The War Report: Upgrading Vampiric Bloodlust

The new Commander 2017 decks released this past Friday, and I must say it was a chore to get my hands on one! With the commander series passed, I had no trouble grabbing a 2015 (Daxos) online for less than the MSRP, and picked up a 2016 (Saskia) deck at Target, six months after it had released. The Commander 2017 editions however were not so easy to come by. It seems that there were rumors of a limited print run, so online stores were price gouging — I saw decks that are supposed to be $35.99 MSRP going for $50-60 at the online stores I typically buy singles from. Even Amazon and Ebay had the decks listed higher than the going price, it was ridiculous. I figured that I’d get my hands on the deck by going to Target or Walmart and paying the $35.99 + tax and be done with it, but that wasn’t how it went down.

I went to Target on Friday evening, and there were no Commander 2017 decks to be found. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see any of the precons whatsoever. I figured perhaps they just hadn’t gotten them up on the shelves yet, and I had an impending trip to visit my Mother for her birthday that weekend, so I figured I’d look again when I had the chance. On Saturday we had to run about and do some errands and ended up at Walmart. I went straight to the card section and lo and behold, there were no commander decks on display current or otherwise. Again on Sunday, I ended up at the Target where she lives, and still no dice. It was beginning to appear that I might not get my hands on one for regular price, and I surely didn’t want to pay the extra money despite really wanting to get my hands on the Edgar Markov deck. I remembered that there was a comic book store that also sold some Magic products when I used to live out there, so I Googled that, and it turns out that the store had closed. As a last ditch effort, I used the store locator on the official Magic website and found another LGS that was on the other side of town. I called and they had all four of the decks in stock so we rushed over there and I finally got the deck I was looking for. This store wasn’t gouging either, only charging $40 for the deck. What an ordeal!

Because of the trip I mentioned, I had to miss out on our weekly playgroup but I know that the guys went to a Commander event at an LGS and at least one of them picked up one of the new C17 decks. This next weekend we are set to move into the new house, so I already know I won’t be playing again, as they move on the 1st (Friday) and I’ll be moving in on my normal day off, Sunday. If all goes well, I’ll be able to play again the following Friday. I’m really looking forward to it, as I’ll have my Vampire deck ready to go in its fancy new accessories: a themed Deck Box + Sleeves.

So as the deck itself goes, it’s pretty good right out of the box. However, there were obvious ways to improve the deck significantly, along with having several important vampires missing from the list. Here’s the decklist for the precon:

1 Licia, Sanguine Tribune
1 Mathas, Fiend Seeker
1 Kheru Mind-Eater
1 Patron of the Vein
1 Bloodsworn Steward
1 Crimson Honor Guard
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Dark Impostor
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Sangromancer
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Vein Drinker
1 Bloodline Necromancer
1 Blood Artist
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Rakish Heir
1 Stromkirk Captain
1 Tithe Drinker
1 New Blood
1 Disrupt Decorum
1 Kindred Charge
1 Fell the Mighty
1 Blood Tribute
1 Consuming Vapors
1 Damnable Pact
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Ambition’s Cost
1 Read the Bones
1 Syphon Mind
1 Teferi’s Protection
1 Crackling Doom
1 Return to Dust
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Go for the Throat
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Mortify
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Door of Destinies
1 Well of Lost Dreams
1 Heirloom Blade
1 Boros Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Kindred Boon
1 Blind Obedience
1 Black Market
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Underworld Connections
1 Outpost Siege
1 Curse of Vitality
1 Curse of Disturbance
8 Swamp
4 Mountain
3 Plains
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Cinder Barrens
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forsaken Sanctuary
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Nomad Outpost
1 Opal Palace
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Stone Quarry
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg Volcano
1 Wind-Scarred Crag

There are some great cards included, and a decent landbase. However, many of the shitty tap lands are included, and some really powerful (and valuable) cards are great to have, but are screaming to be put into some of my other creations (Teferi’s Protection is one that is worth almost $30 but I want to use elsewhere). The curse cycle that was added with this commander set is also fairly weak, so I immediately removed the two in this list. Everything that I crossed out was removed and these are the cards that I added in their place:

I removed a couple of vampires that just weren’t that great and instead added some recent additions to the tribe along with an old card that is essentially half an Elesh Norn for black. These vampires simply have better effects, and I’m trying to abuse the +1/+1 counter theme that the deck was already riding. Speaking of counters and tokens, what else can we do?

Anointed Procession in combination with Edgar Markov’s Emminence ability is just absurd. Remember, he creates a 1/1 vampire everytime you cast a vampire. So cast one, get two with the enchantment’s effect. Couple that with Cathars’ Crusade and you’re giving +1/+1 to everything for each vampire hitting the battlefield. Add in a Coat of Arms, and they all get +1/+1 for every other creature that shares a creature type with it! You can really go wide with these simple additions!

Lastly, I added in the most obvious of Planeswalker choices. Each version of Sorin (who is of Markov decent and fits so well thematically) can create vampire tokens, and each has some other perks that add to the overall theme and flavor of the deck. He was an obvious choice and he was removed from other decks that really didn’t deserve him. He will lead with Edgar and turn all of humanity into an army of bloodsuckers if I have my way!

There are likely other cards that could easily slot in, and in some cases I had considered them but ultimately decided to keep my upgrades budget friendly. Overall, the $40 for the deck plus singles will end up being an $80 investment, and that’s on the low end for most of the decks I’ve created, so I’m glad to have been able to keep it within my means but still make it more powerful. Next time I’m planning on sharing another deck’s revamp that I am working on, so look for that soon!