Bloodchief Ascension Revisited: Examining the Bloodchief Ascension Deck
I still genuinely believe that Bloodchief Ascension is a card that will help define the new Standard environment. However, it hasn’t quite found a home in a deck yet.
I guess there are two ways to approach the [B] Enchantment – Aggro or Control.
Aggro seeks to get Bloodchief Ascension online as quickly as possible by consitently throwing either dudes or burn at your opponent.
Control seeks to get Bloodchief Ascension online slowly and carefully, as once it’s online then you have inevitably behind you.
I’ve put together a list of card that have excellent synergy with Bloodchief Ascension. They are listed, with commentary, below.
* Vampire Lacerator [B][Aggro]: Probably the perfect Turn 1 drop for the Aggro BA deck. Yes, you will hurt from the downside of the card, but once BA comes online that should all turn around in your favour.
* Dredgescape Zombie [1B]: It’s not great, but it’s not terrible. The unearth is what’s really attractive, being able to push through damage is pretty important in the Aggro version of the deck. However, Dredgecape Zombie has never been good enough to go mainstream, and it’s unlikely that we’ll use him.
* Surrakar Marauder [1B][Aggro]: Another interesting 2 drop, mainly because of the situational unblockability. However, with all the black two-drops running around, including Vampire decks and Putrid Leech, it’s unlikely he’ll make the grade.
* Bloodghast [BB][Aggro/Control]: Bloodghast seems the best card so far. Your opponent will unlikely want to trade and therefore Bloodghast will likely get the counters happening. In a control deck you can play multiple sweepers and bring this guy back with no card loss. Great with Earthquake. Seems an auto-include.
* Gatekeeper of Malakar [BB][Aggro/Control]: Great in both control and aggro. Removal + Dude = Awesome. Should be treated as a 3-drop.
Black Knight [BB][Aggro/Control]: Far more situational, and unlikely to make the cut. Probably a great sideboard card against mono-white Soldiers and Boros.
* Hypnotic Specter [1BB][Control]: Okay, you’re not gonna get this guy on Turn 1, but he’s pretty strong in a format with as little card drawing as the current Zen. Plus, once online, each time he hits and your opponent discards, you get a 4 point life swing as well. To heavily considered in the control deck.
* Vampire Nighthawk [1BB][Aggro/Control]: Nighthawk has so much going for him. A 3 Toughness rump that really matters in the current metagame. Lifegain to keep you at the table. Deathtouch for removing fatties well above his punching weight. Likely an auto-include.
* Vampire Nocturnus [1BBB][Aggro]: A much more situtional card, heavily dependent on the number of Vampires we run. Unlikely as an include, but a good consideration.
* Golbin Guide [R][Aggro]: He’ll be great in aggro, especially considering we’ll run him along side Vampire Lacerator and Blightning, thus making up for the card advantage we lose having him in the red zone.
* Hellspark Elemental [1R][Aggro/Control]: He’s a great dude that sees a fair amount of play. Important to consider him in the Control deck as with sweepers in your deck he can quickly come back from the grave to get another counter on BA.
* Hedron Crab [Control]: Probably unlikely to see play maindeck, but a sideboard option.
* Esper Stormblade [W/B U][Aggro]: 3/2 flyers for 2 mana are pretty insane. Will come down to (a) our ability to turn him on and (b) whether we play Blue maindeck.
* Grixis Grimblade [u/R B][Aggro]: An interesting choice, but one we probably won’t play.
* Jund Hackblade [B/G R][Aggro]: Again interesting, but not good enough.
* Shambling Remains [1BR][Aggro]: This guy seems very suited for an Aggro deck. You don’t care about his inability to block, and he’ll possibly die while your 2/2s that still matter get through. His unearth ability is quite important as well.
* Anathemancer [1BR][Control]: Dome your opponent without even swinging? Perfect for control.
* Kederekt Creepr [UBR][Control]: Probably too slow for aggro, an interesting choice for control. You opponent gets a horrible decision – card disavantage or an other counter on BA.
* Sedraxis Specter [UBR][Control]: Hypnotic Specter on crack. We’ll consider him. Unearth, again, is important.
* Lightning Reaver [3BR][Control]: Unlikely to play, but he’s out there.
* Lightning Bolt [R][Aggro/Control]: The best burn spell ever, an auto-include.
* Burst Lightning [R][Aggro/Contro]: Does exactly what we want, two or four damage to the dome.
* Punishing Fire [1R][Control]: Without some sort of combo, Punishing Fire is probably to slow and low for use in the deck.
* Disfigure [B][Aggro/Control]: A great removal spell, but probably second place over burn.
* Doom Blade [1B][Aggro/Control]: Again, does the job admirably, but probably comes in second place to Terminate.
* Terminate [BR][Aggro/Control]: Other than Path to Exile, the premier removal spell in Standard. A definite sideboard card, may be needed maindeck depending on the metagame.
* Hideous End [1BB][Control]: A card made for working with BA. The right colour, instant removal, and helps get a counter on BA. Definitely going in.
* Agony Warp [UB][Control]: Great for two-for-one-ing your opponent, may have a place in the deck.
* Bituminous Blast [3BR][Control]: Card advantage and removal all in one. However, does not place nice with Earthquake.
* Earthquake [XR][Control]: Would be ordinary, except it also hits your opponent. This makes it as a premier sweeper in a control deck.
* Duress [B][Control]: Excellent control card, removing any threats against BA.
* Countersquall [UB][Control]: For BA, a straight-up upgrade of Negate, with a bonus counter for BA.
* Grixis Charm [UBR][Aggro]: A possible include, depending on how deep into blue and aggro buld goes.
* Blightning [1BR][Aggro/Control]: An excellent card for both card advantage and getting another counter on BA.
* Mindbreak Trap [2UU][Control]: Probably a sideboard card in a blue build.
* Archive Trap [3UU][Control]: A win condition with a fully loaded BA, a dead card without it. One to consider.
* Trapmaker’s Snare [1U]: For fetching traps, if we run them.
* Sign in BLood [BB][Control]: One of the best card-drawing cards in the set. An auto-include in a control build.
* Volcanic Fallout [1RR][Control]: A decent sideboard deck against Vampires and Boros, not so much against anything else nowadays.
* Lilliana Vess [3BB][Control]: Tutors up a BA, or the card you need to control the board. To be heavily considered. Plus, once BA is online, her +1 ability is posively brutal.
* Sorin Markov [3BBB][Control] His +2 ability is perfect with BA, as is his -3 ability. Mana cost is a little excessive, but his ultimate is brutal. A worthy consideration.
All things considered, I’m going to go with a Control build with BA. The build is almost a game of ‘death by a thousand cuts’. You want everything your opponent does to hurt. Play a creature? Have it hideous-ended, lose two life. Play a non-creature? Have it Countersqualled, lose two life. Play multiple creatures? Have them Earthquaked, lose two or more life.
Here’s the build I’m considering:
[1 Mana Spells]
4 x Bloodchief Ascension
4 x Lightning Bolt
2 x Burst Lightning
[2 Mana Spells]
4 x Bloodghast
4 x Countersquall
2 x Sign in Blood
[3 Mana Spells]
4 x Blightning
4 x Hideous End
4 x Vampire Nighthawk
[5 Mana Spells]
2 x Liliana Vess
4 x Earthquake
The deck has a lot of powerful synergies.
Firstly, between Liliana and Bloodghast, it has plenty of card-drawing and tutoring. This gives it a big lead over many of the current decks in Standard that fall quickly into top-deck mode. This also helps assure your capacity to find Bloodchief Ascension.
Secondly, almost every card is capable of turning on the Bloodchief Ascension, including Sign in Blood. In theory, even without BA, you are quite capable of winning, as your ability to win any attrition war against your opponent is pretty high.
Thirdly, there is high-quality interaction between Earthquake and your two creatures, Vampire Nighthawk and Bloodghast. Bloodghast doesn’t mind dying to Earthquake, and Vampire Nighthawk isn’t touched by it. Earthquake is also very good at killing off opposing Planeswalkers.
Fourthly, Vampire Nighthawk is very good at both maintining life disparity with your opponent, as well as fending off any attack against Liliana. Mind you, Liliana is probably pretty vulnerable in this deck.
If I can round up the cards I’ll try playtesting it and see how it goes. Again any and every piece of feedback is welcome.