MTG Arena Decks to Try in the Innistrad: Crimson Vow Expansion
With new expansions, that means potential new decks to try in MTG Arena – this time for Innistrad: Crimson Vow! It’s too early to pick out the best decks, but there are some here that I think could be real contenders. Some decks are just going to get stronger (Izzet), and some decks are going to come out of nowhere to be stronger than ever (Mono-Red). You might be asking yourself (or me) now, what about NON-Red decks?! Will those be featured? Yes! But we will probably start with the things that are most interesting or potentially most powerful. I’m going to run the gamut of new concepts, familiar things that already work, and more.
There’s so much exciting tech for decks in MTG Arena for Innistrad: Crimson Vow, that’s for sure. Training, Exploit, we cover all of the new keywords over in our spoiler article. You can see all the awesome new stuff coming in that we’re going to talk about. We’ll probably have a few Vampire decks in here since there are several flavors of Vampire deck. We’ll have a few Human decks, assuredly an Izzet Dragons/Spells deck, but there’s more than that. I’m incredibly excited for the future of MTG Arena decks, thanks to Innistrad: Crimson Vow.
One thing I’m not crazy about in Crimson Vow though is the high cost of some of these new cards. It may be an attempt to slow down the meta, and time will tell if that works out at all. However, one of the decks that most interests me is a Tempo Deck, so it’s low-cost all around. It’s time to get started! Do you have a deck that would be worth covering or adding to one of these blog posts? You can always reach out to me personally with a suggestion! I’m always willing to listen.
Are you ready to take the Crimson Vow?
Azorius Tempo Brings Back Unblockable (Blue/White Aggro/Midrange):
One of my favorite decks that never ceases to frustrate, it’s Azorius Tempo! It’s a White/Blue deck that typically involves a low-cost wincon and plenty of ways to keep it around. In particular, we’re using Suspicious Stowaway/Seafaring Werewolf as our wincon. It’s an Unblockable creature but doesn’t deal a whole lot of damage. As a 1/1 for 2, it can slowly whittle someone down. Thanks to Crimson Vow, this deck received a powerful tool to ensure success: Dorothea, Vengeful Victim! Specifically, its Disturb form is a powerful enchantment. Instead of doing 1 damage, it also summons a 4/4 Flying Spirit, so we can drop 5 damage a turn!
We have a few ways to buff the Suspicious Stowaway as well. This is to make sure it just demolishes people faster and faster. Luminous Aspirant, hello friend! Once we get this happy friend in play, we want to cast Dorothea, Vengeful Victim as a Disturb card (from the grave), so we can start kicking this off. Then we just do everything we can to keep them alive. What’s the strategy?
How’s It Work?
Suspicious Stowaway is such an amazing card. It’s unblockable without any restrictions – we don’t have to attack alone, we don’t need to keep a low power score, none of that nonsense. It just is. Whenever it deals combat damage to a player, draw a card then discard a card. It also has a nighttime form, Seafaring Werewolf. Now it becomes a 2/1 that no longer discards a card! We want to discard though.
Why is that though? We want Dorothea, Vengeful Victim to be cast from the grave. Normally she’s a 2-cost spirit (1 white, 1 blue), and from the grave, it now costs 3 mana (now with 1 colorless mana). She’s a 4/4 flyer, and whenever she attacks or blocks, you must sacrifice her at the end of combat. If you cast her, it’s fine too. Ideally, we want to cast her from the grave.
Now we get Dorothea’s Retribution, a creature enchantment. Whenever this creature attacks now, create a 4/4 white Spirit creature token with flying, that’s tapped and attacking. Sacrifice the Spirit at the end of combat. At best, we get 5 damage a turn! But we want to keep him around. Luminarch Aspirant is going to be able to give it +1/+1 each turn, slowly buffing our unblockable jerk as well!
From here, we need to keep it around at all costs. The new Malevolent Hermit is a 2-cost we want to put into play. You can pay 1 blue and sacrifice it to counter a noncreature spell unless its controller pays 3 colorless mana. That way, we can counter in a pinch. Fading Hope can return a creature to its owner’s hand, so we can bounce it back to our hand, just in case.
If your opponent has threats that you can’t see (their hand), you can use Elite Spellbinder to look at their hand and exile something. They can still cast it, but it costs 2 more. So we want to take something that’s out of reach and make it far harder to cast. Plus it’s a 3/1 flyer. We have regular counters as well, in Concerted Defense. It counters unless its controller pays 1, plus an additional 1 for each creature in your party. We can have a party of 3 – Rogue, Cleric, Wizard. So that’s something.
Valorous Stance is one of my favorite cards though. It’s a 2-cost Instant and can give someone either indestructible, or it destroys a creature with toughness 4 or greater. Your opponent’s going to destroy Suspicious Stowaway? Nope, now it’s indestructible! Dorothea’s not the only creature token generator. Cemetery Protector exiles a card from any graveyard. Then when we play a spell or land that shares a type with it, create a 1/1 white Human creature token.
So we can use Suspicious Stowaway to discard a land, and then use Cemetary Protector. Exile that land, and now anytime we play a land, we get a 1/1 Human creature token! On top of all of this, we have the Spectral and Intrepid Adversary cards! They both are cards we can trigger an ability for multiple times at launch to seal the game up. For example, Intrepid Adversary, for each time we trigger its ability on cast, creatures we control get +1/+1 for each time (as Intrepid gains that many Valor Counters). Spectral Adversary has Flash/Flying and can use this as well. For each time we pay its cost, put that many +1/+1 counters on Spectral Adversary, and then that many other artifacts, creatures, and/or enchantments phase out. So we can bury our opponent’s board this way and swing for big numbers.
Plus with Flash, we can do it on our opponent’s turn, phase out their creatures, and get ready for the end of the game. Honestly, I love the potential of this deck, but I doubt it will be Tier 1. That said, it’s still a hoot.
4 Fading Hope
4 Hengegate Pathway
2 Faceless Haven
8 Snow-Covered Plains
9 Snow-Covered Island
2 Cemetery Protector
3 Valorous Stance
1 Fateful Absence
4 Suspicious Stowaway
4 Spectral Adversary
2 Intrepid Adversary
3 Malevolent Hermit
4 Luminarch Aspirant
4 Dorothea, Vengeful Victim
2 Concerted Defense
4 Elite Spellbinder
3 Skyclave Apparition
2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
2 Cemetery Illuminator
2 Test of Talents
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Legion Angel
One of the downsides here is, of course, we have one attacker and that’s it. Sure, we can get Human tokens to hold the board, but that’s not going to be quick. This deck requires us to be fast and hard-hitting. We need to turn 2 Suspicious Stowaway and turn 3-discard the Dorothea/cast her. That way we can start hitting for 5, as soon as possible. In a perfect world, we’re also going to start buffing the Stowaway quickly and start hammering damage out. So while I love this deck, I fear it’s going just going to get buried by faster decks with more creatures. Could be a fun thing to use against slower decks though!
The sideboard has some strong optional cards too, from Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, to a handful of Legion Angels to pull. Reidane, God of the Worthy is around to slow down Snow Lands, and Cemetary Illuminator could be a lot of fun, even if it costs 3 mana. The ability to exile a card from a graveyard, whenever it comes in or attacks is great. Then we can look at our top card anytime, and each turn we can cast a spell from the top of our library if it shares a card type with a card exiled with Cemetary Illuminator. It doesn’t have to be our grave, either! All told, this deck can slap, and I hope to see it on the ladder at the very least.
Chandra’s Dressed to Kill (Mono-Red Burn):
Chandra, Dressed to Kill is a seriously great card for Mono-Red Burn. In fact, it makes the deck go so much faster, so much more reliably. We’ve talked about Mono-Red Burn on here before, but this is the first time in a while that I’m confident it can actually go. It just didn’t have the power that made it ultimately worthwhile. But with two cards, suddenly the deck is far more viable. We needed Chandra, Dressed to Kill, and Manaform Hellkite!
Suddenly, those expensive red spells that we were avoiding using aren’t so bad! Roil Eruption’s Kicker Cost is no longer a burden, but a blessing. Now we want to use them. Receiving more damage? Never a bad thing. Manaform Hellkite grants us an X/X Red Dragon Illusion with Flying/Haste, each time we cast a noncreature spell. The X is how much mana we spent to cast that spell. We exile that token during our next End Step.
Suddenly, all those spells create far more problems for our foe. Then we have the lovely, effervescent Chandra. Chandra, who I have to admit I was wrong about, yet again.
How’s It Work?
I think Mono-Red Burn might be better than the typical Mono-Red Aggro. Or at least, it has a chance to, and that’s exciting. Honestly, it’s all thanks to Chandra, Dressed to Kill. Dropping her on turn 3 lets us get another spell off for basically free. Her +1 gives us a point of Red Mana to use and deals 1 damage to a player or planeswalker. So we get a point of damage and can cast one of our many 1-cost spells for nothing.
Chandra, Dressed to Kill has no negative downticks, so everything she does builds towards her ultimate. It’s not an immediate game-winner, but it sure heads that way fast. Here’s her whole kit:
- +1: Add 1 Red Mana. Chandra, Dressed to Kill deals 1 damage to up to one target player or planeswalker.
- +1: Exile the top card of your library. If it’s red, you may cast it this turn.
- -7: Exile the top five cards of your deck. You may cast red spells from among them this turn. You receive an emblem with “Whenever you cast a red spell, this emblem deals X damage to any target, where X is the mana spent to cast this spell.”
That -7? Oh yes. Suddenly, Roil Eruption and Igneous Inspiration are pretty rad. Heck, casting creatures deals damage! Casting a turn 6 or so Manaform Hellkite or Moonveil Regent? That’s another 4 damage your opponent can take, before anything else. Speaking of which, Manaform Hellkite is the other key to this puzzle. A 4/4 for 4, it has Flying as well. Whenever we cast a noncreature spell, we receive an X/X flying Dragon Illusion with haste. We exile it at the end of turn, so it’s an immediate threat.
Even if we’re only casting 1-cost spells, that’s still another bit of damage to deal with. Partner this with Chandra’s emblem, and we’re doing nonstop threatening moves. That’s not even where the hellscape ends for your opponent, either. Thermo-Alchemist is back! A 0/3 Defender that you might be familiar with if you read these blog posts. You can tap it to deal 1 damage to each opponent, and anytime we cast an instant or sorcery, Thermo-Alchemist untapped. For reference, we have 16 total Instants and Sorceries in this deck.
It’s not going to be a fun time for anyone but you. We have Moonveil Regent as another beat-stick, and the Falkenrath Pit Fighter to potentially draw two cards if needed. Flame Channeler also returns to exile cards off the top of our deck that we can cast for the turn. We’re just going to start dumping damage on people around turn 4 or 5 and never stop. That’s the strategy.
4 Chandra, Dressed to Kill
4 Falkenrath Pit Fighter
4 Flame Channeler
3 Manaform Hellkite
3 Moonveil Regent
4 Play with Fire
4 Frost Bite
4 Roil Eruption
4 Igneous Inspiration
16 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Den of the Bugbear
4 Faceless Haven
1 Environmental Sciences
1 Start from Scratch
1 Expanded Anatomy
Just imagine it. You cast Roil Eruption and pay the Kicker. That’s 7 mana spent. It deals 5 damage to the enemy player, then it deals an additional 7 damage, thanks to Chandra. Then we create a 7/7 Flying/Haste Dragon, that also attacks alongside everyone else. In theory, this deck could be a turn-7 or so OTK. Just hit someone with overwhelming force, like a melon being splattered by a sledgehammer. Suddenly, expensive kicker cards aren’t so bad, now are they?
Great – Endless Turn Decks Are Bigger (Blue/Red Combo/Control):
I saw a few folks brewing bigger Endless Turn decks, and Crimson Vow makes it so much easier. Did you think Alrund’s Epiphany wouldn’t be paired with Alchemist’s Gambit? I hope not. Of course, that’s going to be the move going forward! Eight “extra turn” cards that can be copied six times in total? Absolute nonsense. I still hope that both spells get banned, if I can be perfectly candid. But, if they are Standard Legal, then they are fair game. This isn’t going to be a fun deck to play against, not even in the slightest. It’s something we’ve talked about in the past, but now it’s worse.
How’s It Work?
Sick of Extra Turns? Sorry, but that’s the life we lead until a ban hammer drops or something. Alrund’s Epiphany is the current card, where we create two 1/1 Bird Tokens with Flying, and take an extra turn after this (then exile the card). It’s 7 mana, but you can Foretell it for 6. But what’s the new option? Alchemist’s Gambit normally costs 3 mana, but we aren’t going to cast it for that. It reads:
“Take an extra turn after this one. During that turn, damage can’t be prevented. [At the beginning of that turn’s end step, you lose the game.] Exile Alchemist’s Gambit.”
However, you can Cleave cast it for 7 mana (2 blue, 1 red). Then you remove the bracketed text, and won’t lose the game for casting this. So we have eight spells to take extra turns with. Then we can use Galvanic Iteration to duplicate it if we want. With 9 spare mana, we can just take two turns back to back. We don’t have a lot of ways to cast these early though.
One way is Unexpected Windfall, which requires us to pay 4 mana (2 red) and discard a card. We draw two cards and create two Treasure Tokens, which reduces the first extra turn from 7 mana to 5 mana (as far as lands go). This could be a fun card to use Galvanic Iteration on, to give us four cards, four treasure tokens, even at the cost of discarding two. There are plenty of cards we don’t need at that point. But we have to survive that long to make it happen. We have quite a few spells to destroy key creatures, that’s for sure. Abrade, for 2 mana is a fun reprinted Instant. You either deal 3 damage to target creature or destroy an artifact.
After that, we’ve got Thundering Rebuke, which deals 4 damage to a creature or planeswalker, so that’s also helpful. As long as it’s not a crazy aggro deck, we can slow them down. If you can hold out for Burn Down the House, you can make those aggro decks lose hope. Sure, it’s 5 mana, but it has two choices. You can deal 5 damage to each creature and each planeswalker, or create 3 1/1 red Devil creature tokens with “When this creature dies, it deals 1 damage to any target.” and they also gain haste for the turn.
For this deck, the AOE damage is probably going to be more likely. This could also be a great use for the Unexpected Windfall treasure tokens, at least. We need those extra turn cards though. Memory Deluge and Expressive Iteration would help us seek out cards, which is to our benefit. We have a new card to help us seek out solutions to problems.
Wandering Mind is a 2/1 Flyer for 3, and when it enters play, we can look at our top six, and reveal a noncreature, nonland from them and put it into your hand. Of course, it’s likely going to be one of our extra turn cards. That’s what’s so frustrating about this deck. We get a couple of cheap flyers from Alrund’s and Wandering Mind and poke away on free turns.
A new card is also going to help us put out damage or have a solid defense. Hullbreaker Horror is a new, expensive creature. But it has Flash, so we can play it on our opponent’s turn – and it can’t be countered. Whenever you cast a spell, you can either return a spell you don’t control to its owner’s hand or return a nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. Consider how powerful that is for a moment.
Your opponent goes to cast anything that isn’t a land, you can cast any spell you want. Then you, in response, cast a spell. Any spell. In response, you can return that thing your opponent cast back to their hand. They paid the mana, all of the appropriate costs, and they get nothing in return. You can bounce nonlands back to their owner’s hand too, but I like Hullbreaker Horror as a control piece.
4 Fading Hope
4 Stormcarved Coast
4 Riverglide Pathway
3 Hall of Storm Giants
4 Faceless Haven
9 Snow-Covered Mountain
8 Snow-Covered Island
2 Hullbreaker Horror
4 Alrund’s Epiphany
3 Burn Down the House
4 Memory Deluge
4 Unexpected Windfall
4 Wandering Mind
4 Divide by Zero
4 Alchemist’s Gambit
2 Test of Talents
3 Thundering Rebuke
4 Expressive Iteration
3 Galvanic Iteration
1 Elemental Summoning
2 Teachings of the Archaics
1 Mercurial Transformation
2 Environmental Sciences
1 Mascot Exhibition
You take a ton of extra turns and whittle someone down to nothing. That’s really all there is to the deck. It’s infuriating, but it’s going to happen. It’s a deck with an incredibly high winrate, and it gets results. I still hope it gets some bans, but that’s not where we’re at right now. It’s a deck that’s going to have a few variants I think. Not every version’s going to have 80 cards, but I like that the idea at the very core, this can work. Infinite Turns isn’t too hard to do. You get the cards in hand, take a turn, draw, take another turn, copy it, take two turns. How frustrating. I don’t know if this or the Dragons version will be better – we’ll have to see.
Mono-White Humans Is Back! (Mono-White Aggro):
Mono-White Humans is a tale as old as time. We know exactly what we’re getting in this deck. A host of angry humans, mowing people down with lots of damage. We’re bringing back some classic cards (“classic”) and one of the top humans in all of MTG got a reprint. It’s no secret that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a must-use in so many decks going all the way to the Eternal formats (Legacy, Vintage, etc). She’s that good.
She slows down all noncreature spells, and we need that in this deck. With that in mind, we only use a pair of cards in this deck that aren’t creatures – Rally the Ranks and Paladin Class. Of course Paladin Class.
How’s It Work?
What a ludicrously strong deck! Love to see it. We use a few new cards in this deck, but I’m surprised we don’t use more Training. Maybe Savior of Ollenbock is the only good “Training” card. We’ll see how that shakes out. This is a deck where we just rush people down with aggressive humans as often as possible. Hopefully, we get a turn-1 Paladin Class to start this thing off right. In a lovely world, we get a turn-2 Rally The Ranks to make our Humans all gain +1/+1.
The best part of this deck is that we have one card that’s over 3 mana. So we’re going to quickly get out of hand. We want that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben early and often. A 2/1 First Strike, noncreature spells cost 1 more colorless mana. It can really foil plans, that’s for sure. Turn 3, we want Savior of Ollenbock for sure. A ½ with Training, whenever it trains, exile up to one other target creature from the battlefield, or a creature from a graveyard. When Savior of Ollenbock leaves play, put those exiled cards onto the battlefield under their owner’s control.
So we can be super aggressive earlier, and exile our own creatures. That way, your opponent is going to have to really consider if they want to let the Savior stick around and get bigger, or what. We can occasionally exile enemy cards too – in particular, tokens, because they can’t come back. Training is a new power. Whenever this creature attacks with another creature with greater power, give the Training creature a +1/+1 counter. We can set this up nicely, with Luminarch Aspirant.
It grants a creature of ours a +1/+1 counter on a target creature at the beginning of our combat. That way, there is always a creature with greater power than Savior of Ollenbock. That can also be done midgame, with Intrepid Adversary. With enough mana, this is filthy. A 2-cost 3/1 with Lifelink, when it enters play you can pay 2 mana (1 white) as many times as you want. For each of these, the Intrepid Adversary gains that many Valor Counters.
Creatures you control get +1/+1 for each Valor Counter this has. As you can see, suddenly, even our token creatures can be terrifying. That’s why we want to Flash in a Cemetary Prowler on turn 4. A ¾, you exile a card from any graveyard when it comes into play. Then, whenever you play a land or cast a spell with that card type, create a 1/1 white Human creature token. So, a great thing to do is exile a land from a graveyard, if possible. A creature is easier though since we can just keep spamming the board with creatures. That way, each time we play land or cast a spell with this type, we create a 1/1 white Human creature token. So, yes – use a Human, so we can swarm the field.
We’re bringing back some cards we haven’t used a while either, like Usher of the Fallen. On turns when we’ve attacked, we can pay 2 mana to Boast – creature a 1/1 white Human Warrior creature token – once per turn. We want that Level 3 Paladin Class asap, too. That makes it so whenever we attack, target attacking creature gets +1/+1 for each other attacking creature, as well as Double Strike.
So you pick the one that is going to hit the hardest and make them bigger. If you attack with say, 10 1/1 tokens, you can make one of them into an 11 Double Strike. What’s not to like? Cemetery Prowler is also why we bring back Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. A 3-cost, */4, with Vigilance, its power is equal to the number of creatures you control. They also create a 1/1 white Human creature that’s tapped and attacking, for each opponent you have. Here it’s only 1, but this creature’s power is going to be bonkers. That’s why we want to target Paladin Class with this if possible. The Double Strike should keep it safe in virtually all trades.
We also run Elite Spellbinder to slow people down, and also deal flying damage, which is fantastic. Sungold Sentinel is another card we suddenly find a use for. When it comes into play, we exile a card from a graveyard (again), but that card doesn’t come back ever. If you have creatures with 3 or more different powers, you can activate the Sentinel’s Coven (and pay 2 mana). You choose a color, and Sungold Sentinel gains Hexproof from that color until the end of the turn. It’s definitely going to be useful. Could be a great unit to buff, so you can pay that Coven cost and prevent direct removal from hitting us.
2 Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
4 Luminarch Aspirant
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Savior of Ollenbock
4 Elite Spellbinder
1 Cemetery Protector
4 Intrepid Adversary
4 Chaplain of Alms
3 Sungold Sentinel
3 Rally the Ranks
2 Paladin Class
4 Usher of the Fallen
4 Faceless Haven
19 Snow-Covered Plains
This is a very straightforward deck. Play humans, push people around. Be aggressive, buff your allies, be even more aggressive. I don’t think there’s too much room for experimentation in this deck, though. I could see a few other cards coming into the limelight here, but it’s a nice, easy concept. Play low-cost humans, win games. Pretty simple stuff. I kind of want to see Faithbound Judge in this deck, because it could ultimately lead to winning the game without any real effort. There will be a Faithbound Judge deck, of this I am sure.
Like all aggro decks though, we have a weakness – board wipe. It’s hard to get back up from that, so we want to start pushing enemies around as fast as possible.
Rakdos Vampires Are Best? (Black/Red Vampire Midrange):
There are lots of Vampire options right now – Mono-Black, Black/Red, Black/White (maybe), Black/Red/Green just as a few examples. While personally, I love the idea of Jund (Black/Red/Green) and using Olivia, Crimson Bride to resurrect Goldspan Dragon and attack with it every turn. It’s a possibility, but I don’t know if it will be successful. Instead, I went with ol’ reliable – Black/Red. Rakdos is a solid midrange deck, and I think it has some pretty interesting tools to work with.
Plus, there’s the brand-new Sorin the Mirthless, as a mono-black Planeswalker. He feels like something you’d find in a starter deck or a commander deck maybe. He’s not the best planeswalker I’ve ever seen, but there’s something satisfying about locking someone down, pushing them around, and then winning with “You lose 13 life.” It’s not even that hard to do either. You just make sure you have enough creatures to protect him.
That won’t be a problem, not in this deck.
How’s It Work?
We’re just going to beat people up with Vampires! I like the pairing of Immersturm Predator and Olivia, Crimson Bride. The interaction is amazing, potentially. Immersturm Predator is a 4-drop Flying Vampire Dragon. That’s already awesome. When it comes into play, you exile a card from a graveyard and give it a +1/+1 counter. You can also sacrifice a creature to give it Indestructible for a turn, but then you have to tap it. You can do this in response to declaring attack.
Then I think you can use Olivia, Crimson Bride to bring it back. She’s a ¾ Flying/Haste, but admittedly is a 6-drop. This is going to happen a bit later in the game. Whenever she attacks, return a creature card from your graveyard, tapped and attacking. It also gains “When you don’t control a legendary Vampire, exile this creature.”
So in theory, you could just keep bringing back Falkenrath Pit Fighter, or heck, even Bloodthirsty Adversary, if you’ve got the mana. Its trigger specifies “enters the battlefield”, not “upon cast”. However, it’s expensive (3 mana) and also allows you to exile up to that many instants or sorceries from your graveyard and copy them. You can play them without paying. This also grants the Bloodthirsty Adversary a +1/+1 counter for each 3 mana you paid. If you have a turn where you didn’t use a bunch of mana, here’s a great way to get free damage.
Or you can bring back Falkenrath Forebear every turn as a 3/1 Flyer, or Voldaren Bloodcaster, to go back to making Blood Tokens. In general, Falkenrath Forebear is a solid card, since it’s a 3/1 Flying/Can’t Block. Whenever it deals damage to a player, we create a Blood Token. You can sacrifice two of them and tap 1 black mana to return this to play also. I’m not really big on Blood Token generation, but we do have a good interaction with them.
Voldaren Bloodcaster creates them whenever it or another nontoken of yours dies. It’s a 2/1 Flyer for 2, so it’s also pretty aggressive. If you do this and control five or more Blood Tokens, transform her into Bloodbat Summoner. Now she’s a 3/3 Flyer, and at the start of combat, you can turn a Blood Token into a 2/2 black Bat with Flying and Haste, in addition to other types.
Many of our creatures are a bit on the low-life side, and that’s not good. We have another interaction that’s good all game, and even better if we can keep bringing her back via Olivia, and that’s Vampire Socialite. Another new card, a 2/2 Vampire Noble for 2 (1 black, 1 red). This 2/2 with Menace grants a +1/+1 counter to every Vampire you control when she comes into play – if an opponent lost life this turn.
As long as an opponent lost life this turn (so every turn), each other Vampire you control comes into play with an additional +1/+1 counter. So every Vampire can come in buffed as long as we keep making them lose life. If we can keep replaying Vampire Socialite with Olivia in the mid-game, we just need a way to ensure our opponent loses life.
Say “Hello” to The Meathook Massacre! When a creature of ours dies, each opponent loses 1 life! We can sacrifice Vampire Noble to something (Falkenrath Pit Fighter, Immersturm Predator, Henrika Domnathi), and then attack, bringing back Vampire Noble! She enters play, triggers the first effect, giving every attacker another +1/+1. This will make it safer for Olivia to play aggressively, on top of that.
We do have another way to help us get an opponent lower on life, and that’s Anje, Maid of Dishonor. She’s another great way to utilize Ophelia. Whenever she or another Vampire enters play for us, we create a Blood Token, but this can only happen once per turn. You can pay 2 colorless, sacrifice a creature or a blood token, to make each opponent lose 2 life and you gain 2 life.
We can also use her as a sacrifice engine for Vampire Socialite. We also have Henrika Domnathi as a solid ⅓ Flying Vampire. At the start of our combat, we pick one of three abilities that hasn’t been chosen:
- Each player sacrifices a creature
- You draw a card and you lose 1 life.
- Transform Henrika Domnathi
Her alternate form is Henrika, Infernal Seer, a ¾ Flying/Deathtouch/Lifelink. You can use 3 mana (2 black) to give each creature you control with Flying, Deathtouch, and/or Lifelink +1/+0 until the end of turn. What a banger of a card! A great way to make those flyers a tiny bit more dangerous. Since our opponent may not have a lot of flyers, we can abuse them with quick strikes from creatures that, as you can see, have a way to return. Even in death, they benefit us.
Then there’s Sorin the Mirthless. A 4 Loyalty, 4-drop planeswalker. He’s decent all-around, but that ultimate can really seal the deal for us. Here’s what he can do:
- +1: Look at the top card of your library. You may reveal that card and put it into your hand. If you do, you lose life equal to its mana value.
- -2: Create a ⅔ black Vampire creature token with Flying and Lifelink.
- -7: Sorin the Mirthless deals 13 damage to any target. You gain 13 life.
The best part of that first ability is if it’s a land. You get a land in hand with 0 life lost. Great if you missed a drop. We don’t have a lot of super expensive cards in the deck either and have ways to gain life back. It’s okay to be pretty aggressive with that ability. If you can get Olivia, Anje, and Immersturm in play, you can just harass the other player with complete impunity. Keep bringing back the Vampire Socialite, buffing your attackers, giving Immersturm indestructibility, if you want as well. Your opponent will hopefully crumble under the weight of these Vampiric Nobles.
4 Falkenrath Pit Fighter
4 Haunted Ridge
4 Blightstep Pathway
2 Voldaren Estate
2 Olivia, Crimson Bride
3 Immersturm Predator
3 Sorin the Mirthless
2 Henrika Domnathi
2 Anje, Maid of Dishonor
2 Agadeem’s Awakening
3 Florian, Voldaren Scion
3 Falkenrath Forebear
2 The Meathook Massacre
2 Bloodthirsty Adversary
4 Vampire Socialite
4 Infernal Grasp
2 Voldaren Bloodcaster
There are so many Vampire decks to try! Personally, I played a lot of Mono-Black Vampires in Standard back in the day. I can see how many of these have potential, but I wanted to highlight this classic first. It has a solid gameplay loop to keep buffing the creatures you manage to keep in play, and that’s important. You have ways to constantly gain life/make someone lose life, and solid beaters to win the game with. It’s got a lot of potential.
Cemetery Prowler Makes Stompy Fun! (Mono-Green Aggro):
I’m really excited to see how Mono-Green stompy is going to work. We’ve got a fancy new beater in Ulvenwald Oddity/Ulvenwald Behemoth. After you have 8 mana, you can end people’s games with a real exclamation point. We also have a one-drop that will benefit Werewolf decks will also benefit us – Ascendant Packleader. Technically speaking, this is a Simic deck. We run one multi-colored card, and enough mana to make it happen. I still see this as a Mono-Green deck, despite that. Mono-Green Aggro is all about dumping as much damage as humanly possible. We’re going to combine reasonably-costing creatures, the wildly overpowered Ranger Class to make sure we’re in a dominant position at all times.
How’s It Work?
We’re pretty familiar with what to expect from Mono-Green by now. We’ve talked about it a few times here, but now we’ve got some brand new tools that I absolutely love to see. I want to find a place for Cemetary Prowler in this deck, but I don’t think there’s room for it right now. Maybe Sculptor of Winter could be slotted out? We’ll have to see how it all shakes out. Now, Ascendant Packleader isn’t incredibly overpowered – we only run one 4+ card. But it’s a 2/1 for 1, and that’s what we’re running it for.
Now, it does mean when we cast Ulvenwald Oddity, it grants a +1/+1 counter to the Packleader. Ascendant Packleader comes into play with a +1/+1 counter if we control a permanent with 4+ Mana Value. So on turn 1, this obviously won’t happen. If we play one later in the game? Absolutely feasible. On top of that, anytime we cast a spell with Mana Value 4 or greater, Ascendant Packleader gets a +1/+1 counter.
Now, I’m worried about Deathbonnet Sprout, but I like the card. I worry about it, because I don’t want to accidentally get rid of all of my Ulvenwald Oddities. This Fungus has us mill a card each of our upkeeps, and if we have 3+ creatures in the grave, it transforms from the 1/1 Deathbonnet to a 3/3 Deathbonnet Hulk. Then, during your upkeep, you can exile a card from the grave, and if it’s a creature, Deathbonnet Hulk gets a +1/+1 counter. We can hold off on this until we start losing creatures in combat if we wanted, but I don’t want to wait.
We also have the Swarm Shambler as another 1-drop Fungus Beast. It enters play with a +1/+1 counter (baseline 0/0). Whenever a creature we control with a +1/+1 counter becomes the target of an opponent’s spell, create a 1/1 Insect token. You can also pay 1 colorless and tap this creature to grant Swarm Shambler a +1/+1 counter. So over time, it can really get nasty. And having extra tokens to attack/block with is nice.
For getting extra mana, we have Sculptor of Winter, a 2-drop Elf Rogue that can be tapped to untap a snow land. Of course, all of our Forests are Snow Lands. Old-Growth Troll is another way to help. It’s a 3-drop 4/4 Trample, and when it dies, it returns as an enchantment. You attach it to a Forest, and it now taps for 2 green instead of 1. You can now also tap 1 and sacrifice that Forest to create a 4/4 green Troll Warrior token with Trample. So you can get it back again. We will want to be aggressive with the Old-Growth Troll, which is an incredible card. Another incredibly aggressive card in the deck is Werewolf Pack Leader, which is a 3/3. It can become a 5/3, Gain Trample, and stops being a Human for a turn for 4 mana. He can also draw a card for you with Pack Tactics, provided it attacks and you have 6+ total power for this combat phase.
Of course, Kazandu Mammoth is back as a 3-cost creature that can gain +2+2 for the turn when we play a land. No question it belongs. Hopefully, turn 2, we’ll get a Ranger Class in play. This way we get a 2/2 Wolf token, and at Level 2, it grants a +1/+1 counter on an attacking creature anytime we attack. Level 3 lets us cast creature spells from the top of our library though, and we can look at that top card anytime. None of these creatures cost more than 3 mana, so we can easily fill the board with threats. Then, we play a 4-cost Ulvenwald Oddity, a 4/4 Trample/Haste.
We want to transform it as soon as possible though – for 7 mana. Now it’s the Ulvenwald Behemoth, and we can win the game at this point. Sooner if we just overwhelm people. The Ulvenwald Behemoth is an 8/8 Trample/Haste, and other creatures you control get +1/+1, Trample, and Haste. When we’re ready to attack with this, we want that Level 3 Ranger Class. Cast as many creatures as you can from there on that turn, and swing-out. Especially if your opponent can’t wipe your field.
We unload so much damage at once. This isn’t a fancy, sneaky deck. The only spell we run is Blizzard Brawl. It chooses a creature we don’t control and one we do. If we have three or more Snow permanents, that creature of ours gains +1/+0 and is indestructible for the turn. Then they fight! An excellent way to deal with a threat, before we smash our opponent into bits and pieces, that’s for sure. It’s only one mana, so it’s a real bargain. Sadly, it’s a Sorcery, so we can’t do it “in response” to anything.
18 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Ulvenwald Oddity
4 Ascendant Packleader
4 Deathbonnet Sprout
4 Ranger Class
2 Faceless Haven
4 Sculptor of Winter
4 Old-Growth Troll
4 Blizzard Brawl
4 Swarm Shambler
4 Kazandu Mammoth
4 Werewolf Pack Leader
2 Snakeskin Veil
2 Tajuru Blightblade
2 Outland Liberator
2 Devouring Tendrils
3 Inscription of Abundance
I’ve got a good feeling about Mono-Green Stompy. I wonder if it will outperform Gruul Stompy, which has some new tech to enjoy too. This is a solid deck though, and it does frankly, include a lot of rares. It’s not cheap to build, but if you already had the old rares, it’s not so bad. This is a deck that lets you get a lot of early licks in and force your opponent to block things they otherwise might not want to. Then when we flood the board, drop our 8/8 Trample, and suddenly everything we have has Trample too? We just bowl people down, crushing them under the weight of the forest. It’s super satisfying.
Welcome to the Wedding – Mardu Vampires! (Black/Red/White Vampire Midrange):
How could we not talk about more Vampires? After all, Innistrad: Crimson Vow is all about Vampires, so at least one or two of these MTG Arena decks will feature them. I wanted to see some use of Edgar, Charmed Groom. His alternate art, Dracula the Voyager is nice, but either way, the card is rad for Vampires. This is not especially a fast deck, but once the mid-game happens, and our Vampires are getting out of control, it’s going to feel good.
How’s It Work?
This deck doesn’t churn out a bunch of extra tokens and creatures like the Rakdos deck does. That aside, we’ve got plenty of ways to make sure our damage gets through. There are some very serious targeted control options in this deck. As long as it’s not a mirror-match, you’ll do just fine. Since Vampire’s Vengeance deals 2 to all non-Vampires, it will be absolutely useless in the mirror match. Same with Crippling Fear, which has you pick a creature type. All that aren’t that type get -3/-3. If your Vampires are simply that much bigger, that could still play out just fine though.
We’re here to run people down with Vampires, it’s pretty simple. The early game is going to be us set up for success later down the line. We can just batter someone into Sorin the Mirthless range, or beat someone up and use him to make more 2/3 Flying/Lifelink Vampires. That’s entirely up to you, but I want to win via Sorin’s final ability. Turn-1 Duress will remain my favorite, most powerful move. Even better if you can do it on Turn 2 as well. Take away those cards your opponent kept a greedy hand over.
We do have a turn-1 creature though, with Unholy Officiant out of White. A ½ Vigilance is amazing in the early game. You can also pay 5 mana (1 white) to give it a +1/+1 counter, making it relevant later in the game too. We also have one of my favorite Vampires in the game right now, Vampire Socialite. If your opponent lost life this turn, and this comes in, all your Vampires gain a +1/+1 counter! Then, if an opponent lost life this turn, other Vampire you control enters play with an additional +1/+1 counter. We make beefy boys and girls around here.
But since this deck is three-colored, we have another White Vampire – Welcoming Vampire. It’s a ⅔ Flyer, and whenever one or more creatures enter play with 2 or less power, we draw a card. Sadly it can only happen once a turn. It’s a solid way for us to get an additional card each turn if we can keep playing our Vampires (weaker ones, anyway). For 4 mana, we have our best Vampire, the White/Black Edgar Markov. Now known as Edgar, Charmed Groom, He grants other Vampires of yours +1/+1, so he’s a Lord! When he dies, you return him to the battlefield under its owner’s control as Edgar Markov’s Coffin.
This Legendary Artifact creates a 1/1 White/Black Vampire creature token with lifelink and adds a Bloodline counter to this card during your upkeep. Then if there are 3 or more BLoodline Counters, remove them and transform him back into Edgar, Charmed Groom. So unless you exile him, he’s going to keep coming back, no matter what. He’s one of our only ways to make additional Vampires, which is handy. They can be used as chump blockers, extra attackers, or as fodder for Immersturm Predator, to give it Indestructible for the turn. It still can exile a card from a graveyard and gain a +1/+1 counter anytime it’s tapped as well.
Florian, Voldaren Scion is here to be a 3/3 First Strike and also lets us look at the top X cards of our deck. This is based on how much life your opponent lost this turn. Exile one and put the rest on the bottom of your deck, and you can play that exiled one this turn. An excellent way to get an additional card in play that you have a choice over. It’s pretty satisfying to get Sorin this way. Henrika Domnathi is back to also giving us some awesome choices, and ultimately becoming a Flying/Deathtouch/Lifelink ¾ and can buff our creatures by +1/+0 for having one of those same abilities. It’s expensive (3 mana), but the +1/+0 for the turn could turn the tide.
After all, not every deck runs flying. That’s where we shine with this deck. We fly across safe as we can, and just start hitting people over and over. A few Vampire Socialites can also buff our allies at key moments. We also have Lantern Flare to help us get life and stay in the game, while also removing a threat. A Cleave Spell, it normally has you deal X damage to a creature or planeswalker and gain X life, where X is the number of creatures you control. You can instead, pay 2+X (1 white, 1 red) to just deal X damage to a creature or planeswalker, and gain X life.
If we need a little early extra bit of mana, we can sacrifice an artifact or creature and cast Deadly Dispute. It has us draw 2 and create a Treasure Token. This is an excellent use for a Blood Token if we have one (say, through Vampires’ Vengeance). We’re just going to hit the other people with a swarm of buff, angry Vampires. That’s the endgame here. Then, when it’s time, Sorin the Mirthless, the grandson of Edgar will secure the win. His -7 causes a target to lose 13 life and grants us 13 life in exchange. We get our opponent to 13, and then, Sorin takes a bite out of them.
2 Sorin the Mirthless
3 Sundown Pass
3 Shattered Sanctum
3 Haunted Ridge
3 Crippling Fear
4 Deadly Dispute
2 Henrika Domnathi
3 Unholy Officiant
2 Lantern Flare
4 Immersturm Predator
3 Florian, Voldaren Scion
4 Voldaren Estate
3 Welcoming Vampire
2 Vampires’ Vengeance
3 Edgar, Charmed Groom
3 Vampire Socialite
I’m not sure which Vampire deck is going to stand on top of the pack, to be completely honest. I like the idea of this one, but I think it still needs some adjusting to make it viable. I like where it’s going though. In a few weeks, we’re going to revisit these decks without a doubt and see how the meta has shaped up. For now, though, I like this one, and it would probably be the deck I play other than Mono-Black Vampires. I just feel like having one color is faster and safer. But we’ll see.