Bloodsoaked Brews

Team World Champion Sam Black had his article published last week hours before the unveiling of Bloodsoaked Champion. See Sam and his new friend catch up in both Modern and Standard!

Unfortunately, Bloodsoaked Champion was spoiled right after I wrote about Butcher of the Horde last week. They’re great together, but Butcher of the Horde is powerful
enough that it certainly doesn’t need Bloodsoaked Champion, so maybe it was actually nice to start by thinking of ways it could be used without Bloodsoaked
Champion, rather than thinking the two were inseparable. So, now that I know about it, this week I’m going to discuss Bloodsoaked Champion and some decks
it inspires.

So, obviously, a 2/1 for B with a good ability is just a solid creature to put in an aggressive black deck. Great, I think everyone gets that, and I think
you probably know that that path isn’t particularly interesting to me. I want cards that I can get more out of, and I don’t want to play a card while I’m
just leaving a lot of the value of that card on the table. Bloodsoaked Champion is so much more than a 2/1 for B.

Obviously, the creature to compare this to is Gravecrawler. They’re different executions of the same design. Mana costs for abilities that you’re trying to
use several times are incredibly significant–this is why Goblin Bombardment is great, and Barrage of Expendables isn’t playable. The fact that Bloodsoaked
Champion costs twice as much to return is a huge drawback. However, if you’re trying to build a deck around synergies, the fact that you don’t have to make
room for a bunch of tribal cards that may or may not fit the other synergies to use the ability is really game changing. Not only that, but Bloodsoaked
Champion is a Human. Humans love to die! Seriously, there are so many things that pay you for dead humans like Falkenrath Aristocrat and Xathrid
Necromancer. Champion of the Parish is the other side of the same coin and another card that’s happy to work with Bloodsoaked Champion. And these are all
good cards. Certainly better than the average Zombie.

You have to have attacked, but it’s hard for the drawback to be more trivial than that. You can even just attack with it, let it die, and then return it
multiple times if you have ways to sacrifice it. Bloodghast is another card that wants to be in similar decks and reliably gives you an attacker.

The best cards to build around to take advantage of cards like these are things that care about “nontoken creatures”–those cards are generally built
assuming that triggering them will generally cost a full card, so when you can trigger them lots of times without using a card, the reward is generally
really substantial. Abzan Ascendancy is the right kind of thing. Other examples in Modern include: Bridge from Below, Genesis Chamber, Golgari Germination,
Gutter Grime, Lightning Coils, Pawn of Ulamog, Sek’kuar, Deathkeeper, Grim Haruspex, and Spirit Bonds. Teysa, Orzhov Scion cares about black instead of
nontoken, but also works well with Bloodsoaked Champion.

I’ve always thought Golgari Germination didn’t get quite enough respect, but Abzan Ascendancy is so much better. The first ability is great, and often most
of the reason to play the card, but then the second ability is just a (much) better Golgari Germination. Unfortunately, it’s going to be hard to use Abzan
Ascendancy with Bloodsoaked Champion in Standard, because the best sacrifice outlets are Tymaret, the Murder King and Butcher of the Horde, both of which
require red mana (though the possibility of a four color deck in Standard could still be investigated).

So, let’s get to some lists. I’ll start by trying to build a four color Standard deck:

This deck’s mana isn’t pretty, but I think it’s functional, and optimized for casting Siege Rhino or Butcher of the Horde on turn 3. Rattleclaw Mystic is
much worse at making mana than Sylvan Caryatid, but I wanted attackers to work with Abzan Ascendancy, and it helps with the Butcher of the Horde splash.
While this deck can get cute and grindy with Bloodsoaked Champion and Spirit Bonds or Abzan Ascendancy, it’s mostly looking to attack with big, fast
creatures, and if you have a sacrifice outlet online, it will likely just kill your opponent. That said, this deck is in the market for a 2/1 for B,
especially one with added utility.

A little blunt for my tastes but functional.

I think Modern is a better place for Bloodsoaked Champion. As always with Modern, it’s likely that any given awesome thing you can do will just be worse
than the existing best decks, since the format’s so powerful, but there are just too many tools available for me to ignore the potential.

Let me start maximally greedy with another four color deck:

This deck has the Faithless Looting core of my Legacy Zombie deck, discarding Bloodghast, Lingering Souls, Bloodsoaked Champion, or any creatures to Return
to the Ranks. It gains Satyr Wayfinder to help fill the graveyard (and hit lands to cast Butcher of the Horde), it gets the speed and combo potential of
Abzan Ascendancy, and has creatures that can actually get into combat well in Voice of Resurgence and Butcher of the Horde. It’s streamlined toward power
and synergy over interaction in a game 1 with a sideboard that allows you to interact with your opponent’s hand or creatures. Teysa, Orzhov Scion can take
over the game against another creature deck that’s light on removal, as you’ll have lots of black creatures going to the graveyard and plenty of 1/1 white
spirits to use to exile their creatures, with Teysa, Abzan Ascedancy, and Lingering Souls all contributing.

The mana’s definitely painful, and I don’t have Blood Artist to gain life, so I’m really leaning on Butcher of the Horde when that’s needed. It’s possible
Blood Artist is worth including, but I’m basically playing Abzan Ascendancy in the same space Blood Artist would otherwise occupy. They kind of play well
together in that Ascendancy gives you more creatures that can die, but they both need a critical mass of creatures that you want to let die, so it’s hard
to make room for both–Butcher also occupies that space, but I think it’s too powerful to ignore.

The next direction that really excites me is the Dead Humans deck.

I wanted to keep this to B/W, but I needed more sac outlets, and I didn’t want Viscera Seer because it was too low impact and could lead to hands that just
don’t have enough power. So I splashed Red which gave me access to Butcher of the Horde or Falkenrath Aristocrat. I think Butcher of the Horde is likely a
better card, but I knew that I wanted to play four Cavern of Souls, and they would be a significant portion of my red lands, which meant that I had to
choose one or the other, rather than a mix. I wanted to name Vampire instead of Demon with Cavern of Souls so that I could use it with Blood Artist as
well, and I like that I’m very good at making Falkenrath Aristocrat bigger, which is something that definitely comes up when you’re trying to kill with
Blood Artist.

I absolutely love the particular set of one drops this deck gets. I’ve always like Champion of the Parish and Doomed Traveler as a start, but they need
another good one, and Bloodsoaked Champion fits perfectly. These are absolutely ideal with Cartel Aristocrat, Xathrid Necromancer, and Grim Haruspex.

I’m a little sad that I can’t possibly justify Ruthless Ripper, which I think is actually a very good card–I feel like 1/1 deathtouch is always just
outside of Constructed consideration, but when you add the ability to hit for two and then unexpectedly trade with anything and a bit of late game reach
for an aggro deck, along with tribal synergies, I really feel like the package should put it over the top. Maybe there’s a heavy black aggro deck that’s in
the market for such a thing?

I hate paying BB to put Bloodghast into play, but I think it’s what this deck wants. Grim Haruspex is likely everything I want Dark Prophecy to be, and I
should probably pay more attention to this card as the interaction with Bloodghast is amazing.

This is another deck that’s not trying to interact with the opponent, but I feel like there’s good chance that’s wrong given that I have a lot of access to
card draw and selection. The hope is that I can just power through with synergy, but really, I know there are more powerful Modern decks, and I can’t
ignore them. I think I use the no-interaction baseline so that I can see what I lose to most to figure out what kind of interaction will help the most.

I ultimately put a single Terminate in so that I could find an answer to a creature, but really, I know that I need more than that. Balancing these
synergistic aggro decks to have the right ratios of each halves of interaction that play off each other while having the right amount of interaction is
always tricky and really just requires a lot of experimentation.

Finally, back to Standard, for a deck with some more realistic mana. I like tribal decks quite a bit, and Warriors is the one tribe that looks to be
supported by Khans of Tarkir. I think there are a couple ways to build Warriors, but I want to start with the one that makes best use of Bloodsoaked
Champion’s ability.

It feels a little weird to build a Warrior deck without either of the new Warrior Lords, but red into W/B is pretty difficult. Maybe the better approach is
to go straight W/B:

I like the look of this one a little better. It loses Goblin Rabblemaster and Foundry Street Denizen, but I think the two mana creatures are better, and I
like the white raid warriors a lot once you’re trying to fill the board with warriors for Obelisk of Urd and Raiders’ Spoils.

It’s possible that either of these decks would be better if they just splashed for Butcher of the Horde, but there’s a lot to be said for having good mana
in an aggro deck. The W/B deck could even splash green instead for Sunblade Elf, which is a Warrior, and Siege Rhino, which is awesome.

I’ve been focusing a lot on sacrificing and returning creatures with my efforts to use Return to the Ranks, Butcher of the Horde, and now Bloodsoaked
Champion. It’s good to have a hobby, but I might need to branch out a bit. Next week I’ll try to focus on something other than killing my own creatures,
though Sultai might not let me get away from the graveyard.