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Much Abrew: Is Turn 3 Lord Xander Good in Explorer?

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. One of the most hyped (and debated) cards from Streets of New Capenna is Lord Xander, the Collector. Some people think it's broken; some people think it's bad. Well, today, we're going to find out if Lord Xander, the Collector is good enough for Pioneer / Explorer when it comes down on Turn 3 with the help of Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord! How strong is Lord Xander, the Collector? How good is the Vampire tribe in Pioneer and Explorer with some new Streets of New Capenna additions? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Xander Grixis Vampires

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The Deck

  • Record-wise, we finished 5-0 in our video matches, although it's slightly more complicated than that. After our first match, I mentioned possibly needing to add Leyline of the Void to the deck but decided against it. The very next match, I played Rakdos Sacrifice and got crushed by Lord Xander, the Collector milling a bunch of Cauldron Familiars and decided that we probably should have Leyline of the Void in the sideboard, so I added it. The non-Leyline match against Rakdos Sacrifice didn't make it into the video, but a rematch did. Plus, there was one other Rakdos Sacrifice matchup where I scooped on Turn 1 to avoid playing the deck for the fourth time, which would put our overall record at something like 5-1 (assuming we don't count the Turn 1 scoop).
  • The main goal of our deck is to get a Lord Xander, the Collector into play on Turn 3 with the help of Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord's –3 ability and figure out just how good the mythic Vampire Noble really is. We managed to do this several times in our matches, and the answer seems to be that a Turn 3 Lord Xander is pretty strong. In general, it would force our opponent to discard two or three cards, mill some cards, and maybe make our opponent sacrifice a permanent or two when it died. Oh yeah, and it's also a 6/6, which is huge for a Vampire. Even in games where its triggers weren't all that exciting (against aggro, the opponent sometimes only has a few cards in hand by the time Lord Xander, the Collector comes down, which minimizes the impact of its enters-the-battlefield trigger) it was still often big enough to win us the game. 
  • The one aspect of Lord Xander, the Collector that I dislike is its attack trigger. So many Pioneer decks use their graveyard that milling half of our opponent's deck is often more of a drawback than a bonus. Our sideboard plan helps fix this in our worst matchups, especially now that we have Leyline of the Void in the deck, but it is awkward that we sometimes cheat a Lord Xander, the Collector into play on Turn 3 and have to think twice about attacking with it. I guess it's technically possible to win the game by milling the opponent out with Lord Xander, but this isn't especially likely in practice, considering how many attacks it takes and that Lord Xander, the Collector's mill ability rounds down rather than up.
  • As far as the rest of our deck, it's Vampire Tribal, which helps ensure that Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord is good even in games where we don't draw Lord Xander, the Collector. Before Streets of New Capenna, the main target for Sorin's –3 was Champion of Dusk, and while Champion isn't quite as devastating as Lord Xander is on Turn 3, it's still strong, allowing us to refill our hand with its enters-the-battlefield trigger. 
  • The other big new addition to the deck is Corpse Appraiser, which is one of my favorite sleepers from New Capenna. A 3/3 for three is good enough, especially when it comes along with an enters-the-battlefield trigger that hates on the graveyard and offers an Strategic Planning. While being in three colors is sometimes awkward, it's still great in the deck, being good on Turn 3 and solid later, when it allows us to dig for removal or something else important.
  • So, should you play Xander Vampires in Explorer? Honestly, the deck was pretty impressive. That said, I'm not 100% sure if that's because of Lord Xander himself or because of the deck as a whole. But if you like the Vampire tribe or are a fan of Lord Xander, the Collector, the deck felt good enough to win a lot of games and sometimes just wrecked the opponent on Turn 3 thanks to Lord Xander!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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