The Standard metagame has become clearly established, and there are new twists on existing archetypes to combat the best deck from the previous weekend. For those players who want to stick with a deck, this might be a reassuring time. It’s clear that the tier-1 decks will stay tier 1, and that simple tweaks from week to week can give you an edge over the competition. For brewers, it’s a whole different ball game.
As a brewer, I’m past the point of trying the completely crazy decks built around combo cards like Aetherflux Reservoir (mostly—no promises!) because those cards have massive pull at set release time, and so I’ve already spent a lot of time trying to break them. An established metagame means that brewing can be an effective way to actually attack that metagame. Your bow and arrow might not be of the highest quality, but you can get a cleaner angle on the target since you know where you’re shooting. This is the time when a brewer can score the most bull’s eyes.
In addition, Kaladesh has been around for long enough that staples are much cheaper. For a long time I couldn’t build many aggressive brews unless they were way out of left field, because I couldn’t include Smuggler’s Copter thanks to its hefty price tag. While that’s still true, it has dropped, and I finally feel comfortable playing with it as long as I don’t go overboard with other expensive cards alongside it (I do have an even more budget-friendly version at the bottom, sans-Copter). Today’s R/B Vampire list was inspired once again by a stream submission, this time from viewer Blm4l, and I think it’s a nice way to go completely under the format. Get on board turn 1 and never let up!
R/B Vampires (56 tix)
This deck looks pretty straightforward. The curve is streamlined and your plan is to go 1-drop, 2-drop, 3-drop every game while your opponent’s life total dwindles. This deck differs in some key ways from a more traditional R/B Madness deck. It takes advantage of synergy and power nicely, which offers some pleasant nuance. Let’s count the ways:
I was skeptical of this card. It’s a Draft all-star in the right deck, but just looks like a complete joke in Constructed. Yet, it offers up a unique kind of inevitability and represents a ton of extra damage on the last turn of the game when you simply sacrifice your blocked creatures. I originally played 3 copies but never wanted to draw more than 1. Still, I’m happy when I draw a copy, especially in games that aren’t going my way. The combination with Call the Bloodline is also as broken as it was in Shadows Limited, which is to say it’s often unbeatable.
Our other 1-drop to complement the typical 4-of Insolent Neonate, Gorger helps set up your nut curve-outs. It alone hits for a ton of damage, but the Vampire madness clause builds in a ton of card advantage all while developing the board. The absolute best interaction is with Olivia, which allows you to chain Vampires and madness them all together for massive damage. Chaining even works when you play it after Olivia, and thanks to her you’ll have a ton of hasty damage!
Heir of Falkenrath
I had originally wanted to play Stromkirk Condemned in this slot, but it’s just too difficult to curve a red 1-drop into a BB 2-drop. After I made the swap, I was pleasantly surprised with how well Heir played. A cheap 3/2 flyer is awesome for applying pressure as Delver of Secrets aficionados know, and Heir can imitate that nicely while also madnessing for value. I have curved 1-drop into Heir into Bloodhall Priest and it goes without saying that you’re getting way more power and toughness than is reasonable for the mana you spend there. A 3-power flyer also matches up nicely with the ol’ looter scooter, and taking down opposing Copters is a great feeling.
Key to the City
Key is another madness outlet but provides inevitability that I missed greatly when I didn’t include it in my original build. The toughest matchup for this deck is G/B, and Ishkanah is a big reason for that. Key helps you deal damage while also filtering through the long game G/B forces you to play.
In some matchups, this is the better high end, and in others, Bloodhall Priest does more heavy lifting. What I love about Pariah in this deck is its impressive synergy with Call the Bloodline. You’ll have a constant stream of expendable creatures, and even when you don’t have Call you’ll sacrifice some 1- and 2-drops while taking down much bigger creatures from your opponent. Pariah is tough to madness because the mana base is low on black sources to allow for as many enters-the-battlefield-untapped lands as possible, but she provides a nice top-end threat or great turn-3 or -4 play when you’re lucky.
The main deck is quite streamlined, and the Vampire synergies make it more difficult to sideboard out cards than it would be with a more disconnected aggro deck like Mardu Vehicles. What this means is that I actually like sideboarding very little in most matchups. Just focus on staying low to the ground and tuning your deck to your opponent’s plan by making minor tweaks such as swapping in more Pariahs for Bloodhall Priest or vice versa.
The one matchup I am really concerned with is G/B Delirium. Liliana, the Last Hope creates a huge problem for this deck since it kills all 10 1-drops and even makes Heir of Falkenrath worse by forcing you to flip at an inopportune time. That’s why the plan against G/B is to morph into an R/B Madness burn deck.
Take out the Gorgers, Aristocrats, Pariahs, and Copters (since you’re cutting a ton of creatures to crew with) and bring in the whole board except for the Pariah and Bloodhall Priests. This will let you have answers to early pressure through Lightning Axe and Fiery Temper while also providing a steady flow of cards via Key and Orrery. At that point you can focus more on incremental damage and will have a lot of inevitability thanks to your 8 madness burn spells. I’m not always a fan of completely changing up your strategy since it requires so many sideboard slots, but with a focused deck like this it can be worth it because you really aren’t interested in sideboarding very much anywhere else.
If you’re looking for an even more budget-friendly version of the deck, then check out this version:
R/B Vampires More Budget (25 tix)
This deck is very similar to the one above, but focuses even more on Key to the City, since it lacks Copter. At that point you open up some interesting synergies. My favorite is with Stromkirk Occultist. That card is a nice side note to the Copter version, but plays a more important role once you introduce all 4 Keys to the main deck. It provides a steady stream of cards because it’s more often unblockable, and can help hit land drops which fuel the Key’s draw capabilities. The two are really a match made in heaven and I’ve had fun combining them in the games I’ve played.
If you’re looking for a new aggressive deck that isn’t simply about the most efficient creature at every spot up the curve and can play more synergistic angles, then I recommend R/B Vampires. You can end up in some really sweet spots thanks to the unique cards, like attacking your opponent for lethal right after their Avacyn flips. Thanks Indulgent Aristocrat for pumping up the whole team!