Why play Vanguard/Mystic?
Vanguard/Mystic is one of those compositions that you can almost always play in any meta. The reason is that the traits and champions are a bit of a catch-all as they provide good defense against both magical and physical damage and have decent damage. By no means is this build the strongest but if you’re looking to get a comfortable top four this is the composition for you.
Basically look to play this build when you’re unsure of what else to play, have a good mid game for it and it looks like an easy counter to other players mid game compositions. For example it has an amazing mid game into Cybernetics or pre-Gangplank Rebels.
If you’re able to get eight quickly and have four Mystic in it’s also strong into magic damage builds before they reach their late game power spikes. Simple and effective is the best description for Vanguard/Mystic.
This is a build that has rather specific requirements for the items you want to grab. Specifically we’re talking about the necessary items for Cassiopeia to carry effectively. She’s the main damage dealer of the build so you want to secure items for her as quickly as you can.
Tear is going to be your overall goal on the beginning carousel and likely the hardest component to consistently get each game. And you need two of them as Blue Buff is the most essential item for Cassiopeia.
After Blue Buff you’re going to want Morellonomicon as it adds extra damage as well as reduces the healing enemy champions receive. This is important as Vanguard/Mystic is a slow composition meaning you need damage to stack up over time and if it gets fully healed you’re going to slowly lose the fight.
The last item for Cassiopeia can be flexible but the preferred item is Rapid Firecannon. Cassiopeia tends to throw herself into the fray due to her relatively low attack range which means it’s easy for her to get picked off early on in a fight. RFC helps combat that by keeping her casting and attacking from the back line. If you’re unable to get a RFC than look for any defensive item or simply tack on more damage like a Deathcap.
Besides Cassiopeia the other components and items you should look for are basically whatever the game gives you. Defensive items are definitely at the top of the list as you want to deck out either Jayce or Mordekaiser as your secondary carry. Items like Bramble Vest, Guardian’s Angel, Ionic Spark and Shroud are worth consideration.
Another item to look out for is Hextech Gunblade as both Jayce and Mordekaiser do magic damage. The healing, and overhealing, can help keep them alive for much longer than usual. An important thing to consider when making items for your front line is what are other players going for?
Bramble Vest may do well against one player but if the others are all magic damage maybe you should prioritize those Chain Vests to make a Shroud instead. Or even look to make a Dragon’s Claw if possible. Since Cassiopeia has rigid requirements for items you want to be flexible with the rest of your components.
The basic level eight composition for this build will consist of Cassiopeia, Soraka, Karma, Bard, Jayce, Mordekaiser, Wukong and Nautilus. Of course there are some changes like Leona can be used if you haven’t two starred one of your Vanguards yet and Lulu can go in early if you find her. Lulu will replace Bard, either at level eight or level nine.
As we mentioned in the items section your main carry is Cassiopeia with the secondary being either Jayce or Mordekaiser. Jayce is preferred as he’s overall stronger and you’re often already rolling three cost champions out of the pool anyway so getting him to tier three is usually feasible.
As far as Mystics go the priority should be Soraka, Lulu and then Karma. You will want Bard during the mid game to help accelerate your experience towards level eight and nine but he is replaceable if you’re upgrading all of your Mystics. Try to keep him at least until you hit level eight. Vanguard/Mystic is one of the simplest builds to run as it’s easy to know what champions you need to play for.
As the meta hasn’t really shifted for sometime your overall goal is to play your strongest board and level aggressively for the early game. Before we talk about the strongest board let’s quickly go over the leveling times.
Early leveling either means you go to level four on 2-1 or 2-2. Preferably you’ll level on 2-2 but if you have a really strong board it’s okay to level earlier. If you do the goal is to play for a win streak. From there you can either pre-level or simply wait to level to five until 2-5.
Pre-leveling, meaning you're aiming to get 8/10 experience prior to the 2-5 round starting, is great if you can’t make 10 gold at the end of 2-3. It isn’t as effective of a strategy as with other builds since the bulk of your composition is two and three cost champions. That said it can help increase your odds of hitting an early Jayce, Bard or Cassiopeia.
If you do hit 10 gold at the end of 2-3 you can level on 2-5 instead. From there your goal is to keep a standard leveling curve meaning, in general, you’ll aim for level six on 3-2. There is a possibility of playing for gold and economy if you get an early Bard. By sacrificing your health you should be able to level at a reasonable pace while building up your economy which should give you a more explosive mid game.
Now for what champions and traits to look for! As always the best advice is simply play what the game gives you. Two star champions are almost always more valuable than playing specific traits. As far as Vanguard/Mystic goes you can look for early Vanguards but it’s not as important since both Leona and Poppy are replaceable.
A few champions you should keep an eye out for are; Cassiopeia, Jayce, Bard and Nautilus. If you get an early Jayce try to put in another Space Pirate to help earn you a bit of extra gold. Overall your goal for the early game with this build is to keep up with the lobbies leveling curve and try to maintain a high amount of health.
This is the stage of the game where you’ll determine if you want to play Vanguard/Mystic or not. The indicators for this happen around level six which should be on round 3-2. At that point you will level and begin scouting the lobby. Keep tabs on how many players are leaning towards physical damage compositions like Cybernetics and who’s aiming for magic damage builds like Star Guardian/Sorcerer.
Scouting and using that information is one of the best ways to figure out if Vanguard/Mystic is worth aiming for. The reason is that you can aim to counter those builds by having a stronger mid game at level seven and try to whittle down other players' health. Vanguard/Mystic struggles in the late game so you need to get the most out of your mid game.
Another indicator is your items. If you don’t have Blue Buff by the end of stage three you probably should aim for a different build. Yes you can play this build without it but it will do much worse in the mid game which is where the build should do the best. Besides that having four Vanguard by the end of stage three along with a Bard can also point you towards playing Vanguard/Mystic.
At round 4-1 it’s time to level and roll! Your goal here is to stabilize your board. That means you need to hit Cassiopeia 2 and the bulk of your front line needs to be level two. It’s unlikely you’ll find Wukong 2 quickly so you can either have a Leona 2 in or just run a level one Wukong.
The most important champions besides Cassiopeia to have two-starred are Jayce, Mordekaiser, Nautilus and Bard. If you’ve managed to hit Wukong 2 and Soraka 2 you’re in a really good spot. Keep in mind you don’t want to all-in your gold at this stage of the game. Try not to dip below 20 gold when rolling. If you’re able to stay above 40 gold when rolling and still hit upgrades then you’re in a really good position.
After you’ve rolled a bit on level seven you want to keep picking up upgrades as they come in. But the goal from here to hit level eight around 5-1. If you have a Bard he should be assisting you greatly in this so you may even be able to hit level eight earlier.
Overall the goal of the mid game is to stabilize your board with four Vanguards and Cassiopeia 2 with Bard 2 and one other Mystic. This should be strong enough to win rounds throughout stage four which gets you closer to the goal of getting top four.
As mentioned earlier this is a build that can struggle in the late game. Getting to level nine is one of the goals but the power you get at level nine isn’t a lot to write home about. At best you’re going to play an Urgot 2 or Thresh 2 and hopefully find Lulu 2. Beyond that there’s not a lot you will add at level nine that makes much of a difference for the build. The other goal as you’re heading into the late game is to roll for three star champions.
Your priority is of course Cassiopeia 3 but Jayce 3 is insanely strong and should also be your goal. Mordekaiser 3 is plenty strong as well. You likely won’t have enough gold to roll for all three so prioritize Cassiopeia with the second priority being whichever of the other two you’re finding more of.
Rolling for three star champions helps a lot if you scout the lobby. If there’s other players rolling for three cost champions you should also roll along with them as they are taking champions out of the pool for you. This does mean you’re also likely aiding them but hitting all of your needed three star champions is one of the only win conditions for Vanguard/Mystic.
Ultimately you have to keep in mind that this composition is not meant to win games. The general plan should be to stabilize your board at level seven and eight and aim to get a top four. Anything above that is great but don’t count on getting a lot of first place finishes when running this build. Use Vanguard/Mystic to counter other builds during the mid game to get an advantage and simply ride that advantage to a top four placement.
The last section to talk about is Galaxies! The great thing about Vanguard/Mystic is there’s really no bad Galaxy for it. All of them are either neutral or good. The best of course is Treasure Trove but that’s true for any composition.
Trade Sector and Superdense are the other two that are at the top of Galaxies for Vanguard/Mystic. Trade Sector because you can roll more often to find your three cost champions and it makes hitting late game three stars much easier. Superdense basically cheats the game for you by letting you have four Mystic in at level seven. It also means you can roll on level seven instead of leveling to eight.
Galactic Armory and Dwarf Planet are relatively neutral. Galactic can be great if the components are good for Cassiopeia otherwise it won’t matter too much since it’s likely extra components for your front line. Dwarf Planet doesn’t hinder positioning too much for this build because it’s so defensive that a smaller board doesn’t matter too much. Be wary of any CC aimed at your Cassiopeia though as she is more susceptible to it on this Galaxy.
The newest Galaxy, Manatee’s Delight, can be okay for Vanguard/Mystic. At best you can use the Spatula to maybe make a Force of Nature, otherwise you’re probably going to use it for minor trait buffs like Battlecast or Celestial.
Lastly let’s talk about Plunder Planet. The extra gold is great, especially if you can get yourself an early Jayce with Space Pirates. Double dipping on gold can really accelerate your economy for a stronger mid game power spike. Keep in mind you do want to be strong enough early game to kill at least one champion so you’re not missing out on potential gold.
And that's all for today! Thank for you reading and I hope you enjoy playing Vanguard/Mystic in the last few weeks we have left of set three! I'll be back with more meta articles later this week so be sure to check those out! <3
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