Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Queen of the Damned

Well, first I was going to wait and build this deck after Innistrad was released and I got my hands on some of the new Vampires. Then, I got impatient and built it anyway. Then I was going to wait and post the decklist after I'd polished it up a bit. But, here I am, typing up the decklist as it stands... but I do have a good reason, besides my impatience. I wanted to leave myself some notes on what to cut for which new card after ISD drops. I was going to jot down some notes in a notebook, but then I figured: "Eh, might as well post it. Content is content."

Anyway, the mission statement is simple: Vampires. Lots of them. As many as I can realistically fit into the deck while still making it somewhat playable. I am cutting ubiquitous staples and good-stuff inclusions where possible to cram more thematic and flavorful stuff in. And as for the good-stuff that does make the cut, I try to at least justify most of those choices from a thematic perspective.

Slave of Bolas? Torrent of Souls? Barter in Blood? Sure, these cards definitely aren't specifically concepted as "Vampire" cards, but the names and what they do fit the flavor. Slave to Bolas might be named after a Dragon Planeswalker, but taking control of your enemy, using him, and then discarding him when you're through... definitely a classic Vampire move. Barter in Blood has "blood" in the name! What more do you want?

Okay, okay... I know there's no way in hell I can stretch the theme enough to make Skullclamp, Wheel of Fortune or Rite of Replication seem vampiric in flavor, but I do still want to win games with the deck. One mantra I try to keep in mind is "don't be a slave to your theme". Meaning, once your deck's theme starts to cost you games and actually makes the deck LESS fun to play, well, it's time to revisit your priorities.

I'm not saying winning should come at the cost of making your deck interesting - that's the last thing I want to impart. But, I feel the reverse is also true - the "theme" shouldn't completely neuter your deck to the point of unplayability.

So, by that logic, I feel the inclusion of a small number of cards that are just strictly in the deck to help me win games if more than fair, and still gives the deck enough room to make the Vampire theme felt through and through. But, to be honest, I'm hoping for a functional reprint of Solemn Simulacrum as a Creature - Vampire, because he's the one guy in my deck that is STRICTLY not a Vampire. But frankly I don't dare cut him - he's just too crucial to a deck without access to Green. The other 4 creatures that don't specifically say "Vampire" anywhere on the card all have the ability to become Vampires via their own innate abilities (Adaptive Automaton, Duplicant, Phyrexian Metamorph and Vesuvan Doppleganger).

So yeah, I fudged a little here and there, but only where it was important and felt like the right call. The only issue I have so far is a complete and utter inability to deal with Enchantments. I could easily run Chaos Warp, All is Dust, Karn Liberated and Steel Hellkite... but of those only All is Dust has a vampire-y enough name to kinda sorta fit the deck... the others are all huge misses on that end. But including one single card to deal with Enchantments and then having to rely on drawing it when needed... that doesn't sound like a good strategy to me. No, I prefer, in this case at least, to go with the strategy of "kill the player with the problematic Enchantments first, and hope that my Plan A is better than whatever it is they're doing".

Yeah, we'll see how that goes... right then, on to the list.


Garza Zol, Plague Queen

Guul Draz Assassin  -->  Stromkirk Noble
Kalastria Highborn
Gatekeeper of Malakir  -->  Rakish Heir
Vampire Nighthawk
Captivating Vampire
Mirri the Cursed
Vampire Nocturnus
Sengir Nosferatu  -->  Falkenrath Noble
Anwon, the Ruin Sage
Malakir Bloodwitch
Soul Collector
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Fallen Angel  -->  Bloodline Keeper
Vein Drinker  -->  Falkenrath Marauders
Mephidross Vampire
Nirkana Revenant
Skeletal Vampire
Butcher of Malakir
Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
Chancellor of the Dross

Phyrexian Metamorph
Vesuvan Shapeshifter

Solemn Simulacrum
Adaptive Automaton

Blood Tyrant
Vampiric Dragon  -->  Olivia Voldaren

Spells and Stuff

Deep Analysis
Rite of Replication
Time Spiral

Wheel of Fortune

Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Go for the Throat
Feast of Blood
Barter in Blood
Patriarch's Bidding
Living Death
Beacon of Unrest
Life's Finale
Sorin Markov
Profane Command

Torrent of Souls
Slave of Bolas
Spinal Embrace  -->  Cackling Counterpart

Blade of the Bloodchief
Nim Deathmantle  -->  Curse of Stalked Prey
Sol Ring
Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Indulgence
Izzet Signet
Rakdos Signet
Dimir Signet
Obelisk of Grixis

38 Lands

Other stuff:
Vampiric Fury needs to go in somewhere... oh dear.

EDIT: Holy shit, how the hell did I forget Blood Tribute?!


  1. Hey there, me again. I'm diggin the Vampire tribal. Kinda inspires me to build a tribal deck too. Not Vampires though, Zombies.

    Although for some reason I don't like Thrax although he is one of the better options at the moment and Grimgrin is kind of a let down as a zombie legend Imo. So I'm kinda waiting for (A) A multicolored zombie legend that I like (B) Some more EDH playable zombies.

    It seems to me that for every Geth and Graveborn Muse there are ten or twenty utterly unplayable zombies.

    On another note, I noticed you did a deck doctor on a teneb deck a while back and I was wondering if I sent you a list if you could doctor my Nicol Bolas deck. I know, I know he's not THAT great of a general as he is expensive, difficult to cast and eats into your mana once he is on the field but I guess I just like him flavor-wise.

    Its basically going to be a grixis "good stuff" control.

    I understand that you might be busy enough as it is since in a recent post you spoke of "insurmountable distraction around every corner".

    So if it is not too much trouble just let me know and I'll e-mail it to you or something.


  2. Yeah, Zombie tribal is a really compelling idea, and frankly I think Thraximundar is a phenomenal General... but kinda like with Vampires, there aren't many compelling zombies outside of mono-black. I think by the time the next set of this block comes out, there will be enough to go UB or UB-splashing-Red, without having to run too many "filler" zombies.

    As for doing a Deck Dr... I'm very open to the idea! I'll be happy to take a look and make some suggestions. If you wouldn't mind I may turn that process into a post here, but if you prefer to keep the list under wraps that's fine too.

    I can't make promises on turnaround time, but I don't think it'd take more than a week to get some ideas together and write it up.

    You can send me your working list, along with whatever info you feel is important (how you want it to play, budget or other restrictions, etc...), and I'll do my best to give you some thoughts and suggestions while leaving room for personalization and unique card choices.

    My email is toreador42(at)juno(dot)com.

  3. I don't mind if you post it. Content is content as you say.

    My email is d(dot)r(dot)layson(at) just so you can recognize who sent it in case it goes to your junk folder or something like that. :)

  4. Needs more Garza's Assassin ;)

    Looking good DT; I think our Garza decks will end up quite similar!

  5. Ha, thanks! I think I'll pass on the Assassin, thanks though. ;)