Welcome to the next installment for upgrading the 2017 Commander precons. Wizards knocked it out of the park with all of the tribal goodness and there were dozens of great new additions to the format. Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean that this deck can’t spook the entire table into submission.
Vampiric Bloodlust contains three interesting and flavorful generals to choose from. To better flesh out the top picks, I will be narrowing down today’s article to just Edgar Markov. In my next installment I will be discussing Licia, Sanguine Tribune.
Vampire group hug? I can’t say I am a fan personally, but I totally understand that could be a thing. This color combination doesn’t really have access to another option for group hug, so this card should excite certain players. In a practical sense, Mathas is card disadvantage because it gives your opponents more cards than it gives you. Mathas screams awesome sauce for 1v1 MTGO Commander and I am excited to give him a test drive there. But when this card gives your opponent access to cards that you had to work to get, it just doesn’t do the trick for me.
I really like the focus of this precon. What may at first glance look like casual, silly Vampires is actually anything but. The deck is capable of both swarming the board and going large without really taking away from either strategy. Edgar Markov is able to create both the army and the armor to make your creatures formidable. I am way more impressed with this deck than I initially thought I would be and recommend it as a great introduction to the format.
That being said, no precon is without the ability to be upgraded. This article will provide my insights on the cards that don’t pull their weight and which cards can substitute them. By the end, your Vampire deck will really (gar)lick the competition.
Let’s start with the most badass Vampire general ever, Edgar Markov. Illustrated by the master Volkan Baga, I can totally get behind this sweet artwork sitting at the helm of my Commander deck. One of Edgar’s strongest features is his combination of both early and late game utility. In the early game, he helps you amass a board of creatures to help swarm the table. In the late game he pumps them all up with a permanent bonus turn after turn. Needless to say, the way his two abilities synergize make him more than powerful enough to build around. Edgar’s game plan is to attack, attack, attack.
No Vampire tribal deck can be complete without its share of lords. Bloodline Keeper both churns out critters and then pumps them a few turns later. Just like Edgar himself. Bloodline Keeper has been creeping up in price lately and decks like this are the reason why. You do have to deal tons of damage to kill a table through combat damage, so Lord of Lineage’s +2/+2 bonus is nothing to write off. Not being mana intensive is a huge boon to a deck that doesn’t really want to be ramping too much.
Indulgent Aristocrat, Pulse Tracker, Vicious Conquistador, Vampire Cutthroat
These 1-drops may not look fancy, and they aren’t. But these are the lifeforce of an aggressive Edgar Markov deck. You don’t want to put too many “attack only” Vampires in the deck (for instance, I wouldn’t include something like Adanto Vanguard), but playing the 1-drops helps push a fast, aggressive start.
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Drana may not have made an impact in Standard, but she is great at pumping up your Vampire army. Don’t forget—her first strike trigger will pump your other attacking creatures before they deal regular combat damage!
Edgar Markov decks won’t play much of the traditional ramp you see in EDH. Keeping your curve low to the ground keeps the pressure on, especially at a table that might not accept aggressive starts. Sometimes though, you will want an extra way to sink your mana and Olivia Voldaren does this perfectly. She is a flavorful and powerful inclusion.
I am not surprised to see this card increase in price over the last few years. What started off as a bulk mythic in Return to Ravnica, Necropolis Regent has proved its worth. The scaling with this card is ridiculous and is the only way it is worth its 6-mana investment. Don’t be afraid of the mana cost because when it comes time to deal 120 damage in total to 3 opponents, you will be happy to have this powerful lord.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Ah yes, the Zendikar Vampires. We can’t forget that the plane was full of them, and Kalitas gets my vote for top dog for EDH from that block. His exile clause is the primary reason to run him and he turns off quite a few unfair shenanigans. His activated ability was practically tailor-made for this deck and makes combat somewhat awkward for the opponent.
Vona, Butcher of Magan
This is a big addition to the EDH format in general. Similar to cards like Ancient Tomb and Sylvan Library, Vona, Butcher of Magan takes advantage of the 40-life cushion you get in multiplayer EDH. I expect to be using her ability frequently as much as my life allows it. She also plays well as a political card if that’s something you’re into. Once in play, she can force opponents to attack each other out of fear of retribution from her, thus keeping your life total high to activate her ability. Vona will get her own article in the future, but it won’t be Vampire tribal.
This card is a solid addition to the deck because it can provide you with some late game reach. I dislike how mana intensive it is and that it only targets a single opponent. Still, Kalastria Highborn is better than the average dorky Vampire, so she makes a fine addition.
A slam-dunk inclusion in any Vampire tribal deck, +2/+1 is a sizable boost even if it’s only half the time. If you want to fully upgrade your deck, the Nocturnus also appreciates fetchlands to help reshuffle/scry off of his ability.
Another snap Edgar Markov include, the Seer has great synergy with other cards in the deck and generates value for your critters on the way out. Additionally, if you combine it with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Walking Ballista, you have a way to kill the entire table. Not bad for a 1-drop.
Vampire Hexmage, Gifted Aetherborn, Olivia’s Bloodsworn
These are solid, filler Vampires that do their job of attacking and making warm bodies with Edgar Markov. None of them are over-the-top powerful, but they are better than random creatures like Bishop’s Soldier.
Metallic Mimic & Adaptive Automaton
Generic “I can do anything” lords like these are welcome additions to most tribal decks. They are a bit pricey for the wallet, but I figured I would include them here. They are nowhere near Bloodline Keeper or Vampire Nocturnus though, especially since they don’t trigger Edgar Markov.
I would only find room for this in 1v1 EDH. With three opponents, sure, it may be easier to find a good target for the ability, but it will less impactful on the overall game. Costing 5 mana is a killer.
Gatekeeper of Malakir
Another solid, cheap inclusion for the deck. I can see it being better than something like Olivia’s Bloodsworn, but I have been generally unimpressed by this card in a 4-player game of Commander. Better for 1v1.
Guul Draz Assasin
I love this card because it gives you something to do with extra mana but still comes down on turn 1 to make a friend with Edgar Markov. Exactly the type of card this deck wants.
Tymna the Weaver
Tymna is an all-star in various forms of EDH. In a deck full of creatures, she ensures you won’t run out of gas. Don’t let the fact that she isn’t a Vampire scare you away from including her.
Nonblue decks can run out of steam in the late game. Asylum Visitor can help keep the gas coming late game if you find yourself running on empty. Do note that without mana acceleration it can occasionally be hard to empty your entire grip, but all the cheap Vampires help. Plus, there’s the added bonus that an opponent may not be sharp enough to keep a land in hand to prevent this from triggering.
Most of the best Vampires in Edgar Markov are good rates for their bodies and come with a decent upside. Bloodghast blows “good rate” out of the water with a built-in recursion ability that keeps applying pressure as the game goes on. Bloodghast will rarely be the target for removal spells because it can just come back the next turn. This makes it much easier to accrue counters from Edgar. An Iconic Masters reprint should push this card down to the $5-7 range as well making it much for affordable.
Sensia Masquerade, Cathars’ Crusade, Shared Animosity
I dislike most anthems in decks like this unless they can get out of control. These enchantments do a great job of providing multiple boosts to your Vampire army—necessary if you are to deal the requisite number of damage to finish off an entire table.
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
A large army of tokens means you will be able to protect this planeswalker from attacks while you churn out emblems. Creating multiple emblems should be the primary goal of this card.
Hellrider on steroids—when you have so many Vampires in your deck, this trigger gets insane. I love how this card hits each opponent as well rather than targeting like Blood Artist. Dracula would be proud.
This Ixalan rare turns into a land quite easily and is the kind of ramp I would like in a deck like this.
Coat of Arms
The Ritualist is a mediocre rate for a bad effect that doesn’t effect multiple opponents. Trim the fat, and put the leaner Vampires in.
Mathas, Fiend Seeker
I am not a fan of this card. It gives your opponents cards, which is never a competitive thing to do. You would know best if it’s the kind of card you like to play.
Pawn of Ulamog
Filler. This Pawn will never be king.
Edgar already has haste and you aren’t looking to kill with general damage. I’d save this card for Licia, Sanguine Tribune.
4 mana for a 3/3 flyer? Stick to Limited formats to play this card.
It’s doubtful there will be anything exciting enough to snatch back with this card for that price. If you do have a deck full of juicy targets, stick to Reanimate or Animate Dead and if you are all about undead Vampire hoards, just play Patriarch’s Bidding.
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Her ability is pricey and has minimal impact. Stick to Olivia Voldaren if you’d like a nice mana sink.
Just way too much many for far too low an impact. Nice art, but that’s about it.
Begone, bulk rare! 6 mana? No thanks!
Licia, Sanguine Tribune
I will be discussing Licia as her own general in another article. She doesn’t belong in the Edgar Markov deck because there isn’t enough life gain to drop her down early with consistency.
Skeletal Scrying, Damnable Pact, Outpost Siege
I understand the inclusion of these cards as nonblue ways to get card advantage. Sadly, these cards are just pricey and bad. Stick to something cheaper if you are looking for this effect like Dark Confidant, Dark Tutelage, or Phyrexian Arena.
And the award for most overrated card from all of Commander 2017 goes to… Teferi’s Protection. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—this card is pretty bad and $20 is absolutely a rip off for this card. If you got the precon, take this card out, sell it, and go buy literally anything else for this deck. Teferi’s Protection just doesn’t do anything to advance your game or help you win and the time it takes to check out a dozen corner-case scenarios of how phasing works is just a bore. Not worth a slot in your deck, not even against combo decks.
Disrupt Decorum definitely doesn’t do damage deliberately. Don’t delve deeper deciding.
6 mana is a lot. I feel like a broken record, but the only record this card breaks is for badness.
Curse of Disturbance & Curse of Vitality
If you are tired of me mentioning not to add these curses in your decks, fear not. This is the last time I will have to tell you—don’t add these curses to your EDH decks. They are too narrow and help other players at the table. Don’t put cards like this in your decks. There you go.
I like the design space of this card but it’s just too mana-intensive. Since your board is just going to be full of piddling little creatures and tokens it’s not worth the mana to save them. Stick to Eldrazi Monument if you want an effect like this.
Sanguine Bond, Well of Lost Dreams, Kabira Crossroads, Consuming Vapors
These cards were clearly included for the Licia deck, and that will be discussed in the future.
That wraps up my main man, Edgar Markov. His power has already been showcased in Duel Commander (where he was met with a ban) and I can’t wait to play with him on Magic Online. Regardless of how competitive your group is, Edgar Markov has great potential, being both fast and resilient. I am sure there are many cards you have included yourself and I would love to hear about them in the comments. Thanks so much for reading and until next time, may the blood flow like wine.