Vampires, quick but not fast

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Would love some imput on my deck. Up until very recently, I've only played magic casually. This is the first (somewhat) competative deck I've ever built. Since most of the vampires cards I liked best were in the 3-4 cmc range and seemed to play a little slower (Bloodline Keeper, Olivia), I decided to try and build something that still moved quickly, but probably can't quite be considered "fast."

Also, I have a few questions to ask at the end about possibly splashing white. First, here is my deck as it currently stands:


[deck]4x Vampire Interloper[/deck]
[deck]4x Stromkirk Captain[/deck]
[deck]3x Markov Blademaster[/deck]
[deck]4x Bloodline Keeper[/deck]
[deck]2x Falkenrath Aristocrat[/deck]
[deck]2x Olivia Voldaren[/deck]

[deck]4x Tragic Slip[/deck]
[deck]4x Arc Trail[/deck]
[deck]3x Curse of Stalked Prey[/deck]
[deck]3x Swiftfoot Boots[/deck]

LANDS (23):
[deck]7x Mountain[/deck]
[deck]7x Swamp[/deck]
[deck]4x Blackcleave Cliffs[/deck]
[deck]4x Dragonskull Summit[/deck]
[deck]1x Stensia Bloodhall[/deck]

The main question I have is I'm considering trying to get 1-2 Isolated Chapel and 1-2 Clifftop Retreat in order to put 1-2 Vault of the Archangel in my deck. Is there a reason not to do this (if I did, I'd probably remove Stensia Bloodhall)? That could also leave open the possibility of adding 1-2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. I can see the possible downside of adding Sorin (if I don't have the right land he'll be a dead draw). But the Vault would function as a colorless land even if I couldn't use it's special ability. So that seems like there is no downside, but maybe I'm just not seeing something.

Anyway, would love some help. Thanks!
Oops, forgot my sideboard. Not that it is very interesting at this point. But here is what I have for now at least.


[deck]3x Nihil Spellbomb[/deck]
[deck]3x Go for the Throat[/deck]
[deck]3x Apostle's Blessing[/deck]
[deck]3x Whipflare[/deck]
Adding white is terrible.  It hurts your mana too much.  You'd probably have to play 4 of them for 1-2 Vaults and the full 8 for Sorin.  You'd definitely have to cut the Bloodhalls, which really weakens several matchups and ruins your long game.

I don't like the Aristocrat (no humans to make it bigger, dies too easily or it's card disadvantage).  I also hate the Blademaster (too fragile for a 3-drop).  The Curse is way too slow and is pretty do-nothing.  The Greaves are completely unnecessary.  Arc Trail is a poor choice for removal (it's good in the sideboard though).  I'd probably shave at least 1 Tragic Slip too.  I'd also highly recommend cutting 1 Swamp and 1 Mountain for a Woodland Cemetery and a Rootbound Crag for Gudge flashback.

So there's what I'd cut.  Here's what I'd add:

3x Adaptive Automaton.  Another lord, which should make it so that you almost always get at least 1.
1x Stensia Bloodhall.  It's pretty good in control matchups, and you don't really have that low of a curve.
3x Doom Blade.  It's real removal.
2x Go for the Throat.  An alternate Doom Blade.
1x Tribute to Hunger.  An out to Thrun, the Last Troll, Geist of Saint Traft and such.
1x Sever the Bloodline.  More removal, very good against tokens.
3x Galvanic Blast.  More burn.
2x Shrine of Burning Rage.  Nearly unbeatable in control matchups.

There's also a lot I don't think is that great in the sideboard.  Apostle's Blessing looks absolutely terrible, as does Whipflare.  Obviously, with my changes, you need to cut a Go for the Throat as well.  Here's what I'd suggest in the board:

Thanks for the advice MadAdmiral. It will definitely be helpful A couple of questions based on what you said...

Part of the reason I have Swiftfoot Boots and Apostle's Blessing is I find that Oblivion Ring is pretty devistating and I don't have much I can do against it. And there are a lot of people out there running white decks. Plus it helps Bloodline Keeper get going a little faster (and stay alive). Could you expand a little on why this isn't worth it? Is it that it is actually a bad idea? Or just that there are better cards out there?

Why such hate for Curse of Stalked Prey? It is a low cost spell and will hopefully start helping the same turn I cast it. I guess I could see the advantage of taking it out for more burn, I was just surprised by your "do nothing" description."

I thought quite a lot about whether to use Markov Blademaster or Adaptive Automaton. I made the desicion I did because I already had a decent number of lords between the captain and the keeper. It seemed like the blademaster was more aggressive and my deck needed some of that. I might just try playing with both and see which I like better in practice.

Why do you prefer Doom Blade and Go for the Throat over Tragic Slip? They seem to do essentially the same thing, except Tragic Slip will do it for one less mana.
I've been looking for a few pointers on my vampire deck, too, thanks for posting this~! Also, can anybody tell me how to put the cards so that mousing over the name shows the card? I haven't figured that out yet.
Hi Kaden. Glad my confusion can help you! Hopefully we'll both have more finely tuned decks soon. =)

You put a [*c] before the card name and then a [*/c] after the card name, except take out the * in both. So, it would look like [*c]Card Name[*/c]. You can do the same thing with multiples, just use "deck" instead of "c." So, [*deck]4x Card Name[*/deck].

I went ahead and removed the Curse of Stalked Prey and 1 Tragic Slip in order to run 2 each of Doom Blade and Go for the Throat. So overall, I have more removal which should be helpful; only 8 removal spells was probably a bit low. I'm sure I'll move Arc Trail to my sideboard but it turns out I only had one Galvanic Blast so I'll need to wait until I can buy or trade for a few more, hopefully by the end of the week. I also don't have any Shrine of Burning Rage or Sever the Bloodline so I can't try those out quite yet either.

I'm not as convinced about dropping Falkenrath Aristocrat or Swiftfoot Boots. I can't help but feel like they both make the deck faster, which is what it needs. If I trade Markov Blademaster out for Adaptive Automaton, then it seems reasonable to assume that the Aristocrat would come out of the gate being less fragile and would be a great play on turn four. And not only would the boots give anyone who needed it some helpful protection, but Bloodline Keeper plus equip Swiftfoot Boots seems like an awesome turn five. I guess the only thing to do is play with it and see.
@Kaden_Shadows:  Put [*c]card name[*/c], without the *.

@hackingagag:  Swiftfoot Boots are just pretty slow and don't have a lot of impact on the board.  Sure, it protects your guys, but at the cost of tempo.  Instead of curving Stromkirk Noble into Interloper into Captain/Automaton into Keeper/Olivia (and likely "good game" if they've stuck around), you're going Noble into Boots into Interloper into Captain into Keeper.  It just takes a lot of damage off the board and means your Keeper comes down and flips a turn later (or 3+ mana later).  Removal is going to be a problem for aggro decks, but generally you just want to keep dropping threats.

The Aristocrat just isn't as good as Keeper and Olivia.  The mana curve is extremely important to aggro decks, and having a card that increases the curve without adding significantly to the power level of the deck is going to be very bad.  If you play 8 4-drops, you'll have too many hands where one of them just rots in your hand while you wait to get enough mana to play it.  Once you curve out, you should be leaving open mana to clear the way for attackers and storing creatures to recover from sweepers.  The Aristocrat helps you do neither of those things.

I don't like the Curse because it doesn't impact the board immediately.  If you're getting damage through, you're already winning.  It doesn't really speed up the clock all that much and doesn't help protect your guys from removal until it's too late.  Instead of spending 2 mana on something that might eventually be impactful, you could spend 2 mana on something that is guaranteed to be immediately impactful (like a removal spell).

My problem with Blademaster is that it's so fragile when it comes down.  Given the amount of Delvers, Humans, tokens, Birds and other X/1 creatures running around, every good deck is packing cheap removal for them.  You invest 3 mana and your turn just to have it undone by either 1 mana or 2 life (Gut Shot).  Given how important getting the lords are for the deck, I find it's more useful to have some more copies.

I prefer the hard removal because it's always going to kill something.  Tragic Slip can only be counted on killing small creatures, with the potential of getting morbid turned on to deal with fatties.  Why would you want to throw away a creature before you can kill their Primeval Titan?  Tragic Slip is a good card, but it shouldn't be your main source of removal because it's conditional.  You want to have it early to hit the various X/1 creatures and it's ok in the late game when paired with a hard removal spell.  It's not a card that you want to draw often, so it's not a 4-of.  I've had it in hand while a larger creature beat me to death too many times to recommend it as a major source of removal.
Really helpful explanation regarding Tragic Slip, Blademaster, Curse of Stalked Prey and the danger of too many 4-drops (that one, in particular, was eye opening. totally hadn't thought about having cards rot in my hand). Really appreciate it.

I see what your saying about Boots messing up or slowing down the curve. I guess I had just assumed that they could replace Interloper as a 2-drop (if I didn't happen to draw one) and I would be just as happy; no need to delay my curve, just make it different. I could go Noble, Boots, Captain/Automaton, Olivia/Aristocrat, Keeper + equip boots and be pretty happy. Although, now that I write it down, maybe I see what you're saying. I cast the boots on turn 2, but they don't start being helpful until turn 5. Now, I might argue that they are pretty darn helpful on turn 5, but more helpful than the extra removal spell that I would have drawn if I didn't happen to draw the Interloper. I guess that is the question.

The obvious counter arguement to your dislike of the Aristocrat is that she does, in fact, help me recover from board sweepers (unless I'm not understanding how her ability works). If someone played Day of Judgment, while it was still on the stack, couldn't I sacrifice a creature who was going do die anyway in order to make the Aristocrat indestructable? Then I would have the only creature left on the board, and a 4-power one at that.

At the same time, even if I disagree with you about liking the Aristocrat, I do like Olivia and Keeper better and I see why I might want to avoid running 8 4-drops. Hmmm...
A bit of nit picking, but Aristocrat doesn't help you recover from a sweeper, it helps you survive one.  It encourages you to over extend in matchups against decks with tons of removal ("I just can't leave it out there by itself or it'll die...").

Not only that, but the predominent sweepers are Black Sun's Zenith, Curse of Death's Hold and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.  Notice something about them?  They all don't care about the Aristocrat's indestrucibility.
Well, that makes an awful lot of sense I guess. I never thought of alternate kinds of sweepers. I'm a little bummed; I really liked the Aristocrat. But I guess I'll be less bummed if I'm winning more often. Thanks again for your help MadAdmiral, this was most helpful in how to think about the cards I use.