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Don't Call it a Vampire Deck


I don't want to build a Vampire deck. Tribal decks can be fun, but the idea of building Edgar Markov sort of bores me, rather a lot. You see what just happened there? I got increasingly bored over the course of a mere sentence, that's how quickly Vampire-related boredness can set in. There is a solution, though. You just build a deck that isn't a Vampire deck. It sounds simple, but it also isn't a perfect option. For example, what if they print really good vampires? It's fateful that we're talking about Orzhov cards, because that question has haunted me since Ixalan came out. With the release of Rivals of Ixalan, my disquiet only grew. More good Vampires were printed but I still didn't want to build tribal Vampires like a doofus. Then, the solution hit me like an article I already wrote. We build with the cards we want to use but don't make the deck tribal Vampires if we don't want to. We certainly can, but why limit ourselves? It was with that in mind that I honed in on a creature I wanted at the helm of a deck.

Elenda, the Dusk Rose

This is a Vampire, and when she dies, she makes Vampires. You'll have Vampires for days. However, the more I look at how she is designed, the more I see possibilities as an Orzhov deck that just does Orzhov stuff rather that a deck that really cares about Vampire stuff. Elenda could make Unicorn tokens when she dies for all I care -- I just want that sweet, sweet value. If I accidentally benefit from having a ton of Vampire tokens it will be just that, an accident. No longer weighed down by the doldrums of concocting another fairly stock tribal list, I branched out into what Elenda does best and was fairly happy with what I found.

Elenda laughs at board wipes, smiles at Grave Pact effects, and is a Pisces. Her hair has to be a nightmare to deal with in a jungle climate and that could be what makes her so eager to head to your Command Zone and let a bunch of underlings handle combat. Her lifelink ensures she's relevant in an Orzhov deck even if you merely attack for 1, and equipment seems pretty good on her because if she lives and hits them, you gain extra life, and if she dies, you get extra Vampires. Do I want to put something like Argentum Armor on her? Maybe not, but Stoneforge Masterwork seems hilarious. Or is it? After all, we don't want a Vampire deck. Besides her tokens, are there Vampires we want to jam?

Twilight Prophet

OK, I'm listening.

Bishop of Binding

Yep, I'd play this anyway.

Anowon, the Ruin Sage

That's me convinced. I think that if we incidentally play some Vampires, that's fine because Ixalan block gave us some good ones. However, we're not building Vampire tribal, so don't worry about that.

I want to maximize the benefit from Elenda dying (meaning I want to put Anointed Procession in the deck, but I always want that) and I want to maximize how punished they are when our creatures die. I also think it's appropriate to engage in a little Orzhov life-based screwiness since we have a Commander with Lifelink and a bit of a built-in damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't ability that ensures you either get through and deal damage, hit their creature and gain life or she dies and you get those sweet, sweet tokens. Between Grave Pact stuff, Blood Artist stuff and the typical infrastructure of a deck that functions, we're bound to fill our list up pretty quickly. Let's see where a 75% deck built around Elenda that totes isn't a tribal Vampire deck would look like.

This looks like a lot of fun, in fact. I would say it looks like a blast, but I put a Blasting Station in the deck and I was thinking "Maybe later I can say this deck will be a blast to play and maybe someone will read that and remember that I included a Blasting Station" but I also remembered that I hate puns, so here we are. It will be a blast to play, though. Not because of the Blasting Station. I mean, yes, in part because of the functionality of Blasting Station, because sacrificing one of our many tokens to blast them, triggering Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos and reloading whenever another creature enters the fray is all of the things we want this deck to do, but not because of a pun on the name of Blasting Station.

Do you hate that this wasn't a Vampire deck? That's an aggressive accusation right off the bat but if you were looking at this and saying "BUT WHYYY" don't worry. I think this can still function reasonably well as a 75% deck as Vampire tribal. I won't tell you which Vampires you need to jam to make that happen -- if you're inclined to build that way, you probably already know. Just know that just because I'm bored by the concept, that doesn't mean you need be. Vampires have some decent synergy, but you may find yourself missing your access to Red. I wish this deck could have a little Red for Goblin Bombardment, Impact Tremors et al, but we gave all of that up to have the deck we have.

Want to load up on more equipment than I did? Cut a few creatures and go a bit more Voltron. I suggest Blade of Selves, Darksteel Plate, Sword of War and Peace, Quietus Spike, and Sword of Fire and Ice. A few auras couldn't hurt, either. In this build, you basically have a Commander that grows as they kill each other's creatures and who gives you a nice consolation prize if she dies. The Lifelink is definitely a nice bonus in that case. You have access to equipment tutors in White, so have at it.

Want to be a bit more of a typical Orzhov deck? Well, you can always cut some creatures and add cards like Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood. Those cards are fine, especially in a deck with no tutors. It's not easy to assemble that combo and they'll see it coming so feel free to use that in a 75% build if you want. You need a change in life total to set it off, and your Commander can handle that for you in a way that most Commanders can't, which is handy. I don't have a problem with that build at all and I think it's fairly trivial to tip this one that way.

What do we think? Too stock? Not stock enough? Should it have been a Vampire deck? Not enough cards that steal their creatures? (I agree there -- a few of my favorites in these colors include Praetor's Grasp, Evangelize, and Debt of Loyalty). Do I not know how one of my enchantments works? Leave it for me in the comments section. Until next time!

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