Vampires in Commander: Main decks, products and commanders
Celebrate all the majesty of vampires and remember the evolution of the tribe in EDH: its main decks, promotional products and commanders!
Vampires' concepts and characteristics
Vampires' History in Commander
Zendikar (2009)The first card with the subtype was Sengir Vampire in
Alpha; therefore, vampires have always existed in Magic. However, during the first years of the game, there wasn't any support for it to be possible to build decks focused on them. It was only in 2009 that they were first approached as a respectable tribe, in
Zendikar. The set featured vampires as one of its main tribes, featuring important cards such as Anowon, the Ruin Sage, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet, Butcher of Malakir, Malakir Bloodwitch, Nirkana Revenant, Vampire Nighthawk, Blade of the Bloodchief, among others. The core sets of the time also reinforced the archetype with Vampire Nocturnus, Captivating Vampire, Viscera Seer, and Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. Anyone who wanted to set up a Vampires tribal Commander at the time would have Anowon, the Ruin Sage as the most obvious choice. Then in 2011 the first
Commanderdecks were released, bringing a new freshness and starting a long era of the format's ascension. Among the released cards in the set, Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter would emerge as a new general alternative, adding white to the archetype (although there were no white vampires at the time).
Zendikarand these core sets represented for the vampire tribe was indisputable. However, support was still short and the representation of vampires in Commander was still simple. It was with
Innistradin September 2011 that the second wave of tribal support would come, which would then become a respectable tribe in the format.
Innistrad (2011 - 2012)The Innistrad Block (
Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored) brought vampires as a tribe aligned with black and red, with more cards geared towards tribal synergy - Bloodline Keeper, Rakish Heir, Stromkirk Captain - and Olivia Voldaren as legendary representative. Olivia then became the top commander of choice at the time, as she allowed access to the right colors and possessed a skill set that made a lot of sense in a tribal deck context. In addition, pieces such as Blood Artist, Falkenrath Noble, Falkenrath Aristocrat and Bloodflow Connoisseur further reinforced the Sacrifice theme (which from then on would be called allegorically of 'Aristocrats').
Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad (2015 - 2016)After the second wave, the vampires would retreat to their coffins and hibernate for 3 years while Magic went through other sets that eventually brought one card or another to be used in the archetype, but without treating it with any specific attention. Until the Third Wave would come in 2015 until 2016 in a total of four consecutive sets that revisited the two planes where vampires had more space since then: Zendikar and Innistrad. In the first part of this wave -
Battle for Zendikarand
Oath of the Gatewatch- the tribe featured more with the addition of comprehensive value cards that were vampires, such as Drana, Liberator of Malakir, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Defiant Bloodlord. Note that these cards do not have any mention of vampires in their texts because the tribe was not a theme in the sets. As a result, the impact of this block was weak when compared to its sequel,
Shadows Over Innistradand
Eldritch Moon, which couldn't treat vampires with greater attention. Some of the best contributions from these sets to the archetype were Indulgent Aristocrat, Olivia, Mobilized for War, and Olivia's Bloodsworn. In addition, the Innistrad-set block began to pave the way for a new sub-theme within the vampire archetype to begin to be introduced: the Madness decks. The biggest representative of this was Falkenrath Gorger, which made cards like Insolent Neonate, Markov Dreadknight and Stromkirk Condemned make a lot more sense. However, it was too early for a vampire deck based entirely on Madness to be viable, as the number of dedicated pieces was still insufficient.
Commander 2017 & Ixalan (2017-2018)After a short cool-down period between 2016 and 17, the vampires would be put back in the spotlight with the release of
Commander 2017. The set that first featured tribal decks as a broad theme of all precons was destined to be a milestone for vampires with the
Vampiric Bloodlustdeck, run by none other than Edgar Markov. This deck was a game changer for the archetype in many ways. First, by the main commander himself, which itself is a card above the average of any standard when it comes to tribal decks. Second, he expanded the horizons by delivering three Mardu commander options (white, black, and red), a color combination that was not yet well represented in the tribe and simply allowed the use of all sorts of vampires released in previous (and future) sets.
Ixalan(and its sequel
Rivals of Ixalan) was more of a set focused on tribes and vampires were one of them, with the difference of being aligned in black and white. This was undoubtedly the biggest contribution of this block, which in several cases increased the number of useful creatures on white with cards like Bishop of Binding, Bishop of Rebirth, Forerunner of the Legion, Legion Lieutenant, Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle, Legion's Landing and especially Elenda, the Dusk Rose. Other very significant additions were Champion of Dusk, Sanctum Seeker, Twilight Prophet, and Call to the Feast.
Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow (2021)After the huge features from Ixalan and Commander 2017, vampires had become one of the most popular tribes in Commander's metagame, but would naturally remain low for another three years, with a few point cards sticking out here and there (like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and Drana, the Last Bloodchief). For a brief moment on this path, the tribe was stirred up by the
Commander 2019decks, which would have the mechanic of
Madnessas one of its preconstructed decks.
Unmerciful Furybrought in Anje Falkenrath as the main commander and a few vampires with
madness. Only Anje's Ravager and the commander herself were unreleased cards, but this small representation was enough for some to try to untangle the idea of a “Vampires Tribal with Madness” deck, a sub-theme that remained a bit more latent and in wait of more support. This boost would come with the tribe's fifth and most recent wave of bounty, with the advent of two more sets that would visit for the third time our favorite gothic horror plane. The first of these,
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, was released in September 2021 and in theory would be more focused on supporting the werewolf tribe. Still, there was no way to get back to Innistrad without vampires, and some of them showed up. Most gain additional abilities if an opponent loses life during the turn, such as Florian, Voldaren Scion, Famished Foragers, and Vampire Socialite. But it would be in the second part, with Innistrad: Crimson Vow*, that vampires would receive the biggest highlight of the season. Released in November of the same year, the set featured Blood Tokens as the characteristic mechanics of vampires. Associated cards, in addition to producing these tokens, often use them for alternative purposes, as in Anje, Maid of Dishonor and Bloodtithe Harvester, Olivia's Attendants, Bloodvial Purveyor, Falkenrath Forebear, Voldaren Bloodcaster, and Arterial Alchemy. The usefulness of the blood tokens is little explored beyond this set, but they are put to good use in a strategy based on Madness, this being one of the main contributions of the set for the tribe.
Crimson Vowreinforcements include Henrika Domnathi, Welcoming Vampire, Olivia, Crimson Bride, and Edgar, Charmed Groom. The set also featured the
Vampiric Lineageprecon, specially dedicated to the tribe, with Strefan, Maurer Progenitor commanding a deck focused on high-impact creatures (something not yet explored in the tribe so far), reprinting classics and bringing Relevant unreleased cards such as Crossway Troublemakers, Kamber, the Plunderer, Markov Enforcer, Midnight Arsonist, Scion of Opulence, Timothar, Baron of Bats, Glass-Cast Heart, and Olivia's Wrath. Despite the large number of additions these sets have brought for vampires, some fans of the tribe have expressed dissatisfaction with this latest set, claiming it wasn't enough. In fact, expectations were too high, and perhaps it is natural that part of the fan base was not happy, as they expected something as grand as the 2017's releases. Nonetheless, Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow brought some good additions to the tribe.
Main Vampires tribal Commanders
Eminence. This is this commander's most defining feature, allowing him to exert a significant presence in the game without even needing to be cast. Because of this, most decks with this focus opt for extensive use of low-cost creatures, to boost their speed and generate critical mass of creatures in the first turns. Combining that with pumps and lords like Legion Lieutenant, Stromkirk Captain, Shared Animosity, among many others, the deck can put pressure on opponents with a speed hardly seen in the format. The ease with which Edgar Markov creates 1/1 vampire tokens is also put to good use by sacrifice engines like Indulgent Aristocrat, Viscera Seer and Skullclamp, making him a very promising commander for Aristocrat decks, very popular among the vampire tribe. Edgar Markov's weakness is precisely the Achilles' heel of every token deck: a heavy reliance on creatures that makes sweepers like Day of Judgment or Damnation especially devastating. Draws, graveyard recursions, and board-safety-specific cards like Teferi's Protection and Boros Charm are essential to maintaining the strategy.
Edgar, Charmed Groom
deathtouch(Basilisk Collar, Vorpal Sword) to establish a certain control over opponents' field while strengthening your own.
Madness). Loots and wheel effects also power cards like Bone Miser and Archfiend of Ifnir. This isn't exactly one of the most efficient ways to use vampires in Commander, but I chose to include it here as it represents a different sub-theme than the tribe's conventional lists.