Commander Deep Dive: Anje, Maid Of Dishonor

Vampire lovers, unite. Bennie Smith explores how to build around Anje, Maid of Dishonor in Commander MTG.

Innistrad: Crimson Vow continues to deliver sweet new commanders to build decks around!  I’ve done deep dives on Grolnok, the Omnivore; Henrika Domnathi; and Runo Stromkirk.  This week I’m going to dive deep into Vampire tribal with Anje, Maid of Dishonor!

Anje, Maid of Dishonor

Vampires as a tribe have gotten a ton of support from Wizards of the Coast over the years, to the point where it’s almost better to limit the color identity just to narrow down your choices. Anje, Maid of Dishonor being a Rakdos commander covers the main colors where most of the best Vampire cards reside, and her triggered ability definitely pushes us towards building a tribal deck.  But I really like that her text box encourages us to focus heavily on the new Blood tokens that were introduced in this set, which helps give the deck an identity outside of just general Vampire tribal.

Whenever Anje, Maid of Dishonor and/or one or more other Vampires enter the battlefield under your control, create a Blood token. This ability triggers only once each turn.

{2}, Sacrifice another creature or a Blood token: Each opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

What’s interesting about Anje is that her triggered ability has a hard limit of triggering only once each turn, so you can’t do something crazy like having a bunch of dead Vampires coming back from the graveyard and hitting the battlefield to create a bunch of Blood tokens or set up a loop between a Vampire dying and coming back to the battlefield over and over again. Anje is a slow engine, but still—she’s bound to help you accumulate Blood tokens that you can use synergistically with other cards that care about Blood specifically or artifacts more generally.

So, a Blood token is an artifact with “{1}, {T}, Discard a card, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.”  This is a pretty cheap activation if you’re trying to dig for a particular card or answer, and in competitive play it’s a nice way to pitch excess lands to find some action. In Commander though you always want to make your land drops, so it’ll be rare that you’re going to toss away a land to dig for another card. What I can see doing is pitching an expensive card you can’t cast in order to hopefully draw into a land to make your drop.

Anje’s ability to sacrifice a Blood token to drain two life from each opponent and giving you two life isn’t something that I imagine using all that often unless there’s a “gain life” payoff – of which there are some with Vampires – or if you’re trying to drain the last few life points from an opponent that’s gotten dangerously low.

So, what are planning on doing with Blood tokens?  Turns out there are a fair number of cards that care about Blood other than Anje, so let’s dig in!

There Will Be Blood

Voldaren Bloodcaster Strefan, Maurer Progenitor Olivia's Attendants Voldaren Epicure Bloodtithe Harvester Markov Enforcer Kamber, the Plunderer Gluttonous Guest Restless Bloodseeker Wedding Security Falkenrath Celebrants

I first wanted to look at Vampires that play well with Blood, and between the main set and the Commander deck Vampiric Bloodline, there are a lot of them!  The splashiest one is Olivia’s Attendants, which has the capacity for creating a whopping six Blood tokens if it deals combat damage, and that’s assuming no power boost before combat.

Voldaren Bloodcaster is another awesome card, creating a Blood token each time one of your Vampires die. Plus, the transform trigger is going to be pretty easy to activate so you get to take advantage of Bloodbat Summoner, which lets you turn one target Blood token you control into a 2/2 black Bat creature with flying and haste, which is super-creepy and cool.  Kamber, the Plunderer has a similar ability to the front side of Voldaren Bloodcaster, but triggers when any creature dies, including your opponents’ creatures, with some lifegain as a bonus!

The more Blood tokens you accumulate, the more potent Bloodtithe Harvester becomes as a removal spell, and I like Markov Enforcer’s fight ability that should also be pretty good at generating Blood tokens. And while Wedding Security may only be an uncommon, its ability to sacrifice a Blood token to draw a card when it attacks is going to be quite useful.

Bloody Good Time

Voldaren Estate Glass-Cast Heart Arterial Alchemy Pointed Discussion Vampires' Vengeance Blood Fountain Ceremonial Knife Vampire's Kiss

There are other Blood-related cards that aren’t Vampires I want to consider as well.  Voldaren Estate is a home run here, letting you color-fix your mana for Vampire spells early on. Later it can churn out Blood tokens for less and less mana to activate the more Vampires you have on the battlefield.  Plus, the Dracula series version that you get as a Buy-a-Box is super-cool: Castle Dracula!

I also really like Glass-Cast Heart, an artifact which comes down for three mana, makes a Blood token, and then you can spend a black mana, pay a life, and tap to create a 1/1 Vampire token with lifelink. Eventually, you can sacrifice the artifact and thirteen Blood tokens to drain all opponents for thirteen life and you gain thirteen life in one fell swoop.  Arterial Alchemy is a wild enchantment that lets you use Blood tokens as Equipment, which is a weird visual but really cool.


Asylum Visitor Anje Falkenrath Anje's Ravager Stensia Masquerade Stromkirk Occultist Voldaren Pariah Bloodhall Priest Incorrigible Youths Alms of the Vein Falkenrath Gorger

Earlier visits to Innistrad tied Vampires to the madness mechanic, and Blood tokens make a very handy madness enabler!  I’d definitely want to pepper in some of those cards into this deck to turn those Blood tokens into actual card advantage engines. I really like Stensia Masquerade, a tribal enchantment that can be cast with madness to potentially make it a combat trick, either surprising an opponent after they declare blockers or getting a nice benefit from several small attackers who were allowed to deal damage and are now a bit bigger.

Asylum Visitor and Anje’s Ravager take some finesse to unlock since they get better if you have no cards in your hand, and that’s a risky place to be in Commander, but you could set things up to benefit nicely from them.

Vampire Tribal Stuff

Bloodline Keeper Captivating Vampire Stromkirk Captain Blade of the Bloodchief Sanctum Seeker Indulgent Aristocrat Malakir Bloodwitch Champion of Dusk Bloodline Necromancer Patron of the Vein Blood Tribute New Blood Stensia Masquerade Bloodlord of Vaasgoth Urge to Feed Thirsting Bloodlord Olivia's Wrath Vampiric Fury Wedding Invitation

Okay, let’s dig into all the Vampire tribal stuff we can put into our Rakdos deck, and there are some great ones to choose from!  Bloodline Keeper is a banger, with a simple tap ability to create 2/2 flying Vampire tokens and a very easy condition for transforming into Lord of Lineage, which can still tap to create Vampires but also gives other Vampire creatures you control a whopping +2/+2!  Stromkirk Captain is another Vampire lord that gives your Vampires first strike, which is quite helpful when you want to be aggressive. 

Captivating Vampire is another Vampire lord with a bonkers ability to permanently steal a creature and turn it into a Vampire by simply tapping five untapped Vampires you control. Do your best to cast this only when you have at least four other Vampires on the battlefield, since it’s going to be a lightning rod for removal spells immediately! 

Speaking of permanently stealing a creature, I’m always super-excited having access to New Blood, especially if you’re squaring off against another tribal deck.  New Blood changes the creature type to Vampire each time it appears in the creature’s type line and/or rules text. So, imagine stealing The Ur-Dragon from a Dragon deck; stealing Cryptbreaker from the Zombie deck; stealing Lathril, Blade of the Elves from the Elf deck; or stealing Sliver Hivelord from the Sliver deck!

Generic Tribal Stuff

Path of Ancestry Cavern of Souls Vanquisher's Banner Herald's Horn Shared Animosity Kindred Dominance Heirloom Blade Molten Echoes Mana Echoes Pact of the Serpent Stoneforge Masterwork Pyre of Heroes Kindred Charge Crippling Fear

If need be, you can sprinkle in some of the generic tribal support cards, though I expect the deck is going to be pressed for room. Path of Ancestry and Cavern of Souls are easy to add to your land slots, and if we lean into some artifact synergies, Vanquisher’s Banner and Heirloom Blade are awesome inclusions. Kindred Charge and Kindred Dominance are huge, game-swinging spells that I’d be hard-pressed not to find room for.

Quality Vampire Guests

Cordial Vampire Callous Bloodmage Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Olivia Voldaren Vampire Socialite Blood Artist Viscera Seer Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose Yahenni, Undying Partisan Vampire Nighthawk Sangromancer Drana, Liberator of Malakir

Outside of Vampires that care about Blood or Vampires that care about Vampires, there are plenty of other Vampires that are just high-quality creatures and I’d certainly want to find room for some of these.  Cordial Vampire definitely claims a slot, since our commander Anje can sacrifice a creature to drain life and trigger Cordial Vampire to put a +1/+1 counter on each Vampire I control. 

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is a powerhouse card that can generate a ton of life and really put pressure on an opponent’s life total.  I also really like Yahenni, Undying Partisan since being able to gain indestructible until the end of the turn lets you keep a toehold battlefield presence in the face of battlefield sweepers.

Artifacts Matter

Cranial Plating Indomitable Creativity Inventors' Fair Scion of Opulence Trading Post Krark-Clan Ironworks Deadly Dispute Clock of Omens Trash for Treasure Grinding Station Nettlecyst Ghirapur Aether Grid Gonti's Aether Heart Aetherworks Marvel

If we wanted to really make our Anje deck play differently from other Vampire decks, we could pull back on the tribal synergies and instead lean into artifact synergies. In particular I really like Cranial Plating and Nettlecyst, which can let an individual Vampire hit really hard thanks to all the Blood tokens you’re accumulating. Trading Post can sacrifice Blood tokens for cards, while Krark-Clan Ironworks can sacrifice Blood tokens for mana. We can even dip a little bit into energy cards with Gonit’s Aether Heart, which generates two energy each time a Blood token is created, and Aetherworks Marvel, which will generate an energy whenever a permanent you control is put into a graveyard.


Inspiring Statuary Battle at the Bridge

I wanted to call out two cards with the improvise ability that can do some good work alongside all the Blood tokens. Inspiring Statuary gives all your nonartifact spells improvise, so you can tap Blood tokens to help pay for your spells. Just keep in mind that the inherent ability on Blood tokens requires tapping, so if you’ve tapped one to improvise, you can’t also use its ability to sacrifice that turn. I also really like Battle at the Bridge as a removal spell that can take down an indestructible creature while also gaining life.

Sword of Hearth and Home Cauldron of Souls Undying Evil Vedalken Orrery

We may find ourselves unable to cast another Vampire with Anje on the battlefield, so in that case it would be nice to ensure a Vampire on the battlefield goes away and comes back, so Sword of Hearth and Home to the rescue!  The protection from green and white is also going to be very useful in getting attacks past many of the common blockers in Commander.

Something like Cauldron of Souls or Undying Evil is another way to leverage Anje’s ability on turns outside of your own turn so you can get additional triggers when a Vampire would otherwise die. Then of course there’s Vedalken Orrery, which will let you cast a Vampire during each of your opponents’ turns if you want.

So, what do you think of Anje, Maid of Dishonor? Is there anything you would play with it that I didn’t mention above?

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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