I have a problem with the metagame that I’m hoping I can help solve. In Best of Three, there’s a large amount of midrange decks with Hinata currently playing the big bad of the format. However, whenever you see someone talk about what the best midrange deck is in the format, the answer is always the same: Esper. Now I’ll definitely admit, Esper is one of the best decks and very powerful. You have a great curve, great threats, great interaction, the works. I don’t have a problem with Esper, but I definitely feel that it’s not the strongest midrange deck!
From a breakout performance in the New Capenna Championship to, from what I can tell, very little play, Grixis Vampires did quite well and then fell off the face of the earth. Want to know why? Well, me too! This deck has been unbelievable for me every time I play it, and no joke, every time I faced it and wasn’t playing Grixis myself, I lost… Badly. It has all the makings of a great midrange deck just like Esper does, but I feel that it just does each element a bit better. Admittedly, Esper does have Raffine, Scheming Seer and Wedding Announcement over Grixis, but beyond that, I think this deck is superior in pretty much every way. Mainly, your threats are more grindy by nature which is definitely nice and your removal is substantially better.
With these two facets in mind, I realized that not only is Grixis a great choice in Best of Three, but in a format like Best of One where the non-aggro decks need to have strong removal and grindy threats, it was a perfect match.
The deck is rather split up into threats and interaction, so we’ll do the breakdown as such.
The key to midrange decks right now, especially in Bo1, is having enough early game to not fall behind thus the need for a lot of two drops. Bloodtithe Harvester is our best 2 drop in general as it will trade well against aggro decks while adding a good amount of pressure on board for control decks.
Bloodthirsty Adversary, while not nearly as good as Harvester early, is a beast later in the game where it will pretty much always be a 5 mana 3/3 that kills something on entry. Although that’s the ideal mode for it, playing it as a 2/2 is a fine stop gap for aggressive decks if necessary or even some nice pressure for the slower decks.
Finally, we have the lone copy of Tenacious Underdog as an additional blocker against the aggressive decks and recursive threat for midrange and control which you can never have too many of.
Moving up the curve, despite our 3 drops not being as good as Espers, ours are extremely close in power level. Pretty much everyone knows the power of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker so that doesn’t require much explanation. Any 3 mana card that provides a ton of value and requires multiple removal spells is obviously going to be strong.
Similarly, Kaito Shizuki has slowly gaining more popularity as an extremely grindy threat against fast and slow decks alike making it very valuable.
For the fun new addition, Corpse Appraiser is one of the decks coolest innovations for this strategy and it’s not hard to see why it’s good. Sea Gate Oracle was a staple back in it’s day, and one that’s a 3/3 and graveyard hate is an extremely powerful option. You do need to exile a creature to make it work, but in Bo1 where there’s a large amount of creature decks, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Lastly, although not a 3, we have the lone Sorin the Mirthless. You could say Sorin is here as it’s a solid grindy threat that draws cards when you have a strong board presence and can make Lifelink bodies when you don’t, but the real reason is that Sorin is a Vampire which fits the theme. No one can convince me otherwise.
Finally we come to the card that makes Grixis Vampires a Vampire deck rather than just Midrange, Evelyn, the Covetous. Evelyn is an extremely scary threat as on entry it gives you 2 cards to play as long as Evelyn lives. For a 5 drop that’s only a 2/5, that’s reasonable but not amazing, however, that’s only if Evelyn triggers once!
With each Vampire you play (not including Evelyn we have 12 of them if you include Sorin’s Vampire tokens), this triggers again which forces the opponent to pretty much kill Evelyn on sight or get buried by card advantage. This is invaluable in Bo1 where the removal is much worse and the 2/5 body is significantly more relevant. In midrange or control matchups, this is like a fragile enchantment, but against aggro, you can actually ambush creatures in combat without as much fear of it dying.
Now that we got through the threat suite, we can continue onto what really makes this deck shine in my opinion, the removal. As the star of the deck, Voltage Surge is absolutely bananas in this strategy and in Bo1. One mana deal 2 is the going rate nowadays, but between the Blood tokens from Bloodtithe Harvester or the Treasure tokens from Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, getting it to 4 damage is no issue.
For additional cheap removal, we also have 2 copies of Ray of Enfeeblement. While this may seem like a narrow option, considering most aggro decks are white, Hinata, Dawn-Crowned is white, and this can still kill x/1s or be used as a combat trick, it’s definitely more than worth the slot. Honestly, you could probably play even more, but I like having more versatile removal for matchups I’m not expecting.
For slightly more expensive removal options, we have 3 total copies in Infernal Grasp and Soul Transfer. Infernal Grasp is no big surprise, kill anything for 2 mana and 2 life is a fine deal even if it’s not ideal against the aggressive decks.
Soul Transfer is a bit sketchier as it can be somewhat slow in Bo1, but having a removal spell that can hit planeswalkers, exile a threat, or recur threats (sometimes both if you get the artifact and enchantment clause) is versatile enough to warrant the one slot.
Then finally to help seal the deal on the aggressive matchups, 3 copies of The Meathook Massacre backed up with our removal makes it extremely difficult to get run over.
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of midrange decks in Bo1; they’re generally too slow against the aggressive decks in terms of not dying and also too slow against the control decks as you can’t pressure them fast enough before they go over you. However, I think Grixis splits that difference really well by being fast enough to quell aggro deck while also having enough proactive threats to put the squeeze on slower decks making this a great choice for Bo1.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Unless you really need to defend Kaito Shizuki or desperately need the creature, I generally always use the plus ability.
- Remember that although you’re generally blitzing Tenacious Underdog from the graveyard, you can do it from your hand as well if you need to. Furthermore, you can Blitz it main phase 2 for the card draw if you really need it.
- Try to save Bloodthirsty Adversary until you can kick it. A 2 mana 2/2 Haste isn’t that good in this deck, but a 5 mana 3/3 that’s a functional Flame-Tongue Kavu is!
- It’s easy to forget, but Bloodtithe Harvester can only use it’s ability as a sorcery.
- It’s always tempting to flash in Evelyn, the Covetous on the opponent’s turn, but playing it on your turn to try and hit a land is super reasonable.
- Don’t forget that Ray of Enfeeblement can be a nasty combat trick even if the targeted creature isn’t White.
- Try to save your Blood tokens when possible to make Voltage Surge a 1 mana deal 4 as often as possible. Treasure tokens you shouldn’t save as often.
Competitive Grixis Vampires Deck Guide
Want to go the extra mile? For more detailed matchup information and a sideboard guide for best-of-three, check out our companion competitive deck guide on Grixis Vampires: