3 New Aggro Decks Made Competitive by Innistrad: Crimson Vow

Bloodbat Summoner Art by Kim Sokol
Bloodbat Summoner Art by Kim Sokol

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be highlighting 3 aggro decks that have already gotten significant boosts from Crimson Vow (and may even get more before spoiler season is over!) Aggro has always been my favorite archetype in Magic so whenever a new set comes out, the first decks I’m generally looking at are the aggressive ones.

Not only are they my favorite, aggro decks tend to perform inordinately well week one since many players have a lot of untested brews while aggro decks, while also untested, are much more efficient and can slice through jank. Whether you’re a lover of aggro decks or someone looking to know what new aggressive decks you may need to beat, hopefully this helps!

1. MONORED BURN

Manaform Hellkite Art by Andrew Mar
Manaform Hellkite Art by Andrew Mar
Crimson Vow Monored Burn
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Burn
best of 1
10 mythic
26 rare
16 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (18)
4
Flame Channeler
$1.00
3
Moonveil Regent
$35.97
Instants (8)
4
Play with Fire
$1.16
4
Frost Bite
$1.00
Sorceries (8)
4
Roil Eruption
$1.00
Lands (22)
4
Faceless Haven
$29.96
60 Cards
$263.8
3 Cards
$0.75

Monored, for the first time in a long while, was actually not viable in Standard. The card quality was too low compared to it’s White or Green counterparts and was functionally non-existent in both Standard 2022 and current Standard. However, I’m sure many players have been clamoring to get back on the Monored saddle, but instead of a dedicated aggro deck, I think a Burn deck may be better! Instead of relying on the creature quality to make the deck viable (which is still spotty), the Burn support seems a lot better so far.

The biggest upgrade to this strategy is far and away Chandra, Dressed to Kill. She’s a bit narrow as she’s a bit narrow, but she is absolutely nuts in this deck. Her first plus 1 is excellent as a small piece or reach and nets us a mana which allows us to play any of our 12 one mana spells on turn 3 and even more options when played later! Her second plus 1 is a bit riskier as it whiffs if we hit a land, but if it hits a spell, we can cast it which is a very powerful ability, especially as a +1. Finally, her ultimate is not necessarily game winning, but it’s still very powerful and easy to hit considering she has no other minus abilities.

The second upgrade to this deck is Manaform Hellkite which gives Monored another great top end card. I’m unsure of the exact number we want, but we probably don’t want the full set. Hellkite is really interesting in this deck as it adds damage of all our non-creature spells which can work really well in conjunction with our more expensive burn spells, something that no other card allows us to do. Previously, cards like Roil Eruption and Igneous Inspiration weren’t really playable as there was so little upside to playing them, but with Burn being supported by our other card choices and Manaform Hellkite, we are more than happy to play them.

It’s been awhile since a Burn deck has been viable, but with the two new cards, I think it may be it’s time to shine.

2. RAKDOS VAMPIRES

Voldaren Bloodcaster Art by Kim Sokol
Crimson Vow Rakdos Vampires
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
6 mythic
42 rare
12 uncommon
0 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (8)
4
Play with Fire
$1.16
2
Flunk
$0.50
2
Infernal Grasp
$3.58
Lands (23)
4
Mountain
$1.00
6
Swamp
$1.50
4
Haunted Ridge
$43.96
60 Cards
$254.96

It’s no real surprise to see Vampires on this list as they’re the featured tribe of the set! Vampires was already on the precipice of playability before, but with (at least) 4 new cards going into the deck, it’d be pretty surprising if they couldn’t make it now!

The first upgrade to the deck is the innocuous Voldaren Bloodcaster who is insanely powerful. First off, she’s a 2/1 Flier which isn’t an incredible stat line, but definitely solid. However, her real worth is that she can create Blood tokens whenever she or another creature dies! This is similar to Skemfar Avenger, but triggering off her own death is a monumental upgrade compared to just other creatures activating the trigger. Why is making Blood good? That leads us to the next upgrade very nicely.

Falkenrath Forebear is the main payoff for having Blood tokens matter. A 3/1 Flier that can’t block normally wouldn’t be a good enough stat line to see play, but when you can recur it for one mana and two Blood tokens? That’s a very powerful effect. It’s simple, clean, powerful, and still not the only Blood payoff!

Anje, Maid of Dishonor is the final Blood payoff (and enabler) in this deck. She has a very nice stat line of 4/5 which blocks extremely well and makes a Blood token whenever she or another Vampire enters the battlefield. The concern with Blood tokens is they aren’t particularly high impact if you don’t have a Falkenrath Forebear you’re looking to reanimate, but for 2 mana and a token or creature, Anje can drain the opponent for 2 which can add up extremely quickly! Anje is definitely one of the cards Vampires needed the most as it’s a large body, synergistic with the rest of the deck, and provides even more reach.

The final upgrade to the deck is the new Henrika Domnathi which is like a new take on Rankle, Master of Pranks. Henrika is a super interesting card as it doesn’t require you to connect with her to start getting some nice abilities making her extremely scary for the opponent if they ever tap out. Making both players sacrifice a creature or drawing a card at the cost of a life aren’t super exciting abilities, but when they’re free, they’re pretty powerful. The real prize with Henrika though is her flip side which turns her into a large Vampire Nighthawk. She can make racing really difficult for the opponent as a large Flying Lifelinker is really hard to beat through, ask anyone who’s been on the bad side of a Baneslayer Angel!

With all these new additions in the deck, Vampires is looking to be a strong, synergistic deck ready to take on the format.

3. SELESNYA HUMANS

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Art by Magali Villeneuve
Crimson Vow Selesnya Humans
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
12 mythic
40 rare
4 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$223.76

The final deck for this list is Selesnya Humans where it’s not the featured tribe of Crimson Vow, but has gotten some pretty massive upgrades. Furthermore, although it’s not completely new (it sees some play in Bo1), it has yet to break into true competitive tier and is completely absent in Bo3 so I think it’s close enough.

The first upgrade is one of the most hyped cards coming out of Crimson Vow and a beloved card for many players, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

Thalia is an unbelievably powerful card, and that’s far from an exception for this deck where she very well may be at her best. First off, this list plays 0 non-creature spells (in the main) which makes Thalia a completely one sided effect. Second, we have a large swath of ways to buff Thalia’s power which makes her First Strike that much more potent and a monster in combat. Lastly, with Turns being one of the best decks right now, Thalia is an excellent resource to fight against them alongside a really aggressive curve. Humans literally couldn’t have gotten a better card in the deck.

The second really exciting option for Humans is Savior of Ollenbock. There’s so much to unpack here, but this card is also absolutely nuts in Humans. On the surface, it’s very similar to Brutal Cathar, but needs to attack with a bigger creature to get the effect, which doesn’t sound the best, but isn’t bad. However, where it really shines is it’s flexibility.

First off, this can trigger multiple times which van absolutely decimate board states if unanswered. If that’s all it did I’d be unsure if it was better than Brutal Cathar, but it can also target creatures in any graveyard. What this allows is that if you’re not interested in exiling something on the opponent’s side or you don’t have a target, you can start grabbing creatures from your graveyard that will come back when Savior dies! Humans didn’t necessarily need this effect, but it will happily take it!

Even though Humans has only gotten two really exciting cards so far, it’s already looking like one of the premiere aggressive strategies going into Crimson Vow.

There’s a lot of exciting cards coming out of Crimson Vow that look poised to shake up what seemed to be a stale metagame. I’m very excited to see what other goodies get spoiled to see if these powerful decks can get even more powerful!

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

16 Responses

  1. AdrigKenobi says:

    Hi!
    What are your thoughts on zombies?
    Nice article btw
    Thanks

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Zombies is likely going to be a great choice as well, just not many cards were spoiled for what at time of writing. I’m sure I’ll be talking about them soon!

  2. ratkorga says:

    This may seem like a silly thing to get excited about, but Bloodcaster being a wizard makes me really want to try out a Rakdos Vampire Party deck. Something like this for a creature set:

    One drops:
    Valkenrath Pit Fighter (warrior)

    Two drops:
    Slaughter Specialist (warrior)
    Vampire Socialite (not party but buffs everything)
    Malakir Bloodpriest (cleric)
    Voldaren Bloodcaster (wizard)

    Three drops:
    Nighthawk Scavenger (rogue)

    Payoffs:
    Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats
    Anje, Maid of Dishonor

    …and then a handful of Infernal Grasps and Thwart the Graves to fill out the rest. Probably strictly weaker than your list, but Zagras is such a scary card, especially if he can go for cheap, and getting good reanimation for two or three is always compelling.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Not that silly at all! I brewed up Rakdos Party in 2022 and having two sets of synergies doesn’t seem bad! It all depends on if they set up is worth the pay off, but we can see if more Party vampires hit the scene.

      • ratkorga says:

        With no changelings in black or red I doubt it’ll ever be worth it to play anything that relies on getting a full party out to work, but even if it’s just “shave Zagras and Thwart the Grave’s costs down to ~3” and otherwise plays like a standard vamp deck, it feels like it could be decent. I’d play almost any of those cards (except Bloodpriest) in a non-party deck, so it’s not like it’s sacrificing a lot to run party cards. I’ll be watching closely to see if anything else comes out that could fit the bill…

  3. Sblak says:

    I like the vampire aggro but I am very surprised to see a blood token based deck with not a single Voldaren Estate in it. I expected at least 2-3. Also I think Anje is great but at legendary I would only play 3. And lastly, can I ask why you didn’t put a Sorin, the Mirthless or two in? I know he’s not aggro, but with a low curve his vampire token and draw 1-2 seem like a decent top end finisher.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Great questions! To start, I think Voldaren Estate isn’t that good and getting a Mana Confluence esque land just to get an activated ability you’re very rarely going to activate doesn’t seem the good to me. Maybe you could fit in 1, but at that point I’d prefer to play more creature lands.

      4 Anje may be overkill, but she is super good. 3 could definitely be the right number.

      For Sorin in particular, I think he’s just not that good. His plus 1 is painful card advantage, his minus is ok, and his ultimate is fine. I think 4 is a breakpoint in Standard where you need something pretty nuts and Sorin isn’t it.

      • Sblak says:

        I agree that Voldaren Estate’s mana confluence ability isn’t as useful in 2 color vampires as it might be in Mardu (will Odric and Edgar make splashing white worth it – we’ll know more tomorrow). I don’t think the Estate is needed for that but it doesn’t hurt much, but you do have several cards (Anje, Bloodcaster, Forebear) in this deck that would strongly benefit from being able to create a blood token at instant speed. I see the deck getting close to killing the opponent like all aggro decks do, but then running out of cards. I think Voldaren Estate helps at that point because it creates Blood Tokens with only mana, and that can return the Forebears, flip the Bloodcaster which requires a new token, all at the end of the opponent’s turn for the kill. And it can create pings with Anje and mana. Result is a little free value to finish the last few points of damage and the game, without casting anything. In a 2 color deck the cost of the Estate is almost zero because you have basic lands. It doesn’t stop you from casting any vampires like other activated lands, but may cost 1 life in a bad early draw. That is its only downside. Technically it only may hinder spells in some decks, but in this deck they are all very easy to cast (no two colored mana requirements) and so that is very unlikely.

        I think Sorin is similar. He is surely better value than a 4th Anje which might be unplayable. 1 Sorin is always at least vampire 2/3 flying with lifegain that also creates a second value threat and that can draw into more threats for the finish. His pay life cost to draw cards doesn’t matter often in an aggro deck with lifegain (Henrika, Sorin’s token, Anje sacrificing a token – could use Nighthawk Scavenger or even Valentin for a little extra life as well). I am not sure about the viability of Rakdos Vampires, but I can’t see it use blood tokens without the Estate, or win mid- to late-game without a Sorin.

  4. Albel says:

    While I agree on all 3 builds being contenders, you may want to revisit the deck builds after todays spoilers, as there were some sick additions for almost all of them.

    Not sure if I would call it aggro, but I believe gruul wolves may be more than just an interesting option, now therw finally is a decent 1 drop wolf. Btw. The only thing I am still missing with vanpires… Another decent one drop. This might kill the archtype, noticing that white and green get great new 1 drop choices (besides some great other contenders you partially covered in your selesnya build) and will therefore probably remain the top choice.

    However, I was waiting for someone to start theorycraft discussions, so I’m happy you did that!

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Oh yeah definitely any list made before the whole spoiler is released is likely to need revisiting. However, this should be a good base to help people out. Lacking another one drop for Vamps is a bit killer, but it may still be ok regardless. Gruul gets away with only playing one 1 drop, maybe this will be a similar scenario.

      • Sblak says:

        I agree that the 1 drops in Vampires are the weakest point. Falkenrath Pitfighter is ok. And while not a perfect one drop at 1/1, Valentin, Dean of the Vein is not the worst card to play on turn one because it has Menace. It can often always attack past a blocker on turn two, activating Vampire Socialite on turn 2.

  5. Zafarion says:

    I’m disappointed with the vampires revealed until now. The lower curve ones most have 1 toughness an that implies easy preys for meathook massacre, not to mention that their skills (making blood tokens) are not that appealing. It’s like 2018 meta in which you can’t rely on 1-toughness due to Chainwhirler and 2-toughness on 2020 due to bonecrusher. I’m becoming more excited about zombies. Until now we have the powerful champion of the perished that easily grows and dodges meathook, the Headless Rider that gives good resilience to removal/board sweepers and the cmc2 3/3 with integrated PW removal seems much better than vampires.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      We’ll have to see how it shakes up. I do think the Vampires deck looks pretty good but I agree Zombies has been getting the better end of the deal so far.

  6. ratkorga says:

    Double red is a bit awkward on that particular shell, but thoughts on Dominating Vampire? Decent body plus treachery effect, and with lots of ways to abuse/sac a stolen creature like Immerstum Predator and Anje and Henrika, it seems like it could see some decent use on vamp decks that lean red.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Could be an interesting SB option, but you hit the nail on the head. Double Red is very rough as ideally you have 18 red sources to cast it consistently on curve (but something like 16 is probably fine since you won’t always want to cast on curve) and we have exactly 16 if we count Blightstep as Red which it won’t always be. Overall cool card, but awk in this build.

  7. MadNewt says:

    1 for 9 with the Selensya humans. That definitely needs some tweaking. Any deck with any kind of removal stops that deck dead in its tracks. Which basically means everything. I recommend adding in Paladin class and swapping in Brutal Cathar somehow. Paladin class when combined with Thalia makes it difficult for blue/red decks to counter your spells. Otherwise I would say that deck needs a hard pass.