The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Blood Rites Precon Upgrade Guide

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan: Blood Rites Precon Upgrade Guide

Kristen GregoryCommander

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has four new Commander decks with classic Ixalan archetypes, and Blood Rites is the Orzhov Vampires deck that brings frightening new cards and solid reprints. 

So how does Blood Rites play and how do we upgrade it? Let’s find out. 


Blood Rites has two new Commanders to sink your teeth into. The first, and the one we’ll be looking at today for our Upgrade guide, is Clavileño, First of the Blessed

Clavileño comes down nice and early, and starts proselytizing the virtues of ascending to Demon form. The most important line of text, of course, is “draw a card,” but 4/3 flyers are also decidedly strong. Clavileño is a good build-around, but the hierophant in the room is you need plenty of sac-outlets to keep him ticking. 

Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher is very cool. She’s essentially going to be reanimating permanents every turn, and she’ll also be large-and-in-charge while doing so. You won’t struggle to get her into two-shot territory — that’s for sure.

Carmen is a little costlier at five mana, though, and liable to be removed regularly. If I was to build her, I’d want some more expensive additions to the manabase and ramp package, like Ancient Tomb, Smothering Tithe and even maybe a cheeky Mana Crypt or Jeweled Lotus. Still, both Commanders are enjoyable additions to the Orzhov canon. 


Blood Rites has some terrific new designs, and the cards don’t necessarily even have to fit into a Vampires deck. Charismatic Conqueror feels like the “chase” card of the deck, given it hoses treasure so hard. 

People make treasures all the time now, so why not fill your board while they do so? It also works with creatures, which means you can either have a free board or play a “turn ahead” of everyone else.

Elenda’s Hierophant is functionally a second Elenda, and depending on how your build goes, will perhaps trigger more often, too. I like her at three mana, and she provides an additionally chunky flying body to a deck helmed by Carmen. 

Redemption Choir is the second Sun Titan effect in the precon and shouldn’t be too difficult to trigger at all. Big fan(g). 

Though Blood Rites comes with a bunch of fantastic new cards, the reprint value is also surprisingly great. Exquisite Blood is the big ticket item, being an on-theme combo card for Vampire decks or just life-total-manipulating decks in general. 

Classic Vampire payoffs like New Blood and newer offerings like Olivia’s Wrath also make an appearance. You can also get copies of Damn, Bloodline Necromancer, Cordial Vampire, Elenda, the Dusk Rose and plenty of other decent rares. 

Overall, I’m really happy with this precon. It can be taken in different directions (even if both lean on aristocrats), but it’s also a serviceable base for any kind of vampire deck you’d like to build that is at least black and white in color. 

For more on the new cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan and LCC Commander,  check out the Set Review and Precon Highlights. For now, let’s upgrade this deck.


As usual, the sweet spot is $50, and I’ve managed to get closer than ever, so I feel pretty good about that. Our goals with the upgrade are:

  • Add more sacrifice outlets to enable our Commander, Clavileño
  • Upgrade our removal package
  • Increase consistency with more card advantage and better vampires

The precon itself already comes with a bunch of good recursion pieces, so let’s lean into that and make sure our aristocrat shenanigans have both good enablers and good ways to bounce back. 

Altar of Dementia is the poster child here, as it helps us fill our graveyard in order to reanimate key pieces, while triggering our Commander’s effect. 

In order to reliably get our Demon tokens and draw cards, we need to spread sacrifice throughout our deck. Pyre of Heroes lets us go and grab the next best Vampire we want and is a really strong inclusion. 

Meanwhile, Victimize remains one of the best reanimator spells in the format, especially for decks like this. I’ve opted for Lich-Knights’ Conquest, too, which can get rid of our tokens and exchange them for the creatures we already put in the graveyard. I’ve been really impressed with this spell so far in playtesting.

Alongside staple removal like Anguished Unmaking and Generous Gift, I’ve opted for Lethal Scheme. Again, it helps us fill the graveyard, so we engage our reanimation sub-theme. 

Plumb the Forbidden and Skullclamp round out our card draw package, while Kaya and Lotho help us build value as the game progresses. I particularly like Kaya here, as she can, at her floor, double our 4/3 token production. But at the ceiling? Well, there’s Elenda, Elenda’s Hierophant and March of the Canonized for starters. 

Lotho is just an Orzhov payoff, and I always want one now. 

You can check out the full dec klist on Moxfield, which includes the cards to take out in the Sideboard section. Our cuts were mostly high-mana value, somewhat “durdly” cards that don’t gel with our game plan. 

I cut Myriad Landscape because I don’t think decks have time to be using that anymore, and I swapped tired removal like Return to Dust for better options. I also took out Exquisite Blood, because unless we’re leaning into being a combo deck, there’s not much real need for it. 


For further upgrades, there are a couple of paths to go with this precon. First up, combos. 

Blood Rites contains Exquisite Blood, so it’s easy to play the Sanguine Bond combo. If you do, I’d take Diabolic Intent to help tutor it out, given it can already enable Clavileño. 

You’ll also want to double up on redundant effects. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, Marauding Blight-Priest, Vizkopa Guildmage and Cliffhaven Vampire are the most mana-efficient options for redundancy.

The manabase is the next big area to upgrade, with many of Orzhov’s best lands costing quite a pretty penny. Some are absolutely worth it in decks like this though. Phyrexian Tower is just that good. 

Adding Malakir Rebirth and Sejiri Shelter are a no-brainer, as is more color fixing. You can, of course, splash out for other Orzhov staples beyond the manabase, and I think Smothering Tithe and Chivalric Alliance are two big ones that can offer a lot to us. 

Any graveyard deck should consider Living Death, one of my favorite magic cards, and token doublers are worth a look if you’re still running the face Commander. They’re expensive tech, but a good investment for use across the board.

And if you do end up opting for Carmen in the Command Zone, I think you’re going to want to lean into the ability to grow her large while making sure your deck runs plenty of free-equips, like Puresteel Paladin — plus edict effects, too. 

Carmen does cost five, though, so the rest of your deck should be filled with equal amounts of recursion (Sevinne’s Reclamation et al), ramp (Ancient Tomb, Sword of the Animist) and evasive bodies that can also grow tall (Voldaren Bloodcaster, Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter, Serra Ascendant). Carmen is interesting, and I think she could helm a solid kind of graveyard deck. 


Blood Rites is a great precon. It’s filled with new cards I can’t wait to play and amazing reprints for players with a smaller collection. Both new Commanders can offer an exciting direction to take the deck while the deck itself is a fantastic shell for building any number of vampire or aristocrats builds. Let me know how you’re going to utilize this Precon on Twitter.