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Grim Allocations (Orzhov Lifedrain)

Standard Combo Control Lifegain Vampires W/B (Orzhov)




Hello, and welcome to Grim Allocations, my Lifedrain Orzhov control deck! As always, please +1 if you like my ideas, and all suggestions are welcome.

Part 1: No Allocations For You

The basic idea of this deck is to lock down the board and make it so that any action your opponent takes causes them pain. The keys to this are two KLD cards, Authority of the Consuls and Kambal, Consul of Allocation . Ideally you want to drop the former on Turn 1 to optimize the lifegain and slow down aggro decks as soon as possible. If you can get Kambal on turn 3 as well it will grind any deck to a halt. As for Turn 2..

Part 2: Allies Just Suck The Life Out Of You

Now that your opponent is slowed down, the next step is to get your Lifedrain and Lifelink creatures on the board. Cliffhaven Vampire's main purpose is to sit on the battlefield and activate its abilities, though it is an effective blocker. The lifelinkers should attack at every opportunity to maximize the Cliffhaven's activations.

Part 3: Control, Control, You Must Use Control

The rest of the deck is your typical Orzhov control cards, though one bears mention. Blessed Alliance is crazy useful, because not only does it remove, it can also untap Lifelink blockers or gain you a quick 4.

Finishers: Life of the party

Sorin, Grim Nemesis is a perfect fit for this deck: removal, life gain, and an ultimate that, if you can pop it, will almost always end the game immediately. Otherwise, all the lifegain should pump the Bloodbond Vampire s through the roof, and Defiant Bloodlord is a Cliffhaven on steroids, turning every gain of life into a burn spell.


With all those vehicles like Heart of Kiran around, some nice cheap artifact hate is necessary, so I have 3 of Fragmentize in the sideboard. Lost Legacy comes in against combo decks like Copycat, Declaration in Stone against token generators, and Fumigate and Yahenni's Expertise to wrath away aggro.

Well, I hope you like my ideas! Please +1, and let me know what you think.


Hello, first update in a while.

I made some serious changes to the deck, moving more towards a true lifegain rather than the original build. Take a look and let me know what you think.

PS, I know that Aetherborn Marauder is not ideal, but it's the best I have for that slot. I will probably swap it for something eventually, just need to find the right piece. Recommendations welcome!

Comments View Archive

brassman1002 says... #1

If you're looking for artifact/enchantment removal Fragmentize is you way to go. It deals with pretty much every artifact that matters except Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, but that's what Anguished Unmaking is for.

October 5, 2016 9:49 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #2

Yeah, I was planning on sideboarding Fragmentize until I saw what the local FNM meta looks like. Also I only have two so far and would want a full playset before mainboarding it.

October 5, 2016 9:53 p.m.

Rhamnales says... #3

I love the idea of this deck. Feels built for my playstyle may I ask what your thoughts on aetherflux reservoir is?

I feel like this might work great in this deck. You would have a better idea I just bought all the cards that I didnt already have and am waiting to playtest this.

But thanks for the deck! It looks fantastic and Kambal is one of my new favourite cards too !

October 10, 2016 3:08 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #4

Hey Rhamnales,

If you're going to run Aetherflux Reservoir, you need to do it in a dedicated lifegain deck, probably mono-white with every creature having lifelink, as well as tons of cheap gain life spells like Chaplain's Blessing and a full playset of Felidar Soverign for the alternate win-con. The reason you need to build it so specific is because the Reservoir is not a card you can just toss out and not expect immediate removal. It is the ultimate Kick-Me sign card.

My deck is not about lifegain, but about making every move your opponent can take hurt them and heal you. Will you gain a bunch of life? Yes. Will you ever gain to 50? Probably not, and even 40 doubtful unless the Lone Rider  Flips just tear stuff up. Honestly, the hardest part about building this deck was what to take out, not what to put in. It has to be very focused otherwise faster decks will just run it over.

So yeah, the Reservoir is a neat card, just not right for this deck.

October 10, 2016 10:18 p.m.

Orron says... #5

Pretty interesting deck... Have you considered running an Aether Hub or two? Sure you can only tap it for a color 1 time on it's own, but that will up your chance of getting an Authority of the Consuls out turn one... Admittedly it's a very small difference... around 2%. However if you were to do something crazy like swap 1 swamp and 3 forsaken sanctuaries for 4 you could increase you chance of casting it on turn one by almost 10%... assuming you are willing to mulligan once. It could cause mana problems later, but it is unlikely that it would (probability wise).

October 13, 2016 midnight

Leatherankh says... #6

orion I have considered it, just because I have such a large percentage of my mana base that comes in tapped. Unfortunately I only have one playset and it currently resides in an energy burn deck where it is far more useful. I definitely agree with your assessment, though.

October 13, 2016 8:51 a.m.

What's your opinion of Collective Brutality I feel it could fit nicely into this deck giving you a bit more hand attack and life gain.

October 16, 2016 9:44 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #8

Collective Brutality is an awesome card, but it doesn't quite fit here because of the discard. It is very rare that I would want to dump anything out of my hand in this deck, because other than Sorin I have no card advantage. Now I have a full playset in a Rakdos burn/madness deck and it rocks there. Good suggestion, just not quite right here.

October 16, 2016 1:51 p.m.

Rhamnales says... #9

Liking the Aerial Responder add. Much better than lone rider in my playtest though lone rider does some work if you can get him up quick. Also any other card you may reccommend for side boarding in place of Felidar im not too much of a fan of the card. For now I added in another Harsh scrutiny. (That card can do wonders though 4 i agree does seem like way to many)

October 16, 2016 10:56 p.m.

archangelnkd says... #10

Love the idea. I currently am tinkering with a very similar deck theme. Vampires are one of my favorite tribes in Magic; and white-black is much more enjoyable to me than the red-black alternative. Personally; I like using Collective Brutality and using it either for a quick 2; or escalating it and discarding Alms of the Vein to madness for B and turn it into a lose 5, gain 5 and inst/sorc discarding.

October 16, 2016 11:50 p.m.

Murphy77 says... #11

I like the deck. My only worry is that Sorin, Grim Nemesis is too expensive to summon and might end up slowing down the early game (although I have considered adding it to my own deck). Essence Extraction might be a good swap. ...+1

October 17, 2016 1:30 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #12

The only time I've run into issues with Sorin's cost is when I pull him before turn 4 or so, and even then it isn't a big deal. This is a slow, grindy, death-of-a-thousand-cuts kind of deck. You get an Authority, you get a Kambal, you get a Cliffhaven, and then you sit back and watch your opponent pick their poison. If Sorin doesn't show up, fine, but if he does the end game just accelerates. He's icing on the cake.

As for Essence Extraction, it's already in my maybeboard. I've been experimenting with it and I think it might be a good sideboard card against go-wide decks, but not as a main.

October 17, 2016 9:18 a.m.

walnutsmb says... #13

Hi, Just a suggestion, you have 2 copies of Biting Rain in the side board, but I think Flaying Tendrils is a much better card.

October 17, 2016 9:46 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #14

walnutsmbYeah, I just discovered that card a day or two ago, much better choice. I have no copies yet so I didn't add it to the deck. Thanks!

October 17, 2016 12:42 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #15

Rhamnales I like keeping a singleton of the Felidar kicking around just in case of a mirror match or someone who goes wide with something like zombie tokens and wants to overwhelm me, life gain from Authority be damned. Completely an optional card, so if you find something that you like better, run with it and let me know how it works for you.

October 19, 2016 11:20 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #16

archangelnkd The Alms of the Vein + Collective Brutality combo is a fave of mine in my Rakdos Madness burn deck, but the funny thing about this deck is that I actually want my opponent to play cards. If, for example, I have a Kambal, 2 Authorities, and a Cliffhaven in play (and I have by turn 5 in the past) every creature they play nets me 2 life and costs them 2, while every spell nets me 2 and costs them 3. While the Brutality/Alms combo can drain 5, it's on my mana not theirs, which leaves me less to use on removal in case they get something annoying into play. Besides, I love watching them squirm as their own actions hurt them. Guess I'm a sadist. :-D

PS, if you want to check out the deck I mentioned above, it's here: Leave A Beautiful Corpse (Rakdos Energy Burn)

October 19, 2016 11:33 a.m.

Murphy77 says... #17

I like Vampire Cutthroat in this deck - it certainly both provides an early board presence and adds to the theme. The more conventional approach is Kalastria Healer which really does nothing with Kambal, Consul of Allocation and Lone Rider  Flip. I would look for ways to speed up the deck.

October 21, 2016 7:56 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #18

Murphy77 I agree with both of your assessments. I had a pre-KLD build that did exactly what you mentioned, ran Healers and Zulaport Cutthroat and such, and it just didn't have enough kick. Of course, if I had unlimited funds I'd forgo the allies completely and run Kalitas and Brusela, but I am opposed to spending more than $10 on a single card, both morally and financially. :-)

As for speed, it's not as much of an issue as you'd think as long as I get an Authority on Turn 1. That gives me the window to get to turn 3 or so with minimal damage taken, by which point I always have some removal in hand to deal with anything truly annoying. So the key with this deck is mulligan mulligan mulligan. I absolutely need a draw with an Authority and and both colors sources, and I don't mind going to 6 or even 5 to make sure of that.

October 21, 2016 9:51 a.m.

hamiam says... #19

Sick +1

October 22, 2016 2:18 a.m.

Indexxical says... #20

I like it! Very straightforward and to the point. Does this deck have much trouble against bounce decks? Decks that use spells like Unsubstantiate and the like?

October 23, 2016 5:54 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #21

I haven't had a chance to run it against a true control deck yet, but like any combo deck control is likely to be a tough opponent. I built it anticipating a lot of aggro and artifacts in the local meta.

October 23, 2016 10:20 p.m.

Some things I noticed Biting Rain can't be countered by Ceremonious Rejection, while Flaying Tendrils can, so I'd stick with the Rain.Sorin, Grim Nemesis is really expensive (casting wise), so potentially look into Liliana, the Last Hope since you use a lot of creatures. (although Lily is Expensive Value-wise).Last thing I was thinking was: what about Triskaidekaphobia?Also, I'd suggest another Kambal, Consul of Allocation or two if you play a lot of Control in your Local FNM (Like I do))

Otherwise: LOVE the deck! -

October 24, 2016 2:18 p.m.

Edit: Didn't notice the 3x Kambal in the Mainboard. Ignore that portion of the comment.

October 24, 2016 2:22 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #24

InAmberClad117, I would love to add a couple of Lilys to the deck ... and a few Briselas and a couple of Kalitas and, while we're at it I would also like a pony. :-P

Sadly, I am a budget player and cannot justify $20-30 cards. On the flip, I also just play at FNM, so who gives a damn as long as I'm competitive, right?

As for Trisk, that's a card you need to build a whole deck around, not one you can just splash and call good enough. Fun suggestion, tho.

October 24, 2016 3:36 p.m.

I'm a pretty casual player but have been around long enough to know how standard works. I completely understand being a budget player. (In Graduate School)I think Bruna would actually make some sense with this being a more grindy kind of deck. Plus she's not expensive at all. Look into a thing called "PucaTrade"?

October 25, 2016 9:45 a.m.

Leatherankh says... #26

Unless you are running other angels or humans, Bruna, the Fading Light is just a 7-drop beater, at which point I would rather just run Defiant Bloodlord for the synergies. Which I am considering, BTW.

October 25, 2016 11:09 a.m.

mr_dj07 says... #27

I'm building a similar deck... take a look !

October 25, 2016 11:45 a.m.

BioProfDude says... #28

Honestly, I would try to get 2x or 3x Always Watching into the deck. I have a somewhat similar deck (B/W Another crappy life gain/drain deck) and I have had good success with Always Watching . The vigilance is actually the best part. I can sit passively and let the creatures, etc... do their job and life gain/drain without ever attacking, but I can also swing with fliers (e.g., Drana's Emissary) without sacrificing defense.

Just a suggestion! Good luck!

October 25, 2016 11:22 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #29

I only have 1 of Always Watching . I will have to pick a couple more up and see how it works. Thanks!

October 25, 2016 11:49 p.m.

coldjin says... #30

I really like this kind of deck! As a returning player from a 10 years hiatus I can't give any valuable advice, I've been off the grid for too long, but if you don't mind I'll wait until you tweak and playtest this a little bit more. And then it might as well become my first post-hiatus deck.

October 28, 2016 7:10 p.m.

archfield1 says... #31

Nice, I am playing around with the idea of something similar but with more of an aggro lean, but you have some good ideas too with the life drain on the board. +1.

November 9, 2016 7:02 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #32

Yeah, I've seen some aggro variants that forgo most of the lifedrain in lieu of power lifelink cards like Kalitas and Gisela. Nice ideas but I don't have the funds to drop $200+ on 12 cards.

November 9, 2016 7:49 p.m.

archfield1 says... #33

I put something together that's still reasonably budgethttp://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/wb-pain-gain/

November 10, 2016 2:43 p.m.

archfield1 says... #34

[Let's try that again] (http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/wb-pain-gain/)

November 10, 2016 2:43 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #35

If you want to link a deck, the format is double open bracket, DECK, colon, complete deck name separated by hyphens, double close bracket. So this one (with deliberate mistakes so you can see the formatting) would be bracket[deck:Grim-Allocations-(Orzhov-Lifedrain)]bracket

November 10, 2016 5:15 p.m.

gearturner27 says... #36

How about Zulaport Cutthroat to get some extra value out of your creatures if they die and Retreat to Hagra to drain gain for 1 just for playing a land? I think those would slot nicely in place of Aetherborn Marauder and Aetherflux Reservoir

November 28, 2016 12:38 p.m.

gearturner27 says... #37

I also feel that this deck is rather weak against other planeswalkers, so perhaps Ruinous Path instead of Anguished Unmaking? I know it doesn't exile the permanent but if your local meta isn't playing a bunch of graveyard retrieval, it shouldn't be much of an issue.

November 28, 2016 1:04 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #38

Hey gearturner27,

First, thanks for the recommendations. I'll take them one by one.

Zulaport Cutthroat: great card, but not here. The deck's biggest lack is a finisher, and another ping damage source isn't gonna cut it. Where they really shine is in a sacrifice deck, which is where I have mine.

Retreat to Hagra: similar to above, a neat card that just doesn't have the kick I need. I have a playset in a Splendid Reclamation Delirium deck, and they tear things up there.

Ruinous Path vs Anguished Unmaking: actually, exile is an important part of playing against my local meta, since there are several Dredge and Delirium players there. Also, Path doesn't work so well on the hated Looter Scooter. I do plan on getting a playset to sideboard against 'walker heavy decks.

As for your suggested removes, I already ditched the Marauders and plan on replacing them with Bloodbond Vampire. As for the Resevoirs, they are an experiment. Once I get to try them out I will decide whether they stay or go.

Thanks for the feedback!

November 28, 2016 2:28 p.m.

gearturner27 says... #39

Well if you're looking for a finisher, I'm using Noxious Gearhulk in my gain drain deck as it synergies well with both Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet (I know you don't want to be spendy, but I have them already) and Cliffhaven Vampire 6 drop that gets you a 5/4 body with menace, kills a creature, gains you life, and creates a token if Kalitas is on board works well for me!

And in reference to the silly looter scooter that everyone seems to love to play, Fragmentize is a much easier and cheaper way to remove it. And Ruinous Path awakened makes your Shambling Vent a 6/7 with lifelink, which can also work as a closer! Just something to think about.

November 28, 2016 4:17 p.m.

lords2001 says... #40

Lone Rider  Flip can get you places with lifelink, and provide a midgame finisher most enemies do not like. Noxious Gearhulk is a great finisher.

December 19, 2016 8:46 a.m.

deadgroove says... #41

Drana's Emissary in place of the marauder seems good.

December 21, 2016 1:41 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #42

Lone Rider  Flip and Drana's Emissary are both cards I had in earlier builds of this deck. I pulled the former to add in Aerial Responder and the latter to make room for more removal. As for Noxious Gearhulk, it's definitely on my list of possible adds. I only have one so far, and would like at least one more before adding them in.

December 22, 2016 1:34 a.m.

graybones says... #43

This is a really awesome deck, I haven't seen a lifegain control deck in standard before which is cool. However, I think you need another payoff card for your lifegain as Aetherflux Reservoir doesn't seem quite reliable enough in this type of shell. Have you thought about Bloodbond Vampire to replace the Aetherborn Marauders? The counters will get out of control quick and it also dodges the first part of Fatal Push which is very nice. Felidar Sovereign could be useful too, as it seems a little more manageable with what you have going on. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim could be fun too as you'll easily get to enough life to start exiling everything your opponent controls. Just a few suggestions! Good luck improving the deck further

January 27, 2017 1 p.m.

Leatherankh says... #44

graybones You beat me to it, I had already planned on swapping the Marauder for Bloodbond, I just hadn't made the edits here yet. As for Ayli, all the creatures in the deck serve a purpose, so saccing them to power another removal outlet (when I have 12) is not a high priority.

Thanks for the input!

January 28, 2017 1:01 a.m.

rvnender says... #45

I played this deck against a few friends last night, but since I didn't have a few of the cards I modified it a little bit.

I ended up going 5\0 with this deck. No body could really do anything about it once I got set up and just let Bloodbond Vampire gain stacks.

July 30, 2017 11:58 a.m.

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