Hey, everyone, Griffin here from Command Valley. What an exciting week it has been with most of the spoilers for Core Set 21 released! Can you even believe that Teferi (quick fangirling)!? Even though it is a Core Set we have some new legendary creatures and one specifically caught my eye: Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose. As a lifegain connoisseur, having half of the Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood combo in the command zone immediately got me brewing. So, let’s jump in!
Although Vito is mono-black and does suffer from not having the massive lifegain from white, there are still a lot of options for cards and synergies that can make this deck a lot stronger than you might think! There are two ways or routes that I believe you could build this deck. The first being a simple vampire tribal since lots of the vampires have lifelink. If you have a Dranna EDH deck I believe you could switch Vito in and find a fun new way to play the deck. The second way, and the way I have chosen to build this deck, is to go all-in on the lifegain without any tribal synergy. We will be using creatures with lifelink, extort, and draining effects to make this deck come together.
Before I go into it let me quickly talk about the best card in the deck, Exquisite Blood. The one card combo with our commander, you can drain each opponent of all of their life as soon as you gain life or an opponent loses any amount of life. I have chosen to include both this and a few tutors in the deck that can grab Exquisite Blood; however, if that is not your play style you can still have a lot of fun not including the tutors or Exquisite blood itself.
Our commander has the ability to give all of our creatures lifelink for the turn however I see this as a finisher or late game helper. For the first couple of turns, we want to play creatures with lifelink because EVERY time we gain life we drain an opponent. Vampire of the Dire Moon, Gifted Aetherborn, and Vampire Nighthawk are especially good with deathtouch as well, keeping our opponents from swinging at us early game and giving us time to set up. K’rrik is an amazing card in this deck because of his ability to let us pay 2 life instead of black mana into our spells if we wish, but he also has lifelink and gets bigger with each black spell we play! A 10/10 K’rrik with lifelink means even if your opponents don’t block, someone is getting drained for 10 life.
The extort mechanic is exceptional synergistic in our deck and you will be surprised at how fast you can drain your opponents with multiple instances of extort on the battlefield. Pontiff of Blight gives all of our other creatures extort which can get out of control very fast. Even if you only have three other creatures out, you could cast a Vampire of the Dire Moon and pay for all four extort triggers, each opponent would lose four life, you would gain 16 life and you can drain someone for 16 FOR EACH SPELL YOU CAST. Crypt Ghast is one of our best ramp cards in the deck allowing us to double the amount of mana our swamps make, and it also has extort, so double fantastic!
Although our deck is not focused on an Aristocrats theme, I have included a few of these cards to give us extra value especially against board wipes. Ayara also allows us to sac creatures for card draw which can be helpful in a pinch! I will admit there is potential to focus the entire deck around aristocrats; however, I found that you need more pieces on the battlefield as Vito does not give you an advantage from creatures dying.
Many of the cards in this deck are cards with abilities we already want (card draw, removal, interaction) but with lifegain attached to them as well. Twilight Prophet is card draw that can also gain us life to drain our opponents if we have the cities blessing. Noxious Gearhulk is a removal spell that–if aimed at a large creature–can drain our opponents for a lot of life. Gary, Kokusho, Exsanguinate and Tendrils of Corruption are all cards that can gain us a ton of life with the potential to take an opponent out in the process. Aetherflux Reservoir is just a bonkers card on its own, but since we are wanting to gain life it fits so perfectly into this deck. I guarantee you will have a life total above 50 in no time to aim the “Death Star” at one of your pesky opponents. Sanguine Bond has the same effect as our commander but on an enchantment, potentially doubling all of the draining we do when we gain life. Your opponents will need to remove it or you will quickly take out each of your enemies by just gaining life. For instance, if you have Vito and Sanguine Bond on the battlefield, and you cast an Exsanguinate with X equal to 5, each opponent will lose 5 life, you will gain 15, then you can drain an opponent for 30, or two opponents both for 15.
Why stop there?
These cards either gain us life or give us added benefits for gaining life. Archfiend of Despair doubles the life loss we cause and can very quickly kill an opponent. Bolas’ Citadel is amazing as we are gaining so much life that we want to use it as a recourse, and in a pinch you can sac ten nonland permanents and drain each opponent ten life. Another way to abuse our lifegain is with Vilis, Broker of Blood because who doesn’t want to draw cards.
Before we move on to the card draw and mana ramp sections I wanted to add in a couple of cards that don’t gain us life, but create tokens. Vito’s second ability to give all of our creatures lifelink should not be underestimated. If it is late game and you don’t have any other spells to cast but you have a board of 15 or so power, then go swinging in and give them lifelink! Even if you don’t hit an opponent with the combat damage, someone is losing at least 15 life.
Since we are playing mono-black we have some very neat options for mana ramp. Nirkana Revenant, Crypt Ghast, Cabal Coffers, and Nykthos can all potentially double our mana. Black Market is a strong ramp piece that can easily give us 7-10 mana on our main phase if not dealt with. Bubbling Muck is black’s version of High Tide, which can be very important if we just need the extra mana to finish the game.
Well of Lost Dreams is the all-star card draw artifact that will draw us an absurd amount of cards throughout the game. We want lots of card draw to keep the pressure on our opponents. Once they see the power of Vito, you will absolutely be the target. Erebos, Greed, and Arguel’s Blood Fast allow us to use our life for card draw as well, and since we are gaining life along the way, it is a tiny price to pay.
Well, folks, that is it for the deck tech! Vito is a super fun build and I hope you guys try him out for yourselves! A reminder if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with all of our deck techs and EDH gameplay videos! We hope to see you guys in store for the Core Set 21 pre-release and hope you guys have an awesome week. Until next time my dudes.
Vito, Thorn of the Black Rose