Bloodlord of Vaasgoth - Illustration by Greg Staples

Bloodlord of Vaasgoth | Illustration by Greg Staples

The Rakdos and their insane and anti-social antics or the Dimir and their insistence that they’re “totally not really a guild stop asking about us please” still have a pretty defined place in the plane-wide city’s social order. They work within those structures, and their conflict with the other guilds usually happens within the margins of what is expected of their roles in that social order.

The Gruul are the outsiders to this order. They aren’t just in conflict with the other guilds, but they’re in conflict with Ravnica itself. They oppose the city, its order, its hierarchies, and everything it represents. The way they carry out this opposition is through magnificent displays of incredible violence.

Ravnica’s wildest guild is characterized by its rejection of civilized life and an embracing of wilder, “freer” ways of life. This translates into a constant survival-of-the-fittest state for its members. They choose lives of violence and savagery.

Bloodthirst is the keyword ability that was introduced as the Gruul Clans’ associated ability in the first Ravnica block. It’s very closely tied to how the Gruul exist within Ravnica: violently.

How Does Bloodthirst Work?

Stormblood Berserker - Illustration by Min Yum

Stormblood Berserker | Illustration by Min Yum

Bloodthirst makes the creature with the ability enter the battlefield with a number +1/+1 counters if an opponent was dealt damage this turn.

The History of Bloodthirst in MTG

Bloodthirst first appeared in Guildpact, the second set in the original Ravnica block back in 2006. It featured on 11 cards throughout this set, all of them carrying the Gruul watermark and colors.

The ability made its second appearance on a single card from Future Sight. Its next true appearance was in Magic 2012. This set had 10 cards featuring this ability; four were black and gave the ability some link with vampires and bats.

The ability hasn’t featured on any new cards since then, showing up only in reprints. Reprinted bloodthirst cards have shown up mainly in supplementary products like Commander precons, duel decks precons, Modern Masters 2015, and archenemy products.

The ability is currently a 3 on the Storm Scale, so there’s a relatively high chance that we’ll see bloodthirst show up again sometime.

What Is Bloodthirst N in MTG?

Bloodrage Vampire

Bloodthirst N refers to instances of the ability that have a specific number. To use Bloodrage Vampire as an example, bloodthirst N would be 1, and so on for other creatures.

When a creature has bloodthirst N, that creature enters the battlefield with N +1/+1 counters if an opponent was dealt damage this turn.

What Is Bloodthirst X?

Petrified Wood-Kin

Bloodthirst X gives a creature X +1/+1 counters if an opponent was dealt damage this turn, and X is the amount of damage all your opponents were dealt. Petrified Wood-Kin is the only card so far to have bloodthirst X.

Does Bloodthirst Stack?

Yes, bloodthirst stacks. If a creature has multiple instances of bloodthirst, then each instance of the ability gives it the corresponding number of +1/+1 counters.

Is Bloodthirst a Triggered Ability?

Bloodthirst isn’t a triggered ability. It’s a static ability that “replaces” the casting effects of your creature as long as the condition is met.

Does Bloodthirst Work with Noncombat Damage?

Bloodthirst’s reminder text explicitly states that the ability is activated if any opponent was dealt damage this turn. This means that any type of damage makes the ability activate.

Does Life Loss Work with Bloodthirst?

Blood Artist

Non-damage life loss doesn’t count for bloodthirst. Something like Blood Artist doesn’t allow a creature with bloodthirst to get counters.

How Does Infect Work With Bloodthirst?

Infect replaces the type of damage a creature does with another form of damage. This means that, even if the player being dealt damage doesn’t technically lose any life, they’re still being dealt damage. This means that bloodthirst still activates.

Gallery and List of Bloodthirst Cards

Vampire Outcasts

Best Bloodthirst Cards

Bloodlord of Vaasgoth

The first card that immediately comes to mind if I had to name a great bloodthirst card is Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. It’s a great and cheap addition to any vampire tribal deck that can give your creatures a pretty significant power boost.

Furyborn Hellkite

Furyborn Hellkite is another standout card thanks to having bloodthirst 6. A single tap of a creature enchanted with Quicksilver Dagger is enough to turn this dragon into a massive 12/12 with flying.

Decklist: Rakdos Bloodthirst in (Casual) Modern

Furyborn Hellkite - Illustration by Brad Rigney

Furyborn Hellkite | Illustration by Brad Rigney

The first thing I should mention is that I’m not an avid Modern player, and bloodthirst is far from the strongest strategy for such a fast and competitive format. This is closer to a casual deck than anything else.

The idea behind the deck is to have various ways to deal damage to your opponents to ensure you can play your creatures with bloodthirst. Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch is here to grant your creatures haste, while Rakdos, Lord of Riots can significantly reduce the cost on creatures like Furyborn Hellkite.

You’re free to join a Modern tournament with this deck, but I’ll deny any involvement whatsoever if it underperforms. You can absolutely use it in more casual formats for a relatively original strategy.

Wrap Up

Bogardan Lancer - Illustration by Jim Murray

Bogardan Lancer | Illustration by Jim Murray

I think bloodthirst was a good design that perfectly introduced the Gruul Clans. Its move into more Rakdos () colors and vampire creatures also feels perfectly adequate, especially considering how the original Innistrad block introduced a strong focus on Rakdos vampires with +1/+1 counters. I think most bloodthirst cards show their age and feel a bit underpowered when compared to some current cards, but I hope we’ll see new cards with the ability.

But enough about me. What do you think? Do you like bloodthirst as an ability? Do you hope we’ll see it again? Do you prefer it in Gruul () or Rakdos colors? Feel free to leave a comment letting me know, and don’t forget to visit the Draftsim Discord to join our amazing community of Magic fans.

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates:

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *