Vampires: A Master's Guide

Introduction


Hello everyone, my name is nossr50 and I’m bringing another deck guide with me this time for one of my favourite decks Vampires. I’m a master rank player, and I’ve been playing this deck a lot on and off stream, achieving dozens of 7-x runs with it so I thought I’d take time to write up a guide and share the list.



Table of Content


Decklist


Lands (24)
1 Arch of Orazca
2 Ifnir Deadlands
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Plains
4 Shefet Dunes
5 Swamp
4 Unclaimed Territory

Spells (18)
4 Call to the Feast
2 Cast Down
3 Legion's Landing
3 Queen's Commission
4 Radiant Destiny
2 Vraska's Contempt

Creatures (18)
2 Champion of Dusk
4 Dusk Legion Zealot
4 Legion Lieutenant
2 Martyr of Dusk
2 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
2 Sanctum Seeker
2 Skymarcher Aspirant






Why should I play vampires?


If you ask me, Vampires are an excellent middle ground between an aggressive deck and a midrange deck. There aren’t many decks like that currently in MTGA. You can be aggressive when you need to be and the deck scales very well going into later turns, which is typically only found in midrange or control decks.

Vampires play like an aggro deck and don’t suffer from the weaknesses you may find in most aggressive decks as the game goes late.

Strengths


The main strength in Vampires is in their flexibility, you can win vs any deck and there are no MUs which feel hopeless. The deck is also an absolute joy to play, and it feels really good once you’ve developed a big board with several Radiant Destinies or Legion Lieutenants in play.

Weaknesses


The deck suffers from some hard counters currently in the meta, if you’re up against RDW and they drop Rampaging Ferocidon and you don’t have removal on hand you’re going to be in for a very hard game. Keep in mind this card is banned in paper and won’t be in MTGA’s standard after Kaladesh is added according to the developers.

The deck also runs very few removal tools, so if you play against a greedy midrange deck and the game goes late you may find yourself in quite the pickle.

How to Mulligan


In general I go for any hand that has 2 or more lands in it and 2 or more early game plays, if I don’t see a hand like that I take the mulligan. If you keep a hand where you can’t do anything for the first three turns this will often put you on a quick trip to a loss. We are an aggressive deck and we need a hand that matches that gameplan.

If I see Legion's Landing or Dusk Legion Zealot in the opening hand I almost always keep it. It’s also very important to have a black and white mana source in the hand, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to mulligan.

As long as you don’t keep a greedy hand that does nothing for the first few turns and you should do fine.

NOTE: Every mulligan you take drastically decreases your chance of winning, consider keeping a greedy hand if you’ve already mulligan’d. Try not to mulligan below 5 as that can be a death sentence.

City's Blessing


Just in case you aren’t aware of this mechanic going forward I will explain it here as it is a pivotal part of our deck. The city's blessing is a permanent emblem which is gained once we reach 10 or more permanents and play any card which has Ascend on it. If that card would be our 10th permanent, then it activates the City's Blessing when it comes into play.

Spells can also grant the blessing if they have Ascend, but they won’t count towards our permanent total unless they put permanents onto the board.

In our deck, achieving the City's Blessing will activate Ascend on our Radiant Destiny enchantments, giving all of our vampires Vigilance which is game winning.

Cards


This is one of the pillars of our deck, and without it the deck would be so much weaker. This is what allows us to scale late game, and enables us to play aggressively in later turns. Once you activate the cities blessing all of your vampires get vigilance, and considering the deck is only vampire units, this card is amazing.

After gaining the City's Blessing, it allows us to swing with our lifelink units and block with them in the following turn.

This card is often game winning after achieving the City's Blessing

This armored beauty is how we close out most of our games and it is our main wincon if the game starts shifting towards a stalemate, as simply declaring an attack with a vampire will lifelink 1 health from our opponents, if you attack with 7 vampires, thats 7 damage, and this kicks in the moment the attack is declared, often you will kill your opponent simply by declaring the attack.

Against control this card is one of our main win conditions, and it can help close any game going late. She’s also a big body and excellent blocker against decks like RDW. And the lifelink can be life saving if we are getting low in health.

Comparable to Radiant Destiny, these cards propel us into the mid-to-late game and allow us to stay relevant if not overtaking our opponent. It's a bit dicey to play these early against certain opponents, as losing a Legion Lieutenant is often a huge blow to our overall strength. Consider the matchup when deciding when to play this card. Sometimes it is the correct decision to play Radiant Destiny before putting these femme fatales into play.

I recommend putting these down after you play your other vampires or vampire creation tools, as this allows you to immediately swing with buffed up vampires instead of having to wait another turn because of summoning sickness.

Against UW (Blue/White) Control I never swing with my lieutenants unless I have to, as Seal Away or Settle the Wreckage removing them from play would cripple the strength of our other vampires.

This card is an amazing early game play, allowing us to put bodies on the board and replenish our hand at the same time. It gives the deck more consistency while at the same time also allowing us to pressure our foes in the early game, and in the worst case scenario it makes a decent chump blocker. The 1 HP in damage it deals to us is negligible considering the amount of lifelink we run in the deck.

Mavren is our baby making machine, allowing us to swing and replenish our forces at the same time. Combining this guy with flying vampires is not only delightful it's downright smart, Mavren has excellent synergy with the Skymarcher Aspirants in our deck. Take extreme caution if you ever swing with Mavren though. Often I will refrain from swinging with him unless I have to, as losing him is a big blow to our vampire producing engine. With that said sometimes you have no choice, and if you have vigilance from Radiant Destiny and your opponent has an empty board, often there’s no danger in doing so.

These two cards are the foundation of our Vampire deck. It may not seem like it at first glance but these cards will often be the reason you win a game and narrowly avoid defeat.

These cards are our MVP baby-makers, creating 2-3 tokens when played which are often pumped up by Radiant Destiny or Legion Lieutenant, it can easily sweep the game from under our opponent if left unchecked.

This is also the main tool we have in our arsenal to activate the City’s Blessing and make all of our vampire vigilant, against UW control this is invaluable as it bricks all of their Seal Away cards.

As you start running out of cards to play this card swoops in to save the day and empty your opponent of any hope they had of stopping the machine. I don’t recommend getting greedy when it comes to deciding when to play this card, as often your opponents will play their board wipes when you start going too wide.

If you have at least 2-4 vampires down I’d play this guy before any unfortunate accidents take out the vampires we already have down diminishing the amount of cards we could have drawn.

Keep in mind any cards you draw over 7 will have to be discarded anyways, so overdrawing while awesome is not always ideal, and the self damage is something to be considered too, you can very easily accidentally kill yourself with this card.

NOTE: This card counts itself when drawing cards, so if you have 3 vampires down before playing this you will end up drawing 4 cards.

Sykmarcher Aspirant is a great 1 drop and is able to put extraordinary pressure on your opponent after obtaining the cities blessing, sometimes I will refrain from attacking with this card unless my opponent has no creatures in play until the City's Blessing has been secured in order to close out the game from my opponent. After this card Ascends you can easily close out the game as not many decks run reliable flying creature counters. As you can imagine the synergy with Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle is insane. If you have both this and Legion’s Landing in your opening hand I recommend putting this card into play first so it can start attacking earlier.

Although this might not look like much to the untrained eye, this is one of the best cards in the entire deck. It’s one of the best one drops as it both gives us a unit on the field and transforms into Adanto, the First Fort which is both a land that gives white mana and has an active ability to make vampire tokens.

If you can transform this early you get access to playing cards a turn earlier due to having an extra mana source.

Against control this might not last very long as Field of Ruin can snipe our fort before its had time to do much, but in all other matchups this thing is a vampire producing machine. You can activate this at instant speed as with most lands, so you can activate this when your opponent attacks to create a chump blocker or at their end step.

The tokens have lifelink which makes it near impossible for our opponent to bring us down if we have a half decent board.

I don’t tend to use the ability of this land until my hand starts running low on cards.

This deck doesn’t run very much removal, but we do run some.

Good targets for our removal are stuff like Wildgrowth Walker or Rampaging Ferocidon. It’s very matchup dependent of course, so try to be smart about it.

Don’t play the removal haphazardly, we don’t have much in the deck so use it wisely.


Lands

This land when activated can pump up all of our units by 1, considering we flood the board with vampires and go super wide this land is incredible. Try to think about this land every turn as it often enables lethal with an all in swing, just make sure to play around cards like Settle the Wreckage when you do.

On occasion this land can act as a form of removal which comes in handy since we run very few removal tools, for example it can also allow us to take out flying units which are normally very hard to deal with.

This is basically an untapped dual lands for Vampires and because all our creatures happen to be vampires by some freak coincidence this becomes an auto-include land. Keep in mind its colorless mana for spells, which is its main drawback.

Often you won’t be using this land and its borderline cuttable from the list, but in some situations this can help you in games going late against control or other midrange decks, it's wise to activate this during your opponent's turn and not during your own.


Replacements and alternatives

She's a bit too expensive to be in our deck normally, but she's a very strong card although extremely prone to removal. Once the blessing is activated if she's not taken off the board she will often win the game for us. Keep in mind she's very tanky, against decks like RDW she makes for an excellent blocker.

Vona often serves as a reusable removal tool, her ability to remove any non-land permanent at the cost of 7 life is nothing to scoff at. Keep in mind she has built in vigilance, so you can attack and then activate her ability for cheeky combat tricks.

This card tends to underperform which is why it isn’t in the list, but if you are lacking some of the other cards feel free to throw her in.

This card is too expensive to include normally, but it does basically win the game for you if you ever get it to stick. It also counters planeswalkers which is hilarious against decks like UW which rely on their planeswalkers to win the game.

I wouldn’t put this in the deck if I were you, but if you really want to… go for it, as the card is fun as hell to use.

In particular I’m not a big fan of this card as it only helps if you are being the aggressor, and since a lot of the meta is RDW we are often on the defensive. If the meta shifted I’d consider throwing this in the deck. If you are lacking some of the low mana cost cards in this deck feel free to try her out as she’s not bad, she just doesn’t do enough against RDW.

Don’t forget about her ability to become indestructible, this can even save her from a lot of board wipes. Keep in mind it doesn’t work against stat reduction spells like Moment of Craving or Golden Demise.

Gameplan


In the early turns you will want to play your Dusk Legion Zealot, Skymarcher Aspirant and Legion's Landing. Try to transform Legion's Landing early as long as it doesn’t mean risking your Legion Lieutenant.

After you have 3-4 lands down you will often want to play Queen’s Commission and Call to the feast in order to go wide and take control of the game. Be careful when doing this against black or red decks since board wipes tend to be abundant in those decks such as Golden Demise or Sweltering Suns.

I recommend playing our token generation spells before playing our Legion Lieutenants or Radiant Destinies in a lot of matchups, as this allows us to swing with them a turn earlier because of summoning sickness.
Against RDW
If I have 1-2 Radiant Destinies in hand I will often play those before Queen’s Commission or Call to the feast as getting the tokens above Magma Spray range can be quite game winning. Although if our opponent is threatening lethal don’t be afraid to play them early.

If you can afford to play Radiant Destiny before getting the tokens down then do it, just keep in mind your health total when making the decision.
Against UW Control
This matchup can be very tricky, often the best thing you can do is try to get a Radiant Destiny to stick onto the board and activate blessing as safely as possible, this will often mean refraining from attacking until it is secured to play around Seal Away. If you don’t have Radiant Destiny in hand then do not bother with this strategy as you cannot guarantee you will draw it.

Once Teferi is on the board things get a lot more complicated, make sure he doesn’t reach 8 loyalty counters or else it will be game over for us, but in general focus on finishing the opponent over killing a planeswalker unless you are positive you can kill it in one turn.

Prioritize going face over killing Karn or Teferi most of the time.

Sanctum Seeker will be our key to victory in this matchup alongside spells like Call to the Feast. Play around Settle the Wreckage the whole time unless our opponent doesn’t have enough mana to cast it.
Against Dinosaurs
This is a very hard matchup but at the same time a simple one, you will want to be pressuring them as much as possible and save your removal for their Forerunner of the Empire, Thrashing Brontodon, and Needletooth Raptor.

Keep in mind cards like Raging Swordtooth can come into play and ping all of our guys for 1, so it's important to have some kind of buff on the field before playing Queen’s Commission or Call to the Feast if you can.

Getting Radiant Destiny down and praying they don’t draw into Thrashing Brontodon is a large part of winning this matchup.

Closing Thoughts


This is meant to be an aggressive vampires list, and some of you may not like that playstyle. There are so many different ways to build vampires, and some mid-range variants do exist. Give my version of Vampires a shot if you are looking to have consistent wins in Ranked or Quick Constructed.

I tuned this list over a week on stream and I’m proud of the end result, I consider it very close to an ideal list with the currently available cards in MTGA.

Nossr50 is a Master Tier MTGA player. You can find him on Twitch and our Discord:



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