In this article
At last, a guide for Vampires! Although there were a handful of Vampire cards released in early 2018 (e.g. Vampire Grace fromResonance of Contrast), the Vampire archetype didn’t quite make a splash in the meta until it received proper support from Empire of Scarlet in August. That minibox introduced consistent searchers for the archetype in the form of Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer as well as key win conditions through Vampire Kingdom and Vampire Vamp. With their new support, Vampires quickly became a top tier deck that stole 1st place in the August KC Cup and continued to dominate for the rest of 2018.
Vampires as a deck is best described as a “toolbox” deck. It has such consistent and accessible searchers in Vampires Familiar and Retainer that the deck is able to “tutor” i.e. access whatever combo it needs for the given situation. Of course, the deck’s most iconic and primary go-to combo revolves around Vampire Grace triggering Vampire Kingdom with her effect to destroy any card on the field. Both the effects of Grace and Kingdom are not hard once-per-turns (OPT), hence they can be abused in multiple copies to wipe an opposing board and enable a devastating one-turn-kill (OTK). Complementing Grace is Vampire Vamp, otherwise known to the community as the “good succ.” Vamp has an ability that lets her “succ up” opposing monsters with more ATK than her (2000 ATK by default), equipping them to herself and raising her ATK by their ATK stat. Thus, not only can Vampires threaten board wipes into OTKs with Grace and Kingdom, but they also have one of the most reliable outs to big boss monsters in Vamp.
The anti-meta skill. As Duel Links continues to add more and more recent cards from the real life card game, the meta finds itself with more and more decks that can abuse powerful graveyard effects. Sealed Tombs, when activated, shuts down any reviving and banishing from either player’s graveyard until your next turn, effectively stunning and slowing down any deck that relies on such effects. Of these decks, Vampires are no exception, hence this is arguably the best skill to run for the mirror match, allowing you to shut down your opponent and push for game the following turn. At the moment, Sealed Tombs also has uses against other meta decks, such as Koa’ki Meiru, Masked Heroes, Control, and Spellbooks.
The anti-backrow skill. Bandit can be triggered once per duel at 1500 LP or lower and allows you to steal an opposing facedown card, effectively giving you a free +1. Given all the LP costs from Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer’s search effects, as well as from Vampire's Domain, this deck has a relatively easy time reaching the 1500 LP threshold. Typically, Bandit is used in combination with multiple uses of Vampire Grace and Kingdom in one turn to fully clear opposing backrow and guarantee the OTK. As you might expect, this skill is at its best against backrow heavy decks like Control, but is subpar vs. decks like Koa’ki Meiru, which may not run much backrow.
The “toolbox” skill for a toolbox deck, though it is now arguably outclassed by KaibaCorp Bling. Destiny Draw can be triggered once per duel after losing 2000 or more LP and allows you to draw any card you choose from your deck on your next draw phase. As mentioned above for Bandit, Vampires have an incredibly easy time reaching low LP thresholds with all their LP costs, hence the deck synergizes well with Destiny Draw. This skill is most often used to draw into game winning cards such as Hey, Trunade and Enemy Controller.
KaibaCorp Bling (KC Bling)
The recent buff to KC Bling from the January 2019 banlist now makes it the preferred “toolbox” skill over Destiny Draw. KC Bling can now be triggered on your draw phase every time you lose 1000 LP and does the following:
- It draws you a random card from all the prismatic cards in your deck. If your deck contains no more prismatic cards, then…
- It draws you a random card from all the glossy cards in your deck. If your deck contains no more glossy cards, then…
- It draws you a random card from your deck. A 1000 LP activation prompt is extremely easy to trigger with Vampires. For instance, a simple Turn 1 Vampire Takeover play (see Combos and Video Guide sections) can lead into a 500 LP payment for each of Vampire Retainer and Familiar’s search effects, allowing you to activate KC Bling on your next draw phase. The strength of this skill is that if you have the prismatic and glossy versions of key, game-winning cards, then you can abuse it to draw into these cards and steal games. For more information, take a look at the Sample Decks section.
- Monstermorph: Evolution
This is a neat skill that can be activated every time you lose 1500 LP to send a monster on your side of the field to the graveyard and summon a second monster from your deck that’s 1 level higher. In the context of Vampires, this skill lets you:
- Send a Vampire Familiar on the field to the graveyard to summon a Vampire Retainer from the deck to trigger a search. Note that the skill bypasses Familiar’s effect, so even if it were special summoned via its own effect, it will NOT get banished when leaving the field this way. Rather, the skill will always send Familiar to the grave.
- Send a Gozuki or Samurai Skull on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Grimson from the deck.
- Send Vampire Grimson on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Grace from the deck.
- Send Vampire Grace on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Vamp or Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon (REZ) from the deck. In this case, REZ becomes a great tech card, especially for beating over common monsters like Masked HERO Anki after a Vampire Kingdom boost.
This skill actually did see a fair amount of success in past tournaments, most notably from HegelianBoi and his tops with it plus a REZ tech. It hasn’t seen much use recently though, as skills like Bandit and the newly buffed KaibaCorp Bling provide more utility in the current meta.
- LP Boost α
This skill starts you off with 5000 LP for the duel. While this skill hasn’t seen too much use in the competitive scene, it does somewhat mitigate all the LP costs from Vampire Familiar and Retainer as well as Vampire'S Domain. The extra 1000 LP might actually help you survive what otherwise could have been an OTK after a few LP costs. Overall, we would only recommend this skill to new players who have yet to obtain any of the above three skills.
Rezileen’s Comments on her MCS 14 Deck
3 Gozuki and 3 Vampire Familiar make the deck super consistent since Gozuki or Samurai Skull + Familiar is the ideal opening combo. I think having a consistent, strong opening hand is ideal in an OTK-heavy meta. The extra monsters also made side decking easier, since I could always drop a Gozuki or Familiar for room.
For the side deck, Vampire Grimson and Hey, Trunade! are for the mirror match and backrow decks respectively. Unending Nightmare is amazing for opposing Vampires and Buster Blader, etc, but I went with just 1 copy + 1 Cosmic Cyclone, since I wanted another form of instant backrow removal besides Trunade.
Mirror Wall was originally a 3rd Sphere Kuriboh, but was thrown in last minute in fear of Obelisk the Tormentor lol... I would definitely use another copy of Kuriboh or any of the other side deck cards if I were to use this deck again, probably another Trunade since I ended up losing to Silent Swordsman Amazoness in Top 16 of MCS 14.
As for the extra deck -- the synchro monsters are in case I ever steal an opposing tuner monster with Enemy Controller. I simply put in what I thought were the most useful and universal synchro monsters at the time. In general, there’s never any reason not to include a full synchro line up if you’re using Enemy Controller; you never know when the situation may arise.
- Side Deck
Comments on Gift’s Multiple Anytime Tournament Winning Deck
Note Gift’s extra deck and its inclusion of Masked HERO Anki and Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman. Because he’s using Bandit as his skill, Gift has the ability to possibly steal an opposing Mask Change against Masked HEROes or Destruction Swordsman Fusion vs. Buster Blader. The former card, when used in tandem with Enemy Controller, allows Gift to steal and transform his opponent’s HERO monster into his own Anki. The latter card enables him to fuse away an opposing Buster Blader and DNA-transformed monster (or an opposing dragon) into the Buster Blader fusion. In either case, he’s opening up plays that this deck wouldn’t have normally by simply including these two monsters in his extra deck in combination with Bandit.
And as with my build, Gift also includes his own choice of synchro monsters in the extra deck in case he ever steals an opposing tuner monster with Enemy Controller.
- Side Deck
Rezileen’s comments on her early KaibaCorp Bling (KC Bling) List
This is a build that I’ve been using with success in Clan Wars since the KC Bling buff. The main deck includes a prismatic Enemy Controller and glossy Hey, Trunade, while the side deck contains prismatic and glossy versions of various tech cards for specific matchups. (Glossy: Cosmic Cyclone,Non-Fusion Area & Prismatic: DNA Surgery)
The first use of KC can easily be triggered with a standard Turn 1 Vampire Takeover play (see Combos and Video Guide section), paying 500 LP each for both Vampire Retainer and Familiar’s search effects. This gives you a guaranteed Enemy Controller by Turn 2 or 3 -- assuming you didn’t already open with it -- which is perfect against faster, more aggressive decks.
Should the game drag on, and you trigger KC Bling a second time, then you’re guaranteed to draw into Hey, Trunade! if you haven’t already. This is great against slower, Control decks, which are more likely to give you longer games.
The cards in the side deck are heavily influenced by the meta at the time of this post -- i.e. matchups vs. Buster Blader and Karakuri. DNA Surgery is a great countercard vs. both decks, and being prismatic, can be fetched upon the first use of KC Bling, assuming the Enemy Controller is sided out. Similarly, the glossy Cosmic Cyclone and Non-Fusion Area can be fetched easily with the second activation of KC Bling if either of them are the only KC Bling targets left in the deck at that point. In general, KC Bling is a very versatile skill if you have the prismatic and glossy cards with which to abuse it -- it basically lets you get any side deck card you need for the matchup after losing a mere 1000 LP.
- Side Deck
Negative1’s comments on his MCS XV Top 8 Deck (also used by Serenity, who got Top 32)
For MCS 15, I finished Top 8 using KC Bling Vampires. I made this deck decision because I believe that with easy access to Enemy Controller and side deck cards, Vampires have the best overall matchup spread while also being one of the least coin flip dependent decks. I believe that KC Bling is one of the most broken skills we have; in many situations your opponent has no choice but to pass, because if you are able to activate KC Bling, then you are almost always going to win the game. This is thanks to ECon being one of the best cards in Duel Links, as it enables OTKs and can help remove difficult monsters.
After the meta weekly, I identified that Ancient Gears, a deck that would otherwise have a good matchup against Vampires, had seen high usage but low success; as a result, I figured that people would likely revert back to using Koa’ki Meiru and their own Vampires. This train of thought led to a great deal of influence in regards to my main deck's composition, where I ran Sphere Kuriboh (for Koa’ki) and Vampire Grimson (for opposing Vampires) to cover what I believed to be the most popular choices going into this event.
My side deck focused on beating Buster Blader, Karakuri, and Ancient Gears. I considered running Hey, Trunade! in my side deck, but after more thought, I recognized that there would be no matchup where I would need Trunade more than ECon. However, there would be a number of cases where Treacherous Trap Hole might be more useful than a second ECon, because of how fast paced the games are in the current meta and how reliant they are on opening hands. I added a glossy Warrior Elimination because I believed that there would be at least a few HERO players, though I never actually ended using it. I sided 2 glossy Acid Rain for Karakuri and Ancient Gears, since I found that in games against Ancient Gears in particular, opening with one is incredibly advantageous; and in games against Karakuri, I greatly appreciate having a second copy for when they try to reestablish their board after the first board wipe. Finally, I had a glossy Stamping Destruction for Buster Blader to both kill them after a Last Gamble and remove their DNA Surgery.
Main: 1 Prismatic Enemy Controller
Side: Glossy Stamping Destruction, Warrior Elimination, 2 Acid Rain
TsunTsun’s 1st Place Global Decklist
Serenity and SmugAnimeGirl’s Top 100 Decklist
Apps’ Top 100 Decklist
Above are three examples of top performing decks from the recent Feb 2019 KC Cup, all abusing KaibaCorp Bling to draw Enemy Controller at will.
TsunTsun’s build is the most standard, forgoing even Vampire’s Desire to keep the deck size to a minimum. He’s using 3 glossy Samurai Skulls so that he can top deck into them with KC Bling for the long grind games. Of all the cards in the Vampire Core, Samurai Skull is arguably the card you want to see the most lategame, after you’ve burned through your Enemy Controllers. As an aside, TsunTusn most likely used a glossy Vampire Kingdom because he didn’t have a normal one -- he could always search it out early so that it didn’t conflict with his glossy Samurai Skull draws.
Serenity and SmugAnimeGirl’s build is mostly standard as well, though it’s bringing back Simultaneous Loss, a tech card that most Vampire players wrote off months ago. It has found new use in the current meta as disruption on your opponent’s turn has become more and more relevant. Also, having a way to trigger Vampire Kingdom with relying on Vampire Grace helps reduce the number of brick hands. In a meta where games can end in two to three turns, you want as many playable opening hands as possible. As an extra little detail, most decks, particularly Koa’ki Meiru decks, have a hard time playing around both Paleozoic Canadia and Simultaneous Loss at the same time -- hence, they’ll have to play a guessing game as to which you’re running.
Finally, Apps’ deck is of particular interest as it’s 30 cards, but still managed to peak at 60k DP all the way from 0 DP, showing that it’s just as consistent as the other builds. Like Serenity and SmugAnimeGirl’s build, Apps’ list also runs Simultaneous Loss, which might honestly be the way to go in the current meta. Her list also features Windstorm of Etaqua and Curse of Anubis as catch-all defensive cards -- both can be particularly effective at stopping a Turn 2 Koa’ki Meiru or Ancient Gear OTK.
The second standard is 24 cards, and with that, we personally like to run a 3rd Vampire Familiar, since the ideal opening combo is a starter (i.e. Gozuki or Samurai Skull) to mill and a Familiar in hand to pitch for Vampire Retainer. Note that the chances of opening a starter in a 20 card deck with 2x Gozuki and 3x Samurai Skull are about the same as opening a starter in a 24 card deck with 3x of both (about 71% chance going 1st and 80% chance going 2nd).
Going First / Setting up for your Next Turn
When you go first, you almost always want to set up Vampire Takeover. The main way to do this is when you open a starter (Gozuki or Samurai Skull) plus any Vampire card (preferably Vampire Familiar). You want to mill Vampire Retainer with your starter and then pitch your Vampire monster in hand to the grave to special summon Retainer and search Takeover. If you send Familiar, and your opponent can’t break through your defense, then you can potentially go plus 2 and thin the deck from activating Takeover and reviving Familiar on your opponent’s end phase. This is the best set up for a follow up (potentially an OTK) on your next turn.
Double Kingdom “Pop”
If you manage to resolve Vampire Kingdom’s destruction effect twice in one turn (aka a “double pop”), then you’ll most likely win the duel. This is possible because neither Kingdom nor Vampire Grace’s effects are hard once-per-turns. Note that if you send Vampire Retainer for Kingdom’s cost, then you can pitch that same Kingdom to summon Retainer and search for a fresh, new Kingdom.
If you don’t play Vampire's Desire, then you’ll most likely only trigger a double pop when utilizing Vampire's Domain to help summon a 2nd Grace or when you conveniently have a 2nd Grace in hand with an initial Grace already on the field. If you do play Vampire's Desire, then you’ll have a lot more options in executing a double pop. For instance, you can pitch the Grace that you used to trigger the 1st Kingdom for Retainer, search Desire, and use it to revive the Grace you just pitched and reuse her effect with a 2nd Kingdom.
This card is one of the most debated cards in terms of it being a core part of the deck. In recent months, Desire has seen much more play, and we personally believe that it is one of the most nutty cards in this deck as it (1) opens the door for a whole other branch of combos and (2) can unbrick you when you don’t open with a starter. Its utility also helps you play around backrow (e.g. using Desire on a Floodgate Trap Holed Grace to summon a 2nd Grace from the grave) or be a backup if you bait the backrow prior to use.
This is one of the best techs in your Vampire Deck as it helps push for OTKs and has synergy with Vampire's Desire and Gozuki. You can easily swarm with this deck as well so you’ll often find yourself with ample tribute fodder.
This is the best card for clearing backrow and assisting you in OTK-ing your opponent or taking control of the board if you lethal them that turn. This card is usually in competition with Enemy Controller, as both are semi-limited, and its inclusion in the deck can be format dependent. In tournaments, most players often side Enemy Controller and Hey, Trunade! in and out depending on the matchup.
This is one of our personal favorite techs as this little guy almost guarantees that you survive vs. Heroes unless they open the absolute nuts. It’s really good for punishing people that overextend or commit hard into trying to kill you that turn. Vampires are among the best at taking advantage of a whiffed lethal, as they are the best in a top deck situation and can easily OTK if given an extra turn to make a play.
This serves the same purpose as Cosmic Cyclone, except it’s not quickplay nor does it have a LP cost. It’s best used in the mirror as opposing Vampire Grace tend to call spell when forcing you to mill. This allows you to pop the opposing Vampire Kingdom next turn with Galaxy Cyclone’s graveyard effect.
This card is very format dependent though it is one of the best cards to combat our hardest matchup: Masked Heroes. Widespread is also decent vs. some variants of Control and Silent Magician decks. This card is not so good in the mirror though as it can easily be exploited by opposing Samurai Skull and Gozuki.
The Regulation of Tribe:
This card is pretty good vs. Masked Heroes as it stops them from swinging with any one of their monsters and can be decent in the mirror as well as other matchups that only use one type of monster. It can also be used to help clear your own board and make room for a Vampire Familiar or Retainer summon from the grave.
Grimson is not only one of your best cards in the mirror match, but it is also really good for keeping your monsters alive in general. She can be quite susceptible if put into defense though, so be aware of that. Grimson is pretty much a must have in the side deck during tournaments and, depending on the format, could be a main deck card as well.
Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon:
Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon (REZ) can be a nice tech if you’re using Monstermorph: Evolution as your skill, since you can morph Vampire Grace after using her effect to summon REZ from the deck. This lets you pop a card with Grace and Vampire Kingdom and then get out a 2900 ATK beater after the Kingdom boost to swing over say a Masked HERO Anki or Wiz, Sage Fur Hire.
Simultaneous Loss was used as a tech in early Vampire builds, allowing you to trigger Vampire Kingdom without relying on Vampire Grace. While the card has been absent from competitive play for months now, it has recently seen a comeback in usage, particularly during the Feb 2019 KC Cup. One reason for this resurgence is the importance of disruption in the current meta -- with so many decks like Koa’ki Meiru and Ancient Gears being able to OTK Turn 2, having a way to pop your opponent’s cards on their turn can be incredibly useful. Furthermore, Simultaneous Loss can unbrick hands that open with a Kingdom, but no easy way to summon Grace. In a meta where games only last a turn or two, you want to have as many playable opening hands as possible.
To be completely honest, the 4+ spots that you have for tech cards in the deck can totally be whatever you have or want. From Super Rush Headlong to Curse of Anubis, as long as the card can help you stay alive, or help take control of the board, or assist an OTK, it should be fine. What we have listed above are just the most popular and proven tech choices.
The Ancient Gear matchup on paper looks like a nightmare for Vampires -- they main deck tons of spell/trap removal, have a piercing boss monster, and can potentially protect their monsters from targeting. Yet in practice, the matchup is a bit more even than one might expect. A lot of this is thanks to the utility of KaibaCorp Bling and its ability to let you draw Enemy Controller at will. Ancient Gears cannot OTK you through a typical Vampire Takeover opening, whereas they are very much vulnerable to getting OTK-ed back should their Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon get ECon-taken or sucked by Vampire Vamp on your next turn.
When playing against this matchup, you’ll typically want to target the Ancient Gear monsters with Vampire Kingdom. If you target their backrow, then there’s a chance you pop an Ancient Gear Fortress, which can enable them to summon a Reactor Dragon from their hand or graveyard. However, the risk of Ancient Gear Fortress also makes playing around their backrow harder. Knowing that their opponents will be afraid to target their backrow, Ancient Gear players have started to use traps like Drowning Mirror Force to steal games. When playing against an Ancient Gear player, pay particular attention to the delays so that you can differentiate whether their set card is an actual threat or just an Ancient Gear Fortress.
Cosmic Cyclone is an amazing tech in this matchup as it can disrupt their attempts to summon Reactor Dragon. You’ll want to either Cyclone their Geartown or chain Cyclone to their attempt to destroy their own Fortress. Either way, you’ll prevent their spell from resolving and bringing out their big boss monster. You might also want to Cyclone their Ancient Gear Castle at times, when going against a Middle Age Mechs player, since 2 or more counters on the Castle allows them to tribute it off for Reactor Dragon.
Outside of Reactor Dragon, the other monsters that Ancient Gears tend to run are Ancient Gear Wyvern, which isn’t a threat for the most part besides being immune to Kuriboh, and Breaker the Magical Warrior. As in any other matchup, Breaker can be a pain for Vampires, especially when paired with other forms of spell/trap removal like Unending Nightmare. As a result, you’ll often depend more on ECon-cheesing this matchup than your usual bread-and-butter Kingdom combos.
At the moment, Koa’ki Meiru is the most popular and arguably the best deck in the meta, and, unfortunately, is also an unfavorable match up for Vampires. Winning this match up often boils down to opening with a defensive tech like Sphere Kuriboh, Enemy Controller, or Paleozoic Canadia more than we would like.
Should you go first, you will ideally want to set up a Vampire Takeover play to get three monsters on board to protect you from a potential Turn 2 OTK. You want to flip up Vampire Takeover the instant your opponent summons Koa’ki Meiru Urnight to avoid having Takeover negated by the Koa’ki Meiru Sandman that Urnight summons from the deck. Against just a trio of Urnight, Sandman, and Koa’ki Meiru Maximus, you can often survive the OTK attempt with 3 monsters on board. Unfortunately, more Koa’ki Meiru decks are starting to main Koa’ki Meiru Ice, which can remove your special summoned Vampires and clear the way for their OTK. This is where starting with a Sphere Kuriboh, Paleozoic Canadia, etc becomes incredibly important; the former can halt the OTK while the latter can stop the Urnight upon summon from recruiting another monster from the deck.
On the bright side, if you’re able to survive their Turn 2 onslaught, and they don’t open with multiple forms of disruption, then you should be able to take control of the game. The main weakness of Koa’ki Meiru is the deck’s weak late game and top decks. If they blow their load and fail to OTK, then they most likely won’t have enough resources left to maintain their field presence in the following turns. Furthermore, as a Vampire player, you have access to a guaranteed Enemy Controller from KaibaCorp Bling next turn to cheese the win as well as good old Vampire Vamp, who can give Maximus the “good succ” after a whiffed OTK.
If the Koa’ki Meiru match up weren’t already sacky enough, then know that the deck can also run Sealed Tombs to really “seal the deal” against Vampires. With Sealed Tombs, even if Koa’ki Meiru miss the Turn 2 OTK, they can still completely shut down your graveyard effects Turn 3. Unless you manage to search Vampire Grace beforehand and have tribute fodder available to summon her, there isn’t much you can do in this scenario. If you’re running Sealed Tombs yourself, then using it Turn 1 can force them to wait a turn or possibly cause them to lose most of their monsters if they overcommit and fail to OTK. But be careful when using Sealed Tombs Turn 1 in this match up, since it’ll also prevent you from summoning monsters with Takeover or a Gozuki effect to protect your LP.
Overall, Vampires have an incredibly uphill battle vs. Sealed Tombs Koa’ki Meiru and a bit more fair match up against other variants. In this current meta where Koa’ki Meiru is the most popular deck, main decking 2x Enemy Controller is probably the way to go.
The Karakuri matchup is very much a 50-50. On one hand, in order to make any sort of plays, Karakuri need to synchro summon into their main boss monster, Karakuri Shogun Burei, which, with its 2600 attack stat, is an easy target for Vampire Vamp. On the other hand, Karakuri, when they open ideally, can draw through half their deck on their first turn, often allowing them to end Turn 1 with a board of two monsters and three backrow, while still having cards left in the hand. In these situations, you really need to open well to burn through all their resources.
Karakuri players will almost always go into Burei as soon as possible to set up Karakuri Anatomy (their Pot of Greed) so that they can turbo through their deck for removal cards like Offerings to the Doomed and disruptive backrow like Paleozoic Canadia. Their dependence on Burei does leave them vulnerable to Vamp, who also doesn't mind Offerings as she'll revive herself when destroyed with an equipped monster. Summoning Vamp at the right time to suck up Burei can often swing the momentum of the game heavily in your favor.
Should you go first and start with a disruptive card like Paleozoic Canadia or Enemy Controller, then you’ll often want to utilize it to stop your opponent’s attempts at synchro summoning. While it may be tempting to e.g. flip the main Karakuri tuner, Karakuri Komachi Ninishi, face down with Canadia upon summon, you might actually instead want to use it on the 2nd Karakuri monster that they extra summon with Ninishi’s effect. This is because the main deck Karakuri monsters are forced to attack during the Battle Phase if they are left in attack mode. By disrupting the 2nd summon rather than the initial Ninishi summon, you not only still prevent the synchro summon, but you force the 0 ATK Ninishi to swing at you come your opponent’s Battle Phase (unless they have Karakuri Cash Cache to stop this). If the 2nd monster is Karakuri Merchant Inashichi, then turn your toggle to ON and wait for your opponent to search a card to their hand first before pulling the trigger. This play often puts you at a much more commanding position than simply disrupting Ninishi.
Sometimes the Karakuri player might open poorly and simply set a monster. In these cases, the set monster could be a Karakuri Soldier Nisamu, which can float into any other Karakuri monster from their deck when destroyed by battle. You'll ideally want to pick Nisamu off with Vampire Grace and Kingdom to prevent the float, though this isn’t always possible if your opponent has disruption. A particularly tricky scenario is when you have no other option to get rid of Nisamu besides attacking him -- yet you suspect your opponent has an Enemy Controller set. Do you attack, knowing that Nisamu will float into a Ninishi that is protected by ECon this turn and will allow your opponent to synchro summon next turn? Or do you wait and open yourself to the risk of an ECon-take play later? In these situations, forcing your opponent to use ECon defensively is usually better than allowing them to possibly use it offensively later.
Regarding their backrow, Karakuri do often run their own Canadia, which, together with Offerings, can give your Graces issues. As a result, Vampire Desire has a lot more value in this match up for reviving any destroyed Graces. Also be wary of Pulse Mines, which some Karakuri builds run. Be careful especially if Vamp gets switched into defense, since that allows the Karakuri player to synchro summon Armades, Keeper of Boundaries and run her over. Remember that Armades' effect will stop Vamp from reviving herself. This actually gives you another reason to tech Canadia and Enemy Controller vs. Karakuri, as the more ubiquitous Sphere Kuriboh is useless against Armades. Of course, Canadia and Enemy Controller can be made useless by Hey, Trunade, which is also a common tech in Karakuri, so there’s a tradeoff there.
A particular tech to be wary of is Karakuri Gold Dust, which can give one of their Karakuri monsters a surprisingly high ATK boost. Some Karakuri players like to use Gold Dust in combination with Karakuri Ninja Kuick, which changes battle position when attacked. They’ll end their turn with Burei in attack and Kuick in defense, attempting to bait you into attacking Kuick. Upon being attacked, Kuick will switch to attack, allowing your opponent to activate Gold Dust in the damage step to give her a 2600 ATK boost from Burei.
Overall, the Karakuri match up really boils down to who opens better. There’s often not much you can do if they open with a full board, unless you start with Hey, Trunade. But there’s also not much the Karakuri player can do back if they aren’t able to synchro summon. Their reliance on Burei is also a very exploitable weakness. In the end, none of the offensive and disruptive techs that Karakuri run are searchable, so it's really luck of the draw for them.
This is arguably the hardest matchup for Vampires, as the deck lacks any sort of defense against Destiny HERO - Drilldark and Mask Change outside of techs. This matchup essentially boils down to whether you open with a defensive tech such as Sphere Kuriboh and Enemy Controller or whether your opponent gets unlucky and doesn’t draw Mask Change. If they do open with Mask Change, but fail to OTK due to e.g. a Kuriboh, then Vampire Vamp giving Masked HERO Anki the “good succ” becomes a valuable win condition.
Without Mask Change, Heroes are just a deck of 1600 ATK beaters at best with some defensive backrow. Your starters, i.e. Samurai Skull and Gozuki, are naturally bigger at 1700 ATK, and Vampire Retainer with a Kingdom boost also hits 1700 ATK to run the Heroes over. You also have good old Vampire Grace and Kingdom to deal with the backrow. Against this deck, you want to mill spells with Grace to possibly get rid of their Mask Changes.
Do be wary of Drilldark’s ability to pierce your 0 DEF zombies and Destiny HERO - Celestial’s ability to destroy your Vampire Kingdoms and Domain and deal 500 LP damage. Destiny HERO - Decider can also be a minor annoyance at times, as neither Grace nor Vamp are able to attack him. Also be careful with your LP payments in this matchup as a surprise pierce from Drilldark or a direct attack from Anki can end the game. Try to avoid using your LP cost effects too much unless you know for sure that you’re in a safe spot.
Similar to Koa’ki Meiru, Masked Heroes can also run Sealed Tombs to totally dominate the Vampire matchup. Against Sealed Tombs Heroes, you basically have to cross your fingers on opening your techs or them not opening with Drilldark nor Mask Change.
Control is arguably Vampire’s best match up on the current tier list. Builds for Control do vary a lot, but Vampires for the most part have the tools to play around various backrow and the space to tech in backrow removal such as Hey, Trunade.
One play that comes up a lot in the Control matchup is to use Vampire Takeover to revive and (safely) summon Vampire Grace on your opponent’s turn. Doing so allows Grace to avoid getting disrupted on your next turn by Paleozoic Canadia, as she can simply be flipped back face up if your opponent flips her down for whatever reason. You can also chain Takeover to another card effect so that it summons Grace on chain link 2 to avoid possible Floodgate Trap Holes.
Samurai Skull really shines in this matchup as its ability to float into another zombie from your deck is quite useful vs. D.D. Assailant and Wind-Up Juggler. It is also excellent against Amazoness variants of Control, not caring about being banished with Amazoness Onslaught.
Meanwhile, Vampire Vamp really excels against variants that utilize Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, being able to “succ” up their main line of offense. Vamp is also incredibly useful against the recently added Silent Swordsman, which can be given the “good succ” after two turns of attack boosts as well as when it floats into its LV7 form. The spell negation from Silent Swordsman can be very annoying for Vampires though and make the matchup much more tricky than before. You’ll most likely have to play very patiently against Silent Swordsman variants, making good use of Vamp to remove him at the right moment.
Some cards to look out for when playing against Control are Breaker the Magical Warrior and Dust Tornado, both of which can destroy your Vampire Kingdoms. Dust Tornado can be particularly frustrating as it disrupts your Grace and Kingdom combo out of nowhere. Be wary of these cards and have a backup plan in case your Kingdoms fall.
The Buster Blader matchup can go either way. On one hand, you can easily swarm the field and go for game if the Buster Blader player opens with a weak field. On the other hand, if your opponent opens with the “Exodia combo,” i.e. DNA Surgery with the fusion spell live, then it can go south for you real quick.
In this matchup, Paleozoic Canadia and Enemy Controller are your best friends. The former flips down Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman, allowing you to activate your Vampire effects (assuming they don’t have another live fusion spell ready). Meanwhile, Enemy Controller can take their Buster Blader fusion, which you can then tribute off for Vampire Grace or Vamp.
Note that Buster Blader players are starting to main Winged Kuriboh, especially Last Gamble variants. So be extra careful when using your Vampire Kingdom effects, as you don’t want waste them on Winged Kuribohs and possibly run out of Vampires to send to the grave to fuel your Kingdom later.
Samurai Skull is your best friend in this matchup, as it’ll float into Gozuki or another zombie from your deck if it gets banished by Fate. Use Samurai Skull to apply pressure early game until you gather enough resources to make a big push towards outing their Silent Magician.
Vampire Takeover is also valuable here to get out Vampire Kingdom without getting it negated by Silent Magician. Remember that Silent Magician only negates the activation of spells, which does not include Kingdom’s destruction effect. Hey, Trunade! can help in baiting a Silent Magician negate or clearing a Fate, while Paleozoic Canadia is also a good tech to flip Silent Magician face down and free up your spells.
However, be wary that if they have another face up spellcaster next to their face down Silent Magician, then they can use Fate to flip their Silent Magician back up. On that note, keep in mind that the Spellbook player can use Fate’s 2nd effect to change any weak Vampire Familiars or Retainers on the field into attack mode and possibly run them over for lethal. Spellbook of Power can also be deadly at the right moment.
Contrary to what you might expect, Vampire Vamp actually has limited use in this matchup. Any good Spellbook player will keep their Silent Magician at 2000 ATK to avoid getting hit by Vamp. And while Silent Magician LV8 is definitely a big Vamp target, you’ll often find yourself having trouble getting Vamp out after destroying the small Silent Magician due to disruptions from Fate.
As a final note, Sealed Tombs is great in this matchup, as you might expect.
While no longer meta, Fur Hires were and still can be a difficult match up for Vampires. This is mostly due to Wiz, Sage Fur Hire and her ability to negate all your spell activations as well as Vampire Takeover. Dealing with a Turn 1 Wiz often requires you to have a tech card like Enemy Controller or Paleozoic Canadia to bait out or disable the “Wiz-negate,” which is easier said than done. Other options include using a Takeover or a first copy of Vampire Kingdom to bait the Wiz-negate and then follow up with another Kingdom. However you approach baiting out Wiz will depend heavily on what resources you have available at the moment, and so there’s no real linear way to play this matchup. Once you get through the initial Wiz-negate though, then the matchup can easily swing into your favor, as you’ll be free to set up your board and pop Wiz with your Vampire Grace and Kingdom combo -- furthermore, your Gozuki and Samurai Skull can easily run over all the level 4 and lower Fur Hire monsters, while your Vampire Vamp sucks up Dyna, Hero Fur Hire.
Keep in mind that if you ever get the first move against Fur Hires and manage to set up your Takeover, then you’ll want to flip up your Takeover as soon as you see your opponent activate a small Fur Hire’s effect. If you don’t do it at that moment, then there’s a chance your opponent might summon Wiz with the effect, and you’ll have to play through her negations. Note that a Wiz-negate cannot remove Kingdom from the field once it’s played, so getting your Takeover off before she hits the field is often super ideal.
One useful “trick” to pull off vs. Fur Hires is the “Wiz-lock.” This situation occurs when you have Grace and Kingdom set up, and your opponent only has 1 card in hand and Wiz on the field. When you use Grace and Kingdom to try to target and destroy Wiz, your opponent will be forced to discard their only card in hand to negate the destruction and survive for the turn. However, since they negated your Kingdom’s effect, you are NOT forced to send a Vampire to the graveyard for its cost. That means you can simply keep activating Grace and Kingdom from here on while your opponent is forced to keep and discard every new card they draw in their hand to negate your Kingdom with Wiz. Your opponent is essentially “locked” out of any plays at this point and will eventually deck out due to Grace’s milling effect.
Other things to be wary about in this match up are Donpa, Marksman Fur Hire, which can destroy your faceup Kingdoms, as well as Dyna, which can banish your Vampires from the graveyard upon summon. Before all their hits on the ban list, Fur Hires used to be able to rush Vampires down pretty easily Turn 2 with a simple Beat, Bladesman Fur Hire into Donpa into Dyna combo. However, with Donpa being semi-limited with Wiz, and Dyna limited to 1, this situation now rarely occurs. Rather, you’re more likely now to see your opponent opening up Seal, Strategist Fur Hire or Recon, Scout Fur Hire plus a bunch of backrow -- in this case, Fur Hires just end up being a weaker Control deck for you to run over.
Blue-Eyes has fallen off the meta since the rise of Koa’ki Meiru and Buster Blader, though you might still see a handful of them while climbing the ladder. Thankfully, this matchup is slightly in your favor, especially if you’re using Sealed Tombs.
You ideally want to go 2nd in this matchup, as Blue-Eyes lacks safe Turn 1 plays in general. Often, the best they can do is summon Cosmo Brain and set a revival card to bring back a Dragon Spirit of White to disrupt any spells or traps that you might use. However, with Sealed Tombs, you can shut off their revival cards and only have to deal with the Cosmo Brain. Usually, you’ll want to set up for a Vampire Vamp summon with Vampire Domain, using Sealed Tombs after you’re done with your own graveyard effects to stop Dragon Spirit of White from hitting the field and banishing your Domain upon play. Then, you can use Vamp to suck up the opposing Cosmo Brain and steal the momentum of the game. Even if your opponent has Paleozoic Canadia or something of the sort to disrupt Vamp, her effect will still remove Cosmo Brain from the field. And with Cosmo Brain gone, most Blue-Eyes decks end up losing steam as they have no other ways to easily get out their Blue-Eyes monsters.
Note that if you suck up Cosmo Brain with Vamp, then Vamp will only get a 1500 ATK boost from Cosmo Brain’s original ATK stat. That means if your opponent has both a Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Cosmo Brain out, then it might be better to target the Blue-Eyes instead with Vamp for a larger ATK boost.
Be careful when targeting Dragon Spirit of White with Vamp (and Vampire Kingdom) though, since it can potentially tag out into a Blue-Eyes in your opponent’s hand. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the delays in this matchup to know when it’s safe to target Dragon Spirit of White. If you suspect that your opponent has a tag-out play ready, then you’ll want to set up a play where you can both force the Dragon Spirit of White to tag out and also deal with the Blue-Eyes that comes after. Usually, this will involve using Vampire Grace and Kingdom to out the Dragon Spirit of White followed by summoning Vamp to suck up the Blue-Eyes (or the other way around depending on your resources). Alternatively, Enemy Controller just trivializes these scenarios.
Going 1st vs. Blue-Eyes is less than ideal unless you also open up with a tech card like Enemy Controller or Paleozoic Canadia for disruption. The issue with going first in this matchup is that Blue-Eyes, as an aggressive, rush-down deck, has the ability to potentially OTK you given a lucky hand and no disruption on your end. However, the chances of this are rather low, as they’ll need an opening hand of Cosmo Brain, a Blue-Eyes discard fodder, an effect monster, and Silver’s Cry to swarm with three large monsters for game. Still, if your opponent gets the god hand, then it happens, and you shouldn’t feel discouraged -- just remember that hands like that are rare.
Facing this matchup without Sealed Tombs can be trickier, as you won’t be able to shut down Dragon Spirit of White from coming back from the grave and banishing your Kingdoms and Domain. You’ll be relying on your tech cards in this case to slow down the pace of the game so that you can set up your field through their disruption for a play. Be wary also of their Breaker, the Magical Warriors and Destructotrons, which can aid their Dragon Spirit of White in breaking through your spells and traps. This makes Sphere Kuriboh a great tech for the matchup as it can be kept safe in the hand. In general though, Vampires are a much more consistent deck than Blue-Eyes, so more often than not, you’ll find yourself getting the win from Blue-Eyes simply losing to its own bricks.
The Vampire mirror match often has you play the deck quite differently from how you would normally. This is in part due to the interaction of two Vampire Kingdoms on the field. First of all, keep in mind that Kingdom will give the opposing player’s zombies a 500 ATK boost as well. That means both your Vampires and your opponent’s Vampires may potentially gain a whopping 1000 ATK boost if both of your Kingdoms are on the field!
Second, when one Kingdom triggers and causes its owner to mill a Vampire from their deck, the other Kingdom will trigger after, allowing the other player to destroy a card on board. This can enable some plays with Vampire Takeover, where you can chain Takeover to your opponent’s Kingdom. Doing so will play your Kingdom just before your opponent’s Kingdom forces them to mill a Vampire from their deck, giving you a free pop. Of course, one way that a Vampire player can get around this situation is to dump a Vampire from their hand to the grave rather than from their deck when paying the cost for Kingdom.
Due to the interaction between opposing Kingdoms, you’ll often need to target your opponent’s Kingdom when doing the typical Grace and Kingdom combo to avoid triggering an opposing pop. Alternatively, you might want to forgo setting up Kingdom in this matchup all together and instead simply get your Grace out first to start beating them down.
Vampire Grimson is amazing for the mirror match as its effect lets you protect any monster that would be destroyed for 1000 LP. This can be used to protect your monsters from an opposing Kingdom and also be used to protect Grimson when she crashes into an opposing Grace or Vamp. If Grimson survives after crashing and killing a Grace, Vamp, or even opposing Grimson, then you get to take control of their monster! Also note that Grimson’s LP cost can be used to proc Bandit easier, if you’re using it.
Other techs that help out in the mirror are Enemy Controller and Sphere Kuriboh, and, of course, Sealed Tombs can completely steal you the game if your opponent isn’t running their own Sealed Tombs. Overall, this matchup requires you to be very comfortable with the deck as well as be wary of your LP.
We’ve actually compiled an annotated video guide that showcases most of the combos and plays that you can make with this deck.
There are comments within the video itself, but for convenience, here are a list of timestamps, pointing out where in the video we go over what:
- 00:27 - Setting up and using Vampire Takeover for card advantage.
- 00:56 - When to revive a Vampire with Takeover vs. not giving your opponent a replay on their attack.
- 01:17 - Showing the fact that Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom are not hard once per turns, allowing you to do “double pops”; also shows Grace’s 2nd effect that can occur once in a blue moon, where she revives herself at the cost of 2000 LP.
- 01:59 - Less than ideal Takeover openings when clogging your monster zones.
- 02:39 - A quick aside on Sealed Tombs.
- 02:47 - A typical set up for a double pop using Vampire's Desire and then stealing the game; using Vampire's Domain instead of Desire could have achieved similar results.
- 03:18 & 03:45 - The usefulness of Sphere Kuriboh in the mirror match.
- 03:34 - Samurai Skull’s ability to float into another Zombie from the deck when destroyed by a card effect, and avoid triggering an opposing Skull’s effect in the mirror match.
- 04:13 - Using Domain to not only get an extra normal summon for a Vampire, but to also pitch it as a cost for reviving a Vampire Familiar or Retainer for a search; note how Domain’s effect lingers even after it leaves the field.
- 04:31 - Playing patiently and slowly popping backrow with Grace and Kingdom.
- 04:47 - Quick aside on the poor Masked Hero match up and how to play to your outs.
- 05:05 - Another double pop play for game.
- 05:31 - Milling Gozuki from the deck to trigger its second effect to special summon a zombie from the hand; in this case, I use this to summon a 2nd Grace to prepare for a double pop.
- 05:55 - Using Vampire Vamp to out big boss monsters.
- 06:13 - A replay that shows the “toolbox” nature of the deck, and how sometimes, you have to make up plays on the spot; watch carefully.
- 07:44 - Summoning Grace on the opponent’s turn with Takeover, and an aside on how you can do this to prevent Paleozoic Canadia from stopping her next turn, as she can just be flipped face up if flipped down.
- 09:18 - Another replay to show the “toolbox” nature of the deck; sometimes you’ll have to fight the urge to give your opponent the “good succ” with Vamp in favor for a safer win condition.
- 10:54 - Running out of Vampires to mill for Kingdom’s cost and resorting to deck out as a win condition with Grace’s mill effect; note that if your Kingdom triggers, but you have no Vampires to pay the cost, then the game will reveal your hand to your opponent.
- 11:33 - Mirror match nuances; summoning Grace Turn 1 and ditching Vamp as she’s useless in the mirror.
- 12:12 - Chaining Takeover to an opposing Kingdom in the mirror and the interaction between two Kingdoms on board.
- 12:22 - An aside on discarding a Vampire from your hand to trigger your Kingdom instead of milling one from your deck to avoid triggering an opposing Kingdom.
- 12:30 - Vampire Grimson in the mirror match.
As we’ve already said and shown, Vampires as a whole can be a described as a “toolbox” deck. With consistent deck thinning and milling thanks to Gozuki and Samurai Skull, as well as easy-to-trigger search effects from Vampires Familiar and Retainer, this deck almost always has access to whatever play it wants to make. The recent buff to KaibaCorp Bling also lets this deck draw into the necessary tech cards for the matchup at will, giving Vampires even more flexibility to adapt to the ever changing metagame. Unless Konami suddenly decides to hit Vampires on the banlist, we don’t see the deck going anywhere away from competitive play anytime soon.