Last updated on November 15, 2023
Clavileño, First of the Blessed | Illustration by Matt Stewart
The original Ixalan set had four main creature types, with a strong vampire theme in black and white. Although The Lost Caves of Ixalan doesn’t have a strong typal theme, the Commander precon decks are clearly inspired by the old Ixalan.
Today we’re taking a look at the Blood Rite Commander precon deck led by Clavileño, First of the Blessed, its strengths and weaknesses, the main themes, and what isn’t working as well as it should. I’ll also suggest some card-by-card swaps that can be made to polish this gem, all aimed at a low-budget investment.
Legion's Landing | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Blood Rites is a Orzhov EDH deck with two new commanders. The main one is Clavileño, First of the Blessed, and the second one is Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher. Both are vampires that benefit from attacking and creatures dying in a way. I’ll keep Clavileño, First of the Blessed as this deck’s main commander, but you could switch to Carmen and have a slightly different take on the deck. Clavileño turns an attacking vampire into a vampire demon with “when this creature dies, draw a card and make a tapped 4/3 vampire demon token”. Essentially, you want to attack with your vampires as often as you can and make sure that it dies at some point.
This deck is a vampire typal deck with some aristocrat elements tackled on it. You’ll have cards like Dusk Legion Zealot that already give you a card back, and if it attacks and dies, you’ll upgrade it significantly. There’s also ways to make disposable Vampire tokens, ways to buff out vamps, and also some sacrifice outlets. Finally, cards that take advantage of the sheer vampire numbers like Champion of Dusk, Sanctum Seeker, and Order of Sacred Dusk are very fitting in this build and can give you huge benefits based on your board state.
This deck is very focused on what it wants to do. Boasting 36 vampire cards and even more ways to make Vampire tokens, this deck wants to always be attacking with at least one vampire and it certainly has the means to do so. You also have some ways to boost your vampires in Legion Lieutenant, Etchings of the Chosen, and Cordial Vampire.
One of the weaknesses I want to address is that it cares too much about strength in numbers and pumping out your team. The card swaps I’ll suggest will give the deck a greater focus on reliably sacrificing creatures and reaping even bigger benefits.
This is an Orzhov deck that’s very heavy on black mana and touches white mana for a few gold cards and white cards.
To improve the mana base, I’d add Shambling Vent, Fetid Heath, and Vault of Champions, replacing three basic Plains. Scoured Barrens gains you some life, while Malakir Rebirth and Sejiri Shelter are nice lands that can double as spells. These are also swaps for basic Plains, leaving you with only 2 basic Plains left in the deck. Of course, if you have a copy of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or a Marsh Flats, go for it, but it’s not needed here.
Suggested Cut: Blade of the Bloodchief
When your 1-mana equipment can kill 1/1 tokens and draw you two cards, you know that you have a fitting card in your deck. Skullclamp is awesome in a deck like this, and while Blade of the Bloodchief fits nicely into a vampire typal deck, I’m leaning more toward the sacrifice route.
Suggested Cut: Radiant Destiny
Most of the cards in this deck are vampires, and giving +2/+1 is better than only +1/+1. Vampire Nocturnus is a messed-up card when you have lots of Vampire tokens or flying vampires to beat your opponents down. I want the deck to lean more towards black cards anyway, and Radiant Destiny is one of the deck’s weaker anthem effects that’s also a white non-vampire card.
Suggested Cut: Martyr of Dusk
Here you’re interested in flipping Legion's Landing into Adanto, the First Fort as soon as possible. Being able to have a mana sink that produces Vampire tokens is very fitting for this deck, and Martyr of Dusk seems like the least impactful card overall.
Suggested Cut: Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord does what you want in this deck. Buff your vampires, sacrifice them, and even cheat expensive guys into play. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad screams like 2010’s MTG at this point, I’m swapping them. It’s possible to play both planeswalkers and cut another card, but choosing one planeswalker, I’d lean towards Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord.
Suggested Cut: Return to Dust
I prefer a catch-all card to a double Disenchant effect. Paying 3 life in this deck is going to be trivial, and Anguished Unmaking is a nice, flexible removal spell. I’m cutting the more situational Return to Dust.
Suggested Cut: Village Rites
Adding Sanguine Bond and the next card makes you have a strong combo with Exquisite Blood. Also, there’s a lot of incidental lifegain in this deck so you can hurt your opponents badly with Sanguine Bond. Village Rites is a good card, but you’re high on ways to sacrifice creatures and/or draw cards.
Suggested Cut: Kindred Boon
Suggested Cut: Falkenrath Noble
This change is painful, but Mirkwood Bats fits better here because you’re creating and killing tokens. When a card like Elenda, the Dusk Rose makes a bunch of tokens, you’ll take some life from your opponents, and ditto when those tokens are sacrificed.
Suggested Cut: Crossway Troublemakers
Teysa Karlov doubles your “death triggers”, and trust me, they’ll happen. Most of your cards care about creatures dying, and your commander is built around sacrificing creatures. Although this card isn’t a vampire, it’ll be worth playing. Crossway Troublemakers is a little bit expensive and you have lots of card draw going on.
Suggested Cut: Indulgent Aristocrat
Amalia Benavides Aguirre explores a lot in this deck due to all your incidental lifegain, smoothing out your deck and giving you card selection. I get that Indulgent Aristocrat is a card that does things you want, it’s just that I prefer when my sacrifice outlet doesn’t require a 2-mana activation.
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose | Illustration by Lie Setiawan
I have to say, these swaps were hard. These precon decks are really good out of the box, and every card I took out from this deck fits in some way. This is a testament to how good these Commander precons have been lately, and I have fond memories of having played with these vampires, even the ones who were cut. If the budget isn’t a constraint, I’d suggest cards like the new Bloodletter of Aclazotz or even Bloodline Keeper / Lord of Lineage.
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