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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Commander Contest Winner #5:
"Vampires Voldaren"
April 19, 2012
 

And so we come to the final winner of the Commander Contest. I of course want to thank everybody who entered-- without you all and your E-mails, I'm just a sad, lonely man staring at a computer screen with nothing to write about. I'll be back to regularly scheduled deck fixes next week-- I've got plenty of new material to work with.
 
And speaking of material to work with, the final winner certainly gave me plenty. I have never seen a more well-thought-out and fully written-out decklist. Every single card has its presence and function fully explained, and I feel I simply can't add any more than the principal author did. So, without further comment, I present the fifth and final winner! I hope everyone enjoyed the contest, and if you didn't enter, I hope you'll give it a shot next time!
 
~BMoor
 
 
Olivia Voldaren Commander Deck
 
Hey Bmoor, Mad Mattezhion here with an entry for your Commander contest. This took a lot longer to write and research than I had originally planned, it turns out that cutting down to 100 cards is still difficult when faced with the entirety of Magic!
 
I started playing Magic just after the release of Innistrad, so my introduction to the game was filled with Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies. Seeing as how the first Legendary I thought was a must have is the brutal Olivia Voldaren, it makes sense to start with her as my Commander. Now for the rest of the list, along with an exhaustive commentary!
 
First of all, Olivia is a one-woman slave army, with a decent sized 3/3 body for her initial casting cost (2BR) as well as flying to avoid all of the ground pounders. Her two activated abilities are brilliant for a Commander, which is another reason I decided to use her. The first ability is truly awesome, being both a very reasonably priced (1R) reusable burn spell and a permanent self pump spell, as well as letting me set up for the second ability. Even better, the ping-creature-give-it-vampirism allows me to hit my own creatures so that they gain all of the tribal benefits from my other cards! The second ability is just icing on the cake, allowing me to steal any creature that doesn't have hexproof, Pro:Red, Pro:Black or shroud for 3BB, either to creatively deal with a threat or simply to pad out my army with expendable blockers while Olivia remains on the offensive for the kill! I can even steal my own creatures back if someone else has the same idea, but for the most part I'll be gleefully helping myself to my opponent's best toys like a kleptomaniac toddler!
 
Alternative Commander: Bladewing the Risen (3BBRR) (Commander)
 
I'd much prefer to play with Olivia Voldaren even if someone else is using her in the same match (that's what kill spells are for anyway!) but just in case I find myself in a playgroup that insists on unique Commanders, I'll be prepared. Besides, it's a big, bad Zombie (my second favourite tribe) with a CIP Dragon resurrection ability and a BR activated ability to pump my dragons by +1/+1 for each cast. All in all, it's just a good excuse to run some awesome Dragon cards!
 
That's two cards down, so now I'm going to stack the deck full of lord cards to reward myself for turning anything that doesn't run away fast enough. Synergetic evil is so much fun!
 
Mikaeus the Unhallowed (3BBB) (Dark Ascension)
A 5/5 Legendary Zombie Cleric with intimidate that gives all of my non-Human creatures +1/+1 and Undying. While I have a number of other ways to get those counters which breaks the synergy with Undying somewhat, there is no better card to recover from a boardwipe and power up my not-yet-vampiric creatures!
 
Akroma's Memorial (7) (Future Sight)
At the top of the curve we have this massive Legendary artifact thorn in my opponent's side which grants flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, haste, protection from Red and protection from Black to every single one of my creatures. The flavour text of "No rest. No mercy. No matter what" sums it up very nicely.
 
Stromkirk Captain (1BR) (Dark Ascension)
A 2/2 first striking Vampire that gives all of my other Vampires +1/+1 and first strike, which is a major help in combat situations especially considering the low toughness of the majority of my creatures. That and I consider cheap sources of power-increasing first strike to be one step beyond divinity itself!
 
Blood Lord of Vaasgoth (3BB) (M12)
A 3/3 Vampire flier with Bloodthirst 3 that gives my other Vampires Bloodthirst 3 when they are cast, it is good for forcing me to become more aggressive and interesting even though it doesn't directly benefit my other creature types.
 
Bloodline Keeper/Lord of Lineage (2BB) (Innistrad)
A 3/3 Vampire flier that taps to create 2/2 Vampire fliers would be great enough, but when I summon 5 Vampires and pay B to transform, it gets even better as a 5/5 flier thats gives a +2/+2 pump to my other Vampires!
 
Coat of Arms (5) (Seventh Edition)
An artifact that gives each creature in play +1/+1 for each other creature in play that shares a type with it. Admittedly this boosts my opponent's creatures as well, but that makes it a valuable political tool, especially if I have my Stromkirk Captain out to make sure I hit first. Or I can play it as a suicide card against a Zombie, Elf Sliver or Goblin horde just for giggles!
 
Mephidross Vampire (4BB) (Fifth Dawn)
A 3/4 Vampire flier that makes all of my creatures Vampires in addition to their other types, as well as giving any Vampire a +1/+1 counter if it gets through to deal combat damage to an opponent. It's especially useful for those occasions when Olivia isn't in action to provide the kiss of eternity herself.
 
Rakish Heir (2R) (Innistrad)
A 2/2 Vampire that gives +1/+1 counters to any Vampire good enough to break through and drink an opponent's blood. Always reward excellence in service!
 
Captivating Vampire (1BB) (M11)
Not only does this 2/2 fit in with the lord theme by giving my other Vampires +1/+1, but he also fits the thief theme by allowing me to tap 5 Vampires I control in order to steal an opponent's creature and make it a Vampire as well!
 
Vampire Nocturnus (1BBB) (M10)
This 3/3 Vampire gives +2/+1 and flying to my other Vampires, but only if the permanently revealed top card of my deck happens to be Black. Still, that just provides encouragement to draw cards until I meet the prerequisites!
 
Well, that's 12 cards so far. Now for some draw spells to help me find these goodies inside my deck.
 
Howling Mine (2) (Seventh Edition)
This popular artifact makes everyone draw 2 cards instead of 1 as long as it remains untapped (and who would want to tap it?). A useful political tool that keeps games tense and even.
 
Teferi's Puzzlebox (4) (Seventh Edition)
Commander games just aren't random enough if you aren't completely replacing your hand each turn! Another political tool with the delightful side effect of allowing players to sift through their entire deck in one game, bringing out all of the meanest cards you can imagine for an absolutely massive brawl!
 
Harrowing Journey (4B) (Dark Ascension)
Pay 3 life and draw 3 cards. Black magic in its simplest and most elegant form
 
Faithless Looting (R) (Dark Ascension)
Draw 2 cards and then discard 2 cards. With Flashback for 2R it really helps to dig down for my all important first creature.
 
Sorcerer's Strongbox (4) (M11)
I'll admit, tapping for 2 with only a 50% chance of getting the 3 cards promised is less than optimal, but Colourless draw in large quantities demands such sacrifices and I'm always happy to get it into play!
 
Gravepurge (2B) (Dark Ascension)
Taking any number of creatures out of my graveyard and putting them on top of my deck in any order is useful before grabbing the top one is extremely useful. Technically I don't use this to refill my hand or dig deeper into my deck but it says 'draw a card' so I'm grouping it here.
 
Greed (3B) (Seventh Edition)
This handy enchantment allows me to pay 2 life and B for a card any time I need one, which is especially handy when my hand is small and my life total is large.
 
Null Profusion (4BB) (Planar Chaos)
This lovely enchantment actually makes me skip my draw step all together (at which point I make sure to destroy my Howling Mine and/or Teferi's Puzzlebox). Instead, my maximum hand size is reduced to 2 and whenever I play a card, I immediately draw another. This takes some good timing to make sure I still have cards in hand that I can actually play, but once I'm drawing another card for every land and spell it doesn't take long to burn through my cards to get the good stuff!
 
Diabolic Tutor (2BB) (M12)
This is an old standard and grabs me anything I need, which is solid gold in a Singleton format.
 
Increasing Ambition (4B) (Dark Ascension)
Much like Diabolic Tutor, this card grabs what I need. Add in the 7B Flashback cost to grab another two cards of any variety from my Library and I can set up any combo I damn well please.
 
Okay, after 22 slots filled that's draw and tutoring covered, so now we move the tour along to the shiny toy section. Artifacts ahoy!
 
Whispersilk Cloak (3) (M11)
A cheap Equip 2 source of shroud and unblockable for Olivia, who will be eating kill spells like they are after-dinner mints when the kleptomania begins and will enjoy inflicting 21 Commander damage without interference from opposing players.
 
Mask of Avacyn (2) (Innistrad)
An Equip 3 source of +1/+2 and hexproof for any of my important creatures to protect them from the horrors of the big bad world.
 
Sharpened Pitchfork (2) (Innistrad)
An Equip 1 toy that gives +1/+1 to Humans and give first strike to any creature regardless of type, so naturally I'm quite fond of it. Nothing like equipping it to a deathtouch creature and daring your opponent to attack into the pointy end!
 
Runechanter's Pike (2) (Innistrad)
Equip 2 to get +X/+0 equal to the number of sorceries and instants in the graveyard and the all-important first strike. Who doesn't love hitting first?
 
Claws of Valakut (1RR) (Worldwake)
So it's an aura, but it's a damned good one! Enchant a creature to give it first strike and +X/+0 equal to the number of Mountains I control, which quite simply is like switching out a whip for an assault cannon. Fear the claws!
 
Avacyn's Collar (1) (Dark Ascension)
At Equip 2, this is an incredibly cheap source of vigilance as well as a extra point of power to boost my first strike-loving army and always leave me with at least one blocker to frustrate my opponent. On a side note, I'm not sure if the attached-to-Human on-death trigger to create a White Spirit token breaks the colour rule of Commander. If it does then I wouldn't be able to joyfully repurpose my opponent's non-Red/non-Black creatures with Olivia either, which really defeats the purpose of this entire deck. So far no-one I've played against has thought it mattered since the token technically isn't in the deck and isn't being cast, much like the various unlucky critters I've been gleefully recruiting from across the table, but I wanted to ask your opinion while I remember, especially since it is your contest. Thanks in advance Bmoor!
 
Splinter Twin (2RR) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
Another aura, this one allows me to tap the enchanted creature to spawn
a copy with haste that gets exiled at the end of turn. Provided I keep it off my Legendaries I can now throw an expendable token at the enemy turn after turn with no risk to the original. A particularly dastardly trick is to copy one of my lords for twice the benefit!
 
Witchbane Orb (4) (Innistrad)
Effects that target a player seem to come along a lot more often in a multiplayer singleton format than in regular constructed, so an artifact that destroys any Aura Curses I already have along with giving me hexproof to stop future shenanigans is nigh indispensable. That that [insert Planeswalker]!
 
Elixir of Immortality (1) (M12)
Pay 2 and tap to gain 5 life as well as shuffle both the Elixir and my graveyard back into my deck. Great for holding of a turn against attacks or milling and it gives me something to do on the first turn.
 
Grimoire of the Damned (4) (Innistrad)
Possibly my favourite card ever, this beautiful Legendary artifact makes you pay 1, tap and discard a card to get a Study counter. Get 3 counters on the Grimoire to pay for the second ability, which makes you tap, remove 3 Study counters and sacrifice the Grimoire. The payoff? You get to return every creature from every graveyard to the battlefield under your control. If yet another steal-everything-not-bolted-down effect isn't enough to make you salivate, all of the newly resurrected creatures become Black Zombies in addition to their other colours and types. Which becomes brutal to the point of wanting to apologise if I have Coat of Arms on the table at the same time!
 
Curse of Stalked Prey (1R) (Innistrad)
This piece of evil machinery is both a source of my much-coveted +1/+1 counters and a political beatstick, allowing me to reward players who hit the unlucky counter-fountain whom I've painted a bullseye on.  It does have the unfortunate consequence of putting me next on the hit list, but the maniacal laugh at someone else's expense is well worth it!
 
That's 33 cards locked in and I'm all out of artifacts and enchantments, so now I'm going to throw in some Dragons partly to give Bladewing something to do as Commander, but mostly because they are just plain fun!
 
Skythiryx the Blight Dragon (3BB) (Scars of Mirrodin)
A Legendary 4/4 Dragon with flying and infect as well as two activated abilities; B for haste (occasionally useful) and BB for regeneration (extremely useful!). If I need to take out an opposing indestructible creature (like Darksteel Collosus) and for some reason I can't just steal it for my own army, Skithiryx is the answer.
 
Hellkite Charger (4RR) (Zendikar)
A 5/5 flier with haste is a good deal for 6 mana, but adding an ability to pay 5RR when attacking with the Hellkite for a mass untapping of all your attackers and an extra attack phase just screams overwhelming force!
 
Moonveil Dragon (3RRR) (Dark Ascension)
This guy is another 5/5 flier with truly awesome artwork and an activated ability, which in this case is a mass pump of +1/+0 to all of my creatures for R. Aside from fitting beautifully with my first strike obsession and assault oriented nature, it's a great deterrent when my opponents know that every untapped Mountain is a nightmare waiting to unexpectedly block and kill their creatures!
 
Balefire Dragon (5RR) (Innistrad)
This is my only Dragon with no activated abilities, but they are somewhat superfluous on this beast. A 6/6 with flying and a magnificently malevolent pose, Balefire Dragon has a truly evil passive ability which states that whenever it  deals combat damage to a player, it deals that much damage to each creature that player controls too for a truly painful wiping of the board! Again, the flavour text says it best: "If it comes for you, die swiftly or die boldly -for die you will".
 
That should do it for dragons, taking the current total to 37 cards. Now for a couple more board wipes.
 
Blasphemous Act (8R) (Innistrad)
This sorcery deals 13 damage to each creature in play which will put paid to the majority of creatures arrayed against me as well as a lot of my own forces, but Grimoire of the Damned will make it all better! It is expensive initially, but for each creature in play the casting cost is reduced by 1, which means that the times I'm staring across at an enemy horde and really need the help I'll be able to cast it for just a single Red mana. Imagine an entire multiplayer group shooting you dirty looks and bemoaning the loss of their hordes for just a single mana!
 
All is Dust (7) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
Sacrifice all coloured permanents. I don't think there are any more terrifying words in the history of Magic, not even 15/15 flying trample annihilator 6. Especially if my next move is to fire off the Grimoire of the Damned, or if Mikaeus the Unhallowed has given all of my critters Undying.
 
Damnation (2BB) (Planar Chaos)
Destroy all creatures, they can't be regenerated. A Black Wrath of God, with all of the pain that implies.
 
Okay, so now the count is at 40 cards and I now need to add some Vampires. Turning non-vamps is all well and good but having the real deal is essential for the proper 'Vampires dominate the Multiverse' feel.
 
Falkenrath Noble (3B) (Innistrad)
A 2/2 flying Vampire with a truly sick ability for Multiplayer. Any time Falkenrath Noble or another creature dies, I gain 1 life and target opponent lose one life, which essentially gives me a massive life swing without even having to do any fighting myself. Now that is how to be a noble!
 
Stromkirk Noble (R) (Innistrad)
Not to be outdone, Stromkirk Noble is a 1/1 Vampire that cannot be blocked by Humans and which gains a +1/+1 counter for every time it deals combat damage to an opponent. A gift that keeps on giving.
 
Child of Night (1B) (M12)
A 1/2 Vampire with lifelink, an excellent cheap creature ripe for being pumped an exploited.
 
Vampire Nighthawk (1BB) (Zendikar)
Feared and revered, this 2/3 flying Vampire with lifelink and deathtouch is an obvious choice.
 
Arrogant Bloodlord (1BB) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
A 4/4 Vampire that gets sacrificed at the end of any combat where it is blocking or blocked by a creature with 1 or less power, presumably as a drawback for having such a cheap casting cost as well as for thematic reasons. Definitely a problem I can work around when I'm only paying 3 mana.
 
Markov Blademaster (1RR) (Dark Ascension)
A 1/1 Vampire with double strike and the combat-damage-to-player-get-pump-counter ability so beloved of all of the best Vampires in the Innistrad block. With the double strike doubling the number of +1/+1 counters that the Blademaster recieves, even 1 unblocked swing can make this lady terrifying!
 
Guul Draaz Assassin (B) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
Another first turn drop, this character is a 1/1 Vampire that can pay 1B to Level Up for greater power. Two level counters makes him a 2/2 that can pay B and tap to give target creature -2/-2 until end of turn, and four level counters make him a 4/4 that can ay B and tap to give target creature -4/-4 until EOT. Sure, nine mana is a lot for the levels but since I can space it out it's worth having.
 
Bloodcrazed Neonate (1R) (Innistrad)
One of the first Vampires I ever used, I quickly learned to love its aggressive nature and its increasing size if left unblocked. A 2/1 that gains +1/+1 counters every time it deals combat damage to an opponent should not be underestimated, even if it is forced to attack each turn.
 
Sengir Vampire (3BB) (M12)
A 4/4 flying Vampire that gets a +1/+1 counter every time a creature it damages is killed. It's like a Hungry Hungry Hippo with wings and a severe case of bloodlust!
 
Nirkana Cutthroat (2B) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
Another leveling Vampire, it starts as a 3/2 that pays 2B for each Level counter. At level 1 it becomes a 4/3 with deathtouch, and at level 3 it becomes a 5/4 with deathtouch and first strike for a guaranteed kill. Definitely worth the price of admission!
 
Falkenrath Aristocrat (2BR) (Dark Ascension)
A 4/1 flying Vampire with haste and the ability to sacrifice a creature to make itself indestructible (if the sacrificed creature was a Human, add a +1/+1 counter to Falkenrath Aristocrat). An awesome card to fly fearlessly into you opponent's face.
 
Falkenrath Marauders (3RR) (Innistrad)
A 2/2 flying Vampire with haste, the Marauders specialise in aggressive moves by getting 2 +1/+1 counters every time they deal combat damage to a player. Anyone lacking flying defense is a juicy target to pump these bad boys quickly.
 
Vein Drinker (4BB) (Shards of Alara)
This 4/4 flying Vampire can pay R and tap to fight another target creature, and gains a +1/+1 counter for every creature it helps to kill. The Vein Drinker is especially good against enemy unblockable creatures, provided they don't also have pro:Black, hexproof or shroud to stop me murdering them like I really want to.
 
Now I want to add a couple of Planeswalkers, just because they are awesome. Ultimates away!
 
Koth of the Hammer (2RR) (Koth vs Venser Duel Decks)
This Planeswalker is awesome for accelerating my mana, and providing and extra creature to assault the enemy with provided I can risk the land. The ultimate is just icing on the cake, but it helps if I happen to have Bloodlord of Vaasgoth out.
 
Liliana of the Veil (1 BB) (Innistrad)
Between forced discard, forced creature sacrificing and a mass forced sacrifice for her ultimate, Liliana is just plain evil!
 
Well, thats now 55 cards locked in so I'm going to add some out-of-tribe creatures that fill gaps in this deck as well as providing useful bodies for Olivia to turn. Onwards!
 
Mortician Beetle (B) (Rise of the Eldrazi)
This little 1/1 Insect gets a +1/+1 counter every time a player sacrifices a creature, which can be surprisingly often!
 
Gravecrawler (B) (Dark Ascension)
This 2/1 Zombie won't stay dead, since it can be cast from the graveyard as long as I already control another Zombie. Not being able to block is a very small price to pay.
 
Darksteel Juggernaut (5) (Scars of Mirrodin)
This artifact creature Juggernaut is indestructible and has power and toughness equal to the number of Artifacts I have in play. Having to attack each turn is actually a bonus, since being indestructible makes it  very difficult to destroy whether it gets blocked or not.
 
Typhoid Rats (B) (Innistrad)
A 1/1 Rat with deathtouch, what's not to like?
 
Creepy Doll (5) (Innistrad)
A 1/1 artifact creature Construct with indestructible that flips a coin whenever it deals combat damage to a creature. If you win the flip, destroy that creature! I'd say an indestructible answer to Intimidate creatures with half a death touch is worth a slot.
 
Kruin Outlaw/Terror of Kruin Pass
A 2/2 Human Werewolf Rogue with first strike that transforms into a 3/3 Werewolf with double strike which forces your opponent to double block all Werewolves you control whenever it attacks. That's very useful whether it's transformed or not!
 
Pyreheart Wolf (2R) (Dark Ascension)
A 1/1 Wolf with Undying that makes your creatures unblockable whenever it attacks unless your opponent blocks with 2 or more creatures at a time. The Undying means the first attack doesn't even carry any risk to the Wolf, so it is the perfect card for an Alpha Strike.
 
Elbrus the Binding Blade/Withengar Unbound (7) (Dark Ascension)
A Legendary artifact equipment that Equips for 1 and gives +1/+0, but that isn't the point. If the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, Elbrus unattaches and transforms into a 13/13 Legendary Demon with intimidate, flying, trample and the ability to gain 13 +1/+1 counters each time an opponent loses the game. A game-ending threat no matter how you paint it!
 
Torch Fiend (1R) (Dark Ascension)
A simple 2/1 Devil with an ability to pay R and sacrifice Torch Fiend to destroy an artifact. Always useful when you want to get rid of a Whispersilk Cloak or a Sword of War and Peace!
 
Ogre Geagrabber (4RR) (Scars of Mirrodin)
This 4/4 Ogre has an ability that whenever it attacks, I steal an equipment an opponent controls and equip to Ogre Geagrabber until end of turn, when I unattached it and return it to the opponent's control. Why destroy what I can borrow and whack you over the head with?
 
Skirsdag High Priest (1B) (Innistrad)
A simple 1/2 Human Cleric, he has a Morbid ability to tap himself and two other creatures to summon a 5/5 flying Demon token. Cheap token factories are awesome, especially when the tokens are huge!
 
Well, that's a total of 66 cards, leaving me to put in 34 lands. I think I'll add some fun dual lands first:
 
Rakdos Carnarium (Dissension)
The Ravnica Bounceland in R/B, beloved by many mages down through time.
 
Akoum Refuge (Zendikar)
The R/B Refuge, another little life gain and colour fixing card.
 
Blood Crypt (Dissension)
The R/B shockland.
 
Dragonskull Summit (M12)
Comes into play tapped unless you already control a Swamp or Mountain, but I can happily live with that!
 
Graven Cairns (Shadowmoor)
The R/B filterland, excellent!
 
Lavaclaw Reaches (Zendikar)
A B/R tapland that can become a 2/2 elemental until end of turn for 1BR, always helpful.
 
Molten Slagheap (Time Spiral)
A storage land that can filter my colours if necessary, or just save unused mana for later.
 
Shadowblood Bridge (Odyssey)
Pay 1 and tap to get BR, it doesn't help if it's my only land but I'm willing to take that risk!
 
Sulfurous Springs (Seventh Edition)
The old B/R painland, especially useful to the discerning Black mage.
 
Tainted Peak (Torment)
It only produces colourless mana unless I already control a Swamp, but getting B/R with no other drawback is worth the risk!
 
Now to finish off I'll add 12 of each Swamps and Mountains for the full 100 cards. Having finished this massive commentary, I can now say that this deck has been a labour of love that always provides surprises in multiplayer, whether I win, lose or ridiculously empower another player to make them win. I've had just as much fun trading for older cards (especially 7th Edition and Zenkikar cards) necessary to make this happen as I have actually playing the deck. I have to say a massive thank you for setting this challenge and I hope you got a lot of entries (I also hope this email makes it to you in time!).
 
To summarise, with or without Olivia in play, making a horde of loyalty-stealing, hungry Vampires and charging at the opponent's face never gets old!

 

 

 

 

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