Several weeks ago, during Innistrad spoilers, I explored a Vampire deck for the new Standard. Now that we have the whole set, there are a couple more cards worth including. Unfortunately, some cards have also gone up in price since then. Stromkirk Noble, for one, has more than doubled. It’s beyond our budget now, but if you picked them up earlier, I’d definitely include them in the new version of the deck. Speaking of the deck, here it is:
3 Bloodline Keeper
4 Bloodcrazed Neonate
4 Crossway Vampire
4 Rakish Heir
4 Vampire Interloper
3 Volt Charge
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Curse of Stalked Prey
3 Shrine of Burning Rage
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Victim of Night
3 Traitorous Blood
4 Arc Trail
4 Ghost Quarter
Crossway Vampire is a perfect card for this deck. It’s reasonably priced, and it can help push your other creatures through to start building up counters. Crossway Vampire is especially useful when battling a Wurmcoil Engine or Titan that threatens to swallow your creatures whole.
With Stromkirk Noble gone, it will often be a bit more difficult to close out games. Shrine of Burning Rage helps combat this and will sometimes just win games on its own. This card is especially good against U/B control, since your opponent will usually have no way to deal with it once it hits the board.
Geistflame is a very powerful card against aggressive decks. It can kill a creature on turn one—a turn when you have no other play. Plus, it comes back later to kill another small creature. It also does great work against Inkmoth Nexus—killing two with very little effort.
With Shrine of Burning Rage now in the deck, Galvanic Blast is a very slight upgrade to Shock, just on the off chance that you get all three Shrines out. The more interesting change is that we’re now playing four of these 2-damage spells. Although I do love Incinerate, the format seems to have very few creatures with 3 toughness at the moment, so Galvanic Blast will often do the same job for half the mana.
Dismember is a very poorly positioned card in the current environment, since most decks are either playing very small creature or very large ones. Therefore, it has been replaced by Volt Charge. Volt Charge deals with Stormblood Berserker and any other 3-toughness guys you may come across. It also proliferates Shrine of Burning Rage, Bloodcrazed Neonate, and any Vampires that have counters from Rakish Heir or Curse of Stalked Prey.
Now that we’ve had a chance to see some of the top decks in the new format, we can develop a sideboard to help fight them.
Arc Trail is a great card against other aggressive decks, usually taking out two creatures at once and clearing the way for your Vampires. Especially in this environment, I believe every Red deck should have some of these in its sideboard.
Traitorous Blood helps combat opposing Titans and Wurmcoil Engines. It steals your opponent’s finisher for a turn, and it beats him over the head with it. It also gives the stolen creature Trample, so your opponent won’t be able to just chump-block with a Viridian Emissary or Snapcaster Mage.
Victim of Night also helps fight larger creatures, killing them before they can get in the way of your Vampires. Unlike Go for the Throat and Doom Blade, this removal spell kills Wurmcoil Engines and every single Titan. In fact, most creatures it can’t kill are small enough to be burned out by Galvanic Blast or Volt Charge.
Ghost Quarter helps out against the Wolf Run Ramp decks that have become popular recently. Although your burn spells will often make short work of any Inkmoth Nexus that dares come your way, Kessig Wolf Run is still powerful enough on its own to warrant a specific answer.
Wolf Run Ramp – Game 1
I won the roll, and my opponent took a mulligan. I kept a hand of two Mountains, a Swamp, Vampire Interloper, Rakish Heir, Geistflame, and Shrine of Burning Rage. I opened with a Mountain, and my opponent played a Forest before passing the turn. I drew another Vampire Interloper, played a Swamp, and cast it. I ended my turn. My opponent played Rootbound Crag and cast Rampant Growth for a Mountain. He passed the turn. I drew Bloodcrazed Neonate, played a Mountain, and cast Rakish Heir. I then attacked with Vampire Interloper. My opponent took 2, and the Interloper gained a +1/+1 counter. I passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest, cast Viridian Emissary, and passed the turn. I drew Dragonskull Summit, played it, and cast Shrine of Burning Rage. I then cast Geistflame on the Emissary, putting a counter on the Shrine and letting my opponent fetch a Forest. I attacked for 5, put a counter on each of my creatures, and passed the turn. My opponent played Inkmoth Nexus and cast Garruk, Primal Hunter. He made a Beast token and passed the turn. My Shrine got a second counter, and I drew a Swamp. I played the land and attacked Garruk with Vampire Interloper, killing him. I then cast Bloodcrazed Neonate and the second Vampire Interloper, putting another counter on the Shrine and passing the turn. My opponent cast Primeval Titan, finding Kessig Wolf Run and Inkmoth Nexus, and he ended his turn. My Shrine ticked up to 4 counters, and I drew a Crossway Vampire. I cast it, putting another counter on the Shrine and making Primeval Titan unable to block. I attacked with everything. The Beast token blocked Rakish Heir, and my opponent dropped to 5. Each of the Vampire Interlopers received a +1/+1 counter, and Bloodcrazed Neonate received 2. I passed the turn. My opponent drew a card, examined his options, and conceded.
−3 Volt Charge
Wolf Run Ramp – Game 2
I kept a hand of Swamp, Dragonskull Summit, two Vampire Interlopers, Rakish Heir, Curse of Stalked Prey, and Geistflame. My opponent opened with a Copperline Gorge and passed the turn. I drew Crossway Vampire, played my Swamp, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I drew Victim of Night and cast Vampire Interloper before ending my turn. My opponent played a land and cast Green Sun’s Zenith for 2, finding a Viridian Emissary. He passed the turn. I drew Shrine of Burning Rage, cast Curse of Stalked Prey, and attacked. My opponent took 2, and I put a counter on my Vampire Interloper. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and hit me for 2 with Viridian Emissary. He then cast Tree of Redemption and passed the turn. I drew Dragonskull Summit, cast Rakish Heir, and attacked with my Vampire Interloper. My opponent took 3, and the Interloper received 2 more counters. I passed the turn. My opponent hit me for another 2 damage with Viridian Emissary, then played a land and cast Acidic Slime, destroying Curse of Stalked Prey. He passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Victim of Night on Tree of Redemption. Then, I dropped my opponent to 10 with Vampire Interloper, putting another counter on it, and I passed the turn. My opponent played Kessig Wolf Run and attacked with Acidic Slime. I took the damage, and my opponent cast Primeval Titan. He searched up two copies of Inkmoth Nexus and passed the turn. I drew another Vampire Interloper and cast Crossway Vampire, making Primeval Titan unable to block. I then cast Geistflame on Viridian Emissary, and attacked for exactly lethal.
This deck is fairly strong even against the best decks in the format, and the addition of Crossway Vampire really does a lot for it. As you can tell from my play-test games, it’s rare that you will completely overrun an opponent, but you can often eke out enough of an advantage to win in the nick of time. You can also gain some small advantage just from the surprise factor. This deck plays very differently from any other deck in the format, and your opponents often won’t know how best to fight it. If you’re looking for a fun and unusual aggressive deck, this is certainly a great choice.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze or on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.