Monday, September 20, 2010

Vampires! (Don't roll your eyes at me like that!)

I've been cooking this one for a good long while. It started out as a straight up Vampire aggro deck, with as much removal I could pack in amongst the throngs of fanged freaks. However, I always ended up playing it in 4-way multiplayer games, and I could pretty much be guaranteed to wipe one play out before anyone played a board-sweeper, but one I dropped the blood-soaked hammer on my first victim, one of the survivors would suddenly realize "Oh, shit!" and Planar Cleanse, Godly Wrath or otherwise spend the Day passing Judgement on my evil little blood-suckers.


I've been trying to re-tune the deck to function better in the 4-player arena. Spoiler: I've had some success, but it won't truly be complete until I get my hands on a few Exsanguinates. This card is absolutely PERFECT for this deck, and my chances of killing the whole table with one spell seem pretty good to me!

Enough pomp and circumstance. Here's the deck:

2 Bloodthrone Vampire

4 Bloodghast
3 Kalastria Highborn
3 Gatekeeper of Malakir
2 Captivating Vampire
3 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Vampire Nocturnus
3 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodcheif
2 Nirkana Revenant

2 Phyrexian Arena
4 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Sanguine Bond
1 Sorin Markov

2 Cabal Coffers
4 Leechridden Swamp
18 Swamp

Let's discuss the mana first, to get it out of the way. Cabal Coffers are good in any mono-black deck, and here they really shine. Combining Coffers with Nirkana Revenant will make Exsanguinate and extremely potent kill spell. Having a Sanguine Bond on the field when you do this pretty much ensures you will kill anyone who poses a threat to you, if not the whole table. The Leechridden Swamps are great, because they count as Swamps for your Coffers and Tendrils of Corruptions. They're better than they look, though. They were instrumental in my victory in a 3-way game just last night.

Tendrils of Corruption is a great removal spell, as anyone who played in Time Spiral era Standard can attest to. It's instant speed, variable to the number of swamps you control, so late game they can kill just about anything and gain you a nice chunk of life as well. They have great synergy with Sanguine Bond too.

Bloodghast, Bloodthrone Vampire and Kalastria Highborn form a nice little loop of 2-point life drain effects. If you have a land in hand, you can sac the Bloodghast, pay a black to Blind Hunter somebody and then drop the land to get the Ghast back, wash, rinse and repeat as often as you have a land to drop!

Gatekeeper of Malakir and Vampire Nighthawk are your early line of defense. They should both probably be 4-ofs, but I can decide what to cut... :/ As an aside, I must say that Vampire Nighthawk is, in a vacuum, the best Vampire printed to date. What it does for its cost is just amazing. Sure Nocturnus is peachy keen, and Highborn is usually the back bone of my strategy, but the Nighthawk is just a phenom, playing a defensive role or an offensive role with equal aplomb.

Back on topic: Captivating Vampire is silly, and probably will get cut soon enough, but I WANT to make it work, so I'll give them the ol' college try. Nocturnus is a no-brainer, but could easily be cut back to a  2x as he is almost strictly an offensive player and this deck isn't really that Aggro... still, if you have 4x a $20 Mythic it's HARD to cut them!

Malakir Bloodwitch is a conundrum. She's fan-fucking-tastic at doing what she does, but at 5 mana she usually comes down on an empty board the turn after a Day of Judgement. Day late and a Vampire short? Still, her synergy with Sanguine Bond (man, that card is an all-star!) and ability to take me from near-death back to 18-20 life in one swoop makes here worth the risk.

Drana is pretty "meh" here, but I have a huge soft spot for her ever since she helped me to an utterly undefeated record at the Rise prerelease. I first-picked her in a prerelease draft at Castle, and I didn't loose a single game in which I cast her. Then I opened her again in the Sealed portion, and played a deck that was nearly identical to my draft deck. Again, ever single game in which she hit the table I won. She's not as good in Constructed as she is in limited but with the Coffers and Revenant, she can kill 2 or 3 medium-size creatures in one turn and swing for 15 or more at the same time.

Nirkana Revenant should be a 4x, because she wins games if she lives, but she's also the biggest removal magnet in the whole deck. No sane player will ever willingly let you untap with her in play. If you untap with the Revnant you probably just won. So yeah, 4x for redundancy, but don't EVER play more than one at a time, that's just asking for a Wrath to kick you in the ass.

Phyrexian Arena. Because this deck needed to draw extra cards. Originally I had 4 Sign in Bloods, which I like just fine, but I find that two Arenas are likely to draw me more cards over the course of a game than 4x Sign in Blood will, so that frees up 2 whole card slots whilst still giving me EXCEPTIONAL card-drawing. The life-loss is insignificant as you'll likely gain plenty, what with the Nighthawks, Highborns, Bloodwitches, and Tendrils.

Oh, yeah and there's Sorin Markov too. The totally bad-ass Vampire Planeswalker. Yeah, he's not terrific but he's not terrible either. I definitely think he's worth running as a singleton. His -3 ability to suddenly turn on Haste for all your Bloodghasts can sometimes win you the game on the spot. His +2 ability will synergize nicely with Sangine Bond (I sound like a broken record I know, but seriously folks Sanguine Bond. Play it!).

I'd also love to get a Liliana Vess up in this bitch, because tutoring is pretty good, I hear. Especially when you absolutely HAVE to have a black card on top for your Nocturnus, accept no substitutes. But seriously, she deserves a slot, but I just can't find where to squeeze her in.

Enjoy you bloodsuckers!

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