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Welcome to The Goth Mafia! Karlov of the Ghost Council and his mob of extortionists are here to allow you the opportunity to pay some life in exchange for protection and services to the community.

It’s Karlov/Vampire stuff with some utility target destruction to try to stick around without getting rolled. When I first started the deck I wanted to go full vampires, but it evolved from there to revolve around life gain and counters to maximize on Karlov’s inherit abusability. I tried to keep the budget as low as possible without sacrificing too much of its steez, but as time goes on upgrades are included, so if you're looking to drop the price, just remove things like Twilight Prophet , Archangel of Thune , Damnation , Exquisite Blood etc. The deck can still easily function without $20 cards, the mechanics are solid (except Karlov himself these days).

Though it wasn't my intention when creating this deck, Karlov easily becomes an utter beast, with almost every mechanic of the deck increasing his power. The deck blends a couple of tactics, the central pillar being life gain. Life gain leads to an over-powered Karlov of the Ghost Council which can then be improved with things like Indestructibility , Spectra Ward and Gift of Orzhova (or Odric, Lunarch Marshal with any of the many flying/lifelinking creatures) for a commander damage win. Of course, Karl can use all those juicy counters for removal, which is an ever-present threat. Even Call to the Feast can put 6 counters on Karl for a really wicked swing in.

Karlov will be identified as a Serious Problem almost immediately and will be plagued with constant removal. Luckily Karl is stupidly cheap so you can probably get 3-4 castings of him in a game if your protection is bypassed or you fail to draw protection at key times. By the time he has been burned down a couple times, other components of the life gain engine should be in place leading to other big beefy swingers and chains of drain and life gain.

For when Karlov is inevitably removed, we have all the other cards to fall back on: "Karlov Juniors" like Bloodthirsty Aerialist and Bloodbond Vampire to keep the stomp going, mass counters like Archangel of Thune , Sunbond , etc. to beef up key creatures or just make a swarm of beaters, a small presence of life loss for all to grind opponents down while our life total stays ludicrously high, cards with Extort, or drainers like Kambal, Consul of Allocation , Drana's Emissary and Twilight Prophet and so on.

There are some other fun alternate win cons like Sorin Markov + Exsanguinate / Profane Command (or the constant little drains), or the classic Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Bond / Defiant Bloodlord / Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose combo.

In a nutshell the key is getting Karlov out, getting Karlov protected, then trying to find every instance of life gain you can to make him a sweeping monster. An ideal start would look something like this:

Turn 1: Swamp , cast Vampire Cutthroat / Vampire of the Dire Moon

Turn 2: Plains , cast Karlov of the Ghost Council . Attack with Vampire Cutthroat / Vampire of the Dire Moon , gain 1 life and add two +1/+1 counters on Karl for a 4/4 blocker.

Turn 3: Command Tower , cast Pristine Talisman . Tap the talisman, gain 1 life, add two +1/+1 counters on Karlov. Attack with a 6/6 commander and his 1/1 skulking lifelinker mook. Not bad for turn 3.

This scenario is pretty specific, but there are dozens of ways to get Karlov to be a major threat in very few turns.

The only real struggle is trying to get enough card draw to sustain in later turns without sacrificing the consistency of powerhouse combos. On the fence about Call to the Feast but the idea of producing more vampire blockers and essentially 3 opportunities for instances of life gain makes me want to keep seeing how it performs. Definitely open to suggestions on some choices. I want to avoid cards that are too overtly "goodie goodie" like Ajani's Pridemate , Gideon's Company etc. It's the Goth Mafia, not the Friendly Teamwork Brigade. I'm concerned I may want/need to cut Nirkana Revenant and Crypt Ghast due to the dwindling number of Swamp s I'm running as I add utility lands, but I spent money on them and it's a hard cut to make.

Please let me know what you think in the comments! Upvotes always make me feel good inside as well.

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