Ertai’s Trickery: The Bloodsucker’s Ball (Part 3 of 3)
Welcome back to the third and final installment of this episode of Ertai’s Trickery, the occasional series where we build a more competitive deck using raw materials from other precon and theme decks. For the Bloodsuckers’ Ball, we’ve been raiding the graveyards of a trio of Standard-environment Intro Decks: Zendikar’s Rise of the Vampires, Worldwake’s Fangs of the Bloodchief, and Magic 2011’s Reign of Vampirism.
In our last installment, we finalised a very robust removal package- exactly what will be needed to help our vampires get through. Today we’ll be looking at the our creature pool and making the final cuts.
Safe for Now: The Guul Draz Vampires and Pulse Trackers are slam dunks. There are other options given an open card pool we might prefer, but part of this exercise is to work with that we’ve got. Unless you’re playing against Black, the Guul Draz Vampire becomes a nice finishing option in the second half of the game thanks to her intimidate. The Pulse Tracker can get in some annoying early damage, and is always good for one more in hte later game if he’s managed to stick around. Even a suicide run into the red zone pays some dividend.
We’ll also be keeping two of the Viscera Seers. Initially we thought that the sacrifice subtheme we saw present in the card pool was a measure too cute, but it turns out there’s plenty of seats at the table that need to be filled to hit our quota of 27 creatures. As an aggro/swarm deck, there will be many times we’ll need to send our creatures in to certain death, if only to ensure some of our other beaters get through for damage. The Viscera Seer provides a way to get a small residual value out of a creature that’s going to die anyway.
Gone Forever: Viscera Seer (x1)
Safe for Now: We’ll be taking all four of the Children of Night- they’re a good source of fast damage, and not one that you ever really mind sending in to their deaths. The lifegain they provide is a nice little consolation prize to compensate for their loss once blocked. The Gatekeeper of Malakir’s built-in card advantage makes him an auto-include, and it’s a steal of a deal (three mana kicked). Both Ruthless Cullblades make the cut as well, becoming very aggressive 4/2’s once you hit the halfway mark.
That leaves us with the Skeletons and the Bloodthrones. We’ll take the Skeletons here- as before, they might have looked a little gimmicky in the beginning, but we can only make nine cuts to our creature pool. We’ll give the gimmick a shot, as it’s a chance at renewable benefit from our sacrifice outlets.
Gone Forever: Bloodthrone Vampires. She’s less efficient than the upcoming Vampire Aristocrats (getting 0.50 points of power per mana versus the Aristo’s 0.66), and they both have the same ability. While the Bloodthrones can pump up to 3/3, they’re generally quite fragile and vulnerable to pressure from your opponent to feed them to keep them alive
Safe for Now: Lots of quality picks here! The Nighthawks are windmill slams, and getting three of them is a glorious thing. The Captivating Vampire (Reign of Vampirism’s premium foil rare) is also an easy grab. His stealing ability is a bit gimmicky, but his ability to buff your army makes him well worth the price of admission. Likewise we have the Bloodhusk Ritualist, who can offer absurd card advantage later in the game, and even occasionally cripple an opponent by wiping their hand. Finally, we want all three of the Vampire Aristocrats. The Aristos are right for the reasons that a trio of Bloodthrones were wrong. As a 2/2, they’re not vulnerable to pingers and random points of occasional damage (see: Blisterstick Shaman) that might force you to eat your own army to keep them afloat.
Gone Forever: Although a 3/2 is a decent body for three mana (in Black, anyway), these just didn’t do enough to justify a spot on the bench. The Royal Assassin might seem like a waste to cut, but there are good reasons to give this classic terror his walking papers. He is a fantastic defensive threat- and therein lies his problem. His mere appearance on the board will often prompt your opponent to circle their wagons and wait to draw an answer, and that’s just the sort of behaviour you’d least like to see. Aggressive strategies seldom mind trading damage for damage. You let their beaters whale on you, then you turn around and hit back a little harder. A board stall that lets your opponent develop their mana base a little more works against you. Although an undeniably strong card in the right deck, this just isn’t he palce for him.
Safe for Now: Both Anowon and the Bloodwitch are fairly easy calls for the top-of-curve beaters. The Bloodwitch will drop some vital damage on your opponent when she enters the battlefield, and while her protection from White might occasionally come in handy, her flying always will. Anowon is a curious case. His 4/3 body for five mana is acceptable in a colour where larger creatures tend not to have much in the way of efficiency, but his ability can be very strong. Best of all, the only creatures that can be killed by ‘friendly fire’ so far are the two Reassembling Skeletons which can, well… reassemble. He is all-upside here, unlike in his own deck where Zombie Goliaths and Jagwasp Swarms could occasionally present a problem. We’ll also be taking one of the two Howling Banshees, adding a touch of damage and another flying body to our offense.
Gone Forever: There’s only room for one of the Banshees, so the other is cut her walking papers.
And there we have it- The Bloodsucker’s Ball is now complete. 60 cards, 23 land, and all the Vampires you can shake a crucifix at. It may not win you the Pro Tour, but it’s easily made and should do a more than passable job. If you’d like the full list in a convenient format, check it out over at TappedOut.net. We hope you’ve enjoyed this guest feature on Red Site Wins. And if you’re looking for more preconstructed coverage, you can always come visit us at Ertai’s Lament.
As always, when there are decisions to be made you’ll find others holding a different opinion. We’d love to hear what others might have done differently with the same set of cards. What decisions do you disagree with? How would you have brewed the Bloodsuckers’ Ball? Let us know!