Four new typal Commander decks are releasing with The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and, after a long wait, they’re finally available for players to see! Each deck features ten new cards and some powerful reprints. There are definitely some strong newcomers, but not all of the new Commander cards are something to write home about.
Here, we’ll take a look at the new Blood Rites deck focusing on Vampires and Demons. The idea here, based off the above face Commander, is to generate value by sacrificing your Vampires and creating Demons. Clavileno, First of the Blessed looks pretty impressive and, if the rest of the deck follow suit, we could be in for something great!
Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher
Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher is an interesting potential Commander that really cares about sacrificing. They grow whenever anyone sacrifices permanents, which makes universal sacrifice effects like Fleshbag Marauder quite powerful with this Commander. Growing Carmen from a 2/2 to a 6/6 with just one removal piece is impressive.
Otherwise, Carmen synergizes really well with Fetch lands. The attack trigger Carmen possesses, even when her power is still small, can function as ramp. Since Fetch Lands need to sacrifice as part of their cost to find lands that actually tap for mana, these will ensure that there’s always a land for Carmen to find with her attack trigger, and will continually grow Carmen, giving her access to larger cards in your graveyard.
Don’t plan on opponents triggering Carmen too much, but this seems like an interesting sacrifice Commander for those willing to try it.
Charismatic Conqueror, for two mana, is a great deal. The Vampire creature either functions as a Blind Obedience or, if your opponents really need to have their early mana rocks enter untapped, the Conqueror threatens to make a ton of tokens.
Thanks to having four opponents, Charismatic Conqueror can trigger a lot. Mana Rocks are incredibly popular in the Commander format too. Getting this creature down early will either slow down your opponent’s development or will allow you to start going wide quickly. The only downside to the Conqueror is, if you get to go wide fast, you’ll likely become public enemy number one.
Affectionately named after Elenda, the Duskrose, Elenda’s Hierophant synergizes well with the typical 1/1 Lifelinking Vampire tokens. That said, lifegain appears to be a side synergy to Blood Rites, and Elenda’s Hierophant wants it to be the main focus.
Elenda’s Hierophant really needs a lot of lifegain to work properly. For reference, the Face Commander, and many of the other cards in this deck don’t exactly have ways to gain you life. Elenda’s Hierophant works best in a Soul Sister style of deck. That said, Elenda, the Dusk Rose was reprinted in this deck, so there are some sweet synergies present for Elenda’s Hierophant.
March of the Canonized
This unique enchantment lends itself to a few different Commander strategies. Fitting like a glove in Blood Rites, March of the Canonized gives you tokens that can gain you life and can be turned into Vampire Demons, as well as a way to continually generate a board presence as long as your Devotion to white AND black is seven or greater.
This is the first time that two different Devotion colors have been counted on an MTG card. This, obviously, lends the unique design of March of the Canonized towards Orzhov strategies, but this fits well in mono white decks interested in doubling ETB triggers like Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines as well.
March of the Canonized seems like a strong fit for Vampire typal decks and white devotion decks alike. That said, the card is not that powerful, and will likely be cut from decks looking to compete at stronger tables. All in all, as cool as the design for this card is, I would not expect it to be incredibly popular. This is not something powerful enough to see a wide amount of play. It is simply not generating enough value.
Redemption Choir does not seem worthwhile. Coven demands more setup than it may seem and the payoff to set this up and get an attack off without an opponent removing something is lackluster. Reanimating a creature with mana value three or less can be accomplished much more easily and, while the choir’s payoff can be hit multiple times as long as Coven is set up, one board wipe undoes all of your efforts. This feels like a win-more card to me that doesn’t do enough on its own.
Dusk Legion Sergeant
Dusk Legion Sergeant is only going to see play in Vampire typal decks, but it is strong enough to see play in even the more powerful versions of these decks. For two mana you, essentially, give your nontoken Vampires an extra life. Persist will return them from the dead with a -1/-1 counter, which, aside from reanimating them, can cause ETB effects to trigger a second time.
If you can find a way to sacrifice and recur the Dusk Legion Sergeant, it can also give itself Persist. It may be more work than its worth, but if you can reanimate the Sergeant to its own ability and clear the -1/-1 counters on your Persisted creatures, you could create a very sticky board.
Either way, two mana is a great rate for an effect like this and, with the Menace keyword, Dusk Legion Sergeant also threatens to get some damage over the line before it inevitably gets dealt with.
Master of Dark Rites
Master of Dark Rites is another card that is an absolute slam dunk in a few very narrow strategies. If you’re not Vampire, Cleric or Demon typal, you probably do not want this.
One popular deck archetype that the Master of Dark Rites fits like a glove into is Shadowborn Apostle. The Apostles themselves are Clerics and the powerful creatures they tutor for are Demons. Master of Dark Rites can help speed up the rate at which you get your Apostles out, or can simply sacrifice one and cast a Demonic payoff in the midgame.
Promise of Aclaztoz
Promise of Aclaztoz is another slow value engine that can provide a steady stream of advantage for a cost. Getting a recurring Populate trigger for two mana is quite powerful, and the Adventure appears to function as a way to ensure that you can get something on the board to Populate.
In a Populate-centric deck that wants to copy a bunch of gigantic tokens, Promise of Aclaztoz seems great! There are much better options for Commander decks that may want this for other reasons, though. The specific wording on Foul Rebirth doesn’t even lend it well to Adventure-based decks that want to copy spells.
Promise of Aclaztoz does seem right at home with Clavileno, the face Commander of this deck. Turn a Vampire into a Vampire Demon and sacrifice it on your endstep to the Promise. That nets you two new 4/3 Demons and a card! Outside of that, this simply seems fine.
Order of Sacred Dusk
Order of Sacred Dusk is yet another card that will likely only see play in Vampire Typal strategies. This is a rather unique card that synergizes well with Vampire token decks that want to go wide. Granting all of your tokens Exalted means that Order of Sacred Dusk hits like a truck. If you can cheat this out quickly, the Order can gain you a ton of life.
That said, you need a lot of setup for the Order of Sacred Dusk to truly do work. This is not great on-curve, as decks that want to go wide should have ways to pump small tokens. This means the Exalted effect is likely to become irrelevant unless you’re constantly generating tokens quickly that do not have Haste.
Reprint List / Notable Reprints
The 90-card reprint list for the new Blood Rites EDH deck can be found above. According to The Command Zone who initially spoiled this Commander decklist, the reprint value for this deck is around $160, which is fantastic! Just note that, with the above value, this is the price before the decklist was revealed to the public. These reprints are going to crash the value of some cards quite extensively, which is a good thing.
Exquisite Blood, in particular, is an absolutely fantastic reprint. Coming in at a minimum market value of about $35 on TCGplayer, this is the much rarer half of a two-card combo involving Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond. When combined together, as soon as a player’s life total changes, a loop will be created, draining all of your opponent’s life totals to zero. Expect this card’s secondary market value to drop drastically thanks to its reprint in Blood Rites.
If Elenda, the Dusk Rose weren’t being reprinted into Blood Rites, it would be at the top of our list as a potential upgrade. Cards like this should just be reprinted into the deck, so it’s good to see Elenda here. $10 is pretty expensive for a card that is only wanted in some narrow Commander strategies. Hopefully, this reprint will help make Elenda more accessible.
New Blood is a rather unique Vampire typal payoff that has only seen one printing in the Edgar Markhov Commander 2017 deck to-date. As a result, even though this card is also incredibly narrow in terms of its applications, New Blood costs a hefty $8.
Last, but not least, Bloodghast is a powerful recurable threat that ensures that your Vampire deck is always doing something. Since Blood Rites wants to sacrifice your Vampires, there’s a good chance that Bloodghast will produce a bunch of Demon tokens. This is not only a great reprint, but a really synergistic card with the deck.
All in all, Blood Rites fulfills its promise of being an exciting expansion for Vampire typal fanatics. Charismatic Conqueror looks incredibly interesting for any white deck that is interested in going wide, and there are some absolutely fantastic reprints here. Some of the new reprints don’t seem too powerful, but that’s outweighed by all the plusses outside of that. From a purely financial perspective, Blood Rites seems like a slam dunk buy.
We’re also taking a look at the other three Commander decks being revealed today! Ahoy Mateys can be found here.