Sorin Markov is a fascinating case study for Planeswalkers. He's got great flavor: as a Vampire, he's a classic fantasy trope/creature type and an important representative of Nonhuman Planeswalkers—a rarity to be sure. He looks absolutely badass and clearly resonates with the fans. He's been printed six times! And I'm sure market research would indicate he should keep coming around. His colors are also well selected and contribute to his popularity, heavily aligning with black and sometimes white, and his role in the Lore backs that up well.

Mechanically, however, it seems WotC is far from committed to Sorin's identity.

We've seen Sorin range from: Only mattering if you're all in on Vampires (Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord), to just requiring a lot of black mana (Sorin Markov), to just sort of randomly powerful Planeswalkers (Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Sorin, Solemn Visitor) to kind of caring about life gain (Sorin, Grim Nemesis). Unlike some of the other PWs we've seen that have a schtick (Gideon, Sarkhan, Nissa), Sorin seems to be just roaming around figuring stuff out.

For this project, especially when it comes to a Planeswalker with a bunch of iterations, that's a feature not a bug. For today's entry, Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord says to me we should explore sacrificing creatures, since that's something both black and white want to do, and we'll be able to bring them back to the Battlefield with Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord minus ability. Bonus points if those creatures are small and cheap—Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord won't have to save up too much to bring them back for more action.

Here's who we've got taking one (or more) for the team:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord by Andy Hurst

'Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $16.46

Cards

Quest for the Gravelord

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167894_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature dies, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Gravelord.
Remove three quest counters from Quest for the Gravelord and sacrifice it: Create a 5/5 black Zombie Giant creature token.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/battlebond/quest-for-the-gravelord

Bloodsoaked Altar

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192697_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 2 life, Discard a card, Sacrifice a creature: Create a 5/5 black Demon creature token with flying. Activate only as a sorcery.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2020/bloodsoaked-altar

Bogbrew Witch

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215970_200w.jpg

{2}, {T}: Search your library for a card named Festering Newt or Bubbling Cauldron, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/bogbrew-witch

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $1.92

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187240_200w.jpg

As long as it's your turn, creatures and planeswalkers you control have lifelink.
+2: Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord deals 1 damage to target player or planeswalker.
−X: Return target creature card with mana value X from your graveyard to the battlefield. That creature is a Vampire in addition to its other types.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/sorin-vengeful-bloodlord

Wispmare

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/15683_200w.jpg

Flying
When Wispmare enters the battlefield, destroy target enchantment.
Evoke {W} (You may cast this spell for its evoke cost. If you do, it's sacrificed when it enters the battlefield.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/lorwyn/wispmare

Sigil of the New Dawn

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180802_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {1}{W}. If you do, return that card to your hand.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ultimate-masters/sigil-of-the-new-dawn

Aid the Fallen

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188304_200w.jpg

Choose one or both —
• Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
• Return target planeswalker card from your graveyard to your hand.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/aid-the-fallen

Rising Populace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187190_200w.jpg

Whenever another creature or planeswalker you control dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Rising Populace.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/rising-populace

Moonlit Wake

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/6615_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature dies, you gain 1 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/mercadian-masques/moonlit-wake

Bubbling Cauldron

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215971_200w.jpg

{1}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature: You gain 4 life.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature named Festering Newt: Each opponent loses 4 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/bubbling-cauldron

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.36

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180779_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature with power 1 or less is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, you may return that card to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step if Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker is still on the battlefield.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ultimate-masters/shirei-shizos-caretaker

Knight of the Last Breath

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183328_200w.jpg

{3}, Sacrifice another nontoken creature: Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.
Afterlife 3 (When this creature dies, create three 1/1 white and black Spirit creature tokens with flying.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/knight-of-the-last-breath

Witch's Cottage

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198390_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)
Witch's Cottage enters the battlefield tapped unless you control three or more other Swamps.
When Witch's Cottage enters the battlefield untapped, you may put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/witchs-cottage

Magister of Worth

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236418_200w.jpg

Flying
Will of the council — When Magister of Worth enters the battlefield, starting with you, each player votes for grace or condemnation. If grace gets more votes, each player returns each creature card from their graveyard to the battlefield. If condemnation gets more votes or the vote is tied, destroy all creatures other than Magister of Worth.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2021/magister-of-worth

Single Combat

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187255_200w.jpg

Each player chooses a creature or planeswalker they control, then sacrifices the rest. Players can't cast creature or planeswalker spells until the end of your next turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/single-combat

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235540_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/strixhaven-school-of-mages/plains-366

Festering Newt

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215973_200w.jpg

When Festering Newt dies, target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn. That creature gets -4/-4 instead if you control a creature named Bogbrew Witch.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/festering-newt

Benevolent Bodyguard

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118610_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Benevolent Bodyguard: Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eternal-masters/benevolent-bodyguard

Mindstab

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/233886_200w.jpg

Target player discards three cards.
Suspend 4—{B} (Rather than cast this card from your hand, you may pay {B} and exile it with four time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When the last is removed, cast it without paying its mana cost.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/time-spiral-remastered/mindstab

Consecrate // Consume

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183063_200w.jpg

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/consecrate-consume

Final Payment

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183355_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, pay 5 life or sacrifice a creature or enchantment.
Destroy target creature.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/final-payment

Field of Ruin

Market Price: $0.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206646_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Field of Ruin: Destroy target nonbasic land an opponent controls. Each player searches their library for a basic land card, puts it onto the battlefield, then shuffles.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros-beyond-death/field-of-ruin

Cartel Aristocrat

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67522_200w.jpg

Sacrifice another creature: Cartel Aristocrat gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/gatecrash/cartel-aristocrat

Bright Reprisal

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145691_200w.jpg

Destroy target attacking creature.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ixalan/bright-reprisal

Grim Haruspex

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.78

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196522_200w.jpg

Morph {B} (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for {3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2019/grim-haruspex

Silumgar Scavenger

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219511_200w.jpg

Flying
Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
Whenever another creature you control dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Silumgar Scavenger. It gains haste until end of turn if it exploited that creature.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/silumgar-scavenger

Start // Finish

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/130280_200w.jpg

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/amonkhet/start-finish

Pitiless Pontiff

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183036_200w.jpg

{1}, Sacrifice another creature: Pitiless Pontiff gains deathtouch and indestructible until end of turn. (Damage and effects that say "destroy" don't destroy it.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/pitiless-pontiff

Cruel Celebrant

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $1.62

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187204_200w.jpg

Whenever Cruel Celebrant or another creature or planeswalker you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/cruel-celebrant

Lingering Souls

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128649_200w.jpg

Create two 1/1 white Spirit creature tokens with flying.
Flashback {1}{B} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/lingering-souls

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235544_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/strixhaven-school-of-mages/swamp-370

Death Bomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7781_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/planeshift/death-bomb

Imperious Oligarch

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182206_200w.jpg

Vigilance
Afterlife 1 (When this creature dies, create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/imperious-oligarch

Orzhov Pontiff

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.87

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13743_200w.jpg

Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Orzhov Pontiff enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, choose one —
• Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.
• Creatures you don't control get -1/-1 until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guildpact/orzhov-pontiff

Great Hall of Starnheim

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230932_200w.jpg

Great Hall of Starnheim enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B}.
{W}{W}{B}, {T}, Sacrifice Great Hall of Starnheim and a creature you control: Create a 4/4 white Angel Warrior creature token with flying and vigilance. Activate only as a sorcery.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/great-hall-of-starnheim

Tainted Field

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236449_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {W} or {B}. Activate only if you control a Swamp.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2021/tainted-field

Dead Ringers

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7931_200w.jpg

Destroy two target nonblack creatures unless either one is a color the other isn't. They can't be regenerated.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/apocalypse/dead-ringers

Fanatical Devotion

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7152_200w.jpg

Sacrifice a creature: Regenerate target creature.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/nemesis/fanatical-devotion

Vindictive Vampire

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183439_200w.jpg

Whenever another creature you control dies, Vindictive Vampire deals 1 damage to each opponent and you gain 1 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/vindictive-vampire

The Game Plan

Our cards here aren't the most overtly impressive, but that's ok! One of the coolest things about Magic is that a deck can be greater than the sum of its parts, and our cards all work very well together.

We're looking to establish control of the board with several little combinations of cards. Some of those are more explicit—thanks to downshifts in rarity, we're able to play Bogbrew Witch (Thank you Iconic Masters!) along with its compatriots Bubbling Cauldron and Festering Newt to drain our opponent's life total while eliminating their creatures. We've also got Rising Populace, Silumgar Scavenger, Cruel Celebrant, and Vindictive Vampire which grow or benefit when our other troops perish. And we can get rid of them at will with our representatives from high society: Cartel Aristocrat and Pitiless Pontiff. Bloodsoaked Altar and Knight of the Last Breath are also fine sacrifice outlets, although they require other resources and can't just throw away creatures on a whim.

Running out of creatures would be a huge risk here, but Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker (both also downshift additions here—thank you various Masters sets!), Aid the Fallen, and possibly Magister of Worth can keep the gas tank full. Token makers like Lingering Souls and Start contribute bodies as well. If we can assemble the Bogbrew Witch, Festering Newt, and Sigil of the New Dawn, it will require a mighty effort from our opponent to get through that.

The removal here is spicy. Much of it comes with strings attached—the Start side of Start, Final Payment, and Death Bomb require sacrificing our own creatures, but luckily we're planning to do exactly that. Hopefully we'll have a Cruel Celebrant out during this process, because there will be a lot of creatures going away.

The Rares

Because our cards aren't terribly powerful individually, it's important to either play the maximum synergies or keep the cards flowing so our card quality can compete. Grim Haruspex is here to help with the latter. Yes, we're making some tokens and it's important to remember that tokens don't count for Grim Haruspex, but we're also looking to hurl Festering Newt into the yard with abandon, and we'll definitely want this around for all of that wetwork.

Haunt is a ridiculous, utterly unintuitive ability. But it can be powerful, especially when a lot of stuff is dying, and we can decide to a large degree when those deaths will happen. Plus, our creatures are small and dinky. Orzhov Pontiff can ensure our creatures fight better either by making theirs smaller or buffing ours. For everything to fit into just a 3-mana package, Orzhov Pontiff is a valuable contributor.

I feel obligated to stipulate here that playing voting cards from Conspiracy for a format designed for two player games is a little silly. Now that we've got that out of the way, I've liked Magister of Worth ever since that set came out, and I think it's got a great home here. Either we get to cast it at a point in the game where some of our troops have been winnowed away and our opponent only preserves their board by giving us a fresh tank of gas, or the board is cleared except for our pretty impressive 4/4 flyer. An interesting set of options and we'll likely be pleased with either one.

Single Combat seems like it was ideally designed for Duel Decks: Sorin vs Nahiri, and maybe both decks could get one. However, because of the rules regarding rares for this project, I had to pick one. And I picked Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord because we're looking to kill stuff off anyway, even if it happens to be ours. This is a weird card, so make sure you read it before you cast it. Be sure to keep around a token producer or various other spells for the aftermath, since you can cast those without any restriction.

Unsung Hero

I feel like Charlie Kelly sometimes when I go back to older cards and realize—to my horror—that I've been mis-pronouncing them for over a decade. And I don't mean one of those names like Keiga, the Tide Star, where you can pronounce it Kay-ga or Kai-ga and the "real" pronunciation is as definitive as the "Superman vs Hulk" debates at the comic shop. When we were younger, my group pronounced Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker "She-ray-ee." Just threw that extra syllable on, pronouncing a sound that was never present. And we all went to college! Wild stuff.

In terms of contributions to this deck, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker here is a stud. Most of our important cards—Bogbrew Witch, Cruel Celebrant, Benevolent Bodyguard, Wispmare, and our boatload of Festering Newt—all have a single point of power. And we're very interested in either sacrificing these troops or offering them some form of protection, which Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker provides (and this is important) for no mana. We don't have to pay for that protection! We just get it, so long as we remember the triggers.

Over a longer game, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker can produce an insurmountable advantage by letting us negate the card disadvantage from our many sacrificial shenanigans, incentivize us to let that Benevolent Bodyguard do his thing more often, and not break into a cold sweat when the opponent shocks our Cruel Celebrant. Our creatures are here for a good time not a long time, but Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker makes sure they've got some longevity, too.