Those tricky, tricky Vampires…

It's always been kind of tough to pin down what the revitalized Vampire theme was really all about. Fire Fists? They use Continuous Cards that give small stat bonuses and big effects, playing to a beatdown pace. Mermails? They search and discard cards for big strings of Special Summons and Rank 7's. Geargia? They get card advantage with Level 4 searches, leading to Rank 4 plays. Bujins? Protect a dude and beat your opponent to death with it.

But Vampires? Uhhh. Make Rank 5 Xyz Summons but only Dark Xyz Summons while sending opposing cards from your opponent's deck to the graveyard but you have to load your graveyard first or else it costs you a bunch of cards but when you send those cards to the graveyard you can destroy your opponent's cards, at least sometimes – DEEP BREATH! – and also you can search and Special Summon from your deck and revive stuff and banish stuff and there's Dark Armed Dragon and WHATTHEHELLIS REALLYGOINGONOVERTHERE?!?!

Pant, pant, pant…

At the end of the day the Vampire theme does a lot of very specific things, but it doesn't do all of them well, and it struggles in the early game. There's a lot of set-up for what many would consider inadequate payoff. Vampire Duke can revive another Level 5 Vampire from your graveyard to make a Rank 5, but to do that you need to have a matching Vampire in your yard to begin with. Shadow Vampire can Special Summon a Level 5 Vampire from your deck instead, but in that case whatever you Xyz Summon can't attack for the turn. Both plays are a minus of card economy due to Tribute costs, unless you have Vampire Sorcerer in your graveyard; that's right, even more set-up. Special Summoning Vampire Duke can destroy a card with Vampire Kingdom, but you have to control that Field Spell and score a Special Summon for that to happen. And when you do make a Rank 5 play, the Dark-Xyz-only requirement limits your choices. That's rough, because choosing what you want is really one of the biggest strengths Xyz Monsters offer in the first place.

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So how do you solve those problems? How do you compensate for that weak early game; those potential minuses of card economy; and the narrowed choice of Xyz? Today's contributor from Bakersfield, California proposes a solution…


Ever since reading Bram Stoker's Dracula I've been really into vampires and after I saw that new vampire cards were being released in shadow specters I knew I had to make this deck. (For reference that's a great reason to want to play a deck in my books. –Jason)

The point of the deck is to use Quickdraw Synchron and The Tricky to get cards like Mezuki, Plaguespreader Zombie, and Vampire Sorcerer Sorcerer from your hand to the grave to speed up the Vampire plays, while allowing for some explosive Rank 5 moves. The spell card Tuning thins your deck, adds consistency, and can mill a card you want in the graveyard straight from your deck. Since both The Tricky and Quickdraw are Wind attribute and the Vampires are dark you can use Dark Simorgh, and since both are Level 5 they can overlay with the Vampires to make multiple Rank 5's in one turn.

This deck OTK's really easily: Crimson Knight Vampire Bram's a big threat with Shark Fortress, but the main problem I've been having is that you play your entire hand really quickly. Cards like Mirror Force, Dark Hole and Torrential Tribute are a problem. I'm also not sure if Plaguespreader Zombie's worth running; it would be cool with Black Rose Dragon, but other than that I usually just use it as Tribute fodder.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this message and considering my deck for a fix. Thank you!

-Eduardo B. ~ Bakersfield, California


Eduardo's keyed in on another challenge for Vampires: actually winning the game. On its own, Crimson Knight Vampire Bram can soak up a lot of attacks and be really annoying. But as a lone attacker on the field, it's difficult to really make big and sudden pushes with it, and in the era of Number 101: Silent Honor ARK it's really tough to whittle away at your opponent. Its Special Summon effect is good, but again, on its own it restricts your attacks and won't give you an instant win… or even a guaranteed field position next turn depending on your matchup.

Unfortunately, while the Vampire Bram / Shark Fortress play Eduardo mentioned can be an OTK, it falls short of the mark without Vampire Kingdom on the field, and so he's added more Level 5 cards to play as Xyz Materials. That gives him better access to more Rank 5's at once, and a wider variety of Rank 5's (since Quickdraw Synchron and The Tricky don't carry the Dark-only restrictions of Vampire Duke and Shadow Vampire). I like the idea for a few different reasons.

First, it makes it easier to present more threats all in one push, allowing a level of speed Vampires wouldn't have otherwise. Second, the discard costs for Quickdraw and The Tricky help you set up with Level 5 Vampires, Vampire Sorcerer, and Mezuki in the graveyard, helping you get past that difficult early game. Third, having more plays that generate threats without setup allows you more options early on, allowing you more flexibility and solving a lot of this strategy's issues.

Before we go any further, check out the deck list Eduardo submitted…

DECKID=99998

This deck can do some cool stuff, and Eduardo's submission included some combos to help me understand where he was coming from. With Vampire Duke in the graveyard, a hand of Mezuki and either Quickdraw Synchron or The Tricky lets you discard Mezuki to Special Summon a Level 5 from your hand; banish Mezuki to Special Summon Vampire Duke; and overlay for a Rank 5. That's a -1 play for a limited range of Rank 5 Xyz, but Adreus, Keeper of Armageddon could destroy a card for another break-even scenario. If you control Vampire Kingdom you'd destroy a card for a free once Vampire Duke's effect kicks in to yard a card from your opponent's deck, and this play sequence won't consume your Normal Summon. That means you can make simple Summons or Sets, or if you have Vampire Sorcerer in the yard you can Summon another Level 5 Vampire and make another Rank 5 as a 1-for-1 or a plus.

The ability to Special Summon Quickdraw Synchron or The Tricky as Tribute fodder also helps you play out of hands that would look disastrous otherwise. Opened with two Level 5 Vampires? Not a problem, so long as you have one of your other Level 5's: pitch a Vampire for Quickdraw or Tricky, Special Summon the non-vamp, and Tribute it off for the other Vampire to Special Summon into a Rank 5. That's a three-card consolidation; it's not ideal, but it's better than just sitting there with dead monsters. And again, the effects of Vampire Kingdom or your Rank 5 could help balance things out. Since this play overlays only Zombies, Crimson Knight Vampire Bram's a possible Xyz choice.

The problem? Even with that bit of a safety net, this deck runs plenty of cards that can be dead draws. It's one thing to run a smartly-built synergy-driven strategy, but it's another to look at that level of risk-versus-reward and then throw more dead cards in there. At the same time, this deck looks like it's missing out on some important options in my eyes, so I want to drop some of those unnecessarily risky elements and replace them with more on-theme options that offer better results.

We're Only Dropping Nine Cards
That's not a lot, but it's going to make a big difference! First up, just because you can play Dark Simorgh doesn't mean you should. I'm wary of any unnecessary cards that require early game setup here, since the chance to open with unusable cards is already pretty high just considering the core cards. Dark Simorgh's not a bad card, but it's a Level 7 instead of a Level 5 and thus doesn't fit the game plan. It's not a team player here, and it doesn't do much on its own. It even conflicts with your other recursion effects, forcing you to banish Darks you might want for other plays.

Eduardo mentioned that he was considering dropping his Plaguespreader Zombies, and I think that's a wise choice. Plaguespreader doesn't really fit the core goals of this strategy: it forces you to run a bunch of Synchros you wouldn't want otherwise; it eats card economy; and it does nothing when it fails to work. This isn't a Synchro strategy at heart: it's an Xyz deck, and we need to focus on that. Both Plaguespreaders will be dropped.

Vampire Kingdom's a cool card that can be a dead draw at the wrong times, and since it's searchable with Vampire Sorcerer there's no reason to max out on it. We'll drop it to two. Since Vampire Sorcerer's searchable itself, and since we'll be making it even more searchable over the course of this fix, I'll cut one of those as well.

Call of the Haunted? Zombies have a better on-theme version anyways, so I'm dropping both copies. Finally I'm just not a fan of Mirror Force these days, especially with Bujins becoming more and more popular. There are numerous monsters that card can't destroy right now, and the only reason to play it over the more consistent Dimensional Prison is if you think your opponents are going to throw more than one monster into it. Since most experienced competitors won't, I think we have better options.

That's Nine Cards Gone
What are we adding in their place? Let's start with Summoner Monk. The Monk's a popular pick in more conventional Zombie decks because it combos really nicely with Mezuki: normally when you play Summoner Monk, pitch a spell to Special Summon a Level 4 with its effect, and overlay for a Rank 4, you consolidate two cards into one. It's a hard -1 of card economy, and it leaves you pressured to make up that minus with your Xyz Monster. Lose it to Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, or Compulsory Evacuation Device and you're a card in the hole.

But that play's different in Zombies. As long as your opponent doesn't have Effect Veiler, Breakthrough Skill, or Fiendish Chain to negate Monk's effect, you can bring out Mezuki and when it's eventually detached you can banish it to Special Summon a monster later. That +1 balances out your immediate minus, so it's much easier to justify a Rank 4 play in the early game. If you Xyz Summon Lavalval Chain you can detach Mezuki immediately and kick a monster of your choice to the graveyard; send a Zombie and you can banish Mezuki to bring up something like Goblin Zombie, Spirit Reaper, or a heavy hitter. Alternatively you can just yard a second Mezuki and leave everything where it is, knowing that your Summoner Monk play was a +1 overall that threatens another plus next turn if your opponent can't get Lavalval Chain off the table.

In Vampires that play sequence is even better, because you can use Lavalval Chain's ability to set up your yard with Vampire Sorcerer, Shadow Vampire, or Vampire Duke in addition to Mezuki. Alternatively, it can feed Vampire Duke or Shadow Vampire to your hand by placing whichever one you want on top of your deck. Lavalval Chain's the ultimate fixer for this deck's early game; it sets up everything up and creating potential pluses in two short turns. So yeah, I want two Summoner Monks.

Dark Armed Dragon's way better than Dark Simorgh. People often seem to forget how good Dark Armed can be, blowing away cards for a free +3 when it hits the field and then smacking your opponent for 2800 battle damage. Some decks stack up a lot of Darks in the graveyard really quickly which can make it tough to Summon, but since this deck has so many recursion and banishing effects that's not a problem here. One Dark Armed Dragon's a must.

Speaking of recursion, one of the problems we identified earlier on was this deck's tendency to just run out of cards. Your Vampire combos can be -1's, and The Tricky and Quickdraw Synchron both require you to throw away monsters. How best to compensate for that? How about one of my all-time favorites, Recurring Nightmare! Shadow Vampire and Vampire Duke are both Dark monsters with 0 DEF, so once you get going Recurring Nightmare becomes an instant +1. I've stated that I largely want to avoid cards that are dead in the early game, but thanks to Summoner Monk and Lavalval Chain this card comes online fast; you can even ditch extra copies you can't work with for the Monk's effect if need be. From there, you can Summon the Vampires you retrieve from your graveyard for their abilities, or you can pitch them for Quickdraw and Tricky.

Book of Life's really good right now. This deck thrives when it can Special Summon more free Xyz Material, and Book lets you do that, while banishing stuff like Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms; bothersome Bujingis; or would-be targets for your opponent's lone Coach Soldier Wolfbark. I want to run two copies over Eduardo's Call Of The Haunteds, lending more power in the Mermail and Bujin matchups and creating more OTK opportunities.

Finally, Memory of an Adversary will give you more opportunities to fill your side of the table with monsters, and clear your opponent's field, and provide more secure defense for stuff like Lavalval Chain. Yes, you take damage to activate it. But it's more reliable than Mirror Force; creates +1's when Dimensional Prison can't; and it helps you end games faster. This is a pretty explosive deck so kissing a couple thousand Life Points goodbye isn't a big deal.

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That's it for the Main Deck! Over in the Extra Eduardo wasn't playing a full fifteen cards to begin with – we're going to fix that, since Summoner Monk means we've now got a potential Rank 4 toolbox. I also want some additional Rank 5's. Beyond those two additions, the lack of Plaguespreader Zombie means we no longer need Synchro Monsters. Ally of Justice Catastor, Iron Chain Dragon, Crimson Blader, and Stardust Dragon are all basically unnecessary, so those are easy drops. I'll pitch Number 39: Utopia too, simply because it's not as useful as the cards I want to add.

Lavalval Chain's a must for all the reasons explained above, while Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Evilswarm Exciton Knight are too good to ignore. Abyss Dweller wins games in some of the biggest matchups this format and Diamond Dire Wolf's a great troubleshooter. Aiming a little higher, I want another Adreus, Keeper of Armageddon since it's often your go-to Dark Xyz off a combined Vampire and Tricky or Quickdraw play, and I want to add Number 61: Volcasaurus for its ability to end games off of a random double Quickdraw or Tricky hand. Finally, with Volcasaurus and Crimson Knight Vampire Bram both in the mix, I want two Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger. Pop a monster for damage with Number 61: Volcasaurus and drop Gaia Dragon to keep the hits coming, or revive your Vampire Bram in defense mode and overlay it with Gaia Dragon for immediate aggression.

Here's the final list of revisions…

-1 Dark Simorgh
-2 Plaguespreader Zombie
-1 Vampire Sorcerer
-1 Vampire Kingdom
-2 Call Of The Haunted
-2 Mirror Force

+2 Summoner Monk
+1 Dark Armed Dragon
+2 Recurring Nightmare
+2 Book of Life
+2 Memory of an Adversary

-1 Ally of Justice Catastor
-1 Iron Chain Dragon
-1 Crimson Blader
-1 Stardust Dragon
-1 Number 39: Utopia
+1 Lavalval Chain
+1 Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
+1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
+1 Diamond Dire Wolf
+1 Abyss Dweller
+1 Adreus, Keeper of Armageddon
+1 Number 61: Volcasaurus
+2 Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger

Our new version of the deck looks like this!

DECKID=99999I like how this turned out! Some people might have an immediate impulse to question the double Memory of an Adversary, but I liked that card last format and I love it even more now. Bujins are huge, and Memory's unaffected by both Bujingi Hare and Bujingi Turtle; the only thing the average Bujin player has to stop it is Forbidden Lance, which – while played in threes – is still a slim number of answers. This deck can make great use of any Level 4 monsters it steals, and clearing the way for a fast OTK combo by banishing your opponent's monster can win games all on its own. By all means, if you find that you often don't have enough Life Points to use it go ahead and drop it. But I think you might be surprised.

I haven't spent enough time with this build to master it yet, but I like the pacing and the general feel. It still stalls out from time to time in the early game, but I've played a lot of Vampires and I feel this is the best version I've tried when it comes to avoiding those early turn self-destruct moments. You've got a fair number of potentially dead cards, but stuff like Summoner Monk, The Tricky, and Quickdraw Synchron add a lot of utility to your riskier must-runs.

Most duelists who have experience with the Vampire matchup largely expect it to be a hit-or-miss grind. This deck's different, largely because it can be so aggressive. Expect to catch a lot of players off guard as a result: I'm not sure how far it could go competitively, but there's a decent level of consistency here combined with a lot of power and a great surprise factor – it really defies the reputation of its core theme.

Give it a shot yourself and see how it works. Sidenote, who's going to Vegas next week for the YCS?! If the answer is "you" then I'll see you there!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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Want a deck fix from yours truly, and see your strategy featured in a "What The Fix?" here on TCGPlayer? Just send the following to fixmydeckjason (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered:

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap.) Remember, your deck should be TCG legal!

-Your name and city.

-Remember - please use full card names! Abbreviations and mis-spellings make Jason's life sad.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses.

And don't forget, the cooler your deck is the more I'll want to fix it, so don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -JDG