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Legendary Creature - Minion 1BR

As Xantcha, Sleeper Agent enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice gains control of it.
Xantcha attacks each combat if able and can't attack its owner or planeswalkers its owner controls.
3: Xantcha's controller loses 2 life and you draw a card. Any player may activate this ability.

Yes, this is a Commander-targeted card, but hear me out.

One of the biggest challenges with building a direct-damage-based competitive Vintage deck is the lack of viable card advantage engines. Against control decks you'll burn through your hand, only to have the opponent stabilize and run away with the game.

Xantcha plays double duty: it lets you funnel surplus mana into refilling your hand, and also, once it's in play, gives you a repeating source of direct damage. Yes, your opponent can also activate Xantcha's ability, but how many cards are they going to draw when they're at 10 life and you're threatening to burn them out?

There is another synergy worth mentioning:
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Bloodchief Ascension has been on my "unbroken" list for years: cards whose effects read as extremely potent, but never made a splash in Vintage. Ascension unfortunately suffers from the rampant Missteps in the format, but once online it is an extreme threat: it's a Kembal that also punishes cracking fetchlands, getting Wastelanded, dredging, discarding to hand size, etc etc.

If we assume that you're not trying to attack to win you get to compare it to something like Phyrexian Arena or Painful Truths maybe? It seems like this would be too slow almost all of the time, but there are some decks that play a slow game. I could imagine this in a niche role in control mirrors out of a Grixis deck?

What I imagine for this card is a grindy Grixis list with Mana Drains, lots of mana and removal, dropping it sometime in the midgame and just activating it EOT on any turn you have mana up. It drags things out a little while get up to 6 mana and then tighten the vise entirely.

I don't know for sure how many decks could justify the space, but I can certainly recall board states where this card would be very good.

One possible problem with the card which might not be obvious at first is the fact that your opponent can activate the draw-a-card ability to. If the game goes long enough, the life total pressure will be overwhelming, but I suspect there's a short window where the card might help your opponent more than you. If you play this on turn 3, and your opponent activates it at the end of their turn, that's technically the same card-advantage swing as an Ancestral. If the game goes long they'll lose to the card, but there's a chance they can leverage the advantage to beat you before the game goes long enough. This is especially problematic if they have good-or-better mana development than you. (Which is why a deck running this card would almost certainly want a healthy manabase with all the artifacts)

As an aside, I don't know that the Bloodchief synergy is something worth pursuing. Sure it activates Bloodchief by dealing 2 damage, but a ton of things do that, a ton of things deal 2 damage a lot more efficiently than this card does (Grim Lavamancer, Deathrite Shaman, any 2/2 creature?)

And once Bloodchief Ascension has quest counters, Xantcha doesn't do anything special with it, so you're really just talking about dealing 6 damage for 12 mana. If you want to activate Bloodchief Acensions, I don't think Xantcha is the card to help you do it.

@brass-man I've never been much of a fan of Grim Lavamancer, as I've found him too unreliable to activate. Deathrite Shaman is obviously fantastic and belongs in any deck with Ascension. What I've found in the past is that Ascension can be difficult to trigger in the mid-game, especially during opponent's turns, which is critical to getting the enchantment online in a timely manner. DRS helps with this and so does Xantcha.

Not a fan. At 3 to cast and 3 to activate, it's likely you'll end up taking 10 damage to deal 4 and draw 2. It would have to be played in a creature heavy deck to not risk becoming a threat by itself.

I think I like the original Sleeper Agent better than this. The other guy at least will give you 2 damage for 1 mana pretty guaranteed.

@wagner it can't attack it's owner.

Clearly you need this with Brand (for the final swing).

This may fit awkwardly into Oath of Druids.

@moorebrother1 said in Xantcha, Sleeper Agent:

This may fit awkwardly into Oath of Druids.

Yeah it would help you to Trigger Oath

@desolutionist You probably don’t want it in your deck when Oath does trigger though...

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