Modern season is just over the horizon, and I’ve been scrambling to choose a deck for Grand Prix San Diego on March 16th. I wanted to play Jund, but Tarmogoyf is just too expensive, and I don’t wanna be that guy who spent $400 on goyf just to go 0-3 drop.
Without the option of Jund, I tried to piece together Melira Pod, Splinter Twin, and even Infect, but quickly realized that my limited Modern collection just wasn’t up to snuff with the current meta. To push myself even further, I gave myself a $100 building budget to work from, hoping this would get the creative juices flowing. I began to flip through my cube looking for ideas. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. There they were, Geist of Saint Traft and Gatekeeper of Malakir. I had an epiphany. At that moment, I decided to pay homage to Zendikar block constructed and champion GP San Diego with a sweet brew of vampires.
So, why vampires? Well, I think this deck is positioned well against many of the tops decks in the meta. With players piloting All in Auras, Infect, Splinter Twin, and presumably Geist of Saint Traft, vampires’ uncounterable creatures, explosive attacks, and edict effects may put me on a path to victory.
This deck will also surprise opponents. Vampires haven’t seen the light of day in competitive play since Zendikar block, and for good reason; they simply haven’t been playable. However, just like Legacy Goblins, powerful spells have been printed that strengthen the competitive value of this tribe.
The first card on my list is not a vampire at all, but a land, Cavern of Souls. Cavern is so good against control, and with a lack of land destruction currently in modern, Cavern of Souls is going to blank counterspells and push through creatures to apply excessive pressure on the battlefield. This will prove relevant as more players pick up UW and UWr control decks after the banning of Bloodbraid Elf and Seething Song.
Falkenrath Aristocrat is amazing. First of all, she fits perfectly in the curve as vampires’ main win condition. She attacks with haste on turn 3 (spoiler alert, im running Deathrite Shaman), she’s an indestructible machine against everything but Path to Exile, she enables interactions between Kalastria Highborn and Bloodghast, she can sacrifice a Dark Confidant, and mitigate life gain from a wayward Ajani Vengeant or Lightning helix.
Vampires can also play a passive game. As games linger, top deck wars will inevitably select a winner. I’m counting on Kalastria Highborn, Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, and Deathrite Shaman to stabalize the battlefield and advance my position with incremental hand and board advantage. Vampires will punish opponents who spend resources too quickly. It will be difficult for many decks to keep pace with the 29 creatures at my disposal.
I have really enjoyed my journey with this deck. Vampires is still in its infacy in terms of testing, though I’ve come a long way since my first build.
My initial delve into vampires began on a quest to create the perfect BW vampire/extort control deck. I had Lingering Souls, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and even a Teysa, Orzhov Scion in my list. Don’t get me wrong; white certainly has its merits with spot removal, killer sideboard options, and better mana fixing with the Zendikar fetches. But I realized it was a little too cute, and that NOTHING playable came out of Gatecrash. The white soon faded from memory, and I moved to a more aggressive stance with green. [Insert Legacy All-Stars here]
This concession to green wasn’t easy, but necessary. I need Abrupt Decay to answer non-creature permanent threats like Liliana of the Veil, Blood Moon, Pyromancer’s Ascension, etc.
Next on my list was Deathrite Shaman. Although not a vampire, Deathrite Shaman is the perfect 1-drop for this deck and quickly took his rightful place at my side. The Darth Vader to my Emporer if you will. Deathrite Shaman acts as a source of passive damage and life gain, he punishes graveyard shenanigans, ramps me to Falkenrath Aristocrat, Lessens the overwhelming enormity that is Tarmogoyf, nullifies life lost from Dark Confidant triggers, and activates my Vampire Nocturnus. What more could you ask for one mana?
The only regret I have for my current build is from a lack of hand disruption and targeted creature removal. With more testing, I may include Inquisition of Kozilek (no thoughtseizes here) and Terminate in the main. If this were to happen, these cards will inevitably replace my Aether Vial package, or substitute for creature threats: Vampire Nighthawk, Vampire Nocturnus and the last of my Viscera Seers.
I’m looking forward to the Modern PTQ in Kawasaki next week. Good or bad, results from the PTQ will certainly help in my quest to champion Grand Prix San Diego.
Here’s my current list. I’m completely up to suggestions, so if you’ve made it this far in my article, I’d appreciate the feedback.
If you’re gonna be at the GP in San Diego, and you figure out who I am, please say hi! I’ll have a ton of Japanese foils for trade and will be more than happy to sit down for a game of Commander.