The Standard format is a pretty crazy place at the moment. Players are taking extra turns left and right. Werewolves and trolls are coming together to kick their opponents teeth in. And worst of all, no one knows how to really best deal with the best decks without just playing the best deck available. The meta seems stale, but there are still some sneaky options out there that can steal games away from the top dogs.
In a new series from TGH, the Daily Deck Tech column takes a look at individual lists across multiple metas. This week features a deck that PVDDR almost brought to the World Championship earlier in October. Today’s deck is RB Vampires – a rare aggro/midrange hybrid deck that has plenty of flexibility and versatility in the format.
RB Vampires, the Honest Player’s List
RB Vampires at its core is a fast, mid range deck. Sure it doesn’t make too much sense, but stick with the thought for a moment.
This deck has plenty of incredibly fast starts that some slower decks can’t compete with. Opening with a turn one Falkenrath Pit Fight into a turn two Vampire Socialite creates an imposing board state similar to Mono-White. Then on turn three, this deck has several options to either put the pressure on, or to start controlling the game through removal and discard. It’s at this point in the game where RB Vampires can truly excel based on both board state and matchup.
What are the Deck’s Power Points?
Midrange decks are a bit of an extinct species in Standard. The past few metas have been dominated by either blue/red tempo decks or all-out aggro decks, making midrange options pretty suboptimal. With a deck out of the meta for so long, it can be tough to get back into the rhythm of working through the midrange basics like one for one trading and playing for value. RB Vampires hits on exactly those notes and players just may find that to be quite exciting.
RB Vampires truly excels when it can exhaust the opponents resources. Like mentioned earlier, this list can come out of the gates swinging with a powerful first three turns. The decks that can survive those first few turns usually can survive against traditional aggro decks. However for RB Vampires, it fights back with the value from the three and four drops. If Florian or an Immerstrum Predator can stick on the field, RB Vampires becomes incredibly tough to defeat.
Florian in particular is a beast in the mid-game. One connection onto the opponent allows a player to find exactly what they need in the top three to four cards of their library. Florian can help find that last land to kick a Bloodthirsty Adversary, or find that removal spell for that giant treant token. First Strike makes attacking into it a massive pain, and it makes blocking even trickier. Even outside of a Vampire shell, Florian could be one of the best cards in the format that just hasn’t seen enough play in the young Standard Meta.
Which Decks is this Strong Against?
RB Vampires smashes other midrange decks thanks to its ability to trade favorably and recur important spells. There aren’t many meta midrange decks out there, but in a random match on the ladder RB Vampires should be favored against many homebrew lists.
More importantly, this deck has a good matchup against Izzet Control. The strong starts from RB Vampires can often times be too much to handle for the control deck. Even if the blue/red list can remove the early game threats, it has to continue to deal with hasty Reckless Stormseekers and creature lands as the game progresses.
Which Decks is this Weak Against?
Unfortunately for RB Vampires, it is really only strong against one of the main decks in the meta. Mono-Green aggro is a very tricky matchup for this deck. The threats on the green side are just too big and too efficient to deal with pre-board. Old-Growth Troll in particular is incredibly annoying to deal with thanks to its ability to come back as a token. Mono-Green also has a surprisingly solid amount of removal spells, blanking many of the strengths that RB Vampires possesses.
In the same vein, Mono-White is a tough matchup as well for a few different reasons. While Mono-White has smaller creatures at its disposal, it’s the sheer amount of creatures that creates problems for Vampires. Adeline, Resplendent Cathar does their best OGT impression against the RB Vampire deck, except they make even more threats on every attack. Four toughness seems to be the number to beat in Standard at the moment, and RB Vampires fails often to get over that threshold.
What are the Sideboard Options?
One of the biggest strengths of the Red/Black color pairing is its amazing options for the sideboard. The flexibility black offers this deck is truly astounding. The sideboard can be adjusted to fight off any expected meta decks. Or if there is a certain deck that is truly overperforming, there are several options to choose from that can completely flip the matchup on its head.
Access to discard spells and kill spells allow the deck to pivot into a much slower gameplan if the matchup calls for it. Cards like Burning Hands and Crippling Fear are great against aggro decks that are looking to flood the board with threats. Check for Traps is the decks “Thoughtseize” to protect itself from any Alrund’s Epiphany’s or Memory Deluges. The diversity in sideboard options means that no matchup is truly out of reach.
Is this Deck Worth Playing?
This list definitely has legs to climb the ranked ladder, even against some of the top options in the meta. If players are tired of playing the same few decks, then this is a perfect option to spice things up. Best of all, with Crimson Vow on the horizon, the deck can only go up from here with the addition of more impactful vampires. Give this list a whirl, it won’t bite.
Featured image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast
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