Ixalan Vampire Challenge – My Deck

Last week I posted a MtG deck building challenge where those interested in doing so, were challenged to build a vampire deck and sideboard using just the cards available in Ixalan.

I have a deck. Whether it’s any good is another thing. I have tested it against a couple of student decks. It’s 3-2 at the moment. I still need to put it up against the Rookie Red.

Here is the deck and sideboard that I came up with. I should point out this has been built with cards that I own.


4 Duskborne Skymarcher
2 Skittering Heartstopper
1 Queen’s Bay Soldier
2 Inspiring Cleric
2 Legion Conquistador
3 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
3 Paladin of the Bloodstained
2 Bishop of Rebirth
1 Vona, Butcher of Magan


1 Demystify
1 Duress
1 Legion’s Landing
1 Ashes of the Abhorrent
2 Pillar of Origins
1 Sanguine Sacrament
3 Walk the Plank
3 Queen’s Commission
1 Ritual of Rejuvenation
3 Call to the Feast
1 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Vraska’s Contempt
2 Vanquisher’s Banner
2 Axis of Mortality


6 Plains
5 Swamp
2 Unclaimed Territory
4 Unknown Shores


2 Blight Keeper
2 Skittering Heartstopper
3 Vicious Conquistador
2 Adanto Vanguard
2 Tocatli Honor Guard
1 Legion Conquistador
2 Sanctum Seeker
1 Sanguine Sacrament

This is geared up to generate 1/1 vampire tokens, beefing up the vampires with the Vanquisher’s Banner (it gives +1/+1 to all vampires). The Axis of Mortality is a fun move to pull off. Run the health down then pull the trigger and swap them around. Suddenly your opponent is open to just one or two 1/1 creatures getting through. This also generates life, because those 1/1 vampire tokens have life link, plus one or two of the cards give me life when they enter the battlefield. Which is handy for Vona. But with my 1/1 creatures I have enough protection to protect me from decks that hit the floor running such as the Rookie Red deck.

Sadly no one put a deck up in the comments of the previous post. So there are no other decks to share. On the plus side that means I don’t have to send out any Ixalan boosters to anyone, and I can have them for myself.

There will be another challenge later in the week.

Gruuling afternoon

Yesterday life whittled down yesterdays league participants to 6 for our second session.

I’d arrived early to rebuild my deck from my card pool I had for the league (the packs opened the previous session) and the one I cracked for this session. The majority of the others had their packs at the end of the previous session. I went red/green (gruul I believe it is known as). My only turn 1 card was a couple of Commune with Dinosaurs that would allow me to hunt for a dinosaur in the top 5 cards of my library. But in reality I’d be looking at playing a creature turn 2 onwards. I had options then, turn 2 blockers, attackers, even the chance to make dinosaurs cheaper.

When I deck build I do like to have more low cost options, and have some more costly options but not as many. That way I stand a better chance of getting playable stuff in my opening hand or a mulligan. Plus if I don’t draw much land, which can happen, I can play something, and draw something I can play.

Out of 11 games I went 6-5. So my wins edged it this time. And a very big improvement over the opening session of just 1 win.

I was happier with this deck and the way it built up. There is hardly any removal, a single Crushing Canopy.

I pulled a Deathgorge Scavenger, and Charging Monstrosaur in my loser booster. Which made the deck even stronger. Both were really effective.

We gave Lukas a quick play lesson for his deck and told him what he should be looking for in his opening hand. Sadly we didn’t have his card pool to hand to see if we could help him strengthen his deck.

As usual we had a great afternoon of playing MtG, at our great hosts FenRock. Who are currently doing some exciting changes to the climbing facilities they have.

Punishing start to weekend

Justice League was good. I think Josh Whedon did enough to save it. The return of Superman was predictable and clumsy. As was his role in the team. Still don’t like the Flash. I prefer the tv version to the cinematic one. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman gorgeous and brilliant as usual. Aquaman was ok, but hardly a show stealer. Cyborg was ok. Afflick was more a “getting too old” Batman. More realistic, gets bruised, just a man in a suit.

This isn’t as good as Wonder Woman, but it’s a vast improvement over Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman. It’s shows Warner Bros are moving in the right direction (which is the opposite one to where Synder walked off into).

At the time of writing I’m 5 episodes in on The Punisher. I’m really enjoying it. Micro is a great character. Really enjoying their interpretation of him. There was a lot of promises made for the Punisher character itself in Dare Devil season 2. So far this has delivered. We see the driven vigilante, the soldier, family man. It’s nice to see a more fleshed out character that the movies never had the space or really attempted to show.

I did build a draft mono blue control deck yesterday instead of finalising my deck for the deck building challenge. It then got taken out for a spin against the Rookie Red deck (piloted by Dale). It did well. I got a 4-3 record with it. So edged the wins. Although I think the frustration level of the deck for the opponent needs upping. It’s not nearly as frustrating as I want it to be.

I was going to rant about being stiffed by FFG and Esdevium over my pre-ordered copy of Twilight Imperium 4. No pre-order bonus for me. Nope. So much for them supporting the LGS. Why should I pre-order from my LGS and pay more, when FFG break their word? I should have waited and shopped around and saved another £20 on the cost of the game. Only reason I pre-ordered from my FLGS was so I could get the pre-order bonus FFG promised. I thought FFG were better than this. But hey it seems their support for the LGS is just lip service. It’s more screw you LGS and Gamers.

Hashtag Favourite Token Friday #7

They’re back, the tokens behind the game, and they are out of control!!

Yes I know I haven’t done this for a week or two. But hey I’m old and my memory is bad. I did remember to do them, just a couple of days later and by then it was too late.

But I’ve remembered this week, and this week we have the Treasure Tokens from the current Magic the Gathering set, Ixalan. How cool is that art?

Card Kingdom Rookie Deck – Red

Part of my second order from Card Kingdom was one of their rookie decks. I wanted this in for teaching MtG to new students with, and for students to use as well. At $6.99 (plus postage – which was international for me) you are not going to get any high value cards in these decks. What you do get is a great deck for teaching MtG with that focuses on one or two mechanics of that colour. It comes in a nice plastic case for storage, and two handy reference cards (see below).

Which for me are a little bit more useful than the rules reference that comes with almost ever MtG product that WotC put out. Mainly because these are easier to have out and reference than the rules reference.

I’ve played this against my students decks, and wow. This is beating the official Ixalan Jace Planeswalker decks they are currently playing with. On the description it says that this deck is fast. They are not kidding. Turn 4 or 5 wins are very common (so far). I’m trying to get my students to learn from this, and see that this is a deck of common cards, no planeswalkers (which they seem to be so all over and excited about having in their decks), no big expensive cards. It just executes it’s game plan to perfection. But because it focuses on just one or two mechanics, it makes teaching with this deck easy. I think that this is a more fun deck to play than the Welcome Decks that WotC give out. Although they are good, and a great way to get new players into the game (here is a free deck of cards to play with). I do feel that this is a better way to introduce new players to the game, and depending how charitable/generous you are feeling, cheap enough that you can give the deck away to the new player.

The Decked Builder app priced the cards at a value of around $7 (against current prices on the Card Kingdom website), but was unable to find a price for 3 of the cards. So I would guess if you said $8 max in total if you were to buy the cards separately you wouldn’t be too far off. You get the reference cards and the plastic case. So I think this is great value. Just a shame that here in the UK we have to pay for international shipping and can’t get them more easily over here.

For those interested here are the cards that Card Kingdom used to build this rookie deck:

Oh before you look at the list and say “hey I didn’t get this or that card in mine”, these decks are subject to change due to availability of cards at the time they build the decks. It’s why they no longer put deck lists up on their site for these and the battle decks. 


4 Bloodlust Inciter
4 Defiant Khenra
4 Mogg Flunkies
4 Nest Robber
4 Minotaur Sureshot
4 Hyena Pack
1 Lathnu Sailback


3 Act of Treason
4 Open Fire
4 Chandra’s Outrage


24 Mountain

Star Realms App gets United

White Wizard Games have just pushed out the latest update for their very popular app version of the amazing deck builder Star Realms.

This will be the first of I’m guessing 4 updates over the next few months that will add cards etc from the United expansions from the physical game.

Here is the release notes for the app from the App Store.

At the time of writing there was an issue actually being able to purchase the Command expansion. But hopefully that gets sorted ASAP. As I’m looking forward to playing with the extra cards. At £1.99 to unlock them across all platforms a bargain.

I’m super excited about the win/loss stats in the friend list. That’s how I play the game. Having lost the levelling Up/down functionality when the app got its makeover, this is the second best option.

Not much interested in the AI improvement, I don’t play the campaign or against the AI.

So if you are a fan of the game go get this now.

Random Booster Opening #3

The addiction continues.

I have no excuse this time for opening a packet except that I did. The packet was there and screaming “open me”. It would have been rude of me not to act on it’s demands.

Ok I feel dirty and used, even ashamed having given in to my baser instincts, and opened yet another booster pack. I’m weak. Easily lead astray.

But you don’t care about that self loathing. You want to know what I got in that little packet of foiled goodness.

Well I got Unfriendly Fire as a shiny!

Then my rare was the flip card Conqueror’s Galleon, which flips into Conqueror’s Foothold.

The three uncommons were the following.

Finally the commons.

So that was our third Ixalan booster pack for the blog. There have been more than that opened. But if I did everyone here you would be more bored than you are now.

Ixalan Vampire Challenge

Thought I would start a new irregular series of posts that may or not be MtG related. They could easily be for Epic or Star Wars: Destiny, or any game that allows deck construction of some sort. But for this first post I am going with MtG.

So for this inaugural post the challenge is using just cards in Ixalan build a 60 card vampire deck, and a 15 card sideboard. This can be mono or black/white (Orzhov). It’s definitely tribal.

Leave your decks and sideboards in the comments below (if you haven’t commented before I will have to approve the comment first, but after that you are golden to post whenever).

Then at the start of next week I will post the deck and sideboard that I have come up with (some people can rip that to shreds), and also pick up to two other decks from the comments below. Those two decks will each get two Ixalan boosters.

Amazing weekend ahead

For me starting Friday, this weekend is going to be busy,busy,busy. But in an amazing geeky/nerdy way.

The weekend starts with Netflix releasing not only the highly anticipated Punisher series. But also a documentary called Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. Which is a behind the scenes look at Jim Carrey and his descent into madness, and taking method acting too far while making the fantastic biopic about Andy Kaufman, Man on the Moon.

I love the Punisher (was a big fan of the comic when I had a comic habit in my younger days). His cinematic appearances can at best be described as watchable. But the version of the Punisher that turned up in DareDevil season 2 far out did the cinema versions. The performance and how well it went down with the fans meant that Netflix commissioned this spin off series. So I am looking forward to this.

I’m a child of the 70’s (and an 80’s teenager), so I grew up watching Taxi. I was unfamiliar with Kaufman’s other work. But who can forget his character Latka in that hit tv series? Carrey as Kaufman in the film Man on the Moon was amazing. The film was brilliant. Plus there is that REM song with the same title all about Kaufman. Not sure of timing, so unclear if the song was first or if it was written for the movie. Plus I can’t google everything. I’m happy to live in ignorance on this one thing. So a chance to get a glimpse behind the curtain about this great movie and probably Carrey’s best performance ever is very welcome indeed.

It really is going to be hard to chose which to watch first when I sit down at home and switch on the tv, and fire up the Netflix app on my Amazon Fire TV stick.

Also out on Friday is the new DC superhero movie Justice League. After Wonder Woman managed to pull back some credibility for Warner Bros (maybe that’s because Zack Snyder didn’t direct it) after the train wrecks that Batman vs Superman, and Suicide Squad were, I’m going to give this movie a chance. Especially after seeing the trailers (although I hate the look of the Flash), and knowing that Snyder left the film (after filming most of it) and was replaced with Josh Whedon to complete the movie (which I believe he did some reshoots for). So I’m hoping that Whedon has managed to save the movie from any harm that Snyder did. And yes if you think I sound bitter about Snyder, then you are right. He shouldn’t be let near another superhero movie ever.

I think Friday will shape up as cinema first for Justice League, followed by indecision at home in front of the tv.

Then Saturday afternoon it’s…

Yep an afternoon of playing MtG.

Will I be able to improve on my 1-10 record from the first day of this league?

Well it’s not going to be hard to improve on it. I just need to win two games and I’m 100% better than before.

I still need to crack open my boost for that meet up. The majority have already had their booster at the end of the previous session. So they have had a couple of weeks to think over the improvements to their decks. Me, I’ll probably just throw cards together and see what happens on the day!

But if I hadn’t had my fill of MtG on Saturday I get even more of it with Commander Sunday!

Commander is so much fun. I fancy playing one of the pre-cons from the Anthology for this. The hard part is which of the four will I play?

So that’s the plan for the exciting geeky weekend. Really super excited for it to start.

My Top 10 Recorded Played Games Nov 17 Edition

The end of the year will mark 2 years of logging my game plays using the Boardgame stats app. I’ve been boring you on a monthly basis with a summary of the stats it produces ever since.

But what games have I played the most since records began?

Star Realms and Lost Cities would be 1 and 2 respectively if I logged the app plays as well by a long long margin. But I don’t.

So here are according to the stats program the top 10 games I have played the most since I started logging plays:

  1. Star Wars: Destiny – 196 plays, my rank #3
  2. Magic the Gathering – 149 plays, unranked!
  3. Android: Netrunner – 58 plays, my rank #13
  4. Santorini – 30 plays, my rank #8
  5. Mint Works – 28 plays, my rank #31
  6. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn – 26 plays, my rank #3
  7. Onitama – 25 plays, unranked!
  8. Star Realms – 25 plays, my rank #4
  9. Love Letter: Batman – 21 plays, my rank #58
  10. 7 Wonders Duel – 20 plays, my rank #9