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By: Lythand, Aaron Duvall
Oct 28 2011 11:15am
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So it has been eight months since I wrote my last article. What have I been doing? Well read on and find out. 

To start off, let me introduce myself to those who don’t know who I am. My real name is Aaron and I live in one of the biggest tourist areas in the United States, Orlando Florida, Home of Mickey Mouse, NASA, and NASCAR Racing. I have been playing Magic since the release of Ice Age. The game really got my attention when a friend of mine gave me my very first deck based around Fallen Angel, Feast of the Unicorn, and Howl from Beyond. I was hooked and never looked back. I dabble a little in competitive play, but my primary focus is playing casual with a strong emphasis on Commander. I am married to a wonderful wife who puts up with my cardboard and digital cardboard crack addictions. I have five cats and I am about to turn 39 in January. If you feel compelled to read any of my pat articles, you can find them HERE

For those who read my last article, you may remember me swearing off articles until I finished my other Magic project which revolved around me getting certified as a Level 1 Magic Judge. Well I feel proud to announce I have indeed made it Level 1. 

For me the journey was not easy. As I stated I have a wife, chores, and I don’t retain the information like I did when I was in High school. My time was limited on studying. I spent as many Wednesdays as I could at the local card shop going over scenarios with my friend and Level 2 judge Bryan Prillaman. We touched on simple things like, when you Lightning Bolt a Llanowar Elves, what specifically causes it to die, to more complex things such as what happens when you have Humility, March of the Machines, Mycosynth Lattice, and Opalescence in play at the same time. I think the process helped me grow not only as a person involved in Magic, but as a person in whole. So, with the help of Bryan, I was able to overcome obstacles that stood in the way, and achieve Judge-worthiness, but hey, you guys didn’t come here to read about my life, you came for a new commander deck to stomp some face. 

This time of the year is my favorite time. The weather is cooler, football is on TV, and all my favorite holidays are coming up, and Halloween happens to be one of them. About this time last year I did an article to go with the season and wrote about Night of the Living Dead, a zombie based deck. This year with the push of vampires in society, we have True Blood, Twilight, and the remake of Fright Night, I felt it appropriate to do a deck based on vampires. I present to you, Queen of the Damned, and our queen in this deck is Garza Zol, Plague Queen

 Garza Zol, Plague Queen 

Before we get into the deck, let’s do a quick history lesson on vampires. 

Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who survive by feeding on the life essence of living creatures. Although vampiric beings have been recorded in many cultures, the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe. During this time vampires where known by different names through out the different regions, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. With the increased level of vampire superstition in Europe, panic resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism. 

While folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearances ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the success of John Polidori's 1819 novel The Vampyre that established the standard of the modern vampire. Probably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century, inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula. The Vampire was itself based on Lord Byron's unfinished story "Fragment of a Novel", also known as "The Burial: A Fragment", published in 1819. 

In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote the novel Dracula and is remembered as the ideal vampire novel which would go on to provide the basis of modern vampire fiction. Dracula also drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves, zombies and legendary demons. The success of this book brought about a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, within books, films, video games, and television shows. 

In making my deck I wanted to stick with the vampiric theme as much as I could with the, and yet make the deck viable in an online environment. I had to find a balance between vampire themed cards as well as utilization, so not ever card in here will fit the theme. Please note this deck was made and tested before the release of Innistrad, so you won’t be finding any of those flavorful cards in here. 

And now for the deck.

Queen of the Damned
A Commander Deck by Aaron Duvall
Creatures
1 Ascendant Evincar
1 Avatar of Woe
1 Blood Tyrant
1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Chancellor of the Dross
1 Clone
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Geth, Lord of the Vault
1 Grave Titan
1 Kalastria Highborn
1 Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Magus of the Coffers
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Mephidross Vampire
1 Mirri the Cursed
1 Nirkana Revenant
1 Prince of Thralls
1 Quag Vampires
1 Reiver Demon
1 Repentant Vampire
1 Sangromancer
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Soul Collector
1 Sygg, River Cutthroat
1 Thraximundar
1 Vampire Aristocrat
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vampire Nocturnus
1 Vampiric Dragon
1 Wurmcoil Engine
36 cards

Other Spells
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Blood Tribute
1 Caged Sun
1 Decree of Pain
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Dimir Signet
1 Expedition Map
1 Exsanguinate
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Greed
1 Journeyer's Kite
1 Life's Finale
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Living Death
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Overwhelming Forces
1 Patriarch's Bidding
1 Plague Wind
1 Praetor's Grasp
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Rhystic Study
1 Rite of Replication
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
26 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Command Tower
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Grixis Panorama
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vesuva
15 Swamp
2 Island
2 Mountain
37 cards
 
Garza Zol, Plague Queen

 

So let’s break the deck down and see what we have. 

Ramp

 Caged SunDimir SignetExpedition mapExtraplanar LensGauntlet of PowerMagus of the CoffersNirkana RevenantRakdos SignetSol RingSolemn Simulacrum 

First off we have our artifact ramp which consist of Dimir Signet, Sol Ring, and Rakdos Signet. Magus of the Coffers is like adding Cabal Coffers number two.Caged Sun, Gauntlet of Power, Extraplanar Lens, and Nirkana Revenant all work to produce extra mana when tapping lands. One thing to note is that Extraplanar Lens and Gauntlet of Power will help your opponents if they are playing black, so be careful as to when you play them. 

Removal

Avatar of WoeButcher of MalakirDecree of PainDrana, Kalastria BloodchiefGatekeeper of MalakirKalitas, Bloodchief of GhetOblivion StoneOverwhelming ForcesPlague WindReiver DemonThraximundarVampiric Dragon

Avatar of Woe, Butcher of Malakir,Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief,Gatekeeper of Malakir,Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet, Repentant Vampire, Thraximundar, and Vampiric Dragon all provide pot removal. The Butcher of Malakir, Thraximundar and the Gatekeeper of Malakir don’t allow for targeting, it’s up to you opponent who dies, but these creatures are still helpful. Repentant Vampire is very situational. You need to meet the Threshold criteria before it can be of any usage for removal, and even then there is no guarantee you are playing against white. If you want to boost his effectiveness then you could include something in the deck that changes the color of a permanent. 

Decree of Pain, Life’s Finale, Oblivion Stone, Overwhelming Forces, Plague Wind, and Reiver Demon round out the removal suite as mass removal spells. Overwhelming force and Decree of Pain providing the extra benefit of card draw. 

Creature Boost

Ascendant EvincarBloodlord of VaasgothCaptivating VampireMephidross VampireQuag VampiresVampire Nocturnus

Each of these creatures will provide some sort of boost for the power and toughness of your creatures. 

Damage and Life Gain 

Blood TributeBlood TyrantChancellor of the DrossExsanguinateKalastria HighbornMalakir BloodwitchBasilisk CollarVampire NighthawkWurmcoil EngineSangromancerPrince of Thralls

Here we have our damage and life gain spells. Some are one shot usage like Exsanguinate and Blood Tribute, while others are reusable like Wurmcoil Engine and Basilisk Collar. Prince of Thralls is nice in the fact it either deals damage to your opponents when stuff goes to the graveyard, or you get that stuff. 

Utility, Draw, and Recursion 

Consecrated SphinxGeth, Lord of the VaultGrave TitanGreedKozilek, Butcher of TruthLiving DeathPatriarch's BiddingPraetor's GraspRhystic StudyRite of ReplicationSensei's Divining TopSkeletal VampireSoul CollectorSygg, River CutthroatVampire Aristocrat 

Consecrated Sphinx, Greed, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, Rhystic Study, Sensei's Divining Top,and Sygg, River Cutthroat are all great for getting card advantage. Geth, lord of the Vault, Living Death, Patriarch's Bidding, and Soul Collector each provide some form of recursion. Whether it's your creatures, or your opponents' creatures, there are there for bringing back from the grave. Praetor's Grasp and Rite of Replication are there for a form of utility. The grasp can be sure to tutor through your opponents deck to get something that can help. seventy five percent of the time your opponent will have a Sol Ring to steal at worst. The rite is great for copying your creatures, or a really good creature your opponent controls, Like Primeval Titan. One thing that may seem odd in this list is that I have Kozilek, Butcher of Truth in the Utility section. I very rarely ever use him for attacking. I really think that the annihilator mechanic can be a bit unfair and ruin the fun for the average commander player. Kozilek usually is used to draw cards and reset my deck. The only time I have ever attacked with him was at the request of my opponent to just finish the game so they could move on.

So how does the deck perform? Well lets go over some highlights of a game I recently played..

My opponents are as follows. Pokeherpro playing Adun Oakenshield, Abarlow playing Jedit Ojanen of Efrava, and Reignsofchaos playing Rafiq of the Many

Adun OakenshieldJedit Ojanen of EfravaRafiq of the Many.

The game starts off with me revealing Chancellor of the Dross putting me to 49. Reigns of Chaos makes a comment on how that's not good. This brings up something I been contemplating. Is it worth it to reveal the Chancellors at the beginning of a commander game. It seems like going into a biker bar and say who wants to get their butts kicked first. 

The first few turns are pretty much land and go. We notice that Abarlow is starting to ramp up pretty good and we make efforts to keep him in check. Reigns of Chaos seems to be worrisome as well since he is playing Rafiq. I continue to play keeping my guard up. ABarlow plays Vernal Bloom and when it comes around to Pokeherpro, he plays an Acidic Slime taking out the vernal Bloom. Abarlow continues to try and keep the momentum going by playing an Oracle of Mul Daya but I make short use of it with Gatekeeper of Malakir. I follow up with Nirkana Revenant and pass. When it comes back around to my turn, I tap three Swamps with the intention of playing Geth, Lord of the Vault and putting the Oracle of Mul Daya on my side of the board to help me ramp. Not paying attention to what I was clicking on, I click on Diabolic Tutor instead and go get Temple of the false God. I manage to cast Geth the next turn around and put the Oracle on my side of the board. Abarlow makes a comment about feeling like a target, and follows up with Sakiko, Mother of Summer, attacks and gets a lot of mana, dropping a bunch more creatures. Reignsofchaos plays Blatant Thievery getting control of Nirkana Revenant, Forcefield, and Sakiko, Mother of Summer. Abarlow concedes. 

Pokeherpro plays a seven mana Genesis Wave for six not getting much of value. He recurs Acidic Slime with Adun and cast it, targeting Rein's Venser's Journal. Not to be outdone, Reignsofchaos cast Genesis wave for thirteen getting Gauntlet of Power, Jin-Gitaxais, Core Augur, (Terastadon), Magus of the Tabernacle, Rubinia Soulsinger, Garruk Wildspeaker, Ajani Goldmane, Leyline of Lifeforce, and Lightning Greaves. Terastadon targets Caged Sun, Necrogenesis, and Tawnos' Coffin. On my turn I pay the upkeep of Geth and Mirri the Cursed and cast Sangromancer which will turn out to be my VIP card of the night. Pokeherpro plays Rain of Daggers, targeting Reignsofchaos which in turn triggers Sangromancer netting me a lot of life, putting me to eighty one. Reignsofchaos plays Primeval Titan, Stoic Angel, Darksteel Plate, and Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. He equips the titan with the plate and the greaves and attacks Pokeherpro. I was not sure why, but for some reason Pokeherpro was the threat to Reignsofchaos, and this will prove beneficial for my overall involvement for the rest of the game. I use Geth to recur Pokeherpro's Acidic Slime and take out the Forcefield. Since Geth has Intimidate, I am able to slip past Reigns defenses getting in there for five. Pokeherpro plays Avalanche Riders and takes out Reign's Mystifying Maze. Reigns brings in Rafiq of the Many, and attacks Pokeherpro bringing him to eleven. I can see both plays in my sights as I am over 100 life from Sangromancer. Reigns removes Geth from the game with Crib Swap and has tutored up (Jin-Gitaxais, Core Augur) and plays him again. When it comes time for discard, my life goes up a lot more. I play Garza Zol, Plague Queen and attack Reigns, but he blocks with Stoic Angel. Pokeherpro plays Exsanguinate for 14 bringing me to 108 and Reigns to one. Argentum Armor comes down on Reign's side, goes on the titan, and attacks Pokeherpro, bringing him to 21. Triggered ability from the armor takes out Garza Zol. Reigns then taps out except for Boseiju, Who Shelters All, and cast Chancellor of the Annex. I fear not since Malakir Bloodwitch has Pro White. On my turn I recast Garza Zol. I attack reigns with Malakir Bloodwitch and Pokeherpro with Mirri, Sangromancer, and Garza Zol. Reigns Dies and Pokher goes to 9. On Pokeher's turn he cast Wall of Blossoms to see if he draws anything to help him and he does not. He concedes. 

Conclusion 

It's not a bad deck. It needs some tweaking. If Reigns had focused on me, I believe my game would of not gone as good as it did. I often find I am unable to cast spells early on due to a high mana curve. If I miss a land drop, it makes it worse. Maybe some more mana fixing is in need here. Now that Innistrad is out I will probably be adding Bloodline Keeper, Falkenrath Marauders, Falkenrath Noble, Olivia Voldaren, and Rakish Heir. I will have to work the mana base to have a little more red production, but that won't be much of a problem. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. 

As Always, Be kind to your fellow players.

Bonus Material ! 

I want to take a minute and go off on a tangent. I want to talk about Ascendant Envicar who happens to be Crovax Windgrace and one of my favorite characters of all the novels.

Before becoming the Envicar of Wrath, Crovax was noble heir to the Windgrace family, however due to poor family relationships, and the fact he lived in Urborg, this led him to live an isolated life. The only companionship Crovax had was an angel by the name of Selenia, who was bound to an artifact to protect the family state. Over time Crovax would grow fond of Selenia, but Selenia was unable to return the love. When offered a chance to be with the Weatherlight crew to aid in collection the Legacy artifacts, Crovax accepted, taking with him the artifact that bound Selenia so she would accompany him. A few years later Crovax would get word that Phyrexians were attacking the family estate. Crovax convinces Gerrard to take the Weatherlight back to Urborg, and upon arriving, he discovers Phyrexian agents Gallowbraid and Morinfen had destroyed the family’s land, while leaving other nobles untouched. Locked in battle, and desperate to win the fight, Crovax releases Selenia to defeat the Phyrexians. Afterward Crovax would blame himself for taking Selenia with him and the destruction of the family estate. 

After the Phyrexian battle, Crovax wished to stay in Urborg. His love for Selenia became obsessive. Selenia’s inability to return the love drove Crovax to the brink of destroying the artifact the bound Selenia. Once done, Selenia flew away, once again leaving the family estate vulnerable.

 Selenia, Dark Angel

Gerrard returns to convince Crovax to rejoin the Weatherlight crew to rescue Sisay. He agrees and they travel to Rath. Upon arrival Crovax is shattered to find Selenia leading the Phyrexian flagship, the Predator, against the Weatherlight. Fleeing below deck of the Weatherlight, heartbroken, and consoled by Orim, he vows revenge. 

The next plan of action for the Weatherlight crew was to infiltrate the Phyrexian Stronghold and find Sisay. Upon doing so they come across Selenia in the dungeons as she tries to Kill Crovax. In doing so she wounds Mirri. Enraged, Crovax attacks Selenia, who allows him to hit her, and when he does, she shatters in thousands of crystal shards, some which are absorbed into Crovax’s skin, and he becomes cursed to turn to a Vampire.

 Skyship Weatherlight

Once back aboard the Weatherlight, Crovax began to defy the crew. In perusing the Predator, Crovax tried to sabotage the sails, doing as these dark voices in his head told him to. Mirri out of suspicion of him, followed him, and when she saw what he was up to, attacked him. They both fought and eventually fell over the side of the ship into Volorath’s garden where Crovax proceeded to kill Mirri. 

After killing Mirri, Crovax was taken to the stronghold, where the voice in his head revealed that it was Yawgmoth who was talking to him. Confronted by Kirril, he was granted the ability to control flowstone and teleport, given enhanced strength and endurance. His Natural blood was replaced with Glistening Oil, and his sense of conscience was removed. Once completed, he was informed he would be new Evincar of Rath, if he could prove himself.

 

Confronted with the chance to be Envicar, and competing against Retain and Graven Il-Vec, his plan to show worthiness lead him to attach the Skyshroud Forest in an attempt to kill all the elves. The elves unwilling to fight, retreated and this left Crovax as a failure since he did not slay them. Infuriated Crovax set up a coup to defeat Belbe, who was overseeing the transition of the new Evincar. Ertai seeing the forming of the coup, enslaved 6000 Dal, Kor, and Vec to stop him, however Crovax impaled each and every one of the slaves on flowstone spikes demanding he be Evincar, yet Belbe refused.

 Commander Greven Il-vec

The next day Belbe organized a coronation, which was interrupted by the return of Volrath. The former Evincar demanded his throne back and, but was opposed by the outrage of Crovax. Belbe demanded that the two battle for the throne. Evenly matched they battled on. Just as Volrath got the upper hand, his strike was diverted by Ertai, who believed if Volrath won, he would be killed. With Ertai’s help, Crovax defeated Volrath, and Crovax spares him by augmenting him into a four armed Phyrexian servant.

Ertai, the Corrupted

7 Comments

8 months since your last by Westane at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 11:22
Westane's picture
5

8 months since your last article huh? Next thing you know we'll start cycling together... Get it? Like, 2 mana to cycle, except it was an implication that... Yeah, never mind.

Good article, and I genuinely wish I was patient enough to play Commander online.

And of course, grats on the judgification!

Thanks by Lythand at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 12:06
Lythand's picture

Thanks for reading and the congrats.

Grats on the level 1 by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 13:43
Paul Leicht's picture
5

Grats on the level 1 (finally!) and welcome back. :) glad to see you are still playing and writing about commander.

Finally by Lythand at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 14:05
Lythand's picture

LOL finally...That's what I said :)

Sangromancer is a pretty by Leviathan at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 17:54
Leviathan's picture
5

Sangromancer is a pretty underrated card. It works especially well with stuff like Wheel of Fortune and Windfall. Have you thought about adding Triskelsion to the deck to combo with Mephidross Vampire? And I love that you included Blood Tyrant, that guy rocks! Welcome back!

Congratulations to your Level by laughinman at Sat, 10/29/2011 - 06:01
laughinman's picture
5

Congratulations to your Level one, i always lack the organization to actually get to it.
But
A vampire commander deck and no Vampirism? tsk tsk

Vampirism by Lythand at Sat, 10/29/2011 - 10:32
Lythand's picture

To be honest, I didn't know about Vampirism. Had, I probably wouldn't of included it anyways. I am not big on using Aura's in a commder deck unless they are extremely good or fit the theme of the deck like an aura deck. There are just some better cards I would fit into the deck over Vampirism.

As far as Blood Tyrant goes, he was originally in the deck, and I took him out. But I wanted as many decent vampires as I could and put him back in.