilities, and vigilance doesn’t let me do either more than once per turn. As such, vigilance might allow me to get more value out of my exert creatures but it won’t allow me to exert them more than once.

Vigilance + Haste

Lightning Angel MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Lightning Angel MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

A creature can’t attack or use a tap ability the turn it enters the battlefield due to Summoning Sickness. However, the haste keyword avoids this. Creatures with haste can attack on the same turn they are played.

A creature with both haste and vigilance can attack without tapping the turn it enters the battlefield. For example, I cast Lightning Angel. In the same turn, I can attack with it, and it won’t become tapped.

Suppose a creature with haste and vigilance has a tap ability too. In that case, you can attack and activate that ability during the turn the creature played.

Best MTG Vigilance Cards

Velomachus Lorehold (Legendary Red/White Vigilance Creature)

Velomachus Lorehold MtG Card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Velomachus Lorehold MTG Card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

As long as it attacks, Velomachus Lorehold lets you cast an instant or sorcery for free during each of your turns, including the turn you cast it. Not only that, Velomachus Lorehold is a huge dragon with flying, vigilance, and haste!

The spell you can cast with Velomachus Lorehold must have a lower mana value than its power, but this isn’t a problem as this vigilance creature is 5/5. This also means that increasing Velomachus Power enables you to cast high-cost spells for free.

Faceless Haven (Snow Land with Vigilance)

Faceless Haven MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Faceless Haven MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

One of the best manlands, Faceless Haven can turn into a 4/3 creature with vigilance and all creature types at instant speed. Talk about a surprise blocker! Talk about a surprise attack!

Faceless Haven also provides snow mana, even while it’s a creature. Because it has vigilance, you can attack with it and then tap it for mana later that same turn. Being a land most of the time also renders it immune to most removal spells.

Elder Gargaroth (Green Vigilance Creature)

Elder Gargaroth MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Elder Gargaroth MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Green does gigantic creatures better than any other colour. In addition to being a huge 6/6 with vigilance, reach, and trample, Elder Gargaroth is also highly versatile. Virtually every turn you’ll either gain life, draw a card, or get a new creature.

Elder Gargaroth’s ability is triggered by it attacking and blocking, which is where vigilance really elevates this card. Because it doesn’t tap to attack, Elder Gargaroth can always block on your turn. With reach, it can even block flying creatures right out the gate too.

Brave the Sands (White Vigilance Enchantment)

Brave the Sands MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Brave the Sands MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

With Brave the Sands, you can give all your creatures vigilance. Now you don’t have to choose between using tap abilities, or attacking, or blocking. You can do all three, and only for two mana as well!

Furthermore, Brave the Sands lets all your creatures block an additional creature each combat. This can turn the tide in your favour against decks that focus on swarming you with lots of low-power creatures. It also allows you to chump block with excellent efficiency.

Akroma’s Memorial (Vigilance Artifact)

Akroma's Memorial MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Akroma’s Memorial MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

Akroma’s Memorial gives all your creatures vigilance, plus a whole host of other ridiculously strong keyword abilities. Each creature you control is suddenly an immediate threat. Against black or red decks, this artifact makes for an easy win.

However, it is vigilance which ties all these keywords together here. This is what changes Akroma’s Memorial from a win more card into a consistently powerful place. Vigilance lets your creatures use all the other powerful abilities on defence as well as attack and block whatever’s coming your way.

Starnheim Unleashed (White Vigilance Sorcery)

Starnheim Unleashed MtG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Starnheim Unleashed MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

If you cast it normally, Starnheim Unleashed gives you a low-cost Serra Angel. However, that’s not where this card shines. With the proper set up and enough mana, Starnheim Unleashed can generate a mass of Serra Angels.

This works well on a psychological level, too. After the first time you foretell this, I promise you that your opponent will be panicking that every single foretold card is a copy of Starnheim Unleashed!

MTG Vigilance Decks

Vigilance is most common in white and green. As such, if you want vigilance cards, buy the appropriate theme boosters. For Strixhaven, the Lorehold and Silverquill theme boosters are excellent choices as both factions have several vigilance cards.

Naya Winota – Arena Standard

Winota, Joiner of Forces, Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector's Shield MtG cards. Images: Wizards of the Coast.
Winota, Joiner of Forces, Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector’s Shield MTG cards. Images: Wizards of the Coast.

One of the most notable contemporary decks to use creatures with vigilance is Naya Winota. This green/white/red deck uses Winota, Joiner of Forces alongside a combination of human and non-human creatures to play free high-cost threats and win the game through combat damage.

As such, Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector’s Shield is a must in Naya Winota. The Reidane side is a cheap non-human that can attack consistently without being blocked and killed due to flying. It also has vigilance to protect your life total. Furthermore, both sides of the card are also good protection against high mana value cards and removal.

How to play against Vigilance

Destroy the Vigilance Creatures in Combat

Whenever your opponent attacks with a creature with vigilance make sure to block it with creatures that add up to lethal damage. Even though you put your creatures at risk, it’s worth it to destroy a threatening creature. Most white vigilance creatures have relatively low stats so destroying them in combat is easy.

With vigilance creatures as blockers, this is harder. Your opponent is probably not going to waste valuable vigilance creatures on bad blocks. As such, attack normally, but then use combat tricks to buff your creatures up to destroy blockers with vigilance.

Use Removal on the Vigilance Creatures

As annoying as they are to play against, most creatures with vigilance don’t have hexproof or protection. As such, they’re vulnerable to removal. So instead of using your turn to attack your opponent directly, rather use it to get rid of their vigilance creatures.

Similarly, prepare your counterspells, killspells, and hand attacks. If your opponent is using creatures with vigilance, they’re playing white or green. Both of these colours struggle against control cards, especially white.

Tap Down the Vigilance Creatures

Certain white and blue cards can tap creatures even if they have vigilance, which prevents the keyword from functioning. Cleric of Chill Depths, Bind the Monster, Entrancing Lyre, and Kor Hookmaster are all cards that tap a creature for two turns.

Destroy the Card Giving the Creature Vigilance

Often a creature doesn’t have vigilance inherently but is instead being given vigilance by another card. Usually, this is an Aura or Enchantment, but certain other card types can give vigilance as well.

If you have the chance, destroy whatever is giving the creature vigilance if you can’t remove it directly. This is particularly wise if you’re playing a colour like green or red, which often struggle to remove creatures.

MTG Vigilance FAQs

Do Creatures with Vigilance have Summoning Sickness?

Summoning Sickness is a mechanic that prevents a creature from using tap abilities or attacking the turn it enters the battlefield. This still applies to creatures with vigilance. Even though they do not tap to attack, they are still prevented from attacking because of Summoning Sickness.

Does Vigilance Untap a Creature?

Vigilance allows a creature to attack without tapping. However, it does not cause the creature to untap. As such, giving a tapped creature vigilance won’t untap it. Similarly, removing vigilance from a creature that’s already attacking will not tap it.

Can Vigilance Creatures Attack Twice?

Usually, there is only one combat phase per turn. Each creature can only attack once per combat phase, including vigilance creatures. Even if the creature is untapped after combat is over, it can’t attack again.

Does Vigilance Stack?

Multiple instances of vigilance do not stack. If you give a creature vigilance twice, this doesn’t make any difference. It still won’t tap when attacking and it won’t inherently do anything else either.

Is there Vigilance Equipment?

Avarice Amulet, Sword of Vengeance, and Batterskull MtG cards. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Avarice Amulet, Sword of Vengeance, and Batterskull MTG cards. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

There is a lot of Equipment that gives vigilance. Avarice Amulet, Sword of Vengeance, and Batterskull are all well-known vigilance Equipment cards that also give other impressive buffs. Batterskull even enters play equipped with its own free creature token for immediate usage.

Similarly, Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms, Shining Armor, and Mace of the Valiant are currently Standard-legal vigilance Equipment. Likewise, Sentinel’s Eyes is a Standard-legal vigilance Aura.

Can Creatures with Vigilance Block if They’re Tapped?

A creature can only block while it is untapped and this applies to vigilance creatures too. The fact that vigilance creatures don’t tap when they attack is what makes them excellent blockers. However, if a vigilance creature becomes tapped another way, it cannot block.

Can I Choose to Disable Vigilance?

Vigilance is a static keyword ability, which means you cannot disable it. Whenever a vigilance creature attacks, it doesn’t become tapped. You can’t choose to tap it if you want to. You don’t have a choice here.

A note: MTG Vigilance

Vigilance is a great ability. Creatures with vigilance don’t tap when attacking, which gives them serious versatility, especially when blocking or using tap abilities. Furthermore, vigilance is also an evergreen keyword so that you can find vigilance cards in every set. 

Because of all this, it is no surprise many current decks use vigilance cards. They’re robust and reliable, just like the keyword itself! I hope this article has helped your understanding what vigilance does. Put a creature with vigilance in your deck today!

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Emily
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