Hello everyone! Crimson Vow is now officially out, and with it, a whole slew of new strategies to try out! Now I love to brew and try really off the wall strategies, but Crimson Vow is a Vampires set and who would I be if I forsake the flagship tribe of the set!
That said, I figured that the deck would be pretty good as it’s hitting all the major notes I’m looking for in an aggro deck: it’s fast, it’s synergistic, it has plenty of ways to interact, and it has plenty of ways to grind. Before even the entire set was dropped, we had so many options to choose from I was able to brew up an already nice looking list.
The deck had a really nice look to it, but it had to pass the most important test of all: the play test. A deck can look good in theory, but it won’t always necessarily work out that way. Well, I’m happy to report that not only did the deck play well, I was actually pretty close with my first iteration of the list! Let’s take a look at where I ended up.
A few minor changes from the original, but the base is pretty much the same. All good aggressive decks have to start at one, the downside is that we only have one good one to work with: Falkenrath Pit Fighter. A 1 mana 2/1 is decent at pressuring the opponents and the activated ability does come up more often than you’d think, I just wish we have another solid one drop to work with. Maybe next Vampire set.
Next we have the crux of the deck, the two drops. Vampire Socialite is the card that functionally makes the deck as it’s like a weird Thalia's Lieutenant, but I’m all for it. It’s quite easy to force through damage whether it’s before casting Socialite or after, but it’s very easy to keep the buffs coming with Socialite around and your creatures can be a huge headache for the opponent. For the other twos, we have the Blood enablers with Bloodtithe Harvester and Voldaren Bloodcaster. Bloodtithe Harvester is nice and straightforward, a 3/2 that makes a Blood and kills a better creature than it way more often than you’d think. Considering you can almost always get more than a card’s worth of value of of it is insanely appealing. In a similar vein, Voldaren Bloodcaster also will always generate value with it’s death triggers and can also help trigger Vampire Socialite since it flies. Admittedly I have only flipped Bloodcaster once and it was very easy to finish the game at that point.
Next up on the curve we have one of our major blood payoffs: Falkenrath Forebear. Unfortunately Forebear wasn’t as insane as I was hoping, but it was still quite powerful overall. Unsurprisingly it didn’t feel the best in the aggressive matchups (not bad, just not the best) and Spikefield Hazard does eat it’s lunch, but it’s the absolute nuts in the grindy matchups as the opponent will really struggle to rid themselves of this permanently. Conversely, I expected Florian, Voldaren Scion to just be whatever, but it seriously over performed for me when I had it. I forgot how good a large First Striker can be, but it always seemed to dominate combat and being able to grind with it as well is just icing. I may end up wanting 4 Florian and only 3 Falkenrath Forebear, but Florian being Legendary is a smidge awkward.
Finally the top of the curve. First of all, I think 4 Anje, Maid of Dishonor is an absolute necessity is is the main reason to even being playing this deck. Anje has a massive body (a 4/5 is obscenely good in a world of Old-Growth Troll, Esika's Chariot, Thundering Rebuke, Demon Bolt, Battle of Frost and Fire) and a sick activated ability the can quickly end games if left unchecked. Untapping with her constantly felt like Christmas as you get to share all the presents you accumulated with your opponent! Jokes aside, she kills quickly and is an amazing payoff for all the Blood you can have lying around. For the two one ofs, I like the split of one Henrika Domnathi who’s just a generally good card, but you never want multiple of and Immersturm Predator who’s only sometimes good and also something you never want multiples of.
For the removal suite, I went for a reasonable mix of Bloodchief's Thirst, Abrade, and Infernal Grasp to hedge my bets against the variety of threats I’m bound to face. Lastly, I went up to 24 lands as I found we can have more Blood laying around then we know what to do with and looting away extra lands can be a really good use of them.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS/POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
I don’t think this card synergizes with Vampires or anything, but I also think it’s better than many give it credit for.
I think this is probably too weak, but a Dead Weight that will sometimes buff your creatures could potentially be good in some matchups. Could be a cool 1 of in the sideboard or something.
If White becomes super popular, throw in some of these!
This is a 1 drop that isn’t completely embarrassing, but a 1/1 menace lifelink is also not exactly an all star here.
If Dragons become less relevant then you can play this, but that’s not the meta we’re in.
Could bean ok 1 of since the kicker ability is pretty good, but we already have so many cards at 2 mana and a lot of ways to use extra mana that this feels unnecessary.
I generally like this against grindy decks, but we already have Falkenrath Forebear so this seems unnecessary.
If graveyard decks become more popular this can be a great sideboard option as it’s a 2/1 that messes them up alongside GO Blank.
This card is quite good, but it doesn’t seem necessary until Planeswalkers become more relevant.
I love Nighthawk Scavenger, but we unfortunately we have better right now. However, if Forebears becomes not as good or you just don’t like the card, then you can go back to ol Scavenger.
This card is super cool as it’s like a Desecration Demon analog, but in a world of Fading Hope and Divide by Zero, I feel like this isn’t where you want to be. However, this is so good in the creature matchups that it may be worth playing it regardless over the other one of 4s and it does kill very quickly!
I thought this card was really bad, but when trying it in Clerics I was surprised that it was actually pretty reasonable. If you like spicy one ofs, give it a go.
This card seems ok, far from amazing but you could try it as a 1 of if you want.
Could be a fine one of considering our curve is ok to facilitate it.
A decent way to kill small creatures or trigger Vampire Socialite. It was reasonable in the previous build, but I think we can do better.
This does create a Blood token and guarentee a damage, but still a bit weak for my tastes.
We used to play this in Vampires, but I never really liked it as it’s either a 2/2 Haste which is pretty mediocre or a 5 drop that can flashback removal which is ok, but far from amazing. If you really like this card you can certainly play it over one of the Blood creators, but I think the Blood package is too good to ignore.
I’m not really a fan of this card and I like the heavier Black version of Vampires more, but there could be builds that want this card.
I feel like Crippling Fear is just the between effect, but this does also make a Blood token so that may be more relevant than I think it is!
If you want to swap out a Mountain or two for this, that’s very reasonable. I’ve been lower on this since we already have a lot to do with our mana, but it’s definitely reasonable.
I seem to be in the minority that this card is pretty bad, but if you’re trying to splash for Edgar I would 100% play 4 of these then.
Obviously it’s hard to make a super accurate sideboard guide this early, but I can at least cover the matchups that we know for sure are going to continue to be major players.
SMALL CREATURE AGGRO
|+2 Sorin the Mirthless||-2 Bloodtithe Harvester|
|+1 Abrade||-4 Falkenrath Forebear|
|+1 Parasitic Grasp||-1 Immersturm Predator|
|+4 Crippling Fear||-1 Henrika Domnathi|
This is going to cover decks like Monowhite Aggro or potentially other tribal decks, anything that has a low curve of a lot of scrappy creatures. Unsurprisingly we just want a bunch of removal in these matchups while we take out the worst threats in our deck. Bloodtithe Harvester is fine, but not amazing so it can be shaved. Falkenrath Forebear is at it’s worst in small creature amtchups so that’s an east take out.
The 4s are also not ideal when the opponent is trying to kill you by that point and we’re bringing in 6 4 drops so we don’t want the curve to go too high. Sorin the Mirthless may seem to be a weird inclusion in this matchup, but just getting two 2/3 Flying Lifelinkers is going to be really good. Play the Control role in this matchup as you can easily grind the out with 4s.
BIGGER CREATURE AGGRO
This is going to cover your Monogreen, Gruul, and Werewolves sort of decks. It’s pretty much the same boarding as before, but we eschew Sorin as the 2/3 bodies are less relevant in the face or larger creatures. You can play the Parasitic Grasp if you want, but I think it’s not good enough here compared to the smaller creature decks. instead of playing the Control role, it’s likely to ebb and flow based on how you draw so be flexible.
|+2 Sorin the Mirthless||-4 Falkenrath Pit Fighter|
|+4 Duress||-1 Henrika Domnathi|
|+3 Go Blank||-2 Abrade|
|-2 Bloodchief's Thirst|
You need to keep in some amount of removal to not get murdered by their creatures, but this is still going to be like a Control matchup. Try to pressure them enough that they can’t just keep setting up for free and hopefully they don’t have too many Smoldering Egg early!
|+2 Sorin the Mirthless||-1 Falkenrath Pit Fighter|
|+4 Duress||-1 Henrika Domnathi|
|+3 Go Blank||-2 Abrade|
|-3 Infernal Grasp|
|-2 Bloodchief's Thirst|
Unlike the Dragons deck you can assume they play functionally 0 creatures so you’re all in on threats and hand disruption. Play around their removal as best you can and just keep smashing their face!
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Don’t discount Falkenrath Pit Fighter‘s ability to throw away bad creatures for a few cards. It can come in handy much more often than you might think.
- I use Bloodtithe Harvester‘s activated ability very aggressively against creature decks as guaranteeing a 1 for 1 trade is generally that good.
- Although flipping Voldaren Bloodcaster is nice, I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize that over fixing your hand or using them for Anje or Forebear.
- Falkenrath Forebear‘s ability can be activated instant speed so you don’t have to commit to that line on your turn!
- Generally speaking you just want to flip Henrika Domnathi the turn she comes down unless one of the other abilities is insane at that moment.
- Try not to prioritize removal spells over advancing your own board unless you’re already quite far behind in the race.
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Vampires went from a joke in Standard to a reasonable option, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up becoming a bigger part of the format! The deck does it’s thing well and you have access to a lot of powerful cards thanks to Crimson Vow.
Thanks for reading!