Clavileño, First of the Blessed - Illustration by Chun Lo

Clavileño, First of the Blessed | Illustration by Chun Lo

Ixalan is best known for introducing new typal synergies. This MTG set canonized dinosaurs and pirates, providing the types with commanders, synergy pieces, and the critical mass needed to build around them.

The plane also supported several of Magic’s most iconic creature types: merfolk and vampires! It notably introduced vampires to white after the creature type was primarily black with some red vampires from the Innistrad sets.

Let’s examine what adding white does for the deck with one of the newest Orzhov vampire commanders: Clavileño, First of the Blessed!

The Deck

Bloodghast - Illustration by Lixin Yin

Bloodghast | Illustration by Lixin Yin

Commander (1)

Clavileño, First of the Blessed

Planeswalkers (1)

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

Creatures (35)

Indulgent Aristocrat
Master of Dark Rites
Viscera Seer
Bartolomé del Presidio
Blood Artist
Bloodghast
Charismatic Conqueror
Cordial Vampire
Cruel Celebrant
Dusk Legion Sergeant
Legion Lieutenant
Martyr of Dusk
Nullpriest of Oblivion
Pitiless Pontiff
Vampire Hexmage
Braids, Arisen Nightmare
Captivating Vampire
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Elenda's Hierophant
Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
Morbid Opportunist
Preacher of the Schism
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Drana and Linvala
Edgar, Charmed Groom
Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Roaming Throne
Sanctum Seeker
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Bloodline Necromancer
Champion of Dusk
Malakir Bloodwitch
Butcher of Malakir

Instants (5)

Malakir Rebirth
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Village Rites
Deadly Dispute

Sorceries (9)

Bone Shards
Innocent Blood
Night's Whisper
Winds of Abandon
Agadeem's Awakening
New Blood
Olivia's Wrath
Emeria's Call
Kindred Dominance

Enchantments (5)

Legion's Landing
March of the Canonized
Promise of Aclazotz
Anointed Procession
Grave Pact

Artifacts (8)

Dusk Rose Reliquary
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Mind Stone
Orzhov Signet
Talisman of Hierarchy
Tarrian's Journal
Glass-Cast Heart

Lands (36)

Brightclimb Pathway
Cavern of Souls
Caves of Koilos
Command Tower
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Minas Tirith
Path of Ancestry
Phyrexian Tower
Plains x5
Prismatic Vista
Shattered Sanctum
Silent Clearing
Swamp x10
Tainted Field
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Temple of Silence
Vault of Champions
Vault of the Archangel
Voldaren Estate
Westvale Abbey

This list keeps things casual. It’s a vampire typal deck with aristocrat and token subthemes to maximize your commander.

The token subtheme primarily supports the aristocrat cards with a steady stream of sacrifice fodder. Your vampire lords benefit from the influx of tokens since they provide plenty of board presence to buff.

Access to black ensures you have plenty of card advantage, so you don’t need to worry about running out of steam once you start applying pressure. Much of this deck’s card draw works with its themes, but it’s hard to leave home without Night's Whisper.

White’s stellar interaction backs this up. You have decent spot removal and asymmetrical board wipes that can protect you when in danger or let you turn the corner and finish the game.

The final puzzle piece is the hallowed commander with Aclazotz itself, binding all these themes into a cohesive whole.

The Commander

Clavileño, First of the Blessed

This deck has three pieces: vampires, tokens, and sacrifice outlets. All three work to maximize the power of Clavileño, First of the Blessed. That’s a lot of pieces coming together to support one commander, but Clavileño rewards you handsomely with pressure and card draw.

Creating Vampire tokens is a breeze with this deck. The goal is to turn those measly 1/1s into 4/3 Vampire Demons for extra flying pressure and card draw.

Clavileño offers lots of power to an aggressive deck. The two most important elements in an aggressive deck are pressure, which flying 4/3s provide in spades, and card draw that ensures you don’t stall out. Clavileño offers you both if you don’t mind running lots of vampires. Which you don’t! They’re a well-supported archetype with plenty of powerful cards you can use.

Clavileño’s ability doesn’t have a name or a marker. I’ll be referring to vampires that have been affected by its ability as “blessed vampires” as a shorthand. When playing Clavileño in paper, the best way to indicate your blessed vampires is to pull them partially out of the sleeve. If you don’t play with sleeves, I recommend Dragon Shield, you heathen.

Vampire Support

These cards encourage you to play with as many vampires as possible to get the most value. They’re essential pieces to keep the deck running.

Legion Lieutenant Captivating Vampire

No typal deck would be complete without lords. Legion Lieutenant is an incredibly efficient lord at 2 mana. Captivating Vampire costs more but has incredible utility. Stealing a creature is great removal and especially potent against opposing commanders since a stolen creature doesn’t change zones. They’ll need to kill their commander if they want it back.

Edgar, Charmed Groom Edgar Markov's Coffin

Edgar, Charmed Groom is your final lord. But it’s more than a lord; when it dies and transforms into Edgar Markov's Coffin, it becomes a token producer. You can sacrifice Edgar to make tokens, but the transformation works as wrath insolation.

Dusk Legion Sergeant

Another piece to protect your vampires against those pesky wraths is Dusk Legion Sergeant. Maximizing this card requires careful thought as to when you think a board wipe is coming so you can hold up mana, but 2 mana isn’t much.

Indulgent Aristocrat Master of Dark Rites

Indulgent Aristocrat and Master of Dark Rites double dip in this deck: They provide power and mana for your vampires while serving as sacrifice outlets for Clavileño.

Roaming Throne

Roaming Throne is one of the strongest Commander cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Looking at Clavileño alone, the Throne lets you bless two creatures with your commander’s ability when you attack, each of which dies into two tokens and draws you two cards. That’s plenty of value before considering your other vampires.

Sanctum Seeker

Sanctum Seeker is like Hellrider, but a little better. The lifegain helps close games because it’s almost impossible to race.

Bloodline Necromancer

Bloodline Necromancer is another piece that helps rebuild after wraths. It’s also useful with your sacrifice outlets; you can sacrifice something with a powerful ETB and reanimate it for double value.

Champion of Dusk

One such creature with a powerful ETB is Champion of Dusk. It’s trivial for this creature to draw three or four cards when entering the battlefield, and it often draws more.

Malakir Bloodwitch

Malakir Bloodwitch is a nasty finisher. It carves away your opponents’ life totals while replenishing your health. This is another card that swings close games in your favor by making it impossible to race.

New Blood

New Blood is a fantastic removal spell. Stealing commanders is always great, but sniping opposing synergy pieces is brilliant. Getting evasion from a creature like Master of the Pearl Trident or card advantage from Graveborn Muse adds a lot of flexibility and flavor to an already powerful effect.

Olivia's Wrath Kindred Dominance

Olivia's Wrath and Kindred Dominance end games swiftly. Asymmetrical wraths are fantastic closers that leave you with a board state while your opponents’ boards are razed. These are a little awkward with your few non-vampire creatures, but most of your deck survives.

Token Production + Support

This deck’s primary source of sacrifice fodder is Vampire tokens, so let’s go over some token producers and a handful of support cards that make them stronger.

Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle

Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle provides plenty of tokens if you keep attacking. This is a perfect way to complement your already aggressive plan.

Elenda's Hierophant Elenda, the Dusk Rose

Elenda's Hierophant and Elenda, the Dusk Rose produce bursts of tokens if you give them time to grow. These play well with your lords to get them up to snuff faster.

Preacher of the Schism

Preacher of the Schism won’t always make tokens, but drawing cards is a reasonable alternative. As a large deathtoucher, it’s a great deterrent against attackers should you need to play defensively.

Glass-Cast Heart

You’re primarily playing Glass-Cast Heart to produce lifelinking Vampire tokens, but it does much more. Blood tokens can filter through excess lands and draw towards relevant spells. The burn ability comes up infrequently but provides a stylish finish.

March of the Canonized

March of the Canonized generates a burst of tokens when cast, then a steady stream of tokens later. The combination makes this a valuable tool to secure a lead and then maintain it through constant pressure.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad reliably produces tokens each turn. The emblem is a useful way to push damage and the ultimate swings games. Just avoid killing commanders with the ult; if you kill them, your opponents can put them in the command zone as a replacement effect and Sorin won’t get them back.

Promise of Aclazotz

Promise of Aclazotz functions like a back-up Clavileño, converting tokens into 4/3s. The adventure even provides the first one!

Anointed Procession

Anointed Procession provides universal token support and a terrifying amount of pressure. Your opponents need to answer this or you’ll take over the game, making this one of your strongest cards.

Sacrifice Support

Triggering Clavileño regularly requires a supply of sacrifice outlets to kill your blessed vampires. Trading them in combat is nice, but you can’t rely on your opponents to make favorable trades. These cards include sacrifice outlets, plus a handful of cards that reward you for sacrificing creatures.

Aristocrat decks love free sacrifice outlets. Doing things for free is much better than paying mana for them. There’s the classic Viscera Seer, but the best are Bartolomé del Presidio and Yahenni, Undying Partisan. They apply tons of pressure by turning insignificant creatures into Vampire Demons and growing large themselves.

Village Rites Deadly Dispute

Village Rites and Deadly Dispute turns your fodder into card advantage! Deadly Dispute is especially potent; when you sacrifice one of Clavileño’s blessed vampires, you draw three cards for 1 mana in an exchange I like to call Ancestral Recall at home.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

Braids, Arisen Nightmare also provides a steady stream of card advantage instead of a big burst. Your opponents can choose to sacrifice permanents instead of letting you draw cards, but that’s just a different form of card advantage.

Tarrian's Journal The Tomb of Aclazotz

You can only activate Tarrian's Journal at sorcery speed, which hampers its ability significantly. But the double-pronged card advantage is useful and flavorful. Transforming the artifact into The Tomb of Aclazotz provides card advantage from the graveyard that helps grind through interaction.

Cordial Vampire

Cordial Vampire provides another way to buff your team as you sacrifice them. This trigger goes on the stack at the same time as the death trigger from a blessed vampire, allowing you to order them so you create the token and then distribute counters.

Morbid Opportunist

Morbid Opportunist adds more card advantage to your sacrifice package. Benefiting from your opponents' trading cards with each other is a nice bonus.

Blood Artist Cruel Celebrant

Blood Artist and Cruel Celebrant increase your pressure by pinging your opponents as your creatures die. Blood Artist comes in clutch at the end of long games where casting a board wipe could doom a player.

Pitiless Pontiff

Pitiless Pontiff isn’t a free sacrifice outlet, but is close, and you can activate it at instant speed. The combination of indestructible and deathtouch deters attackers and helps pressure planeswalkers.

Disruptive Creatures

Drannith Magistrate Null Rod

Any creature-based deck benefits from disruptive creatures. I didn’t go crazy with stax since this is a casual deck, so there’s nothing like Drannith Magistrate or Null Rod.

Charismatic Conqueror

Charismatic Conqueror is powerful and thematic. As an aggressive deck, you don’t mind your opponents’ creatures coming in tapped since that makes blocking harder. As a token/sacrifice deck, you’re happy to get Vampire tokens for nothing. You can’t lose!

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Thalia, Heretic Cathar provides a similar tempo play. Tapping down nonbasic lands helps slow your opponents, giving them less time to build their defenses. Which also gets tapped.

Vampire Hexmage

Vampire Hexmage assassinates planeswalkers and impedes many strategies, from The Mimeoplasm to Darksteel Reactor. It can also just sacrifice itself for free.

Drana and Linvala

Drana and Linvala isn’t great against every deck. But when it’s effective, it shuts things down. Decks reliant on cards like Walking Ballista or mana dorks have a bad time when this legendary team shows up.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet disrupts some graveyard and sacrifice strategies. Even if none of your opponents utilize their graveyard, getting Zombie tokens when their creatures die provides a lot of pressure. Kalitas works as a sacrifice outlet in a pinch though it’s rather expensive.

Anowon, the Ruin Sage

Anowon, the Ruin Sage pressures your opponents’ board. It can be awkward with your non-vampire creatures, but losing your Thalia to hamper your opponent’s boards is a fine trade.

Butcher of Malakir Grave Pact

Few cards devastate your opponents like Butcher of Malakir when you’re regularly sacrificing creatures. It only takes a few triggers to rip through your opponents’ board states and leave you victorious. It’s such an effective ability that I’ve added Grave Pact to double the misery and pass it to the next opponent.

The Mana Base

This deck doesn’t do a lot of ramping; spending the early turns dumping a bunch of mana rocks into play isn’t the best strategy when you want to apply a bunch of pressure. There’s a handful of 2-mana rocks, but you don’t spend much time on it.

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

The lands have some strong value pieces. Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire and Takenuma, Abandoned Mire are multi-format staples thanks to the versatility they provide as modal cards.

Modal double-faced lands from Zendikar Rising are highly underrated. There’s have Agadeem's Awakening and Malakir Rebirth to counteract removal and Emeria's Call to provide a burst of pressure.

Voldaren Estate

Voldaren Estate is more for flavor than anything, though creating Blood tokens spends mana reasonably and helps Glass-Cast Heart.

Westvale Abbey Ormendahl, Profane Prince

Westvale Abbey gets in on the tokens and aristocrat strategies. Five mana is a horrifying amount to pay for a 1/1, but Ormendahl, Profane Prince ends games quickly.

Phyrexian Tower

Phyrexian Tower provides ramp and a sacrifice outlet that your opponents struggle to interact with unless they’re packing Strip Mine.

Minas Tirith

Minas Tirith rounds out the value lands with additional card advantage. You want to attack often, so you easily meet its activation condition.

Beyond these, the mana base focuses on fixing. You have a handful of fetch lands, good dual lands, and plenty of basic lands.

The Strategy

As a typal deck, the strategy is simple: Flood the board with vampires and reap the rewards with your typal support cards. This deck is a great introductory deck for newer players because of its linear strategy.

There are no infinite combos or locks or anything in this list. Your only win condition is combat damage, so you want to play to the board early. Your best hands have a bit of everything: a cheap vampire or token producer to trigger Clavileño, First of the Blessed, and a sacrifice outlet to turn it into a Vampire Demon plus disruption.

Aggressive Commander decks must apply constant pressure, but this deck handles that well. Clavileño turns your early dorks into relevant creatures, you have a couple of potent finishers in Malakir Bloodwitch and the asymmetrical board wipes, and you have the most important thing: card advantage!

Your commander draws cards, but so do most of your sacrifice effects. Having steady card advantage is instrumental to applying constant, steady pressure. Your hand always has a few cards in it. Keeping your hand stocked doesn’t just apply pressure; it helps rebuild after board wipes, which creature decks must always be wary of.

The most important thing to do with this deck is curve out. Every Magic deck benefits from curving out well, but aggressive decks must spend every bit of mana as often and quickly as possible.

Combos and Interactions

Your deck has no meaningful combos. The casual play patterns ignore the many infinite loops available to Orzhov aristocrat decks in favor of combat damage. That doesn’t mean this deck doesn’t have some clever lines. There is a good play pattern and one convoluted loop to look out for.

Your play pattern provides a way to play around board wipes. They can obliterate creature strategies, putting them so far behind they have no chance of returning.

Thankfully, Clavileño offers a way to play around board wipes. If you suspect a player has Wrath of God, avoid sacrificing your blessed vampires for a few turns. Your opponent either holds their wrath for too long, allowing you to keep applying pressure, or they don’t get full value from it since you immediately rebuild with fresh cards and an army of Vampire Demons. Either scenario benefits you. This doesn’t help in the face of Farewell and other wraths that exile, but you can’t play around everything.

As for the loop, it requires several pieces:

Vampire Hexmage + Bloodline Necromancer + The Tomb of Aclazotz + a sacrifice outlet

Start with Vampire Hexmage and Bloodline Necromancer in your graveyard and The Tomb of Aclazotz and your sacrifice outlet in play.

Use The Tomb of Aclazotz’s ability to cast Bloodline Necromancer. It comes into play with a finality counter. Use Necromancer’s ETB to reanimate Vampire Hexmage.

Activate Hexmage’s ability, targeting Necromancer. Hexmage dies and removes the finality counter from Necromancer. You can then sacrifice Necromancer to your sacrifice outlet and repeat the process the next turn.

This loop isn’t flashy or mana-efficient, but it has its uses. If you’re in a stalled board state, this can be a great way to wring value from your mana. Two death triggers add up with Blood Artist. You can steadily grow Yahenni, Undying Partisan, or always have something to sacrifice to Braids, Arisen Nightmare. It’s niche, but every niche has value.

Rule 0 Violations Check

This deck clears pretty much any rule 0 conversation. It’s powerful but not overwhelmingly, and it’s fair. Some might look down on the disruptive creatures, especially Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Drana and Linvala for impacting their mana and game plan, but most players shouldn’t mind them. You can always swap them for more vampires if your playgroup hates hate bears.

Budget Option

The best place to start making budget cuts is the mana base. Cutting the fetch lands, MDFCs, channel lands, and the shock land does a lot to lower the price. Cards like Scoured Barrens and Orzhov Guildgate are great replacements for duals. When replacing MDFCs, I recommend playing basics of the appropriate color instead of additional spells; they were added to this deck as part of the mana base first and spells second.

Roaming Throne sees play everywhere. Teysa Karlov is a great replacement since you primarily want to double the death triggers of your blessed vampires.

Captivating Vampire is nifty, but costly. Death-Priest of Myrkul provides a vampire lord with additional value.

Anointed Procession is the most expensive card in the deck. Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation costs a third of the price, but cutting this in favor of another token producer or something like Divine Visitation works as well.

Charismatic Conqueror is a token producer and disruptive piece. For a similar disruptive piece, you could use Blind Obedience. If you’re more interested in the token production, I’d recommend Call the Bloodline or Bloodline Keeper.

Other Builds

Clavileño, First of the Blessed is restrictive since it requires a critical mass of vampires to do anything, but you can still take it in a couple of different directions. This deck focuses on the vampire synergies, but you could lean into some demonic effects. Adding a few cards like Liliana's Contract and Bloodthirsty Ogre could add a lot of spice to the deck.

You could also bump the power level. This is a casual list, but if you throw in a handful of powerful Orzhov staples like Lotho, Corrupt Shirriff and Smothering Tithe alongside some tutors and infinite combo pieces, this would become a strong mid-powered deck. Adding combos would be a snap since free sacrifice outlets like Viscera Seer and Yahenni, Undying Partisan go infinite with little effort.

Commanding Conclusion

Butcher of Malakir - Illustration by Jason Chan

Butcher of Malakir | Illustration by Jason Chan

Ixalan is best known for its dinosaurs and pirates, but it’s given vampires and merfolk just as much valuable support. The emphasis on token production and aristocratic strategies seen in Orzhov commanders like Clavileño, First of the Blessed provide new dimension to the archetype.

What’s your favorite vampire commander? Do you enjoy playing typal decks? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord!

Stay safe, and keep sacrificing (tokens)!

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