13, Apr, 24

Unusual MTG Deck Meshes Dinosaur and Vampire Synergies Together!

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Article at a Glance

At this point, it’s no surprise just how strong Vein Ripper is in Constructed. It singlehandedly revived an archetype in Vampires that lied dormant for a long time. Getting to cheat in Vein Ripper off of Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord ahead of schedule is a sequence a lot of decks simply can’t beat. First of all, Vein Ripper’s Ward ability means that not only do you have to have a timely removal spell that can kill large Fliers, but you also need to remove part of your board presence in the process. Don’t have a Creature to sacrifice? Then you’re out of luck.

The combination of Sorin and Vein Ripper is so strong that the two cards are even popping up in Modern. In Pioneer specifically, a common shell for this combo has largely been established. Almost every decklist splashes red for Bloodtithe Harvester and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Occasionally, we’ll see a mono-black Vampires list pop up instead, making use of extra utility Lands like Castle Locthwain as a bonus for staying one color.

That being said, there is some room for exploration to fill out the rest of the deck. In fact, just recently, a unique shell blending the powers of Sorin and Fight Rigging together went undefeated in a Magic Online Pioneer League. While a Fight Rigging shell may sound like an odd place for Vein Ripper and Sorin to show up, this deck is actually surprisingly synergistic. Let’s take a closer look at how this deck enables Fight Rigging and how Vein Ripper plays a potent role as the glue that holds the deck together.

Enabling Fight Rigging

Pugnacious Hammerskull

In order to maximize the powerful Enchantment Fight Rigging, this deck relies on three main groups of cards. First and foremost, you need large Creatures that can allow you to make use of Fight Rigging’s Hideaway ability. Fight Rigging does put a +1/+1 counter on one of your Creatures each combat but waiting around until one of your smaller Creatures gets to seven power is not the best way to guarantee you get to enable Fight Rigging at a quick pace.

The goal with this deck is to play Fight Rigging after untapping with a Creature with at least six power. This way you can go to combat, put a +1/+1 counter on your beefy Creature, and immediately get to cast your exiled card for free. Both Rotting Regisaur and Pugnacious Hammerskull work wonders alongside Fight Rigging as efficient and massive Creatures.

The second group of cards this deck relies on are accelerants. Playsets of both Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves make their appearances here and provide this deck with a huge boost of speed. The difference in getting to slam Hammerskull or Regisaur on turn two versus turn three is a world of difference.

Finally, we have the last group of cards to make use of in conjunction with Fight Rigging: the payoffs. Ideally, you want the card you get to cast for free off of Fight Rigging to be game-changing. This is where the Vampires package comes into play.

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Vein Ripper in a Fight Rigging Shell

Vein Ripper

Vein Ripper is obviously an all-star alongside Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord. However, it’s also a fantastic card to hit off of Fight Rigging. It’s an enormous Creature, has built-in protection, and unlike threats such as Ghalta and Mavren, is quite reasonable to hard cast. In attrition battles where your Hammerskulls or Regisaurs might not live long enough to work their magic with Fight Rigging, you may find a window to resolve Vein Ripper as your closer.

To help add some redundancy, this deck also plays a few copies of Turntimber Symbiosis. Turntimber Symiosis acts as a Land drop most of the time but has the added bonus of being a great card to Hideaway with Fight Rigging. This deck is all about getting Vein Ripper into play as quickly as possible and reaping the rewards.

Speaking of which, we already mentioned how powerful a turn-three Vein Ripper is. Well, you know what’s even better. A turn-two Vein Ripper! Getting to play Sorin on turn two off of one of your Elves is absurdly strong. Part of what makes this deck so intriguing is the potential for nuts starts that almost no deck in the format can beat.

The downside here is that your midrange Vampires gameplan is weakened. There are no Fables to pull you ahead on the value front. On the flip side, Regisaur can act as card disadvantage, which is problematic in the face of lots of removal. Fortunately, as we will see, not every deck is well equipped to handle this deck’s beefy threats.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Arclight Pheonix

One of the biggest strengths the slew of enormous Creatures gives this archetype is that your cards match up favorably against damage-based removal. In most instances, Fiery Impulse and Lightning Axe do a serviceable job allowing the Izzet Phoenix deck to clean up opposing threats. Here, a quick Regisaur or Hammerskull can be a huge pain, typically requiring multiple pieces of interaction to deal with. Add Vein Ripper into the mix, and it’s hard to imagine the Phoenix matchup being an issue.

At the same time, these enormous threats come down early enough to serve as top-tier blockers versus aggressive strategies, like mono-red aggro or Boros Convoke. In any matchups that come down to racing, even if Vein Ripper is nowhere to be found, Sorin’s ability to give Regisaur or Hammerskull Lifelink can easily sway a game in your favor.

Where things get dicey is against strategies with reasonable answers to Regisaur or Hammerskull. For instance, mono-black midrange decks have a solid mix of Thoughtseize effects and removal in the form of Bitter Triumph and Sheoldred’s Edict. Liliana of the Veil can then clean up any copies of Vein Ripper that might fall through the cracks.

The way this deck is currently built, the objective is clearly to slam haymakers and “force the opponent to have answers.” This deck lacks longevity, even with the ability to hard-cast Vein Ripper in a pinch. There are also lots of three-drops present here, making it even more vital to curve out quickly with your Elves.

There’s likely additional room for exploration, too. Archfiend of the Dross feels like a very solid inclusion, both in helping with the Fight Rigging gameplan while simultaneously being an evasive win condition in its own right. Regardless, this deck’s all-in nature is certainly appealing. If anything, this deck showcases that there’s still room for innovation, even with a well-established combo like Sorin and Vein Ripper. Maybe this shell will catch steam in the coming weeks, too, but for now, we will just have to wait and see.

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