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Precon Upgrades for Vampiric Bloodline | $50 | Strefan | Bloody Vampires | Innistrad: Crimson Vow


Crimson Vow preconstructed decks have been revealed and with it comes another round of my precon upgrades. We're going to do a thorough analysis of each deck, highlighting its goals and how well it accomplishes them, check out its deckbuilding fundamentals, identify its strongest and weakest cards, then use all that information to create a high-impact list of upgrades for under $50.

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Vampiric Bloodline is a Rakdos precon focused entirely on Vampire Tribal: it drops tons of vampires on the battlefield, rewards you for playing vampires with cards like Bloodlord of Vaasgoth to pump them up, and punishes your opponents for not having vampires with cards like Olivia's Wrath. The deck also dabbles in two vampiric subthemes: the first is a Discard theme, utilizing the discard outlet of blood tokens to cast madness spells like Stensia Masquerade or turning your blood tokens into weapons with Arterial Alchemy. The second is a Sacrifice theme, sacrificing vampires like Bloodtithe Harvester for removal and getting additional benefit from it with cards like Cordial Vampire. If you love Vampires and want a deck that explores discard subthemes of Blood and Madness then Vampiric Bloodline is the precon for you!

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The Precon List

Before we talk upgrades, let's take a look at the stock list to see what we're working with:

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Right out of the box, Vampiric Bloodline sticks true to its tribal name: I count a whopping 39 Vampire-related cards (33 vampire creatures and 6 additional cards that reference vampires). As for the subthemes, the Discard subtheme is the most prominent, with 14 cards that relate to discarding cards including 6 madness cards and 6 blood cards. For the Sacrifice subtheme I count 11 cards, either ways to sacrifice vampires or beneficial vampire death triggers. So the deck is first and foremost Vampire Tribal but dabbles in the subthemes for a bit of extra spice.

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Choosing Our Commander

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Vampiric Bloodline provides two options to lead the stock list: the face card, Strefan, Maurer Progenitor, and the partners Laurine, the Diversion & Kamber, the Plunderer.

While Laurine & Kambar are solid commanders for a deck focused more on Goad and Sacrifice themes, it's obvious that Strefan is by far the best choice to lead this precon as it's the one that directly supports the deck's main theme of Vampires. So we're going to stick with Strefan as the leader of our upgraded version.

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Analyzing the Precon

Now that we've glanced at the stock list and settled on our commander, let's take a closer look at the deck itself to identify what parts benefit the most from upgrades.

As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 card draw; cards that net you 2+ cards in hand
  • 8 targeted removal; split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal and countermagic
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 graveyard recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors; higher budgets I recommend more tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 finisher; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Let's see what the rough ratios are for Vampiric Bloodline and how it compares. I count:

Just looking at the numbers, this precon does a great job providing good ratios of deck fundamentals. That's not to say that each individual card is good, but the overall design philosophy is solid and gets my approval.

Things look good on the surface, so now let's take a deeper dive into the individual cards.

37 Lands. 37 the right amount for a deck that has 20 cards that cost 5+ mana. The lands themselves are quite good; we have a decent amount of untapped dual lands like Command Tower, Foreboding Ruins, and Tainted Peak. Unfortunately there's no Bojuka Bog in the deck, something I wish every Black precon came with. Also there's a Temple of the False God here that I'm not a fan of.

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10 Ramp. The ramp here is pretty weak. We have some of the good staples like Sol Ring and Arcane Signet but we're also getting some meh stuff like Fire Diamond and Unstable Obelisk. Not reprinting Talisman of Indulgence feels like a big miss here, especially since the flavor matches vampires so well. We have some atypical ramp options like Strefan, Maurer Progenitor and that's sweet but this area could use work.

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12 Card Draw. Most of the card draw here is quite good. We have some tribal staples like Champion of Dusk and on-theme cards like Bloodtracker, plus the generic staples Night's Whisper which desperately needed a reprint so that's sweet. We have some overcosted draw too though, like Underworld Connections and Crossway Troublemakers. This area could use work.

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10 Targeted Removal. There's a lot of amazing targeted removal in the deck: Bloodtithe Harvester, Midnight Arsonist, even a Feed the Swarm to deal with enchantments. Avacyn's Judgment is the only real stinker -- works with discard synergy but still costs too much mana -- but overall this is a highlight of the precon.

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5 Board Wipes. All the board wipes slap. Asymmetrical wipes like the incremental Anowon, the Ruin Sage and the new wipe Olivia's Wrath are allstars here. We have also unconditional staples Blasphemous Act and the artifact wipe Vandalblast. Definitely a highlight of the deck.

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3 Graveyard Recursion. Not a lot of recursion in this deck despite the large amount of high cost fatties we'd love to reanimate. Bloodline Necromancer is thematic but expensive. I love the art on Sinister Waltz even though it's basically a bad Victimize. Timothar, Baron of Bats is sorta recursion, more protection mostly, and works well with our sacrifice effects. This area could use work.

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0 Flexible Tutors. Tutors are super helpful for any Commander deck to help you find the right card for any situation, but I'm fine with them not showing up in precons. These are decks that are meant to pick up and play without being intimately aware of the deck's contents so tutors would only serve to confuse new pilots.

1 Graveyard Hate. I love Rakdos Charm: whether you need to blow up an artifact, a graveyard, or a player who has infinite creatures, this Charm does it all at instant speed. I would've loved a Bojuka Bog here too though.

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2 Finishers. In a deck loaded with beefy beaters you don't really need a designated "finisher" but I can personally attest that Malakir Bloodwitch is great reach for a Vampire deck. I expect Glass-Cast Heart to be sweet as well.

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The Verdict. The removal package in this precon is ridiculously good. Card draw is another highlight. The deck is overall very good, but there are some notable stinker cards that are practically begging to be swapped out.

Upgrade Goals

I have some specific goals when upgrading the deck:

  • Lower the mana curve
  • Enhance the Vampire Tribal theme
  • Enhance the Blood theme
  • Upgrade the recursion, card draw, and ramp packages

This precon is really solid right out of the box and knows what it wants to be doing. No particular aspect of the deck needs a serious overhaul; we just want to lower the curve and replace the weakest options for stronger ones.

$50 Upgrades

Disclaimer: Card prices are volatile and may be different at the time you read this article.

Here's how I'd swap in $50 worth of upgrades. If you want to upgrade on a smaller budget then just makes less swaps:

In Out Reason
Olivia, Crimson Bride Mob Rule Repeatable reanimation.
Victimize Sinister Waltz

More efficient reanimation.

Call to the Netherworld Imposing Grandeur

Efficient recursion great with blood.

Edgar's Awakening Molten Echoes

Efficient recursion great with blood.

Anje, Maid of Dishonor Stromkirk Condemned

Super efficient blood generator in the deck, sac outlet, and sets up Strefan.

Olivia's Attendants Vampiric Dragon

Super efficient blood generator.

Voldaren Bloodcaster Crimson Honor Guard Super efficient blood generator, sac synergy.
Falkenrath Forebear Vampire Nighthawk Super efficient blood generator, discard synergy.

Reckless Fireweaver

Falkenrath Noble

Damage stacks up fast with blood generators.

Anger

Bloodsworn Steward

Great with blood discard, lots of vampires benefit tons from haste.
Archfiend of Ifnir Avacyn's Judgment

Asymmetrical wipe great with blood.

Terminal Agony Urge to Feed

Removal great with blood.

Squee, Goblin Nabob Underworld Connections

Great with blood, becomes a draw engine.

Vampire Socialite Laurine, the Diversion

Tribal buff.

Florian, Voldaren Scion Kamber, the Plunderer

Vampire draw engine.

Pact of the Serpent Predators' Hour Tribal draw.
Pointed Discussion Ancient Craving

Draw and makes blood.

Breath of Fury

Indulgent Aristocrat

Super efficient extra combat, ends games.

Cryptolith Fragment Unstable Obelisk

Ramp that guarantees 4 Blood off Strefan.

Mind Stone Commander's Sphere

Better ramp.

Talisman of Indulgence Dark Impostor

Better ramp..

Yahenni, Undying Partisan Damnable Pact

Great sac outlet and hard to kill threat.

Malakir Rebirth Temple of the False God Flexible protection.
Barbarian Ring Mountain Triggers Strefan.

Voldaren Estate

[[Rakdos Carnarium]

Triggers Strefan.

Cabal Pit

Swamp

Triggers Strefan.

Ifnir Deadlands

Swamp

Triggers Strefan.
Ramunap Ruins Mountain

Triggers Strefan.

Leechridden Swamp Swamp

Triggers Strefan.

Bojuka Bog Mountain

Great GY hate.

Here's how the swaps look in lists.

Additions:

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Cuts:

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And here's the deck with the upgrades installed:

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Further Upgrades

Here are some cards that I would've added if I had a higher budget. Honestly my top priority would be picking up some of the efficient tutors so you can cut down on some redundancy like board wipes and whatnot ... but also I would tutor up Falkenrath Gorger 9/10 times.

Under $10: Underworld Breach, Animate Dead, Necromancy, Lightning Greaves, Gamble, Alhammarret's Archive

Pricey stuff: Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, Captivating Vampire, Bloodline Keeper, Vampire Nocturnus, New Blood, Yawgmoth's Will, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, dual lands, fetches, you know the stuff.

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Spirit Squadron Coming Soon!

Hope you enjoyed my take on Vampiric Bloodline. 'll be back with an upgrade article for the other precon deck, Spirit Squadron, within a few days, so check back for that. Thanks for reading!

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