Ertai’s Meddling: Reign of Vampirism (m11)
For our first Ertai’s Meddling deconstruction, we’ve selected the popular M11 deck Reign of Vampirism. As discussed in the deck review, Reign is an intriguing but flawed Black-Green concoction that relies on a particular gimmick (the Captivating Vampire) as its most dangerous win condition. Here are the raw materials we are working with:
Today we’ll be building two versions of Reign of Vampirism– one keeping it a two-colour construction, and the other bringing its darker elements to the fore and stripping it down to be mono-Black. Remember the rules of Ertai’s Meddling: no Rares or Mythics will be added! In addition, we’ll be keeping the core content of the decks intact- we may have some recommendations for cards from other sets, but for the task at hand we’ll only be using M11 cards.
We’re going to being with some pretty radical surgery. Perhaps the greatest weakness to Reign out-of-the-box isn’t that it’s two-colour, but rather that that second colour is Green. Not to knock Green at all, but the addition seems to be more in keeping with a colour balance throughout the five Intro Decks rather than due to any innate Golgari synergy in M11.
This frees up some room to work with. In addition, we’ll be cutting the Black cards that care about the number of Swamps you have in play: Corrupt and Quag Sickness. The former in particular is an excellent card, but for each additional colour in a deck their effectiveness is slashed, so they’re out too. The last- and most pleasurable- cut is the Sorcerer’s Strongbox, a rightfully maligned card. Included for card drawing to get to your setup piece (Captivating Vampire), we’ve got far better options available to us for the mana.
As for the creatures, we’ll be dispensing with the services of the Howling Banshees in addition to the Green creatures. The Banshees aren’t bad, but as you’ll see we’ll have even better options in the air once we’re done.
Taken onboard, we arrive at the following Cut List:
Now to determine what we’d like to replace all this with, we need to be confident with what the deck is trying to accomplish. It’s best weapon is the Captivating Vampire’s party trick, which means you’ll need to have lots of Vampires in the deck, ways to get to the Captivating Vampire (since you only have one in the deck), and ways to either protect him or recover him if he dies. Reign already packs a ton of Vamps- no need to add more. But there’s a lot of room for improvement in actually finding him.
As designed, the support system for the Captivating Vampire was suboptimal. The two Diabolic Tutors definitely helped, and the card draw from the Sorcerer’s Strongbox was better than nothing (arguably). But since we can’t add more copies of him (he’s a Rare after all), let’s go ahead and increase our ability to find him by bringing in another colour.
If there’s a colour that excels at this, it’s certainly Blue, and M11 has some powerful tools on offer to accomplish just that. To start, let’s bring in a pair each of Foresees and Preordains, as Scry will be invaluable here. The Strongbox can go- while rich in flavour it’s simply dreadful otherwise- and we’ll bring in a pair of Crystal Balls. Scry will not only churn us through our deck to get to the Captivating Vampire, but will also let us grab other Vampires to bring his ability on-line if we need it.
To beef up our removal, we’re going to need an additional two Doom Blades, bringing the total to four. We’re still two shy of the deck’s original six removers, so let’s tap into the power of Blue and bring in an especially nasty surprise: Mind Control.
Sure it’s got a pricetag attached to it at five mana, but it’s hard to beat for swinginess- not only is your opponent losing their best beater, but you’re gaining it. It’s not perfect (it’s especially vulnerable to White and Green, which have common Enchantment removal), but at the right time it can steal you a game. Plus, with two different Sacrifice outlets in the deck (Viscera Seer and Bloodthrone Vampire), you’re protected against Enchantment removal undoing your hard work- just sacrifice the critter instead!
Speaking of creatures, we don’t need to make too many changes to Reign’s formula here. Aside from the Spined Wurm, the creatures we gutted from the original decklist were your air defense: the Howling Banshees and lone Giant Spider. I generally like the Banshees, but their aggressive makeup leaves them somewhat more exposed with a 3 Toughness. Because you might need to buy a little time with some blockers while sifting your deck for an answer, we’ll be slotting in a brace of Azure Drakes. They still give you some punch in the air, but their 4 Toughness can be very useful (avoiding Lightning Bolts, for one).
As a last touch, snip out a Swamp and add in ten Islands, just to get a better balance.
Here’s the Add List for refernece:
You’ll be in much better shape to find your Captivating Vampire and begin your control of the board!
For our second incarnation of Reign of Vampirism, we’ll be going stright-up mono-Black. Although all the Green will be stripped out, it will allow us to actually increase the potency of Corrupt and Quag Sickness. Here’s our Cut List for this version of the deck:
But what to add? Without Blue to help us get to our Captivating Vampire sooner, we’re still fortunate that Black has a very solid card-drawing option in Sign in Blood, which is a slam-dunk four-of in this build. We’ll also be adding in that pair of Crystal Balls to improve draw quality and find us our answers.
We don’t have a lot of changes to make to the Creature list- we only lose two, and this time we’ll be keeping those Howling Banshees for extra aggression. Although they get a bad rap, Wizard devs have said how good they think Rotting Legion is, so let’s go ahead and give them a try, adding two for some back-end punch.
Finally for the land, we’ll need 24 Swamps. We’re cutting one Land card- as a mono-Coloured deck we can afford to run a little leaner.
In conclusion, here’s our Add List:
We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Ertai’s Meddling, and hope that you do some meddling of your own! Let us know in the comments how these builds- or any other tinkering you’ve done- has worked out for you with Reign of Vampirism!