Blood Rites Upgrade Guide - Lost Caverns of Ixalan Precons

Genoslugcs December 11, 2023 8 min
Blood Rites Upgrade Guide - Lost Caverns of Ixalan Precons

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has been out for a while now, and the precons are making their rounds. As usual, the folks at Wizards provided some quality decks. However, they can always be beefed up. And that's precisely what we're doing today. In this guide, I'll upgrade the Vampire deck, Blood Rites.

We'll review the deck's goals right out of the box and its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I'll recommend what cards you can do without and give you some replacement options to improve the deck. I didn't limit myself to a particular budget with my upgrades, but nothing was too expensive. That said, I'll do my best to provide budget options for costly cards. So, without further ado, let's get into the Blood Rites precon upgrade guide.

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Blood Rites Upgrade Guide

Clavileño, First of the Blessed


General Deck Overview

The deck is an aristocrats-based vampire deck with a unique twist - It turns a target vampire into a demon when it attacks and creates a beefy, evasive, 4/3 token and draws you a card when it dies. So, the general game plan is to play cheap vampires, target them with Clavileño, have them die (hopefully generating some extra value when they do), and get a card and a token.

Deck List

Blood Rites Commander Precon

Commander 1 cards (1 distinct)
Main 99 cards (80 distinct)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (26)
Creature (35)
Planeswalker (1)
Land (37)

Upgrading The Deck

From my experience playing the deck, there are a few things I wanted to achieve with my upgrades. The deck works well because the commander, Clavileño, First of the Blessedimage, is a beast of a card. So, I wanted to switch things up to make him work as well as possible. In the context of upgrades, that means removing creatures high on the curve since vampires that can come into play before Clavileño are best.

Next, for the most part, we don't mind when our creatures die. In fact, we often want them to, and expecting opponents to help us out by blocking isn't where we want to be. So, adding some sac outlets (and maybe a payoff or two) was next on my list. Beyond the powerful, low CMC vampires, sac outlets, and synergies, I only wanted a tad more spot removal, which I added. Let's get into the cards themselves.

The Add-Ins


As mentioned, the deck needs a few more clean answers. Swords to Plowsharesimage is already in the deck, and Path plays well alongside it. One mana, instant speed, exile effect... What's not to love? When you really need to answer creature, this does the job most times.


Keeping with the removal suite upgrades, if I'm on Orzhov, I'm playing Anguished Unmakingimage. Everything reason you'd want to play Path to Exile is also here. Granted, it costs more mana and three life, but you can hit any non-land permanent of your choice - Creatures, enchantments, artifacts, planswalkers, it does it all. And assuming you're targeting a threat with it, three mana is a small price to pay for this effect.


In a deck with ample, expendable 1/1 tokens, Skullclamp is a no-brainer. Slapping it on smaller creatures can trigger any Blood Artistimage-like effects you have in play and refill your hand in a fell swoop. Plus, with Clavileño, First of the Blessedimage in play, you'll draw three cards from a single death and get a 4/3 demon too. It's simply too good not to play here.


You may not recognize Spawning Pit unless your group has a devoted aristocrat player. One thing I noticed in the stock list was sometimes it's hard to get your creatures to die when you want. Most (but not all) of the outlets in the precon have a cost of activation. And beyond those, you need a little help from a blocking opponent, which rarely works out.

Spawning Pitimage is a free sac outlet that you can activate as needed, as much as you want. And it eliminates giving your opponents control over if/when certain things die, which is excellent. Beyond the main ability, you get an extra body when you have an extra mana and two charge counters. Free sac outlet + Self-fueling sac fodder production = A card I'm playing.


Knight of the Ebon Legion is great in the early game because it quickly puts Clavileño, First of the Blessedimage's ability online. But it's also great in the later game as well. The pump ability turns him into a serious threat, and opponents must always be cautious when you have three mana up. In other words, it has a phenomenal "threat of activation" and scales well as the game progresses.

Then there is the "at the beginning of your end step, if a player lost four or more life this turn, put a +1/+1 counter on Knight of the Ebon Legion." The deck is aggressive enough to make this happen pretty easily. One thing I noticed only after adding this was how well it works with four power flyers that Clavileño makes. Swing and land with one of your demon tokens; you have the damage you need for a counter.


Forerunner of the Legion gives the deck a tutor on a body that can pump another vampire creature when it enters the battlefield. It isn't as potent as a Vampiric Tutorimage, but I wasn't going for the highest possible power with my upgrades. For a three-mana investment, you get the best vampire in your deck to the top of your library, a 2/2 vampire body, and the chance to pump some stuff up.

There are plenty of ways to trigger Clavileño at instant speed and draw a card, too. So, in a pinch, I could easily draw the card I put on top.


Teysa isn't a vampire, but she makes many cards in the deck better. Anything that triggers when your creatures die is twice as good with her in play! There are around 11 cards (think Cordial Vampireimage) that fit this bill, including Clavileño, meaning you get two tokens per trigger. Pair this with her giving all your tokens vigilance and lifelink, and Teysa is an all-star card.


Drivnod, Carnage Dominus makes things that trigger when your creatures die trigger an additional time. So, much like Teysa above, it makes many of the key cards in the deck doubly good. And once again, triggering Clavileño with Drivnod gives you double tokens, but you'll get double the card draw this time, too. In my experience, this is one of the stronger cards to add to the deck.


Considering Clavileño's ability is an attack trigger (and he's in Orzhov), you can really only get it once, on your turn. Unless, of course, you play Strionic Resonator. Considering your commander makes 4/3s and draws cards, paying two mana for an additional trigger is a great deal anytime you've got extra mana. There is a ton of useful stuff to double up on, aside from Clavileño, too.

The Take-Outs


I want to like Timothar, but he doesn't do much in this deck. Most times when he's in play, I had better stuff to do with my mana than making a 1/1 bat. And if you do manage to make a token, you still have to deal combat damage to get anything out of the situation. If you can't, you've paid seven mana to put one of your creatures into exile. It's not where you want to be, even when it does work out.


Utter End is an okay card. But it's a worse version of Anguished Unmakingimage, which I opted to add. So, I swapped it out for this.


Kindred Boon doesn't fit well in the precon. If you're playing a tribe that goes tall, like Angels, I could see making a case for this. However, Vamps wants to go wide. Not only would you have to pay a ton of mana to protect your board, but you want your creatures to die. And a lot of times, this will happen in combat often.


Nighthawk Scavenger is a revamp (no pun intended) of one of my favorite cards Vampire Nighthawkimage. With no real graveyard synergies to fuel this, it can sometimes be underwhelming. Sometimes, it'll be big, and it is a vampire. But some more consistently valuable creatures fall lower on the curve.


Vona falls into the same sort of category I just mentioned. On paper, a five-mana 4/4 with vigilance, lifelink, and an activated ability that can remove opposing permanents may seem ok. But there are some pretty big downsides and better things to play in this spot. My main qualm is not the fact that you have to pay seven life for the ability - The fact that you can only use the ability on your turn is the major turn-off. I'll pass on having to play guesswork on what to remove beforehand.


Bloodtracker is a great card... Just not in this deck. When you play Bloodtracker, you want to be in a devoted +1/+1 counter build, and Blood Rites is not that. In the precon I think this counts toward the vampire count and doesn't do much else. In short, you won't miss it. And you'll be glad to have Drivnod, Carnage Dominusimage in its place.


At face value, this card belongs in the deck. And I see the argument - You want your creatures to die, and when they do, everyone else will have to sacrifice one, making your opponent's life hard. That is true. However, that isn't as impactful as it seems like it would be. Usually, this slows the game down and doesn't move you closer to winning. It's also seven mana and doesn't do much by itself. For my money, there are more impactful things to replace this with, and you gotta cut something.


Return to Dust is in every person in white, and I replace it every time I upgrade. You do want to have ways to answer artifacts and enchantments, but there are better ways than this. Four mana is steep for removing a single target, and if you want to remove one of each, you've got to cast it at sorcery speed, which makes it feel terrible.


 This gets the axe for two reasons. First, there aren't enough +1/+1 counter payoffs for this to be worth it. Secondly, the precon naturally has a "go wide" direction. You want to keep the curve low, hit the ground fast, swamp the board with tokens, let things die, and get your value. Blade of the Bloodcheif is a "Go Tall" card where you pile up tons of counters on the equipped creature and go to town.

Upgrading The Mana Base

Playing the stock version of the deck, the mana base didn't give me any issues. That said, I'm stocked to the gills when it comes to Orzhov. So, I had plenty of stuff to make improvements with. Don't feel obligated to pick all these up if you don't care to have the deck as polished as possible. Except for the first swap... At least do it.


Find any upgrade guide for Blood Rites, and I'll bet you a Mana Cryptimage they replace this one. It's hard not to in a deck that isn't powering out extra lands and has a fair amount of colored mana pips. Plus, the commander is a three-drop! Do yourself a favor and swap this card for a Phyrexian Towerimage. The almost coincidental sac outlet and the ramp greatly help at a minimal downside. However, it is a bit pricey. If you need a budget option, play High Marketimage instead.

Beyond that, the upgrades to the mana base are optional. Here's what I did - Removed Voldaren Estateimage and added in Cavern of Soulsimage. I replaced Temple of Silenceimage with Godless Shrineimage, removed Orzhov Basilicaimage for a Silent Clearingimage and swapped Myriad Landscapeimage with Marsh Flatsimage. Lastly, I took out one basic swamp and replaced it with a Vampire of the Dire Moonimage.



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