Every year, it seems there is a bigger and bigger emphasis on Universes Beyond crossovers. In many cases, such as with the Lord of the Rings set, these crossovers can be wildly successful. It’s no wonder why they are being pushed so hard. Not only that, but over the past month alone we have learned a ton about different crossovers in the making. What feels like immediately after the release of the Doctor Who Commander decks we get a first look at MTG Fallout followed by information on an MTG Marvel crossover designed to span multiple sets.
Despite MTG Fallout not scheduled to release until March of 2024 and any MTG Marvel content not scheduled until 2025, we do already have some information, on MTG Fallout. The first look gave us a true glimpse of some of the more exciting cards that the set will offer. Recently, we went into detail about the Nuka-Cola Vending Machine and its many creative uses in Commander. While there aren’t a ton of spoilers revealed yet, the Vending Machine is certainly not the only intriguing option in Commander.
Today, we will be focusing on another card that can be quite effective when built around correctly. This card is none other than V.A.T.S. On the surface, V.A.T.S. may look like an ordinary removal spell. However, the card has a ton of upside. For those that are tired of go-wide token decks ruining your fun in Commander, V.A.T.S. is here to help. The card has a lot more going for it than that, though, including a very flavorful design.
An Extremely Flavorful Card
V.A.T.S. is a powerful removal spell that can theoretically kill a ton of Creatures at once. For four mana, you get to choose any number of Creatures that share a specific amount of toughness, then destroy every Creature chosen. The effect this card has can range from Murder to Plague Wind and anywhere in between. This variety in how the card plays out coupled with the fact that the card has Split Second helps showcase how the V.A.T.S. actually worked in the Fallout games in a flavorful way.
In the Fallout franchise, introduced in 2008 with the release of Fallout 3, the V.A.T.S., which stands for Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, provides a unique way for players to try to emerge victorious in combat. The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System literally slows the game down to a virtual pause, helping you choose your targets in an effective manner. Split Second provides a great representation of this feature, because in MTG, your opponents can’t respond by casting spells of their own.
However, as garscow points out, this does not always have the same level of success. For example, a player’s distance from a target in the game may cause variance in effectiveness while utilizing the V.A.T.S. While V.A.T.S. in MTG focuses on the toughness of Creatures specifically, the card can result in a single Creature dead or a multitude of Creatures dead. In this sense, this range of utility can be reminiscent of using the V.A.T.S. while playing Fallout.
Using V.A.T.S. in MTG
Where V.A.T.S. certainly shines the most is against opposing decks with lots of tokens. If one of your opponents has Chatterfang, Squirrel General as their Commander, for instance, you can use V.A.T.S. to clean up all of the Squirrel tokens. Importantly, thanks to Split Second, your opponent can’t then sacrifice any of those Squirrel tokens in hopes of killing one of your Creatures in response. This does not affect mana abilities, though, so be careful with timing if your opponent has Ashnod’s Alter or Phyrexian Alter on the battlefield.
Against token-based decks, V.A.T.S. can act very similarly to a one-sided board wipe. You may even get to pick off a few mana dorks or other small Creatures on another opponent’s battlefield. What makes this card so special is that the world is your oyster. If you need to remove a Commander before it takes over the game, you can do so without worrying if the opponent will have a Counterspell of Heroic Intervention for protection.
You can even use the card politically. You can decide to let some specific Creatures live while destroying others, presumably helping to form an alliance with one of your opponents. All of these uses of the card are solid, but there are a few ways to make sure that you get the exact effect you want.
Abusing V.A.T.S. in MTG
In order to make sure V.A.T.S. kills everything you want it to, you want to try to make sure all of your opponents’ Creatures have the same toughness. Luckily, there are a plethora of ways to do this. First, cards like Polymorphist’s Jest and Sudden Spoiling can temporarily alter the toughness of all of one of your opponent’s Creatures. These cards definitely do the trick, but they only harm one opponent and their effects only last until the end of the turn. This forces you to cast V.A.T.S. in the same turn.
Where V.A.T.S. is most effective is alongside ways to permanently alter all of your opponents’ Creatures to have the same toughness. Asinine Antics is an excellent card in this situation. Asinine Antics adds a Cursed Role to every Creature you don’t control, which makes all of those Creatures 1/1. From there, V.A.T.S. can clean them all up. Similarly, Ixidron turns all other Creatures face-down, so they are treated as 2/2. Because V.A.T.S. doesn’t have to hit any of your Creatures, even cards like Humility can work wonders.
Funnily enough, you can even use V.A.T.S. as a form of Land destruction when paired with ways to make Lands into Creatures. Using Kormus Bell alongside V.A.T.S. can result in the destruction of every Swamp your opponents control. Why stop there, though? Pairing V.A.T.S. with Living Plane can result in the destruction of all of your opponents’ Lands. V.A.T.S. can be used in a ton of different ways, making the card much more intriguing than a normal removal spell or board wipe. Definitely keep an eye out for any more enablers spoiled in the Fallout crossover in the future.