Apparently, I’m skipping right through the archetypes, one after the other; last week it was werewolves, this week it’s vampires. The vampire deck is a bit of a misnomer, it’s really more of a “Madness” deck. It just so happens that a number of vampires have Madness themselves, or enable it in some way.
Since a good RB Madness deck is notoriously hard to piece together, let’s see how I managed to.
Well this is a great start. I’ve played white so much that I’m almost immediately pulled into snap-picking Pious Evangel, but another look at the pack shows two great (and one decent) red removal spells that are a head above the great creature. Some drafters might try to get cute and take the white card and let the drafters to the left fight over red, but I feel like Avacyn’s Judgment is just too far ahead of Evangel to pass it.
If I cut off red in the packs coming from my right, it won’t matter what I pass to my left, so I don’t see any reason to pass such a great card.
This is a rough pack to choose from, because there are so many options to take into consideration. Voldaren Duelist is the safest pick, being a decent card in any red aggro deck and also being the same color as my first pick, but it’s not really a card I feel like I need to spend a 2nd pick on. Veteran Cathar is a great card, but it’s basically a gold card, and my first pick wasn’t in either of those colors, and I’d rather avoid splitting myself in two different directions so early. Puncturing Light is good, but I’ve come down on it a bit with number of combat tricks and flip-creatures in this set (it’s especially bad against the werewolves deck), and I don’t really want to jump into a second color for it.
Which leaves me with Indulgent Aristocrat. It’s in a second color, but it’s in the color pairing that my first pick most wants to be played in. There are no signals yet to know if RB is open, but I don’t feel strongly enough about any of the other cards in this pack to keep me from speculating on the vampire.
Between Crawling Sensation, Angelic Purge and Vessel of Nascency, it’s starting to look like WG Delirium may be open from the right. But since I’m already two picks deep into another archetype, I’d like to snap up Stensia Masquerade. It’s a great payoff card for a vampire-heavy deck, aside from also being a Madness card. I may be going in with my blinders here, but this is a card I won’t likely see come around the table again, so I’d rather take the chance of my picks paying off than backing out on my 3rd pick.
On the other hand, Stitched Mangler is very good and plays well in UR, so it’d be a good pick to speculate on a color pivot. On the other hand, if I’m going to consider jumping into blue, I may as well just take Geistblast, which can be a serviceable mainboard removal spell even if I don’t end up switching colors.
Graf Mole and Harvest Hand tell me that WG is pretty wide open, but Fiery Temper tells me that red is even more open. Even if I don’t end up with black as my second color, I have no reason to abandon red when the drafters to my right are clearly telling me that I’m in one of the correct colors.
Pore over the Pages would be a solid card to snap up on a pivot into blue, but Sinister Concoction is an easy 1st pick in many packs. Between it and Throttle here, I can’t help but believe that black is open as well, and potentially just light in playables in the first half of this set of packs. I’ve no problem with pushing forward with my RB plan at this point.
I’ve really learned to like Jace’s Scrutiny and it’s a card I’m looking to play in any tempo blue deck I draft. But since I just dedicated a pick to a very late black removal spell, I’m going to stay the course and grab Stromkirk Mentor. I take it over Ember-Eye Wolf for synergy purposes, and if I want a Tormenting Voice I’m sure I’ll be able to pick one up later.
Like Tormenting Voice, I can get a Macabre Waltz pretty late, so the pick here is between Biting Rain and Bloodmad Vampire. The sweeper might be useful against tokens, but the vampire deck tends to be stocked with creatures that die to it as well. Bloodmad Vampire is actually fairly good when you can Madness her out, and combos ridiculously well with Stensia Masquerade, so I’m pretty happy to take her over the sideboard card.
I may want to pick up combat tricks at some point, but right now I just really need to start grabbing some 2-drops. I don’t have any in my deck right now, and I can’t afford to have a lopsided curve, even if I have to play something defensive like Rancid Rats to avoid it.
The only on-color card is a card I have no intention of playing, so I take Explosive Apparatus as a potential sideboard card.
Since RB doesn’t have much in the way of fliers, I’ve no reason to hate draft Clip Wings. I decide to take the only black card in the pack for signaling purposes.
I’m not sure I’m even going to play the first Stallion, much less a second. I don’t mind grabbing my first Rush of Adrenaline, though.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the person to my left moved into the WG Delirium deck, so I’m happy to take the card that helps him splash for whatever bombs he opens.
End of Pack 1❮ ❯
My pool looks half solid, half filler. It’s light on creatures, and the only discard outlet I have so far is Sinister Concoction. At this point I want to put a high priority on playable vampires and cheap discard outlets.
While I do want vampires, Falkenrath Gorger is a little on the lower end, power-wise. You need a truly dedicated vampires deck and a lot of discard outlets to really abuse his ability. On the other hand, From Under the Floorboards is just a good card, whether you can Madness it out or not. I’ve never been disappointed playing it, and if I can get more discard outlets, I’ll be even happier to have it in my deck.
Breakneck Rider is a good card, but if I’m going to take a non-synergy card, I’d rather just take the Pale Rider, which shores up my 2-drop slot, and has the potential to serve as a Madness outlet if I draw it later in the game.
I’m not so desparate for 2-drops that I’m going to grab a Gibbering Fiend when I have other decent card options staring at me. Since I already have a Bloodmad Vampire, I’m pretty happy taking Twins of Maurer Estate for more Madness fodder.
WE DID IT!! Cheap discard outlets are at a premium, and free is the best sort of cheap. Mad Prophet is a little pricey at 4 mana, but coming with Haste means I’ll always get at least one use out of it before it’s removed. If it sticks, I’ll have a great way to get all my Madness cards into play and rack up virtual card advantage.
Not quite as exciting as the Prophet, but Insolent Neonate is a great roleplayer in the BR Madness deck, getting in for evasive damage early, then allowing you to trade him off for another card while you Madness out another threat.
Reduce to Ashes and Spiteful Motives are both playable, but they both cost so much mana that I’m not sure either of them are going to make the final cut of my deck, especially since I already have a number of cheap removal spells. With that in mind, I decide to take Dual Shot as a sideboard card against 1/1 tokens, which can really clog up the board when I’m running so many low-toughness creatures. That said, I’ve not gotten the chance to play much with Spiteful motives, so this may have been an incorrect pick.
I want Dissension in the Ranks to be a good card, but all the times I’ve tried to play it say that it’s pretty close to unplayable. Since I’m still short on creatures I take Wicker Witch, which I’m hoping to replace in the last pack and a half.
It would be nice to pick up a second Insolent Neonate, but Olivia’s Bloodsworn is a absolute windmill slam. Being a 2-drop, a flier, and a synergy card makes it everything that I’m looking for right now.
Speaking of fliers Crow of Dark Tidings isn’t exciting, but it’ll give me some evasive damage to get around ground stalls.
I’d rather take the weak but potentially playable Madness card than the bad sideboard card. Senseless Rage may not make the final cut, but there are very few matchups where Shamble Back is useful as anything more than a 2/2 too late in the game to care.
I don’t care about land destruction, so I’ll take Strength of Arms, the only moderately playable card in this pack that could annoy me if I played against it.
Not exciting, but Vampire Noble is a vampire. She’ll make the cut if I end up short on good playables.
I’ve not actually played this card yet, but I feel like in a dedicated Madness deck, it could do some work against the aggro mirror.
End of Pack 2❮ ❯
My creature count is looking better, but I’m still light on 2-drops, and there are a number of cards I’d be happy to cut if I got replacements. I’d definitely like to improve my vampire count so Stensia Masquerade and Indulgent Aristocrat can do work. More than anything else, though, I really need more discard outlets. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to see Call the Bloodline in pack 3.
AWESOME!! Call the Bloodline was just the card I wanted to see, and even though I’m a little annoyed to pass up another Murderous Compulsion, the enchantment is going to go a long way toward rounding out my deck.
I don’t mind picking up another Twins of Maurer Estate, since I have another repeatable, cheap discard outlet. I like Dance with Devils, but this deck isn’t getting any sort of synergy bonus by running it, so there’s no reason to take it over the vampire.
I’m not sure I need a third Twins in this deck, and I think I have enough 2-drops that I don’t particularly need to snatch up another here. Morkrut Necropod is a strong card, but since I’m not in a Delirium deck, the high mana cost and the need to sacrifice permanents to use it are real downsides.
I’m not sure I’m going to play it mainboard, but I like picking up a copy of Magmatic Chasm as a sideboard option against decks that really like to clog up the ground with high-toughness creatures.
While I have respect for Skin Invasion, most of my creatures are small enough that I’m likely to just straight up trade a creature for whatever I attach it to, which makes it far less valuable. It’s more of a card I’d want to play in RG werewolves, where my big beaters can just eat whatever I put it on.
I don’t mind picking up a second Insolent Neonate, so I have some redundancy in my discard outlets.
Geistblast is alright, but I don’t really want two of them when I’m not in UR. I’ve really started liking Uncaged Fury lately, and it’s a card I’m always happy to run one of in my aggro decks. It also great to play alongside my double Sanguinary Mage.
On a more serious note, I have quite a bit of small-creature removal already, so while Dead Weight is a great card, the idea of doubling up on my synergy payoffs seems like a better proposition at this point of the draft.
I passed up a Biting Rain earlier, so I may as well take it now, when it’s up against literally nothing else I want in my deck.
My first thought was, “I’m not playing any of these, so I’ll just take the wall that will slow down my aggression.” Looking back now, I should have taken Highland Lake. Slotting it in my deck for the very, very small chance to possibly activate the secondary ability on Geistblast probably nets me more win percentage than hate-drafting a common.
I have enough 1-drops that I don’t need a bad one in my deck. The second Uncaged Fury probably won’t make my deck, but it could be useful out of the sideboard.
Pick the Brain has the potential of getting rid of a game-warping bomb I can’t handle with the rest of my deck, but it’s going to sit in the sideboard until then.
I’ll take the only playable card left, just so nobody else gets to play it against me. Necropod is still great, so I’m surprised it’s wheeled around this late.
Here's what I ended up with
I ended up with 7 Madness cards and 6 sources of discard, 2 of which are repeatable. While I’d always love to have more of each, it’s a great baseline for a bursty deck archetype. I’d have liked more vampires to go with my Stensia Masquerade and double Indulgent Aristocrat, but what’s really missing are the aggressive uncommon creatures like Heir of Falkenrath and Incorrigible Youths. I decided to go with the double Crow of Dark Tidings over the double Vampire Noble just because I felt having a couple evasive threats was more important than a couple more synergistic creatures that didn’t bring anything to deck other than a relevant subtype.
I think it’s important to walk through the decision I tanked on during the first game in this draft; it was pretty complex, and even after thinking about it for several minutes I still managed to misplay. So here’s a screenshot of the start of the turn.
On the next turn my opponent plays Shard of Broken Glass and equips his Scrounged Scythe onto his flyer and cracks in for exactly lethal, but at this point I don’t know what he has in his hand. I ruled out Uncaged Fury during the previous turn when it would have been a lethal attack, since I had no blocks. Considering card rarity and red cards that I passed during the draft, the two most likely ways my opponent wins from this point are Rush of Adrenaline and Voldaren Duelist. There are other commons that would rip the game from me as well, like Fiery Temper and Magmatic Chasm, but I can’t play around those anyway so I may as well just assume he doesn’t have them in his hand.
But if I think about it deeper, even playing around Adrenaline Rush is a trap. The best I can do is sac a couple creatures to my Indulgent Aristocrat to go back up to 8 life after the Angel’s ability trigger; but if my opponent has the trick he can kill me on the crack back with an alpha strike, forcing 7 damage in the air between the pump spell and his Scythe, then punching through an extra 1-2 damage depending on whether or not I block his werewolf.
With this in mind, the only card I can play around is Duelist, which prefer leaving back extra blockers. But even in this line of play, i still want to gain life from my Aristocrat. Taking 7 between the angel’s attack and two ability triggers (after blocks) still means I want to work on a life cushion. 2 more life would work here, even if it doesn’t work against Adrenaline Rush, and gains me more time to work with if my opponent doesn’t have either card. So it seems the correct line of play the same either way, and as it happens, would have saved me from losing the game to Shard of Broken Glass.
Missing obvious on-board abilities that change combat math aside, knowing the cards you need to play around in any given situation is important in squeaking out close games. Study your combat tricks and removal spells, know what your opponent can do at instant speed in their color combination, and don’t be afraid to fall back on the Gatherer if you’re playing online and you’re drawing a blank.
That’s it for BR Madness! If the roll continues, maybe we’ll get to see an entirely different archetype next time, too!