In this article I’ll talk about the best Vampire tribal cards. The featured Vampires can preform great in 60-card decks, as well as in a Commander deck. We’ll first take a look at the cards that barely missed the top 10, then we’ll move to the actual top 10 best Vampires. At the end, you’ll find the top 3 best Vampire Tribal Commanders.
But first, let’s talk about the tribal theme.
Introduction to Tribal Vampires
The game of Magic the Gathering is filled with many types of cards. The most common, well known, and popular types of cards are creatures. Creatures usually make up the biggest part of decks in any format. That’s why they are so important.
These creatures are also given a subtype in the form of a describable type of creature such as Zombie, Human, Dragon, etc. The combination of creatures of the same type is often referred to as a tribe.
In the game, some creatures of the same type work together to make themselves better. This is why tribal decks are a viable, fun, flavorful, and powerful strategy to play with. This is true to all formats of the game.
We have already explored various popular tribes like Slivers, Dragons, and Wizards in our articles about Goblins and Wizards. In this article, I will explore another iconic tribe — Vampires.
Before we get into the article, here are a couple of disclaimers:
- This article will focus solely on Vampires which work in a tribal manner, meaning Vampires mostly present in tribal decks and not in any other themed decks.
- This means that there might be other more powerful and relevant cards that are not included in this list, but that does not take away from their importance and power level.
With that out of the way, let’s start with the Honorable Mentions.
These first three Vampires are fantastic support Vampires for different tribal strategies. What the three of them have in common is the overall effect of draining your opponent whilst giving you that same life when they are triggered.
Sanctum Seeker is a really good addition to any Vampire deck which looks to attack often. That paired up with token creation makes this creature triggering incredibly powerful.
Malakir Bloodwitch triggers when it enters the battlefield. Whenever it so each opponent loses life equal to the amount of Vampires you control, and you gain that much life. This is a really good late-game play, which has the potential to swing ways in your favor just by casting it.
Cruel Celebrant is a staple in many Aristocrat decks, which are decks focused around sacrificing your own creatures for value. This is a constant theme around Vampire tribal decks.
It drains each opponent for one, which can quickly gain you a lot of life, especially in a multiplayer game.
Bishop of Rebirth
In any deck, recursion of resources from graveyards is always incredibly useful. This card fills that position in a Vampire theme deck. Its cost is manageable, its stats are decent, and most importantly it has vigilance.
The ability to bring any creature with converted mana cost 3 or less from the graveyard to the battlefield when this creature attacks is impactful. This is especially relevant considering some useful Vampires are of this mana cost.
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
This creature is incredibly good in many situations and strategies. Firstly, it’s a recurring removal option for a Vampire deck. It forces all players to sacrifice a non-Vampire creature in each of your upkeeps.
This paired up with the fact that you will probably only have Vampire creatures on your board means that this ability will not affect your board, but it will affect your opponents.
Although this is not technically a creature, it plays an important part in accelerating your game plan. This enchantment was a key piece to Vampire tribal when it was a part of the Standard rotation. It still sees some play in Modern, and in digital formats such as Historic and Brawl. Its main use now is in Commander, providing you a Vampire token, plus a good utility land later in the game.
With those honorable mentions out of the way, let’s get into the main list of the best MTG Vampires.
#10 Various Vampire Lords
At number 10 we have a combination of different Vampires with a similar end-result and effect. All of them do it differently, and most of them have additional abilities besides the main, important one.
Cordial Vampire / Stromkirk Captain / Legion Lieutenant
What puts all of them in this list together is the ability to pump all other Vampires. They serve the purpose of making all Vampires bigger, harder to deal with, and better at attacking.
They are all bunched up into the same position because it is hard to differentiate one from the others. All of them have their place in the tribe, and all of them bring almost the same abilities to the table, with different mana costs, so they are of different power level in different situations.
Apart from this, all of them bring extra abilities that give Vampires an extra boost or give you something in return by having a lot of Vampires.
Captivating Vampire rewards you for having five Vampires, you get to steal a creature, which is an incredibly powerful effect. The stole creature also becomes a Vampire, so it’ll work with your other tribal synergies.
Vampire Nocturnus works best in a mono black Vampire deck. However, you won’t get the buff effect, if the top card of your library is a Swamp, since lands don’t have colors. Maybe you’ll want to have a shuffle effect (like various tutors) in your deck in order to make this lord more reliable.
Bloodline Keeper / Lord of Lineage
Bloodline Keeper can make you one Vampire token per turn, which can be strong in a dedicated Vampire tribal deck. However, once you have five or more Vampires, you can transform it.
It’ll become bigger, and give all of your other Vampires +2/+2. On top of that it’ll still be able to make Vampire tokens.
#9 Champion of Dusk
Champion of the Dusk seemed kinda decent, when it was first introduced in the Ixalan block. It turned out to be a really good resourceful card. It most likely will never see play in the most competition 1v1 formats, because of its high cost.
However, it is a good fit for Commander. Five mana isn’t that high for that format, and its ability is highly useful in a format with a high starting life point. Its ability draws you cards equal to the amount of Vampires you control, whilst draining you that same amount of life. Least to say, it’s a really good way to re-stock when needed.
#8 Forerunner of the Legion
This is not a well-known card amongst most people. It basically only sees play in Commander. This is due to its overall effect. It might look too weak to be considered one of the top 10 tribal Vampires, but in fact when it comes to Commander it provides a really helpful ability. It has the enter-the-battlefield effect of searching for a Vampire card.
This means that this can fetch you any Vampire needed to finish the game, answer a threat, create a blocker, or just build up the board. It can also be used multiple times if you combine it with sacrifice outlets and graveyard recursion effects, as well as blink cards.
The second ability is also a helpful addition by giving one creature +1/+1 whenever another Vampire enters the battlefield under your control.
#7 Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Although this is not a creature, it still fits into the Vampire theme. In the story, he is a Vampire and a descendant of Edgar Markov, the original Vampire from Innistrad. This means that most abilities present in the different iterations of Sorin have to do with Vampires and Vampire-related mechanics.
This card saw play when it was a part of Standard in Vampire themed decks, and it has been included in lower Tier Modern decks. It still sees a lot of play in Commander Vampire tribal decks.
His three different abilities serve as boost and support for any Vampire deck, with the strongest one being the last one — and you can activate it immediately.
#6 Butcher of Malakir
This creature, as the ones before, is mostly known in the format of Commander. It does not see play often in other formats because of its high CMC. It is a 7 mana 5/4 which is not the best in terms of stats. Its ability is what makes this Vampire one of the most used and recognizable Vampires in Commander.
It is a staple in any Aristocrats deck, and, because Vampire themed decks usually feature this sub-theme, it is also incredibly common in these decks. Its ability basically gives you a source of indirect removal. Any time any creature you control dies, your opponents are forced to sacrifice a creature. This is a good way to take advantage of a sacrifice mechanic, which is most likely present in your Vampire deck.
#5 Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
This is another great card for almost any format. In Commander, it has a place in the 99 of almost any lifegain deck, as well as also being a really good Commander itself. It also has great potential to in various 1v1 formats such as Modern, and it’s a part of the current Standard format.
Vito has two abilities that work amazingly well with one another. They can keep you alive, as well as randomly killing your opponents. Of course, it’s also an instant win combo with Exquisite Blood
#4 Twilight Prophet
This addition is probably going to be confusing for some, and honestly it is sort of a biased based inclusion, because I just loved its overall design. When this card came out in the great tribal theme set Ixalan, it seemed like it had a lot of promise to make an impact in Standard.
Unfortunately, its mana cost and the lack of enter-the-battlefield effect made Twilight Prophet unplayable in the format. This is also true for Modern and other eternal formats. This is not quite true for Commander. As you might know, this format is slower and has more access to mana than any other.
Its stats are also okay. It also has the really cool ascend mechanic, which takes into account how many permanents you have in the field. You need 10 in order to ascend, which in formats like Standard and Modern is harder to fulfill than in Commander.
Once you have ascended, you unlock its second ability. At the beginning of your upkeep, you reveal the top card of your deck and put it into your hand, which is pure card draw. Additionally, it also makes each opponent lose life equal to the cost of the revealed card, and you gain that much life. Overall, it is a great advantage to your strategy once you manage to ascend.
#3 Blood Artist
This card is a part of many great and powerful combos regarding lifegain in the format of Commander. It is fair to say that it has made the biggest impact in this format in particular. It is not played in many other formats due to its specific and direct ability.
It’s most useful is in lifegain and Aristocrat strategy decks. Coincidentally those are two of the most common strategies in Vampire tribal decks. Even if it isn’t the strongest card by itself, Blood Artist manages to find its place in many decks because of its ability to transform sacrificing creatures into draining life from your opponents. As stated before, this card is a part of many combos, and a Commander staple because of this.
#2 Drana, the Last Bloodchief
Drana is one of the newest cards in this list, and certainly a spicy one. It hasn’t seen much play in Standard or in any other fast formats because of its mana cost, but it certainly is good in Commander. She can be both a great addition to the 99 as well as a Commander herself, thanks to the powerful ability.
The card is great in a deck where creatures are purposefully put into the graveyard. This relates to the Aristocrat decks as well as self-mill. She also has built into her design an aggressive strategy by incentivising you to attack with her to trigger her ability. As a 4/4 flyer, she can make an attack pretty efficiently in most situations.
The best part is that you have the ability to choose who to attack with her, and they have to choose a creature to bring back to the battlefield. This makes for interesting political interactions in Commander. The fun part as well is that it makes the creature you return have +1/+1 and become a Vampire, which is flavorful with the Vampire theme.
#1 Knight of the Ebon Legion
This is one of the most efficient one drops in the whole game. It was an integral part of many Standard decks when it was a part of the rotation. It has seen play in eternal formats such as Modern, and it has found a place in Commander.
Knight of the Ebon Legions is good in almost every circumstance. It is an amazing aggressive card, as well as a solid early drop. Additionally, it can be pumped up to a ⅘ by paying three mana, and this serves to trigger the second ability which makes him bigger if an opponent lost life.
It is a slow and constant threat to your opponents. While, it might not be the most flashy card out there, but it sure is one of the most consistent. It fits in any deck possible, and most importantly, regarding this list, it’s a Vampire.
Best Vampire Tribal Commanders
In this section of the article, I will present three generals that fill perfectly the role of Vampire Tribal Commander.
#3 Elenda, the Dusk Rose
This card has a really unusual design, and it can seem bad at first glance. However, the looks can be deceiving. In fact, this Commander is one of the most fun tribal creatures to build around.
The first theme that comes to mind is Aristocrat Vampires because of its first ability. This ability also gives the opportunity to include some Voltron cards, because of its ability to gain a +1/+1 counter each time another creature dies. The addition of lifelink also makes this aggressive strategy possible.
What somewhat contradicts this is her second ability, which creates 1/1 Vampires equal to her power when she dies. In this manner, this second ability is a backup in case she dies in combat or by removal. Also, she can also be sacrificed in certain instances using the Aristocrat theme in mind.
All of her abilities makes her a great tribal Vampire commander.
#2 Vona, Butcher of Magan
Another creature coming out of the tribal-based block set Ixalan, Vona is another Vampire general with an unorthodox ability. The first aspect about her that pops up is her vigilance and lifelink, which complemented with her power and toughness makes her a good blocker and attacker.
Then, her second ability which provides you permanent removal at the cost of 7 life by tapping is pretty good, especially in a high starting life total format like Commander. This ability in combination with lifegain strategies is really powerful.
If you also manage to find a way to untap her constantly and maintain a good life total, she is devastating. Pair her with good Vampires with complementary abilities to the lifegain strategy, and she becomes a really good tribal commander.
#1 Edgar Markov
Lastly, the most obvious and go to general for Vampire tribal decks. This commander is not only the OG Vampire in Innistrad in terms of lore, but he is also the best commander for Vampire tribal decks.
Coming from a Commander deck set filled with other tribes, this creature also brings to the table the eminence ability. Whenever you cast a Vampire spell, it creates a 1/1 Vampire even if he is still in the Command zone.
If you play him and attack with him, all Vampires get a +1+1 counter on them. This provides the chance to build a deck based around many strategies common in Vampire tribal themes. Aristocrats, lifegain, counters, aggro — all these strategies can be a part of an Edgar Markov deck, and that’s what makes the best Vampire tribal commander out there.
Edgar was the main commander of the Vampiric Bloodlust precon. This was a Vampire tribal preconstructed Commander deck. You can still get the deck on Amazon. However, as it was pretty popular, its price can be quite high.
Thankfully, there’s another option for you. While this following deck loses the White color, it’s cheaper, as it’s a newer Vampire Commander deck. You can get Vampiric Bloodline on Amazon.
Best MTG Vampires – Conclusion
In conclusion, the game of Magic is filled with plenty of interesting sub-creature types with individual characteristics in terms of art, lore, color, and game mechanics. Certainly one of the most constant and flavorful creature types in the game are Vampires.
These creatures have been a part of fantasy lore for centuries, and their inclusion into the game of Magic does not disappoint. They remain true to the notion of being blood sucking, life draining creatures that dwell in the shadows. The game perfectly captures this with mechanics like lifelink, deathtouch, life loss, and sacrifice abilities.
It is always fun to build a deck around a constant theme, and I hope this article has provided a sense into some cards I consider to be perfect in a tribal shell. Some of these creatures can form a part, and are very common, in high pace formats such as Modern and Standard, but most of the inclusions are highly targeted for Commander.
As always, if you agree, disagree, or have any other opinions about this article or any other article you’ll like to see from us in the future, make sure to let us know in the comments.
Feel free to check some of our other great Magic the Gathering articles, like:
- Top 10 Best MTG Goblins
- List of All Commander Precons
- How to Improve Your Commander Deck
- Best Deck Box for Commander
Stay safe, have fun, and go for wins with your Vampire deck!