How to Build Vampires with Eldritch Moon

Posted in How to Build on July 19, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Last week, we explored a number of new Standard archetypes that improved with the release of Eldritch Moon. Today, we're going to be refocusing on Vampires and discussing the various ways we can go about building a Vampire deck in the new Standard.

Vampires is a deck that plays efficiently costed bodies that take advantage of the madness mechanic. Before Eldritch Moon, there wasn't enough in the way of worthwhile madness outlets or actual madness cards. Now we have access to heavy hitters like Stromkirk Condemned, Furyblade Vampire, and Stromkirk Occultist. We went from not having enough cards to make the archetype work to having far too many playables that we need to piece together to make a cohesive and powerful deck.

Let's start by taking a look at our last iteration of the Vampire deck!

JVL's Vampires

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My biggest error last week was my underestimation of Voldaren Pariah. The more I stew on that card's power level, the more excited I become about opportunities to easily break games wide open with it. If our opponent isn't using some type of token strategy, then Voldaren Pariah is the perfect haymaker to end the game. I'd be surprised if the card wasn't adopted by a lot of different strategies in the coming weeks. Sacrificing three Eldrazi Scions or Vampire Knight tokens for three actual cards that the opponent spent mana on seems like a very impressive effect, especially when it's combined with a huge, game-ending body.

Vampires may have to use full cards to sacrifice to Voldaren Pariah (unless we're going to play Carrier Thrall), but those cards will often be inexpensive or have already served their purpose by the time we're flipping and making our opponent sacrifice their whole board.

We need to find the right balance for our Vampire deck. Right now, Standard is wide enough to build Vampires at a lot of different speeds. We can build our deck to be as fast as possible by playing with all the one-mana Vampires, we could eschew the one-mana Vampires altogether and play with more powerful cards, or we could play something like the list above that strikes a balance between those two poles.

Let's start by building the most aggressive Vampire deck we can.

The aggressive Vampire deck looks quite good on paper. The deck gets to play with a lot of great one- and two-mana creatures that apply the right kind of pressure to end games quickly. The biggest problem for the aggressive Vampire deck seems to be making the mana work properly. It's difficult to reliably have access to both red and black mana on the first turn while also trying to have double black by the second turn for Stromkirk Condemned. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if an aggressive Vampire deck had the necessary tools to compete in Standard.

The power level of the cards is definitely here. The deck should be able to empty its hand quickly, forcing the opponent to use their interactivity. At that point, Asylum Visitor should be able to do a lot of work in terms of drawing extra cards. It's worth noting that the deck can be very susceptible to removal spells targeting madness outlets. Depending on the amount of spot removal that people end up playing, we may need to add more madness outlets to the deck if we want it to function properly.

The deck may be more fragile than other aggressive strategies, but when all the cogs are working properly it becomes very impressive. Let's take a look at what an aggressive Vampire deck might look like with Eldritch Moon.

JVL's Aggro Vampires

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The deck looks great, but, as we mentioned earlier, the mana seems pretty difficult at times. Perhaps we can approach the midrange build of Vampires with that in mind. I'd like to be able to pay the madness cost on Voldaren Pariah, and I feel like we can leave most of the inexpensive red cards on the bench, especially those that only cost one mana.

I'd still like to try to use the madness mechanic to the best of our abilities. We certainly have enough outlets at our disposal, and some of them are very strong. Call the Bloodline seems very good in a deck like this, and it happens to combo nicely with Voldaren Pariah. After sideboarding, this deck gets access to the amazing disruption and removal that make red and black the best colors in Standard for Games 2 and 3. It may even be worthwhile to add some amount of card draw to the sideboard so that the deck is capable of playing the control game in the appropriate matchups after sideboarding.

When playing this deck, it's important that we try to cast things for their madness cost whenever possible to maximize the deck's interactions. The deck may empty its hand quickly, but Stromkirk Occultist and Asylum Visitor should make up for that by providing us a steady stream of card advantage. It's also worth noting that Asylum Visitor can play a lot of neat tricks in this deck. Using madness to put the card into play when it's the last card in our hand on our opponent's end step helps us get a bonus card to work with.

It may seem odd to go with a more midrange plan when building the Vampire deck, but the deck can still empty its hand quickly, and draws that involve attacking for 8 on the third turn with Furyblade Vampire and Incorrigible Youths are still very much a reality.

Here's my take on midrange Vampires with Eldritch Moon.

JVL's Midrange Vampires

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Voldaren Pariah is a very powerful card. Vampires are way better than they've been in Standard for a very long time, but it's worth noting that Voldaren Pariah has many other homes too. For example, the Black-Green Aristocrats deck that did very well at the last Pro Tour is practically tailored specifically to benefit from Voldaren Pariah. Think about what it means to be able to sacrifice three random bodies to essentially cast Plague Wind while having a Dragon-like body left over to seal the deal and win the game.

Duskwatch Recruiter was already one of the best cards in Standard, and it only becomes more powerful with the release of Eldritch Moon. This deck gets to take full advantage of Duskwatch Recruiter, using the card to find Voldaren Pariah in the mid-to-late game while draining the opponent and making race math a nightmare with Zulaport Cutthroat.

This may not be a dedicated Vampire deck, but it seems like we're on to something very special here. Let's check out Voldaren Aristocrats.

Voldaren Aristocrats

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There's a lot of wiggle room for deck builders looking to experiment with Vampires once Eldritch Moon enters the Standard landscape on July 22. How will you build your Vampire deck? Which of the new Vampires has you most excited?

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