Removed From Game – The Twelve Decks of Christmas #9: Vampires

The StarCityGames.com Open Series returns to Dallas/Fort Worth!
Wednesday, January 6th – For the second week of his daily Twelve Decks of Christmas article series, Rich Hagon brings us Runeflare, Boros Bushwhacker, Vampires, and much more!

All the decks in our series have a gameplan, but this one fits the ‘Theme’ category more than most. When Zendikar arrived on the scene, it was readily apparent that there were plenty of Vampires to choose from. Without further ado, here’s our list:

I think it’s worth laying my virtual cards on the table, so to speak, and say that I’m not a fan of this deck at all. It seems to me that you have to really, really want to play with your Swamps if you’re going to consider playing this deck, and of all the twelve, this feels like the one that least deserves its success. That said, there are a few things going for it.

First up, it does like to put creatures in the bin. Between Disfigure, Consume Spirit, Tendrils of Corruption, and Gatekeeper of Malakir, you have fourteen removal spells available. Apart from Disfigure, which has the benefit of being an instant source of death to a Ball Lightning or Elemental Appeal token, the others all stand you in good stead against Aggro by doing double duty. While the Gatekeeper of Malakir hangs around to do some blocking after it’s offed an opposing guy, the other two burn spells have the Drain Life ability, enabling you to claw back some of the damage you’ve already taken.

While many Black decks have been very aggressive, packed with one- and two-drops, this deck is distinctly mid-range, and is filled with monsters that are hopefully awkward to handle. Bloodghast keeps coming back, so it’s a good bet to finish things off eventually. Vampire Nighthawk is a spectacular Limited card that’s found its way into multiple Standard builds. Malakir Bloodwitch is out of range of a Lightning Bolt, and can’t be swatted away by Path To Exile.

My real complaint about the deck is that it rarely does anything truly unfair. Bituminous Blast into Bloodbraid Elf into Maelstrom Pulse is unfair. Runeflare Trap plus Twincast dealing 20 damage for two mana is unfair. Mono Red killing you on turn 3 is unfair. Making a 2/3 flyer for three mana is not unfair, and nor is spending four mana at sorcery speed to kill a Goblin Guide with Consume Spirit. The only real unfairness in the deck is Vampire Nocturnus, which can turn your mediocrity into a powerhouse with a little help from the top of your deck.

Still, from time to time this curious collection of awkwardness comes together and delivers a 4-0 record on Magic Online, so today’s the day you get to find out whether it’s something you’re going to contemplate seriously next time tickets are on the line. Until tomorrow, when I get enthusiastic again, as ever, thanks for reading.