Running the Gauntlet – RUG, Day 4 (B/R Vampires)

Welcome to day 4 of RUG testing!

Day 1 (mirror)
Day 2 (UWB Cawblade)
Day 3 (Valakut)

Since the other 3 slots in the gauntlet are pretty firmly locked (UW/x Hawk, Valakut, RUG), I decided to mix up the aggro deck that I would play against. Today I got to battle Josh Silvestri, who was using Caleb Durward’s B/R Vampires list.


It’s been awhile since I’ve faced the fanged menace, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As with other blue decks, game one would probably be pretty bad. Mana Leak is almost a straight up dead card, Jace isn’t nearly enough by himself, and only the four Bolts are really capable of slowing him down. Half of RUG’s acceleration just dies to removal, and even Precursor Golem just eats a Lightning Bolt.

Channel LSV: Standard Gauntlet – RUG vs. Valakut

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Preboard Games

I went 1-2 preboard, and it pretty much confirmed my suspicions. In the only game I won, I had turn four Inferno Titan on the play, and followed it up with turn five Precursor Golem (and needed both). I’m not saying that game one is unwinnable, just that RUG’s draw needs to be significantly better than Vamps’ draw in order to come out on top. If you both get average draws, I’d say Vampires is favored significantly. Still, all is not lost, since sideboarding does help a fair amount.






Leaks and Precursors are easy cuts; Leak is basically dead, and not only do they have Bolts to stop Golem, they even have Mark of Mutiny (and yeah, that’s about as big a beating as you would think). The one Cobra goes out because you are boarding in Pyroclasm and won’t want to play turn two Cobra as often.

Postboard Games

These went much more smoothly. I went 3-1, though it actually should have been 2-2. Josh was somewhat unfamiliar with the deck, and in game 3 match 3 he played an extra land in order to make Lavaclaw Reaches more effective. The problem was that he had two Bloodghasts, and I ended up killing them with Inferno Titan, and he missed on land for one turn. I won the game at 2 life, so I would have been dead if he held the land. Still, that in no way invalidated the testing, since other than that I think he played well, and we can easily account for what would have happened that game, since the error occurred late enough in the game.

Postboard, you get much more removal, which lets you be way more indiscriminate with it. Preboard, it is really awkward to Bolt anything that isn’t Highborn, but postboard just fire away. You also get Obstinate Baloth, which is huge in every sense of the word. It not only protects you from getting burned out, it blocks Bloodghast all day. Avenger is definitely your best big guy, since it blanks Mark of Mutiny, but between Obstinate Baloth and Pyroclasm, you might be able to survive a Marked Titan anyway.

Thoughts on the Matchup

I wouldn’t say that this matchup is awesome overall, but it is pretty close. Depending on what the sideboard ends up being, it can potentially be a decent matchup, and you are definitely capable of getting random nut draws that Vamps can’t even come close to competing with. On the PV Axis of Cards-Life-Time, Vamps is somewhere in the middle of Cards and Life (and if you haven’t read his article, you really should). Highborn, Bloodghast, and red spells threaten to burn you out, but if you sacrifice too many cards for life, Bloodghast and Gatekeeper of Malakir can just grind you to death. Life is a higher priority than cards, but I still wouldn’t go around chump blocking Ghast with Lotus Cobra on turn three.

Cards I wanted

More Obstinate Baloths! He is by far the best card against them, and even if he gets Gatekeepered, he still buys a ton of time. If they don’t have Gatekeeper, they are basically Moated. More red removal would be ok I guess, but it isn’t a necessity. If I do end up adding Tumble Magnets, I would most certainly bring them in here.

Possible Cuts

There wasn’t any specific card I wanted to cut, though if I were to choose an aggro slot to switch to another Baloth, it would probably be Arc Trail. It has been a worse version of Pyroclasm, and would be much better served as another Baloth.

I don’t think any of these proposed changes is bad against Boros either, and Tumble Magnet specifically is really awesome. Obstinate Baloth might not be as insane against Boros as it is against Vamps, but it is still good, and I would still bring them in.

Tomorrow I wrap up RUG with an 8-man, after making all the appropriate changes of course!



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