Deck Description

Is there a strategy for vampires other than an aggro one? Why yes there is, storm the front lines or storm off with spells... well not actually in the traditional way. This deck offers the flexibility to go for a traditional go wide aggressive strategy or a more unorthodox storm deck. I have had the opportunity to play this with many variations and will outline some of the strategies for this deck. Each of the three routes of strategies has play lines based upon your opening hand, opponents, and the mid to late game. All of these routes will be outlined within each strategies own section

Reasons to try this deck

  • Extremely versatile deck that allows a range of strategies from aggro to combo to storm
  • If you enjoy gambling in your playstyle from time to time
  • Enjoy being rewarded for finding interesting and intricate lines of play to win the game
  • You enjoy tribal decks/decks with great synergy

Reasons to avoid this deck

  • Enjoy decks that are effective at politicking
  • Desire to have a substantial amount of interaction with other players and their board states
  • Dislike decks that an essential component of is to tow the line of not overextending your board state
  • Overextending your board state will likely cause you to lose the game


  • Many paths of victory allow you to play significantly less removal and interaction, and focus on your own game-plan. Most stax and board warping effects cannot stop all of your plans to victory
  • The many tutors and pieces of card draw allow you to effectively and efficiently get your game plan into action
  • Vampires in addition to select artifacts and enchantments allow for greater flexibility and synergy (will go into these combinations later)


  • Very momentum-based deck and if you are caught without a way to protect your board state it will be very difficult to win
  • The deck is not very political, practically unable to incentivize making allies
  • The momentum of the deck has a tendency to gather enemies

How does it work?

The combination of Mana Echoes + Phyrexian Altar + Skullclamp or Mana Echoes + Phyrexian Altar + Heirloom Blade This allows you to equip Heirloom Blade or Skullclamp and either sacrifice or kill the creature. This allows for 1 possible outcome with Heirloom Blade , and 6 possible outcomes with Skullclamp based upon the toughness of the vampire, and/or the token has 1 toughness. Namely, if the vampire has only 1 toughness you must choose between getting 2 cards or getting 1 colored mana as equipping skull clamp will immediately kill it due to state-based effects before you can sacrifice it.

(note for sake of not repeating for all of these combinations all combinations produce at least 1 colorless mana)


-draw 4 cards/2 vampires put in hand, create 2 colored mana, (preferably black as it is the most common symbol needed)

Second Best Options

-draw 4 cards create 1 colored mana

-draw 2 cards, create 2 colored mana

Worst Possible Options

-draw 4 card/2 vampires put in hand

-draw 2 cards create 1 colored mana

-create 2 colored mana

Even the worst possible option almost guarantee's that you will win, and those potential paths to victory are noted in the storm win conditions and combos section. When picking between the sub-optimal and worst outcomes, if you already have many vampires in hand choose to go for the colored mana to keep the chain going and vis versa.

When should I try to storm off?

Opening Hand/opponents decks

Attempting to pull off the storming strategy is reasonable, possibly most effective, if your opening hand includes a combination of at least 2 of the aforementioned combo pieces and/or tutors. In terms of what you are playing against here are a few I would strongly recommend not bringing this strategy against decks you know have a lot of artifact and enchantment removal for your storm pieces. If you happen to naturally draw into the combo pieces then it's not a bad idea to still try and pull it off. However, using your valuable tutors when going against these decks is not advised, and will likely be better off going with the aggro or some of the combos within the deck. this is mainly due to the fact that mardu does not have the ability to effectively return non creature cards back to your hand so if one of your pieces you will not be able to pull the storming strategy off.

Early Game

In the early game, you do not necessarily hold back playing creatures as it will allow you to produce more mana for when you play Mana Echoes , however, if you are able to make the choice between a creature or mana ramp choose the ramp in order to more quickly get out your combo pieces in a timely matter as such they are not removed. When you are tutoring in the early game and wish to go for this strategy the priority of pieces you tutor for is Skullclamp then Mana Echoes then Phyrexian Altar . You go for Skullclamp first as it provides the card draw to likely draw into more tutors or the other combo piece. In an Edgar Markov deck how you use Skullclamp if you are unfamiliar is you cast a vampire the eminence ability of Edgar Markov triggers and you get a 1/1 vampire token which you equip with Skullclamp and draw 2 cards. (Note make sure if you are pursuing this strategy and are thinking of playing a vampire lord make sure you also have a sac outlet) An important thing to note when using Skullclamp as a draw outlet early is that it does limit your ability to pursue an aggressive strategy later if the flow of the game starts to favor an aggressive strategy. the reason for the ordering of Mana Echoes before Phyrexian Altar will be covered in the following section.

Mid Game

Due to the fact this deck is not very interactive, the mid-game for this deck is less so an objective and grounded state but rather based on the number of your storm pieces in play. If you happen to have attained all 3 of your combo pieces within a few vampires in play you will have already gone through the above mentioned storm cycle and won the game. Rather, this section will be focusing on the 3 possible combinations of 2 combo pieces in play as the mid-game.

Mana Echoes + Skullclamp

This is the most ideal of the 3 scenarios and in my personal opinion one of the most exciting lines in the deck. After you have played your Mana Echoes sometime between turn 2-5 you will be tapped out and will have to wait until the next turn before you can attempt to storm off. I will use the most common scenario in which you played your Mana Echoes on turn 4 and you have 3 vampires in play. To begin storming off you will want to start with your cheapest vampire in hand in order to preserve your colored mana symbols which you will need later. Presuming I anticipated this scenario I play a one mana vampire which I saved to begin storming off with. The token will enter first giving you 3 colorless mana and then 4 for the vampire you cast entering for a total of 7 mana. from there you will start using Skullclamp on your one toughness vampires ideally making sure to always have 2 vampires in play at least but certainly no lower than one. When you are drawing what you are looking for is the specified storm combos below with this line, mana rocks, tutors, and Phyrexian Altar . you will want to skullclamp until you have a maximum of 2 creatures if possible before deciding what spells to cast. The mana rocks are important because you can cast them with the colorless mana and continue the chain if you haven't hit a combo, tutor, or Phyrexian Altar

Phyrexian Altar + Skullclamp

I would not exactly recommend storming off with combination without a large number of creatures as you will likely run out of mana to complete the combination. This combination of cards is doable to storm off but is more tricky, as the ability to acquire much more colorless to cast mana rocks, more generically expensive vampire, and skullclamp triggers. If you are daring enough to try and storm off with this what you will want to do is to first use your mana from lands to save your creatures up for the next turn if you believe pulling the combo will be difficult. Ideally, you only will equip skullclamp to 2+ toughness creatures and sac them for mana looking for your combos. Once you reach 6 mana if you do not have a tutor for Mana Echoes or Mana Echoes itself it is recommended to continue going for it for this turn as you will not be able to pull the combination off and should reserve your creatures for the next turn to attempt it again.

Phyrexian Altar + Mana Echoes

Ideally, you are never in this scenario in fact you may even avoid playing phyrexian altar as it would leave yourself vulnerable to being blown out. If you are feeling risky however you can easily play out your entire hand and commander with this and hope for the best. If you have Teferi`s Protection in your hand you can play out both if there are not blue players there to counter it and protect your board state.

Late Game

The late-game will almost always be after turn 6, and you still do not have at the minimum Mana Echoes and Skullclamp in play with all of your lands untapped .the reasoning has nothing to do with your deck, as the strategy is always the same, but rather your opponents. For this phase of the game I will cover what you will want to do based upon which other players strategy has a dominant presence in the game creature-based battle-cruiser, control, Voltron, and Stax. (All 3 strategies assume you have Skullclamp in play

Creature based battle-cruiser

If this is the most dominant deck at the table it is strongly recommended you do not attempt to storm off with any of the 2 out of 3 combo piece combinations in play. If you have only have Skullclamp in play and have just drawn into recently one of the other two pieces do not play them until you have both and prioritize playing vampires. At this point you may want to switch into an aggressive strategy but that is only optional storming off is still reasonable. The reasoning is that you should have been using Skullclamp quite a few times by now and have amassed a reasonably large hand of cards with not too many vampires in play as you have been sacrificing them. You are almost certainly now the target of attacks from the creature-based deck and with his developed board, he will be able to end you swiftly if you do not defend yourself. playing vampire lords to boost your overall blocking power will provide the opportunity to prevent most of the damage or defer their attacks to others. Even if you are still not the most threatening player after them do not risk trying to combo off anyways as it is extremely likely they will turn their ire towards Even if there is a dominant control player in the game who likely can wipe their board and yours with it, still go for it as they may make an alliance to kill you, or he will refrain from using it if he does not think that he will be targeted before yourself. If however for whatever reason battle cruiser creature deck has evasion making it so you cannot block, ignore the advice to put down more creatures and simply try to storm off anyway as you may be dead anyway.


If a control player is dominant in the late game and you still have some of the combo pieces for storm not yet in play, do not play any of them. If they counter your pieces you will not be able to complete storming off and you will have to switch to trying to combo off or go for an aggressive strategy. the key is to wait until they are tapped out and put all 3 pieces of the combo into play at the same time guaranteeing victory. keep in mind just playing Mana Echoes , even if the control player is tapped out, will not be sufficient to storm off the turn you play it without Phyrexian Altar . If you let a competent control player untap with your combo pieces in play they will destroy them and your chance of storming off will be ruined. An important note is that if you have Mana Echoes and Phyrexian Altar in hand and the control player is tapped out thus not interacting you will win. Simply play Mana Echoes onto a board with at least 2 vampires and Skullclamp , then cast your cheapest vampire in hand which will add a minimum of 5 colorless mana, and cast Phyrexian Altar leaving 2 colorless with the mana available from the altar you will win.


This will be the hardest strategy to beat for this deck if they are the dominant force in the game as at this point they will very likely be an unblockable Voltron creature. The only thing you can do is try and make yourself look weak while waiting to acquire the 2 of the combo pieces in hand to do all at once. This will require playing minimal amounts of creatures while waiting as to not draw the Voltron players evil 1 to 2 shot ire.


It is possible because of the nature of stax you are in an unwinnable situation because of their pieces in play and this decks lack of removal for the pieces but this will not consider that possibility. In the case of stax everyone will be very far behind so unlikely that people will be destroying your storm pieces but rather the stax player's pieces. However, if there is a control player you have good reason to believe they have mass artifact or enchantment removal it is possible for them to cast, I would recommend refraining from casting your combo pieces until they do it to wipe out the Stax cards. If Null Rod , Karn, the Great Creator , Torpor Orb , and/or Hushwing Gryff you will not be able to complete this strategy and should switch to a new one

The strategy is as most aggro strategies go, curving out on powerful vampires and using Boros Charm and Teferi's Protection to protect your board, and using living death/patriarch's bidding to recover or even gain advantage over opponents.

Opening Hands and Opponents strategies

Ideal hands for an aggressive strategy have vampires curving from 1-4 with at least one vampire lord. Wit the power level of the hand compounding with every additional vampire lord. Here is a ranking of vampires from personal experience of the deck

Most ideal vampires (most ideal to least)

- Vampire Nocturnus

- Sanctum Seeker

- Drana, Liberator of Malakir

- Bloodline Keeper  

- Stromkirk Captain

- Captivating Vampire

- Champion of Dusk

When it comes to your opponents there are not really any deck strategies your opponents can for that the aggressive strategy of this deck cannot win though outside of propaganda effects, Humility , and Containment Priest (if there are people in your meta that play these cards consult the sideboard options for suggested solutions) The deck is able to accomplish this because of the board protection spells and mass reanimation that mardu offers for this deck. With that it is important to be mindful of how interactive your opponents decks are in terms of board wipes, and to know how greedily you can use your tutors and how much mana you should leave up.

Early Game

In the early game you will want to fully curve out on vampires above your ramp spells. In terms of aggression you will need to consider the psychological effects of your opponents reactions. The safe assumption is to immediate start attacking targeting down players in this order, Voltron, Control, Stax, and lastly aggressive/battle cruiser (Making an exception for skill). The reason being that you will not be able to beat Voltron once their deck gets going will not be able to beat them without including some of the maybe board options which will be mentioned later. With control, you will have a difficult time keeping your board state up against a well-instantiated control player. Most stax decks dont really have cards that are very potent against the aggressive strategy so you don't need to worry about them to much. Lastly, you don't really need to care about battle cruiser strategy as most of them cannot stop you once you start building your aggressive momentum. In the early game if you believe your opponents will gang up you if you attack earlier as opposed to later build up a critical mass of vampires first.

Midgame to the LateGame

This phase of the game is the most nuanced part of an aggressive strategy that will require flexibility and threat assessment. There is not really a catch all what you should do in every scenario as magic is a complex game with complex people that make potentially peculiar decisions so here are some factors to consider. One thing to note before going over this is that you will want to intentionally focus down one player. The more opponents you allow to stay in the game the higher the chance that someone will stop you. Factors (order of importance) - The skill level of the opponent - The strategy your opponent is going for - how developed the player's board state - the political environment of the board, who is being targeted what are the alliances With who is being targeted covered is how one should go about pursuing the strategy. When you get to turn 5 you are going to want to consider what your card draw engine is going to be to keep your momentum going. If you have the option to tutor you will want to get Necropotence as it is the most powerful card draw engine especially since many of the powerful vampires within the deck have built in life gain. I would always suggest tutoring for Necropotence unless there are at least 2 other control players in which you will want to tutor Teferi's Protection or Living Death as it will be difficult to get away with Necropotence and will need to defend your board state. From there the rest of the strategy into the late game is the ability to understand what vampires are good to play for your aggressive strategy, and how much mana to leave up for board saving type effects.

Phyrexian Altar + Blood Artist / Falkenrath Noble / Cruel Celebrant + Oathsworn Vampire This is the premiere combo of the deck in which you cast Oathsworn Vampire and sacrifice Oathsworn Vampire and the token to add two black mana and drain an opponent for 2 and gain 2 life in which you can recast Oathsworn Vampire from your graveyard. Loop.

Living Death Show

Elenda, the Dusk Rose Show

New Blood Show

Vampire Nocturnus Show

Bloodghast Show

Austere Command , Merciless Eviction , Paraselene , Purify , Shatterstorm

The only reason that these are in maybeboard and not in my deck is that the commander metagame that I play in does not have that many Voltron, enchantress, and stax decks. If however your meta is well saturated within these decks I would strongly recommend that you play at least one piece whatever would allow consistency in dealing with their particular cards. I would recommend Austere Command and Merciless Eviction as the best board wipes to use. However, if you have a particularly quick meta, or one that has many Winter Orb and tax type effect I would recommend the other 3 as they are not nearly as mana intensive.

Abolish This card is for if there are people who play decks that lock out your ability to generate mana you will need this card in order to be able to deal with that type of effect.

Leyline of Sanctity If your opponents where to adapt to you playing this deck the most wise thing to do would be to include more graveyard exiling/tampering effects as almost all of your strategies rely on this. If this is the case this card would be a great inclusion as it removes there ability to target your graveyard.

Entailed here is the order of which you should be tutoring for your cards in the case that you do not have them


  1. Skullclamp

  2. Mana Echoes

  3. Phyrexian Altar

4.Any Blood Artist effect

Once you have all these cards in this strategy you will have won so there are not really any cards to tutor for after

Aggressive Strategy

1. Necropotence

2. Living Death (first if playing against at least 2 control players)

3. Vampire Nocturnus

4. Sanctum Seeker

The rest are situational to what you think would be best and always make sure to have at least one board reccuring/saving effect at a time

If you have questions about card choices, strategies, general thoughts on commander, etc. I will be happy to answer.


Updates Add



Reasons: Urza's Saga is an unbelievably good utility land that offers so much utility whether you want Sol Ring for the mana, Skullclamp for the card draw, Blade of the Bloodchief for aggressive and combo potential, and Sensei's divining top for the very strong potential. Crypt of Agadeem very conditional so going for this swap for now.


Top Ranked
Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

11 - 0 Mythic Rares

59 - 0 Rares

20 - 0 Uncommons

6 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.66
Tokens */* B Token Creature Vampire, Construct 0/0 C, 1/1 B Token Artifact Vampire, 1/1 W Token Creature Vampire, C Emblem City's Blessing, 2/2 B Token Creature Vampire
Folders My decks, Cool Decks, Commander Ideas - FUN, Neat, Commander, Deck Ideas, Cool decks, EDH Decks, Reference Material, EDH Vampires, See all 16
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