Worldwake: Fangs of the Bloodchief Review (Part 2 of 2)
From the highs to the lows and everything in between, this match was set to be an interesting one. Jimi selected Flyover as her deck to pilot, while I of course were behind Fangs of the Bloodchief. With Flyover happy to get some early stall, would the aggressive Vampires be able to come out of the gate fast enough before Jimi’s aerial forces were able to marshal an effective counter? We sat down for the customary three matches to find out, and here are our notes.
Jimi’s on the play and delivers an opening Plains. My opener is a measure better, following up a Swamp with a Pulse Tracker. Jimi’s next turn is a land/pass, and I swing with the Tracker before playing a Ruthless Cullblade. So far right on schedule!
Next turn, Jimi looks to stabilise with an unkicked Apex Hawks. It slows me down (I only attack with my Cullblade), but it takes a second unkicked Hawks and the glimpsing of a Veteran’s Reflexes in her hand (courtesy of a Mire’s Toll which nixes her Divine Verdict). A Feast of Blood blasts one of the Hawks and puts me back at 20 life.
Back to Jim for turn 5, she sends in the Hawks for 2, then passes. Looking to break through, I deploy the Zombie Goliath and pass back.
Now turn 6, Jimi rolls out a Kor Cartographer. I send in the lumbering Goliath, who as expected trades with Jimi’s Cartographer augmented by the Veteran’s Reflexes. I replace it with a trusty Vampire Aristocrat and pass. After swinging back in with the Hawks (taking me to 16 life), Jimi follows up with the Archon of Redemption (taking her to 19). Back to me, the Archon meets a Hideous End and I swing with the team. Jimi’s now back down to 11. At end of turn, she Unsummons her Apex Hawks.
Back to her, the Hawks are redeployed, this time kicked twice. It’s a bit of a risk, but she’s seen how easily the Vampires can lose momentum when facing a big body across the table. Unfortunately for her, I’ve got just enough mana available for a 4-point Consume Spirit, and down go the Hawks. Going all in again leaves Jimi at 3 life, as the Pulse Tracker’s ping takes her right to the 10 life threshold.
Jimi buys some time with a turn-9 Sleep, using the time to bring out a Stormfront Pegasus, while I bring back the Archon with a Rise from the Grave. Next turn Jimi adds to her defenses with a Voyager Drake. Not giving her a chance to regroup, I alpha strike on turn 10. She immediately goes down to 2 life (thanks to the Pulse Tracker), then trades the Pegasus for the Cullblade and the Hawks for the Aristocrat. The Drake chumps before her own Archon, and only the Pulse Tracker gets through to leave her at one life.
Then I play my land for the round: Piranha Marsh.
Textbook Vampires! Here’s how this one shakes out:
Turn 1: Pulse Tracker
Turn 2: Swing for 2. Ruthless Cullblade
Turn 3: Swing for 4. Vampire Nighthawk
Turn 4: Swing for 4. Piranha Marsh for 1.
Turn 5: After Hideous Ending Jimi’s first (and only) creature at the end of her turn, attack for 6 and finish off with a Consume Spirit.
Mulling down to 6 to find a keepable hand, I get my first creature out on turn 2 with a Child of Night. Jimi’s first comes a turn later- a Silvercoat Lion. It’s not worth the trade, so I drop a Swamp and pass.
Now turn 4, and Jimi looks to ramp with a double-kicked Everflowing Chalice. I add to my forces with a Vampire Aristocrat, but still no attacking. Jimi’s turn 5 is a blank, but when I come in with the Aristocrat she blocks with the Lion and shows the Veteran’s Reflexes. I’m forced to eat my Child of Night to make the attack profitable (otherwise, we’re back to standoff mode again), and after summoning a Jagwasp Swarm I pass the turn.
Jimi’s turn 6 Marshal’s Anthem (returning the Lion) is a most unwelcome sight, especially because I opted to summon the Swarm instead of disrupt with a Mire’s Toll in hand. I execute the Toll this time, and snip away a Pacifism. The Swarm goes in for 3, and first blood has finally been drawn.
Jimi’s turn 7 is a blank, and I establish the softlock once it’s over to me with Anowon, the Ruin Sage. Granted, I lose my own Swarm, but Jimi never finds and answer and I roll through for an easy victory on turn 10. A moment of sympathy for Jimi’s postion- making 10 land drops in 10 turns is more curse than blessing.
Thoughts & Analysis
Saints be praised, a Worldwake deck that works consistently as intended! Not only was mono-Black Vampires an effective and strong strategy in this environment, it was a lot of fun to play. It naturally runs into the problems all weenie/swarm strategies do, namely being outclassed by the opponent’s creatures, but having extra reach in the form of the Consume Spirit is huge in the slot, and a definite improvement upon its Zendikar predecessor, Rise of the Vampires.
If there are problems with the deck, they are at least of the kind that are easily remedied. Namely, spread all the cards out before you, and start pulling a few underperformers such as Jagwasp Swarm and Brink of Disaster. On the upside, this is a deck easily tinkered with, and one that can become quite strong with minimal effort. The Swarm, for example, is really just a placeholder for another Vampire Nighthawk.
Anowon, the Ruin Sage is as fun and bomby a rare as you could ask for, and intro pack decks seem especially fun when a Legend or two are thrown in (particularly when they’re the foil rare, such as with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief in Rise of the Eldrazi’s Invading Spawn). Indeed, it’s a pity that Anowon was not himself accorded the premium rare slot here, for he’s far more playable than the Butcher of Malakir in most every way.
Overall, this is a fun, effective deck that sets a narrow focus, and it does it relatively well: overwhelm with cheap, aggressive creatures backed by removal. If the game goes long, Anowon or possibly the opricey Butcher can be just the softlock your deck needs to get there.
Hits: Tribal precons are always fun; deck an improvement over Zendikar version; solid removal; inclusion of a direct damage spell (Consume Spirit) a huge plus for being able to finish games once the red zone clogs up; Anowon, the Ruin Sage a great inclusion
Misses: The Butcher of Malakir is prohibitively expensive; some suboptimal inclusions such as Brink of Disaster and Dead Reckoning; Comes-into-play-tapped lands a misstep in an aggro deck, particularly with the miniscule payoff the Piranha Marshes pack
FINAL SCORE: 4.6/5.0