Vampires are one of the most popular tribes in Magic, and who can resist the allure of the sanguine keepers of the night? They’re elegant and calculating in their power, offering a sophisticated style of beatdown that’s sure to leave opponents reeling.
Top 20 Vampire Cards in Magic
Unlike Elves, Goblins, Zombies and Humans, Vampires had a slower start; the tribe didn’t see significant support until the original Zendikar set. These Vampires were created by the Eldrazi Ulamog, differing from the more traditional gothic Vampires we’ve come to expect on other planes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be long until we got many more Vampires, with Innistrad introducing us to some of the most famous Vampires in the multiverse. Along with Olivia Voldaren and her brood, we met the Markov family, and the planeswalker Sorin Markov. Since Innistrad, Vampires have been a mainstay in Magic, with various styles and races introduced on planes as diverse as Ravnica, Kaladesh, Ixalan, and Tarkir.
Picking the top Vampires in Magic was always going to be difficult, but after being introduced to a whole new cast of creative and powerful cards in Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, that task has become even harder. The cards I’ve picked today are a combination of the most infamous and the most powerful; the most interesting designs, and the most impactful. Dripping with equal parts menace and charm, here are the best 20 Vampire cards in Magic.
HONORABLE MENTION: Elusive Tormentor (Shadows over Innistrad)
While there are many Vampires who didn’t quite make the cut to feature on this list — with Anje Falkenrath and Florian, Voldaren Scion among the notable absences — I couldn’t put this together without discussing Elusive Tormentor. We rarely get Dimir Vampires, and Elusive Tormentor is a brilliant design. Before we can digest the card, there’s the incredible Anna Steinbauer artwork (jeez, she’s always so good — check out that projectile hole in the mist fired by a desperate victim). Once this thing is in play, you’re left with a truly terrifying threat. Elder Vampires are clearly no joke, and once Insidious Mist is flipped, it’s very difficult to get rid of it.
While this thing hasn’t found too many homes, it’s still a really sweet pick in any Voltron-based deck playing blue and black. One such home is in Otrimi, where it can make a stellar base to mutate onto.
HONORABLE MENTION: Adanto Vanguard (Ixalan)
One more honorable mention, and would you look at that — it also has art by Anna Steinbauer. The artwork isn’t the draw here this time, but rather the performance this card had in Ixalan Standard. A two-mana, three-power attacker is quite the threat, especially when you can pay life to dodge most of the removal in the format. A lynchpin in White Weenie aggro decks of the time, Adanto Vanguard was played alongside another Vampire card (in the loosest sense), Legion’s Landing.
Who can forget LSV’s phenomenal bluff with the Vampire token at the Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica semifinals?
20. Stromkirk Captain (Dark Ascension)
The first Vampire on this list is an all-star in Innistrad cubes, Vampire-tribal Commander decks, and in Dark Ascension limited. Lords are always among the strongest creatures for tribes, offering team wide power and toughness boosts. They get better when they offer good keywords, too, and first strike is one of the best for a tribe that wants to be on offense.
19. Bloodghast (Zendikar)
Zendikar offers the first modern-era Vampires of note, and Bloodghast has long been a roleplayer in multiple formats. In Modern, it fits well into self-mill strategies given the landfall ability will help bring it back. While it’s best known for its appearance in Modern Dredge decks, Bloodghast is also popular in Commander, where it serves as a “free” sacrificial lamb for repeatable value. It just might have one of the most powerful landfall triggers in the game.
18. Veinwitch Coven (Commander 2021)
One that’s still probably under the radar for many players, Veinwitch Coven is an impressive Vampire. It can fit into Vampire decks, as well as a whole host of other life-matters builds. Getting to pay a solitary black mana to Disentomb whenever you gain life is incredible value. I love it in Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim.
17. Bloodline Necromancer (Commander 2017)
One of the many sweet cards included in the Vampiric Bloodlust Commander deck, Bloodline Necromancer is a mostly better Karmic Guide for Vampires or Wizards. As well as reanimating your lucky Vampire or Wizard, you get to leave behind a 3/2 lifelink body which can receive the benefits of any lords or effects for your chosen tribe.
16. Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord (Core 2020)
Picking a Sorin for this list was quite the task, especially as he’s had some pretty powerful iterations. While some might argue the original Sorin Markov is the strongest, given its ability to put an opponent to 10 life, it’s only really great in certain Commander builds. We’ve gone for Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord instead. It buffs Vampires, it can be a Lightning Helix on a stick, and to top it off, it can sneak a Vampire into play for only three mana. Getting an early Butcher of Malakir, Patron of the Vein or Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter is an exhilarating prospect.
15. Vampire Hexmage (Zendikar)
The second OG Zendikar Vampire on our list, Vampire Hexmage was so powerful that it ensured that Dark Depths was banned in Modern from the outset. A two-mana, two-power first strike creature is already passing the vanilla test (especially in 2009), but when it can also produce a turn 3 Marit Lage 20/20 indestructible flying token, it’s a little bit much. You can still perform this combo in Legacy and Commander, and it’s doing more work as an answer to planeswalkers these days, too.
14. Viscera Seer (Magic 2011)
Another cheap to cast but impactful creature, Viscera Seer is a mainstay of Commander decks and has been since the format’s inception. Aristocrats decks want a zero-mana way to sacrifice their creatures, and Viscera Seer offers this, along with a valuable scry ability. It’s not the best free sacrifice outlet in the game, but it is the cheapest to cast — and probably to buy, too.
13. Blood Artist (Avacyn Restored)
At #13, we have another of the first generation of Commander format all-stars, and that’s Blood Artist. I think Blood Artist is a little unlucky these days, in that it’s been all but superseded by Cruel Celebrant and Zulaport Cutthroat, but it’ll always have a place in our hearts as the starving artist that can take down a table. It’s still worth running, of course, but it’s often playing second fiddle to more robust drain engines, like Bastion of Remembrance.
12. Cordial Vampire (Modern Horizons)
Oh, hey Mark. Cordial Vampire is an extremely powerful two-drop Vampire. While the likes of Indulgent Aristocrat offer counters, too, it’ll cost you two mana and losing one of your own creatures. Cordial Vampire will buff the team whenever any creature dies — whether yours or an opponent’s. This thing gets out of hand quickly. Pack a Retribution of the Ancients, Together Forever, or Blade of the Bloodchief to turn it up to eleven.
11. Twilight Prophet (Rivals of Ixalan)
Twilight Prophet is in demand from all corners of the multiverse. Not content with being a card draw piece in Vampire tribal decks, this gorgeously illustrated Cleric is as much at home in Cleric Tribal, Liesa, Shroud of Dusk Group Slug decks, or the new Strefan, Maurer Progenitor precon deck (which we have a handy upgrade guide to). It’s even a decent option in a Yuriko deck, honestly. What a fantastic card.
10. Bloodtracker (Commander 2018)
We’ve covered +1/+1 counters. We’ve covered card draw. Now let’s blend them together.
Bloodtracker has my favorite kind of trigger — a “leaves play” trigger. This means that you get your cards whether it dies, is sacrificed (which is also dying, but can sometimes differentiate other triggers), is exiled, or is returned to your hand. Whether it’s you doing it or an opponent matters little; Bloodtracker remains an astonishingly good source of card draw for +1/+1 counters decks, or Vampire decks that can get more counters onto him.
9. Welcoming Vampire (Crimson Vow)
Sticking with card draw a moment, let’s welcome Crimson Vow’s chase white card, Welcoming Vampire. Whenever we get white card draw it’s a reason to celebrate, but Welcoming Vampire is good white card draw. Not paying mana for the extra cards is great, even if it will only trigger once per turn. This’ll find a home in Vampire decks, but also tokens decks of many kinds.
8. Elenda, the Dusk Rose (Rivals of Ixalan)
Elenda, the Dusk Rose was always on the border of greatness until they changed the Commander dies trigger rules. Since the change, she’s exploded in popularity as a Vampire commander, though part of that could be because an as-yet unmentioned card on this list is very expensive to buy.
Elenda can populate the board with a great deal of tokens in short order, especially as her token production is tied to her power rather than the quantity of counters on her — a Blackblade Reforged can help a lot here. She’s also just a solid pick in the 99 of other Vampire or tokens-based builds.
7. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose (Core 2021)
Recent Core sets have offered some particularly great Vampires, and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is one to reckon with. For those who love combos, Vito can replace the Sanguine Bond half of the infinite life-drain combo with Exquisite Blood. He comes down sooner, and can even trigger the combo by giving your creatures lifelink. While he isn’t the strongest attacker, he is a major roleplayer.
6. Bloodline Keeper (Innistrad)
I think it’s fair to say that Vampires have some of the best lords, and we haven’t even covered my favorite one yet. Bloodline Keeper might not be my favorite, but it sure is a good one. On the front side, it’s a token generator, but not just any tokens — this thing kicks out 2/2 flyers. Once you flip it (which is pretty easy to achieve, honestly), you get rewarded with a bigger creature that buffs the rest of the team for a funky-chonky +2/+2. They don’t come much better than this. Vampire Nocturnus is another great lord, and though it can also jump your creatures into flyers, it requires a slightly tighter decklist and more dedication to play with black cards than maybe you’d like to.
5. Patron of the Vein (Commander 2017)
Another absolute belter from Commander 2017 (seriously, how good were the made-for-Commander cards in that product?!), Patron of the Vein is one of my personal favorite Vampire cards. We all love a good Shriekmaw or Ravenous Chupacabra, but this thing doesn’t just exile the destroyed creature — it puts counters on your Vampires every time an opponent’s creature dies and is put into exile. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet isn’t a bad choice when it comes to graveyard hate, but Patron really takes the crown. Creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects are always the best for Commander.
4. Olivia’s Wrath (Crimson Vow Commander)
“One-sided board wipes are the future of Commander” is something I said in a recent column, and there’s no better example than Olivia’s Wrath. Once you’ve amassed a sizable board of Vampires, Olivia’s Wrath decimates the opposition, clearing the way for you to swing out. It’s quick, it’s clean, and it’s everything you want for a tribal build.
3. Champion of Dusk (Rivals of Ixalan)
As we move ever closer to the #1 spot, the cards have to be the best of the best. Rivals of Ixalan had some great Vampires, including both Legion Lieutenant and Forerunner of the Legion, but the one that takes the cake for the #3 spot is Champion of Dusk. Drawing cards is the best thing to do in Magic, and drawing a whole bunch in one go is the stuff dreams are made of. While we now have the likes of Imposing Grandeur and Stinging Study for high mana value commanders, Champion of Dusk just gets it done. Just add a mass reanimate spell and you’re cooking with gas.
2. Captivating Vampire & New Blood (Commander 2017)
For the #2 spot, I’m cheating, but if you’re running one of these? You’re running both. Stealing creatures is one of the sneakiest ways to deal with threats. What’s better than removing a threat? Gaining one at the same time. Vampires have these two incredible cards to do that with, and what makes them so good is that they join you permanently, not until end of turn. Your opponents have to remove, bounce, or use Homeward Path to get their creature back.
Captivating Vampire (a.k.a. David Tennant in Fright Night 2011, a.k.a. Spice8Rack) is a Vampire lord, for starters. But when you have five untapped Vampires, you can gain control of a creature and vamp it up at instant speed. Summoning sickness doesn’t matter, either. You can hold this up for your opponents’ turns, and you can activate it multiple times. It’s just that good!
New Blood, on the other hand, has some truly devious uses. To date, I have managed to steal targets as delectable as God-Eternal Oketra, and as delicious as Atla Palani. Getting to replace the word “Zombie” or “Egg” in these cards leads to hilarious results, and it’s the most fun you can have playing a Vampire deck.
1. Edgar Markov (Commander 2017)
The #1 Vampire card on this list needs no introduction. He’s the grandpappy, the original threat. He’s more infamous than famous. You either love him or hate him: It’s Edgar Markov.
We can all look back and see that eminence is a broken ability. You don’t even have to cast Edgar to have a ludicrous amount of value in a Vampire deck. Just casting Vampires rewards you with more Vampires, and you can go entire games without even needing to bring him out. He’s the Godfather, and he’ll ensure you can’t lose. He’s also arguably the only good option for a Mardu Vampire commander; Licia is decidedly lackluster, Mathas, Fiend Seeker isn’t really about Vampires, and so without Edgar Markov, you’re left with trying to Rule 0 Edgar & Olivia from Crimson Vow as partners.
When Edgar Markov finally enters play, he has haste and buffs your team with +1/+1 counters. If he goes back to the command zone? Eh, you only really need his tokens, anyway.
Vampires are one of the slickest tribes in Magic. They combine card draw, counters and removal and distill it into raw power. They also ooze style, which is more than you can say for Goblins, as adorkable as they may be.
If you’re wanting to build a Vampire commander deck, check out my review and upgrade guide for the Vampiric Bloodline precon.
Or, if you enjoyed this countdown, check out Tom’s list of the Top 20 Zombies in Magic.
What are your favorite Vampires? Let me know on Twitter.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.