Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Vampire Decks in Magic
Gradually gaining support, vampires are starting to rival zombies as black's premiere subtype, although they also delve into white and red. Vampires come in many shapes and sizes but often wield life-sapping effects to drain enemy health and replenish your own.
They've got plenty of other tricks, including flying, first strike, and even devoted planeswalkers. But with dozens of vampire-based spells, which reign supreme? These are the 20 best vampire supports in Magic: The Gathering!
20. Vampire Nocturnus
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Considering both his cost and effect, Nocturnus works best in pure-black themes, so multi-color vampire arrangements might want to pass. Nocturnus enters as a mediocre 3/3, but he reveals the top card of your library, and as long as it's black, Nocturnus and your other vampires get +2/+1 and flying!
That's a daunting boost that makes your immortals deadly in combat and hard to block. Just remember that lands are colorless (even black-tapping swamps) and won't trigger the effect.
19. Stromkirk Captain
Captain provides a compelling reason to add red to your deck. While his own stats are just 2/2, he has first strike and gives your other vampires +1/+1 and first strike. Those are handy boosts that stack well; with increased stats and first strike, you'll often kill foes in combat before they can counterattack.
18. Stensia Masquerade
Masquerade's lenient cost makes it easy to fit into multi-color decks, and it gives your attacking vampires first strike. Also, whenever one of your vampires deals combat damage to a player, you place a +1/+1 counter on it.
Opponents will struggle to block thanks to your first strike, but if they don't, your vampires will just get stronger, putting them between a rock and a hard place. Masquerade also has madness, letting you cast it (for the same price) if discarded from your hand.
17. Legion Lieutenant
For his low cost, Legion Lieutenant has solid 2/2 stats and automatically boosts your other vampires by +1/+1. That really adds up when you're swarming tokens, and it's a tribal boost you can use without needing red in your deck.
16. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Sorin's versatile enough to work in multiple themes, but he prefers vampires. He enters with a nice starting loyalty of four and automatically gives your creatures and planeswalkers lifelink during your turn.
Sorin quickly gains loyalty thanks to +2, which deals one damage to a player or planeswalker (and gains you a life thanks to lifelink). He can also use -X to return a creature with X cost from your graveyard to the field, making it a vampire in addition to its other types. That's a great way to rebuild your army if you get hit with a field wipe, and it helps non-vampires blend with your theme.
15. Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
At first, Bloodlord looks weak for his cost, entering as a 3/3 with flying. But his bloodthirst three grants three +1/+1 counters if an opponent lost life the turn he arrived.
So, you can potentially have a meaty 6/6 with flying, and Bloodlord gives bloodthirst three to other vampires you cast, quickly overwhelming foes with buffed creatures. Use Sorin's +2 to score easy damage and trigger the effect, or wait until your second main phase (after you've landed combat damage) before casting your troops.
14. Legion's Landing/Adanto, the First Fort
One of the best transforming lands in Magic, I recommend Legion's Landing for any white deck, especially vampire themes. For a single mana, it enters as an enchantment that creates a 1/1 vampire token with lifelink.
So, you've got a decent creature for the price, but Landing remains fielded and waits until a combat phase where you attack with at least three creatures. At that point, it transforms into Adanto, a land that can either tap for a white mana, or tap and spend three mana to create another 1/1 vampire token with lifelink. Sure, this will take time to trigger, but it's a basically a bonus land on top of your initial creature.
13. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Ghet can either serve as a commander for mono-black vampire decks, or as a regular deck member in multi-color ones. Either way, he provides a 3/4 vampire with lifelink, and whenever an opposing creature dies, Ghet exiles it and grants you a 2/2 zombie token.
While it's a bit weird that he gives zombie tokens, extra bodies are always nice, and exiling defeated foes prevents opponents from recovering them. Ghet can also spend three mana and sacrifice a zombie or vampire to gain two +1/+1 counters, putting your weak tokens to good use and making a commander damage-win viable.
12. Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Elenda's a strong commander for vampire decks that only want black and white. Though she's pitifully weak at 1/1, she has lifelink and gains a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature dies, quickly gaining power.
Plus, when she dies, Elenda grants you X 1/1 vampire tokens with lifelink, where X was her power when she died. So the longer she lasts, the stronger she gets and the more tokens she'll create upon her eventual demise. And you can further empower the effect by strengthening her with auras or equipment.
11. Edgar Markov
Edgar's great for players who want all three mainstream vampire colors, and he's one of few legendaries to wield an eminence effect, which activates from the command zone in addition to the field.
Edgar's ability simply constructs a 1/1 vampire token whenever you cast a vampire. These are weak, but good block/sacrifice fodder, empower vampire-based effects, and you'll get them even before you've cast Edgar. Once he enters the field, Edgar has first strike, haste, and places a +1/+1 counter on each vampire you control (including himself) when he attacks, rapidly bolstering your troops.
10. New Blood
No, it's not the name of the next Twilight book, New Blood is a powerful sorcery that can permanently steal a creature. You pay four mana and tap an untapped vampire you control to gain control of a unit and replace one of its subtypes with vampire.
That's a bargain price for an ongoing steal, especially since the creature will count as a vampire and blend with your deck. New Blood also avoids the main weakness of blue aura-steals (if the aura is destroyed, your opponent regains control), so there's little risk of opponents recovering their unit.
9. Bloodline Keeper/Lord of Lineage
For a double-sided creature, Keeper is surprisingly competent even in base form. He's a 3/3 with flying who can tap to create a 2/2 flying vampire token, gradually swarming aerial minions.
Once you control at least five vampires, you can spend a mana to transform Keeper into Lord of Lineage. From here, he can still tap to create the token, but has superior 5/5 stats, maintains flying, and automatically boosts your other vampires by +2/+2. Since you should control at least five by the time he transforms, this makes it easy to overpower rivals with your reinforced army.
8. Vampire Hexmage
While she's not much of a support, Hexmage is an astounding card worthy of any black theme, and her subtype makes her particularly tempting for vampire decks. She's a 2/1 with first strike who you can sacrifice at any time to remove all counters from any permanent.
Remember that you can do this at instant speed, a great way to immediately destroy a planeswalker. Or, for a particularly nasty combo, use it to remove the detrimental counters on the land "Dark Depths", creating a monstrous 20/20 flying and indestructible token!
7. Kalastria Highborn
Though her color needs are strict, Highborn's a solid 2/2 vampire shaman who chips away at enemy health. Whenever she or another vampire you control dies, you can pay a black mana to have an opponent lose two life while you gain as much.
This is similar to the extort effect, except it's twice as strong and can be used in mono-black themes. Your vampires might die, but they won't go down without a fight.
6. Malakir Bloodwitch
For five mana and one color, Bloodwitch provides a tempting 4/4 with flying and protection from white. Plus, when she enters the field, each opponents lose life equal to the number of vampires you control, and you gain the total amount lost.
This counts Bloodwitch herself, so it'll be at least one, but can be a devastating finale after swarming numerous tokens. It also scales well in multiplayer games, and since it doesn't target, even players will hexproof or shroud are affected.
5. Patron of the Vein
When Patron enters the field, you destroy an opposing creature, offering an immediate removal on top of an aerial 4/4. And whenever an opposing creature dies, Patron exiles it and gives your vampires (including himself) a +1/+1 counter.
So, as soon as Patron enters, he'll kill a creature (and prevent its recovery by sending it to exile), boost himself to 5/5, and strengthen your other vampires as well. And the more creatures your foes lose, the stronger your forces will get.
4. Mephidross Vampire
Mephidros's stats are only 3/4 for his costly fee, but he has flying and makes all your creatures vampires in addition to their other subtypes, letting everybody benefit from vampire supports.
Additionally, whenever one of your vampires (which basically means any of your creatures) deals damage to a creature, they gain a +1/+1 counter, punishing foes for engaging your troops. This even works with non-combat damage, giving many ways to empower your units.
3. Blade of the Bloodchief
CMC: 1 (1 to equip)
This inexpensive equipment is easy to cast and easy to attach, needing just one mana for each. Whenever a creature dies, the equipped unit gets a +1/+1 counter, but they gain two instead if they're a vampire!
That's a powerful boost, and it can be given to non-vampires (at half power) when the need arises. And even if your opponent destroys Blade, any counters it's provided will remain, making it difficult to truly thwart.
2. Cordial Vampire
Cordial Vampire is a weak 1/1, but he provides an arguably-superior version of Blade's effect. Whenever he or another creature dies, you place a +1/+1 counter on each vampire you control!
This single effect can give dozens of counters over its lifetime, and I appreciate that you get one final dose when Cordial Vampire dies. An easy pick for my own vampire themes, Cordial is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing less than a single dollar!
1. Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Sorin trades versatility for power; he's of limited use outside vampire themes, but absolutely devastating in them. Among his tribe, everything about Sorin impresses—he's got a low cost for a planeswalker, has room for non-black mana, enters with an impressive amount of four loyalty, and has three powerful effects.
His first +1 gives a creature deathtouch and lifelink for the turn, and if it's a vampire, it also gets a +1/+1 counter. This is easily one of the best loyalty-adding effects in Magic, especially for such a cheap planeswalker. Sorin's second +1 lets you sacrifice a vampire to deal any target three damage and give you three life, and his -3 lets you place a vampire from your hand onto the field for free!
Note that Sorin can both use and survive his -3 as soon as he arrives, letting you field enormous vampires long before you'd typically be able to cast them.
Playing Vampires in Magic
Today we've examined several cards tailored to immortals, and don't overlook generic-black staples like "Dark Ritual" and "Phyrexian Arena". Vampires excel at swarming the field and maintaining your life, but they can quickly deplete your hand, so consider using extra-draw artifacts like "Arcane Encyclopedia".
Vampires are becoming more and more competitive with each new set, so now's a great time to start exploring their theme. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next vampire expansion, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
max on November 29, 2019: