Crimson Vow Commander Upgrade

Crimson Vow Commander Upgrade Guide: Vampiric Bloodline

Kristen GregoryCommander

Crimson Vow brings two more exciting Commander decks. Vampiric Bloodline is a great way to get into playing Vampire tribal. Are you ready to join Olivia’s wedding party? Let’s check out how to upgrade this precon.

Strefan, Maurer Progenitor

Strefan is a 3/2 flying Vampire for four mana. You can make a Blood token in your end step for each player who lost life this turn. What can you use those tokens for? Well, plenty of things, but Strefan wants to use them to put Vampire cards from your hand into play tapped and attacking when he attacks. It’s like a mini-Winota for Vampires, and it’s pretty cool.

Just like the Undead Unleashed deck, you can blow your budget on upgrading this deck pretty easily. Twilight Prophet, New Blood and Captivating Vampire are some of my personal favorite cards to play in a deck like this, but they’re a little pricey these days. 

Thankfully, there are some pretty cute things we can do with Strefan to make the deck run smoother, and in doing so, give us some more win conditions outside of combat. 


The Edgar Markov precon, Vampiric Bloodlust, is an expensive precon to get these days. If you’re newer to playing Vampires, then you’ll be pleased to know that Vampiric Bloodline is a good option to jumpstart your collection. 

The alternate partner commanders also offer an interesting direction for the deck. Laurine could even do great in a mono-red deck or leading her own deck built around Goad; I peg her as a great include for Prosper, Tome-Bound.

There are some powerful cards that veteran Vampire players will want to pick up, and some generally strong red and black cards that can be used elsewhere, too. 

As far as reprints go, the deck has managed to tick off a fair few mid-priced Vampire cards, while giving some staples much-needed reprints. Among the better reprints are:

Overall, the deck is fun to play and has some interesting synergies. It’s not as powerful as Undead Unleashed out of the box, and though it doesn’t have as easy potential to combo, it can still provide a rewarding and exciting gameplay experience. So how do we tune it?


For this upgrade, it’s all about Blood tokens. Rakdos Artifacts isn’t the usual Artifacts deck — with red and black artifacts decks usually wanting white or blue — but that doesn’t stop us accruing value. 

As we can amass plenty of artifact tokens, I’ve chosen to use the reliable Marionette Master + Cranial Plating synergy to help us close out games. We’re still primarily an aggro-based deck, but this will help us push to the end of the game, while also giving us value when we have only one of these pieces in hand. Cranial Plating can always help Strefan with commander damage, of course. 

Now, amassing artifacts is only useful if we can do something with them. Ghirapur Aether Grid and Inspiring Statuary are both solid ways to use our Blood tokens if we don’t want to cash them in immediately. Getting extra damage is always nice, and it helps trigger Strefan. Statuary also lets us take our mana further. 

To further increase our artifact count, Grim Hireling and Goldvein Pick can make Treasures when we damage opponents, adding to the already impressive Treasure generation afforded by Scion of Opulence.

We will of course be discarding some amount of the time in this build, so Squee and Patriarch’s Bidding help minimize the loss of value. Nullpriest of Oblivion joins Bloodline Necromancer to reanimate our things, and Anger offers value for being in the graveyard. 

Triggering Strefan isn’t always easy, so it’s important to ensure we can hit multiple opponents for life loss in a turn. Sanctum of Stone Fangs, Reckless Fireweaver and Anje, Maid of Dishonor all help us to achieve this, while Cryptolith Fragment and the Leechridden Swamp in our mana base can do the same thing.

I’ve also included a deathtouch subtheme in this deck, as it’s a good way to help get damage through. When combined with the Stensia Masquerade and Stromkirk Captain already in the deck for first strike — and the many ways we can force fights or deal damage (think Markov Enforcer) — you can mow down the opposition. 

And here’s where we’ve splurged a little of our budget: Olivia Voldaren. Between Olivia and her Attendants, we can really take advantage of deathtouch. Slapping on a Basilisk Collar never feels as good as it does when you can instantly murder things. 


Our final list of upgrades comes out at just under $60. While it’s a little over my usual goal of $50, it is the wedding of the century on Innistrad, so pushing the boat out a little to be able to play Olivia herself felt completely appropriate. 

View Full Decklist Here

Cards Added

Cards Removed

Most of these cuts are cards that are either a little slow, or don’t do enough for our overall strategy. Some are too expensive (Vampiric Dragon) and others are too low-impact (Avacyn’s Judgment). Some didn’t contribute to our strategy other than offering a statstick (Rakish Heir, Bloodlord of Vaasgoth). I also cut Anowon because we run a couple non-Vampires we want to keep in play. 

With these upgrades, the deck now has a stronger focus. The ramp now contributes to our strategy, and we have some better removal, better card draw, and a slightly lower curve of creatures — super important for an aggressive deck. 

The best use of Blood tokens in the build will undoubtedly be for value or with Marionette Master, but don’t be afraid to use them as combat tricks with StrefanDrana and Zagras can both make combat a nightmare. 


The deck could of course stand to benefit from some more expensive additions. Sticking to the current strategy, tutors like Demonic Tutor would help a lot with getting the Marionette Master combo into play. Revel in Riches and Pitiless Plunderer help with our plan to amass artifacts, and the aforementioned Twilight Prophet helps our drain game considerably. 

Value pieces like Cursed Mirror, Deflecting Swat, and Deadly Rollick are great for any Rakdos deck, and Cursed Mirror in particular can really help double up on important triggers. I took out Molten Echoes because it’s a little variable, where Cursed Mirror is a lot easier to make work. 

Aside from New Blood and Captivating Vampire, which I love, cards like Vampire Nocturnus can really power up your board, and card draw from Vanquisher’s Banner wouldn’t go amiss. Olivia, Crimson Bride can help us if we play plenty of legendary Vampires (so Yahenni might be a good add), but equally might be a good direction to take in her own right; the precon makes a great base to build on. We should probably add Voldaren Estate, too. 

Finally, one “combo” I really love in my Edgar Markov deck is Retribution of the Ancients with ways to gain counters. Rakdos can do +1/+1 counters, and if we add back Rakish Heir and pop in other ways to accrue counters, this becomes another reliable removal engine alongside of (or instead of) our deathtouch engine. 

I hope this precon upgrade guide has been useful to you today. Vampiric Bloodline is an excellent way to get started with Vampires, especially if you’re new to the tribe. The precon has some cracking reprints and plenty of scope to take the deck in a direction that speaks to you. How are you upgrading yours? Let me know on Twitter.