Posted in DAILYMTG on August 1, 2013
Vampire Warlord is a card that deserves a closer look. Thanks to its massive four power, there are very few creatures in this format that the Warlord doesn't kill. Thanks to its regeneration, there are very few ways to reliably remove it from the battlefield. If you don't block it, you die. If you do block it, your creature dies. While you will be usually sacrificing something to it to make it regenerate, the Warlord effectively turns every creature in your deck into a removal spell. It serves as a sacrifice outlet, perfect for combining with Act of Treason, Dragon's Egg, or simply denying lifelink. It's an incredibly powerful card, all in one deceptively reasonable package.
And it's in Ben Stark's deck, who was going up against Willy Edel and his bomb-filled blue-white deck.
The Vampire played a major part in Stark's matchup against Edel's UW deck featuring a plethora of bomb rares, including Archangel of Thune, Windreader Sphinx, and Jace, Memory Adept. The matchup was not a fast one. Despite Stark's clearly aggressive deck, the games tended to go long, a fact that you would figure would benefit Edel's bomb-laden monstrosity. When Stark came out of the gates with Dragon Hatchling and Dragon Egg in the first few turns, Edel had to have been elated. His deck filled with fliers was a little slower, so the reprieve was exactly what he needed to make his way to four mana with a healthy life total, giving him time to get Nephalia Seaskites online.
When turn five hit, however, things turned on their heads. The Warlord hit play, allowing Stark to turn his powerless creatures into potent attackers. These attackers ran headlong into Edel's defense, each time taking a creature along with them in the process, while the Warlord took large chunks from Edel's life total. Even an Archangel of Thune couldn't save Edel's life total, especially since the previous combats had left him without a team to enhance. Ultimately, the Warlord had done his job, eating everything in his path, finishing his meal with the last of Edel's blood.
The second game saw the Warlord take over the game in a similar manner. Edel opened with a fantastic draw, resolving an early Archangel of Thune and adding Hive Stirrings and a myriad of other creatures to his side of the table, each enhanced by two swings from the Archangel. Stark managed to find defense with a Dragon Egg and the Warlord, having just enough mana to offer his Dragon token in trade for the Angel after its first attack. With much of the damage done, Edel was content to trade it off and enhance his team the second and final time.
At this point, Edel had a powerful board, with five enhanced creatures on his side. Stark had the Warlord, a Young Pyromancer, a Dragon Hatchling, and a permanently attacking Academy Raider. When Edel began attacking with his army, Stark began slowly whittling it away. A Shock killed one of the enhanced creatures before it could get its second counter, thinning Edel's horde and netting Stark another sacrificial pawn. That let Stark trade his Pyromancer and Elemental token for one of the remaining 3/3s, chump block one, and kill the other with a regenerating Warlord. This cleared Stark's board except for the Warlord and Raider. Stark found another sacrificial pawn on the following turn to trade away with yet one more of Edel's creatures. That left him with just one.
Edel still had one more trump card in his hand with Jace, Memory Adept, but Stark was well prepared for it. Act of Treason provided exactly enough damage to kill Jace, as well as allowing Stark to sacrifice the stolen creature, completely eliminating Edel's board. A few turns later, though Edel had reduced Stark to a mere two life, he succumbed to a final attack.
"The Warlord is a really good card," Stark admitted after the match. "Without it, I'm not even in that last game. The real MVP of that final game was the Academy Raider, though. It drew me like seven or eight cards that game. While I don't get to the point where I can use them without the Warlord, it was the Raider that sealed the game for me."
Edel 0 – Stark 2