Core Set 2020 brings the potential for new competitive decks based around tribal themes. The set released on Arena earlier this week and in paper this weekend. The first deck I wanted to try was Vampire Tribal. The new pieces that Core Set 2020 give to the deck may bring the tools needed to make the deck competitive. Vampires have been around from the beginnings of Magic the Gathering. At different times vampire decks have had a solid place in the metagame.

With the additions from Core Set 2020, vampires have a chance to rise again. The set provides three new vampires for the deck that came out of the Ixalan block. The new additions are Knight of the Ebon Legion, Bloodthirsty Aerialists, and Vampire of the Dire Moon.

Here is my first take on the deck. It needs to be refined more to get to a Tier 2 deck that can beat the best decks in the format when it plays as designed.

Vampire Tribal

Creatures (24)
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Vampire of the Dire Moon
Vicious Conquistador
Skymarcher Aspirant
Adanto Vanguard
Legion Lieutenant
Bloodthirsty Aerialists
The Haunt of the Hightower

Planeswalkers (4)
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord

Instants (4)
Mortify
Cast Down

Enchantments (6)
Conclave Tribunal
Legion's Landing

Land (22)
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Plain
Swamp
Temple of Silence
Sideboard (15)
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Duress
Vraska's Contempt
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Mortify
Unbreakable Formation
Cast Down

Each of these cards adds key value for the deck. Knight of the Ebon Legion and Vampire of the Dire Moon give the deck two additional one drops that helps the deck play faster, giving it more aggro power than the previous version. The knight can quickly impact the game by adding a +1/+1 counter when a player loses 4 or more life. He has the ability to pay to get +3/+3 until the end of the turn for two colorless mana and a black mana, so by turn three you can start adding counters. Another way to get a counter is to use Adanto Vanguard’sability to gain indestructible by paying four life.

Vampire of the Dire Moon is the ideal blocker and has good synergy with Bloodthirsty Aerialists. This vampire has deathtouch and lifelink making it a valuable tool in the deck. It helps Aerialists gets a +1/+1 counter when it attacks or blocks. Aerialists’ ability to fly adds evasion to the deck.

The third addition is Bloodthirsty Aerialists. It is a 2/3 flyer for a colorless mana and two black mana. Aerialists ability to add a +1/+1 counter when you gain life makes this a playable card in the deck. Legion’s Landing ability to create a vampire token with lifelink and Vampire of the Dire Moon give the deck a minimum of seven possible ways to gain life without using Sorin’s abilities.

The final addition is Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord. This planeswalker was designed for a vampire deck. Each of his plus abilities aids your game plan. Getting to add a +1/+1 counter, deathtouch, and lifelink to one of your vampires helps to push the deck forward. The second ability allows you to do three damage to any target. This allows you to deal with threat on the battlefield. Potentially the most important ability is Sorin’s -3 ability. It allows you to put a vampire from your hand onto the battlefield without paying its mana cost.

The ideal play is The Haunt of the Hightower. While a 3/3 flyer with lifelink for six mana does not seem good when you are casting it from your hand, putting it into play for free with Sorin makes it a powerful turn three play.

Here are a few take a ways from my play testing of the deck. First, against decks that play removal like Cry of the Carnarium you should use Sorin’s +1 ability to give creatures you want to protect a +1/+1 counter because many of your creatures have two toughness already and adding the counter will get them out of the range of Cry. It’s a good idea to play your low-cost creatures out slower when you know that your opponent has Cry, so that you can better protect them.

Second, the deck preformed well against other aggro decks because of the life gain in the deck. It performed particularly well against the Mono-Red Aggro deck. Going wide early helped the deck deal with the threats that Mono-Red presents. In the games I lost, I typically flooded and was not about to catch-up on-board presence.

Third, the deck had difficulty with control decks because they have to many removal pieces and the deck only has a few pieces that can interact with planeswalkers without attacking with creatures. Finding the right pieces to interact with Esper and Grixis control will be important to making the deck competitive.
Fourth, the sideboard is not a finished product. More play testing will be needed to find the correct pieces to better interact with these decks.

Good luck trying out the deck. I think it is a fun deck to play with interesting play paths.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!