Standard Rakdos Vampires Deck Guide – Bleed Your Opponents Dry

Falkenrath Forebear Art by Aurore Folny
Falkenrath Forebear Art by Aurore Folny

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.


Crimson Vow Rakdos Vampires
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
2 mythic
42 rare
16 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
5
Swamp
$1.25
4
Haunted Ridge
$43.96
60 Cards
$189.74

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.

Rakdos Vampires
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tribal
best of 3
1 mythic
44 rare
13 uncommon
2 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (5)
2
Abrade
$0.50
3
Infernal Grasp
$5.37
Sorceries (2)
Lands (24)
5
Mountain
$1.25
6
Swamp
$1.50
4
Haunted Ridge
$43.96
60 Cards
$178.08
Sideboard
1
Abrade
$0.25
1
Parasitic Grasp
$0.25
4
Duress
$1.00
3
Go Blank
$0.75
4
Crippling Fear
$5.16
15 Cards
$39.39
rakdos vampires
46.3% global win rate
0.94% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs gruul werewolves
66.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs izzet control
62.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs mono-white aggro
56.8% win rate
74 tracked matches
worst against
vs dimir control
17.6% win rate
17 tracked matches
vs selesnya ramp
16.7% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs grixis turns
0.0% win rate
5 tracked matches

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

Edgar, Charmed Groom Art by Volkan Baga

Dread Fugue

I don’t think this card synergizes with Vampires or anything, but I also think it’s better than many give it credit for.

Gift of Fangs

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.

Ray of Enfeeblement

If White becomes super popular, throw in some of these!

Valentin, Dean of the Vein

This is a 1 drop that isn’t completely embarrassing, but a 1/1 menace lifelink is also not exactly an all star here.

Power Word Kill

If Dragons become less relevant then you can play this, but that’s not the meta we’re in.

Nullpriest of Oblivion

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.

Skyclave Shade

I generally like this against grindy decks, but we already have Falkenrath Forebear so this seems unnecessary.

Callous Bloodmage

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.

Hero's Downfall

This card is quite good, but it doesn’t seem necessary until Planeswalkers become more relevant.

Nighthawk Scavenger

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.

Bloodvial Purveyor

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!

Drana, the Last Bloodchief

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.

Westgate Regent

This card seems ok, far from amazing but you could try it as a 1 of if you want.

Agadeem's Awakening

Could be a fine one of considering our curve is ok to facilitate it.

Play with Fire

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.

Voldaren Epicure

This does create a Blood token and guarentee a damage, but still a bit weak for my tastes.

Bloodthirsty Adversary

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.

Dominating Vampire

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.

Vampires' Vengeance

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!

Shatterskull Smashing

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.

Voldaren Estate

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.


MATCHUPS/SIDEBOARD GUIDE

Sorin the Mirthless Art by Martina Fackova

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

INOUT
+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

INOUT
+1 Abrade-4 Falkenrath Forebear
+4 Crippling Fear-1 Henrika Domnathi

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.

IZZET DRAGONS

INOUT
+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!

CONTROL DECKS

INOUT
+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.

End Step

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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!

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.

7 Responses

  1. Giantsfan24 says:

    Vampires got quite a bit of support but I completely disagree with making Edgar the vampire lord at 4 mana and in white/black. Most vampires are red black and the tribe could have used at least a 3 mana lord. It will be interesting to see if they can compete with all the other aggro decks as right now, it seems there are slightly better options but I could be wrong.

  2. Zafarion says:

    I”ve made a list with 37 vamps ’cause I noticed we have 2 vamps that are also removals: Bloodthite harvester and Voldaren Ambusher. I”m finding ambusher amazing. I’ts actually the vampire version of brutal Cathar that does not return the creature to opponent when dies. If you are facing aggros, it’s almost certain that you can kill something with him. If facing control, that at least a Scathe Zombies but not a dead removal in your hand. I know there’s the drawback of triggering spetacle but that is true for Socialite and I’m finding pretty easy to trigger, we have acess to a bunch of flying and menace vamps (so here comes Valentin, the only black vamp 1-drop we have and I’m finding him good to have 2 copies).

    On the other hand, i’m a bit disappointed with Anje. Her drain effect is great but when I manage to untap with her, i found myself casting spells other than using mana to activate her ability. i’m now thinking that Edgar is the way to go: Pumps your vamps impediately, you don’t need to spend more mana to make him good and the opponents should cry when wasting a removal on him! 😀

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Definitely an interesting take on it. I feel that Ambusher is a bit weak as if the opponent knows about it they can trade, but it could be a good board card. Edgar is definitely great but a lot of the good Vampires are in Red which makes it awkward. Definitely a strong card though.

  3. damianvc31 says:

    Here are some thoughts after testing a bit the archetytpe.

    How is Voldaren State bad? Untapped dual land for most of the spells that also makes blood tokens later in the game, it’s one of the main reasons to be playing Vampires over other tribes IMO.

    I also think this deck absolutely needs 8 1-drop at least, you can’t consistently perform an aggro plan with just Pit Fighter.
    Epicure might not be flashy but performs really well as it enables both mechanics, opponent losing life and blood tokens while being a cheap disposable body to sac with any of the 4 drops as well. It’s a great role player.

    Forebear I’m on the fence since the card is only good at attacking so maybe it’s better to have at least half of the copies in the sideboard for the matchups you are surely going to be the aggro, since it’s non-existent when you are not on the offensive. However when you are the aggressor is a great card.

    Lastly, Anje is a good card but only making a blood token doesnt seem like enough impact if it’s going to be removed, so I don’t see it as that much different to Purveyor, great when untapping with it not so much if the opponent has a response. So I like some copies for the blood synergy but the Dragon seems the better card to have multiples of, since it protects itself, it’s not legendary and it’s great defending and attacking.

    Of course I might be completely wrong, these are just my first impressions

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think the upside to Voldaren State is mitigated by needing to pay life for colors. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, but I don’t think it’s particularly good either as making Blood is generally not what you need to do later in the game. Maybe I’m supposed to play some amount, but wasn’t impressed before or after playing it.

      I could see 8 1 drops, but my issue is that although it feels better to have more turn 1 plays, if it’s not an impactful turn 1 then why play it? Making a Blood is decent so maybe it’s good enough, but it just seems so low impact.

      I definitely agree with the Forebear assessment as it’s very powerful, but it may not be a main deck card.

      I see Anje as significantly better than Purveyor as she’s much better in the late game, always gets some sort of value, and can come down and immediately drain where Purveyor does need a full turn to do something. However, I do think I underestimated Purveyor regardless and I could see playing it over some amount of Anje.

      • damianvc31 says:

        The life can cost you the game sometimes, but the mana base is so much better, 8 duals doesn’t seem enough to curve out in 2 colors aggro decks for me. Blood tokens late in the game are great resource. This deck doesn’t have many ways to generate actual card advantage otherwise so it’s a good mana sink when you run out of resources.

        A 1/1 might not be a good body but it’s a body, trades with 2/1s, gets in for chip damage, and it becomes a real card if you curve out Socialite. Maybe the optimal number is 6 drop 1 but I definitely think some amount of Epicure is correct.

        But yeah it’s a new deck, testing will tell, I hope it can compete although I have my reservations since the top decks are ridiculously strong right now

        • Zafarion says:

          I agree mostly with damianvc31 but about the voldaren state, IMO is only justified if playing more than 2 colors. The blood token making is too costly.

          In the cmc4 curve I agree that the vamp dragon is the best option now. Edgar might be insteresting to put 2-3 copies but i’m out of wilcards to craft the lands.