Hello again, everybody! It's been a little while since I wrote my last article, but it's great to be back. School has been taking some time away from writing, but it's always good to have priorities straight. I've been brewing some cool decks for Innistrad Standard lately, and now that the full spoilers are out, we can start to brew complete decks for all Constructed formats. One deck that I've come to like is R/B Vampires. After losing so many of the low Vampires on the curve when Zendikar rotated out, it seemed like it would be a while before Vampires could ever be a real archetype again. I am here to prove otherwise. The following list is still a draft and probably needs some work, but I think it has some great potential.
- 4 Bloodline Keeper
- 2 Chosen of Markov
- 2 Falkenrath Marauders
- 4 Markov Blademaster
- 4 Rakish Heir
- 4 Stromkirk Captain
- 4 Stromkirk Noble
- 4 Vampire Interloper
- 2 Olivia Voldaren
This deck tries to get in some early points with the curve on 1-3 and then closes the game out with amazing four-drops. The curve is a little bit heavy in three, but the three-drops are very good at playing roles in both the early and late game. Cards like Rakish Heir and the new Markov Blademaster hit hard early and keep the beats coming late game by getting much bigger.
I'm not completely sure how to evaluate Chosen of Markov. I like the big stats, but I'm not really a fan of taking an attack phase away from a guy to flip it. I've chosen to put it in as a two-of to see how it works out.
Bloodline Keeper and Olivia Voldaren are our game ending four-drops. Bloodline Keeper makes more of an army for you to crush your opponent with and should be relatively easy to flip. Once he's flipped, if he isn't immediately dealt with, you can count the game over. Your already sizeable army will now probably be lethal in one swing.
Olivia Voldaren serves multiple roles in this deck, from clearing away annoying blockers to stealing an opponent's key Primeval Titan. The reason I've chosen to only play two is because I didn't want too many four-drops. Olivia Voldaren is a legend, and I think Bloodline Keeper is overall stronger.
Falkenrath Marauders sits at the top of the curve, and he is another experiment in the deck. He is pretty expensive, but he is evasive and can close the game out quickly. Due to haste, he dodges a lot of burn-based removal if your opponent taps out on turn 5.
Last but not least are the Incinerates, Doom Blades, and Go for the Throat. Just as a note, the new Tragic Slip might be better than both of these; if so, a few "sacrifice a creature" Vampires could go in the deck to turn on morbid. Incinerate gets rid of early blockers and annoying creatures while also getting in the last few points of damage. The removal spell split might not be perfect, but we are moving into an undefined metagame. I think Doom Blade is overall better because it's not dead against Tempered Steel and can kill both Inkmoth Nexus and Wurmcoil Engine. Go for the Throat might be necessary in some situations, but probably less often than Doom Blade. Killing Grave Titan is not as relevant as killing Wurmcoil Engine. You can easily overcome the ground blockers and the clock, but the lifelink can be too much to defeat.
Notable Exclusions from Dark Ascension
Tragic Slip - I already talked about this a little bit above, but I figured I'd put it in this section too. If the deck decides to take a sacrifice route (I'll talk about them in a second) then this seems like an auto-include. Without an easy way to consistently turn on morbid though, I don't like it right now.
Falkenrath Aristocrat - This guy is okay, but I wanted to not play infinite four-drops. I like both Olivia Voldaren and Bloodline Keeper more than this. Additionally, with all the flying Spirit tokens running around, Aristocrat is easily killed. The only Human in the deck is Chosen of Markov, so she usually won't grow past 4/1, and having to consistently sacrifice another creature just to keep her alive against Moorland Haunt and Midnight Haunting seems like the exact opposite of what you want to be doing.
Erdwal Ripper - If this guy flew, he would probably be in the deck. The fact that he sits on the ground means that against most decks, he will not connect. I would almost rather play Bloodcrazed Neonate because I think coming down on turn 2 so that you can follow up with a three-drop lord is a lot better than the surprise factor. Overall not an amazing card in the deck.
Fiend of the Shadows - She came in and out of the list multiple times. She might just be better than Falkenrath Marauders, but for the time being, she doesn't seem that amazing. You can't take advantage of the regenerate ability most of the time, and she isn't nearly as fast of a clock as Falkenrath Marauders. Even when it connects, the ability isn't that amazing against a lot of decks. Getting a black removal spell or a Phyrexian mana spell can be cool, but a lot of the times, it will just make your opponent discard a card that he/she didn't want anyway. Has potential, but for now I don't think I am impressed.
Markov Warlord - Pretty simple—too expensive! Its ability isn't even that amazing at sorcery speed or even instant speed for that matter. The body is cool but definitely not worth six mana.
Falkenrath Torturer - I don't know about you, but a three-mana 2/1 that makes you pay a hefty price to give it evasion seems pretty mediocre to me.
Other Notable Cards that Weren't Included
Stensia Bloodhall - This may have room in the deck as a one- or two-of, but I didn't want to hurt the mana base too much. You have both double red and double black spells, so for now I want to make sure I can cast them.
Devil's Play - Another card that came in and out of the list. In the end, I cut it so that I could make the mana base a little better. The triple red on flashback can be awkward, and it also makes me kind of want to play another land so that I can consistently get up in mana. Overall, it's a good finisher and a decent removal spell, so it might have some merit in the deck.
Other Random Burn Spells - I was originally playing more of a burn style version but realized that it probably wouldn't be good enough and that a creature base would be able to end the game quicker. One card in particular I wanted to play was Bump in the Night, but I think it's more cute than good.
Overall, I'm not sure if this is just a worse tribe than the other available ones, but at worst it's still a starting point. It's good to go over every possible archetype that one might face in the first few weeks of a set release. With StarCityGames.com Opens happening pretty much every weekend, the first few right after the set release will feature a whole ton of brews to be prepared for. This deck has some serious potential and might be one of the better aggro decks in the format. Between the quick early game and the strong late game, this can be a real contender. As usual, leave feedback in the comments section. I'd love to hear what you guys have been brewing for the new Standard format and what you guys think the metagame will be. I'm predicting lots of Delver of Secrets decks and token variants with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. Make sure you come in headstrong ready to fight those two archetypes. I hope you have a great time at the Prerelease events should you choose to attend. Maybe your packs be filled with many bomb mythics.
Until next time,
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