Whispers of the Muse: Steven T’s ‘Reign of the Bloodchief’
After a trip back in time to Tempest last week, we’re back with something more familiar and contemporary for this week’s Whispers. Today we’re hearing from reader Steven T. Steven has a request with a slight twist, one that should be familiar with readers of our previous Ertai’s Trickery feature, where we blended several decks together:
I’ve recently started playing Magic: the Gathering. I built myself a Vampire-themed deck by mixing together Reign of Vampirism from M11 core set and Fangs of the Bloodchief from Worldwake. I’ve been trying to find the third vampire precon called Rise of the Vampires (or something like that) so then I can tweak this deck a bit more.
I’ve played with this deck a few times and found that Captivating Vampire doesn’t pull his weight around in comparison to Anowon. However, I attribute this to everyone making sure I didn’t have 5 vampires on the battlefield at one time. Also I was thinking about swapping out the 4x Assassinate for 4x Go For The Throat. I’d like this deck to remain a mono-black. However, I’m happy for people to suggest a secondary colour. I’d like to keep this deck an aggro deck as well, but again i’m happy for other suggestions. Also I only play casually so I’m not really looking for a tournament standard deck.
Here is the preliminary decklist.
1x Anowon, the Ruin Sage
4x Barony Vampire
4x Bloodthrone Vampire
1x Captivating Vampire
4x Child of Night
2x Pulse Tracker
2x Ruthless Cullblade
1x Vampire Nighthawk
3x Viscera Seer
4x Diabolic Tutor
4x Doom Blade
4x Rise from the Grave
3x Stabbing Pain
Does anyone have any suggestions for Steven T’s Vampires list? Bear in mind as always that the best suggestions are often those readily available (ie commons and uncommons), but don’t hesitate to suggest the right rare or mythic if something seems like a slam dunk!
I’ll go ahead and kick this off with an easy one- the lands. The ‘gold standard’ for Magic is 40%, or 24 lands. That’s not set in stone, it’s a guideline. Are you playing three or more colours? Lots of expensive cards? You might move it up. Are you playing one colour? Lots of cheap cards? Move it down.
As it happens, a Vamps list is *both* of the latter two options- a mono-colour deck with tons of cheap cards, so 26 is too high. You could quite safely move that down to 23 and give yourself space for three more cards.
Most of what you have is inexpensive, but there are some expensive cards clogging up a nice, aggressive mana curve here. While Rise from the Grave and Diabolic Tutor are solid options, having four of each is too many. When you put in four of a card, you have to ask yourself a few questions:
1. Do I want to have this card as often as possible?
2. Are there times when I won’t be happy to draw this card?
3. Am I okay with finding this card in my opening hand?
Let’s look at Rise and Tutor. Rise returns a creature from the graveyard to play. Since it costs five mana, it’s expensive for what it does but gives you some flexibility. Typically there are two kinds of creatures that are the best targets for this spell: crucial creatures, and fat ones.
Crucial creatures are ones like your Captivating Vampire- ones that are needed for your deck. Maybe it’s a combo critter (like Captivating Vampire), maybe it has some valuable ability you’d like to have back. As for the fatties, if you return a card to play that costs more than 5 mana, you’ve come out ahead on the deal (since you’re playing it for less).
Both of these options get better the longer the game goes. Things that die early are likely to be weak- only after the game has progressed will you usually find juicy targets laying about in graveyards. So if you draw Rise from the Grave early, it’s usually going to just sit in your hand for awhile doing nothing.
If you use it to return, say, a Vampire Nighthawk… wouldn’t it be better if you’d just drawn a Vampire Nighthawk instead?
So I’d cut Rise from the Grave down to 2. It’s bad early, and though you’ll still draw it early sometimes even with 2 in there, your deck’s efficiency will improve.
Same thing for the Tutor. You shouldn’t need to worry about tutoring up answers in the early game… an aggro deck like this should be making your OPPONENT desperate for answers! 😀
It’s a card that has its uses, but it’s also very expensive. I definitely understand wanting to have the utility and flexibility, so if you’re going to run them, I wouldn’t run more than 2 either.
Still, even running 2 of each makes four cards in the 4-5 mana range, plus your Anowon, plus the three Corrupt (which is a beautiful card). That starts to make your mana curve heavy, when Vampires works best when they are light.
I’ll leave it here for now and see what the other folks have to say. Well, that and I’m at work atm…
Funnily enough, I was thinking of lowering the number of Rise From the Grave. Mainly because I find it’s a card I rarely use. The Diabolic Tutor is a card that I use a lot, but again I can see what you mean about the lowering their numbers.
I think the reason I put a high amount of mana inside the deck (aside from being a complete newbie) was the fact I didn’t ever want to not have mana when I needed it. However, once the mana curve is sorted I’m sure that having less mana will be a lot more advantageous than clogging up my deck with land I don’t need.
Fortunately, I’m playing a few games with my girlfriend tonight so I can make these changes (plus any new ones that pop up in the comments) and see how much they improve the deck 🙂
Vampire Hexmage. I use it in my demon deck. A 2/1 first striker for 2 CMC is nice. Able to kill a planeswalker instantly is just a bonus to me. Even just side boarding a few might be a good idea.
There’s also something Cutthroat. A leveller I’ve used and found amusing. Comes in handy if you have a turn with a little extra mana you don’t need to save for something. Though if you’re going for a vampire rush, it kind of is a speed bump.
There are vampirish non-creature spells. Have you considered them? Urge to Feed and Feast of Blood are interesting.
Then you got the lovely cards like Duress.
Now assassinate. I don’t care for it. Doom blade, the vampire dependent removal above, and Go for the Throat are all good. Which you use depends more on your meta. If you can keep 2 vamps out in most games, I’d use the vampire one. That way there hardly is a limit on what it can destroy.
Another quick vampy, I love Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief. If you wnat to play another higher cost vamp, I’d consider with her. If you get the ROE precon, she’ll come with it.
Vampire hexmage does seem like a good choice, I’ll keep on the lookout for that card.
With Feast of Blood, I think it’s just one of those cards I just didn’t put in at the time because I wasn’t sure how often I’d have two or more vampires on the battlefield (stupid, I know 🙂 )but after playing a few times I usually definitely have two or more vamps. So I’ll be putting them in and keeping an eye out for more (I think I only have one or two of urge to feed)Thanks for the suggestions Icehawk 🙂
For my vampires deck I use Sanguine Bond and Blood Tribute kicked for an istant win but my deck is more control oriented, so I get the time to set up the two expensive card that I need.
Sanguine Bond is good enough alone, with all the vampires with lifelink.
I think you really want to put in 3 more Vampire Nighthawk (very, very powerful uncommon), maybe in place of 3 Barony Vampire.
I also like the old Mirri the Cursed, but she cost 4 mana…I’m not very good with aggro deck, it seems I just like big creatures or mana expensive cards 😛
Well, the obvious change here is “Needs more Nighthawks.” Also, I’d add Reassembling Skeleton, since you’re already at 4x Bloodthrone 3x Viscera Seer, and the Skeleton combos with them very well. Assassinate is fairly poor as removal spells go and I think you could dump it for a better option. Same with Stabbing Pain.
‘Needs more Nighthawks’ is a change that I’ve been wanting to do. I haven’t been able to do it yet because I don’t have more Nighthawks. Which sucks in its own special kind of way.
In relation to Stabbing Pain. I’ve found Stabbing Pain to be really useful. I’ve used it to get rid of that annoying 1/1 or tap a capable blocker. So I be sticking up for Stabbing Pain to the very end 🙂 Thanks for the advice.
Up until Mirrodin Besieged, I was right there with you! Stabbing Pain isn’t the most powerful card, but I always liked its clever design and flexibility.
However, with Go for the Throat and Feast of Blood, there’s plentiful cheap (and permanent!) removal. Unless your friends are running a ton of artifact critters, it’s definitely food for thought. That’s the great thing about this game- you can always mix things up, then go back if you liked it a different way. Stick with Stabbing Pains for awhile, but then try a few games where you remove them for extra GftT and FoB’s, and see what you like better. Or make a note on a paper every time you drew Stabbing Pain, and would have been better off with eighter GftT or FoB. If it happens often enough, you might try it then…
Seems to me like another Anowon would do you good. Go for the throat like you suggested is good, as is Doomblade. However, note that since sideboarding is not common in casual, they wi be dead draws against artifact and black decks resPectively.
Also, ruthless cullblade always seemed like a bad card to me, and I still hate it. It’s spot could be better served by another nighthawk or pulse tracker.
I do love the Pulse Tracker and Nighthawk. I’d happily replace Cullblade with either two of them. Again, the problem is I don’t have more of those cards. Time to rectify this! *runs to local gamestore* 🙂
First of all, you have too many lands… with something around 22, this would be fine.
I also think that creatures with no effect are not very useful, there are always better vampires. And yes, need more Nighthawks.
Swapping Assassinate for Go for the Throat is a must nowadays! Try also to have, if possible, the vampire planeswalker, don’t remember his name, and other vampires with effects like Cullblade.
Hope it helps…
Sorin Markov is actually a bad fit for Vamps in some ways. Sure he was designed to help his tribe (setting an opponent’s life total at 10, which wakes a few of them up), but he costs six(!). Vamps really wants its opponent -dead- by turn six, or very close to it. He’s not very useful when drawn early, and only really useful late when the game is probably already decided.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Sorin, he was a bomb in my Cruel Control deck when I ran it!
Echo all the sentiments on the Vampire Nighthawks, which is as close to a slam-dunk 4-of as you’ll find here. Great suggestions, folks!
Instead of Captivating if you want some pumping, you could side or main a few Blade of the Bloodchief. I wouldn’t go a full playset, but I think 2 would be fine.
That and Sign in Blood might come in handy.
I might actually do that with Blade of the Bloodchief. Captivating still doesn’t pull his weight around. There have been innumerable time where I’d rather Tutor for Anowon rather than Captivating Vampire. Thanks for the advice.
How are the tweaks working? Been thinking about building a budget vamp deck for a while.
The tweaks are slowly coming along. I reduced the mana, took out two Rise from the Grave, and two Diabolic Tutor. The other day I got a deckbuilders toolkit which had about 20 vampire cards in them. So I took out the 2 Ruthless Cullblade and replaced them with one more Pulse Tracker and one more Nighthawk.
I also got another Feast of Blood so I took out two Assassinate and put two Feast of Blood in there. I also put two Vampire Lacerator in there just to see what their like in the deck and so far I really like it.
Vampires deck are good for budget. Mono black so you don’t need rare lands, and most of the good cards are commono or uncommon. There is quite a selection of possibles rares bomb to chose from but they are absolutely not mandatory to do good. Unfortunately I love big creatures so I tend to crowd the end of the mana curve. I too am very curious about how the deck is coming togheter.